That Was the Comic Week That Was: Millarworld bought by Netflix, Dave Gibbons on tour, and is Darth Vader a cider drinker?

2000AD Prog 2043 - Cover
The latest issue of 2000AD (Prog 2043), featuring a cover by Jake Lynch, sees the start of a new “Grey Area” story

Here are some items you may have missed on our site and beyond. Have a great weekend!

• Our most popular item this week was without doubt discussion about the new Scream & Misty Halloween Special, out in October from 2000AD publishers Rebellion. No matter what your views, you can be sure everyone here at downthetubes is really looking forward to seeing the final published edition.

• Another popular post was my one of my “Creating Comics” items, prompted by some talented creators out there to pitch me some samples of their art as I’m a freelance editor for Titan Comics on Lost Fleet and other books. Thank you. But before you join them, here’s my guide to what I like to see in any comics sample package. It might not be the same guidance you’ll get from other editors, but it’s my preferences… I hope it’s helpful.

• Oh, and do check out the tips on Creating Comics in our “Kendal Calling” interviews with a number of comic creators who will be at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, asking them about their favourite current titles and their one top tip for aspiring comic creators seeking to break into the business.

Charlie Adlard LICAF 2017 Banner

This week, our targets were Comics Laureate and Walking Dead artsut Charlie Adlard, graphic poet Mal EarlHellboy artist Duncan Fegredo, comic artist and illustrator John Martz and Professor of Graphic Art and Comic Fiction Benoît Peeters. Enjoy!

• Reaction to news that Disney plans to end its movie deal with Netflix and launch two new streaming services of its own has been mixed. (One of those services will be ESPN-branded, and one will be Disney-branded). The move is being seen as a potential major challenge to Netflix, whose shares fell four per cent in after-hours trading but despite some reports, it doesn’t yet mean an end to shows such as Daredevil and The Defenders on Netflix – at least, not yet.

During the company’s earnings call, Cynopsis reports Disney’s CEO Bob Iger floated the idea of a Marvel-centric service, as well as a Star Wars-centric one. Iger also suggested that Marvel and LucasFilm content could instead wind up on the Disney service, which is slated to launch in 2019. Or, he said, the company could simply continue licensing select Star Wars and Marvel titles to Netflix. Iger’s comments make it clear that Disney still hasn’t decided how two of its most valuable properties will fit into its streaming plans.

Some share owners seemed delighted, despite a share fall when the announcement was made, while over on Observer, columnist Brady Dale drew some uncomfortable comparisons between Disney going it alone to distribute new shows and Marvel’s spectacularly awful attempt to control its own distribution of its comics back in the 1990s. Weighing up what might happen, Brady argues it’s “lose-lose-lose-lose” for Disney.

Should Marvel decide to go direct to consumers with its video content it would be joining a growing list of companies, including CBS, which is using Star Trek: Discovery to anchor its new CBS All Access channel and MGM, which is using its new series Stargate Origins to anchor a Stargate-centric channel called Stargate Command.

Disney began experimenting with its own streaming service in the UK in 2015, Disney Life, priced at £9.99 a month and specialising in kids’ and family content from Bambi and The Jungle Book to Pixar’s Toy Story franchise, as well as more modern blockbusters such as the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Kick-Ass and Millarworld Promo

Netflix of course has plenty of other shows available to subscribers without relying on Disney. Just this week it reduced its reliance on licensing intellectual property from rivals by acquiring comic book company Millarworld. It hopes that the company – whose properties Kick-Ass and Kingsman have already been turned into films that have been shown on the network – will do for it what the acquisition of Marvel has done for Disney.

BBC News reports Glasgow-based writer Mark Millar is still “blinking” over the news, saying this is only the third time a comic book purchase on this scale had ever happened, with Warner Bros buying DC Comics in 1968, and Disney buying Marvel in 2009.

This is the first ever company acquisition in Netflix’s history. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed but Mr Millar said: “I’m so in love with what Netflix is doing and excited by their plans.

“Netflix is the future and Millarworld couldn’t have a better home.”

• While we’re waiting for the dust to settle on these announcements, Jonnie Davis, President of Creative Affairs at 20th Century Fox TV, has described their new Marvel-inspired show The Gifted “one of this fall’s biggest priorities for the network and our studio’s first collaboration with Marvel.”

Produced by Nix and X-Men director Bryan Singer, the series centres on a suburban couple (Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker) whose lives are forever changed by the discovery that their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family joins up with an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive. The show launches on 2nd October on FOX in the US for a ten-episode run: the official web site is at www.fox.com/the-gifted

• But never mind new TV shows, what about new comics? 2000AD Prog 2043 is a delight, out now (just make sure it hasn’t been hidden behind other magazines in your local WHSmith like they do up here in Lancaster). This Prog sees the start of a new “Grey Area” by Dan Abnett, with art by Mark Harrison, lettered by Annie Parkhouse, a series set in the mid 21st century. Earth has a heavily armed defence network, and any ETs arriving on the planet are housed in the Exo Segregation Zone, known as the Grey Area, policed by squads of Exo Transfer Control officers like Captain Adam Bulliet and his team – wife Birdy, linguist Kymn, weapons expert Feo, and alien transfer Resting Bitch Face. Confronted with all manner of life forms, they have to keep the peace…

We’ve also highlighted this week’s launches from Titan Comics which include Quake: Champions, and plugged the latest issues of the war comic Commando from DC Thomson.

Valerian and Laureline‘s co-creators Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières
Valerian and Laureline‘s co-creators Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières

• There are plenty of comic events coming up – this weekend the return of the Frome Comic Con. If you’re in Somerset, indie comics fans should head over to the the Black Swan Arts Centre on Sunday, where some of terrific indie creators will be exhibiting including Conor and Lizzie Boyle from Disconnected Press and Gavin Mitchell, the hugely-talented artist on the superb Trolltooth Wars graphic novel (more about that here). Oh, and Darth Vader, too – or rather the original actor to play him on screen, Dave Prowse. Who knew the Dark Side might have an affinity for cider?

Also on this weekend is the Manchester Comic & Film Fair (tomorrow, Saturday 12th August) at Sachas Hotel from 11.00am, admission £2. There are more details on Facebook – or check out show runner Golden Orbit‘s web site – www.goldenorbit.co.uk – for all their upcoming events.

Coming up next month (mark your diary now!) is an appearance by Valerian and Laureline‘s co-creators Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières who are coming to London for a special event hosted by Paul Gravett. Also on the horizon is a new addition to Britain’s burgeoning list of comics events – the Isle of Wight Comic Con at Northwood House & Park, Cowes on 4th & 5th November 2017. Comics guests announced so far include Lee TownsendDez Skinn and Colin MacNeil, and a number of independent comic creators and publishers.

Meanwhile, if you’re a comic creator who was thinking of getting an exhibitors table at the hugely-popular ICE Birmingham, (9th September) you may be too late – they’re sold out. If you would like to go on the waiting list email smallzone.events@gmail.com.

How Comics Work - Orbital Comics Signing 20th September 2017

Orbital Comics in London will present the launch of How Comics Work, a new book from Dave Gibbons and Tim Pilcher.,  Pulling back the curtain of comic book creation, the iconic artist behind Watchmen and Green Lantern reveals insider hints, tips and tricks in his own words. Covering both traditional and digital techniques, this “how it’s done” book will prove essential to any aspiring comic creator.

The signing takes place on Wednesday 20th September, with Dave and Tim signing copies of their new book from 5.30 – 7.30pm, and the evening will conclude with a free-to-attend after-hours panel discussion. If ever you wanted to get comic book industry knowledge first-hand, this will be the event you can’t afford to miss! Full details here on the Orbital Comics web site.

There will also be a limited signing for the book at London Super Comic Con 2017 and also at Forbidden Planet Newcastle on Thursday 21st September (6-7.00pm, details here).

• Since Dave Gibbons has come up in dispatches, a reminder that ome terrific comic art, including Will Eisner‘s The Spirit, Watchmen art by Dave and a dramatic opening page of Thunderbirds art by Frank Bellamy from the 1960s comic TV Century 21 went under the hammer on the Heritage Auctions web site this week.

• Talking of events, with Dan Butcher returning to the Awesome Comics Podcast after being away for two weeks, Tony Esmond, Vince Hunt and he all decided it was time for some good old fashioned comics rambling. There’s talk of comic conventions and how they should be called “festivals” from now on, crazy successful Kickstarters, keeping creative control over your IP, sharks, bears and more. A few listener questions are answered and after yet more fantastic book recommendations there’s also an extra bit of audio as Tony interviews Rachael Ball (creator of The Inflatable Woman).

• Talking of Tony Esmond he gave us a smashing review of Gareth A. Hopkins and Erik Blagsvedt’s Found Forest Floor, which he admitted confused him – but he hoped confuses the masses, too!

Awesome Comics Podcast 2017 Small Press Poster
This is not the final poster! Some characters may yet be added

• The whole ACP team, are of course fully committed to supporting the British indie comics press. Look out for the finished version of this A3 limited edition poster featuring over 60 small press characters, some more yet to be added, on sale at London Super Comic Con on their stand (and available later for you to buy from ACP direct – watch out for details on their Facebook page). Priced £3, each poster purchase comes with a concise list of each and every character, so you can seek down their comics and buy them too… some at LSCC of course.

• It’s no surprise that with this month seeing his centennial there’s plenty of new Jack Kirby projects out now, including Glenn B. Fleming‘s documentary, which gets a premiere in Oldham next week, and the smashing-looking TwoMorrows Jack Kirby tribute KIRBY100, which debuts this month.

Thank you for reading downthetubes. Your support is very much appreciated! Thanks also to the downthetubes team – Jeremy Briggs, Tony Esmond and Richard Sheaf among them this week

Want more British comics news? Here are some great sites

• 2000AD and Beyond | Bear Alley | Blimey (by Lew Stringer) | Boys Adventure Blog (by Richard Sheaf) | The Forbidden Planet Blog |

• Want new comics? Please check out Forbidden Planet – using this link helps support downthetubes

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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