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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Scenes from Sheffield

I enjoyed my day at the Sheffield Film and Comic Con yesterday. The event is in its second day today but I was only there for the Saturday. As always it was good to catch up with fellow comic pros and chat with readers. Thanks to all of you who asked for a sketch. It was also nice to chat with Doctor Who's Sophie Aldred and Frazer Hines who briefly dropped by my table. (As many of you will know, Sophie provided the voice for Dennis the Menace in the 2009 Dennis and Gnasher cartoon TV series).

I was at my table most of the day but here's a few photos I took whist having a break. 

It was great to catch up with artist Lee Sullivan again after several years. I've known Lee since the Marvel UK days. A fantastic artist. Here he is with a sketch of Peter Capaldi he was working on for a fan. Check out Lee's work at his website:

My table position was sandwiched between two major talents, with Lee Sullivan on my left and the fantastic Yishan Li on my right. Here's Yishan doing one of her superb portrait sketches of one of the many who stopped by her table yesterday. Visit her website here:

The mighty Paul Grist was there too. I haven't seen him for a long time so it was good to chat and purchase the copies of The Weird World of Jack Staff that I'd missed. It's an excellent comic that homages the classic comic heroes of the past and is a must buy for every UK comic enthusiast. Copies of Paul's books are available on Amazon

Cosplayers are a big thing at these events now, with many spending hours designing their costumes in preparation for a show. I particularly liked this Dan Dare outfit. (Sorry I didn't catch your name. Email me if you wish me to add it.) In retrospect perhaps I should have chosen a better background for the photo rather than outside the Ladies! Sorry Colonel Dan! 

Two people were inside a Star Wars walker they'd designed out of card! Here it is, striding off to encounter the Hulk!

While not as packed as the London Expo, the Sheffield event was still very busy. Here's a few shots I took of the hall...

This was the first Sheffield event but there's already one scheduled for next year, on 15th / 16th August 2015! Here's the flyer...

The organisers, Showmasters, ( also have many other events on the calendar for the next 12 months. Here's the list for you to keep the dates in your diaries...

My thanks to Mike Conroy and Cassandra Conroy for the invite and hospitality. Good to see you both again. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Original art for sale

A quick note that one of my original Viz pages is on eBay at the moment and the bids ends on Sunday evening (UK time). It's a complete Suicidal Syd page, black ink on Bristol Board. (Adult humor.) All bids appreciated, and if you are going for it, good luck! 

Click here to visit my eBay site. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sheffield Film and Comic Con

A quick reminder that it's the Sheffield Film and Comic Con this weekend at the Motorpoint Arena. Now I'm hoping to attend tomorrow but I'm pretty busy at the moment with deadlines for Monday morning so it all depends on how much I get done tonight. 

Not that I'm complaining about being busy of course, but it's typical that I've a lot on just as I was scheduled to be at the con. 

Anyway, hopefully I'll be there tomorrow. Here's a few other comics folk who will be attending: Nick Percival, Yishan Li, Al Ewing, Paul Grist, Lee Sullivan and Staz Johnson. (Dave Taylor and Ian Edgington were also due to attend but they've both had to cancel.)

From the world of TV and film: Eve Myles, Anthony Head, Paul McGann, Sophie Aldred, and many more.

For full details, check out the event's website:

Alan Moore, Channel 4

Screen grab from the interview. © Channel 4 News
Last week the ever-brilliant Alan Moore was interviewed on Channel 4 News about his new film. Now the five minute interview has been uploaded to the news channel's official You Tube page, so if you missed it you can watch it here: 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Jim Petrie 1932 - 2014

Sad news in the comics industry this week with the passing of humour artist Jim Petrie on Sunday 24th August. If you read The Beano in the last four decades of the 20th Century you'd certainly know his work, for he was the main artist on Minnie the Minx from 1962 until his retirement in the year 2001.

Jim Petrie was assigned the task of taking over Minnie the Minx from the great Leo Baxendale, but rather than simply ghost Leo's style Jim added his own flourishes to the strip. Minnie the Minx under Jim Petrie was distinctly his own strip, and his lively, energetic pages conveyed a sense of pure fun and enjoyment. 

Jim Petrie's pages were always a pleasure to behold. The body language of his characters kept the strips alive and entertaining. Whether drawing slapstick scenes or quieter moments, Jim handled it like a true master. 

You can read a proper obituary of Mr.Petrie over at Steve Holland's blog here:

A memoriam on John Freeman's Down the Tubes site:

...and The Beano itself have a nice tribute to him on their website:

I've selected a few pages of Jim Petrie work from my comics collection to show here. (Click on each image to read it full size.) Firstly a lively slapstick Minnie the Minx from The Beano No.1246 (June 4th 1966)...

Next, Minnie wants to be Billy the Cat in this story from The Beano No.1396 (April 19th 1969)...

Some great reaction shots in this Minnie strip from The Beano No.1495 (March 13th 1971)...

One of my favourite 1960s strips was The Sparky People that Jim drew every week. Excellent expressions in this one from Sparky No.223 (April 26th 1969)...

...and smashing cartoon work in this one from Sparky No.226 (May 17th 1969)...

Finally, a Minnie the Minx full colour page from The Beano Summer Special 1994...

My condolences to Mr.Petrie's family and friends at this sad time. I hope they can find comfort in the fact that his work brought happiness and good cheer to millions of children for nearly 40 years. Rest In Peace Jim Petrie. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

This week in 1965: TV Century 21 No.31

This is the issue of TV21 that was published exactly 49 years ago today, on Wednesday 25th August 1965. I can tell you with certainty that the weather was absolutely throwing it down with rain that day. How? I remember that this issue got soaked on the way back from the shops and we had to dry it out in the bathroom for a few hours. (This isn't the copy I had back then by the way. That's long gone. This is one I bought in the 1980s.)

Perhaps due to that soggy escapade I can remember a lot of scenes from this issue even after all those years. Anyway, let's have a look inside...

As was the case with that first year of TV21, the comic kicked off with two pages of Burke's Law, drawn by Paul Trevillion, based on the US TV series...

Turn the page and the impact of Mike Noble's superb artwork on Fireball XL5 was a joy to behold. TV21 really knew their audience. When we as young children were watching Gerry Anderson's puppet shows we weren't really noticing that they were wooden marionettes moving awkwardly on strings. In our imaginations this is the sort of impression those shows presented to us, and the strips in TV21 captured that dynamic excitement perfectly. 

Special Agent 21 on page 7 was an excellent originated strip that not only tapped into the spy fad of the sixties but also tied into the Anderson universe. Art by Rab Hamilton...

Also reflecting the spy fad was this competition. I had that James Bond cap gun but I don't recall a holster with it. My version came with a plastic 'silencer' to fit onto the end of the metal gun barrel. (As seen in the case set shown.) 

My Favorite Martian was a full page humour strip on page 9, based on the American TV comedy show. I never saw this show at all when I was a kid, so perhaps it was only shown in selected regions or it clashed with something on the other channel. Art by Bill Titcombe.

TV21's big selling point in that first year was Stingray, superbly illustrated by Ron Embleton across the centre-spread of the comic. 

Page 13 and a couple of ads. At the top is one of the many anti-smoking strips that appeared in comics at the time. (You can see more of them at this link.) 

Pages 14 and 15; Supercar, drawn by Bruno Marraffa I believe...

Pages 16 and 17 gave us more superb full colour (a rarity in British comics of the time) with Eric Eden's excellent Lady Penelope serial.

Page 18 featured a variety of snippets including Zoony the Lazoon...

...and this cartoon playing on the Police Box aspect of Doctor Who. I presume 'Ronald' is a reference to Ronald and Reginald, the notorious Kray Twins. (Update: No, of course it's a reference to Ronnie Biggs, of the Great Train Robbery, who was on the run. Thanks for the reminder, Marko!)

On the back page in its usual position, The Daleks, illustrated by Richard Jennings. Fantastic stuff! 

Was it any wonder that TV21 became such a big hit with kids in 1965? This was the must-have comic for children across the UK. Even today, it remains my favourite adventure comic. I hope you enjoy these strips on this soggy Bank Holiday Monday, just as I enjoyed them 49 years ago on an even wetter day!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Robbie Morrison and Charlie Adlard interviewed

Back in 1998 writer Robbie Morrison and artist Charlie Adlard collaborated on White Death, a graphic novel set in the harrowing times of World War One. The book was re-released in 2002, and is now out of print. However, a new hardback edition is set to be published by Image Comics next month, and you can read about it here:

Robbie and Charlie were recently interviewed about the book at the Edinburgh Book Festival and you can watch it on YouTube here:

White Death can be ordered from Amazon UK by clicking here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Doctor Who and The Daft Dimension

There's a brand new series of Doctor Who commencing on BBC One on Saturday night (7.50pm - 9.10pm) and to whet your appetites there's a new issue of Doctor Who Magazine out today.

As you might expect, this issue is a great 'jumping on point' for new and lapsed readers, with extra pages (a total of 100!) and it's bagged with a huge double-sided poster of the new Doctor and a Dalek. Tear open the plastic outer wrapper (shown above) and the magazine inside has a very classy minimalist cover...

This issue begins the comic strip adventures of the 12th Doctor and Clara, in a 12 page story The Eye of Torment by Scott Gray, Martin Geraghty, David Roach, and James Offredi.

There's another comic strip in there too. The debut of a new humour mini-strip, - The Daft Dimension by... er... me! 

I'm really pleased to have been invited aboard the TARDIS as the official magazine's latest cartoonist and I hope readers enjoy the strip. I've been reading Doctor Who Magazine on and off (mainly on) since it began as Doctor Who Weekly in 1979, and I've seen most episodes of the TV show since its early days of 1963/64. So as you can probably guess, I'm over the moon to be in the pages of DWM but at the same time apprehensive as to the reaction from this new audience. Be gentle with me, Whovians!

Of course, the comic strips are only part of DWM. The bulk of the magazine features a wealth of material about the new series and its rich heritage. This issue sees previews of the first four episodes of the 2014 series, an exclusive interview with Peter Capaldi, the third part of an interview with script editor Terrance Dicks, a look at the career of Dalek voice-artist Peter Hawkins, a nice big 10 page feature on the 1964 story The Reign of Terror, an interview with Tom Baker, Louise Jameson and Philip Hinchcliffe, reviews, and much more. As always, this is the essential publication for fans of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who Magazine No.477. 100 pages. £5.99. Published by Panini UK. Out now!  Check out the magazine's official website for more info:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

VIZ UNMASKED at the Lakes Festival

Via John Freeman....

The ever-irreverent VIZ team are promoting their Lakes Festival exhibition plans with this satirical take on the British Library's recent Comics UnMasked poster by Jamie Hewlett. Image: Graham Dury/Simon Thorp

Kendal, UK, 18th August 2014:  Hot on the heels of the British Library's "Comics UnMasked" exhibition comes the Lakes International Comic Art Festival's very own homage to art and anarchy in the UK - "VIZ Unmasked".

VIZ Unmasked will, amongst other things, reveal the dark art of how a VIZ comic is made through a fully interactive, animatronic, state-of-the-art museum experience.

"It's been a long-held ambition by the VIZ team to create and present this unique installation," notes Festival Director Julie Tait, "and they are delighted that LICAF has enabled this dream to be realised.

"I suggested they could do a spoof poster of Comics Unmasked," Julie says of the tongue-in-cheek promotional image from Graham Dury and Simon Thorp. "They went for it – I just hope Comics UnMasked's co-curator Paul Gravett and artist Jamie Hewlett appreciate it!"

The exhibition will form a major part of a new, and still emerging,"Pop Up" Fringe over the Festival weekend (17th - 19th October 2014), aiming to reinforce its distinctiveness and respond the creative ideas of its supporters and collaborators.

VIZ have also lent their name to this year's special Comic Festival beer inspired by their long-running Biffa Bacon, the label art drawn by Graham Dury and Simon Thorp. The beer will be on sale during the Festival weekend at select outlets, including the Brewery Arts Centre, Castle Green, Wetherspoons, Ruskins and still-to-be-revealed venue for the "Pop Up Fringe".

Tickets for all the events at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (17th - 19th October) are on sale now. For the full guest list, details of events and exhibitions and bookings visit:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Fade Out

British artist Sean Phillips has come a long way since his days drawing strips for DC Thomson's girls' comics in the 1980s. His work with American writer Ed Brubaker on such notable graphic novels as the Criminal and Fatale series have won him plaudits from readers and his fellow creators for his artistic excellence. Tomorrow, Brubaker and Phillips release the first issue of their new crime noir comic series, The Fade Out, published by Image Comics.

As this is essentially a blog about often-overlooked British comics I rarely post about American titles. Besides, they're abundantly covered on other websites. However, occasionally something catches my eye that I think is worth giving more exposure to. Case in point; that fantastic cover above. This is the 'magazine variant' version of The Fade Out No.1, produced to emulate the magazines of the 1940s, and, yes, that faded, creased look is part of the design. Staggeringly good work. I ordered a copy as soon as I saw it.

The regular comic book sized cover looks like this. Again, a great job. Very striking design.

Here's a preview from Sean's blog of one of the story pages...

Looks excellent doesn't it? You can find out more about this new series here:

And a preview of a few pages from issue 1 here:

The Fade Out No.1 will be available from comic speciality shops across the UK and USA from tomorrow (August 20th). Regular size: $3.50. Magazine size variant (containing extra features): $5.99
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