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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, 26 May 2015

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

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

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

Frank Grillo as Crossbones

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

Intrigued? Read more here: 

Cinebook The 9th Art: SAM 2 - Robot Hunters

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

ISBN: 9781849182461
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That big comic implosion is coming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cinebook The 9th Art: Damocles 1- Bodyguards

Damocles - Bodyguards
Authors: Callède & Henriet
Age: 12 years and up
Size: 21.7 x 28.7 cm
Number of pages: 48 colour pages
ISBN: 9781849182324
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT
Publication: May 2015 
London, the near future. Ever-increasing social inequalities have seen the birth of a flourishing kidnapping industry. To counter such a constant, overhanging threat, private security companies employing highly trained bodyguards have sprung into existence. Ellie Braxton works for the Damocles agency, the most renowned of those companies. Tasked with protecting the son of an important British industry magnate, she and her team find themselves faced with terribly efficient and remarkably motivated opponents…

Anyone remember the ITV series Bodyguards from the 1990s? John Shrapnel played the boss with Sean Pertwee and Louise Lombard as "the bodyguards"?  Just me then.  But this cover reminds me of that series....and Louise Lombard.


Anyway, I like the blend of action, domestic life and how it all gets put into one slick package of art that looks great.  The use of extreme close-ups I like:  American artists tend to over use this and it gives no real effect to the dialogue.  However, European artists tend to use it with good effect.  The colour work by Usagi is excellent and adds more atmosphere to scenes.

The story and dialogue around the main character, Ellie, are crisp and interesting.  Everything kicks off with what appears to be a hostage stand-off but like that is going to fluster the Damocles bodyguards! Everything flows smoothly and that last panel and those whispered three words -no, that would be a spoiler!- gave me a smirk.

Cinebook has the entire UK market to itself when it comes to great action-crime-thriller comic albums and Damocles is another fine addition to its line-up.


Well, it was an experiment to see just how many would respond to a headline of "SEX!!!"

The result?  A high number of people did. My posting on comics...meh.  "Sex" -"YEAH!"

Feel ashamed.  Feel very very ashamed and do not read any comics for two weeks!

Monday, 25 May 2015


Thank you for taking part in this experiment.

Thank You to the People who Google plussed Mr Brown's new book!

If You Have A Comics Collection -How MANY Do You Have ....

...And More Importantly: How OFTEN Do You Read Them?

 Well, since I did the post about the tidy-up in Room Oblivion things have moved on. Books have more-or-less been put into order on the shelves.

This was the old look:

Then a query was raised about Why are my comics not all bagged?:

But I've seen, over the last few days, several bloggers display their collection in the very over-priced comic boxes and Mylar bags, but also as stacks in comic shop bags.  I know there are the lucky ones with a big living area, small room or even secured garage-cum-man den but that's the exception.

I started reading comics when I was 4 or 5 years of age thanks to Ma and Bill (my grandparents). I do not have all those old comics because of various reasons but as I never had a permanent place to live until I hit my 40s my comics were all over the place -but in rudimentary bagging.

Comics and comic annuals go back to the 1940s and there are series I want to re-read if and when I ever get the chance to 'retire' (or go senile which is a form of retirement -perhaps wander the streets with my underpants over my long johns and a table cloth around my neck as I go worrying "hoodies"....no. That's my current hobby).  Silver Age Sub-Mariner, Silver-Bronze Age Avengers, Dr Strange and, of course, those wonderful small company titles like MF Enterprises Captain Marvel.

Above:someone else's collection!

Here is the thing, though: I have thousands of comics that I have not read since the 1980s, 1990s or even 2000-2010. Some of them were great reads at the time when Marvel and DC had maybe 14-18 main titles a month.  Mini series or maxi series were extras.  A lot of the comics after 2000 I have little interest in since by that time continuity had ceased to exist with both Marvel and DC.  And with Disney owning Marvel continuity does not matter -the dollar is the be-all and end-all.

One day this is all going to implode and I'd guess within the next 4 years, maybe sooner. The rot has already set in.  You see, everyone over-excited about Avengers: Age Of Ultron and I've now noted ten negative reviews such as Bounding Into Comics:"Age Of Ultron: Worse Than A Star Wars Prequel?"

Captain America, Ultron and Iron Man from Avengers: Age of Ultron
Wow.  Apparently it only made around $191.3 million dollars on opening weekend.  Disney execs must have been jumping from windows.  That was sarcasm by-the-way.

It is quite noticeable that more and more bloggers are now calling it "Disney" not "Marvel"...oh, it finally sank in.  But while the die-hard Marvel fans will hail anything -even Tony Stark's nail clippings- as a huge success it is very obvious that more negativity is creeping in.

DC are not exempt as, even before the movies are released they are getting negative responses for all sorts of silly reasons.  Okay, that may be DCs fault because it has dragged its heels -rather than base movies on established characters -say, Smallville, which movie goers would probably be familiar with- they are dragging things out.  "Suicide Squad -has anyone seen the stills from that? Its like a cosplayers lineup" (sic). The most positive comments surrend, as I mentioned before, Harley Quinn's spray-on shorts.

And...WHOA! Even the TV series that "made comic book geek chic" -The Big Bang Theory is getting unprecedented criticism.  "Kaley Cuoco's acting stinks. She ought to be replaced!"  "Kaley Cuoco shortened her hair. Bimbo!" and Cuoco was previously untouchable.  Even the other characters -or, rather, the actors- are getting negativity.  One TV pundit in the US claimed the series was still popular but had lost that "geekster following"!
Look on Ebay and elsewhere and you will find a heck of a lot of comics from the last 4-5 years on sale. Shop owners never ever declare these things publicly (they fear for their business after all) but it seems more and more of the newer readers are trying to sell their books back to shops.  Yes, after 4-5 years some are realising that comics are NOT going to make them rich. The huge financial outlay in comic storage boxes, Mylar bags and...seriously..."reading gloves" (condoms for comic reading!) is a lot and their comics value has increased by....00.0%

I've seen two comic geek chic types who spent up to $120.00 on a "Rocket Raccoon first appearance" title (seriously, again, go online and see just how many 'first appearances' it is claimed he had!) write that the best offer they had when trying to sell the books on (now there was a sincere interest in comics) was "$20 ****** bucks!" (I was going to tell him he needn't include the "$" sign if he was going to write "bucks" but...).

Comic shops are not going to buy back comics they know they cannot sell or if they can it's only in the $1 box.  One stated "It's a buyers market" then added "Customers buy we sell. We don't buy back!"  I have now heard of two long time customers in comic shops in the US who had no real interest in the new Secret Wars series -the store owner offered issues 1 and 2 "If you don't like them then okay -bring 'em back and I'll put them in the remainders box".....in one case at least -they ended up in the remainders box (the other guy paid half price "out of loyalty"!!!!).

Having spoken to people who attend comic conventions from Finland to the USA there is one thing they hate as traders -Cos-players.

I really like cos-players and thought that my own observations that they never buy comics -they'll take the freebies-  was isolated.  However, time and time again I hear "Cos-players never buy books. They are not there for that!" followed by "Events support them so they ought to support the industry!"

Every cos-player I have chatted to does the whole thing for fun.  It's a social thing.  Decades ago you wanted to meet people and feel one of the gang you joined cycling clubs that went on weekend tours (VERY big in "the olden days"!), or you became a bird-watcher or...or...okay, train-spotters with a real interest in the engineering and so on maybe.  But bus-spotting?!!  Seriously, Bristol at weekends seems to be full of them -note books and pens ready, cameras on tripods or cameras with telephoto lenses. I mean, okay, as kids we used to spot car licence plates -not so many cars and in some cases those notes even helped the police!  But buses......

Anyway, check out You Tube videos of cos-players and it is not about the comic it is about the look of a character and how they have designed and put together a costume.  And meeting up with like-minded people.  I am NOT going to go into the more seedy side of why some female cos-players are involved because they are the exception -I think roped off sections for "more adult posing" says it all.

One day, cos-playing will be the main event with comic selling as a rather quaint aside.

TV and movies make big money.  Comics to a lesser degree.  The fact that "The Big Two" are desperately recycling ideas and really have no respect for fans -watch Tom Brevoort for Marvel Disney announce things -he is not even hiding the fact that selling and YOU buying are all that matters.  After all, he's already publicly hatte eine Scheiße over Marvel legendary creators Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and others that followed because they were "not as sophisticated at story telling" as the regurgitating new bloods -check the Ultimate Avengers animated movie extras: it's there.

Comics are seen as secondary and not that important as anything other than movie fodder.  The chic-sters -well, the brighter ones- are realising this.  There is going to be a massive comics glut on the internet and shop owners are advising those wanting to get rid of their books to "sell them on Ebay!"

We need to get back to the old comic mart days.  A day long event where comickers come to buy old comics and where cos-players or over priced toy merchandise are secondary.

For me, I have those thousands of comics I no longer read.  I would love to sell them off and get the money -AND the much needed space.  However, I know that is unlikely because the market is not there. 

An offer from a deal for a book that I know in its condition is worth £50-60.00 of "I can give you £5.00 but there is no guarantee I can sell it" is an insult.  I check out dealers, I know people who use these comic dealers and they tell me the prices asked by those dealers.  That book I was offered £5.00 for? The dealer was so certain I was going to take his offer (!) that he contacted someone I know who emailed me to say he had been offered the book for...£75.00.  The dealer did get back to me by phone and tried everything to get back book -all of that month's Marvel comics AND £10.00.  He certainly did not like my "No".

But look at your comic collection and ask yourself how many of the books you read more than once. What do you expect from your collection -it will never earn you enough to retire on- as the years go by? A yard sale? Thrift store donation? I know that when I croak mine will probably -likely- be sold off for what can be got and the rest trashed or burned.

Comickers tend to buy, read and store.  I don't think I've ever met a real comicker who ever thought beyond that.

Depressing, isn't it?  Believe me, no one is more depressed about it than me...other than the cupboards.

Here's a thought, though: Hong Kong produced huge numbers of comics but you try finding comickers today in Hong Kong who have knowledge of Manhua pre 2000s or 1990s.  The same in Singapore where I was astounded on forums to learn I was the only one who knew of 1980s Singaporean comics!

Buy and read and keep comics you love and read more than once.  In forty years time someone is going to be writing: "Where the hell did these mountains of comics from the early 2000s originate?!" and that after he picked up a pack of 50 comics for $10.......


Comic Book collection


Sunday, 24 May 2015

On Seller Greed And Buyer Stupidity

An up-date.  I know you are all anxious to find out what the £50 reduced to £25 concrete gnome sold for at a VERY frosty auction.  £5.00.  Chancers luck.

This item has been re-listed several times on Ebay and from the description you will see why:


Item specifics

Condition: Acceptable : Split the cost with friends

Seller notes:“Dust jacket absent with major damage to the spine and boards including a missing spine, bumped corners and soiling. Inscribed on the front and back end-papers. A number of the images have been coloured in, with annotations and underlinings throughout. The page edges are tanned and a little dusty with foxing creeping into occasional pages. This book is beginning to show its age with usual signs of wear and damage to the binding, including damage to the hinges inside both boards. GRADED COMMENSURATE WITH AGE OF BOOK DUST JACKET ABSENT PLEASE BE AWARE THIS BOOK IS PRE 1965 AND THE GRADE WILL REFLECT IT'S AGE”

To which I can only respond with a derisory "bollocks, mate!" And I am being serious here though I am not naming the 'trader' because I found others linked to Ebay and Amazon asking anywhere from £25-£65.00 for this and another Swan album.

They all use the con-man phrases of "Very rare" or "THE GRADE WILL REFLECT IT'S AGE" -meaning it is old and tatty but you will never find another bargain like this.  The implication is also that the book(s) are so rare that if you buy it you can later sell it for what you want.

The fact that this particular seller has re-listed the book three times to my knowledge proves the lie in that.

This is like going into W. H. Smith and being offered a 2013 Dandy annual for £40 that they found battered and moldy in a corner: "Well, you know how popular the Dandy is and you will NOT find another 2013 annual in shops....oh, someone scribbled in it and the spine is battered but this reflects its age."  As an example a 2013 Dandy Annual is going for 99p to £2.80 on Ebay but there is this item:


"Only" £19.95 but you can get the gift set 2013 Beano and Dandy Annuals (2 annuals!)  for £2.00 and a copy of the last ever Dandy comic will cost you between £2.35-£3.00 that is all three for £4.35 -£5.00. Where the feck do you get £19.95 (oh, and add the postage) from?

Chancers and con-men.
Take a look at my copy of the same 1954 Slick Fun Album that arrived yesterday.  Shiny cover, no damage and apart from a 1 inch tear of one page margin near the spine, perfect.  The paper quality is great, not 100% but we were still on paper rationing back then.  

Cost? £7.50 WITH postage and packaging.  That is correct because there is no "huge collectors market" for Swan books -I've picked up comics for £2.00 in pristine condition.  

The most I ever paid for a Swan album was £10.00 which included p&p and I paid that because there was something specific within I needed.  As it turned out I got a complete refund when I found 4 pages missing but the strip I wanted was intact.  The dealer:"These pop up all the time I just never checked inside this copy"

There were THOUSANDS of these books printed and I have talked with reputable dealers who handle comic annuals and we all agreed that, based upon the market interest (usually people fooled into believing they are buying printed gold!), quality of paper/print and the fact that about 99.9% of the creators had never been major names (on that I disagree as E. H. Banger -pronounced as in "ranger"- was a major contributor to Platinum, Golden and even Silver Ages comics though his work has been belittled by many morons who claim to be comic historians) then £5-7.00 for an annual is a decent price.

If you, as comickers, keep buying these books at over-inflated prices then the crooks will keep increasing the prices.  It just means they make a huge profit and you have lost money and have a book worth £5-7.00 and unless you are an over zealous fan it is just an over-priced book.

It's rather like the 1970s "banned" UK Action weekly comic issues -one for sale on Ebay had reached £700 an hour ago.  Here is a truth that I was told by the bosses at the company: they still sold the banned issues but "one had to pretend to maintain order".  So, there are many more "banned" issue copies out there than you think because the whole industry was crooked and had its ways -burn books that cost money?  Yeah. Right.

'Rare' Alan Class copies going for £20-35 each.  That's a crook trader and a VERY dumb buyer. For any Class comic a standard price would be £2.50 max if you really wanted that issue.  Fantastic weekly "Ultra/Very rare Silver Age"...the joke is that thousands of copies of this comic are sold every month on Ebay...that is a LOT of very rare/ultra rare comics! 

Some utter moron, I'm sorry but he/she is, purchased a copy of the old print Comic Bits as a "rare silver age fanzine" -"rare"/"silver age" and "fanzine" being very false for the first two and "shady" with the third. I still have copies.  Oh, the moron paid £28.00 and £5.00 postage (???? for an A5 42 pager).

I remember about five years ago a BBC TV day time antique show (sell your old junk mainly -Cash In The Attic?) had their expert ("X" =the Unknown and "spurt" is a drip under pressure) look at a 1969 Star Trek Annual.  "Well, it's 1960s and Star Trek so you can ask £30 for it!" he declared as only chancers do.  Did it sell? No.  

In charity shops and two comic shops the same annual was on sale for £1.50.  

Similar price on Ebay...until Leonard Nimoy died and prices hit £25-40.00....why???  Leonard Nimoy did not write nor draw nor have any connection with these reprints of Gold Key comics other than there was a character called "Mr Spock".  Go on, sell the annual for the price you paid on Ebay.

But the greed goes on and as someone once wrote: "there is one born every minute" -a recent Batman issue had an asking price, on the same day as it was on sale in comic shops, of $12-19.00!  One long time comicker wrote online "F*** this. I'm waiting til it goes into the back issue bins!"  And guess what? Some of those selling the book at a high price were found to be shop owners who had not "been able to get hold of enough copies" for their standing orders...at the regular price.  And the old "I doubt we can get a copy as they've sold out" ploy was used.  One man purchased a copy online after being told this but next visit to the shop "We actually managed to get a copy for you after a lot of effort so its a bit dearer in price" -YES. The ploy I wrote about in a previous post.

When it was tried on me I said "Too bad. I got my copy online because you said you COULD NOT get a copy" (furious, whining shop staff).

You are an enabler if you allow this.  Seriously, draw a line!

I have a foot high concrete, mass produced gnome in my garden. An antique programme just on the TV had a dealer wanting £50 but he got knocked down to £25. 


Saturday, 23 May 2015

Happy Terry Day!

Paul Ashley Brown had absolutely no idea why I was so excited to get these.  The poor boy needs an education ("boy" -HAH!).

The 1949 Slick Fun Album and the 1954 album.  £7.00 each which is about right for very good quality. There were a couple other Swan albums but prices were from £22 -65.00 for really poor condition, basically because con artists/crooks think they can screw people over for huge amounts because comics are "in".

Tonight I shall be losing myself in pure nostalgic joy as my Swan albums collection grows -and so does my Golden Age UK comics collection.

Just lovely.