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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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Friday, 24 April 2015

He Died To Save The Earth. No. Really....

Now I am not sure why but when I found these it had a sticker on the back of page one that read "inks Dilworth".  I am guessing that came off of something else!

You see, these are NOT Ben R. Dilworth inks or lettering.

Let's get into explanations.

You'll note the date on The Avengers monument reveals the date of his death as 1992.  For delays before publication I usually date everything a year ahead.  So, this would have been inked in 1991 at least.  I think I drew the pencils in 1989?

There's a little oike (derived from "bloke" and "idiot") who has been telling people (offline as far as I can tell since he knows if he starts up his little games again he is in BIG trouble) that I am talking crap about when Return of the Gods: Twilight of the Super Heroes/"Invasion 1987" not to mention The Ultimate Game  began/happened/ whatever.  I have no idea what this is even about since my recorded history in comics is searchable online.  Also, I have all the existing artwork, scripts and even the my-company correspondence regarding these projects.

I guess some people just like being made to look arses.

Page 10...I do have page 10 "somewhere" -the original and an A4 copy.  But can I find them?  I will, though.  I just thought that I might treat you to the unedited pages of the aftermath of the Boarman Invasion which was later detailed in Return.  Of course, this never happened in the BT Universe (well, not now!) but it was nice for me to see the old characters.

And who inked it?  A fellow by the name of Dean Willets who, in the 1980s did a great deal of strip work for Martin Lock's Harrier Comics.  Dean also worked on a couple of the pocket-sized fantasy books from "the Scottish company whose name may not be spoken" and he drew issue 1 of The Survivor that I wrote and would have been linked into the whole Invasion saga.  And, Dean also drew the first issue of The Cosmic Fulcrum which went on to become Return.

Dean's inking style is very recognisable -even over my scrawling pencils!  It is fair to say that he was an artist that really SHOULD have gone on to draw for Marvel or DC and he certainly deserves a better mention in UK comics history.

I did find Dean again on Face Book a few years back but he vanished.  As far as I know he does not draw comics any more and that truly makes me sad.  A great talent.

So, here are the pages:

Mars Ravelo: A Legacy of Filipino Komiks Superheroes

 Now, while I was trawling the internet yesterday I came across an old posting of mine on one of my old FreeServers sites.  2002.  Wow.  Anyway, I talked about Pinoy Comics and the horror titles (what else?) and if you do not recognise the characters below you needs an education!

Thing is, though, I have no Filipino Komiks.  Did you just faint?  Seriously, I read a lot online years ago but every time I tried to buy some it was either a rip off or "we don't sell outside the Phillipines" etc..

But it never stopped my appreciation nor that of many of you out there who have not read a Filipino Komik because a good few Filipino artists went to work on US comics for DC, etc.. Didn't know that?


The name Mars Ravelo is legendary.  Okay, if you don't bother with anything outside of US or European comics then maybe not to you. But who was he?

Looking through my 2002 post I realised I was writing as an outsider and as I searched for more info I came across Vintage Phillipines which had an article on Ravelo.  But the real gem was Video48's blog and that has so much more in the way of information -a true fan.

So, rather than the idiot Englishman writing here is an educational lesson from Vintage Phillipines and, especially, Video48!

Mars Ravelo Komiks Characters

Mars Ravelo

For the youth of today, it is hard to imagine a life without game consoles, smart phones, pocket-sized gadgets and internet connection. As much as it is hard to comprehend a pre-Google world; yesterday’s generations did manage to survive offline.

During those days, life took place outdoors – in the parks and backyards, where children learn and develop patience and social skills. There was always the thrill of playing hide and seek with friends.

For those who were less active, aside from playing with toys, reading books “in paper” is their form of entertainment. One of the most popular reading materials then was the comic book.

A comic book blends art and story-telling together. In the United States, readers were hooked with Superman and Batman from DC comics and Spider-Man and Iron Man from Marvel Comics.

In the Philippines, comic books became widespread and popular after the Second World War. One name stood out among the rest in the local comic industry and that is Mars (Marcial) Ravelo.

A high school sophomore drop-out, Mars Ravelo used to work as a janitor before becoming a famous graphic novelist. His cartoon strip, Rita Kasinghot, when published by Bulaklak Magazine in 1947, became a household name.

He then transferred to Liwayway Magazine and created Buhay Pilipino, which became an even bigger hit. Soon, he was doing more cartoons for Pilipino Komiks, Tagalog Klasiks, Hiwaga Komiks and Espesyal Komiks.

Despite his success in the comics industry, Mars Ravelo wanted more. He wanted to be known as a serious novelist. His first novel Roberta, which was published in Tagalog Klasiks, became an instant hit. Soon afterwards, Sampaguita Pictures bought it and made it into a movie. The movie was such a success at the box office that it made Mars Ravelo the most sought after komiks novelist at that time.
Mars Ravelo: Roberta
His works and novels were bought and filmed by movie producers. Almost all of them are box office hits that catapulted to stardom the careers of superstars like Dolphy and Gloria Romero.

Captain Barbell, Darna, Dyesebel, Bondying, Lastikman, Facifica Falayfay andMaruja are just but some of the works accredited to the “Dean of Filipino Komiks Writer” and the “Father of Filipino Komiks Superheroes”.
Mars Ravelo Komiks Characters
Mars Ravelo dramatically changed the course of Philippine komiks. He not only created unforgettable characters and superheroes but what he did was leave us with a legacy of cultural icons for the Filipinos.

More information, which Vintage Phillipines as a source, can be found in a 2006 entry on the Video 48 blog where this appeared.  More images including info on film serials based on the comics can be found here.


Please visit the blog and help appreciate a fellow comicker's work!

MARS RAVELO: 'KOMIKS' KING #1 of 3 [Circa 1950s]

Mars Ravelo (1916-88) was a prolific writer, artist, illustrator and the recognized king of Philippine Komiks. He was the man behind several popular characters that captivated generations of Filipinos since the late 1940s. 

His crisp and humorous lines, visualized into vivid and animated illustrations, have engrossed readers of all ages. Perhaps this is also because of the range and depth of his characters --- from the young to the elderly, from virtuous mortals to the superhuman.

From 1950s to 1970s, Ravelo wrote and collaborated with other illustrators and writers to produce more than 300 komiks stories. Many of these were adapted on screen. Who wouldn’t recognize Darna, Dyesebel, Captain Barbell, Bondying, Lastikman

 These are only some of Ravelo’s characters that have come to life beyond the realm of the printed medium and successfully traversed into the world of cinema and other media. His komiks novels also introduced readers to characters in melodrama and comedy like Roberta, Trudis Liit, Ging, Maruja and Facifica Falayfay.

Mars Ravelo’s stories have brought us into the worlds of the fantasy and the supernatural as well as into the lives of people like us. His works show us different views of our joys and sorrows and our weaknesses and strengths. The popularity of komiks may have dwindled in recent years, but his characters will remain part of Philippine pop culture.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Captain Berlin...."Germany's Only Super Hero"....WHAT??!!

Germany's ONLY super hero???  Hey, I did wonder as I had never come across this character so here we go...deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath............... Superheroes - Germany - Captain Berlin
I was casually researching old comics when I came across this on a web site:
Captain Berlin
After the Nazis took power during 1933, the resistance took great pains in searching for a solution to end Adolf Hitler’s evil dictatorship. They formulated a plan to bio-engineer super-human assassins, eventually finding their man in one ‘Captain Berlin’. However, Berlin’s attempt on the life of the fuehrer was unsuccessful, subsequently forcing him to go underground and adopt a new identity. Armed with his holy water-pistol, can Germany’s one and only superhero end the tyranny of these insane schemers and save the world?

Captain Berlin has been adapted into a movie directed by Jörg Buttgereit in 2009.

I sat there stunned.  "Captain Berlin"?  "Germany's only super hero"??   Now if anyone knows of even obscure German comic characters it is me. Well, any obscure characters.  So I sit there looking at this image and ....I'm lost for words.

So, I do more internet digging and find this trailer.......

Not such a good track but if you are interested...
I have to be a completist here so here is the originally cheapo film.  I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.  ahhh.

Kevin Gilvear wrote this review which explains it all:


"In 2007 Buttgereit went back behind the lens to film a feature-length project which would undoubtedly be his most ambitious to date. Based upon the character who originally appeared in a ten-minute short created by him in 1982, CAPTAIN BERLIN VERSUS HITLER is in fact a stage play, shot over three days in front of a live audience at Berlin’s Hebbel Am Ufer theatre in November 2007 and during post-production infused with special optical effects for limited theatrical release in 2009.

"The story goes that after the Nazis took power during 1933, the resistance took great pains in searching for a solution to end Adolf Hitler’s evil dictatorship. They formulated a plan to bio-engineer super-human assassins, eventually finding their man in one ‘Captain Berlin’ (Jürg Plüss). However, Berlin’s attempt on the life of the fuehrer was unsuccessful, subsequently forcing him to go underground and adopt a new identity.

"It’s now 1973 in West Berlin; the former Captain has been carving out a living as a leftwing journalist, whose communist writings have been greatly upsetting the sexy but slightly deranged Dr. Isle von Blitzen (Claudia Steiger) - former personal physician of Hitler. Fortunately for her it seems, toward the end of WWII, Hitler’s attempt in taking his own life backfired: he managed to miss his own brain, which was hurriedly gathered by the feisty red-head so that she might one day resurrect him in a new bid to stamp out all those remaining “Yanks, Tommy’s and Frenchmen”.

"That day has come, 28 years later, and in the Defence Sector Berlin von Blitzen prepares for her masterstroke. Creating a body from the bones and tissues of fallen soldiers, she seeks to provide a vessel for Hitler’s googly-eyed brain which can all but pine for his beloved Eva and pet pooch Blondie. But von Blitzen needs one thing in order to do so: the blood of Dracula (Adolfo Assor), who as it turns out, has been laying dormant in a crypt on the outskirts of Brandenburg. With his blood she can grant Hitler immortality and unimaginable powers, but if she’s to even stand a chance she’s going to have to present the count - now a mere shadow of his former self - with the offering of a young virgin.

"And it just so happens that in the years post his resistance days, Captain Berlin had a daughter whom he named Maria (Sandra Steffl). When Maria is kidnapped by von Blitzen and Dracula, Captain Berlin is called into action one more time. Armed with his holy water-pistol, can Germany’s one and only superhero end the tyranny of these insane schemers and save the world?

"War is often an easy target for satire; countries the world over have expressed through various emotions and mediums the absolute absurdity of human conflict. There’s been no shortage of poignancy, lampooning and even pretension in past and present cinema, and indeed the best cinematic examples have long since passed.

"It’s apparent that director Jörg Buttgereit is all to aware of this, so rather than go for any grand statements or realism he chooses to make a complete U-Turn: spilling the bizarre and feverish contents of his brain across the annals of World War history to conjure up his own “What if...” blend of heavy theatrical shenanigans and comic-book heroics born from difficult subject matter. If all of what you read in the synopsis above sounds mad, well, it’s because it bloody well is.

"Buttgereit has the good judgement to not underestimate his audience and he keeps his feature on a level which speaks enough without actually having to try too hard. Although CAPTAIN BERLIN VERSUS HITLER does harbour an undercurrent of loose political satire directed toward east and western relations which had divided a nation for years, it’s not a production that’s designed to be taken the least bit seriously - as if the title hadn’t already given that away.

"At its heart it’s simply one big ridiculously cheesy B-movie, which shows the director for his deep adoration of comic books - harking back to Berlin’s 1982 debut in which he originally ran about in a superhero mask - and classic Universal horror features. Buttgereit throws everything at us in a play made up almost entirely of film culture references which offers loving homage’s to the likes of Dracula and Frankenstein, whilst aesthetically the post tinkering in making it almost resemble an old silent, enveloped by comic-strip narrative devices, provides an interesting window for the ensuing action.

"Naturally then, with such rich sources of inspiration, Buttgereit embraces many well established clichés; ultimately excelling with the knowledge of what his stage’s limits are. In order to combat the obvious difficulties in moving from location to location and generating some kind of pace and excitement within the confines of an intimate setting, Buttgereit relies on the professionalism of his cast to get us through various transition periods, which often entails breaking invisible walls in novel fashion and acting in slow-motion for its silly action sequences, all set to the cartoon-ish sound design of Mark Reeder, much to the giggling from audience members and the viewer at home alike. And indeed the cast have fun in hamming it up. Curiously enough Captain Berlin himself has very little screen time, certainly for the majority of the first hour, and when we do see Jürg Plüss don the mask and cape he’s little more than deliberate fancy male posturing and ego. That leaves the feature in the rather strange predicament of centering itself on the exploits of three zany mad men, whom quite perversely we find ourselves cheering on.

"Adolfo Assor’s Dracula has the notable distinction of being the production’s voice of reason; he’s still a bit of a shit, but he serves to illustrate man’s flaws, with his preaching concerning humanity’s ongoing quest to destroy itself through imperfect ideals, which proves the exception to the director’s otherwise ridiculous and nonsensical style of storytelling. Buttgereit’s abject depiction of Hitler as a hopelessly lonely, embarrassing buffoon, now nothing more than an oversized, disembodied brain who ends up looking like Nazi-Dalek by the end of the feature makes for fine mocking, and von Blitzen, well she’s the entire reason to watch. Claudia Steiger does an incredible job of carrying most of the film on her shoulders; completely over the top and utterly barmy she’s an energetic and irresistible force who generates most of the laughter over her consistently foiled plans to provide Hitler with a new lease of life. Who knew creating a fresh dictatorship would be such a pain in the arse?"

Kevin Gilvear, DVD Times

More info/stills on the  Jörg Buttgereit website: http://www.joergbuttgereit.com/english/films/features/captain-berlin-vs-hitler/ 

So, no, Captain Berlin is not a German comic book hero but rather a comic book hero style character. In fact, I really like the sound of the whole thing.  But I am weird.

And I did create not just the first German super hero but the first German super hero group -D-Gruppe!

A Planned Give-Away With The Green Skies

I've been wondering how much more special I could make The Green Skies when it gets published?  Some form of trading card limited to 100?  An A3 poster?

Well, I think that I may have the answer.  It will add something to the actual Green Skies in the way of background BUT it will not be a "must buy" -Black Tower policy has always been that you buy a book then it is all self-contained (but, obviously, not the anthology titles!) and you will not have to buy this or that tie-in issue.

Just as you will not have to purchase the Dr Morg book to get the connection (I'll explain it all as we get closer to publication day) with this epic so this will be a treat.

Trading card still seems like an idea.

Now, off to work on more pages.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

St Werburghs Arts Trail registration now open

Dear Artists,

The 2015 St Werburghs Arts Trail is now open for registration to all
local artists, craftspeople, performers, musicians, knitters, bakers and
anyone else with artistic skills to show off or share.

The arts trail will take place on the weekend of September 26-27 in
homes and community venues across St Werburghs.  Participation is open
to all artists, not just those living in St Werburghs.  Artists who
don't have their own space to exhibit in will be placed in one of the
community venues and we will try to ensure that everyone is placed in
their preferred venue.

To register please visit the website www.stwerburghsarts.org.uk and fill
in the online form. Registration costs £20 but early bird registration
is offered at a discounted rate of £15 before May 15.  Performers,
people organising public workshops, and artists creating work in public
spaces can participate for free.  Materials costs of public workshops
will be reimbursed up to £30.

Please find attached our publicity poster which we would be grateful if
you could circulate through your own social networks.

Best wishes,
Eva Pollard

A Progress Report On THE GREEN SKIES!

Temporary deafness is great when it happens during an election.  Just saying.

Along with planting willows, garden repairs (what a stormy Winter!) and maintenance, not to mention shopping, I have managed to complete 16 pages of (un-edited) art since Saturday.  Action in Australia, New Zealand, Africa, South America, Arctic and Antarctic and now Finland is taken care of...oops. Forgot to mention Taiwan...Japan.

See, Return of the Gods: Twilight of the Super Heroes was originally published in six parts in Black Tower Adventure (vol.2) 1-6.  Then it expanded from the 196 pages "Trade" after I found what I thought were lost pages and that let me add a few more extras in.  So, 330+ pages and it was a full blown graphic novel.

For three decades I pestered UK publishers such as IPC/Fleetway and "the Scottish company whose name must not be spoken" about including more (grit teeth) "ethnic characters" since the UK is a multicultural society. Various weak excuses but as a rule the top boys in companies seemed to think it had a 99.9% white readership. 

So, in my own comics, I try to reflect that.  But more importantly, I have had an international mix of characters in Black Tower since the start.  Sadly, with Return, a lot of characters were left out. Had I included every character in every country then the final book would have been over 400 pages and I just did not have the time.

With The Green Skies the threat and story takes in damn well near all the Black Tower 664 Universe (that means none of the heroes from other parallel Earths are involved).  So incidental characters that may have been seen in the background (such as the old man with cloth cap and little dog) are now seen in cameo as the threat builds and explodes everywhere. 

Do not expect pages of big battles from EVERY country.  I would really LOVE to but time and book size dictate against it.  But the heroes and others are there.  Yes, there is, of course, violence. I mean -COME ON!!  My favourite Archie Comics Mighty Crusaders story was "Too Many Super Heroes"  and that might well be a sub-title for The Green Skies.  But at the end there will be a good few less heroes left.

I have said and written it so many times in the past but, if you die you die.  The one rule you have carved in stone with Black Tower is that no on returns from the dead and Black Tower will never ever 'reboot'.  For that very reason I get depressed when characters I have had for 40+ years suddenly die. In all seriousness I have no idea who is next as I just write and draw and "it happens" and though I might try to change a scene it never works until I go back to what I drew originally. A few times I've had "goose bumps" when something has happened.

At least the reason behind the always present alien vampire race -the Vampirons- is revealed as well as why parasitic races like the Krale have focussed on Earth.

And the Many-Eyed One.

But that's all on Earth.

In space heroes die while trying to warn Earth of "something" approaching. 

There is "the Martian genocide"

And more.  All the while help from outside this parallel is prevented as the Universal Council quarantines 664.

How does it end?  I have no idea.  This has grown and grown and as this is my last big work I really had considered everything ending.  Once the Earth action is sorted out I have to done a space suit and get up to the International Space Station to do some panoramic sketching.  There ARE surprises on that front that I get an inkling about but that could all change.

I love working without a script.

I love working without a definite deadline.  2015...will Mankind survive?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Marvel and DC Comics' Re-Boot, You Say?



The CBO Spotlight.....Paul Ashley Brown

 With Intermittent Squelching By The UKs King Of Comics

(That's me...)

Having ignored all my best Simon Cowell "Go on, boy -I'll make you famous! (but poor)" lines, "Old Slow Hand"/"Panting Pazzer"/"Wonder Maid" (?! -I have the photo somewhere).  From his humble beginnings as a scribbler working on 1980s legendary comic, Vigilante Vulture, a few strips -including one in Coffin Blood- and some he might wish to forget like his Phantom Detective strip.  Oh, I keep it all.

But he will probably not be remembered for....


The Series That Never Was!

Now, I have shown low res scans of the Sad Lads Pad idea sent to TV companies and then I found the set colour scheme but I have a hefty correspondence file with the artist.

Yes, Paul Ashley Brown may be better known these days for Browner Knowle but back in the day...well a few years actually back in the 1980s...he was the artist struggling with over-written scripts for a comic that attracted the attention of many top UK comic creators (no, it was not porn)...Vigilante Vulture!

There were a few forays after that but the comics industry is full of crooks as Mr Brown discovered -though he did take legal action and get his money (but not work) back off one UK publisher.

Now, unless you know him (not in the "Biblical sense") you will know that he can produce some great humour work -drawing Peter Lallys Donald Hamilton for instance.  There is, if I can ever scan it, a comic strip telling of the Southbank TV show special on my career, presented by Melvyn Bragg. And much more.

You see, when he doesn't put a lot of thought into comics designed to drive people to despair, Mr Brown has a quick cartoon style that he can turn to some very funny strips.  In that sense he has never explored the idea of turning these into a comic which is a great pity.

Mr Brown was also inspired by my classic 1983-84 mini series Outlaws Of The Urban Forest and in..2008(??) he set to work on a follow-up which, sadly, never got completed and I really did like the art/story and as everyone knows I never ever allow people to work on things I started unless I like what I see.

I have some of those pages but here is a cover mock-up -the black and white version and the vibrantly coloured version.

Great stuff and I'd like to see more of this type of thing from him.  He has the ability and style and CAN do it.

In case he reads this, he never does, I'd like to point out I've been ill so I probably never ever said anything kind about him. 

Mr Brown's work has appeared in Stripburger and he's usually at all the hip, beat-cat zine events building up his ever growing....do my notes read "erection"?? Oh -reputation. And having already been to Japan in 2014 he had to, of course, visit Finland where he was hailed as a taxi innovative comicker.

Remember this CBO item?

Bristol Artist Paul Ashley Brown In Finland Exhibit

Yes, those Europeans know a good thing.  And in this case it is Bristol artist Paul Ashley Brown whose work is being exhibited in Finland.

Here is a photo of the man himself at the exhibit followed by an article from Helmet.fi

Helmet -http://www.helmet.fi/fi-FI/Kirjastot_ja_palvelut/Rikhardinkadun_kirjasto/Tapahtumat/Paul_Ashley_Brownin_sarjakuvia%2852116%29

Paul Ashley Brownin sarjakuvia

Paul Ashley Brown
Paul Ashley Brown valmistui kuvittajaksi vuonna 2001 The University of West of Englandista. Sen jälkeen hän on julkaissut omakustanteena seitsemän osaa Browner-Knowle-zinestä, joka on kokoelma lyhyitä, melankolisia sarjakuvia ja narratiivisia piirustuksia, sekä muita yksittäisiä julkaisuja. Hänen töitään on ollut myös Illustrated Ape-, The Comix rRader- ja Stripburger-lehdissä. Hän asuu ja työskentelee Bristolissa Englannissa.

Paul Ashley Brown graduated from The University of the West of England in 2001 with a First Class Honours Degree in Illustration, Since 2008 he has self-published seven issues of Browner-Knowle, his zine collection of short, poetic melancholy narrative drawings and comics, as well as other small one-off titles. His work has also been published in the pages of The Illustrated Ape, The Comix Reader, and Stripburger. He lives and works in Bristol, England.
Rikhardinkadun kirjasto, Hyllygalleria hyvinpieni 2. krs.
1.12.2014 - 31.12.2014

 But, Mr Brown's Small Press offerings are much sought after, including, with some memorable full page illoes, Anon....

So It Is Writ. So It Must Be. Anon. The Return Of Paul Ashley Brown

Paul Ashley Brown
Browner Knowle Publications
8 or 16 pages
A4 or A3
£3.00 + £1.00 p&p
Ordering: contact Paul through his website at: http://www.paulashleybrown.co.uk/#home

The Bristol art leg end that is Paul Alouitiuos Makepiece Kitchener Lady Chaterley Brown -aka Ashley Simpson aka Paul Ashley Brown was bound to return. After the Browner Knowle issue cited in Parliament as being responsible for mass suicides -and which I am legally obliged not to mention here- we have another offering from the living Erzatz.

You know he hates me, right? Rival more like.

There may be a few who wonder why I've written "A4/A3" and "8 or 16 pages"?  Simple.  This is an un-stapled, loose-leaf offering offering double spreads so they are A3 folded to A4. There is the usual collection of eccentrics and sketches from life and do not panic -still the faint hint of depression here but all enjoyable.

However, there is ONE reason why you ought top get a copy of this latest offering. If only the story behind it were included but it is a case of "protecting the innocent".  Here is that reason:

Anon 2
Paul Ashley Brown
Browner Knowle
I have no price here...?

Firstly, this is printed on a slightly tinted paper which looks nice but fecks things up on scanning. So I had to turn 'em into black and white art pages.  Does look better with the tint, though.

Now, I do not usually look at other reviews but this one caught my eye:

"Reading this will make you a goddam sexual tyrranosaur!"
Dr Jessie Ventura
Karachi Medical Gazette
That is some recommendation. 
Well, if there was one positive side to last weekends BCZF it was that Mr Paul Ashley Brown sold a fair doings of zines. He stood there, drinking an espresso with his t-Shirt emblazoned with "Je ne suis pas prétentieux, je ne suis que l'artiste!"*

 I have written "16 pages" but that is not quite accurate.  This book is not stapled and that is for a very good reason: the pages open up to make four A3 posters.  My favourite of these is this one:

 You do get the one page treats such as "Humpty On The Edge Forever" that Mr Brown calls "Mon déchirant chef-d'œuvre de la vie!"** And who could argue with that? I cried. I truly cried.*** I do like the use of solid black and white here which balances out the page.

 And Mr Brown did say that far more would be revealede about what he calls his "mes penchants sexuels torrides" and I'm guessing this page covers that. Believe me, that illo is physically spot on accurate, boy. This is half of one of the A3 posters I was referring to and if you want to see the women in the other half you will have to buy. Gave me the right horn. Although, this illustration of its own accord has a slight, what the French call "taquineries sexuelle".  Hmm?

Yes, no cover logo...and yet we knew it was Anon 2 because Mr Brown told us so.

Here is a comparison with Storm which I just reviewed.  This is an art style I've not seen anyone other than Mr Brown employ and it works for style of story telling -whether simply illustrative or text accompanied. I don't have any problem recommending this -simply contact Mr Brown and ask the cost!

 Reviewers notes.
*"I am not pretentious. I am merely THE artist!" 
**"My heart wrenching masterpiece about life!"
***And did I cry -I whacked my big toe against the table leg.
I may have been lying about some things in this review but not the book.  Buy a copy and get in on why he's so popular!

But THE legendary work that saw his rise to fame is Browner Knowle -an explanation to our foreign comickers: "Browner" is the way some people refer to Mr Brown.  A Mr Smith might be called "Smithy" or "Smithers".  "Knowle is a rather upmarket, low guttering drain hole where Mr Brown grew up.  So the series should be titled Brown from Knowle -but this is Bristol!

BK Books: Browner Knowle 7 -I Read It Yet I Live

Browner Knowle 7
Paul Ashley Brown
BK Books
Black & white

Now before I start, that web address I have just spent an hour trying to find. Paul Ashley Brown everywhere (mostly from old CBO postings) but no web page so I'll have to look into this.

You know there are two absolute metaphysical certainties in this world. One: We'll be dead one day. Two: Suicide rates climb whenever a new Browner Knowle is published. Within the constraints of of the confined internal logic of the psycho-metaphysical rules of existentialism that engage our every day  lives Browner Knowle is the Messenger of death.


I love mixing medication it's like an existentialist lottery. But then....why not?

It is at times like these that I think Mr Brown might even be able to draw a comic.  Let's face it, that is how this aging poster child for the lost Thatcher generation started out -Vigilante Vulture and so on. However, having worked with the writer of said VV it was bound to affect the aging hipster's mind  -he is free and single, ladies so if interested here's his photo (and in the background LMFAOs "I'm Sexy And I Know It" blasts away):

Ahhh. Nothing like a bit of character assassination to start off a day of pain.  So now to the subject of this posting which was temporarily lost somewhere in the Himalaya's until it was found to be a polar bear-brown bear hybrid.

The cover...well, this is just another Bristol street scene and walk through Bedminster any day of the week and you can spot these...tatters.  In fact, another good example is "The Walking Man" -as seen below:

But this is not an issue full of Mr Brown's "Bristol Grotesques".  No, there are two strips in this edition -he would probably call them "contes graphiques".  Anyway, the first is "3 A. M. With The Lights Off", though since you can see that on the page below I do wonder why I wrote that.  We've all been there: the guy talking at you in the car but not really talking to you and the promise of what might be but never really is. Men can be bastards. I'm looking at this through a woman's eyes of course. 


Nice, nice solid blacks.  Mr Brown really could become an artist you know. You know, I feel sorry for the poor utterly depressed man who stood on Perot's Bridge in the City Harbour. Looking into the murky, beckoning waters but terrified of jumping in just in case someone pulls him out and he contracts Weil's Disease.  All the time some git with a sketch pad is saying: "Yes. Like that. Keep that look of total and utter despair until I've finished!"
All he wanted to do was kill himself but he ended up in Browner Knowle. Quite depressing. And then we have "Charles Aznevour" and while reading this we should all be singing along. Come on now -you KNOW the lyrics as well as I do. A one...a two...a three and.....

Dance in the Old Fashioned Way.
Won't you stay in my arms?
Just melt against my skin
And let me feel your heart,
Don't let the music win
By dancing far apart.
Come close where you belong.
Let's hear our secret song.
Dance in the Old Fashioned Way.
Won't you stay in my arms?
And we'll discover highs
We never knew before,
If we just close our eyes
And dance around the floor.
That gay old fashioned way
That makes me love you more.
Dance in the Old Fashioned Way.
Won't you stay in my arms?
And we'll discover highs
We never knew before,
If we just close our eyes
And dance around the floor.
That gay old fashioned way
That makes me love you more

ahh, Charles, you may be 89 years old now but should such a singer-song-writer, actor, public activist, diplomat such as you be in an issue of Browner Knowle?  Yes. We've all been there though some of us find it harder each year to embrace ourselves. Poignant, ain't it me old luvver?

Let's cheer things up and take a peek at Mr Brown after he's met up with a certain Mr Northall (a rival if the truth be told!) for five minutes.

Yes, it is quite terrible when all your favourite 1970s British TV greats have been arrested under Operation Yewtree.  Especially when you scream at the news media for not hyphenating "Yewtree"!

"A Sound From Downstairs" for me can usually mean my irritable bowel syndrome is about to explode into a volcano of....no. No, you don't really want to know that. Besides, in this case, it is the title of the second strip in this book.  Seven pages showing that Mr Brown CAN indeed draw sequential works or comic strips. Compliment with a slap. See what I did there?
I'm guessing this is Mr Brown in ten years time?  It is a nicely drawn strip -solid negatives and even a little cross-hatching and some nice detailed garden in a panel.  I'd say this was "enjoyable" but I don't quite think that is the point here. Nor is it the point in "Face Down In A Face-Shaped Hole" -actually a third strip. Yeah, I miss-counted but I read this so I've been punished enough.

Over-all it's a nice little book with probably "A Sound From Downstairs" being the longest piece of strip-work from the aging hipster in a long time and I'm not including his preliminary work on the graphic novel "Stuart Hall Touched Me Inappropriately But Not In A Physical Way" due out on the 13/13/13.

But will this tour de force (I really must stop reading these French BD) be the last Browner Knowle -will all those Small/Alternative Press events attended by Mr Brown now be so much poorer for the lack of work from the Dean of Depression?

I put this to Mr Brown who responded cryptically, as usual, over a serving of Cream Crunchy biscuits: "Fans often approach me and ask these questions and I allways respond with 'Dear hero imprisoned with all the new crimes that you are perfecting. Oh, I can't help quoting you because everything that you said rings true' for am I now not in my cell, well, I followed you.." a glazed look takes over his eyes as he angrily presses his face closer to mine and gutterally demanded: "Reggie kray - do you know my name ?"

Now, when I referred to making investments for the future by buying Small Press books Browner Knowle is a perfect example.  Very low print runs, around 50 copies and no reprints, a popular creator with a following who is a "name".  So if you grab copies of his zines then in ten years (rather than 40-50+ years with mainstream comics) you ought to see a reasonable return if you sold them.

If you want really -really- rare then go for Ben Dilworth 1980s zines.

But in the meantime, as the Boy from Knowle would say, "I'm off to soak up the misery"!

Delcourt -L' Homme Montagne

03/2015 (Parution le 18/03/2015)

G rand-père est fatigué, ses montagnes sont trop lourdes. Il n’a plus la force de se déplacer. Pourtant, il doit entreprendre un dernier voyage : celui que l’on fait seul. Pour aider son aîné, l’enfant décide alors de partir à la recherche du vent le plus fort, celui qui renverse les montagnes, Son voyage lui vaudra d’étranges rencontres. Un arbre qui, en vieux sage, lui parlera de l’importance des racines. Ou encore, des cailloux qui n’ont d’autres choix que de rouler au bas des pentes. Mais aussi, le roi des bouquetins qui lui enseignera que toutes les tâches ne peuvent pas être réalisées seul. Au bout du périple, la plus importante des leçons l’attend.

Dans la vie, vient un moment où les enfants doivent affronter l’étrangeté de la disparition d’un être cher. Pour les parents, c’est une épreuve de plus car il est difficile de trouver les mots pour expliquer aux plus jeunes ce qui se passe et tout ce qui se joue dans ces instants. Séverine Gauthier choisit l’onirisme pour aborder un thème aussi délicat que le deuil, mais aussi ceux de l’entraide, des racines et de la construction de l’être. Le récit est un bijou de tendresse, de délicatesse et de poésie. Le ton n’est jamais pesant, bien au contraire. En adoptant le rythme de la quête et de l’aventure, en proposant des dialogues et des situations parfois extravagants, la scénariste sait charmer et enchanter pour mieux distiller son message. Parti pour découvrir le vent qui aidera son aïeul à effectuer son ultime pérégrination, le jeune héros effectue des rencontres qui lui permettent de s’interroger sur ce qu’il est, sur la vie et le monde, un questionnement et un enrichissement nécessaire pour grandir.

C’est Amélie Fléchais qui se charge de donner vie à ce conte subtile et lumineux. Sa vision est un doux plaisir réunissant magie, inventivité et émotions. Ses personnages, humains ou non, sont captivants et sa mise en scène invite à la découverte. Le lecteur vibre à l’unisson de l’enfant, partageant ses émois, goûtant la chaleur du soleil, la morsure du froid et la puissance des bourrasques.

Beau, vif, souriant, riche et intelligent, L’homme montagne est un livre à lire, à partager et à conseiller.
 Par O. Vrignon


BilBOlbul Newsletter 21 aprile 2015

NEWSLETTER 21/04/2015
BBB15 è già iniziato: non si tratta di un errore. Anche se la nona edizione di BilBOlbul avrà il suo clou dal 19 al 22 novembre 2015, BilBOlbul è un festival che dura un anno. Da Art City, con l’intervento dell’autrice svizzera Evelyne Laube alla personale di Steven Guarnaccia in occasione della Bologna Childrens Book Fair e visitabile fino all’8 maggio, gli appuntamenti del festival si rinnovano in vari momenti dell’anno.
Ad accompagnarci verso gli eventi dell’autunno, un ciclo di cinque incontri che avrà per protagonisti maestri del fumetto e dell’illustrazione di fama internazionale, organizzato in collaborazione con Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna, Scuola di Lettere e Beni Culturali - Università di Bologna e Gruppo Hera.
Scott McCloud, celebrato fumettista americano e autore del noto saggio Capire il fumetto inaugurerà questo ciclo di incontri presso l’Accademia di Belle Arti, mercoledì 22 aprile alle ore 17.00 dove presenterà Lo scultore, il romanzo a fumetti che lo ha tenuto occupato negli ultimi cinque anni, appena pubblicato in Italia da BAO Publishing. In collaborazione con BAO Publishing e Pop Store Bologna.
Clicca qui per acquistare il libro.
Gli altri incontri saranno con Nadia Budde, Dylan Horrocks, Quint Buchholz e Stefano Alghisi.
Vai su www.bilbolbul.net per tutti i dettagli!

BilBOlbul Festival internazionale di fumetto fa parte della
Rete dei Festival del Contemporaneo di Bologna
Live Arts Week: 21 > 26 aprile 2015 - liveartsweek.it :: Future Film Festival: 5 > 10 maggio 2015 - futurefilmfestival.org :: Angelica- Festival Internazionale di musica: 2 > 31 maggio 2015 - aaa-angelica.com :: Biografilm: 5 > 15 giugno 2015 - biografilm.it :: Gender Bender: 31 ottobre > 8 novembre 2015 - www.genderbender.it :: BilBOlBul: 19 > 22 novembre 2015 - bilbolbul.net