Tube Surfing: Comic Cutbacks, San Diego Schedules, Dinsoaurs and Weird Fishes…

Karen Gillan and Matt Smith

• Filming has started on the new series of Doctor Who that will see Matt Smith will take on the eponymous role. Matt is seen here in costume, side by side with Scottish actress Karen Gillan who plays new companion Amy Pond.

Arriving on set in Cardiff for his first day of filming, Smith commented: “I feel very privileged and proud to be part of this iconic show.

“The scripts are brilliant and working alongside Karen, Steven and the rest of the crew is an inspiration because their work ethic and passion for the show is so admirable.”

• Talking of Doctor Who, the new free to download Big Finish podcast is a Bernice Summerfield special, the companion created by Paul Cornell for Virgin’s New Adventures novels and who went on to star in Doctor Who comics and get her own audio adventures. David Richardson and Lisa Bowerman discuss all things Benny.

The Guardian newspaper has come under fire for cutting The Comic, its supplement created in partnership largely with the sadly-defunct The DFC comic. The paper’s Readers’ editor, Siobhain Butterworth, reports today that people have noticed that the newspaper has slimmed down – a response to economic woes affecting all newspapers – and more than 200 print readers have been in touch about the demise of The Comic, reduced radio and TV listings, and the disappearance of environment pages from the weekly Society section. Of these, 80 specifically complained at the loss of The Comic, but this was not the only part of the paper to be hit by cuts. Education and Society have dropped from 10 and eight pages of editorial, respectively, to six, and G2 has also become slighter. Sad times for the paper.

• Talking on the Guardian, artist Eddie Campbell notes that Gemma Arterton has reportedly been cast as title character in movie adaptation of Posy Simmonds’s comic strip Tamara Drewe , featured in the paper.
The strip centres on a beautiful columnist who ruffles feathers in a rural writers’ retreat.

The director of The Queen and The Grifters is reported to have cast former Bond girl and St Trinian’s graduate Gemma Arterton as the title character, a newspaper columnist whose recent nose job transforms her into a seductive flirt, to the chagrin of the quiet village’s womenfolk. Tamsin Greig and Roger Allam are also said to be attached to the project.

• Artist and writer Adam Grose reports that the dedicated website for his imprint, Clown Press, has closed down, but all content has shifted to “This site will be fully up and running from August and will expand over the coming months with the galleries to upload,” says Adam. ” In the meantime check out the Phoenix: A Warrior’s Tale preview on the news page or from the shop. This book is set for release in October.”

• Wildstorm have just published the cover of Warren Ellis‘ Planetary #27, drawn by John Cassaday. The issue is out in October. Warren will be at the San Diego Comic Con and post his schedule here, appearing at the event under the exclusive aegis of Sony, Madhouse and Marvel Anime.

• Talking of Warren, he’s just plugged Jamaica Dyer’s new graphic novel, Weird Fishes. Pre-order it at this link direct from the publisher and read a bunch of her work here. “The only explanation for Jamaica Dyer is that she was built by aliens and dropped here to show us all how crap we are compared to her,” he enthuses.

• … and talking of San Diego schedules, writer Tony Lee posts his appearances here; Transformers guru and top writer Simon Furman has posted his here; brilliant artist Liam Sharp (Death’s Head II, Gears of War etc. etc.) has announced his plans here; and David Lloyd has his schedule here.

comics_2000ad_Comic_con09 special.jpgEven Tharg will be in San Diego: well, a sampler of the comic, anyway! Kudos to Rebellion for flying the flag! (with thanks to Chris Weston)

• Lew Stringer has a great post charting the history of the rise and fall of the British comic Summer Special, complete with gallery. It was prompted by a Guardian feature by David Barnett bemoaning their disappearance. Although the Summer Specials are no more, some publishers have launched the Summer Annual in its place – hardback books in the traditional children’s Christmas annual format, albeit thinner. Egmont currently have several out, tied into licensed properties, including, this year, the Power Rangers Super Legends Summer Annual and the Disney Princess Summer Annual.

• Comics artist Neil Cameron has just posted some intriguing drawings from a new project, The Pirates of Pangaea, on his blog. It’s the sort of posting that really makes you want to know more but apart from the tidbit that it’s being written by Dan Hartwell, Mr Cameron is playing coy…

• Also at San Diego will be artist Colin Wilson, making his first visit in 15 years. He’ll be appearing at Dark Horse Comics (Booth #2615) from 3 – 4pm on Friday afternoon, and again on Sunday morning from 11 – 12am, so everyone is welcome to call past and have a chat.
“I will be also handling a limited commissions list while I’m at the Con, so grab us while you can as this will be our first, and only, US appearance for the year.”

• And finally… the Sunderland Echo has a report on artist Bryan Talbot‘s recent promotion to Doctor. Bryan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts at Sunderland University’s graduation ceremony at the Stadium of Light – the first time a doctorate has been given to a comic book artist.
The paper reports that Bryan was delighted to accept the honour on behalf not only of himself, but his profession.
“This doctorate, a first in the UK for work in the comics medium, is an indication of the growing recognition of the graphic novel as a respectable vehicle for entertainment, education and communication and the medium itself as a legitimate art form,” he said.

“There’s still a lot of prejudice and preconceived notions of what comics are but we’re getting there.”

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