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THE UKs LARGEST INDEPENDENT COMICS PUBLISHER Between 1984-1994 I worked freelance as a writer/artist/editor/agent in comics as well as comics journalism for MU Press,Blue Comet Press,Fantagraphic Books,Eros Comics,Dorne,Fleetway,IPC and others in the United States,UK and Europe. During this period I also produced large numbers of single panel gag cartoons for agencies in Germany such as Boiselle-Lohmann and Baaske Agency –these going to magazines and publications around Europe. I also worked as a freelance editor in comics and publications ranging from wildlife,astronomy and science fiction magazines. From 1984 to present I've been self publishing comics as well as publications on a wide variety of subjects under the Black Tower banner. I have also produced packages of work for companies in India,Hong Kong and China. I have also been working as an industry advisor for smaller companies in countries such as India,Canada,Singapore,China,Europe and the US. hoopercomicsuk@yahoo.com

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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

I Have Been Avenging!! (sort of)

 Well, I've just spent three hours trying to sort out my Marvel Comics -specifically The Avengers and what a **** mess it is.

Straight forward we had the first volume and, no, I do not have #1 just reprints of this great comic.  A joy to read even now and ***** off Brevoort.

The seemingly forgotten volume 2 is...bad.  But volume 3 had Busiek and Perez who, while on the title made it a real Avengers book for fans. But let's have a look at what I've been going through.

Avengers #1 vol. 1

 Luckily I've already catalogued volume 1 and the distractions it caused...great covers and stories.

 Of course, due to the constant selling off and screwing about (read Sean Howe's Marvel The Untold Story) Marvel was, once again, on the very edge of ceasing publication so it tried some of the new "hot talents".

I have tried reading this short run (I think 13 issues in all) but it is just awful and, in the end, was a failure.

Avengers #1  vol. 2

And that failure meant that someone at Marvel had to stress-out over what to do next.  They got George Perez who they asked to also write the book.  George had a better idea and he "strongly" suggest Kurt Busiek and Busiek accepted like a shot (see the interview on the animated film Ultimate Avengers).

The Avengers were back. Beautiful art and great stories.

Avengers #1  vol. 3

Avengers The Domination Factor (mini series tie in with Fantastric Four Domination Factor)

Sadly, things went wrong and as Marvel jumped issue numbering again so that it continued on from the first volume, the rot set in with Avengers Disassemble.  Awful, awful, awful -by this time Busiek and Perez had been kicked off  decided to move aside for a 'better team'.  I believe 'em.

I think the last storyline was "Siege"

But then, oh my gods...it almost looked as though Marvel had realised their mistake and their titles re-launched as The Heroic Age.

Avengers #1  vol. 4

Yeah, and that didn't last long before it got messy again.  Don't give a crap: Bendis ruined the whole thing and it's that simple.  **** Bendis.

Hmmm. I seem to be getting a wee bit angry.  Anyway, the Avengers Assemble movie was a big deal and Disney now owned Marvel (not to mention Star Wars) and everything has become science fiction orientated.  And to cap it all off probably the best Marvel animated series ever -Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes got ****** over by Disney.  Screw all the story lines and that fans loved the two series -I've even seen Justice League Animated fans rave about "the opposition". 

And what did they replace this great animated series with -throwing out all the storylines?  "Avengers Assemble" a piece of puerile crap -but it has the same title as the hit movie so who gives a ****?!

Avengers #1 Volume 5


But you have to remember there was Avengers United They Stand -an animated series so awful I tried to blind myself -and the comic? aaaagh

Avengers Solo, Avengers Strikefile, Avengers Unplugged, Avengers Infinity, Avengers Celestial Quest, Avengers The Last Story, Avengers---oh. And of course....
Young Avengers   #1

Yeah, milk it!

Young Avengers #1 vol.2


"How can we screw more money out of the morons, Joe?"

The Initiative #1
"Joe -we need more and more sucker money!"

 Secret Avengers #1  vol.1

"Joe, I can't, you know, be a "real man" for my wife unless I see more money squeezed out of the jerks!"

Secret Avengers #1  vol. 2


New Avengers #1  vol. 1


"Uh, this is better than viagra -more sucker money! More! MORE!!!!!!"

New Avengers #1 vol. 2

And to help that bunch of executives -because money spread sheets are better than porn....

Avengers 1959

The number of Avengers titles goes on.  I have two shelves which includes West Coast Avengers mini series and volume 1 (complete).  So you are sat there thinking I'm looking at gold.  I can ask whatever I want for these Fine to Near Mint comics, right? 

I tried to work it out but I've paid over the years a couple thousand on just these books.  Their ACTUAL value?  I'd be very lucky if I even got £100 for all of them.  Seriously, I checked it all out and the only ones asking big prices are the dealers and traders who are milking stupidity.

It's all very sobering and now I need to catalogue this lot before bed....I'm tempted to start tonight and end tomorrow.  Who knows?  My comics aren't going anywhere!

Cinebook The 9th Art: Valerian & Laureline 09 - Châtelet Station, Destination Cassiopeia

Valerian & Laureline 09 - Châtelet Station, Destination Cassiopeia
 Authors: Mézières & Christin
Age: 12 years and up
Size: 21.7 x 28.7 cm
Number of pages: 48 colour pages
ISBN: 9781849182447
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT

Publication: March 2015

Our two spatio-temporal agents are on a new mission, but this time the duo is split up. While Laureline flies solo from planet to planet, on the trail of arms dealers and forbidden technologies, Valerian is on 20th century Earth, teamed up with the eccentric Mr Albert. And he, too, is hunting down technologies incompatible with the era. What is the link between the two cases, separated as they are by centuries and light-years?

It's been a real joy seeing these albums in English.  I love the art and some of the really weird stuff Mezieres drew.  And the stories are great.  This is one I have not seen before -if it wasn't published in English or German I never saw it.  There is very much "almost" a feel of Alphaville here* while Valerian is in the past, but still telepathically in contact with Laureline in the future.

I ****** love this.

Just how does someone from the future go about his business in the past without drawing too much attention to himself?  If fact, should such a person allow himself to be picked up by a mysterious blond in a car?  I think we may well find out in the next album -Brooklyn Line, Terminus Cosmos.

And Laureline's solo mission just might get a little more dangerous.

This is great comic book reading and, I really hope, another big success for Cinebook!

As I feel it my duty to educate now and then: * Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (Alphaville: A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution) is a 1965 film starring Eddie Constantine as Peter Cheyney's private eye Lemmy Caution ("Only my mother ever got away with calling me 'Lemuel'!"


Return Of The Gods & The Cross-Earths Caper Parts 1 & 2 Of The "Invasion Earth" Trilogy

The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super Heroes

Terry Hooper-Scharf
Black & White
331 Pages
Price: £20.00
It begins slowly with Earth’s heroes going about their daily tasks –fighting a giant robot controlled by a mad scientist’s brain , attackers both human and mystical -even alien high priests of some mysterious cult and their zombie followers and, of course, a ghost and a young genius lost in time. 
Pretty mundane. But there is a huge alien Mother-ship near the Moon and strange orange spheres chase some of Earth’s heroes who vanish into thin air –are they dead?
 Then black, impenetrable domes cover cities world-wide. 
Alien invasion of Earth! 
A war between the Dark Old Gods and the pantheons that followed! 
Warriors from Earth’s past having to battle each day and whether they die or not they are back the next day!
 And no one suspects the driving force behind the events that could cause destruction and chaos throughout the multiverse —assaulted on all fronts can Earth’s defenders succeed or will they fail...is this truly the end?


 Terry Hooper-Scharf
Black & White
107 Pages 
Price: £12.00
Following the events on Neo Olympus and the Boarman invasion of Earth, many heroes and crime-fighters have withdrawn from activity. 
Some are trying to recover from injuries while others are fighting the mental scars left by the events. 
As heroes from other parallels who helped during the events return home, members of the Special Globe Guard are shocked at the sudden appearance of Zom of the Zodiac. 
Very soon, a group of heroes find a quick rescue mission turn sour as they become lost between parallel Earths and threats. Sometimes one Earth just is not enough. 
The complete story published in issues 7-10 of Black Tower Adventure now in...one handy dandy book!

XM Studios Halt X-Men and Fantastic Four Statues

Well, I've hinted at the strange things going on in comics and how things are spiralling downward but this came...unexpectedly:

Singapore based XM Studios specialise in very high quality statues such as the Incredible Hulk.  They put in a LOT of detail that regular figure companies never do. And, yes, far too expensive for a poor sod like me to own one!

They really are beautiful pieces of art as you'll see in these video clips!

"Folks, it's been a sad day for us... due to reasons we aren't at liberty to disclose, we have been asked to put a hard stop to all X-Men characters for now.

That means Cable can't be released, and neither can the awesome Sentinel Diorama which we've all been so looking forward to.

Still, we continue to have faith that this isn't an indefinite red light forever and you can have our promise we will be back to producing these dream pieces once the coast is clear - no matter how long it takes!"

A fan then suggested: " This really sucks. Maybe replace with a galactus avengers diorama"

And XM Studios reponse was:

 "No Fantastic 4 too... same issue"

This is what fans were getting excited about and, of course, Disney (formerly Marvel) do not like the idea of a company making money from a disputed "property".

Have you seen the Work In Progress Witchblade statue!!!

And this...I'm drooling!

Hamelin NEWSLETTER del 27/5/2015


Grande successo per la festa finale dell’undicesima edizione di Xanadu, che si è tenuta venerdì scorso al Teatro Duse con più di 700 ragazzi presenti, e ospiti d’eccezione Melvin Burgess e Gianni Biondillo.
Qui i libri vincitori di quest’anno per le medie e le superiori.
Sul sito si trovano anche le foto della festa, i messaggi dagli autori e i consigli degli ospiti sulle storie imperdibili a sedici anni.

Il 28 maggio 2015, alle 19 presso la Biblioteca Cantonale di Bellinzona nella sala conferenze si terrà il primo appuntamento del ciclo di formazione sugli albi illustrati "Ad occhi aperti". Il corso, promosso da Bibliomedia Svizzera italiana e Istituto svizzero Media e Ragazzi vuole sviluppare una riflessione sull’albo illustrato e sperimentare nuovi percorsi pedagogici.
Il primo incontro sarà incentrato su una presentazione delle ultime uscite e tendenze editoriali. I prossimi appuntamenti si concentreranno sulla divulgazione scientifica, sulle forme del comico e sui percorsi sull’identità nell'albo.

Mercoledì 3 giugno Nicola Galli Laforest terrà a Piove di Sacco presso il Centro d'Arte e Cultura un incontro di formazione e aggiornamento sulla letteratura per ragazzi dal titolo Dove va la narrativa young adults? Generi, tendenze e autori imprescindibili. È il secondo appuntamento organizzato dalle Biblioteche della Saccisica e del Conselvano e del Bibliopride.

Anche grazie al tuo contributo potremo portare avanti le nostre attività.
Nella tua dichiarazione dei redditi, scrivi il nostro codice fiscale: 92047890378
Grazie per il sostegno!

Cinebook The 9th Art: Lucky Luke 52 - The Beautiful Province


Lucky Luke 52 - The Beautiful Province
Authors: Gerra & Achdé
Age: 8 years and up
Size: 21.7 x 28.7 cm
Number of pages: 48 colour pages

ISBN: 9781849182492
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT

Publication: April 2015

While taking part in a rodeo in Wisconsin, Lucky Luke and Jolly Jumper meet Mario Bombardier, a Quebecois cowboy, and his mare the beautiful Province. It’s love at first sight for the two horses, and after the inevitable separation, Jolly Jumper can’t stop moping. Eventually Luke decides to head to Quebec in order to arrange a reunion – and discovers the merry atmosphere of the Nouvelle France: mounted police, bar fights, poutine, traditional French songs ... and an unscrupulous, wealthy banker...

After 52 albums I cannot seriously think of anything new to write.  From being very -very- cold to Lucky Luke, I just never actually thought much about a humorous western comic.  However, as the years (!) have rolled on since volume 1 he has grown on me.  Never ever thought he would but he has.

I can appreciate the slap-stick humour and plots as well as the vizual gags and I can also appreciate that this series is one of those attracting more younger readers to comics rather than the rather had-its-day Bean or Dandy, or whichever is still dragging itself out each week.

Above all, for Cinbebook the 9th Art and the man who started it all, Olivier Cadic, this is a graphic legacy for a few generations to come.  One day people will immediately think "Cinebook" when asked about British comics -its legacy will be that important.

For now see just how Lucky Luke, the epitome of the cool Western hero, gets on in Quebec!


Why Do Idiots Not Send Comics Through The Mail Correctly?

So, I get home from the shops and there is this floppy package waiting for me.
There is a tiny piece of sellotape along the back and an address sticker.  Didn't recognise the name but could not remember ordering any clothes.

Oh, and there is a clear label stating that it needs to be signed for.  Apparently my sister opened the door and this was handed to her.  This was signed for? Not by either of us.  Oh -would this be the TENTH example this year of a postal delivery worker committing FRAUD by faking a signature?  Is that why this package was almost open?
Ahhh.  NOT clothes. Comics. 1980s, quite prone to tearing and damage newsprint comics.
A closer look, yes a very thin, flimsy (judging by the catalogue bar code something that did hold cloth).  Yes, bumped down at the edges and both ends.

See that damage at the bottom of this pack?  Not a single piece of card and yet postage was £4.50 -more than the comicsw cost but you cannot be so stupid as to not realise it will cost you NO MORE to buy a proper postal packet to put these in.

I just sighed rather than going into a raging fury.

Feedback on this purchase......I'm calming down right now.

As I have looked after comics in all conditions and states for 50 years (I REALLY must get a life) I think I can repair the damage to these but it will take time.  Nice buy but FFS how long before these people learn that just throwing a comic into a crap envelope and putting it through the postal system is NOT WHAT YOU DO.

I really do despair at times -especially when there are web sites telling you HOW to send comics in the mail. And even Ebay tell you what to do!!


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Now Read This: Captain America 3: The Future of Crossbones, Black Panther & The Civil War!

Quite interesting posting over on MoviePilot that ought to be of interest to those of you keenly anticipating all those upcoming Marvel movies and, particularly, Captain America 3.

Captain America 3 makes some changes to Civil War.
Captain America 3 makes some changes to Civil War.
The Atlanta set of Captain America: Civil War was expected to be a heavily covered production but I don't think anyone was quite ready for the amount of photos and footage that emerged from there the past couple weeks. Images of Cap, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Frank Grillo in a full Crossbones outfit have been spreading like a Hydra agent infestation over the internet. With most of the action having taken place on a set made up to look a lot like what could be the Black Panther's hometown of Wakanda, fans are already dissecting these photos and videos to read the tea leaves of Captain America 3.

Frank Grillo as Crossbones

The actual news that has emerged from the Wakanda set is that after the action moved on to a new location - Frank Grillo sent out an Instagram notice that he has wrapped his Crossbones duties on Captain America 3 and raised some eyebrows with the added text to the message of "I Am Done With This Marrage".

Intrigued? Read more here: 

Cinebook The 9th Art: SAM 2 - Robot Hunters

Authors: Richard Marazano & Shang
Age: 12 years and up
Size: 21.7 x 28.7 cm
Number of pages: 48 colour pages
Publication: March 2015

ISBN: 9781849182461
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT

A year has passed for the community of survivors. Ian and his team are still making dangerous forays to the ravaged surface in search of food and medicine, forced to go ever further each time. But one day, just as they’re about to be killed by one of the exterminator robots that constantly patrol the city, they’re saved by an old acquaintance not even Ian still hoped to see again: SAM, the strange robot that seems to want to protect the boy…

The art is detailed and the story is okay but even with the action picking up I have to write that it is leaving me cold.  I'm not sure whether it's the Manga style or not -the eyes are not that big, which I usually find a turn off.  I read volume 1 and volume 2 together but still. Nothing.

But that is me. I know that there are many out there who don't care what some cantankerous old fart in his fifties thinks (yes, I know, I look much younger) -they'll love this.  A boy and his robot.  A weaponised robot.

I'm hoping that the third volume in this series -"A Million Winters" -  gets me hooked more but, despite the lovely cover....no. Nothing.  My first "bad" Cinebook experience -while admitting that I do know this type of genre will be popular.  But if I said every Cinebook was superbly, fantastically, incredibly great I'd be just a PR mouth piece.

Try this series as no doubt I'm in the negative minority.

Ever Shown Off Your Comic Collections? If Not -Why Not??

As most people know, I like to study...people.  I watch, when I'm not working or just need to relax because I am worn out, You Tube video blogs (vlogs) from comickers -mainly from the United States because the large number of UK comic vloggers has fallen by at least 90% in the last year.

I call these "transit comickers" -basically, yes, they got into comics because it was trendy.  What they said about comics, characters and companies showed their lack of any real knowledge.  But everyone has to learn, right?  So where there were BIG errors I used to correct them and I even got "thank yous" in return. But after a year, or less, it began.

"I'm not going to do any more vlogs on comics or reviews. I do really still care passionately about comics but can't get the inspiration to do more videos....."  and then "I've managed to buy an old style record player and there is a shop not too far off where you can buy all sorts of junk -including old LPs!"

At that time "old school" records and record players were a bit trendy.  It never lasted.  It never lasted with this vlogger either as a few videos later: "I finally managed to get what I always wanted -a motorbike!" and a couple videos later.....no more.

I've not seen this just once, or twice for that matter.  I had a huge list of channels I subscribed to on You Tube of comic people. Out of 25 only 4 are still going after two years -and they were always into comics.

After writing yesterday's post about how often comickers read their comics, I decided to search around and see whether the situation was any different in Europe.  Well, for one thing, there seem to be hardly any comic video bloggers on The Continent.  I find that near unbelievable. I hope I missed links somewhere!

I then looked at the USA where, yes, comic bloggers are dropping in number.  Many seemed to think comic vlogging was a way to get further TV media work even though they all seemed to use the same nasaly, high-pitched annoying voices.  The men all seemed to be clones and ditto the female vloggers though, I only mention this, cleavage seemed highly important (the comments of "You arec REALLY hot!" as well as some less savoury ones were all greeted by "Hi! Thanx!"

Comicgirl19 is probably the only comic vlogger who has never veered from her interests -comics, TV, movies and associated media.  It would take a massive amount of commitment and work to even try to match her work.

"Geek" and "Nerds" are so easily spotted.  They MUST have large spectacles, the comic t-shirts and their rooms are almost identical in the way they have arranged their collection amassed in the last year.  Or as one put it "I decided to jump into this comic geek-schtick and got myself glasses and purchased a load of boxes of comics and comic merchandise from thrift sales!"  Oh, and I love this: "I got about a dozen issues of Hulk comic which is a spin off from the successful Avengers movie!"

There are even, some badly done, "How to spot a geek/nerd" guides online.  

Amusement of another kind is hearing that some comic shops that pushed comics as an investment have been getting some angry responses from customers who have expressed the belief that they were "conned" because their comics are not worth what they paid for them three years ago.  One shop owner enrage a fomer geek by stating the comics would need "maybe 30-40 years to accrue value!"  Sorry, has a bull defecated somewhere?

That big comic implosion is coming.

I decided that, as no one really bothers reading what I write and takes notice, I would try to look at how real comickers store their collections.  I always find this fun when discussing it with other comickers and I think I have over exposed how I keep my collection!

Europe....I cannot find any images or blogs in which comic collectors are showing off their collection.  Even fellow blogger Subzero of Tales From The Kryptonian has never shown his collection online.  After two hours of searching today I gave up.

The UK, again...a couple photographs of someone holding up a Beano or comic annual and that is it. Really? Come on you Brits -show us your collerctions!

Above -American Robert Minshall and some of his collection.   See? This is how it's done.

In the US comics are "a thing" and collectors tend to like showing off their collections -see for instance vlogs by captainstrangelife or hippycollectables (on blog roll) or even Canadian Koestenbraunstar.

In Europe, particularly France and Belgium, comics or Bandes Dessinee are a cultural thing.  They probably think it rather silly showing off their collections!

But come on, UK -show what you've got!  Prove it isn't all about play-acting a "Geek/Nerd" or cos-play but about the comics themselves!

Seriously, do not make me show off my comics again!