Blackthorn Communications’ director, David McComb, has over 20 years’ experience in consumer publishing.

David independently launched his first magazine aged 21 at the University Of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Music and culture magazine The Stun proved a huge hit in college campuses across the province and, emboldened by its success, David headed for the bright lights of London and a place on City University’s prestigious postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.

After a couple of lost years working in business-to-business publishing, David was appointed editor of Nintendo Official Magazine. There he proved his nose for commercial success by introducing the Pokémon brand to UK magazine audiences. Working closely with licensee Nintendo, David published a series of highly successful Pokémon Master Guides, and even went on the road for a 20-date national tour where he sat on a golden throne and challenged hundreds of kids to a live Game Boy Pokémon battle. (David claims he won 90 per cent of these digital skirmishes, and made at least a dozen children cry…)

David turned freelance in 2000, and spent the next five years working for the biggest brands in consumer publishing, including Smash Hits, Empire, J-17, Bizarre, FHM, Zoo, It’s HOT!, Girl Talk, Top Of The Pops and Chat.

In 2005 David joined Bizarre magazine as managing editor and, following the commercial success of Body Art, he was appointed editor in 2007 and ran the magazine in-house until December 2011.

In 2012 David launched Blackthorn Communications with the aim of bringing together the best designers, writers, photographers and editors in the world, to offer clients an unrivalled creative service that always delivers top-quality digital and print products.

David is also a visiting fellow at Southampton Solent University, where he gives talks in the business of journalism and gives students feedback and advice on features and news stories they’ve written for Bizarre.

Connect with David on LinkedIn




Dave Kelsall has over 25 years’ of consumer magazine and graphic design experience.

Dave started his career by designing and creating hot-air balloons at Thunder & Colt, where he was responsible for customer visuals, advertising and artwork, and designed the graphics for hundreds of balloons and airships, including work on the Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Pacific projects.

Dave’s first love was magazines, and in 1992 he landed his dream job working on Emap’s roster of videogame titles. Initially Dave worked as a designer on the market-leading Nintendo and Sega licensed magazines, but soon introduced new working practices and design programs to the company that helped Emap grow its niche gaming portfolio into hugely profitable business.

At Emap, Dave was responsible for designing and launching a series of new titles including PC Games and Sega Saturn Magazine, and relaunching Nintendo Official Magazine and PlayStation Plus. Following its relaunch, sales of PlayStation Plus climbed from 30,000 to 115,000, and it won Title Of The Year at the annual Emap Consumer Magazine Awards.

In June 2005 Dave went freelance and worked on Maxim and Bizarre, before going full-time on Bizarre and designing numerous spin-off books for the brand.

Dave has also designed a series of catalogues for retail website I Want One Of Those, merchandise and T-shirts for comedian Tim Minchin, and numerous projects for a wide variety of clients including Panini, Sega, Nintendo and AstraZeneca.



Eleanor started her career writing about music for Manchester’s City Life magazine and BBC Online, while studying English literature at The University Of Sheffield. After several years of late nights in shady music venues, she moved to London to take a place on City University’s respected postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.

While studying at City University, Eleanor freelanced for music magazines Rock Sound and Record Collector, and spent a week at Virgin Atlantic’s mission control centre alongside NASA scientists and aviation specialists, reporting on the longest aircraft flight in history for Virgin’s website.

After graduation, Eleanor won a place on United Business Media’s prestigious graduate trainee scheme. Working on trade titles Cabinet Maker, Pulse, The Publican, Promo and Music Week, she honed her skills as a business journalist, before becoming a reporter at Building and breaking stories that were picked up by the nationals.

Eleanor left the B2B world in early 2008 and spent several months in customer publishing, writing sightseeing and accommodation guides for the London tourist board, Visit London.

In summer 2008, Eleanor was appointed chief sub-editor at Bizarre, and was later promoted to production editor, where she managed the workflow of the magazine, commissioned features, worked on events, and edited the books and music sections. She continues to specialise in alternative sounds and metal, and organised Bizarre’s Battle Of The Bands competition in 2011, where new groups competed for an opportunity to perform at Dennis Publishing’s live event, the Bizarre Ball.

Eleanor also edited two editions of Body Art and launched the upmarket book series Tattoo Style in 2011, and when the production of Bizarre was handed to Blackthorn Communications in late 2011, Eleanor became deputy editor of the magazine.

Visit eleanorgoodman.co.uk



Tom has worked in the picture business for over 15 years.

After finishing a degree in Photography at Nottingham Trent University, Tom worked with the Picture House Centre for Photography in Leicester, before moving to London to work for PYMCA, a picture library dedicated to youth culture. Tom spent five years at PYMCA working with photographers across the world as a picture researcher, co-ordinating exhibitions and book production, and developing photo projects.

Tom went freelance in 2004, and spent the next year working for magazines including Broadcast, Jack and Bizarre as a picture researcher.

In late 2004 Tom joined Bizarre as picture editor, and worked on the magazine in-house until December 2011. As well as picture-editing 100 issues of Bizarre, Tom has also worked on over 10 spin-off books including Body Art and The World’s Most Incredible Tattoos. He also developed and launched The Bizarre Archive in 2008, which syndicates Bizarre content to editorial, publishing and broadcasting clients around the world.

Since 2009, Tom has also been developing his own photography business, and now shoots regularly for Bizarre magazine and is working on a number of personal projects.

Visit tombroadbent.com


Blackthorn Communications is looking for talented, enthusiastic and creative freelancers to work on a number of new projects.

If you’ve got top-notch skills in design, production, rich media content or web development (iOS, WordPress, Ruby On Rails), then we’d love to hear from you.

In return we can offer exciting projects, flexible working and competitive rates of pay.

To contact us, just click here.