downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...

Saturday, 7th October 2017

The downthetubes news blog was assimilated into our main site back in 2013, but we're glad you're here, because that's currently undergoing some under the bonnet refurb! So we've brought this blog back from the dead to tide us over.

We expect to be back up and running next week, just before the 2017 Lakes International Comic Art Festival - see you there?

Hop over to www.downthetubes.net for other British comics news, comic creating guides, interviews and much more!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Wishing you all the best of the season!

The cover of Rainbow, 15th December 1917.
The downthetubes team would like to wish all our readers the very best of the season. If you're travelling, take care out there and enjoy some down time with family and friends.

Normal service will be resumed here in the New Year... although we may just sneak a couple of posts up before then!

-- John Freeman, Editor

Commando evades blizzards, heads for newsagents

Here are the latest issues of DC Thomson's Commando to fight their way through the snowdrifts to the newsagents’ shelves. Just in time for Christmas, too.

If anyone is having difficulty getting copies in the seasonal weather, Commando editor Calum Laird suggest you email shop@dcthomson.co.uk, and the team there will do their best to help out. Plus, a subscription might be a wise investment as missed copies of our upcoming 50th year’s output may cause some wailing and gnashing of teeth!

Commando fans may have noticed the official website (www.commandocomics.com) has had an update. DC Thomson are trailing the launch of digital editions of Commando, launching next year, on the site, and there's now better links to an extensive guide to the title's back issues list and behind the scenes features.

Commando 4351: Death Camp
Story: Ian Clark Art: Olivera Cover Art: Alan Burrows
Previously No 2637 from 1993

Barbed wire, watchtowers and searchlights — the camp looked like any other POW cage… from the outside. But hidden behind the perimeter fence was a nightmare world where starved prisoners were forced to act as guinea pigs for the sadistic doctors of death!

Commando 4352: Hunger for Glory
Story: Ian Clark Art: Josè Maria Jorge Cover Art: Josè Maria Jorge
Previously No 2663 from 1993

Colonel John Devlin, USAF, had chased glory in three wars…but it had always passed him by. Now, in the savage air battles over war-torn Vietnam, he saw his final chance to grab it when a new pilot arrived — a real hotshot, a born ace.
There and then Devlin decided that this top gun was going to be his ticket to glory…regardless of the cost of men and machines!

This is a re-issued story which reminds us of just what a talented artist the late Josè Maria Jorge was… especially when it came to aircraft. His very first Commando story will be appearing in late January 2011.

Commando 4353: Ham-Fisted Hero
Story: Alan Hebden Art: Carlos Pino Cover Art: Carlos Pino

Young Wally Clegg was a nice lad but a bit of a clumsy clot. As soon as he got near a ham radio set, however, there was a veritable transformation and he became a communications wizard.

And although he was bounced out of the Royal Signals Corps, if there was radio work to be done, Wally was there to do it. Now the Japs were poised to invade India and it looked like only Wally could send the message that would stop them. With the pressure on would he be a wireless wonder or a Ham-Fisted Hero?

Commando 4354: Company of Pals
Story: Alan Hebden Art: Vila Cover Art: Ian Kennedy

They marched of to war together, the young men of the town. Proud to serve their country and happy to fighting alongside their mates. But the Western Front in the First World War was a place of nightmares and the town’s nightmare came true when the company of pals was wiped out.

When the evil of war once more engulfed Europe, the military authorities made sure that, whatever casualties they had to suffer, never again would one town lose all its young men at once. It seemed, though, that fate hadn’t got the message...

• Official Commando web site: www.commandocomics.com

• Click here for subscription information or write to: D.C. Thomson & Co Ltd, The Subscribers Department, Commando Library, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL or Freephone (UK only) 0800 318846


• You can read interviews with former Commando editor George Low, current editor Calum Laird on the downthetubes main site.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Eagle Times Sample Issues Now Available

Eagle Times, Britain's longest running comics fanzine, is making sample issues available to purchase without the need to join the Eagle Society.

While the magazine concentrates on the original 1950s and 1960s Eagle, the current issue includes features on the career of artist Brian Lewis, a detailed look at one of the new Eagle Dan Dare stories illustrated by Ian Kennedy and Carlos Cruz, the Swift strip Sammy In Space, and a selection of colour photos from the Seacon 1979 World Science Fiction Convention which was held in Brighton. Approximately half of all the current issue's pages are in colour.

Begun in 1988, the 56 page A4 size Eagle Times is published 4 times a year by the Eagle Society but as it is a club fanzine it has not always been easy for non-members to find and purchase a single copy. The society is now offering non-members the chance to purchase a sample copy for £6 including UK postage or £8.50 for the rest of the world. This can be an available back issue or the next issue to be published. If the buyer takes the next issue to be published and then decides to join the society the cost of the sample issue can be deducted from the annual membership.

There are more details of the offer of the Eagle Times blog.

Details of the contents of the current issue, Volume 23 Number 4, are here.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Detective Comics #27 flies for £28,200 in British comics auction

Multiple bidding in the room from their live internet feed and three transatlantic telephones led to some impressive results from the Dominic Winter/ Comic Book Auctions on Thursday night, including the headline sale of a copy of Detective Comics #27 for £28,200 - the comic in which 'Bat Man' (sic) debuted.

Aside from Detective Comics #27, the big sellers were a restored copy of Superman #1 for £10,500 and Batman #1  for £9,600. A copy of Marvel's X-Men #1 sold for £3,877.00.

Some other key results were Amazing Spider-Man #1 CGC 6.5 at £3,350; Amazing Spider-Man #14 CGC 9.2 at £2,700 and Amazing Spider-Man #25 CGC 9.4 at £1233.

A copy of Avengers #1 CGC 7.5 sold for £4,112 and Avengers #2 CGC 8.5 at £1175. Even an issue Avengers #11 sold at a good price - £870.

All prices include 17.5% buyer's premium.

'The sale was largely successful with all eyes on the Detective #27 at an impressive £28,200 including 17.5% buyer's premium," notes Comic Book Auction's Malcolm Phillips.


"The Avengers did particularly well in advance of the upcoming movie, as did the ever-popular webslinger and Professor X's Militant Mutants. Superman #1 and Batman #1 were both CGC restored copies, just meeting their reserves.

"Given this was our our debut live auction of a one-owner collection of 2,500 US comics, the biggest inventory ever offered outside the USA, both ourselves and the vendor were absolutely delighted with the overall results."

• For more UK comics auctions visit the Comic Book Auctions web site

Creator-owned strip Numbercruncher launches in Megazine in New Year

A quick Friday plug for Numbercruncher which starts in the New Year in the Judge Dredd Megazine.

Created by Si Spurrier and PJ Holden, it's a creator owned series and we reckon that it deserves support since it is, for publishers Rebellion, a bit of an experiment.

PJ Holden tells us Numbercruncher will be 8 page chunks and will run for 10 episodes, along with the usual "bunch of cool stuff" in the Meg.

Here’s the cover fr the opening episode (logo designed in house by Simon Parr).

You can buy the Megazine in all good newsagents and, if you’re in the US or elsewhere, you should be able to buy the Meg online at Clickwheel (www.clickwheel.net/features/229) and the 2000AD online shop.

Glasgow's Hope Street Studios looking for intern

Hope Street Studios in Glasgow are looking for any illustration students interested in a paid internship, who would mainly be doing comic book work but possible storyboarding and design.

Top artist Gary Erskine, who is heading up the hunt, tells downthetubes they're looking for someone from Glasgow and Edinburgh (or within nearby area) as some work involves being on hand at the studio.

Sequential art experience is preferred but not essential.

To apply, please send a link to your Deviant Art site or similar and provide a contact email address.

• Email Gary at garyerskineonlineATbtinternet.com He will follow up with interested parties as soon as possible.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Comics in education: SANE Journal launched

The first issue of the academic SANE journal: (which stands for Sequential Art narrative in Education) is out now, with its first issue focusing on "comics in the contact zone."

SANE publishes research- and practioner-based articles covering all intersections of comics and education, from pre-kindergarten to post-secondary studies, from a variety of disciplines.

Articles in this first issue include articles examining how graphica engages what Mary Louis Pratt has called the 'contact zone' - social spaces in education and life where entities meet, clash and grapple with various conflicts and constructions. Articles may include the amusingly titled 'Everything I Learned About Teaching in the Contact Zone I Learned from Charles Xavier and the Uncanny X-Men' and 'This is Not Your Forefather's Thor: Using Comics to Make Mythology Meaningful' but they're meant as serious study of the medium and its uses.

The second issue will focus on teaching the works of Alan Moore, and the editors are still accepting submissions for it.

• Visit www.sanejournal.net to read articles, a review, rationales, and more.

Bande Dessinee Society seeking new members

Interested in bande dessinee? Then perhaps you should consider membership of the International Bande Dessinée Society and get hold of copies of the journal European Comic Art.

The IBDS is a forum for scholarly exchange on all aspects of the bande dessinée, or French-language comic strip. It welcomes all critical approaches, be they historical, sociological, political, literary, linguistic or other.

Founded in 2001, the Society largely, but not exclusively, draws its membership from English-speaking countries, thereby offering an alternative viewpoint to that of the thriving French-language BD community.

In 2011, members of the IBDS will again receive the journal European Comic Art as part of a special membership package.

Published by Liverpool University Press twice a year, European Comic Art, hosted online by Metapress, was the first English-language scholarly publication devoted to the study of European-language graphic novels, comic strips, comic books and caricature.

• Membership fees for 2011 are £25, please contact Journals Publishing Manager Clare Hooper at: Liverpool University Press, 4 Cambridge Street, Liverpool, L69 7ZU, UK. E-mail: clare.hooperATliverpool.ac.uk Web: www.liverpool-unipress.co.uk


(Thanks to Norman Boyd for this information)

Panel Borders: Derek the Sheep, the Mouse Guard and other Comical Animals

In a packed final show on radio show Panel Borders for 2010, Alex Fitch concludes his look at anthropomorphic comics, with a survey of recent titles for all ages – Gary Northfield’s ‘Derek the Sheep’ who appears in The Beano and Beano Max comics; Mouse Guard, a series of adventure comics and graphic novels by David Petersen; and ‘Comical Animal’, a new website devoted to funny animal strips, curated by Jim Medway.

The show features interviews with all three creators, recorded variously in Streatham Library, near Euston Station and via transatlantic phone line!

• Panel Borders: Derek the Sheep, the Mouse Guard and other Comical Animals airs at 5.00pm today, 16th December on Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com


• Resonance FM will be running repeats from 20th December 2010 - 9th January 2011; each of the three interviews will be available at www.panelborders.wordpress.com as extended half hour podcasts between now and the end of the year: David Petersen at 5.30pm 16/12/10; Jim Medway by 5pm 23/12/10 and Gary Northfield with Ellen Lindner and the Streatham Library Graphic Novels Reading Group by 5pm 30/12/10

Indifference Engine released in time for Christmas

One of the upcoming titles from Markosia thrust into my eager paws over the past couple of months was The Indifference Engine, written by Cy Dethan (writer of Cancertown) with pencils by Robert Carey.

It's a great timeline-spanning four-part mini-series, centring on one Alan Blake, a distinctly ordinary 20-something suburban slacker responding to a strange job advertisement who finds himself in the middle of an inter-dimensional task force staffed entirely by superhuman alternate versions of himself.
Struggling to fit in, he uncovers a conspiracy that strikes at the very heart of the organisation – a conspiracy that only he can stop.

There's some good news for people intirgued by this premise, because the book has been bumped up Markosia Publications’ release schedule and has made its way to the Playstation Network Comic Store just in time for Christmas.

You might recall I enthused about this book a while back, and now you can find out about the title for yourselves, which should make Rob Carey very happy as this his first full length graphic novel.

Meanwhile, over on the PSN blog, Pauline Martyn, the Publishing Manager at PSN Digital Comics posted: “Cancertown was one of the highlights of our early offerings – a great series which steadily grew a loyal cult following during its time on the store."

“You’re going to be freaked out," enthuses publisher Harry Markos of the book. "I warned you, a while ago, that The Indifference Engine would blow your minds. Well, as promised, issue one is here to do just that..."

• Read a free preview of the first 14 pages over on the website along with a sneak peak at art from later episodes.
• For those who don't have a PSP, look out for other formats next year - and there is already a sequel in the works!

The Really Heavy Greatcoat Review of the Year 2010

With everything else that we're up to, Nick Miller and I don't get the chance to do The Really Heavy Greatcoat comic very often. Its last regular appearance was in Comics International (we first devised the strip way back in the 1980s!). But Nick gamely comes up with an annual 'Greatcoat' , commenting on the past year, and this is his ace contribution for 2010...




More 2010 eCards from creators I've worked with or plugged on downthetubes here on Flickr, including work by SMS, Sion Mackie, Paul McCaffrey and others.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Mirabilis graphic novel released as iPad app

Mirabilis: Year of Wonders, a graphic novel by Dave Morris and Leo Hartas first seen in The DFC comic launched in the App Store for iPad this week.

Mirabilis is a fantasy adventure story for young adults which opens New Year’s Day 1901, when a green comet appears in the sky. As it gets bigger, the line between reality and fantasy blurs. Soon there are mermaids in the Thames, elves in Parliament and a dragon roosting on Big Ben. But then the comet rounds the sun and starts to fade. Will the world be able to go back to a life without magic?

The full-colour graphic novel was originally serialized in The DFC, the weekly print comic published by Random House UK, who financed the production. Mirabilis is the first of the DFC strips (which include Mezolith, Mo-Bot High and Monkey Nuts) to appear on iPad.

The iPad app comprises the first 200-page season in what Morris and Hartas plan as a four-book epic.

“iPad is a game changer for graphic novels,” says Mirabilis writer Dave Morris, a former number one UK best-selling author. “Go into most bookshops in Britain, you’ll be lucky to find the graphic novel section. Even in the US, they’re mostly just available in hobby stores. Yet suddenly the graphic novel market is worldwide, portable, affordable, open to everybody.”

“As soon as we saw the iPad we knew we had to release Mirabilis on this platform first," adds Leo Hartas, the story’s co-creator and illustrator. "The quality is better than print. The colours have to be seen to be believed."

Despite their obvious (and deserved) enthusiasm for the iPad, Dave and Leo aren't leaving print behind. Hardcover volumes of the Winter story will be published by Print Media Productions next year, and serialized print editions are in negotiation for India and the United States.

Mirabilis iTunes on iTunes

• Learn more at www.mirabilis-yearofwonders.com

Etherington Brothers join The Dandy - with dragons

Here's the first official artwork from the Etherington Brothers brand new series, YORE!, which will be making its early 2011 debut very, very soon in The Dandy.

This is just the latest of several strips the Etheringtons, creators of Malcolm Magic, Tusk, MOON and Baggage have brought to British comics fans, which include Monkey Nuts, recently released as a collection by Random House, and the web comic Lore of the Things.

"We don't want to give too much away (hence the completely non-explanatory pic choice!)," say the boys, "but we can reveal that there will be action, adventure, laughs, lots of complaining about stuff, gratuitous cartoon violence by the bone-filled bucketload, er, and a pig."

So remember folks, when you're sitting there at home on Christmas Eve feeling jaded because there's nothing on the TV but a rerun of Dr No or Jamie Oliver cooking something ... just remember ... Santa really does exist ... and he'll be bringing you a special gift every single week of the year in technicolour quest-o-vision!

Artist Spotlight: Andrew Skilleter

I first worked with Andrew Skilleter when I was editing Doctor Who Magazine in the late 1980s and I admire his work tremendously. He's a dab hand at both original and licensed art commissions, particularly Doctor Who (for which he's best known) - and some of his Dan Dare pieces, inspired by the Eagle comic character, are tremendous fun.

Anyway, after much planning and labour and little help from his friends, his new website is now live, including extensive galleries, bigger and better images, a blog and shop with online secure checkout if you want to buy any of his prints, such as his Narnia range.

As well as Doctor Who, Andrew has worked in numerous genres and you'll find a kaleidoscope of multi-genre images on this new site.

• Check it out at: http://andrewskilleter.com

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Multiverse magazine marooned no more

After being marooned at its Scottish printer for well over a fortnight – just one more victim of the worst snow the country has seen in 40 years – Multiverse #1, the first issue of Britian's new British comic magazine, is finally on its way to the shops.

“There is something more than a little ironic about the launch issue of title from a company calling itself Hell Freezes Over being delayed by freak winter weather conditions but that’s exactly what happened,” explained publisher/editor Mike Conroy, who's hoping the new title will fill the void left by the demise of Comics International.

“The very day Multiverse #1 was due to leave our printer the snow started falling and the temperature plummeted right along with it. It wasn’t until last Wednesday, 8th December, that the trucks could actually get in to Bonnyrigg to collect the print run.

“Copies are now reaching the shops but I’m advised that the backlog is so large that it could still take a week or more for orders to get to every outlet,” Conroy added. “The difficult circumstances have led me to scrap my plans to have a second issue out before Christmas. We’re now reworking the pages already produced for #2 and aiming to have it in the shops in early January... weather permitting, of course!"

“On behalf of the Multiverse team, I would like to thank all those who have sent messages of support and encouragement during what has been an extremely frustrating start to this new venture,” Mike concluded.

It's clear Mike feels the problems he's faced keenly, especially given his association with Comics International, whose frequency suffered for a number of reasons towards its end. He must be feeling the fates are conspiring - let's hope they give up and move on in 2011.

Artist Brian Lewis profiled in new Eagle Times

The latest issue of Eagle Times for Winter 2010 is on available now and has the usual intriguing mix of Eagle comic-related goodies to offer, including a profile of the artist Brian Lewis, whose work included strips for Eagle, 2000AD, Countdown and House of Hammer.

Items include:

• Not all Lancashire Lads and Lasses - a brief article on the genealogy of ('Dan Dare' creator) Frank Hampson

• The Life of Another Brian - memories about the brilliant illustrator Brian Lewis, who among his prolific output drew 'Home of the Wanderers' and 'Mann of Battle' for Eagle in the 1960s

• The Incredible Shrinking Fish - a critical examination of the giant sea creatures that appear in the classic 'Dan Dare' story 'The Man From Nowhere'

• Sammy: Swift's Space Fleet Cadet - takes a look at the strip in Eagle's companion paper Swift that was drawn by 'Dan Dare' artists Bruce Cornwell and Desmond Walduck, and drew heavily on the imagery of 'Dan Dare'

• From Under the 1950s Christmas Tree - taking a look at the various Eagle and 'Dan Dare' stencil sets that were available for children in the 1950s

•  Visual memories of the 37th World Science Fiction Convention, Seacon '79, which was held in Brighton in 1979 - with guests who included Frank Hampson and Arthur C Clarke.


For a full list of contents, visit the Eagle Times blog. The issue also includes a review of Dan Dare - The Biography by Daniel Tatarsky and the Eagle Annuals between 1961 and 1971, published after the takeover of Hulton Press.

• Membership of The Eagle Society is via Annual Subscription to Eagle Times magazine, which is published four times annually. The Subscription rate for 2011 is held at the 2010 rate (UK £23, Overseas £34 - payment in £s Sterling, please).

Early applications for 2011 (ie before 31st December 2010) are offered a discount saving of £2 off the above rates. Postal applications to: Keith Howard, 25A Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 2UA. If you wish to pay by Paypal the Society request an additional payment of £1. Enquiries: eagle-times@hotmail.com

Monday, 13 December 2010

ILEX Manga title wins Harvey Award

UK publisher Ilex’s bestselling The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga has been announced as the winner of the 2010 Harvey Award for ‘Best American Edition of Foreign Material’, and was also recently shortlisted for the prestigious Eisner Award.

Written by Helen McCarthy, the book is the first authorised English language biography on Japan’s most celebrated artist of the 21st century and I think it will interest followers of this blog. I also worked with Helen on Manga Max magazine a few years back.

Osamu Tezuka has often been called the Walt Disney of Japan, but he was far more than that. Tezuka was Disney, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Tim Burton and Carl Sagan, all rolled into one incredibly prolific package, and he changed the face of Japanese culture forever.

This book reveals what makes him one of the key figures of 20th century pop culture. Packed with stunning images, many never before seen outside Japan, it pays tribute to the work of an artist, writer, animator, doctor, entrepreneur and traveller whose insatiably curious mind created two companies, dozens of animated films and series, and over 150,000 pages of comic art in one astonishingly creative lifetime.  

ILEX call The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga "an amazing adventure for the manga and anime neophyte, an essential reference for the confirmed fans, and a visual treat for anyone who loves art".


The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga is on sale from amazon.co.uk

Rogue Trooper: a round table with the new creative team

Art from the new Rogue Trooper story for Prog 2011 by Staz Johnson.
Story by Gerry Finley-Day. © 2010 Rebellion
Rogue Trooper is one of science fiction comic 2000AD's most iconic characters. A deserter in a future war, he roams the barren surface of Nu Earth, a chemical ruin of a planet, on a sworn mission to avenge his dead comrades from the Quartz Zone Massacre. He's accompanied on this mission by three fallen buddies, in the form of biochips imprinted with their personalities after their deaths.

Now Rogue is returning once more to 2000AD and, for the first time since 1985, original series co-creator Gerry Finley-Day is writing the strip.

In this round table*, conducted for the Forbidden Planet International blog and downthetubes by Matt Badham, Matt Smith (editor of 2000AD), Gerry Finley-Day, Staz Johnson (the artist on this new strip) and Pat Mills (veteran comics writer and friend of Finley-Day) all talk about the genesis of the new story, entitled Dead Ringer

Rogue Trooper's first appearance
back in 2000AD Issue 228
Matt Badham: Gerry, what have you been up to writing-wise since you stopped working for 2000AD?

Gerry Finley-Day: Once a writer, always a writer… I have written novels and some screen plays.

Matt Badham: And what brought you back to 2000AD and to Rogue?

Gerry Finley-Day: When my friend Pat Mills returned from a comics convention in the States he told me that many people were asking about me. He seemed to think there was a demand for some fresh material from me and I thought, why not?

Matt Smith: Pat got in touch and said that he'd like to work (in an editorial capacity) with Gerry on a Rogue story. I think he felt that Gerry got unfairly sidelined out of 2000AD, and wanted to help him try to write something for the comic today. The plan was to work on a standalone Rogue tale, something that could slot quite easily into the comic.

A page from Rogue Trooper's
first appearance back in 2000AD Prog 228.
Art by Dave Gibbons
Pat Mills: Gerry was the creator of Tammy, from which Battle, Action and 2000AD are descended, so he is the founder of modern British comics. This has been pretty much ignored by comic historians and Gerry also had some insider-encouraged negative press on the web in years gone by, which made me seethe with anger with its inaccuracy and self-serving motivation.

The reality is fans loved his work, but it didn't find favour with 2000AD editorial at one stage. Having been Gerry's editor, I know the relatively small problems they faced (pacing and some story logic issues) but it was my view that it was worth dealing with them 'in house' because his stories were so popular. We all of us have our scripting faults and eccentricities and it's just something I felt we had to accept. Editorial didn't agree and I can completely understand why. But fans didn't agree with them either and kept asking for Gerry back, so I recently seized the chance and facilitated it.

Matt Badham: Matt, where in Rogue continuity is the story set?

Matt Smith: During the original run. It starts with the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Quartz Zone Massacre.

Matt Badham: How did you go about finding an appropriate artist for this new episode and why did you choose Staz Johnson?

Matt Smith: It was always the intention to run it in black and white, so I was after a good b/w artist. Staz has experience drawing Rogue and was champing at the bit to do it.

Matt Badham: How excited were you to welcome Rogue and his creator back? Were you a fan of the strip way back in the day...?

Matt Smith: It's good to see the original Rogue back in the prog for a simple, action-packed story. I was a fan of the original run, but he's a character who's been diminished, unfortunately, by too many 're-imaginings' and new directions. Just seeing Rogue back on Nu Earth fighting Norts is quite reassuring.

Art from the new Rogue Trooper story by Staz Johnson.
Story by Gerry Finley-Day. © 2010 Rebellion
Matt Badham: Staz, are you also a fan of Rogue from way back?

Staz Johnson: Absolutely I am. I was at the key 2000AD readership age (17) when Rogue debuted in 2000AD and it didn't take long before he had usurped Dredd as my favourite character. Anyone who has followed my blog will have seen this post where I posted some of my attempts at Rogue from long before I became a professional cartoonist, and just drew him for the sheer love of the character.

Matt Badham: So, how did you actually get involved with the new strip?

Staz Johnson: There was no alchemy to it, as it was simply the case that I had spoken to Tharg saying I was available. (I assume) when the script came in a few days later, he in his mighty wisdom figured I'd be a good fit, so he called me up.

Matt Badham: Pat, what was the exact nature of your 'editorial' involvement with the new strip?

Pat Mills: I made a few minor changes to Gerry's new Rogue story strip, but frankly it was just like I remembered his scripts. Not a big deal to make a few alterations. He has a feeling for some stories - notably war - which the readers intuitively respond to because of his own military background in the Territorial Army.

Matt Badham: Matt, are we going to see more Rogue from Gerry?

Matt Smith: I think Gerry would be keen to write more, providing it goes down well. It would have to be an occasional thing, a retro blast now and then, as I feel, as a series, the story's been played out.

Matt Badham: Gerry, do you think you'll return to Rogue again after this outing or maybe even pen further instalments of some of your other strips, such as The V.C.s or Fiends on the Eastern Front?

Gerry Finley-Day: I hope so, [but] that will be up to Matt [Smith].

Matt Badham: How easy was it to slip back into writing for the character and his world?

Gerry Finley-Day: As I said, I haven't stopped writing and Rogue is a good character.

Matt Badham: Did you enjoy the experience?

Gerry Finley-Day: Yes, very much so.

Matt Badham: Why do you think that Rogue has remained a fan favourite among 2000AD readers? What is the character's core appeal?

Gerry Finley-Day: I suppose because war - like it or not - is the ultimate adventure and Rogue is still the recognisable soldier no matter how far into the future.

Matt Badham: Pat, you facilitated Gerry's return so presumably you want to see him write more for 2000AD?

Pat Mills: Reader reaction to Gerry's impending return has been extremely enthusiastic and I'm hoping I can persuade him to write more. We really don't want anyone else writing Fiends, V.C.s or Rogue, any more than fans would appreciate anyone other than Alan Moore writing D.R. and Quinch or Halo Jones. Gerry is entitled to the same respect.

Art from the new Rogue Trooper story by Staz Johnson.
Story by Gerry Finley-Day. © 2010 Rebellion
Matt Badham: Staz, Would you like to do more Rogue?

Staz Johnson: I'd love to. I'd certainly hope that should Tharg choose to run more Nu Earth stories, I'd then be given the opportunity to draw at least some of them.

I suppose the question is whether there is a thirst among the current 2000AD readership for a strip that is essentially 'retro'. There's no point making strips just because the creators think it's fun to work on them. I think there's still a way to make war stories relevant to a modern, more sophisticated audience, without having to resort to gimmicks or by making a war story that isn't really about war. Take a look at Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. A Rogue with that level of visceral realism, gravity and pathos would be fantastic I think.

Matt Badham: What was it like working on a 'classic' strip with a 'classic' creator?

Staz Johnson: Well, that was the thing. As a fan of those original Nu Earth stories, it was a real thrill. Clearly, as the original writer, you can take as gospel that this IS Rogue… not just another writer's 'version' of the character.

Matt Badham: What approach have you taken to the visuals for this new episode of Rogue?

Staz Johnson: Well, one of the things that pulled me into Rogue way back in 1981 was Dave Gibbons' artwork. I had my old Titan Books reprint of the Gibbons strips on my desk the whole time I was working on the pages, so I took a lot of my design cues from him: things like the Southerner military police and the genetic camels, stammels. However, in addition to that, I looked at a lot of other old school 2000AD artwork because I definitely wanted it to have that 'feel'. In the end I think it wound up being close to someone like [Mean Arena artist] Mike White's work, with bits of Jesus Redondo thrown in. Hopefully with a healthy dose of Staz Johnson too, obviously.

Matt Badham: Who is your favourite Rogue Trooper artist?

Staz Johnson: Dave Gibbons, all the way. That's not to denigrate those who followed him, especially Cam Kennedy, but for me Dave is #1.

Matt Badham: Matt, Gerry isn't the only creator to have made his way back to 2000AD. You've also had Brendan McCarthy back in the mix. Why do you think these 'classic' creators are being tempted back to 2000AD?

Matt Smith: Partly because it's always there. If you've got a gap in your schedule, it's worth tapping up 2000AD for a short Dredd story or whatever. Also, because it's fun - no hoops to jump through, no marketing men to approve every process, just get back to having fun with comics. And 2000AD characters hold a special place in a lot of creators' hearts - they've been with them for the past three decades.

Matt Badham: Are there any other ex-2000AD creators you're particularly keen to welcome back into the fold?

Matt Smith: Plenty. Steve Dillon, Kevin O'Neill, Garth Ennis, Pete Milligan, Trevor Hairsine, Duncan Fegredo...

Matt Badham: What else is in Prog 2011 and why is it a good jumping on point for new readers?

Matt Smith: We've got a 12-page complete Dredd story by Al Ewing and Paul Marshall, called 'The Chief Judge's Speech'; the ten-page opening episodes of the post-apocalyptic Kingdom: 'His Master's Voice' by Dan Abnett and Richard Elson, pan-galactic weirdfest Shakara: 'Avenger' by Robbie Morrison and Henry Flint, supernatural thriller Ampney Crucis Investigates: 'The List of Ten' by Ian Edginton and Simon Davis, and Hell-set Necrophim: 'Civil Warlord' by Tony Lee and Lee Carter; 12 pages of Celtic barbarity in Slaine by Pat Mills and Clint Langley; and a one-off Psi-Judge Anderson story showing her as a cadet, by Alan Grant and Patrick Goddard.

If a new reader picks that little lot up, you'll get a good idea of what 2000AD is about - action, SF, horror, oddball characters and wild ideas, brilliantly written and wonderfully drawn. If you want a comic like nothing else out there, get into 2000AD!

• Thanks to Matt Badham for organising this round table. And thanks to Matt Smith, Gerry, Pat and Staz for participating.

• Prog 2011 of 2000AD will be available to buy from 15th December. More info at www.2000adonline.com



* Matt Badham originally conducted these interviews by email. They were then edited together to make a 'round table discussion'

Friday, 10 December 2010

Kapow plans secret sneek movie preview - could it be Thor?

Could the Kapow convention team be planning an advance screening of Kenneth Branagh's Thor film? They aren't saying, but it's one possible option for their just-announced sneak preview movie night.

The team behind next year's upcoming Kapow convention next April continue to unveil their plans and the latest is MOVIE X - a special advance movie screening of an upcoming superhero movie.

While the actual movie has yet to be announced - it's planned as a a secret, surprise screening that will be the finale to the show on Sunday 10th April 2011 - there are plenty of possibilities, including director Kenneth Branagh's Thor, which opens 29th April in the UK.

The advance screening will be shown in a 500 seater auditorium in the London Business Design Centre with state of the art facilities.

Nobody will know what MOVIE X is until the lights go down, but organisers say fans of comic book cinema can rest assured they are in for a special treat. "Our only clue this year is that the movie features a solo superhero. Have fun guessing who he is!"

If not Thor, given this clue, it could be James Gunn's Super, opening 1st April in the US, which has a kind of Kick-Ass vibe to the plot that might appeal to Mark Millar, one of the Kapow team.

A major coup would of course be a very advance screening of Green Lantern, set for a June release.

In addition to ‘MOVIE X’, the panels, signings, exclusive announcements and portfolio reviews, Kapow! visitors will also be able to enjoy the Comic Fans vs. Pros Game Show hosted by Jonathan Ross and The Stan Lee Awards. The guest list now includes Jonathan Ross, Frankie Boyle, Noel Clarke and Stewart Lee who all write for Titan's CLiNT, plus A-list UK and US comic  creators such as John Romita Jr., Dave Gibbons, Mark Millar, Leinil  Yu, Paul Cornell and Andy Diggle.

• The full movie and TV line up will be announced on Kapow! on 14th February. Tickets for Kapow! are available in advance only, and can be purchased  at www.kapowcomiccon.com. Tickets will not be available on the door.

Comic Book Alliance charity auction extended by a day!

As we previously reported, The Comic Book Alliance - “The Voice of the British Comics Industry” - are offering comic fans some very special Christmas treats this week with their very first fundraising auction — including the chance to star alongside Batman in his new comic, Batman Inc; along with other experiences that money can’t buy!

The auction has proved to be so popular that the CBA have extended the auction by 24 hours so that fans can get in those last minute bids for some real bargains!

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the bidding and response to the auction," says CBA Chair Tim Pilcher, "but it soon became apparent that there are still a few people out there who haven’t heard about the auction, and we wanted to give them that extra chance to get a really special Christmas present for themselves or a loved one.

"This being our first auction we have, naturally, had a few teething problems, but we can assure all US bidders that all the items listed are available to American fans as well. Simply contact us via eBay.co.uk and we will ensure you can take part in this exciting event.”

The auction will now end on Sunday 12 December at 19:00 (GMT).

Grant Morrison (the award-winning writer who killed Batman and resurrected him!) will write the winning bidder into an issue of Batman Inc. featuring their name and likeness, courtesy of DC Comics and Frank Quitely (All Star Superman, Batman & Robin), winner of four 2010 Eagle Awards and one of the hottest artists in comics, will draw a personalised portrait of a winning bidder.

Frank Quitely’s auction will end slightly earlier on Saturday 11 December at16:30 (GMT).

Plus, as we reported with a full list of lots here, there are dozens of signed books, comics and graphic novels from high profile creators like Alan Moore (Watchmen), Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys), Charles Vess (Stardust), and John Wagner (Judge Dredd).

And there’s original comic art and signed limited prints by the cream of British artists including zombie art work by Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Bryan Talbot (Grandville), Sean Phillips (Criminal), John McCrea (Hitman), David Lloyd (V for Vendetta), Mark Buckingham (Fables), Rufus Dayglo (Tank Girl) and Garen Ewing (Rainbow Orchid).

There are no reserves, and all bids start at just 99p, so there’s the chance to pick up some real Christmas bargains for the comic fan in your life!

• Further details on auction can be found at: www.eBay.co.uk: search for the seller, comic_book_alliance or at www.comicbookalliance.co.uk.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Radio 4 to air Eagle: The Space Age Weekly

A panel from Dan Dare: Prisoners of Space recently used
by the Daily Telegraph
(with thanks to Tony O'Sullivan): It looks like there is treat in store for Eagle fans just before Christmas. BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting "Eagle: The Space Age Weekly" on Thursday 23rd December at 11. 30am.

In the show, Tim Rice explores the lasting appeal of the Eagle that as downthetubes readers well know, ran in two main incarnations between 1950 and 1994. He touches on the impact of its flagship character Dan Dare, regarded by some as  the greatest British sci-fi hero of the 20th century, and the life of its creator Marcus Morris, who initiated it in reaction to"horrific" US comics with their "disturbing" storylines. (The programme notes, for example, how Dan Dare was originally envisaged as a space chaplain before becoming the popular astronaut).


It also examines the work of illustrator Frank Hampson, who introduced technology years ahead of its time, arguing he knew the space age was on its way while serving in the Second World War. He made the Dan Dare strips as realistic as possible by dressing his team in spacesuits and uniforms, basing the look of the fictional characters on his colleagues.

The programme also reveals the stories' educational value and, along with Dan Dare, looks at other Eagle offerings which ran as comic strips.

The show will include contributions from author Philip Pullman and Morris's daughter Sally, who wrote Living with Eagles, a biography of her father's life, back in 1998, which was published by Lutterworth Press – and Eagle Society member David Britton.

Sir Tim Rice is of course a lifelong Eagle fan and introduced the Titan Books collection of Dan Dare: Prisoners in Space.

Unpublished V for Vendetta offered in charity auction

David Lloyd is offering V for Vendetta fans a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a one off, never published page featurng the character originally created for Warrior by him and Alan Moore.

Offered on eBay, this is a silent "last page" from the series, especially drawn for an auction to benefit the family of a fallen Phoenix police officer and Army National Guardsman.

"I wanted to something special for this cause – so I thought I'd do a whole page," says David. "It's the only sequential action page to be drawn since I completed the last page of the story itself - and I'll never do another." says Lloyd.

Rendered in brush and ink, the silent scene depicts the iconic V giving an untitled book to Evey in the Shadow Gallery. If you've ever been lucky enough to see a page David's physical art, you'll know his work is absolutely stunning and this piece is sure to be much sought after.

On 3rd October 2009, Staff Sergeant Tom Rabjohn was deployed in Afghanistan as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team Leader. Tom was killed in action when he shielded two soldiers from the blast of an Improvised Explosive Device.

Tom served the United States of America in the Arizona National Guard and with the Phoenix Police Department. You can learn more of his story below:





100% of the proceeds for the auction - the current bid is $1000 - will go to a college fund established for Tom's three daughters.

International bidders welcome: the art will be shipped directly from David Lloyd.

• The auction ends on 15th December 2010 and can be viewed here on eBay: http://cgi.ebay.com/260703636706

• For more comic art offered in aid of this charity see www.comicartfans.com/GalleryRoom.asp?GSub=97294
 

Panel Borders: Mature animal comics

Panel Borders radio show's series of shows about anthropomorphic or ‘funny animal’ comics continues tonight, Alex Fitch talks to a pair of writer/artists whose latest projects deal with animal human hybrids in adult situations.

First up is Howard Hardiman, creator of Cute but Sad, whose new project is The Lengths, a black and white comic about male sex workers, based on interviews he conducted in London and funded via IndieGoGo and an Arts Council Grant.

That's followed by an interview recorded at The Cartoon Museum with Bryan Talbot, who discusses Grandville Mon Amour, the second volume of his steampunk graphic album series set in a violent turn of the century Paris.

• Panel Borders: Mature Animal Comics airs at 5.00pm, 09/12/10, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / podcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com after transmission

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Win Bad Press goodies signed by Simon Bisley, Alan Grant and John Wagner

Bad Press Limited, publishers of the adult comic Wasted, have announced their festive competition, running from 10th December 2010 to 10th January 2011.

If you spend £9 (excluding postage) or more at www.badpressltd.com, they'll enter you in a grand prize draw to win a signed copy of their Bad Press Ltd. Edition #1 bundle, featuring an ultra-rare S*** The Dog #1 traced by Simon Bisley, Alan Grant and John Wagner, Wasted #1 defaced by All Star Supremo Frank Quitely, Northern Lightz #1 misplaced by Scottish Underground hero Dave Alexander and New British Comics #1 debased by rising star Tim Rees!

Of course, if you're a Wasted fan, for just £6 you could treat yourself this Christmas to one of just 25 limited edition #1 bundles packs, comprising of Wasted, S*** The Dog, Northern Lightz and New British Comics! (This offer includes free postage to UK residents, £3.00 to Europe and £6.00 to absolutely anywhere in the rest of the known world).

The winner of the competition will be announced in Wasted #7, on sale 5th February 2011 - check out the cover to that above!

• Full details at: www.badpressltd.com

Detective Comics 27 goes under a UK hammer

Rare and much sought-after US comics, including Detective Comics #27, featuring the first appearance of Batman, will go under the hammer in Gloucestershire next week.

The auction of US comics from a ‘one owner’ collection will take place on Thursday 16th December 2010 at Dominic Winter’s UK auction rooms in association with Comic Book Auctions.

Over 2,500 comics in 200 lots are on offer, perhaps the most important collection of American comics ever offered outside the US.

Included in the auction is Detective Comics #27, dated May 1939 (which recently sold for $1 million in New York). The first appearance of 'Bat-Man' is listed as CGC Apparent 4.5 [vg+], restored, cream to off-white pages. Notes on the lot indicate it has had professional restoration that includes: colour touch, pieces added, tear seals, cleaned, re-inforced, re-glossed.

Also on offer among the many comic lots are Batman #1, Superman #1, Superboy #1 and #2, issues of Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Journey Into Mystery, Iron Man and X-Men #1 - plus Mile High copies of Crime And Punishment #1-5. Many of the comics offered are with CGC grading.

Full details of the lots can be found here on the Dominic Winter Auction Room web site.

A 2001 figurine of Walt Disney
and Mickey Mouse. More info here

The US comics on offer are part of a much larger auction that also includes rare antiquarian and juvenile books, bygone toys (including Disney toys), Louis Wain postcards, a huge collection of the works of crime writer Edgar Wallace (who was also the co-creator of King Kong), first edition books, including many James Bond hardcovers, film posters (including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Goldfinger), plus many Disney figurines and serigraphs.

• US Comics Section: www.dominicwinter.co.uk/catcal/S290/P15.html

• Bidding can be done online, via telephone or in the auction rom. For full details please check the website www.dominicwinter.co.uk or call on 01285 860006

• Dominic Winter Auction Rooms is at Mallard House, Broadway Lane, South Cerney, Nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5UQ. Email: info@dominicwinter.co.uk

Winter Combat In Carnoustie

Carnoustie Library will be hosting a war comics exhibit during the month of December.

As well as Commando images taken from the World War 1 story The 11th Hour, written by Ferg Handley, and with artwork of by both Ian Kennedy (right) and Olivera, the exhibition will also cover Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun’s Charley’s War and Jacques Tardi’s It Was The War Of The Trenches. Other war titles in the exhibition include DC’s Enemy Ace and anthologies showing work by Reed Crandall, John Severin, Art Spiegelman and Alex Toth. The exhibition will also look at how British comics dealt with war through the years with Adam Riches’ book When The Comics Went To War.

Senior Library Assistant David Robertson told downthetubes, "The library was planning an exhibition on World War I anyway and so I suggested doing a section on comics. I know from experience in other councils that Charley’s War goes down very well in libraries, so that was a good starting point.

"We are also quite near to D.C. Thomson’s in Dundee and I thought they might supply some material, which they did. Bill McLoughlin was very helpful and supplied some excellent prints of Ian Kennedy and Olivera’s artwork (left) from Commando. Ian is a nice guy too, and he signed one of his covers for display.

Asked if the library had a good selection of graphic novels David told us, "It does, and it’s getting better all the time. However, after suggesting this comics display in June, I searched our catalogue for war comics and found we had none whatsoever! Zero. So the collection had to be built up a bit before December rolled around. As I suspected, the books have proven popular. It’s worth noting that we take a council-wide approach to the collection, so it’s always worth asking if you can’t find what you’re after in a specific branch.

"But yes, we have super-heroes, Asterix, Tintin, Vertigo, alternative, Judge Dredd, humour, newspaper strips and loads more. And plenty of war comics now! I hope people enjoy the exhibition, it's been fun putting it together."

Carnoustie Library is located in the High Street of Carnoustie near Dundee and as well as being a public lending library it holds a collection of books and ephemera highlighting all aspects of the town’s history including information on microfilm and microfiche.

The free exhibition runs from 1 to 31 December 2010 and is open during regular library hours, Monday & Wednesday 9.30am – 8pm, Tuesday 10am to 6pm, Thursday 9.30am – 6pm, and Friday & Saturday 9.30am – 5pm.

UPDATE 8 DEC 2010: Due to the unprecedented weather in Scotland this exhibition will now continue until 21 January 2011.

Because I Am collection from Paul Davies

Brighton-based teacher and creator of 'indie' comics short stories Paul Davies has just self-published a collection of the same called Because I Am, via lulu.com.

"It's a collection of nine graphic short stories, drawn between 2004 and 2009," says Paul. "The stories are about the young and the old, the past and the present, the near and the far."

Grovel.org.uk describes it as "exquisitely paced, and written with charm and wit" while ShelfAbuse.com says the colection is "enthralling ... his narratives each evoke a unique emotion as much as they tell tales."

"Every bit of it is expertly handled," enthuses small press review site Optical Sloth. "There’s genuine emotion over here, a real laugh or two over there, and all the messy bits in between that make up life."

• Paul's website/blog at www.crosbies.co.uk has a preview of a couple of the stories.

You can buy the book from lulu.com via this link

Tube Surfing: Ross joins Kapow line up, Cardiff Comic Expo and more

• British TV presenter, comic book writer and lifelong comic fan Jonathan Ross has confirmed he will be a guest at Kapow! Comic Con and host the Comic Pros vs. Fans Game Show live on stage. The event takes place 9th & 10th April 2011. More info: www.kapowcomiccon.com

• If you live in the UK fancy nabbing a copy of the Burke & Hare by Martin Conaghan and Will Pickering as a stocking filler this Christmas, you can get it now with free postage. The total price, delivered, is now £10. You can purchase the book at Amazon UK, or on the Burke & Hare Graphic Novel website: www.burkeandharecomic.co.uk

• The line up for the first  Cardiff Comic Expo on Saturday 26th February 2011 includes comic creators Charlie Adlard, Mike Collins, Paul Cornell, Neil Edwards, John Ross and Simon Williams. The  event will see the launch of 10thology, a collection of 10 stories by the cream of the crop of Welsh creators and creators living and working in Wales from the Small Press and Indie scene, including industry legends such as Mike Collins.
There's also a Manga Expo Spotlight hosted by Cardiff’s Otakuzoku Store and a Small Press Showcase hosted by Fallen Angel Media.

 All advance ticket holders will receive a money off voucher for 10 thology and the chance to win original art! Tickets are only £5 and are on sale now via Paypal. Visit http://www.fantasyevents.org/cicel to pre-book. For more info, there's also a facebook page here.

• Talking of Facebook, indie comic distributors and all round good eggs Smallzone now have space there. Check it out at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Smallzone

• Andy Diggle draws our attention to the Sitcom Mission 2011's 15-minute sitcom scriptwriting competition. The event launched last year and the search for the 2011 showcase is now on, and they're looking for a 15-minute episode. See the Blog, FAQs, Guidelines, Rules for further information, then Enter.

•  B7 Media, producers of all things Blake's 7-related, have just launched their new company website where you’ll find details about thir past, present and future productions, along with the ability to purchase and download our latest audio releases: www.b7media.com

• The Comic Creators Alliance have announced the launch of their second annual fund-raising drive to raise funds to fight against Human Trafficking. Last year's drive raised a staggering $10,000 and had over 80 artists working together on a special image just for the event. This year they hope to top not only proceeds, but the number of artists working on the project. In the spirit of upping the odds, this year's drive will include a print version of the piece available for purchase as well as the digital download. Artists have until the end of the year to contact the creator of this project, Lora Innes, at comiccreatorsallianceATgmail.com to contribute artwork.
The donation drive starts on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day which is 11 January 11, 2011 and ends 24th January 2011. The official website for the drive is http://comicalliance.weebly.com/. To learn more about what you can do to end human trafficking visit http://comicalliance.weebly.com/links.html

Monday, 6 December 2010

Cinebook Release Their January-June 2011 Schedule

Cinebook , the Canterbury-based publisher of European bandes dessinee albums translated into English, have released a PDF copy of their first 2011 catalogue onto their website.

In the six months between January and June 2011 the company will publish 20 new titles, the vast majority of which have never been translated into English before.

The twin backbones of the Cinebook range are the humorous Lucky Luke books and the espionage thriller XIII. Each of these series are published at a rate of one every two months with the XIII books now well beyond any previous English language publication, while the Lucky Luke series will have reached the 29th book by June. As well as more Blake and Mortimer and Largo Winch titles are the third Bellybuttons book and Cinebook finally returns to Orbital with the third title in the SF action series.

The headline piece from the catalogue is that Cinebook will be publishing one Jean Van Hamme book each month. Van Hamme's titles range from the modern Blake and Mortimer stories, via Lady S and Thorgal to the aforementioned Largo Winch and XIII. June will see a one off special by Van Hamme along with his Thorgal artist Grzegorz Rosinski entitled Western and set in Wyoming in 1868.

With the Christmas buying season being somewhat curtailed by the current snow perhaps it is worth letting the postman do all the hard work and order up a title or two that you have not yet tried. If you like Tintin and Rainbow Orchid then try Blake and Mortimer or if you like Modesty Blaise try Lady S. If Nemi in the Metro newspaper is more to your taste then it would be The Bellybuttons, if it is James Bond you prefer then try Largo Winch, while if the kids like Harry Potter then try Scared To Death.

Reviews if the current batch of Cinebook releases including their two new series, Crusade and Long John Silver, will appear on downthetubes soon.

Download the Cinebook catalogue (PDF)

• There are more details of all Cinebook titles on their website.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Rainbow Orchid: Volume 3

The cover image for the third volume of Garen Ewing's The Rainbow Orchid has just been released showing Evelyn and Julius fighting above lava.

This does seems rather at odds with one of the teaser images that Garen has posted over at his blog which shows off the two characters in what appears to be an altogether cosier situation. However it will be a while before we know exactly what is going on and how the story climaxes as the release date for the book is given on Amazon UK as 8 August 2011.

In the meantime Garen has donated signed and sketched versions of the first two Rainbow Orchid books plus their cover posters to the Comic Book Alliance eBay auction which is going on at the moment. In addition to these he has also donated some of his original black and white line art that was used to create the Tayout Soviet flying circus poster in the first book.

There are more details of The Rainbow Orchid on the official website as well as Garen's blog.

The CBA Rainbow Orchid auctions are here : Volume 1, Volume 2 and original artwork.

The downthetubes reviews of the first two books in The Rainbow Orchid trilogy are here : Volume 1 & Volume 2.

Battleships By L Ashwell Wood

It is no secret that the team here on downthetubes are all fans of Eagle comic with John Freeman editing Titan's Dan Dare and Bible Stories reprint books, Jeremy Briggs and Richard Sheaf writing for Eagle Times while Ian Wheeler was the editor of the still missed Eagle Flies Again zine.

Original Eagle's longest serving artist was Leslie Ashwell Wood who is best known for his detailed cutaway paintings that were in around two thirds of all the issues of Eagle published between 1950 and 1969. Wood died in 1973 before Eagle fandom had a chance to talk to him and this has left many questions about this career unanswered.

Recently a selection of his preliminary pencil sketches for various cutaways and other explanatory paintings have come to light and Jeremy Briggs has taken the opportunity to examine these over on Steve Holland's Bear Alley blog. The latest of these prelims is for a King George V Class battleship of the Royal Navy, the type of ship that fought battles again the Bismarck and Scharnhorst in the Atlantic during World War Two. Jeremy compares the seventy year old prelim to its published version and is able to directly link it to a painting by Wood that is held in the UK's National Archives.

There are more details of the battleship pencil prelim by Leslie Ashwell Wood on Bear Alley.

Friday, 3 December 2010

UK indie comics distributor Smallzone launches Print on Demand service

British independent comics distributor Smallzone - also the team behind Scar Comics - has just announced a UK-based Print on Demand service for all UK comic publishers.

The service, arranged in partnership with BookVault, enables publishers to print books and sell them without a huge outlay and the Smallzone service has been deliberately tailored to comics publishers.

"Now - finally - there is a true POD option for UK publishers," enthuses Smallzone's Shane Chebsey, "which means no more expensive shipping from the US and no more having to spend a fortune in big runs of comics just to get a reasonable price per copy.

"We're very excited about this as we think it will enable small publishers to have more choice in their printing options and publish comics and graphic novels without having to break the bank.

"It also means that small publishers will no long be restricted to black and white interior art. Colour printing is now affordable on lower runs."

Smallzone can also intergrate the retail service with the printing service so publishers don't  have to worry about finding storage space for their print run.

"We can print and sell the books for you and you just sit back and enjoy the royalties," says Shane. (The combined service is only open to publishers who qualify for a smallzone listing).

• For more information and to view prices go to: www.smallzone.co.uk/printing.htm

Fay Dalton Scoops Pickled Award

British illustrator Fay Dalton has won the Pickled Ink agency's Pickled Award, launched earlier this year in a bid to find an artist to draw a new graphic novel by Super Gran creator and writer Jenny McDade.

The judges, who included 2000AD co-creator Pat Mills, felt her submission set her apart amongst entries from around the world. "Her photo-realistic characters ooze class, emotion, attitude," they declared, "and have an airbrushed quality that parallels the celebrity photographs splashed over the covers of today’s glossy magazines."

"She's the most exciting female comics artist I’ve seen since the Golden Age of female comics, which was so long ago most people have forgotten it existed (Jackie, Misty, Tammy etc) and that mainstream female comics once outsold male comics by at least a ratio of two to one," says Pat.

Fay, a Portsmouth University graduate with a first class degree in Illustration, is based in London and says she is inspired by a wide range of artists and illustrators like Gerald Scarfe, James Jean and Cindy Sherman. She enjoys illustrating current social issues such as celebrity culture and plastic surgery but also loves illustrating for children's books, and creating character designs.

"I often illustrate serious subjects with a lampoon twist," she says. "However I approach my subjects with an open mind."

“Fay has huge potential," Pat Mills enthuses. "Her work with Jenny’s great story shows that for a female audience there’s finally a British mainstream alternative to American super heroines, female “art house” comics and Manga. It’s cool and sexy, funny and emotional.
So there’s going to be a lot of blokes following it, too.“

Pickled Ink feel Fay's work will provide perfect visual accompaniment to Jenny McDade’s feisty, sexy, insalubrious, glamorous graphic novel script Party Girls and she's a richly deserved winner of the Pickled Award.

More of Fay's submission, which clinched hr win, will be revealed at the London Print Studio on Thursday 16th December where Pickled ink will be hosting a Q&A with Pat Mills and Jenny McDade as part of Comica Festival, an annual comics festival directed by Paul Gravett.

Pat and Jenny will be discussing Party Girls as well as the world of girls’ comics in general, offering an insight into why female comics dropped off the radar in Britain and the efforts that are being made to bring them back

In the meantime, Fay’s full portfolio is available to view at www.pickledink.com and whilst Party Girls is in development, Fay will be available for commissions.

• Q&A with Pat Mills & Jenny McDade: London Print Studios, Thursday 16th December 6.30 - 8.0pm. See www.comicafestival.com for more info

London Kapow comic event snags Judge Dredd exclusive

Visitors to the upcoming Kapow! Comic Con next April (9th - 10th) will be amongst the first in the world to get an exclusive sneak peek at various upcoming comics, movie blockbusters and hit TV shows from some of the biggest publishers and studios in the world.

Andrew Macdonald, producer of international blockbuster hits such as Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Last King of Scotland will be talking about the upcoming Dredd, based on Judge Dredd from the 2000AD comics.

“It's fantastic to be involved with Kapow!," says Andrew, "and I’m really looking forward to talking to all the fans about our upcoming Dredd movie.

"I’ll be on the 2000AD panel with a little taster of what people can look forward to from our 2012 release”.

The full film and TV guest list will be announced on the Kapow! website on 14th February 2011, but the comics creator guest list is already filling up, with appearances from the likes of John Romita Jr. (Kick-Ass), Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), Frank Quitely (Batman), Leinil Yu (Secret Invasion), Bryan Hitch (The Ultimates, The Authority) and more signing autographs, speaking on panels and giving exclusive previews of upcoming works.

Tickets are on sale now at http://www.kapowcomiccon.com/ and are selling fast, say organisers.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Doctor Who-Inspired Cover for 2000AD


There's a rather splendid Doctor Who-inspired cover on this week's edition of 2000AD. Judge Dredd is depicted surveying a portaloo-style TARDIS with a Tom Baker-like scarf trailing out from under the door!

Drawn by D'Israeli, it's promoting Episode 2 of the Judge Dredd tale Doctor What? written by Al Ewing and drawn by Brendan McCarthy.

It's not the first time that the TARDIS has been interpreted as a portaloo. Christopher Biggins portrayed a Doctor-like character, in the Big Finish Doctor Who story The One Doctor, who used one as his mode of transport and many a jokey newspaper article has suggested that a portaloo might be a suitable design for a revamped time machine.

This cover is great fun and well worth picking up even if you don't buy 2000AD normally.

• Buy 2000AD in all good newsagents and UK comic stores, or online at http://shop.2000adonline.com

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Comic Book Alliance charity offers Batman fans the chance to star in a comic alongside their hero

Last updated 10th December

Yes, you read that correctly! Thanks to the Comic Book Alliance, this is a fund-raising auction where the highest bidder will get to star alongside the Dark Knight in his very own comic!

Not only will the winner's name be included, but Chris Burnham will also draw their likeness into the story as well. All written by "the man who killed Batman" no less award-winning scribe and comics legend, Grant Morrison!

Batman Incorporated is the new best-selling comic book from Grant Morrison highlighting the new status quo in the Batman series as Bruce Wayne takes the Bat-franchise global.

The winner, who will appear in will feature in Batman Inc. #4 on sale 16th February 2011.will have the choice to be brutally slain by the villain or dramatically rescued by Batman in a story that takes Batman in a desperate race across two continents and two decades in a spectacular battle to save the world from a terrifying new threat.

The auction is being run by the Comic Book Alliance, “The Voice of the British Comics Industry”, who are offering comic fans some very special Christmas treats this very first fund-raising event.

Along with an appearance in Batman Inc.,  Frank Quitely, winner of four 2010 Eagle Awards and one of the hottest artists in comics (All Star Superman, Batman & Robin) will draw a personalised portrait of a winning bidder.

Alan Moore tribute
book - signed by Alan
"This is ideal," enthuses Quitely. "Some lucky bidder gets to enjoy a cutting caricature of themselves, I get to exercise my cruel sense of humour, and the CBA gets the money it needs to help it carry on its vital work — everyone's a winner!"

Plus, there are dozens of signed books, comics and graphic novels from high profile creators like Alan Moore (Watchmen), Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys), Charles Vess (Stardust), and John Wagner (Judge Dredd).

Walking Dead art
by Charlie Adlard
And there’s original comic art and signed limited prints by the cream of British artists including zombie art work by Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Bryan Talbot (Grandville), Sean Phillips (Criminal), John McCrea (Hitman), David Lloyd (V for Vendetta), Mark Buckingham (Fables), Rufus Dayglo (Tank Girl) and Garen Ewing (Rainbow Orchid).

The CBA supports and promotes comic creators, publishers, retailers and distributors, both in the UK and abroad. At the heart of the Alliance, founders Tim Pilcher, Shane Chebsey and GM Jordan have assembled an Advisory Board made up of leading academics and professionals from a wide spectrum including chat show host, turned comic book writer, Jonathan Ross and V for Vendetta artist David Lloyd.

In the last year the CBA has helped organise and promote major exhibitions and sent thousands of free comic books to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The CBA also runs a website that helps the general public find their local comic book retailer (www.comicshops.co.uk) and with over 1.5m visitors.

“The UK has one of the most creative and extensive comic publishing industries in the world," feels CBA Chair Tim Pilcher, "a legacy that has produced some of the best artists and writers currently working in the medium. It’s been wonderfully overwhelming to see so many of them generously donating their time and items to this very worthy British cause and coming together to support the medium they love.”

There are no reserves, and all bids start at just 99p, so there’s the chance to pick up some real Christmas bargains for the comic fan in your life!

Complete List of items in the Inaugural CBA Auction

• An appearance in Batman Inc. written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Chris Burnham. Courtesy of DC Comics

• Personalised caricature by Batman & Robin artist Frank Quitely

Fables art by
Mark Buckingham
• Two pages of Fables original artwork by Mark Buckingham

Spider-Man original artwork by Andie Tong

The Walking Dead artwork by Charlie Adlard

Daredevil limited edition print by Adi Granov

Criminal art by
Sean Phillips
Criminal original artwork by Sean Philips

Tank Girl original artwork by Rufus Dayglo

Peter Pan signed limited edition book, pus original artwork by Charles Vess

• Original Letraset Manga Artwork by Nana Li

Inspector Gadget original artwork by Dave Windett

Whiteout signed print by Steve Lieber

Yesterday’s Tomorrow’s hardcover signed by Rian Hughes

Luther Arkwright
limited edition print
Luther Arkwright signed limited edition print by Bryan Talbot

Punisher original artwork by Laurence Campbell

Warhammer 40K original artwork by Kev Hopgood

War Machine original artwork by Kev Hopgood

Marvel Heroes original artwork by Kev Hopgood

G.I. Joe original artwork by Kev Hopgood

Button Man 3: Killer Killer graphic novel and Strontium Dog script signed by John Wagner

Wasteland hardcover graphic novel signed by Antony Johnston

Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman signed by Alan Moore

Rime of the Ancient Mariner graphic novel signed by Hunt Emerson and Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Smuggling Vacation and Day of the Deal graphic novels signed by Jason Wilson

Day of the Deal exclusive “prison edition” graphic novel signed by Jason Wilson

The Erotic Adventures of Space Babe 113, Complete set signed by John Maybury

Iron Man & Black Widow limited edition print signed by Khoi

Wormwood: The Last Enemy signed by Garth Ennis

Wormwood: The Last Battle #1-3 signed by Garth Ennis

The Boys Limited Anniversary Edition hardcover graphic novel set (1-5) signed by Garth Ennis

The Boys #39 Signed by Garth Ennis

The Boys #40 Signed by Garth Ennis

The Boys #41 Signed by Garth Ennis

Preacher: Books 1 & 2 Deluxe Hardcover Editions Signed by Garth Ennis

Preacher: Dixie Fried graphic novel Signed by Garth Ennis

JLA/Hitman Issues 1 & 2 (complete) signed by Garth Ennis

Hitman: Ten Thousand Bullets graphic novel signed by Garth Ennis

Hitman: A Rage in Arkham graphic novel signed by Garth Ennis

Crossed graphic novel signed by Garth Ennis

Battlefields: Happy Valley and Tankies signed books and script by Garth Ennis

Territory original artwork by David Lloyd

Abe, Temptation, Candleman signed books and original art by Glenn DakinHorse print signed by Emily Hare

Strange Embrace hardcover graphic novel signed by David Hine

Daredevil European Tour limited edition print signed by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

• Signed print by Hermann

• Hermann exhibition poster signed by the artist

The Rainbow Orchid original art by Garen Ewing

Peter Pan by Charles Vess
The Rainbow Orchid Book 1 & poster both signed by Garen Ewing

The Rainbow Orchid Book 2 & poster both signed by Garen Ewing

Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #9 signed by Gary Spencer Millidge

Strangehaven graphic novel (Book 1), print and postcard pack signed by Gary Spencer Millidge

Strangehaven graphic novel (Book 2) and print pack signed by Gary Spencer Millidge

Hitman original art by John McCrea

The Authority original artwork and signed graphic novel by Simon Cobley

Low Life: The Red Seas graphic novel signed by the artist, Steve Yeowell

Burke & Hare graphic novel signed by Martin Conaghan & Will Pickering

Tours de Bois-Maury signed print by Hermann

Merry Christmas Mr Zombo (from 2000 AD) Script signed and illustrated by Al Ewing

Blake's 7 replica badge by Termight Replicas

• The auction runs until at 7.00pm GMT on Sunday 12 December at 19:00 (GMT) later than previously advertised - see news story - on www.eBay.co.uk: search for the seller, comic_book_alliance or further details can be found at www.comicbookalliance.co.uk. (Frank Quitely’s auction will end slightly earlier on Saturday 11 December at16:30 (GMT)

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