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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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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Retro Action Figure Commercials Compilation 60s & 70s! Mego GI Joe Bioni...

Danke!

Mein Dank an alle deutschen Comic Volk, wurde die Förderung heute die CBO Post stats haben. Danke!

Retro Post -D-Gruppe: Past, Present & Future

While I'm on a complete "retro Post" schtick I thought some of the new CBOers might find this interesting...I hope!

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D-Gruppe: Past, Present & Future



I was asked by Ekki what plans I had for D-Gruppe following the mini series and 2012 Annual -all events taking place before The Return of the Gods graphic novel?


Well, the important thing for me was to get the old stories that have been lying around for a couple decades, and which establish D-Gruppe, out in print first. The whole Revenge Of The Ice Queen followed by the Zeitgeist saga established a great deal and led into two main books: The Trial and, of course, The Return of the Gods: Twilight of the Super Heroes.


The Trial was originally published in the mid-1990s in four parts though it had been intended to serialise it before in the comic project JAG 2000 (long story). In this story, which I am NOT going to go into details of because it is currently being re-lettered (originally hand lettered but that is too poor a quality to offer readers today), the D-Gruppe members are seen inter-acting with the UK heroes and, in fact, the UK heroes travel to Germany to help D-Gruppe and heroes first glimpsed in the Zeit Geist story.


But important changes to BT characters took place in this story -how did Wavell get that huge facial scar we see in Return?  How did Tech-Man get replaced by Rachel Flynn?  Even the ending links all the D-Gruppe storylines to Return.


The Trial should be out as a graphic novel in December of this year (2013).


Hopefully, the very -very- long delayed appearance of Task Force Germany will have taken place before then.  The first story should have appeared in 1994 but there were delays -initially Art Wetherell was to draw the book but had to opt out and a couple other artists stepped in but there were problems.


Back in 1982 I was sending project proposals, character sketches and so on to Marvel Comics. At that point i saw working for my all time favourite comic as the star to aim for. What a dim-wit! Anyway, I wanted to develop the silent character, The Attacker, and I thought Marvel might go for a comic in which everything was visual -no caption boxes, speech balloons, etc.. The character was shortish and wore a skin-tight black costume with large white eye-holes.


I was a little shocked when I saw the black costumed Spider-man emerge a couple years later.  But that’s comics.  The other character I tried to convince Epic Comics (part of Marvel) was really “great” -the creator owned line had started up in 1982 so I got straight to it. Marvel had rejected The Attacker -“no comic fan is going to buy a comic where you never find out the characters real identity and there is no text!” but -BUT- surely a Lutheran priest (later changed to Catholic) that has some kind of strange, all-black creature linked to him would be a winner?


No.


Considering what they were publishing I thought to feedback of “too dark” was just ridiculous.  A year or so later came…Venom.


So the character who started out as German, had to be changed to an American reverted back to German. But there is a problem. If someone is the artist of a book and they have asked to work on your script -your characters- all and good. But, oh no, artists can be an odd lot.


“Yeah, I see him as a Nazi who was in charge of a concentration camp and was sent to Hell and he now hunts and kills Nazies(sic)” was how one artist saw it.  He even re-wrote everything to conform to his idea.
My response? “NO! You have the character details and you can choreograph action scenes freely BUT the story and the character ARE the story and the character”


And the response?  “I can’t see it going anywhere the way you’ve written it. If we go with my idea I think this would be a sure hit!”


We parted company. Never heard of the man again.


Then another approached me having seen my sketch and idea on a German comic forum -for the life of me I cannot recall what forum but I did get about a lot!  “Love the script!” he wrote.


A month later I got pages through and a letter. “I think this works better than your idea. I see him as a Catholic priest, a paedophile who was also a drunk and embezzler.  To cleanse his soul he makes a deal with lucifer….”


Oh dear.


Then the pages of a character that looked exactly like Venom. This was not the look I had wanted or explained. Neither was there a scene anywhere in my script showing a terrified little girl on a bed as the priest disrobed!!  I explained what the whole idea of the character was and that the whole story of the priest-amorph came out over the planned four issues in a big climax in Koln Cathedral.


“But that’s lame”, I was told, “the way I see it you have got to show people this guy is a ****** ****! Then you build on that. I can’t see it work your way.”


We parted company. I ought to point out that not only did the artist want to re-write everything and change character appearances and names but he also wanted that “Nazi element. Everyone knows Germans were Nazis!”


This is something I have come across over and over again in the last couple decades. I allways allow artists freedom to draw action scenes so long as the result fits in with the actual story/script -unless they really do need that action written for them. But I can think off-hand of fifteen artists I’ve worked with who have decided to re-write (badly) and make changes.  Where are they now?
So, I decided that amorph and priest would become a part of the Task Force Germany team.  Sadly, after a couple more stops and starts nothing came of it until now.


Leere (emptyness/blankness/void) was another problem. I tried explaining that the character is not an invisible man and neither is he wearing a mask like the old Charlton Question character.  You can see a vague “something” where the head is. But you could also see slightly through him. Clothes are the only solid texture on him/it/her.


There are several characters like this in Black Tower -a link I wanted to explore by now. Characters such as Nemesis (a Belgian character) and No Face from The Paranormals (published in Tales Of Terror 3.



The other character was Donar (Thor) but a more traditional version exiled on Earth and living in ancient forestry.  The exile would have been due to his objecting to the plans on Pax olympus that led to Return Of The Gods.
 And, living in the forestry, Donar would have a problem with the theft of food by a real-life European wildman called…uh, Wildemann!
 
This little group would have been brought together by Simon LeCorbeau, a multi-billionaire with a long history in Black Tower -he appeared in the second Pete Forrest & Geni story back in 1986.  And his choice to lead the team was…
Zauberinnen (Sorceress). Her origins were to be vague -was she a goddess or half-god or simply a supreme sorceress?
Her origins would be revealed towards the end of the first story arc but I do love to spin a mystery! A solo story -Tod Durch Bei Blind Verabredung or Death By Blind Date, would have revealed a few bits and pieces about the character in a back-up strip to have been drawn by Andrew Hope.
The Zeitgeist story had also established that heroes from other Earths had been stranded Black Towers Earth and there should have been stories establishing some of these -The Trial did so for some but Regenbogen Zauberer (Rainbow Wizard) never got to face the Storm giant in Germanys Höllental (Hell
valley -a real place).
 
 
 There was also the question, considering that D-Gruppe was getting over-crowded and the members needed to be accommodated at more convenient locations around the country ot “where?”
 
 
Well, for Klaus von Happe no problem buying out of the way property to redevelop. One had its own storyline -“Spukhaus” or Ghost House. What the heck was a house like this doing out in the middle of forestry?
And -haunted?  Well there is the Red Ghost…this old rough shows him. Though he may well become the Green Ghost and it is a character that last appeared in a 2002 (?) copy of Adventure and the Ten Dancing Monkeys story.
And the mystery surrounding Waldmeister should have grown when his brother (referred to in The Revenge Of The Ice Queen) Meer Peter (Sea Peter)…and another big jewelled staff!
But the characters seen in Zeit Geist were to change slightly.  David Holmes was a solicitor/lawyer when he was introduced in the story “The Owl” back in 1987 -he adopted the Owl guise in a rather violent pursuit of a murderer.  When he turned up in Zeit Geist he is merely a lawyer for von Happe Industries who helps out on some cases.
 
 
But after The Trial, Holmes was due to return to costume (reasons not being disclosed here!) and adapted/rebuilt one of the old D-Gruppe flyers (as seen in Revenge of the Ice Queen) into a personal transport which he named “Ollie” after his favourite TV character Ollie Beak http://www.turnipnet.com/whirligig/tv/children/smalltime/smalltime.htm
Above -the new and more violent Owl and below -Ollie the Owlcraft!
But there were newer characters independent of previous stories such as Adam Ewigkeit who had a very brief cameo in issue 2 of D-Gruppe, Herrc Spinne, Der Racher, Tom Katze und Kätzchen…well, the D-Gruppe world would be well populated.


All the rough sketches I’ve now found so I’m hoping that the new characters will appear fairly soon and we have to remember that some of D-Gruppe, including Kopfmann its leader, vanished into space during the Return Of The Gods story. Where are they? Will they return?
Guess.



“The Days Of Darkness” story should have been told by now but I’m planning and D-Gruppe will quite literally be shaken to the core by what happens.


And there is planned a couple of brief glimpses at the D-Gruppe of a darker Earth Parallel (EP667) -from which readers have already seen a far more different Link character.

All with Ben Dilworth on board so that the original team is back together!  Had Bastei actually published D-Gruppe and had that title continued we’d now be over twenty years into continuity!  Curse you Bastei!!!  :-/


Below, a glimpse of D-Gruppe EP667 courtesy of Ben Dilworth.
There was also the question of getting a permanent design for a D-Gruppe flier-transport  so a quirky design was this one….
Though a sleeker model could be based on the below which I think are quite cool and “futuristic” without becoming too science fiction.
 
As a final note on characters to have been introduced I have only two rough pages left featuring a character rejected by Eros Comix  because “its more humour not porn” -Devilina.  Independent of any D-Gruppe or Task Force Germany, Devilina would be a character popping up all over the place as well as in solo adventures.


Now, this posting is getting rather long but I hope it has shown that D-Gruppe was by no means a
small idea that never developed!

In fact, in 2014 it is planned to go all-out on the German side of Black Tower in a final “Do or Die” push so keep watching these pages.


All images, characters, designs (except the stealth aircraft!) are (c) 2013 Terry Hooper-Scharf and Black Tower Comics & Books


Return Of German Super Heroes And My Ego Explosion Of 2013!



I am not sure WHY Blogger does this but older posts tend to have images that vanish after a few weeks/months.  No reason why this should happen but I'm told now that this also applies to my German comics post of last October.

Well, it's been a year and a lot of new people here so why not re-post the complete-with-all-images post?
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On German Super Heroes And Why I Am STILL The “Daddy”! ego! ego! ego!

WINDKONIG -Herr Der Luft (WIND KING -Lord of the Air) Well, despite all my trying -I did even send an order to Crago Verlag who published Germania Comics Teams fan based superhero- but I never ever got a copy of issue 1.  That said, I have issues 2 and 3 (signed by the Team) but part 1 was in …two parts? So issue 3 would really be issue 4?


Anyway, those of you speaking German will notice that on the front cover it reads: “Deutschlands erster Superheld” -Germanys First Super Hero. hmm. Not quite.


Dr. Thomas Richter is a doctor specializing in the treatment of children and is based in the city of Bochum. As I do not have his origin issue all I can tell you is that when Richter changes into Windkonig he can control the wind and air via a “Gurtel” (belt) he wears.


He first appeared in Der Comic-Herold 2, from Crago Verlag in Marz 1996 (or at least a pin up did).  then, in issue 3, dated December, 1996, the character appeared in a strip drawn by Damir Hamidovic -“Abenteuer Strasse” (Adventure Street). The first actual title bearing his name that he starred in came out in 2002. The third and final issue appeared in 2004 and after that….

Nothing.


Santiago Ruiz (Subzero) and his brother did try to interest Germania Comics Team in a Windkonig storyline but it was rejected. I did actually draw a 4 pager but heard nothing back.


I’ve just found that issues are still (?) available from here -but check first:
http://www.roki-art.de/5.html


Interior art varied from good to pretty amateurish but this was a fan character and the point is at least they got the character into his own short-lived book. I understand costs and a few other internal problems saw an end to the character which is a pity.
And then we have….


Without doubt my favourite German super hero has to be Dorn -Der Morgenstern (Thorn -The Morning Star). I wrote a rather lengthy post on his origins a good while back so in case you missed it….
When Helden Turned Into Dorn Der Morgenstern


 There are a few German comics -Small Press, Idependent- that I like to get out every-so-often and re-read. Nostalgia and big chunk o’ fun all in one. Randalf Paker may not mean much to English language comic fans but in 2001 Caption Comics published the comic series that he wrote and drew based upon a long running role playing game (RPG) he was games master of.


The title, Helden/Heroes was initially sold in gaming shops but really took off and spawned the comic.  So what was it about?


This is from the IPP website -http://ipp-comics.de/en/


Helden (Heroes) is the retelling of the fantasy role-playing game group that I led as the gaming master. The charakters and story of this group were so exciting, I had to write it down somehow. Since I love drawing, I used the COMIC to tell the story. —Ralf Paul


In this story seven heroes from the farthest corners of the World meet and stumble into their first adventure. In the center of it all is the mercenary Benwick, who, because of the imprisonment of his mother, is forced into a difficult mission…

Helden #1
Helden Issue 1 Page 1
Helden Issue 1 Page 3
The colour blowing your mind yet? I love this! Unfortunately, I can’t show the gorier scenes!
Helden #2
Helden Issue 2 Page 3
The heroes gathered.  Well, almost. I can tell you that this image says it all.

Helden #3
Helden Issue 3 Page 1
  Thank goodness he’s wearing that loin cloth!!!

Helden #4
I show people the cover below and they mostly all go “oooh” I’m just not sure why??!

Helden #5
Things are fickle in gaming and comics. As issue 6 was finished the interest had waned to such a degree that the cost of high quality printing, especially in pre-print on demand days, was too high.

Helden #6
Nr 6 felt bulkier than usual (all the IPP books were printed on top quality thick paper stock) what I found inside was the cover and,uh, issue nr 7!  Yes, the heroes finally get together and…well.  Nothing nice happens.

What is more there is a nice ending involving a rather bloodied Morning Star. “What’s a ‘morning star’?”  Its like a mace with spikes -DON’T you even dare ask “What’s a mace, then?”!!!!
Helden Issue 6 Page 3
Though I tried order the new title, when I heard that the follow-up was to be titled Dorn Der Morgenstern/Thorn The Morning Star, no comic shop was interested in getting me copies.  Why? It was foreign language and was not carried by Diamond. That made it “impossible” to get hold of.

So what did I do? I sent an email to Ideenschmiede Paul & Paul GbR and got a nice email back and…voila! I got Dorn 1-4.

Was I impressed? Of course I was.  Other than Helge “Herod” Korda and Mathias “EmdE” Dinter who were producing the semi parody Heroes From The Black Lagoon only one other person I knew was doing German super heroes -me, starting in the early 1980s with D-Gruppe.

This was no American artist drawing a super hero based in what an American artist thought Germany looked like: this was a German creator.

The IPP web site explains Dorn…

“The Morningstar also known as Dorn” describes the life of Paul Paker – a computer genius and game freak. An experiment gone awry and murdering circumstances have pushed him into a corner of society. Only an idea as phantastic as the events which put him there can release him. This improvised idea results in an ingenious but rather complex plan.

A German Super Hero.

Dorn Issue 1 Cover
Yes, folks, before Der Engel there was Dorn..a German Superhero. Well, he had to sort things out first such as a costume and a name.
 Take a look at the lovely artwork below.
Dorn Issue 1 Page 5
Dorn Issue 1 Page 6
Dorn Issue 2 Cover
One of my favourite spreads from the comic comes when Dorn reveals himself on TV!
Dorn Issue 3 Page 15
For various reasons the title never got beyond nr 4 and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who heaved a depressive sigh.  But now….HOPE!
My scanner decided to crap out on me so I thought I’d check online for cover images but apart from my previous items on the series I found only one other source -IPP.  A company I thought was no more!  And I found something a few of us have been hoping for a loooong time now -Dorn nr. 5 is currently being put together!
Dorn Issue 5 Cover
The gift in the cracker is that, as you’ll notice on the cover scans not my own, Helden and Dorn can be read as web comics.  So check out the IPP web-comics if you speak German but if not there is still a LOT of great art!
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In more recent years we have had The NextArt publishing Tomppa’s Der Engel


The below cover and art are from a German comic titled Der Engel (The Angel) by Tomppa (that’s him in the photo below).

above Tomppa
 I published the following on the old CBO so….


Regulars will recall that I had posted on the fact that there was no reason why there could not be UK based super heroes, you just needed to adapt them to UK settings, etc.. Subzero on his Tales From The Kryptonian blog (see blog roll) followed this about German super heroes.  The same thing applied.
However, we both noted how hostile certain factions in both German and UK comics were to even attempting home grown super heroes.


I need to point out that Tomppa has done just that.  He has taken a scenario and based his character in Berlin in the year 2029 -not that far off really.  The story works well and there is good characterisation and I think that Der Engel will one day become a classic German comic series -rather like Dorn Der Morgenstern has become legendary.


What struck me was the art style.  In the first issue it looks a little sketchy and crude in places, though the architecture looks great.  I ought to point out that there is nothing wrong with the art -bear with me I’m getting there!  In the second issue the art improves and there is some nice usage of effects.  We then get to issue 3 where the art has improved greatly -better use of washes and much, much more.


This had me puzzled.  Then I looked at the dates of the comics.  Nr. 1 -2009.  Nr. 2 -2010 and Nr. 3 -2012.  That explains a lot as you would not expect such a change in quality over three issues produced in the same year (there are exceptions).


If you are one of CBOs German regulars and you’ve not bought the series yet -please do!  And I know there are people out there who like to collect  super hero books in other languages to compare or as novelties -Der Engel is one you ought to try.


With all the events going on at the moment with revolutions, mass rallies and attempted supression I think Der Engel is, and will continue to be, contempory even in ten years time.  The world changes that little.
Now, when does Der Engel action figure arrive???


There isn’t one?!  Oh.  Have a big helping of art then!


Remember there is a The NextArt link on the blog roll but you can use this link to browse and buy:
http://www.thenextart.de/verlag/index.html


Der Engel Nr. 1

Autor/Zeichner: Tomppa
28 Seiten, s/w/rot, US-Comic-Format
4,00 EUR
ISBN: 978-3-939400-28-8


Berlin in 2029. The cityscape has changed completely. Violence in the streets is a daily occurrence. Here the Angel goes on his own personal vendetta little realizing the dimensions of the conspiracy he has become caught up in.



Der Engel Nr. 2

Author / Illustrator: Tomppa
28 pages, b / w / red, U.S. comic format
4.00 EUR
ISBN: 978-3-939400-25-7


The assassination of the governing mayor of Berlin is on the verge of executed. Will the Angel be able to save him -and what happens if he cannot?



Der Engel nr. 3
Author / Illustrator: Tomppa
28 pages, b / w / red, U.S. comic format
5.00 EUR
ISBN 978-3-939400-38-7


The action intensifies as the Angel tries to intervene in the conflict and a new masked man appears.  However, the Angel’s intervention has tragic consequences.






 Not heard much since I did these reviews but I have fingers and toes crossed in the hope of seeing more of Der Engel!


All I know about New Arden is what Subzero posted over on Tales From The Kryptonian
http://talesfromthekryptonian.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/d-gruppe-germanys-first-super-hero-team.html


“A series that wasn´t afraid of being labeled as a superhero comic was NEW ARDEN CHRONICLES from Final Art Comics in 1999 which clearly showed it´s influences like the art of Todd McFarlane and the Image comics of the 1990s.”

So that’s a complete mystery to me!

(a 2014 up-date: No, still not found any copies of this comic!!)

 
I should not forget The Power Freaks written and drawn by Santiago and Enriques Ruiz. In 2011 Santiago wrote to me:


“As for german publishers not liking superheroes ( aside from the successful ones from other countries ) we made the same experience. Which was how we came to self publish POWER FREAKS. We never intended to but nobody was interested not even the independent publishers and suddenly people go from ” I´ts impossible to do german superheroes. ” to ” It´s impossible to do MORE THAN ONE ISSE OF german superheroes. ” 
That was the late 1990s? I’d add a cover image but can’t find the comic so here’s an interior page!
My own D-Gruppe was parodied by Helge “Herod” Korda back in the 1980s in a mini comic title “D-Suppe” (D-Soup). Sadly, my copy was stolen. And I am still pissed about that.


And, although after D-Gruppe, Heroes Of The Black Lagoon by Helge and drawn by Mathias (EmdE) Dinter was the only other German originated super heroes -if a parody. I still like looking through it over twenty years later!
Above: Never saw or managed to get a copy of this and, apparently, those selling copies in Germany on ebay will NOT sell outside of Germany!
Copies of D-Gruppe strips did circulate in Germany and the zine Plop! was interested at one point but I’ve no idea what happened there or even to then editor Heike Anacker (?).


In 1989 a German Small Press publisher was the first to actually publish the strip in German but the mess that was made…well, here’s the posting I did.
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Watcher Das Internationale magazin fuer Phantastik was a photocopied fanzine of sorts published by Chris Dohr from Trier, in Germany.  It covered movies -such as The Fly (original), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Willow, the TV series UFO as well as fantasy literature and comics.


There were some great single illoes by American Dave Fontaine, from Attleboro-where is he now?? The third issue of Watcher contained a lengthy strip by David Stepheson (from the UK -another “Where is he now!?”) The Master Of Mengerheim (a strip originally published in Black Tower Previews Comic.


But earlier in 1989, Chris published the first story featuring D-Gruppe -Rache Der Eis Konigin. By 1989 “Gruppe D” as it was title in the magazine, was a well known strip in Germany amongst fans. Helge “Herod” Korda had already parodied it in a mini comic titled D-Suppe (“D-Soup”) which I no longer have sadly.


I was not very impressed by the way the strip was presented (crooked printing on some pages) but where I had a big problem was…the translation.  Ice Queen is feminine so it should have been “Die” rather than “Der” (?). I was also surprised that the name of a German national monument such as Externsteinen was miss-spelt as “Externen Steinen”!


Although I was not too keen on this German version I was surprised to learn that it had been copied and distributed to comic fans in East Germany where there was a strong underground zine scene.


But what the heck -here, unedited, is the story from Watcher. Herod -if you see this PLEASE tell me you still have a copy of “D-Suppe”!!!















I think in some interview I outlined how D-Gruppe came about. Created while I was still a kid in Germany. So, the group and characters were created in Germany by someone whose mother and family was German.  And the Previews New Talent comic featuring  the first story went to publishers in Germany blah! blah! blah!
So, basically, Der Engel, Windkonig, “New Arden” -yah-boo-sucks! I beatcha all! (inkplosions online comic strip “Versus” did not appear until 2001).
Come on, Germany -give me respect!!