Tube Surfing: Marvel UK Memories, Alan Moore, Gene Ha – and Captain Pugwash!

Here’s a quick round up of comics-related news items, recalling Marvel UK, Alan Moore‘s partnership with Gene Ha on Top 10, a look at some gorgeous Doctor Who art and more…

Actor and musician Bill Jongeneel Brand on the roof of Marvel UK's Arundel House headquarters in London in 1993 for a sequence for Opening Shot
Actor and musician Bill Jongeneel Brand on the roof of Marvel UK’s Arundel House headquarters in London in 1993 for a sequence for Opening Shot

• The brainchild of Melvyn Bragg, Opening Shot was an arts programme for Channel 4. One episode, first broadcast 10th August 1993 and found on YouTube, focused on British creators working on US comics and included interviews with Marvel’s Stan Lee, Marvel UK Editorial Director Paul Neary,  Death’s Head II artist Liam Sharp, inker and writer Andy Lanning,  US artist Jan Duuresema, 2000AD artist Maya Gavin and Marvel US editor Bobbie Chase and more. Watch out for cameo appearances by artists Edmund Perryman (Edmund Bagwell, who we lost just recently to cancer), Bryan Hitch and Martin Griffiths.

Tim Quinn had a big hand in bringing this documentary about.

Liam Sharp talks Death's Head, creating comics with a European touch and more
Liam Sharp talks Death’s Head, creating comics with a European touch and more
The Marvel UK Bullpen, mid-1993. Pictured here are Andy Lanning, Bryan Hitch, Martin Griffiths and Liam Sharp. Artist Andrew Currie is just in shot on the left. Colourist and artist Steve Whitaker was also a regular in the basement, as was Edmund Perryman, among others
The Marvel UK Bullpen, mid-1993. Pictured here are Andy Lanning, Bryan Hitch, Martin Griffiths and Liam Sharp. Artist Andrew Currie is just in shot on the left. Colourist and artist Steve Whitaker was also a regular in the basement, as was Edmund Perryman, among others

It’s a great show, for all its use of Marvel animated shows and sequences from the live action Incredible Hulk TV series. Fascinating to hear Stan’s views on bringing comics to the big screen and see some 1990s computer games, too. My betting is that it might not be on YouTube long – it would be great to see Channel 4 release it professionally.

Liam Sharp was  by the way recently interviewed by Comicosity about his work on Wonder Woman, which is drawing to a close.

Gene Ha and Zander Cannon’s art for Alan Moore’s Top 10
Gene Ha and Zander Cannon’s art for Alan Moore’s Top 10

• Artist Gene Ha talks about working with Alan Moore on Top 10, published by America’s Best Comics (ABC) line, an imprint of Wildstorm Comics – and creating a new future as the setting for Cable’s early years in The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix in an interview for MoonMythic.

Advised to approach Alan by Alex Ross, thinking he might get the Promethea assignment, which Ha felt (at the time) might be the easiest ABC project, he was surprised when Moore tasked him with Top 10, a book that had hundreds of colourful, superpowered characters in a mishmashed retro-futuristic world.

“He was right about that in that there was no way I could have done what J. H. Williams did on Promethea. He was exactly the right guy to do that, and I was the right guy to do Top 10.”

Lew Stringer takes a look back at the first issue of the DC Thomson humour comic Cracker, which launched in January 1975. It lasted just 87 weekly issues before merging into The Beezer in 1976. He’s also recently covered the short-lived tabloid comic Buzz, launched in 1973. Both items well worth a look.

• Over on Bear Alley, comics archivist extraordinaire Steve Holland reveals he is working on a project indexing old British comics annuals… and if you’ve listed the contents of an annual you’ll know that it, too, is surprisingly time consuming. “Especially if, like me, you spend a couple of hours trying to figure out where all of the strips and features were reprinted from (as was the case with many annuals from the 1970s),” Steve notes, “that can be made doubly hard if the strips were originally Italian.” Good luck with it, Steve.

• Congratulations to Ex-Tharg David Bishop, who has been awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Writing Fellowship which, he says, he will use to write a novel.

• The latest Mega City Book Club podcast (Episode 33) offers everything you wanted to know about Strontium Dog but were afraid to ask.

Just kidding!” say the team. “Nearest thing to it though.” Host Eamonn is joined by Steve Green, co-director of the Strontium Dog Fan Film, and they talk about ‘The Search and Destroy Files 01’. Get it here

• Talking of podcasts, congratulations to Dan Butcher, Vince Hunt and Tony Esmond, who have just released their 100th episode of the Awesome Comics Podcast, crammed with its usual indie comics craziness and silliness. Listen to it right here!

Smashed reports Poland’s Warsaw Comics Festival will lose three years’ worth of city subsidies, totalling $44,500, because a comic ridiculing Polish nationalists was distributed at this year’s event. Tomasz Lesniak and Rafal Skarzycki’s Poland: The Champion of Poland, lampooned nationalists, racists and anti-Semites, and that didn’t sit well with the local nationalists, who complained to the city council. The council released a statement saying, “After reviewing the comic we explicitly declare that we do not accept its content,” and announced it would sanction the festival.

• The internet is these days awash with great art -including Doctor Who art. Richard Piers Rayner, a guest at Lancaster Comics Day on Sunday 11th June, has just posted this gorgeous convention commission: Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and ‘The Oncoming Storm”. Richard has a new web site in the works, but you can follow him on Twitter @RPiersRayner

Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and 'The Oncoming Storm". Art by Richard Piers Rayner
Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and ‘The Oncoming Storm”. Art by Richard Piers Rayner

• And Finally… Battling barnacles! Nick Frost is to play Captain Pugwash in a live action movie to shoot next year, based on the cult children’s character created  by John Ryan.

“Besides Winston Churchill and Henry VIII, Captain Horatio Pugwash seems like a role I was born to play,” he says. ‘I can’t wait to get going.” Chortle reports the film, which starts production next year, will have the pirate travelling to Botany Bay, where he eventually finds himself at the helm of The Black Pig on a mission to rescue Tom the Cabin Boy’s father, who is marooned on a volcanic island.

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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