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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 April 2015

An Appreciation -British Creator Ben R. Dilworth




There are UK comic creators who deserve to get far more recognition than they do. I have highlighted some of these in the past but  it is worth mentioning one other.  Ben R. Dilworth.

Now the man inked over my pencils "in the day" (which is what we call the period 1986-1990) on strips such as Liz & Jen: Coming Out and D-Gruppe: Revenge of the Ice Queen.

He was also self-publishing Small Press comics under his Penguinflight banner and seemed to be  contributing to every small press comic going -Bum Comic, Creepy Crawlies, Zine Ager, Hardware -it is a bloody long list and the legendary Picasso Cafe must never be forgotten!

Neither do I forget Dilworth stapling Black Tower Adventure issues across his knee at the old Bath marts.  Nor the experimental acetate, spray-painted covers for Previews Comic or a dozen other mad things.

We ought to, really, forget the most famous and now nearly lost legendary visit of Dilworth and Andrew Hope (who recently worked for Marvel Comics) to Bristol.

The drunken outrages committed -including throwing up over the window of comic shop, Forever People, or the very long discussion between the two on the movie A Company of Wolves which kind of resulted in the 0300 hours incident of me wielding a bread-knife......yeah, let's forget that.







Anyhow, The Tall Man wrote and drew for comics such as Spider Baby Grafix's Taboo, Eternity Comics Killing Stroke and Trident Comics (PLEASE no one mention Trident to Paul Ashley Brown!!) The Shadowmen written by some Scots bloke...uh, Mark Millar.

He can also claim to be, as the artist, co-creator of Pete Wisdom, initially created by Warren Ellis and drawn by Ben , in a pitch for "Electric Angel" for publisher Trident Comics.

Didn't know all that did you?


http://www.newkadia.com/Covers/L/K/Killing%20Stroke/killingstroke1.jpg

Here are some of his credits from a data base I just stumbled across at http://comicbookdb.com/creator.php?ID=8028

Writer:
Killing Stroke (1991)

Penciller:

Killing Stroke (1991) The Shadowmen (1990) Taboo (1988)

Inker:

Gore Shriek (1986) Gore Shriek (1990) Killing Stroke (1991) The Shadowmen (1990) Shriek (1989) Taboo (1988) Trident (1989)

Letterer:

Gore Shriek (1990)
Killing Stroke (1991)


And over recent years The Tall One has had work published by Black Tower -including his Award winning Haiku (in English), Aesop's Fables, Purple Hood, Runestone, Chronos:The Watchman -and much, much more that has ensured Black Tower titles such as Adventure were able to carry on after a rough patch.

The man is a fecking comic book genius.  WFT is he not working full time in comics and getting paid??!

Calming down a bit....deep breath.  Seriously, check out the Black Tower lulu.com store front and you'll find Dilworth work.  Maybe one day he'll get a creator byline for Pete Wisdom, hmm?
From myself I'd like to offer him a big THANK YOU.

You wait, I'll make him famous yet.  Poor but famous!
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/ab/63/06/ab630608a98547798761b792f5043fd3.jpg

And I went and forgot Loaded number 1 from 1991 in which I wrote and pencilled Graveyard  and Dilworth  inked and lettered!

The Tale Of My Comic Book Artist Alter Ego Back Issue

http://www.spiderfan.org/comics/images/alter_ego/009.jpg


Due to a few problems I took today off from drawing or doing much other than the previously posted item about bagging or not bagging my zines.  But I did take the opportunity to catalogue my comic magazines like Alter Ego.

I had Alter Ego volume 2 on Standing Order (SO) at Forbidden Planet but after one excuse after another it was not until I told the then manager that I'd contact the guy who owned FP (I'd only met him twice but it was a good bluff -hey, I worked in the comics industry) my SO started with No.9. I'm not kidding.

Thereafter it was an on-off fight to get the damn magazine.  All the usual "distributors fault" and other excuses.  "I have it on order so we need to wait for it to arrive".  Next week I asked and the man checked but no issue was on order. 

The same happened with Back Issue, Comic Book Artist.  Now, remember these were ALL on SO and I was literally pestering every week to make sure I got a copy though I did get really **** off when I was told my copies were sold to someone who walked in and asked about the titles.  Not even a regular customer.

The list tells the story so:

Comicology
#3   #4
Comic Book Artist
9    12   13   14  15  16  17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24  25 (last issue and the fight to get #23-25 was near titanic!)

Back Issue
2   3   4   5  6  8   9   12   13  14  17   18   19   21   23   25   26   27   29   32   34  38   40   41    42   43   44   45   46   48   49    50   51   52    53   54   55   57   58   59   60   62   64

Alter Ego
9  10  11  12  14  15  17  18 19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42  43  44  45  46  47  48  49  50  51  52  53  54  55  56  57  58  59  60  62  63  64  65  66  67  68  69  70  71  72  73  74  75  76  77  78  80  81  82  83  84  85  86  89  90  91  92   95  96  97 98  99  100  101  102  103  104  105  106   107  108  109  110  111 113  114  115  116  117

Now those are some weird gaps and I only found out later that friends of people working in the stores (yes, we are talking three different stores each promising that they "will guarantee" that I never miss an issue again!) got my copies because something in it interested them.  Now that really does make a mockery of the prominent sign:

      "Standing Order -NEVER miss an issue again!"

Horse shit with flies to that.

So why did I stop at Alter Ego 117?  Well, I could no longer stomach what Marvel and DC were churning out so stopped buying.  But at least I'd get my mags.  No.  What?  Well, it was made very clear to me that if I was no longer going to have a comics SO then they could not guarantee my magazine SO.  WHY? All I got was a shrug.

Seriously, comic shops want to survive then they need to treat their customers with respect. 

These are a lot of issues and I doubt I'll ever get the ones missing which is a pity as I loved Alter Ego in particular.

But one thing I did think while going through these: if anything the UK needs a Platinum and Golden Ages publication.  Never know, it might happen!

http://thumbs2.picclick.com/d/l400/pict/390625650921_/Alter-Ego-117-LB-Cole-Jay-Disbrow-Cat-Man-Golden-Age-Richard-Hughes-Moebius.jpg

I Have Several Printed Forests In A Box!

 http://img.archive.is/Dn12/d8d63c3552314b0afa0a91612d9d799b2fa5be9c.jpg






You know, some times I just do not think.  I picked up 100 A4 document pockets this morning thinking that would see all my A4 Small Press comics/mags taken care of.  I'll actually need about another 200!!

When it comes to the A5 (Digest) sized books...I think I'll need about 300 pockets.  Having found out that my shelf by the door still has Browner Knowles, Anon, Zelta, Willie Hewes,Vanessa Wells and Jess Bradley-Bove books....oh.

I'll have 1000+ or so Small Press books which does not include my foreign language zines or the few late 1960s-1970s fanzines I have which are, literally, worth a hell of a lot!

Based on the lowest cover prices, condition of some -anyone remember the 1980s Captain Scotland comic/RPG?- the collection, and for some reason it is not a collectors market (yet), is worth around £3000.  But that is as a whole and I'm not intending to sell off one or two here and there just yet!

Once I've finished The Green Skies I have a number of things I want to do and one will be to price the zines individually -maybe produce a basic price guide and one that is not by someone who wants to artificially inflate prices to make money from selling a collection is probably overdue!

Hey, I even have Finland's Pekka A. Manninen's first A4 Small Press comic from 1981 -Milanon Ihne!

I can see that relaxed Hollywood life style just over the council cess-pit!

And in case you missed the old article about the Golden Age of the UK Small Press: http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/golden-age-of-british-small-press.html
bath-mart-001.jpg

Da da da da da da dah -Bat-Cat!

Music For Deep Meditation posted this to Face Book. I normally avoid these things but it might raise a smile or two!

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?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_comics 

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
http://www.vintagephilippines.com/index.php/news/2013/02/mars-ravelo-a-legacy-of-filipino-komiks-superheroes

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.

 http://video48.blogspot.co.uk/2008/06/mars-ravelo-komiks-king-circa-1950s.html

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:

CAPTAIN BERLIN VERSUS HITLER

"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?