Thursday, 23 August 2007

Even MPs love ROK Comics!

News that Jeff Hawke is soon to feature on ROK Comics has been welcomed by none other than David Jones MP, Member of Parliament for Clwyd West; Shadow Minister for Wales.

Jones is a longtime fan of the science fiction character created by Syd Jordan and published by the Daily Express, revealing
"Jeff Hawke was a staple of my childhood. It appeared in the Daily Express from 1955 to 1974 and was years ahead of its time" and describes the strip as "among the most intelligent sci-fi comic strips ever produced, significantly better than much that was published in America, the home of the genre, at that time.

"Hawke dealt intelligently with moral issues in a futuristic setting and was often astonishingly prescient," Jones notes. "In 1959, the strip portrayed a memorial stone on the Moon, recording the first manned landing on “August Fourth, Earth Year Nineteen Hundred Sixty-Nine”. Neil Armstrong in fact set foot on the lunar surface on 21 July, 1969, just two weeks earlier."

"I am now seriously tempted to subscribe to the Rok service," Jones declares.

Welcome aboard, Shadow Minister!

Look and Learn and Robin Hood Go Mobile

ROK Comics is pleased to announce a partnership with Look and Learn Ltd. to bring its extensive archive of classic British comics to mobile phones. In addition, as we reported in July, Look and Learn is making its extensive image archive available to ROK Comics’ parent company, ROK Media, to offer as mobile phone wallpapers via

ROK Comics aims to adapt some of the most outstanding comics from Look and Learn, Jack and Jill, Playhour, Swift and Robin for mobile presentation, bringing the stunning art and stories from the comics to a whole new audience around the globe, working with over 30 selected telecom partners.

The first strip to be adapted for mobile phones is Robin Hood which was written by Clifford Makin and drawn by Frank Bellamy (who went on to draw Dan Dare for Eagle, Thunderbirds for TV21, Garth for the Daily Mirror and Doctor Who illustrations for the Radio Times). The Robin Hood strip originally appeared in Swift in 1956-57 and is the first of a number of Frank Bellamy strips ROK Comics is to publish.

The adapted comics are available for purchase at and via Multi Media Message delivery to any MMS-capable phone on almost any network worldwide.

Laurence Heyworth, Publisher of Look and Learn, said: “Viewed on mobile phone, these comic strips and images have great retro appeal. We are delighted that this material is now being used in ways that could only have been dreamed of by its creators.”

"Robin Hood looks as fresh today as when it first appeared," says ROK Comics Managing Editor John Freeman, formerly an editor at Marvel UK and Titan Magazines. "We feel sure that this strip will capture the imaginations of today's mobile users.”

ROK Comics Robin Hood page:

(You will need a mobile phone capable of receiving MMS to view the Robin Hood comic strip. The first episode can be viewed free on the site.)

Look and Learn was Britain's most successful illustrated children's educational magazine, running between 1962 and 1982 for over a thousand issues. Throughout the 1960s, the magazine regularly sold several hundred thousand copies a week in the United Kingdom and around the world. During its 20 year run, it incorporated eight other magazines, including The Children's Newspaper (1919-65) and Ranger (1965-66), before itself coming to an end.

When Look and Learn closed it left behind a treasure trove of material which was to lie largely forgotten for nearly a quarter of a century. In late 2004 a new company was set up to acquire from IPC Media the rights to Look and Learn and the magazines that were incorporated into it (excluding some comic strips), together with what remained of the archive of original artwork. Since then, a small team has tracked down much more of the artwork, so that the company now owns many thousands of the paintings used in the magazine; it has also been able to borrow thousands more paintings from the Illustration Art Gallery, the leading dealer in this field, for scanning and incorporation into the digital archive.

As well as re-assembling the archive of original artwork, the team has written a history of Look and Learn, compiled biographies of the major illustrators, digitised the magazine and much of the artwork and created a website and on-line picture library. It has also digitised the entire run of The Children’s Newspaper, an issue of which is being re-published every day at

In May 2006, the company acquired, again from IPC Media, rights to a number of nursery papers published at the same time as Look and Learn, including Jack and Jill (1954-85), Playhour (1954-87), Swift (1954-63) and Robin (1953-69), each of which sold several hundred thousand copies a week during the 1960s.

Look and Learn is currently publishing a limited series of 48 issues of a new magazine made out of the best of the original magazine.

On 6 September 2007 Century/Random House is publishing The Bumper Book of Look and Learn, a lavishly illustrated tribute to the magazine.

Various images from British magazines such as Bible Story and Look and Learn and other associated titles are now available as wallpapers for mobile phones, produced under license from Look and Learn by ROK Media.

The wallpapers so far include Bible Story images like this fantastic one of Noah's Ark by James E. McConnell, images conjuring up the Wild West and some travel images, with many, many more to come.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Reddick keeps trekking

ROK Comics creator David Reddick David Reddick has written a heartfelt column for the official website, titled "I love Star Trek fans."

"After appearing for a second year as a special guest at Creation Entertainment's official Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, along with such Trek luminaries as William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Kate Mulgrew and Wil Wheaton to name a few, and having seen both sides of fandom from a fan's perspective, and a guest's perspective, I wrote the tribute regarding my feelings towards my fellow fans," he explains, "and the deeper root of that fandom, philosophies and love of Star Trek."

David, who offers his own strip Reddickulous via ROK Comics, is now a frequent special guest of Star Trek and sci-fi conventions around the country, meeting and drawing for fans, and talking on stage about his ever-popular comic strip The Trek Life, experiences and fandom.

The Trek Life centres on Carl, Kate and Steve, three Star Trek fans at different levels of fandom. A new strip appears every Monday on's homepage and is also a regular feature in the official Star Trek Magazine from Titan Publishing, appearing in bookstores worldwide, and is now featured as a regular full-page back-up feature in IDW Publishing's line of officially licensed Star Trek comic books.

The first The Trek Life chibi manga strips are set to be released in Tokyopop's Star Trek: The Manga, Volume 2, in September 2007, joining work by Wil Wheaton and Diane Duane, to name a few.

Additionally, a new line of The Trek Life wallpapers will soon be available through CBS Mobile, at, in their ever popular Star Trek section.

Original The Trek Life strips can also be found for sale through the official Star Trek Store online and there is also a full line of merchandise available in the shop at

"The strip has even stepped into the real-word," David reveals. "One of the strip's characters, Kate Stevens, has her very own real-world column called "Ask Kate," where she answers questions and offers advice on everything Trek, as well as love, life, and all things in-between."

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Cooking with Gas

Apparently, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is to become a puppet, prompting this response from ROK creator The Shadow...

More Celebrity Madness here. These are all free to view online and on phone.

Daily Cartoonist mention for ROK Comics

Comic creator Rich Diesslin, who delivers "Out to Lunch" to ROK Comics, kindly passed on the link to yesterday's The Times article on mobile comics to Alan Gardner's top comics site The Daily Cartoonist, and it's already attracting feedback which I've responded too on that site.

One interesting thing coming out of comics fandom and creator reaction to comics on mobile phones has been a strident defence of print comics, as though comics on mobile will somehow put an end to them. This of course is not the case: in fact, we have plans to do more to promote print comics down the line an we always saw mobile comics, like web comics, as a means to complement print comics (and web comics, come to that).

The other major point about this is that in some countries where ROK Comics is setting up WAP comics subscriber-only sites with telecom partners, like Pakistan, print comics are not big business, but comic reader numbers are still huge, largely reading strops via newspapers. PC use is also low compared with mobile phones, making even more sense to develop the delivery of comics to mobile there.

It also means that we can promote some independent creators creations alongside more well known licensed content, offering a platform for their work they may previously not had. Hopefully that's a big plus 9as well as the potential revenue stream for their work).

Interesting that the Times article got picked up by a blog in India, among others... the power of the 'net, eh?

The whole project is proving a learning curve both for us here behind the scenes and the creators, but it's also very exciting.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Times reports on mobile comics

Today's Times newspaper carries a feature on mobile comics, and highlights ROK Comics' operation. "The comic book, a staple of British childhood for 90 years, is to receive a 21st-century makeover as the adventures of characters such as Dennis the Menace and Desperate Dan are sent frame-by-frame to children’s mobile phones," it begins, drawing comparisons with how mobile comics have developed in Japan. (Papyless, a Tokyo-based specialist in electronic books, made $17 million - £8.5 million - in the year to March, more than double the previous year).

DC Thomson are among many comics publishers looking for a means to deliver comics to mobile phones - the very service ROK Comics offers comics companies worldwide already being exploited by the Daily Express, the Daily Mirror, Look and Learn, Broken Voice, Markosia and others.

Comics writer and columnist Rich Johnston, who specialises in the comic books industry and writes a regular column, Lying in the Gutters, for comics news site Comic Book Resources, tells the Times he predicted that mobile phones would become a popular medium. “The principal audience for comic books is young people, who are much more used to reading things in digital form,” he says. “Screen sizes are getting larger, and devices like the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP are ideal for viewing images on.”

The feature mentions ROK's offering of Look and Learn Ltd's Robin Hood and Mike Colbert's Crazy Mary strip.

You can read the full feature online here (subscription may be required after seven days).