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!
The first Dundee Comics Expo will be opening its doors to the public in two week's time at 11am on Saturday 30 March 2013 and entry to all its talks, workshops and sales rooms will be free.
Held in the University of Dundee, and building on their experience from running the annual Dundee Comics Day as part of the Dundee Literary Festival, organisers Chris Murray and Phil Vaughan have promised an impressive line-up of both guests, small press and dealers.
The full event programme is as follows:
11.00am - Doors open to public
11.30am - Sha Nazir - Workshop in Baxter Suite Foyer (Tower Building)
All following talks are in the Darcy Thompson Lecture Theatre (Tower Building)
The evening events at Dundee Contemporary Arts complex (a 2 minute walk from the Tower Building) are as follows:
6:00pm - Screening of Judge Minty- A Judge Dredd Fan Film
7:00pm - DeeCAP, an hour of comics, performance and entertainment hosted by Damon Herd.
Note that entry to evening events at the DCA is free but ticketed. For tickets contact the DCA box office on 01382 909 900.
There are more details and update on the Dundee Comics Expo Facebook page.
(with thanks to Simon Fraser): Jonathan Cape will publish the first volume of Drowntown by Robbie Morrison and Jim Murray in June.
The creators describe the series as "an epic adventure set in a flooded futuristic London that hurls
down-at-heel minder Leo Noiret head first into a web of intrigue, murder, conspiracy, revenge and psychotic talking chimpanzees."
In Drowntown, the world has changed forever, ravaged by climatic upheaval. The flooded metropolis of London has adapted to the rising sea levels, remaining a centre for international commerce and a magnet for environmental refugees. The elite gaze out over the ever-expanding Thames from their ivory towers, while the denizens of submerged pubs peer into the sunken streets like specimens in an aquarium.
Hired by notorious underworld figure Alexandra Bastet, Leo Noiret - a Minder - uncovers a terrifying conspiracy that stretches from the depths of Drowntown to the highest echelons of power and influence.
Struggling aqua-courier Gina Cassel learns that young love can be a dangerous game when she becomes romantically involved with the heir to the Drakenberg Corporation, which aims to control both the environment and the future of human evolution.
There's a storm brewing in Drowntown, with Gina and Noiret at its heart.
Robbie and Jim have set up a blog to detail progress on the project offering insider art, designs and more at http://drown-town.blogspot.co.uk
Neither creator should require much introduction to DTT readers.
In a 19-year career, Robbie Morrison has created many popular series/characters, including Blackheart (art Frank Quitely), Shakara (art Henry Flint), and The Bendatti Vendetta(art John Burns), is a regular writer of Judge Dredd, and has scripted Batman and Spider-Man. He recently worked with Dave Gibbons on the Watchmen artist’s digital comic, Treatment for Madefire.
New editions are planned in Europe and the US of his critically acclaimed World War 1 Graphic Novel White Death, co-created with Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard.
Jim Murray is currently working for computer games company Valve, where his credits include the stunning Dota 2: Are We Heroes Yet, which you can read online here - check it out, it's absolutely gorgeous. DTT readers may know him better for his mainly fully painted comic and cover artwork for the publications 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine and Batman graphic novels.
• DrowntownBook 1 is out in the UK in June. Pre-order your copy at your local book or comic shop, or or at Amazon.co.uk • Drowntown Blog:
Four new Commando comics went on sale today in all good newsagents - and actually, their distributions seems to be improving, as we've spotted them in several new places recently. Here's the low down on the stories…
Commando No 4583: Dungeon Of Doom
Story: Alan Hebden Art: Benet Cover: Benet
The four-man special force known as the Convict Commandos were in dangerous territory. They had entered neutral Spain illegally and were now deep within a castle which bristled with all sorts of perils - from Nazi interrogators to axe-wielding maniacs.
Commando No 4585: Phantom Sergeant
Originally Commando No 81 (August 1963)
Story: Elliot Art: Cueto Cover: Alvaro
He moved like a shadow, a ghostly-quiet shape that flitted through the Burmese jungle wherever there was a Japanese soldier to be hunted, an invading enemy to be destroyed.
Many of those men did see the Phantom Sergeant, but if they did that was the last thing they ever saw…
"It's a Commando tradition that we make our stories as authentic and accurate as we possibly can," notes editor Calum Laird of this re-presented tale, "so it's probably best to admit straight away the aircraft in this tale are not quite up to the mark. Don't let that put you off, though, the tale is otherwise well drawn and the cover is particularly fine.
"The tale itself is particularly hard - especially on the Japanese. There's little sympathy for any of them in the story, written less than 20 years after the war finished.
"Still, it's a fine adventure and one I hope you'll enjoy."
Commando No 4586 - Heading For Trouble
Originally Commando No 2151 (January 1988), re-issued as No 3579 (December 2002)
Story: Allan Chalmers Art: Ibanez Cover: Ian Kennedy
During the Second World War most officers fought gallantly alongside their men. But a few - like a certain Lieutenant Fairfax - were cowardly, incompetent and more likely to endanger their own troops than the enemy.
You can bet that any man serving under Fairfax would very soon be - heading for trouble...
"All Commando stories send the characters on a journey - whether physically, emotionally or metaphorically," notes Deputy Editor Scott Montgomery of this story, "and on many occasions this involves the journey from villain or anti-hero to hero. Heading For Trouble neatly turns this notion on its head, however. Sergeant Ian Cheam starts out as an instant, reliable Commando hero but soon his path leads towards that of a cynical anti-hero. Where will his journey end…?"
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The Executive Committees of the Harvey Awards and the Baltimore Comic-Con have just released the official Nomination Ballot for this year's Harvey Awards, honouring work published in the 2012 calendar year.
Named in honour of the late Harvey Kurtzman, one of the US comic industry's most innovative talents, the Harvey Awards recognize outstanding work in comics and sequential art.
The 26th Annual Harvey Awards will be presented Saturday, 7th September 2013 as part of the Baltimore Comic-Con.
For the first time, Harvey Awards nomination ballots may be submitted using an online form. If you are a comics professional, you can vote online at harveyawards.org/2013-nomination-ballot/. This will enable an easier and faster method for the professional community to submit their nominees.
Ballots are due for submission by Monday 6th May 2013 - and there's nothing to stop British comic creators or publications being nominated, so why not do so...
Additionally, if voters would prefer, ballots may be downloaded from the same page, completed, and sent via postal mail or e-mail. All methods of submission are permitted.
Nominations for the Harvey Awards are selected exclusively by creators - those who write, draw, ink, letter, colour, design, edit, or are otherwise involved in a creative capacity in the comics field. The Harvey Awards are the only industry awards both nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals.
In addition to being available on the website, ballots will be sent to all major publishers and distributed at comic conventions. We look forward to your participation and input in this process, and we look forward to seeing you at the Baltimore Comic-Con and the Harvey Awards.
Companies and individuals interested in sponsoring the 2013 Harvey Awards may do so by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year's Baltimore Comic-Con will be held 7-8th September, 2013. The ceremony and banquet for the Harvey Awards will be held Saturday night, September 8th. Additional details about the Harvey Awards and the awards ceremony will be released over the next few months.
The Harvey Awards are one of the US comic book industry's oldest and most respected awards. With a history of over 26 years, the last eight in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harveys recognize outstanding achievements in 22 categories. They are the only industry awards nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals.
The Baltimore Comic-Con is
celebrating its 14th year of bringing the comic book industry to the
Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. For
more information visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com.
Continuing a month of shows about webcomics, Alex Fitch talks to screenwriter James Moran (Cockneys vs Zombies, Torchwood) about his new webcomic Day + Night, an urban vampire tale that casts the creatures of the night as 'sharks on legs' rather than the sparkly urbane figures found elsewhere. Also, in a panel recorded at Thought Bubble 2012, Vs Comics editor Mike Garley talks about the strip he's writing - Eponymous - and introduces creators Nich Angell (Tabby and Trout), Ned Hartley (Ghost Club), Adam Christopher (The Sentinel) and Sally Jane Thompson (Happy Birthday) who present the strips they're contributing to the online anthology comic, with the help of designer Mike Stock.
It’s been setting the newsstands ablaze with pulse-pounding covers for 36 years and now 2000AD is teaming up with one of its biggest fans to bring you the Galaxy’s Greatest Covers.
Long-term fan Pete Wells of 2000AD Covers Uncovered and 2000ADonline.com are coming together to give you exclusive access to the process behind the covers of 2000AD, from sketches to pencils to inks and finished art.
The blog will be featured every week on 2000AD’s official website, so that fans can see the work behind the Prog’s latest covers.
Things kick off tomorrow (Thursday 14th March) at 11.00am (GMT) when the blog bids ‘bon voyage’ to Ian Edginton (Victorian Undead) and Steve Yeowell’s (Zenith) mythical pirate epic The Red Seas! The series comes to a close this week in 2000AD Prog 1823 with a double-length episode and a swashbuckling cover from Yeowell.
Pete's done some incredible work charting the creation of 2000AD's covers, such as this recent one by Simon Davis, inspired by a Saturday Eevning Post magazine cover from 1924 for his second Ampney
Crucis cover of the current arc.
The cover features a mysterious, and
somewhat disturbing Babbagist, as well as the Ampney
Crucis strip's two hapless heroes.
Pete walks fans through every cover where possible, from inspiration and initial roughs through to inks and final cover. He's done this for both old and 'ancient' covers, uncovering a host of fascinating detail along the way.
Comics Forum has announced the second event in its ‘Comics Forum presents…’ series. José Alaniz, author of Komiks: Comic Art in Russia, guest author for the Comics Forum website and the current chair of the executive committee of the International Comic Art Forum, will appear at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds (UK) on the 25th March.
Proceeding in part from the writings of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, Death and the Superhero: ‘Strikeforce: Morituri’ examines the late 1980s Marvel Comics series Strikeforce: Morituri (originally written by Peter Gillis with art by Brent Anderson), which took as its premise the inescapable mortality of its superteam’s members, for a consideration of the ways “real” death warps and complicates the routinely death-denying superhero genre.
José Alaniz, is currently the Chair of the Executive Committee of the International
Comic Arts Forum, the leading comics studies conference in the US. (He
edited a symposium on Czech comics for the Forum in 2009).
interests include Death and Dying, Disability Studies, Film Studies,
Eco-criticism and Comics Studies and his current projects include Death, Disability and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond and a history of Czech comics.
He's the associate professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Department of Comparative Literature (adjunct) at the University of Washington – Seattle, published his first book, Komiks: Comic Art in Russia (University Press of Mississippi) in 2010. His articles have appeared in the International Journal of Comic Art, the Comics Journal, Ulbandus, Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema and Kinokultura, as well as the anthologies The Ages of Superman: Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times, The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov and Russian Children’s Literature and Culture
• Entry to this event is free, but places are limited so registration is required. Places will be given on a first come first served basis, and early booking is strongly recommended. To register, send your name and the number of tickets you would like to email@example.com
Roger Leloup's Yoko Tsuno returns in the seventh of her books to be translated into English by Cinebook, The Curious Trio, which was actually the first of the Yoko Tsuno albums published in France back in 1972.
Vic Van Steen and Pol Paris are a TV director and cameraman who, on leaving the station late at night, spot some unusual goings-on at a nearby building site where they follow a female cat-burglar into a laboratory. There they discover the 'burglar' is actually testing the lab's security and is a Japanese engineer called Yoko Tsuno who is between jobs.
Yoko accepts the job of a sound engineer from the two men and a few days later is part of a camera team shooting a documentary in an underground lake. However as they dive in the lake attempting to discover where the water exits to, they are drawn into a current and end up in an underground cavern populated by an advanced race of blue skinned humanoids.
It is not unusual for Cinebook to publish their various series out of order when the stories in those series are not sequential. This origin story that introduces Yoko to Vic and Pol was first published as Le Trio De L'Etrange in the weekly Spirou comic between May and September 1971 and then combined into an album in 1972 - a further 25 have since been published. So here readers see writer and artist Roger Leloup's early versions of the now familiar characters and they are not that different - Yoko is resourceful, Vic is unshakable and Pol is the comic foil.
What is different is the artwork and here Leloup uses a more humorous style of art than his later ligne claire, indeed Cinebook felt the need to for a brief introduction to point out that this is the earliest book due, presumably, to the difference in art style to what they have published from the series before. While I prefer the later artwork, the art style and the science-fiction nature of this story mean that this bears quite a resemblance to the early Valerian and Laureline books that Cinebook are also currently publishing. Like all Yoko Tsuno titles this is aimed at a slightly younger audience, late primary school girls would probably be the bulls-eye, with a relatively straight-forward tale of futuristic underground railways, sleeping aliens and a dangerous main computer. While it is not too taxing for an adult reader, it always remains imaginative and fun. Yoko Tsuno - The Curious Trio maintains the series style of good, adventurous story telling for a younger audience and, in a market lacking in good graphic novels for younger girls, it comes especially recommended for daughters and nieces.
• There are more details of all the English language Yoko Tsuno books on the Cinebook website.
• There are more details of the original French books on the official Yoko Tsunowebsite (in French).
Benjamin Read writes comics and makes films. He wrote the True Grit and Super 8 comic adaptations, and also wrote and produced the films Warhouse and 500 Miles North. He is also one of the founder members of the Improper Books comics collective, and is fuelled principally by tea and whimsy.
downthetubes: Porcelain is Improper Books first title - how did you come up with the concept and how long did it take to develop?
Benjamin: For the one and only time ever in my creative life, it was a dream. I woke up from a feverish night with the girl, the walled garden, an elderly wizard and the strange creations that kept him safe all clear in my head. It was a total gift. Granted there was a fair bit of legwork consequent to that, and it took me months of back and forth with Chris to realise the character concepts, but essentially, it was all a dream. Sometimes you get a free pass, I guess.
downthetubes: Are you working in a traditional way to create your books - script, art, colour, letters, or is there more of a concept stage, discussing the plot, storyboarding etc given your film backgrounds?
Benjamin: Big old concept stage. Until our beloved editor, Matt Gibbs, put his foot down, my scripts were scratchy guidelines, more like film scripts, and Chris and I would spend hours on the phone hashing stuff out. I’ve come to realise that this is extremely lazy on my part (and adds weeks to the process) and now write horribly long-winded Alan Moore-style prose scripts, in a bid to answer all the questions before they’re asked.
We still have a significant design stage built-in though - story is exclusively my domain (tyrant that I am), but we then go into the separate stages of designs, thumbs, pencils, inks, colours & lettering. I think the highly polished look of our work can be accounted for by our minute attention to detail. The willingness to do this ongoing process of editing definitely comes from my background in film.
downthetubes: The characters you've come up have such clear characters - did you work up guides to each before the project began in earnest or did they grow as the story unfolded?
Benjamin: If you mean visually then, as referenced above, yup, big old design stage. Chris is a genius when it comes to ‘acting’ character through his designs and art, so it’s like having real people to play with on the page. (I am blessed)
downthetubes: What's the reaction been to Porcelain? Are you pleased?
Benjamin: Utterly brilliant. Ecstatic. I’m honestly gobsmacked (and very grateful) at how people have taken it to heart. People whose work I’ve admired for years have said very nice things about it and, perhaps more excitingly, members of the book-buying public have picked it up and given it the most lovely reviews. We couldn’t be more pleased.
downthetubes: As a new publisher, what has been the biggest hurdle you've had to face getting your first book "out there" in front of potential readers?
Benjamin: Ha! Where to start? Indie publishing as a whole is not innocent of complication (but then nothing worthwhile is, I’ve learned). I’ve got a background in publishing and, despite this, the complexities of pre-press, and the difficulties of distribution have not been the simplest of things to deal with.
Gawd help anybody who goes into that with no experience at all. Publishers earn their money, at every stage of the process, and we shouldn’t forget that.
I think you need to start with the highest quality book you can make, then approach its marketing and distribution as professionally as possible and accept that it’ll be bloody hard work whatever.
downthetubes: What's your next project and when does it launch?
Benjamin: Chris and I have the first instalment of our silent, sci-fi/fantasy epic, Butterfly Gate, coming out in the summer, then the first episode of our fairy tale book, Briar, in the autumn. In the meanwhile, I’m doing a piece called Frost Fair with the brilliant Alice Duke. It’s a gothic love story and I’m very excited about that.
I’m also working with Laura Trinder on our all-ages postman-to-the-supernatural book, Night Post. Also forthcoming from Improper Books is the lovely humorous fantasy from Matt Gibbs and Bevis Musson, Knight & Dragon, and Matt’s medieval whodunit, Aelfwin & Mildryd.
downthetubes: You've assembled a great team of creators - how many titles are you planning to publish each year, given the perceived wisdom from book distributors is that six titles a year is about the maximum for a smaller operation to properly promote to readers and sellers?
Benjamin: We’ll be doing a number of episodic books that come out in standalone single volumes - Briar and Butterfly Gate are both good examples of that - each will run to a couple of instalments a year, done as 48 page books. That plus the odd OGN should put us around the six titles mark.
We have no plans to swamp the market or stretch ourselves to breaking point either - we all have other projects on, and Improper is meant to represent the work of our collective, not be a machine churning out ‘content’.
downthetubes: Do you think this kind of project would be possible without the editorial management, marketing and distribution possibilities afforded by the Internet?
Benjamin: Simply not a prayer. Internet and indies go together like me and whisky. Skype alone keeps us in business on a daily basis, and Twitter has arguably given us the bulk of our audience. The Internet is the great equaliser - soapbox, shopfront and salon.
downthetubes: Above anything else, what one piece of advice would you offer aspiring comic artists?
Benjamin: I would simply say to draw, keep drawing and keep putting the work up and out, and making your own stuff. Once you’re good enough (and you’ll know when that is) then shout about it.
The crowd finds good stuff, you just need to get good enough first.
The academic programme at Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention which will be held in London next August at the Excel, is offering the opportunity for academics from across the globe to share their ideas - including their thoughts on comics - with their peers and convention attendees.
In a Call for Papers for the event, organisers have announced that to reflect the history and population of London, the host city, the theme of the academic programme at the event is 'Diversity'.
"We will be exploring science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all forms of speculative fiction, whether in novels, comics, television, and movies or in fanworks, art, radio plays, games, advertising, and music."
Proposals are particularly welcome on the works of the Guests of Honour, the city of London as a location and/or fantastic space, and underrepresented areas of research in speculative fiction. Examples of these may include, but are not limited to:
Representation of alternative sexualities
Speculative fiction by writers and producers of colour
Non-English language media and/or fandoms
The fantastic in unexpected places (greetings cards, opera, football stadiums)
The role of speculative fiction in Live Action Role-Playing
The fantastic in music videos
Speculative fiction in advertising
Academics at all levels are warmly encouraged, including students and independent scholars. Proposals for presentations, roundtable discussions, lectures, and workshops/masterclasses are welcomed.
The deadline for submission is 1st October 2013 and participants will be notified by December 31st 2013. All presenters must be in receipt of convention membership by 1st May 2014. Abstracts will be included in the Academic Programme Book, available to download from the Loncon website. It is anticipated that an edited volume showcasing the variety of topics presented will be published.
• To propose a paper, please submit a 300 word abstract to Emma England, the academic area head. To submit something other than a paper, please contact her first, for an informal exchange of ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As XIII the series nears its end, writer Jean Van Hamme takes time out to explain the beginning of the saga, and just exactly who XIII the man is, in The Irish Version and forsakes his regular artist for Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius.
Two college students go up a mountain, but only one comes down, and that one goes on to become the amnesiac killer known as XIII. But which of the two men was it - the American political science freshman Jason Fly or the Irish history freshman Kelly Brian? Except that neither was really who they said they are - Jason Fly is actually Jason McLane, the son of a left-wing journalist, and Kelly Brian is actually Seamus O'Neil, an IRA killer.
Long time readers of XIII already knew part of this story as it marked the chronological beginning of the "Who is XIII?" arc but here writer Jean Van Hamme gives readers the full story which acts as a stand-alone prequel to the entire XIII series. It begins with Seamus O'Neil telling Jason Fly/McLane his life story, not the cover story he had as a college student but the real one of growing up in Belfast during the Troubles and his desire to join the IRA told, obviously , from an anti-British republican perspective. This is then tied into the CIA's attempt to compromise O'Neil's cover using the rather familiar secretary of Dick Giordino. It all works very well indeed given that long time readers know what happens at the end, the big reveal here is who it happens to.
After Van Hamme's mis-step in Top Secret when he gave his IRA terrorist the unlikely name of Angus, and had him bizarrely fighting for the independence of Ulster, his research on the Troubles for this book is much better with real locations such as Crumlin Road Gaol and Court House coming to the fore. While the anti-car bomb measures around the Court House at the time would have prevented anyone jumping from its roof, as shown on the cover, actually reaching the roof of a lorry parked beside it, it makes for an intriguing, and very XIII-like, way for O'Neil to elude British justice.
Giraud's artwork works well as a replacement for series regular artist William Vance, albeit it feels a little too darkly coloured at times due, in part, to the skulking around that the characters do. While it does have that inevitable feel to British eyes of a non-British artist drawing the United Kingdom, I'm sure that Vance's version would have been similar. However I suspect that Vance's knowledge of military hardware would have prevented the wrong armoured cars appearing and the rifles used by both sides being less generic than what actually appear. That said, while Cinebook have not made a fuss about the artist, any new English language book by Giraud/Moebius is to be appreciated at the moment.
XIII - The Irish Version is an impressive stand-alone prequel to the entire XIII series which works just as well for Jean Giraud/Moebius fans, who would not want to have to read the rest of the series to make sense of what is going on, as it does for regular XIII readers as a resolution to the question of just exactly who XIII is.
• There are more details of the English language XIII books on Cinebook's website.
• There are more details of the original French XIII albums on the official XIIIwebsite (in French).
• You can read an interview with Cinebook publisher Olivier Cadic and XIII translator Jerome Saincantin on downthetubes at XIII Questions About XIII.
The latest issue of the independent Gerry Anderson fanzine, Andersonic, is now out.
Issue 15 includes -
Tony Harding interview - a new interview with Century
21's Effects Assistant on Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, Secret Service and
UFO. Tony talks about his time at the studio, what he thought of the
set-up, the changes made for UFO, as well as his time on Doctor Who for
which he designed K9.
Tony Roper Interview -
Sound Editor from Captain Scarlet up to UFO. Tony talks about his
duties, how they fitted the sound effects to the episodes and just how
powerful Derek Meddings' explosions really were.
Treasure Down Below - a look at the original script of this early
colour episode written by Dennis Spooner, with comparisons to the
finished episode. And find out what Parker had to do with selling fake
treasure maps in Casablanca...
Gerry Anderson Tributes - following the passing of Gerry Anderson, Andersonic writers recall what Gerry's work has meant to them. Flights Of Fancy Event review - a look back at the 'Flights of Fantasy' exhibition held at the RAF Museum at Cosford in November 2012.
Responsibility Seat - a look at an underrated UFO episode and
find there's more to it than meets the eye. Sam Denham separates the
UFOs from the weather balloons.
Paperback Writers - a look at the range of Thunderbirds novels currently available and talk to writers Joan Marie Verba and Anthony Taylor along with illustrator Steve Kyte.
Story - in the first of a (probably) regular feature looking at an
individual comic strip story to see what makes it tick. This issue -
Countdown's 'Return of the Rock Snakes'.
Andersonic issue 15 costs £2.45 including UK postage.
More details of the issue and how to order it, as well as back issues, are available on the Anderosnic Facebook page and website.