Comicking Extra

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.

Collected comics art, news, snippets and stories of note. The easter egg extras that don’t make it to my regular columns, but are a tasty treat nonetheless.

The Comic Book Alliance new logo
The winning competition entry by Greg Powell (Source: Birmingham Mail)

comicbookalliance logo

The CBA website can be found here.

 The Best Comic of 2009 – Well Du’uh!

My copy arrives tomorrow through Amazon. The Best Comic of 2009. Is The Best Comic. Is. The Best. Order it.

There’s a free version of Issue 1 available online. Up there.

Related: Writer Kieron Gillen talks to John Parker about The End of Phonogram. Gillen is on top form again: Right-on creative politics, play dead gestures with howls, a provocateur sowing securities. This touched me as a bit of historic comics journalism. The piece is a fortnight old, so there have already been vebalised consequences to the talk of a patronage system.


I would like Series 3 please.

New Dr Who, Easter Weekend.

Can’t bear the wait for next weekend? Want the junkie shot of gossip?

Rich Johnston has much of the cool new video footage in one place or another.
There’s information on episodes unaired at the time of writing in this behind-the-scenes by Neil Midgely in The Telegraph.
If you fancy something shorter and spoiler-free, try Jason Arnopp’s interview with new producer Steven Moffat, from 2008. No ‘Press Gang’, but he does a great anecdote about the process behind ‘Blink’.

Space Avalanche: The Dark Knight

dark knight


Three UK Comics Festivals In A Weekend : More Reports

Hi-Ex Festival, Inverness – Blogging by Alexi ConmanSarah McIntyre and on the Sonic’s Ring Podcast

UK Web and Mini Comix Thing blogging by Hugh ‘Shug’ RaineAlastair MaceachernAmy LettsLizz Lunney and Simon Perrins.

There’s also an interesting businessy type article by J.G. Fisher here (link unavailable)

Schmurgen Con 4 – Blogging seems slow to arrive on this one, although word has filtered out on the first British comics award for a few years, with Tony Lee nominated for every award. Apparently the awards ceremony followed the model pushed by Tony a few years ago and my expansion on that laid out here on Alltern8 a few months back. Eagle Awards, take note, this is what the people want
Called out on cue, Paul Rainey won the Best Writer/Artist award and David Baillie also scooped an award. More details to follow.

Blatant Self-Promotion

I’m being interviewed via a spoken word performance by Harry Goodwin on 15-16th April for the Bookartbookshop event. (‘Gran’ will be exhibited there for the final fortnight of the month) Then I’ll be at The Black Box for the Belfast Sunday launch on Sunday 18th. (Get in touch if you’re in the area: a tie-in drinks-fest is in the works) Copies may also be available at Gherkin’s Alternative Press thing on 17th April Middlesex of which more details here.

If you have an area you’d like to see covered, or a story to share, I can be emailed at drew.luke(at) on correspondence marked ‘Comicking’. I’m also on  TwitterFacebook and right here on My  webcomic, Don’t Get Lost, is updated Thursdays.

David Baillie – Paris, Colchester and Where You Are Sitting Now

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.

A fixture around the UK comics scene for years, the creative David Baillie has been strongly touted as set to make the jump to television. For those of you unfamiliar, here’s the intro from David’s friendly website,

“His work has appeared in 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine, Tripwire, Redeye, Comics International, Zombies, Robots and a dozen other fabulous places. His screenwriting has recently been nominated for a BAFTA/Rocliffe Award and shortlisted for the hotly-contested Red Planet Prize and Scotland Writes Drama Competition. Exhibitions of his art have been mounted in London, Edinburgh, Paris and Oxford.”


Baillie has recently completed The Casita Situations, with webcomic pioneer Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Italian architect Valerio Ferrari. “A micro-world” within the walls of the children’s mental health clinic at Avicenne Hospital in Paris, Ferrari conceived “a series of interchangeable wall panels…text, written in the diverse range of languages spoken by the young people there.”

casita_jan_2010_09 casita_jan_2010_10

Baillie and Goodbrey have thought through the language of visual psychology. The work is uplifting, and by design, engaging. The opportunity for patients to decide on placement allows for them to be a part of creating the environment they are in the care of, and so empowers. Also…dinosaurs, winged men, dog and cat-heads in suits…it’s super-kewl!

Goodbrey has reproduced the Situations online as a randomly generated hypercomic.


Baillie’s stint there seems an extension of this; the production of “an anthology of stories about Colchester and its inhabitants” arrived at through interacting with visitors. He’s to be involved in a master-class there, and I would guess he’ll be pulling extra shifts. Firstsite have decided that April is comics month. Their programme has contributions from writer/editor Pat Mills, historian Richard Reynolds and artists Simon Grennan, Ed Hillyer (Ilya) and Chie Kutsuwada. Boys and girls comics, contemporary art and comics and manga and subversion are to be explored in talks. There are also several schools sessions and activities for the family and children.

Oh, and a screening of Persepolis. All here.


I recently went through David’s website and read a bunch of the handsome, entertaining and free comics there. I was struck by the fact that Baillie is a fantastically great writer. His way with dialogue, particularly in ‘Scribe’ and the World’s Finest pieces, stand out like the shape of a fit model, endowned with intellect and great hips. Likewise “The indiscriminate device”, a powerful work, directed with pace and care.

a dogs tale


tongue of the dead

Like the rest of his website, the comics seem a great lesson in how to present an online portfolio, with something in every medium, genre and style. Television executives, take note.

To end on, my capsule reviews of Baillie’s works to date.

The Belly Button Chronicles (2008)  Webcomic diary of a man approaching thirty. Currently running near 300 pages and full of friendly observations, wit and varying shapes. Could so easily be lazy, but not Baillie’s way.

The Final Adventures of RocketBoy (2007) ‘Wittle’ protagonists in pastels and a smattering of computer-aided lettering in this Weekend Cupid Cutefest extravaganza with jetpacks. Occassionally too shallow and sweet, delivers a finale that made me both shed a tear and laugh heartily.

Tongue of the Dead (2007-08) From the first third of the book, a fluently related sword and sorcery adventure. Great page layouts and realised action scenes. Ordering a copy direct from the author via Paypal for only £10 (p&p included) will get you a personalised sketch too!

A Dog’s Tale – Nonsensical fun and fast-moving adventure narrative containing every something you could want out of a stupid comic. Recommended.

indiscriminate devicemindy pool

The Indiscriminate Device(2004-05) Well rendered scream from the heart.. One of the most affecting comics I’ve ever read.

Kwot – Slow starting science fiction evolves into a 2000AD-esque tale. Super-heroes, Hitmen, Mutants, robots and regular working folk. Dedicated to Will Eisner, containing a lucid and random-ness often found in his work.

Mindy / Pool – The trials of a pool attendant and a famous artist, visualised in classic minimal style. Full of wit, poignancy, sadness and frustration. No ill side effects, these comics have proved very popular with readers on the festival circuit.

Monkey and the Writer – Four shorts: cute and fun.

Scribe – Another brilliant piece of reverse-engineering iconography, or if you prefer, a story about writer’s culture and it’s ability to envelop or remove. Also, taps into universal and hidden notions we get from reading comics. A solid down-to-earth winner.


baillie superman batman

Just Like Greta Garbo (2005)  thinking, ripping yarn with deeply considered attention in this “World’s Finest” story. Visually disperses with show-off realist flash, opting for a fantastical friendly look, coloured using prettiness. Wholly functional and layers of cleverness. I like it, I like it a lot.

How I Learned To Love The City (2002) A short about the author’s big lifestyle choices. Artistic evolution in topic, content and form, with pleasing results. Optimism out of Drudgery.


Cradle to the Grave – Mini meditation on mortality, with anecdotes and Baillie’s running symbolism.

The Dream – Visuals only mini-comic dream diary. Simple and creepy. (2002)

The Ballad of Jack (2003) Short rhyming character meditation. Sensible words on lifestyle.

You can read most of these works and buy them at David’s website, 



Comicking: The January Ashcans

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.

Welcome to an occasional collection of comics art, news, snippets and stories of note. Once a month, I’ll bring the easter egg extras that don’t make it to my regular columns, but are a tasty treat nonetheless.

Black Books

Is an independent literary fair, part of the cultural regeneration of Northern Ireland, within NI Culture’s Out To Lunch festival. This weekend Paddy Brown will be manning a stand there, selling work from the North and South, now including Blackshapes’ Phil Barrett.

Keep a look out for special guests!

On Tuesday this week, Paddy completed recording at BBC Scotland for an episode of the knowledge based quiz show, Eggheads along with fellow Belfast comics creators on his team: Stephen Downey (CANCERTOWN) and PJ Holden (JUDGE DREDD) Eggheads features four rounds of specific knowledge followed by a fifth on general knowlege. Teams compete against an Eggheads team of boffs and brainiacs. (PJ’s photo from the BBC lobby here.)

When Eggheads had a cartoonist team appear on the show in October last year, a series of knock-outs and a tense tie-break resulted in a win for The Cartoonists. Could it be that the targeted recruitment of more cartoonists just several weeks after means the Eggheads are out for ink blood or yoke? Be careful guys! Downey confirms this edition of Eggheads had Jeremy Vine hosting, which means it will air over the Summer or Autumn.


Battlefields: Happy Valley is the latest wartime offering from Garth Ennis, published by Dynamite. An air squadron taking on The Third Reich in 1942, over the industrial centre of the Ruhr. Apparently the story made PJ cry.

A panel from Happy Valley is replicated in PJ’s short autobiographical comic drawn in an hour that’s got a great Eddie Campbell quality to it.

Oh Mr. Robinson and His Quango…
Belfast politics are in the news this week as it’s transpired MP Iris Robinson has resigned. She’s had some rather serious mental health issues, undeclared business contracts, lots of cash and the 19-yr old waiter. In the fall-out, her husband the First Minister of Northern Ireland has stood down from his post until the enquiry reaches it’s findings. Oddly, the region’s newspapers are mostly lacking selections from political cartoonists. Here’s some contributions from Stevie Lee on Tuesday, firstly with Peter’s replacement MLA Nigel Dodds and then with Martin McGuinness and replacement First Minister Arlene Foster


Announcing the dates of Derry’s 2D Festival, 2010 David Campbell writes,

“2D, although we are late on the go this year, is happening and will be on from the 3-5th June, in the Verbal Arts Centre and Sandinos, with a similar format to previous years. We are working on guests and contentat the minute and will be publicising the dates as much as we can from here on in, so any help with that is appreciated. Be glad to have you along as an exhibitor again if you’re up for it.”

There are few better ways to spend a weekend than in this real community event and rational for hedonistic partying. It’s the fourth annual festival and last year there was critical debate, Bryan Talbolt, David Lloyd, sketches and workshops for children, dancing and blurred vision. David, my answer is Yes.The 2D website can be found here.

On the subject of Irish political cartooning, do check out these lovely sketches on David’s blog.

There Was More Than One Gunman

Never far from critical clarity, Dubliner John Robbins ruffled a few feathers on the indy comix scene in 2001 with the release of Closing Shots From A Grassy Knoll. The tract explored the motivations of self-publishing cartoonists, and their agendas in product contents agendas through a short repeated question: “Why do you do it?” In many ways, Closing Shots strikes and cuts the small press in much the same way as Roland Barthes’ Death of the Authordeconstructed the culture of writing and the merit of the act when bound to coded referencing of other texts.

Shortly after publication, the text was carried at and for a while open to comments and criticism. It’s still a solidly articulate and insightful prose with a directed ire towards contemporary mainstream storytelling. Valuable for discerning reviewers, critics and mostly, thinking creatives on the scenes.

In November, a revised edition was uploaded. If the original on Bugpowder is the ‘Shock’ tract for thinking critically about the comics you read and create, the new edition is the ‘Coax’. Yet perhaps more damning, certainly more directed and appearing clearer: much more relevant to a generation online were alternative transforms to new mainstream.

“Oftentimes there is a misconception among small press creators that they are rebels with suppressed talent, struggling against the might of the inferior mainstream and producing work of greater substance. This romanticised view also alludes to a notion that any production of material beneath the small press umbrella is somehow underground in nature. ”

In requests I publish an interview on the piece, John has stated he prefers the work to speak for itself. John’s new website, Downright Bockedy, is here.

The Baillie Train
David Baillie, author of The Indiscriminate Device and Tongue of the Dead has been blogging from Hôpital Avicenne in Paris, were he and Daniel Goodbrey have been working on something interesting,

“Mr G had been approached by virtuoso architect Valerio Ferrari about a proposed art installation in a Parisian hospital. His  idea was that it would take the form of something like a web comic, but one that would be navigated by physically travelling through a space rather than clicking in a browser.”

More about it on David’s blog where he goes on to document his trip from Paris on Tuesday to a big important meeting at BBC Scotland. (Not for Eggheads, no)
Still, if you want conspiracy, I heard rumours of a meeting of other 2000AD types thereabouts….

The Beagle Has Flown
My stage directions for a renewed British Comics Awards ceremony featured on last month. It met with confusion from editors and a resounding silence from readers who viewed it in healthy numbers. On the same day the piece saw print, it was to be joined by that of another high profile comics  journalist confirming that there have been developments in The Eagles story. Just before it was put on the back burner for verification purposes.

Last month, Paul Gravett announced the return of Escape. Here’s what he told me in an email on Monday,

“it is early days and we’re not planning many books to start with. There will be the Escape anthology returning for graphic short stories.”

Escape has a special place in British comics history. Indeed it featured a wealth of talent and over the 19 issues helped to launch the careers of Eddie Campbell, Dave McKean, Neil Gaiman and Jamie Hewlett among others.. Interesting times ahead: the story is here.

Oli Who?
Professional indy comics activist of London Underground Comics, Oli Smith, is writing Doctor Who. According to the recent official Doctor Who Magazine (DWM), an audiobook ‘The Runaway Train’, presumably voiced by Matt Smith and Karen Gillian may be due out this June. In fact there’s already an Amazon entry for it.  The following month sees the release of his first full-length novel, “Nuclear Time” as part of the BBC New Series Adventures. He’ll also be putting some of those comic scripting skills to good use on DWM.

Stalking Sean
I appear to be stalking Oli’s cohort, Sean Azzopardi, whose work ethic is off the scale lately. He’s contributed pages in the shape of “My Only Friend” (oposite) to ’69 Love Songs’ A strip blog interpreting songs from the album of the same name by The Magnetic Fields. (Amazon link) There are also some fantastic contributions by Hum “Lew” Davies, Ton Humberstone, Elizabeth Jordan and a host of others.  A wonderful find.
Sean has also been spotted taking part in the 100 Days project: a creative concept to create something beautiful to make the world a better place. Ahh, that’s nice. Sean is posting his creations at his Phatcatz website.

Oh, and you can read my review of Sean’s action fantasy story, Necessary Monsters right here on

All this exposure, it’s an arrest waiting to happen.

Radio Resonating Comix
Over the last few years Resonance FM, a London community arts radio, has allowed comics journalist Alex Fitch to present his rather excellent show, Panel Borders. In that vein comes the Alternative Press Hour, a monthly show “dedicated to comix, zines and DIY culture” featuring Gareth Brookes and Jimi Gherkin. The first show features interviews with London Zine Symposium organiser Edd Baldry and Mike Lake, co-founder of Titan Distribution and Forbidden Planet. Broadcasts this Friday (15th) at 9pm and should probably be online by Monday.

Finally, it’s just been announced that Darryl Cunningham’s Psychiatric Tales is to be published in collected form in the US, by Bloomsbury. If you’ve not seen this, it’s worth a look and here it is.

If you have an area you’d like to see covered, or a story to share, I can be emailed at drew.luke(at) on correspondence marked ‘Comicking’.

I’m also on TwitterFacebook and right here on My loud new webcomic, Don’t Get Lost, is updated Thursdays.

Comicking is published most Tuesdays, except for next week as I’m taking a holiday.