Friday, August 28, 2015

Piracy Is Inexcusable

This cannot be emphasised enough. 'Piracy' of comics, or films, TV shows, music, games, whatever, is morally wrong. It's also illegal. Yes, I've heard all the excuses about how piracy "helps creators get more exposure" (cobblers!); how people "can't afford to buy every comic they need" (theft is never an option, and 'needs' include food and water, not comics); how they "wouldn't buy it anyway" (yet they like it enough to download a series); how they're "only sampling to see if I like it" (still no excuse for theft)... and so on. All the excuses boil down to the fact that some people just want something for nothing.

Some people might think it's cool to flout the law and gain comics illegally. Hey, they're "sticking it to the man". Except they're not. They're hurting the creators, damaging sales of a comic that publishers might then cancel because they think there's little interest in it, - when in fact thousands of copies are being read illegally. 
One of my favourite British comics at the moment is Surface Tension, written and illustrated by Jay Gunn and published by Titan. It's a fantastic, intriguing story and as the cover and panel sample shown here demonstrates the artwork is stunning. (And a fine example of how UK artists are still in the same league as those of the past.) On the Down the Tubes site today, Jay Gunn has written a passionate and important post about how piracy affected him. Perhaps if people aren't bothered about breaking the law they might consider the human cost of piracy instead. Give it a read...
http://downthetubes.net/?p=25088

And to critics who will undoubtedly say I'm "banging the same drum again", bloody right I am! Myself and many of my friends depend on comics to earn our living, and I'll defend our right to protect our work and our livelihoods against thieves as much as I can. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Jessica Martin art exhibition

Artist / writer Jessica Martin has an exhibition of her comics work launching at Orbital Comics this Saturday, 29th August. The creator of It Girl, Vivacity, and the upcoming Elsie Harris Picture Palace graphic novel will be presenting a short guided tour of her work and a talk / Q and A session, at 7pm at Orbital Comics, 8 Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JA.

It's been fascinating seeing Jessica's style develop over the past few years and I'm sure the exhibition will be a great success. I can't make it there myself unfortunately but if you're in London on Saturday night, Orbital Comics is the place to be. The exhibition runs until early October. 

For more info, see the excellent Broken Frontier website here:
http://www.brokenfrontier.com/jessica-martin-elsie-harris-picture-palace-orbital-comics-it-girl-clara-bow/

Commando 4839 to 4842 - out now


Here's the lowdown on the latest Commando comics, in the shops now:

Commando No 4839 – Eagles of the Crimera
In the Mid-19th Century, Adam Carrick, an American war correspondent with English ancestry, was at the frontline of the Crimean War. As British forces clashed with Russian infantry and cavalry, the young journalist stumbled upon a fascinating story — a long-standing rivalry between two British officers, one from the artillery and the other from a special Royal Engineers detachment. 
   Adam even discovered some distant relatives of his own and soon became caught up in the fighting itself. Although a non-combatant, it soon became clear that the reporter would have to fight to survive.

Introduction:
With only a few notable exceptions — step forward the Convict Commandos — recurring characters have been rare on the pages of Commando over the last 50-odd years. However we were of the opinion that you, our readers, might like a series which carried the story over more than one issue. With the pen of Ferg Handley recruited to do the writing, we decided that a historical saga spanning many generations would hit the spot.
   Episode Ten sees the continuing story of three — entirely fictional —inter-linked families and now we find them in the thick of battle in the Crimean war.
   In this instalment, one main character is a war correspondent, rather than a soldier, which makes for a different tone and pace to previous episodes. However, it would seem that being part a family steeped in a unending legacy of war can only have one outcome…
   We hope you enjoy this story and the journey to come.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor


Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page




Commando No 4840 – Tank Buster
TWO old tanks – two knocked-out Italian tanks whose guns still worked, and were trained on the prison camp fence – these and some vicious strands of barbed wire were what stood between a crowd of desperate British prisoners and freedom.
   Captain Al Kelly and Lieutenant Pete Smith reckoned there was a fighting chance of escaping – and that was all these two desert fighters asked… 


Introduction:
This is a hard-hitting Commando yarn and no mistake. In the arid expanse of the North African desert, Captain Al Kelly, a non-nonsense Australian, has good reason to be mad at British Lieutenant Pete Smith — and a bitter clash ensues. But this vendetta is played out against a deadly backdrop — the battle for the war-torn port of Tobruk.
   Boutland’s script is taut, C.T. Rigby’s art is dynamic and Ken Barr’s font cover illustration is simply outstanding. I hope you agree.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Boutland
Art: C.T. Rigby
Cover: Ken Barr                                                                                                                           




Commando No 4841 – Prisoner At War
When his P47 Thunderbolt was shot down over Sicily, Major Mike Dante of the USAAF was caught by some passing Italian infantrymen. However, when Italy surrendered to Allied forces soon after, this particular unit were having none of it. They decided to wage their own guerrilla war against a vicious German panzer grenadier squad who had killed one of their comrades.
   Still technically a prisoner, Mike knew that a fierce battle lay ahead…one that he felt honour-bound to get involved in.


Story: Ferg Handley 
Art: Morahin 
Cover: Janek Matysiak




Commando No 4840 – Suicide Run
BLEAK Point – a training area for Captain Jake Baron and his Royal Marine crews of high-speed launches packed with explosives. There they learned the perils of mechanical failure, rough seas, bad weather — and how to tackle enemy defences. They began to think, though, that the biggest danger came from their hosts and rivals — the Royal Navy!

Introduction:
This great sea tale has a lot going for it. At a secret base in a remote part of Scotland, a tough Commando Captain and his squad embark on their most hazardous task yet — piloting powerful experimental boats packed with explosives in the bows, ready to take out enemy targets on a one-way trip basis. Throw in a rivalry with the unit’s Royal Navy commander and writer R.A. Montague’s story soon speeds towards a thrilling conclusion.
   It’s nicely illustrated by Keith Shone, who, luckily, can draw explosions well — as there are lots of them throughout the 63 interior pages. An atmospheric cover by sea artist extraordinaire Jeff Bevan finishes things off perfectly.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor


Story: R.A. Montague
Art: Keith Shone
Cover: Jeff Bevan


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Con Cancellation

I'm sorry to say that I won't be attending the Bournemouth Film and Comic Con this weekend (29th / 30th Aug). Caught a flu bug again or something and it's put me behind schedule so I need to get on with work. 

My apologies to those of you who were hoping to see me there. Hopefully I'll still be at the ICE (International Comics Expo) in Birmingham on September 5th, and hopefully BRICKMAN RETURNS! will be ready to launch then too.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ten years of GRAMMARMAN!


Today marks the 10th anniversary of a superhero you may never have heard of in the UK, but he's one of the greatest heroes of all because his comics help kids in the real world. He's Grammarman, who makes learning good fun, and he's the creation of cartoonist and teacher Brian Boyd. 


Here's Brian to reveal the Grammarman story....


"Grammarman is the result of my combined interests in comics, writing, drawing, computers, puzzles and teaching English. My main job is teaching English as a second language (ESL). I work in Bangkok, where Japanese manga are very popular. As I've loved comics since I was a kid, I started hatching an idea for a comic that would exploit the medium's popularity and bring a fun element to the classroom.

On August 23nd 2005, I floated the idea of Grammarman to my teaching colleague, Thom Kiddle over a pint of beer. 

The concept: a tongue-in-cheek superhero strip where the hero battles crimes against the English language in his adopted metropolis, Verbo City. Grammarman's roster of villains includes Sammy Colon (punctuation villain), Anna Gramme (a mixed up lady), Uncle Uncountable, King Wrong, Butch Clausidy and The Sentence Kid, Auxilla, The Wizard of Was and many, many more. Grammarman is aided in his quest by Alpha-bot (a genius android) and Syntax (an alien visitor from a distant galaxy).

Each episode of Grammarman is also a puzzle, similar to Buster comic's Mastermind. At the end of each story, Grammarman breaks the fourth wall, turning to address the reader and ask for assistance in solving a problem, finding clues or identifying the criminal. This makes the comics suitable for supplementing a grammar lesson.

Thom was very enthusiastic and encouraged me to create some sample strips to send to publishers. When I got home that evening, I started doodling and scribbling on scrap paper and by about 4am I had a pile of ideas for characters and stories.

Within six months, the comic was in print and I had started www.grammarmancomic.com

Now, Grammarman has appeared in magazines and newspapers in China, Russia, Argentina, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Canada. It has also featured in the main ESL magazines and on MacMillan Publishing's onestopenglish.com

You can find out more at: http://grammarmancomic.com/about/ "

Grammarman comic has featured in:
The Brunei Times (Brunei)
The Buenos Aires Herald (Argentina)
Business English Magazine (Russia)
Crazy English Teens (China)
EL Gazette (UK)
ETP magazine (UK)
Nation Junior magazine (Thailand)
The New Straits Times (Malaysia)
Your News (Canada)
Grammarman currently appears in Student Weekly magazine (Thailand) and on Macmillan’s OneStopEnglish website.

Thanks for the info, Brian. What a great concept, and one that obviously has proven to be very successful over the last decade. Congratulations on ten years of Grammarman. An achievement to be proud of!
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