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, 25 August 2012
Team Rex – Origin of the Species, presented by Team Robbo and WRH (We Rock Hard) runs at the Red Gallery, Shoreditch, London from 31th August.
Team Robbo represents a new order in the art world; a renowned graffiti crew was formed in 2010 by its founder and inspiration King Robbo – champion of the true Outsider art movement, antidote to the Banksy mythology and a rising star in the art market.
In the Summer of 2012, Team Robbo will take art lovers on a visual journey, exploring how the creative ‘DNA’ of street/train graffiti, spawned in New York City – developed, spread and mutated around the world, creating a kaleidoscope of art and culture.
Team Robbo’s new work will synchronize with the energy of an extraordinary collection of works by over a hundred invited international graffiti writers and artists from around the globe, including the full Team Robbo artist team - Choci-Roc, Doze, Fuel, PIC, Prime, alongside Pranksky.
If you would like to attend the exhibition Private View on 30th August, commencing at the Red Gallery, London at 6pm, please let the team know via the form on to their Private View page.
You will also be able to join the after party at East Village, nearby, which commences at 9.00pm on the 30th.
- The public exhibition opens every day from 31st August until 9th September. Opening hours Mon - Sat 10.00am - 7.00pm; Thursday 10.00am - 8.00pm; Sunday 11.00am - 5.00pm. Entry is free. Web: www.teamrex.org/about
For the very first time, exclusive new content from current Hammer productions as well as carefully restored classic Hammer feature films will be available to stream online.
The Hammer Films Channel will carry a range of exclusive new content, previews, commentary and behind the scenes material from upcoming new productions such as The Quiet Ones starring Jared Harris and Sam Claflin and The Woman in Black: Angels of Death, the follow up to the worldwide box office hit, The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe.
In addition, the Hammer Films Channel will stream a collection of Hammer’s well-known classic feature film titles including The Quatermass Xperiment, The Man In Black and Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter some of which have been newly restored and digitally re-mastered. As additional titles are added to the new platform, this will be the first time fans can view other digitally re-mastered classic Hammer films online under a restoration initiative launched earlier this year by Hammer’s owner Exclusive Media.
From the historic library, the Hammer Films Channel will also carry Classic Hammer TV series such as Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense, as well as new on-air commentary and film introductions from official Hammer historian, Marcus Hearn and Hammer archivist, Robert J.E. Simpson.
Newly created featurettes and original trailer material, not seen by the public for many years, will also be added to the Channel’s far reaching content. The Hammer Films Channel will continually expand its range of programming as it becomes available, with the full schedule to be published and regularly updated at www.hammerfilms.com
Simon Oakes, President and CEO of Hammer said, “The launch of our dedicated YouTube channel truly encapsulates how we have positioned Hammer as a dynamic British genre label with a great heritage. We hope this new platform will allow us to continue to reach fans who have responded so well to films like Let Me In and The Woman in Black, while continuing to honour the great filmmaking history of our company."
Hammer were advised by the London based digital distribution and marketing agency Showstream Media Limited (www.showstreammedia.com).
Published bi-monthly, distributed free in galleries, coffee houses, bars, stores and expos in cities across the UK - and with a free world wide digital edition via www.offlife.co.uk - OFF LIFE Magazine will be full of one to five page comic stories and aims to provide a platform for up-and-coming indie talent while opening the comic medium to a whole new audience. Since the title was announce at the end of July, the editors have had over 60 submissions for consideration.
It's hoped the title will provide a space for the next generation of comic creators and a new model for our beloved medium to build on.
Editor Daniel Humphry says the magazine will feature the best new, undiscovered and underground comics artists taking aim on modern life with adult humour, slice of life storytelling and harsh realities.
In short: if it's happening out there, it'll be in here.
The team behind OFF LIFE are a team of experienced magazine editors and designers, who point out that although comic culture is at an all time high among mainstream audiences, with people watching The Walking Dead, Scott Pilgrim or Dark Knight, many will still not venture in to a comic shop to experience their first title. By bringing comics to the audience, free and literally under their noses, they hope to change this.
With Issue One due out in late September OFF LIFE has already received tremendous buzz and support. The project has been featured by us on downthetubes, Creative Review, Forbidden Planet, Comic Book Resources and many others while Guardian Cartoonist and comic book creator Tom Gauld has signed to contribute.
To date over 60 submissons have been received with many more pledged and tweets of support have come from every corner of the comic industry.
By helping fund Issue One of OFF LIFE, say the team, you will be helping create a platform for the next generation of comic creators and a new model for our beloved medium to build on.
All funding received from supporters will go directly to funding the print run and distribution of OFF LIFE Issue One. The £1000 plus target set for this Indiegogo page will fund over 3000 print copies and a free digital edition, and, should they reach target, the plan is to increase the print run accordingly.
After Issue One they plan to sustain the magazine through advertising and provisions for this have already been set in place. The magazine will always stay free to read.
No money from this donations page will be taken by the team behind the project.
"If we do not reach our entire goal then all funds will be combined with investment from the team to ensure a print run," says Daniel.
Even if you don't have spare cash to support the campaign, there are other ways you can help. For example, you could tell any comic creators you know to submit a piece.
The editorial team are inviting any and all interest in the publication. Whether you're a talent with a story, a potential stockist or an advertiser looking to target our unique market they'd love to hear from you.
Most importantly, come September please read our magazine. And if you can, enjoy it!
- Back the campaign: www.indiegogo.com/offlife
- OFF LIFE Magazine online: www.offlife.co.uk
- Follow us on Twitter @OFFLIFE_comic and spread the word!
Friday, 24 August 2012
In a companion podcast to last week's episode, Alex Fitch continues his conversation with writer Richard Starkings and artist Ian Churchill about Elephantmen, a sci-fi anthropomorphic comic about animal / human hybrid soldiers coming to terms with life in the big city after being demobbed.
In a Q and A recorded at the Leeds Thought Bubble festival, Autumn 2011, Alex discusses Elephantmen issue #25 and beyond, including the comic's use of guest artists such as Tim Sale and Marian Churchland and the programme of collecting the title into chunky graphic novels.
(This is the last in the current series of Panel Borders, which will return on September 16th, 2012)
online Sunday 26th August at www.panelborders.wordpress.com / http://podcasts.resonancefm.com
The Pod Delusion episode 150!
The Pod Delusion hits 150 episodes this week and as ever, mixes levity and serious issues in this regular counter-culture and alt-politics podcast. This celebratory episode kicks off with a bit of a grim start as we cover the debate of the definition of rape that the media has been having this week, as well as the continuing predicament of Julian Assange.
Then we get a bit more upbeat as we talk about atheism and religion, and Alex Fitch looks into possible reasons behind the cancellation of The Dandy… plus Salim Fadhley and Matthew De Abaitua discuss the Art of Camping!
Thursday, 23 August 2012
|Electric Man: Volunteers Wanted...|
As we've previously reported, Electric Man is an indie comedy about a pair of comic book shop owners in Edinburgh who stumble across a rare and valuable comic book, and try to keep it out of the hands of a cast of baddies who want to comic book for themselves.
The film was recently selected out of hundreds to headline at the San Diego Comic Con, where it attracted rave reviews.
The volunteer champions will be in post for three months, working with their local cinemas and comic book shops to help spread the word about the film in their local areas. In return, they are offered a unique insight into modern day film distribution that includes online downloads, screenings, and social networks, and a package of perks that includes free cinema tickets and Electric Man goodies. Champions will even be invited to introduce the film at their local screening.
|... Basques not essential (a scene from the movie, honest)|
Volunteers are particularly sought in Nottingham, Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Newcastle, London, Oxford and Cambridge, but fans of films, comedy and comics from elsewhere in England are encouraged to apply.
- For more information about Electric Man and details of how to apply, visit the official website: www.electricmanmovie.com
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Carrie Hartnoll is a girl lost in a life going nowhere fast, until a chance encounter with an ex-boyfriend affords her the opportunity of a whole new career in Ivy League America, as part of a research team attempting to resurrect the language of Babel – a language, it is theorised, that can be understood by any human, from anywhere in the world.
As Carrie pieces together her fractured personal life, she becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding the apparent suicide of the project’s original team leader, which propels her to uncover the horrific truth about the language and why it was written out of the history books…
The book has just been accepted by Diamond for the October edition of the Previews catalogue (which means it’ll be available toward the end of the year in all good and disreputable comic and book shops).
Hailing from the north east of England, Lee Robson is quickly gaining ground in the UK independent press scene. His work has featured in the Eagle Award nominated FutureQuake, and its sister publication, horror anthology Something Wicked. He’s also a regular contributor to Accent UK‘s series of themed anthologies and more work has appeared in the 2000AD fanzines Zarjaz and Dogbreath.
Irishman Bryan Coyle is a veteran of the Irish and UK independent press scene. As well as self-publishing the abominable Pony School (described by Batman writer Alan Grant as what “might worst comic I have ever read”) and dabbling with web comics such as the Doctor Who spin-off The Forge, he’s also a regular contributor to FutureQuake, its sister publications MangaQuake and Something Wicked, the award-winning Solar Wind, the brilliant Omnivistascope and Accent UK's series of themed graphic novels such as Robots and Western.
- Check out the book's official web site for more info: www.babblecomic.com
- Babble by Lee Robson & Bryan Coyle Published by Com.X Priced £10.99 / $17.99 ISBN 978-0-9832238-5-6
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
|Amongst the Stars, written by Jim Alexander, drawn by Mike Perkins|
Jim Alexander's publishing debut came as writer of Calhab Justice for Judge Dredd Megazine. He then went on to script Judge Dredd, Pandora and O'Rork.
He has also written for DC (Birds of Prey, Batman 80-Page Giant), Marvel (Marvel Milestones) and Tokyopop (Star Trek Manga). 'King's Crown' - written by Jim and drawn by Richard Corben - has been adapted as Episode 1 of the upcoming TV series Metal Hurlant Chronicles.
Currently scripting Eden for Dark Horse Presents and Savant for STRIP Magazine, for Black Hearted Press he wrote Gabriel, Scout One and GoodCopBadCop, before forming new publishing company Planet Jimbot with Jim Campbell.
downthetubes: How did you start out in comics and what drew you to this media as a storytelling form?
Jim Alexander: I'd read comics as a spotty youth - Battle, Starlord, 2000AD, etc. - but by my late teens had drifted away. A friend introduced me to Warrior and on the strength of that I picked up an Alan Moore Swamp Thing from a newsagent rack (the ones that went round in a circle - ah, feel those waves of nostalgia). It was part of the American Gothic storyline - I hadn't read anything like it this strange electric wondrous combination of Moore's writing and Bissette and Totleben's art - and that was me back hooked.
Go forward a few years and I thought "I can write comics!" I bought myself a creaky second-hand typewriter and started submitting various proposals to 2000AD and Marvel UK (Dan Abnett was particularly supportive). Feedback was on the right side of positive and I can be pretty stubborn at times, an essential combination when it comes to trying to break into comics.
|Calhab Justice by Jim Alexander, art by Lol. © Rebellion|
Jim: I'd been sending then editor of Judge Dredd Megazine David Bishop some pitches - all rejected - but got to speak to him at a comic con in Glasgow. At the time the Megazine was going from monthly to fortnightly, so it really needed new material. We talked about Scotland, specifically its Judge Dredd version, Calhab. I went home, typed up a proposal for the first series of Calhab Justice and the Bishop went for it.
It really was that straightforward - and it's never been anywhere near that straightforward since!
Jim: The Metal Hurlant stories are my favourites with 'Whisky in the Jar' with art by Gerald Parel taking it by a stubbed nose.
downthetubes: You did a number of projects with Black Hearted Press - how did that come about?
Jim: Artist David Braysher is a good mate and he introduced me to Sha Nazir and John Farman. They produced Black Maria and I was bowled over by the production values and the guys' enthusiasm for what they were doing. Something if I'm honest I had lost; I was really jaded at the time and lacking direction. I kept in touch and was privileged to be asked on board. With BHP we published Gabriel #1-4, GoodCopBadCop #1 and Scout One #1.
downthetubes: ... and now you've launched your own imprint, Planet Jimbot. What are your plans for that?
Jim: Planet Jimbot is me and Jim Campbell. Our debut issue is Amongst the Stars #1, reprinting a story by me and Mike Perkins who has gone on to perhaps greater things drawing The Stand, Captain America, and the wedding issue from Astonishing X-Men :-)
downthetubes: What's coming up next from your company and what are your hopes for it, looking into the next two years?
Jim: GoodCopBadCop and Scout One are following me to Planet Jimbot. Also we have scheduled Amazing and Fantastic Tales and Jam. I don't want to write everything, so we're bringing in new writers as well as working with up-and-coming and established artists. We're looking to do high concept ideas that generate entertaining stories. If we achieve this everything else will fall into place.
downthetubes: How are you finding getting your comics out there, in print and digitally, do you have any advice on that front?
Jim: I do small print-runs and sell comics by post and at marts and conventions. I also send out the comic in PDF form.
Ideally, I'd like a bigger more established company to pick some of the titles up. Haven't dabbled in digital yet, although it is something that gets the ears perked when mentioned in conversation.
Where producing your own comic is concerned, there has never been a better time. So don't talk about it, just do it.
Jim: Funnily enough, I've just had a school get in touch for advice on how to produce a comic strip. The workshop looks at storytelling structure - specifically with a view to writing comics - but the skills apply to any type of writing really.
I held my latest one at Carlisle MegaCon where I focused on 'theme'. Those attending talk about their story ideas and we then try and look at it from various different angles. It's rather good fun, hopefully instructive too.
downthetubes: What kind of interest do you get in these, given the paucity of professional comics publishing opportunities in the UK at present?
Jim: Interest is pretty keen. People want to write and everyone should write of course. Understanding aspects of structure and not being a slave to it, but rather moulding it to suit your writing style, gives you a much improved chance, in my opinion, of writing a better story and getting it across to over-worked editorial and publishing staff. It doesn't just have to be about comics, but that helps.
downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you give prospective comic creators if asked?
Jim: Get a job. Get a regular means of income. If you still want to become a creator you will find the time believe me. Maybe one day you will be in the glorious position of being able to give up the day job for the dream job; then you may do so with my blessing.
• Amongst the Stars #1 by Jim Alexander & Mike Perkins is out now. £3.50 to your door. Contact email@example.com for details.
• Jim Alexander's Blog is at: http://jimalwriter.blogspot.co.uk/
• Join Planet Jimbot on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/282788291828955/
2000AD has always bred a different kind of hero and brought the world a different way of telling stories - now one of its most popular characters comes to an end, courtesy of his original creators Robbie Morrison and Simon Fraser, in Sympathy for the Devil, set for hardcover release on 11th October 2012.
Since its debut in 1997, Dante has become an iconic part of the British comics scene with his swashbuckling antics and devil-may-care bravado, and the long-running story reaches its explosive conclusion in this full-colour volume.
In this final instalment of his epic story, Dante must escape from captivity in order to lead the revolutionary army in its final battle against his tyrannical father, the psychotic Dmitri Romanov.
With additional art from industry legend John M. Burns, Sympathy for the Devil is both a fitting and striking end to this stunning epic.
Join Nikolai Dante as he reaches the end of his journey ... or does he?
- Nikolai Dante: Sympathy For The Devil - Written by: Robbie Morrison; Art by: Simon Fraser ISBN: 978-1-78108-073-3. Price: £18.99; Pages - 224. Published: 11th October 2012
Monday, 20 August 2012
Launched earlier this month, sales of the 36-page, £2.99 title aimed at five to eight year-old girls appear to be brisk.
The Magazine follows the adventures of the iconic Japanese Hello Kitty character, and got a launch in major high street supermarkets on 8th August .
"We are delighted to be working in partnership with Sanrio on such an established brand, and are excited about launching Hello Kitty Magazine," said Debbie Cook, director of magazines at Egmont Publishing Group.
"Egmont is the Number One magazines publisher in the primary girls market with a 30 per cent market share and four titles in the top 10," she added, including the much coveted Number One position for Disney Princess.
"As the experts in publishing for girls, Hello Kitty will be a welcome addition to the Egmont portfolio."
Paolo Casarini, licensing director at Sanrio Global Consumer Products, added: "We are hugely excited to be extending our collaboration with Egmont Publishing Group with this new Hello Kitty Magazine.
Sanrio and Egmont are becoming a well-established partnership, with a long-term vision, and we are confident in Egmont's expertise to ensure continued growth for this evergreen brand."
Egmont have not revealed the print run for the full colour magazine, but has said that it had "invested in copy and increased distribution".
There is currently no website dedicated to the magazine.
The Daily Record reports it's intended as a new way to engage with youngsters, with popular characters Dennis the Menace and Gnasher teaching pupils the benefits of time management and motivation to help improve their school work. Minnie the Minx will give advice on money and savings, while the Bash Street Kids will promote healthy eating and better lifestyle choices.
While it's perhaps not something you'd not normally associate with the Bash Street gang, children will be encouraged to eat five portions of fruit every day by Danny, Smiffy, Spotty, Plug and Fatty.
“Making learning fun as well as engaging and relevant, and setting it in a format that makes our young people want to learn, is not an easy thing to do," noted Scottish Learning Minister Alasdair Allan, who welcomed the initiative.
"Experience shows that enterprising approaches help young people develop essential skills."
The free comic will be given away at the end of August,and hopefully it will also increase sales of The Beano.
On Tuesday, artist Jamie Smart, who was an integral part of the comic's re-design and relaunch in 2010, wrote on Why The Dandy Still Matters, arguing it's essential to keep kids reading comics.
"Comics are where we first learned about pea shooters, mud pies and building forts in trees," he notes. "They're one of the most exciting mediums around, and unrestrained by common sense or manners. Inside the pages of the best comics you will find pure, unbridled anarchy, running rampant through the world, telling hilarious stories with the naughtiest, silliest characters."
Writer Charlie Brooker - who was also one of Oink's youngest contributors back in its day - got hot under the collar about critics of the title's move to digital publication, arguing reports of the Dandy's death are greatly exaggerated. Going all-digital is the best thing that could happen to Britain's longest-running comic, he argued in The Guardian's sister paper, The Observer, yesterday.
"Why is The Dandy going all-digital? Because it's a magazine for children, and today's children don't seem to want magazines any more than I wanted a 1920s whirligig when I was their age," he said. "Kids today have Moshi Monsters and the Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster. Traditional ink on paper looks like medieval tapestry to them. This is the price you pay for technological advancement. On the plus side: fewer cases of rickets."
Meanwhile, acclaimed author Jacqueline Rayner noted that at least Dandy fans were still going to have the chance to read their favourite comic - an opportunity not afforded fans of Jinty, Tammy, Misty from the golden age of girls' comics. The decline of the Dandy is sad news, her article noted, but let's not forget the plucky young heroines who have already perished in the Great Comics Bloodbath, from Diving Belle to Lisa the Lonely Ballerina
"The news this week that the Dandy's 75th anniversary issue in December would be its last in print must have been a blow to its readers, but at least they had the consolation of knowing it would continue online," she mused. "For some of us, this summer has only reminded us how much we have lost."
Her article prompted a flurry of memories of mainly 1970s and 80s from girls comics fans, including a post from comic artist Sean Phillips who cut his teeth in professional comic work by drawing many of them.
The Guardian also published a round up of Twitter to the news that The Dandy was quitting print, noting it was a decision that has got a few Desperate Dan fans a bit misty eyed. The round up included a note about DC Thomson's Chief Executive Ellie Watson's continued fuming at the alleged 'leak' of the company's plans for title; links to The Dandy's YouTube channel's videos offering how to draw Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat - and the Guardian's Media Editor Dan Sabbagh noting it's not just kids comics in trouble on the news stand. Word magazine closed a few weeks ago, and the men’s magazine market is in big trouble. The dead trees business is not a happy place to be for many publishers.
"Moshi Monsters mag is the best performing magazine," he commented (with reported sales of 223,000).