downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...
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!
Saturday, 19 May 2012
The comic tells the tale of a 'grey' alien becoming a small town doctor in the USA and Alex will be talking to the creators about the genesis of the comic as well as Peter previous experience of writing about grey aliens in Vector 13 for 2000AD and Steve's earlier comic of suburban weirdness, The Bojeffries Saga with Alan Moore.
The panel is at 2.30pm, Sunday 20th May 2012, Room A, Kapow! comics convention, Islington Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, London N1 0QH
• More info at http://kapowcomicconvention.com/node/307
Indeed Plaything Of Sutekh, which derives its name from the popular fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane 1975 adventure Pyramids Of Mars, comes across as a Doctor Who version of Andersonic in both its format and contents.
Issue one costs £2.35 including UK postage and features -
What Did the Sixties Do For Who? – a look at how the Troughton era of Doctor Who reflected the changes facing Britain in the late 60s
Frank’s Who – the lasting influence of Frank Bellamy’s Radio Times art on Doctor Who illustration.
Secret Who – a re-evaluation of a clutch of less popular stories: Underworld, The Krotons and The Android Invasion.
Accidental Art – while Terry Nation and Douglas Adams were pulling in opposite directions, Ken Grieve’s innovative approach raised Destiny of the Daleks above the norm.
A New Direction? – a look at the evolution of Doctor Who under Steven Moffat
Return of the King – a look at and a listen to Tom Baker’s return as the Doctor in the Big Finish audio adventures.
There are more details of the first issue of Plaything of Sutekh and how to purchase it on the fanzine's blog and Facebook page.
Friday, 18 May 2012
To coincide with the Diamond Jubilee, the winner of the competition, created in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, will be announced on 5 June 2012.
Entries are now open until 30th May 2012
The winner will receive a printed framed copy of their winning portrait. Also, the winner and five runners-up, along with their families, will enjoy a special tour of the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition The Queen: Art & Image, followed by an exclusive animation workshop with an artist. They will also each receive an arty goody bag.
To get little ones’ creative juices flowing, issues 48 (on sale now) and 49 (on sale 23 May) of CBeebies Art magazine provides inspiration, including a list of ‘top tips’ from artists at the National Portrait Gallery and features on royal portraits commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, including Nicky Philipps’ portrait Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, 2009. The National Portrait Gallery will also be holding free Royal Art Workshops and Storytelling sessions for families in conjunction with CBeebies Art magazine on Saturday 19 May and Saturday 26 May.
“This is a fantastic collaboration between CBeebies Art magazine and the art institution that is the National Portrait Gallery," says Stephanie Cooper, editor of CBeebies Art magazine.
"We both have shared aims in promoting art appreciation and making art history accessible to all ages, so this is a great creative opportunity for kids to get creatively involved with an important date in British history. I am so excited to see what they come up with!”
"We're delighted to be working with CBeebies Art magazine to produce these two special issues," added the National Portrait Gallery's Liz Smith, Head of Participation and Learning, "and also to be running some special free activities around Royal portraits in May at the Gallery.
"It’s an exciting way to add to our programme for family audiences, and to encourage families to learn to look at and explore Royal portraits from our Collection in the lead up to the Diamond Jubilee and The Queen: Art & Image. We are looking forward to seeing the imaginative responses from the young artists in the portraits submitted”.
Thursday, 17 May 2012
Mr. T joins other famous names at Eco Comics including Dracula, Robin Hood, Dick Turpin, and Tough Guy.
The Hollywood hard man, renowned for his image of Mohawk haircut, gold chains and catchphrases, previously appeared in print in the publisher’s graphic novels.
"It was always our intention to release the Mr. T graphic novel as a comic book series," says Editor Stuart Buckley. "Each chapter was intentionally structured to be the same length as a comic book.
"However, we’ve had to adjust to market demands. The graphic novel has sold out. The digital titles of Eco Comics have no print run, and so will never sell out, meaning every T fan can order a copy. The added satisfaction is that the environment hasn’t suffered as a result of paper production.
"The clean cut art of JL Czerniawski makes this series a joy to behold in any format."
"This is great, and I am truly humbled," is how Mr. T describes becoming the star of a comic book in the foreword. And in the world exclusive interviews throughout the series, he goes further, including stating why he is an even tougher comic book hero than Wolverine.
Series writer Chris Bunting adds: "I’ve gone to great lengths to do things never attempted, such as making T as close to a super hero as possible while retaining his classic persona. After over twenty-five years of fame, this action icon finally gets a rogues' gallery, and even a new catchphrase. Old and new T fans can expect plenty of other surprises too.
"Plus the amazing formats offered by Eco Comics really help bring this classic character into the digital age."
• The first five issues of Mr. T are available to order now in various digital formats via the Eco Comics store: www.mohawkmedia.co.uk/ecocomics
Yes, as if the very memory of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wasn't bad enough - the darling of our current leadership - now she's back as a zombie*.
Contributors to this new title include Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, Eoin Coveney, Martin Hayes, Graeme Howard, Dave Cook, Gary Crutchley, Geoffrey D. Wessel, Steve Penfold, Matt Gibbs, James Reekie, Jacen Burrows, Paul McClaren and Jim Campbell.
Overload is also looking for contributors – you can bring along your portfolio or story ideas to table 34 on Saturday 19 May at Kapow at 1300BST and on Sunday 20 May at 1300 BST
- View a preview online at: www.copydesk.co.uk/overload1
* Margaret Thatcher is not yet dead.
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
Consequently, many stayed away from Bristol this year in favour of the more lucrative London-based Kapow, due this coming weekend.
Every single weekend this May has been taken up by a show: Bristol last weekend, Kapow this, then MCM Expo and, finally, Collectormania. All of these shows see more punters through the door, have more exciting panels, with bigger name US guests and, frankly, make Bristol look old and tired. Most stallholders I spoke to didn’t make enough money this weekend to cover their costs, and a lot won’t be returning (to be fair, I did speak to a few who did OK, but they were targeting the non-comics readers).
All this was compounded by no one turning up from either of “The Big Two” (or even “The Medium Six”), and star guest Denny O’Neill cancelling due to illness. Plus, having checked with a local journalist, I was stunned to discover there had been no local press or publicity arranged (no wonder less than 300 people turned up).
Personally, the fact that some little s**** decided to steal the Comic Book Alliance’s Tank Girl banner was the last nail in the coffin.
• Tim's original posting - reprinted here with permission - appears on his own blog, "Sex, Drugs and Comic Books". His views do not necessarily reflect the views of DownTheTubes or its sponsors.
- Tim Pilcher hails from Brighton, East Sussex. Writer, Editor, Chap; he is currently the chair of the Comic Book Alliance. I've written a few books on Sex, Drugs and Comics. Oh, and he's been called various things by people including a "seasoned writer", a "dope addled buffoon" and a "comics guru" apparently.
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Well, in the US at least, the buying power of comic readers is getting recognised once again, so maybe there will be a knock on effect on this side of the Atlantic.
With an estimated five million hardcore comic readers in the US, the Bonfire Agency, an advertising and marketing firm launched last year and has done work for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, has launched what it describes as a 'daring' new ad network, bringing together comic book publishers for titles aimed at kids and families under the new banner Archie All-Ages Comics Ad Network.
While a majority of the comic book titles in the network are published by Archie Comics, joining the Archie titles are comics published by Ape Entertainment (Richie Rich, Casper's Scare School and comics and magazines developed around DreamWorks licenses like Kung-Fu Panda, The Penguins of Madagascar and Shrek), BOOM! Studios' KaBOOM! imprint (Peanuts, Garfield, Roger Langridge's Snarked! and Adventure Time) and IDW Publishing (Transformers, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the newly launched Popeye).
Bonfire's ComicsUnited initiative launched last year and brings together titles from leading independent publishers of comics meant for older audiences. IDW and BOOM! are already part of ComicsUnited, as are Dynamite Entertainment, Top Cow, Aspen MLT, Zenescope and Skybound. Lego Systems of North America is already running advertising through the new network.
Imagine a UK ad agency taking a leaf from Bonfire's book. Even today, the combined total of Britain's comic buyers is large, with new launches and ongoing titles jostling for position on our newsagents busy shelves.
- Bear Alley has published many of the Clarks Commandos ads. Art by Tom Kerr
- Super Mousse ads appeared in the early 1970s in comic titles as diverse as Cor! And Countdown. Art above by Peter Ford. More info on the Kazoop! Blog
Born in Sweden to Greek and English parents, writer, artist and editorial consultant Nick Abadzis was brought up in Switzerland and England. He writes and draws comics and graphic novels for both adults and children and his stories have been published all over the world.
Since his early days at Marvel UK Nick, whose perhaps best-known graphic novel to date is Laika, the story of the first dog in space, has helped set up several best-selling and innovative children’s magazines, including most recently, The DFC for David Fickling Books.
His storytelling contribution, Cora’s Breakfast, was featured in The Guardian and his work has also appeared in various British publications such as The Times and The Independent on Sunday.
One of his earliest comics works was the hugely popular Hugo Tate, published in the ground-breaking 1980s comic magazine Deadline. Now, at last, British publisher Blank Slate Books have collected the strips into one gorgeous-looking new book, and I caught up with Nick to ask him about the project.
For the full interview with Nick, you'll have to grab a copy of STRIP Magazine Issue 5 from your nearest comic shop, on sale later this month.
DownTheTubes: Hugo Tate. What's it all about?
Nick Abadzis: It’s a rites-of-passage story about a young man who is, initially at least, represented as a stick man in a figurative world. He’s simultaneously an everyman and he changes and becomes more “real” as the story progresses – his story is not by any means universal in the way in which he experiences it, but hopefully it’s universally understandable.
DownTheTubes: It's a welcome collection that's a long time coming - how will it be pitched to people who haven't heard of it?
Nick: A road trip. The second part of it anyway. I’ve heard it described as “a road movie from Hell”!
DownTheTubes: Hugo Tate was one of Deadline's most popular strips - is that a period in your career you remember fondly?
Nick: Mostly, yes. There were some hard lessons to learn – such as, don’t ever sign a contract without reading it first. Tom Astor (Deadline’s funder) chained all of the early Deadline cartoonists to these draconian agreements that I spent a lot of time and most of the money I’d earned (which was a pittance, let me tell you) trying to extricate us all from, which is why there was a break between the first series of Hugo and the second.
Eventually we agreed terms but it was an experience that’s made me cagey about contracts and what rights you sign away ever since. I’m an advocate of creator’s rights in comics and I’d advise all young cartoonists to watch what they sign.
That said, the creative aspects of it were incredible – it really was an amazing opportunity to be given – to be allowed to develop your own comic characters via a regularly published forum with national distribution. I’m very grateful for it and although I think Tom could’ve been smarter in the way he developed his relationship with the magazine’s contributors, I thank Steve Dillon and Brett Ewins for getting me on board. My career might’ve been very different without their championing the likes of us snot-nosed brats.
It was a kind of a shambolic university of comics, very experimental and energetic with some incredibly inventive talent from the start. You had Steve and Brett around and other greats like Brendan McCarthy, Pete Milligan and Tom Frame who you could learn from if you paid attention, but also carte blanche to do your own thing. And I did.
DownTheTubes: Do you have a favourite Hugo Tate moment?
Nick: Do you have a favourite Hugo Tate moment? If you do, submit it here:
DownheTubes: What one piece of advice you would give an aspiring comic creator?
Nick: Persevere. Never give up.
• Find out Nick's favourite Hugo - and his thoughts on Laika - in STRIP Mgazine Issue 5 on sale later this month in UK comic shops
• Hugo Tate is available now from all good book and comic shops. For more about Nick's work, find him online at www.nickabadzis.com; http://hugotate.tumblr.com/ and his regular blog: http://nickabadzis.my-expressions.com/; or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/NickAbadzis
• The Hugo Tate Facebook page is at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hugo-Tate/296276587062422?v=wall
"On Friday 18th May, from 6 – 7pm, at the London Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, we’ll have a huge and one-off event, taking place with an amazing line-up of guests," said a spokesperson. " Jock, Andy Belanger, Becky Cloonan, Trevor McCarthy, Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col, Scott Snyder... We’ll also have all the hottest titles including Batman: Gates of Gotham, Batman: The Black Mirror, Demo and the wonderfully off-the-wall Kill Shakespeare graphic novels.
Sounds like the perfect way to warm up for the weekend, with Kapow expecting thousands of comics fans at their event.
- You can find this on our website at: http://forbiddenplanet.com/events/2012/05/18/friday-night-mega-signing/
The shadowy Anglo-Paralax Corporation manipulates the British media for their own ends, controlling soap stars, pop idols and reality show contestants for their corporate aims - except for one. Amanda Swan eludes them. Like the rest of the country they know she attends premieres, gets her photo taken, takes her exercise and likes her dogs. They don't realise that by night she is a leather-clad motorbike riding vigilante with a deep seated contempt for their organisation.
Amanda Swan? Don't worry I had never heard of her either, yet that is irrelevant as writers Ed Murphy and Tom Campbell weave a fictional version of Amanda into a story that comes across as Lara Croft meets Cinebook's The Green Manor. Basing the modern day part of the story on the modern media obsession with reality 'stars' while also jumping back to the Victorian Hellfire Club, the story acts as an interesting taster to the character and the modern day situation that she apparently chooses to put herself in.
Perhaps it is the Green Manor-style Victorian setting but, despite the US publishing format, the feel of the tale is much more European bandes dessinee than US superheroics and that is a very good thing in my book. Both Rose Black books have a lot of fairly extreme violence in them and while the amount of violence in Hellfire Legacy is much less, when it does appear it is more akin to a zombie comic's burying an axe in a skull than a superhero comic's punching someone through a wall.
Joel Carpenter's artwork was impressive in Rose Black: Demon Seed and remains so here as he covers both modern day and Victoriana. The modern day settings are portrayed in clear, clean lines while Derek Dow's colours give the Victorian sections a richer, more painterly style. Inevitably many panels dwell on the character's physical attributes, based as she is on real glamour model, but on the whole it is done in a 'good girl' style and it doesn't cross into Page 3 territory. Dramatic license is used somewhat with throwing daggers appearing from places about her person that, in reality, it would be rather unsafe to store them, but I can certainly forgive them that conceit.
Amanda Swan: The Hellfire Legacy maintains Rough Cut Comics run of high quality professional products brought together in a very slick package with a photo cover, a gallery of full page colour photos of the real Amanda at the back and the promise of another title, The Evil That Men Do, to come.
There are more details of Amanda Swan : The Hellfire Legacy on the Rough Cut Comics Facebook page and blog and the title can be bought directly from Amanda Swan's official website shop.
There is an interview with the real Amanda Swan about her fictional alter-ego on the Rough Cut Comics blog.
Amanda Swan and the Rough Cut Comics team will be selling and signing comics of The Hellfire Legacy at the Kapow! comic convention in London's Business Design Centre on 19 and 20 May 2012.
Sunday, 13 May 2012
British magazine and comic publishers have just launched MagAid, the first national project to use magazines to promote literacy.
Established by the Professional Publishers Association, which represents the UK’s magazine publishing industry, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, funding raised through MagAid will be channeled into the Trust’s Young Readers Programme, designed to promote reading among children from areas of disadvantage.
The scheme engages children in reading at school, giving them the opportunity to select and keep reading materials they can then read at home.
Through MagAid, the scheme has been expanded to include magazines for the first time, and the PPA will encourage donations and co-ordinate funding for MagAid on behalf of the consumer and business media publishers within its membership.
Here at DownTheTubes, this sounds like a great opportunity for comic publishers to support the battle against illiteracy, especially given the use of comics across the globe to promote various social and welfare campaigns. DC Thomson, Egmont and Panini are all members of the PPA.
Comics are being used to promote literacy in South Africa and Haiti, and are have been used to promote health issues such as AIDS awareness. A new documentary, Comic Book Literacy, is currently doing the festival circuit in the US to support the use of comics in education there.
Last year, This Magazine reported on how Canadian teachers were using graphic novels to help reading, and noted comics scholar Gretchen Schwarz's 2006 article entitled “Expanding Literacies Through Graphic Novels,” [PDF] which argued the benefits of using graphic novels as a way to expand and strengthen literacy skills.
Schwarz feels graphic novel readers have to pay attention to conventional literary elements of plot, character, and dialogue as well as interpret visual elements such as colour, shading, panel layout, and even lettering style, making graphic novels an engaging and sophisticated form of reading.
Literacy is a significant yet relatively hidden problem in the UK: it's estimated that one in six people in the UK currently has a literacy level below that expected of an 11-year-old, and the country has recently slipped to joint 23rd in the international literacy rankings.
National Literacy Trust research involving 18,000 children and young people suggests that magazines are a powerful medium for encouraging reading for pleasure among children who label themselves as non-readers.
“Literacy is a fundamental life skill that many of us take for granted," notes Barry McIlheney, CEO of the PPA, "but without it these children will develop into young adults who will struggle in the modern world. Through MagAid, our industry can play its part in tackling this problem, improving life chances, and encouraging an enjoyment in reading.”
The National Literacy Trust has recently completed a MagAid-funded Young Readers Programme at the City of London Academy in Southwark, the first phase of a pilot project designed to investigate the introduction of magazines into the portfolio of reading materials available to the children.
“The MagAid-funded National Literacy Trust programme has had a tremendous impact in promoting literacy across Year 7 in our Academy," Richard Bannister, Principal of City of London Academy (Southwark) reveals. "It actively encourages our students to engage in reading.
"Using magazines as a medium to promote literacy in our Academy has been really well received by students and staff.”
“This is the first time magazines have been used to address the literacy challenge by a national literacy project," Caroline Sence, who manages the Young Readers Programme for the National Literacy Trust, revealed.
"We believe magazines are a powerful tool for engaging reluctant readers: by giving children and young people the opportunity to choose and keep new magazines and books that are linked to their own interests, we are helping to make reading relevant to them, and to encourage reading as an activity of choice outside of school.”
Clive Foskett, Founder of MagAid and Chief Executive of Signature Publishing, said: “Poor literacy skills disadvantage millions of people in many aspects of their life, let alone in being unable to access and enjoy the information produced by magazine publishers.
“The first school project is already demonstrating that through MagAid we can make a real difference on this major issue.”
With some 200 members, the PPA promotes and protects the interests of print and online publishers of consumer and business media in the UK. More at www.ppa.co.uk.
The National Literacy Trust (www.literacytrust.org.uk) is an independent charity that transforms lives through literacy. They believe that society will only be fair when everyone has the literacy skills they need to communicate, to fulfil their potential and to contribute more to society. The charity campaigns to improve public understanding of the vital importance of literacy, as well as delivering projects and working in partnership to reach those most in need of support.
- More about MagAid at: http://magaid.org
So we are very pleased to hear that only a week into their campaign they haven't just reached their target of $1000 but are now over the $1200 mark. This will allow them to reprint issues 1, 2 and 3 as well as finance their attendance at more conventions and comic marts over the next year.
The Kickstarter campaign will continue to run until Friday 8 June 2012 so there is still time for more backers to jump on and plenty of Team Girl rewards still to choose from with the top reward, of the offer of a night on the town with the team for an $80 pledge, having so far been taken up by three backers.
Of the 48 backers so far registered, some come from as far as France, Portugal and the United States while, based on their first names, there is approximately a 60/40 female/male split.
There are more details on the Team Girl Comic Kickstarter page.
There are more details of Team Girl Comic on their website and Facebook page.
Team Girl Comic editor Gillian Hatcher talked to downthetubes about the title here.