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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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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

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

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Time To Sell Myself....In The Nicest Possible Way!

 Okay, folks, it is that time of the year when I need to promo myself so if you start dozing off remember: Avengers 2 -The Age Of Ultron is released this week!

Black Tower Comics & Books is THE UKs LARGEST INDEPENDENT COMICS PUBLISHER (possibly largest European Independents publisher, too!).  It is run by myself as Publishing Editor.

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 have 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.

During this time 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.

I can be contacted for a much more indepth Cv  at hoopercomicsuk@yahoo.com

To see the number of books and variety of genres -including prose- you can check out the Black Tower Online store:


I do not  work for free or "on spec" and having worked in comics since the 1970s I know all the cons so do not even try them.

I work by payment and deadline.  An A4 design for an event (that will be reduced to A5 as in the example below) will normally cost £25.00 (black and white).
I do not translate comics into other languages but items produced under licence are provided fully lettered in English.

I prefer working with smaller publishers who are attempting to establish themselves and a company "universe" or simply producing specially designed comics for new publishers.

You can all wake up now.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Groupement Defense Belgique Page (1987/1988)

I found some photocopies of art that Ben Dilworth inked "back in the day" (1987/1988?).  Also found some original Hooper-Scharf pencilled and  Dilworth inked pages from the same period of the aftermath of the Boarman Invasion!  Almost 30 years before Return Of The Gods but....no. That would be telling but I will scan and post the pages this week.

And this photocopied art is from a Groupement Defense Belgique story that never got completed.  The Tall One really made my pencils look good!

The Drowning Pool (1987)

Back in 1987/1988 I published Previews -New Talent Comic which got a lot of creators their break into comics and DC comics actually employed some of the artists based on the work in this magazine.  I think there were four issues -I write "think" because my copies were stolen and people that got them as contributor copies tended to send the whole thing off rather than samples to publishers!

I have never found any copies so they are lost.

But I just found six pages that were in Previews.  They are A3 but would have been printed in A4 format. That NEVER did the art justice.  Now, in digital scanning the art looks beautiful and I intend publishing the strip as part of the 30+ years anniversary of Black Tower.

The artist was Jim McGregor.  He just seemed to vanish from the scene and I never heard from or of him again.  Sad, because his art was truly gorgeous.

Anyone know Jim or if he's still drawing? PLEASE get in touch.

These are tiny sneak peaks!

Avengers: Age of Ultron Official Extended TV SPOT - Let's Finish This (2...

Investing In Small Press Is Paying Off....for ME!

Sadly, I see some of Brian "Bib" Edwards collection is for sale on Ebay.  These would have been great additions to an archive.  But....http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/6-alternative-small-press-comics-Misanthrope-Crazypants-Collection-B-Edwards-/371302855052?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item56735ff18c

I have a large collection which I hope will one day be deposited at the Bristol Central Library.  In fact, a stipulation will be that NONE are sold for any reason.  All sorts of printing, stapling and qualities means it is a very mixed bag and now valued at (get ready) £1000-1500.

Luckily, I have a lot of doubles and trebles because I invested money in them at the time.  I may sell these mail order at the end of 2015 but there is quite a selection of poetry, prose, gaming, strip and other zines.  You won't find 98% of them on any Ebay listing but the ones you will find are labelled "scarce"/"Classic UK Zine" (??)/"Rare" and they go for £4.50-£7.00. 

As I know that every comic and book I have is going to be sold off when I croak and what does not sell will be burnt (including artwork but it will be out of my hands!) I might as well make money from the duplicates -50p and £1.50 comics are already making four times their original value which is exactly what I was writing about in my comic investment post.

An example of my own books -people can still buy them cheaper but copies of The Mark Tyme and Purple Hood Collection are currently going for £14.99 on Amazon (I am NOT the seller these are what someone purchased for £8.50 a copy in 2011) not a bad investment.  Very annoyed people buy these second hand copies for more than it costs to buy a new copy.

Investment, though.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Investing In Comics.....NOT What You Think

In all seriousness I do not understand why I have to keep explaining this to people since it is very obvious and does not take that much intelligence to work out.

Okay, comics from 1990 -2015 are going to get you money.  A decent return...in 50 or so years if all the other copies are mysteriously destroyed.  I am quite serious. If they were worth even half of what I paid for them I would be selling those comics now. No "ifs" or "buts" involved.

Dealers and stores do not order lots of copies of all the comics from DC and Disney (Marvel) because they cannot guarantee selling them all and if they have fewer issues they can charge more as "hard to find back issues".

This whole "comics standing order lottery" -where there are five people with a Standing Order (SO) for a title but the store ONLY orders three copies and who ever comes in first gets their copy is almost standard in the UK.  I hear all the time and see blogs where people say they did not get their SO comic and have had to look around. In some cases their local shops do "eventually", after much story-telling (believe me -some of these stories are worthy of graphic novel treatment!), get the issue but the price is higher and here you'll hear how they search Ebay and other online sources so went through a LOT of trouble to get you your book.

Are you going to argue that it is £2.00/$2.00 more expensive? Hell no -that guy worked like crazy to get you that book.

I've heard from at least four former comic shop employees about this sort of thing.  "The comic was in a box in the store room all the time" and some of these people thought that was hilarious!!  They also found it hilarious to try to convince regulars that certain titles were really "hot" and would be worth quite a bit even a year on.  One mentioned DC comic that the store owner had 20 copies of and there was a bet on who could sell the most to "the idiots"!

It is why one of my local comic shops gave me every excuse under the sun why they could not get a hold of a certain comic -it was the new Atlas Grim Ghost title.  The distributor would not re-order, then the distributor did "this" or "that" and he even tried to order from the United States but no luck.  Now, I'm not dumb. I had pre-ordered this book but the people in the comic store thought I was dumb.  They must have.  Why?  Well, the book had not yet appeared!  The last words I had from the store owner were:

"I just cannot get it. I'll look again but do not -do not- hold your breath waiting."

So I told him "Okay, I'll look around online."

I went home and ordered the now new issue online and received it two days later.  A week later I walked into the comic shop. I could hear the owner talking at the top of the stairs as one of his staff said "We got you that comic" and I replied: "Oh, I got it. ___ said he wouldn't be able to get it so I got it elsewhere -I did tell him I'd try online"  The response was a tirade of "Oh, where did you get it?" "That doesn't do us any good, does it?" and some very strong language -the shop owner had gone quiet rather than come down to sort things out, he just ducked out of sight.  I left the shop.  That evening I had an email from the shop owner and though I tried to be polite he told me that "if you only ordered Marvel and DC there wouldn't be this problem!" and I responded I had missed a good few SO Marvel and DCs to which he responded by cancelling my SO and that was it.

An ex-staffer later told me that the book was in shop all the time.

I then moved my SO back to the BIG shop in town.  Issues missed and even variant covers put in my SO so I'd think it was a new issue...I gave up.  Comics were not THAT interesting any more.

It is now 4 years since I went into a comic shop.  I had never thought the time would come when THAT would happen.

You can only take crap and hiked up prices so long.

There was also something else I stumbled upon by accident as I went into one store "too early" (they had been open an hour!).  Lots of brown envelopes being filled with new comics -including ones from my SO that I had "lucked out on".  I asked "Are those for standing order customers -that's a lot!"  and the reply was an unashamed "No. It's for buyers on our Ebay store". .....so loyal, regular customers can "screw off" if they have a SO.  I explained that this seemed unfair on regulars such as myself who were not getting their SO issues but people on Ebay were for a higher price.  The response was that it was the owners business.

Now, all of this I thought was solely a UK thing since their is a distributor monopoly in the UK re. comics. Monopolies in the UK are illegal but apparently no one cares.  But no. Watching video bl;ogs and reading blogs I have come across these things happening in the United States the self proclaimed "home of comics" -comickers there are being treated the same way.

Yes, comic shops are businesses.  Yes, owners need to make a profit to keep going and earn a living.  But a majority -not all (I hope)- seem to think "screwing over" customers, and even in most cases making it obvious or even admitting it, is okay.  "They don't like it they can **** off" was one response.  Three American vloggers showing off their weekly comics state that they never got this or that book in their SOs and had to visit a couple other shops.  Standing Orders -"Never miss an issue again!" the signs read.

The current flock of comic book geek chic take all of this because they have no idea and think this is the norm...which it is currently. But distributors know what they are doing.  Comic stores know what they are doing. Even comickers know what's going on.  Nothing.  Apparently "a fool and his/her money are soon parted" still applies in comics.

Despite posting about this and commenting on a number of sites that there was no "upcoming Sub-Mariner movie" what happened?  People began getting screwed over prices for issues of the 1960s/1970s Silver Age run.  From £10 ($20.00) for a "reasonable" copy of Sub-Mariner no.1, as soon as that rumour started the price went up to between £160-£300 ($300-700). I wonder whether any sucker paid that?

Silver Age comics were printed in their THOUSANDS.  You would need to destroy at least 95% of those books (say another Wertham outrage and what happened to Golden Age comics to make them so rare) to make a bit more than you paid for them.

Example. In the 1980s, when we had a comics boom, a man with a lot of money and flash car, used buy every new Marvel and DC comic each week -the shop even bagged them all for him. He looked at me one day and my paltry purchase: "In twenty years time I'm auctioning off all the books I have and retiring."  He was very serious.  He never read the comics -they went straight into special boxes. That was 1985 and in 2005 this same man with his pristine, bagged comics covering 1982-1990, auctioned off his entire collection.  He actually lost money.

There goes the home in the South of France.

Ebay sellers will rip you off.  If I have to explain why then I am preaching to the wrong people.

Comics as an investment might -might- work when your grand children are in their 40s.  If you want to invest then you need to ignore the people who want to squeeze all the money out of you.

Go for books with very low print runs and I am not talking Marvel, DC, Dark Horse or even Image. Look at the small press where books are printed off in 25s or 50s -they are very short run and therefore will be very scarce and hard to come by in the future. 

Go for Print on Demand (POD) publishers.  Here I can speak with experience as a POD publisher.  It works this way: you have an online store and people order your books from there.  There are no big print runs because the book is only printed when it is ordered.  So, say, Black Tower Adventure 1 is ordered by, say, 15 people.  That is it. That is the print run and that book becomes collectible because it WILL be rare to find.  Say 100 people buy it -what then?  Well, it is the same because books become damaged or destroyed or thrown out by accident which means that you still have a rare-to-find (because once I snuff it the store is gone -or if I retire the store goes so you can't just re-order another).

That is simple logic and common sense.  I have a big box of A4 and A5 Small Press comics/mags from the 1980s-1990s and they are in various conditions because of HOW they were produced.  I asked Duncan, who works at an auction house specialising in comic sales, what this box might be worth and scanned copies of the worst and best.  "You can name your own price and it depends on what the collector wants to pay because they are by their very nature rare."  Now in ten years I WILL sell them and I know they will be even rarer.

So, check out POD publishers and Small Press publishers and buy, bag and store their books. Nice Duncan reckoned my books could be as sought after as Alan Class comics in the future.  That is nice so maybe I'll stock up!

Do not buy into the "These comics are hot and will be worth a mint in a couple years" con -let the comic book poseurs do that.  Be canny and buy and invest in what WILL be worth something.  Books that regular comic fans ignore because "They ain't Marvel or DC or in colour"!