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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, 5 May 2015

A Few Words On German Comickers


It is a bit weird but every time a post involves Germany and specifically German comics there are a high number of German comickers viewing the item.  But when I post something on Germany's first super heroes, D-Gruppe, the views from Germany increase even more.

Now what I do not understand is why, if German super heroes are such a big draw to these people, they are not buying the D-Gruppe mini series, 2012 Annual or the Complete D-Gruppe which contains all of it??

Not a copy of D-Gruppe has sold.  But I'm not alone here.

When I was active on German comic forums I used to post in German and English.  I got more very rude responses "Your German is bad!" (in, actually, very poor German so the rude ones were not that well educated) or "What business is it of your what's been published in Germany -go back to your 2000 AD!".  I think these were what my aunt in Germany would have called "arschlochs"!

I then me with the "We DO NOT have super hero comics in Germany!" I guess they were referring to home grown super heroes as opposed to all the Marvel, DC, Archie and UK (Robot Archie, The Spider) comics reprinted there?

Dorn Der Morgenstern was the follow on from the RPG (role playing game) inspired comic series Helden.  Randalf Paker was the creator/writer/artist of both series and his work was gorgeous but both titles failed to get sales to keep it going. Unbelievable.

Wind Konig was more a small press effort but vanished -there is a list of these books and sample pages in the second link below.

Background on the group, etc,:http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/germanys-first-super-hero-team-d-gruppe.html

And on German super heroes after  D-Gruppe (and boosting an ego I do not have):http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/return-of-german-super-heroes-and-my.html

So WHY are comickers not buying?  With Dorn they had a high quality, full colour comic and New Arden was full colour -though I know nothing of the background to this comic or the publishers or why it ceased publication.

Is it because they only want to see the characters from Marvel and DC which, let's be honest, has never treated "minority countries" like Germany or the UK with much thought or respect character-wise. Oh, and I was talking to a DC representative at one of the old UK Comic Art Conventions in the 1980s and we talked about characters for Europe and it was he who referred to "minority countries"!!

Oddly, Jerry Ordway was very nice to talk to.  He did say that "a lot of Americans think the UK and Europe are all cobbled streets, gas lamps and castles"!  But added "A lot of Americans couldn't tell you the name of the state next door to theirs -they can be quite insular."

Archie Goodwin, bless him, was THE nicest person I've spoken to who worked in comics and he had the opinion that countries like Germany would start producing their own DC and Marvel style comics "in a few years".

Back to German comic forums -I get distracted easily.

The other big problem I had was with the "arty" crowd who believed that the only comics that should be allowed were art-house based. Social relevance. "Entertainment"? "Super Heroes"?? "Schneiden wir den Scheiß jetzt heraus!" ("let's cut that shit out right now!").  "Superhelden sind für kleine kinder oder Menschen, die in der nähe sind analphabeten!" ("Super heroes are for little kids or people who are near illiterate!") as one nice person put it.  

In fact, my time on German comic forums was negative apart from, I think I've got this right, "Darkjedi" who supplied me with a lot of scans of German comics and I'll be eternally grateful for that!

Yet, despite all the arty crowd say  -in the UK the arty comics people "who knew" were telling me for years that France and Germany, Europe in general, never had super hero comics.  That says far more about their limited knowledge and yet people still regard them as the 'experts' on European comics!--I still see You Tube videos of German and Austrian comic conventions where comickers are there and buying...super hero comics!  And cos-play is kicking in even in France, where French creators told me it was frowned upon (I guess that "comics are a serious art form" attitude). 

So, if a good idea and story and characters based in Germany are not doing the trick....the language?  I point to the number of US ("Americanised English") super hero comics selling there.  "They aint in colour!"  Well, looking at Dorn and New Arden which were great colour comics -especially Dorn- that can't be the answer.

For me, personally, D-Gruppe was never the same after Ben Dilworth quit. "Die Rache der Eis-Königin" (The Revenge of The Ice Queen") the first legitimate D-Gruppe story, is one I still like looking at and if the guy I was dealing with at Bastei Verlag had not had the carpet swept from under him by the new bosses, it would have seen print.

Incidentally, the person I was dealing with in 1991 was Werner Geismar, Editor-in-Chief at Bastei.  I just found the old letters!

To me it is a mystery why there is so much interest in D-Gruppe but no sales.  Ideally, I'd be in Germany at comic events selling books but lords know what tables cost at European comic events!

So until some German publisher decides D-Gruppe is a good idea for the German market I'll just carry on drawing them in The Green Skies (at this very moment....well, not while typing) and wondering whether the ultimate fate of group leader Kopfmannand his team that vanished in Return of the Gods will ever be revealed?

Vielleicht sollte Ich mich auf den kopf mit kopien der D-Gruppe bücher zu schlagen?

BilBOlbul Newsletter 5 maggio 2015

È online su www.coopforwords.it il bando della tredicesima edizione di "Coop for words" riservata a scrittori e fumettisti dai 18 ai 35 anni, che dovranno inviare i loro elaborati - inediti e in lingua italiana - entro il 15 giugno, tramite l’apposito form presente sul sito.
Tanti i premi in palio: borse di studio e opportunità professionali, la possibilità di partecipare ad Ad alta voce e la pubblicazione di un’antologia. I 5 vincitori assoluti verranno premiati durante l’Expo di Milano e potranno partecipare gratuitamente ai corsi della Bottega Finzioni, esporre a BilBOlbul 2016 e ricevere una borsa di studio offerta da GVC.
Per la sezione fumetto si richiede la creazione di due tavole immaginate come prefazione di un’opera letteraria contemporanea (dal Novecento ai giorni nostri) a scelta, mettendone in evidenza o l’atmosfera, o una tematica, o le emozioni che suscita nel lettore.

La categoria di "Graphic Novel", sta acquisendo una sempre crescente centralità, anche in Italia.
Ma che cos’è il graphic novel, sulla scena italiana e nel mondo? Ha davvero senso definirlo come un "oggetto" diverso dai classici fumetti? E soprattutto, qual è il suo posto in un panorama in continuo mutamento in cui le arti si mescolano e si affermano nuove forme di narrazione sempre più ibride e trans-mediali inaugurando nuovi modi di leggere, interpretare e valutare la narrazione?
Per rispondere a queste e altre domande si incontreranno a Bologna giovedì 7 e venerdì 8 maggio, alcuni tra i più importanti autori e studiosi del fumetto: da Igort a Doug Headline a Davide Toffolo, e poi Davide Reviati, Otto Gabos, Sara Colaone, Onofrio Catacchio, Sualzo, i giovani autori del neonato sito di informazione Graphic News.

Il convegno è promosso dall’Università e dall’Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna insieme alla francese Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense.


Primavera/Estate è un ciclo di cinque incontri con 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.
Il prossimo appuntamento sarà un’incursione nel mondo dell’illustrazione con Nadia Budde. Mercoledì 13 maggio, alle ore 17.00, presso l’Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna, l’affermata illustratrice tedesca, vincitrice di premi quali l’Oldenburger Kinder- und Jugendbuchpreis, il Troisdorfer Bilderbuchpreis e il Bologna Ragazzi Award, presenterà il proprio lavoro: un universo fatto di creaturine, esseri umani, bestie e insetti, corpi, zampe, facce, smorfie.
In collaborazione con Goethe-Institut Italien.
Per la prima volta il Gruppo Hera apre le porte di casa al disegno. In collaborazione con BilBOlbul, Hera invita Nadia Budde per un laboratorio sperimentale rivolto ai figli dei dipendenti. L’iniziativa rientra nell’ambito dei progetti di welfare aziendale del Gruppo e si svolgerà presso il Learning Center HerAcademy.
I prossimi incontri saranno con Dylan Horrocks, Quint Buchholz e Stefano Alghisi.
Vai su www.bilbolbul.net per tutti i dettagli!

Dal 6 maggio al 21 giugno torna "Tra le Nuvole", festival itinerante di fumetto e illustrazione organizzato da MalEdizioni.
Un evento culturale diffuso sul territorio, un’entità in movimento in grado di toccare paesi e città della provincia bresciana, che dia modo al pubblico di conoscere un mondo ricco e variegato come quello del fumetto. Il festival, partner di BilBOlbul, si svolge, come da tradizione, all’interno delle biblioteche della provincia bresciana, veri e propri avamposti culturali con un forte legame con il territorio.

Anche grazie al tuo contributo potremo portare avanti le nostre attività.
Nella tua dichiarazione dei redditi, scrivi il nostro codice fiscale: 92047890378
Grazie per il sostegno!
BilBOlbul Festival internazionale di fumetto fa parte della
Rete dei Festival del Contemporaneo di Bologna
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 :: Live Arts Week: liveartsweek.it

Monday, 4 May 2015

X-Men - Alpha Flight Fan Film

Don't say that I NEVER bring you goodies to watch!!!!

Task Force X -The Suicide Squad Revealed!

The Hollywood Reporter carries the first photos of Task force X -The Suicide Squad assembled: https://twitter.com/hashtag/SuicideSquad?src=hash  and you can read a bit more at Comic Book Movie: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/KingPatel/news/?a=120032


Suicide Squad will feature:

Director: David Ayer

Will Smith as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot

Jared Leto as The Joker

Margot Robbie as Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn

Viola Davis as Amanda Waller

Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg

Jai Courtney as George "Digger" Harkness/Captain Boomerang

Cara Delevingne as June Moone/Enchantress

Ike Barinholtz as Dr. Hugo Strange

Jim Parrack as Jonny Frost/Pseudo Joker

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Waylon Jones/Killer Croc

Jay Hernandez as El Diablo

Adam Beach as Christopher Weiss/Slipknot

Karen Fukuhara as Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana

Raymond Olubowale as Nanaue/King Shark

Common in an undisclosed role
Suicide Squad lights up theaters August 5, 2016

Grace Lee Whitney Dies, Aged 85

Well, as usual, BBC news has fluffed it all up.  But at least everyone else has carried the sad news. Here from The Huffington Post:http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/05/04/grace-lee-whitney-star-trek-dead_n_7202394.html

‘Star Trek’ actress Grace Lee Whitney has died of natural causes, at the age of 85. 

The star, who played Captain James T. Kirk’s (William Shatner) assistant Janice Rand died at her California home on Friday, her son has confirmed. 

grace lee whitney
Grace at a 2012 'Star Trek' convention 
Grace played Janice in the original TV series, and later reprised her role in four of the franchise’s films, and the 1996 series ‘Star Trek: Voyager’.

William Shatner has paid tribute to his Grace on Twitter, writing:

Her career began in the 1950s, and Grace starred in a number of other high-profile projects, including the film ‘Some Like It Hot’.

In 1998, she released an autobiography, in which Grace revealed her struggle with alcohol and substance dependence.

Grace credited ‘Star Trek’ fans with helping her through tough times, and the star was praised for her openness and honesty when it came to speaking about addiction.

“When I told the fans I was an alcoholic, they all applauded,” she stated in 2013. “When I told them I had given myself to a higher power, they cheered again.

“I’m in a great place because I’ve gone full circle.”

Tempus fugit

Sunday, 3 May 2015

One Last Post And I'm Gone!

Ahhh. I do wish people would read posts before having as arse burger.

I did not ever -ever- state or hint that women should not be reading comics.  I encouraged my young niece to read comics when she was a tot so get it straight.  Read what is written.

If -if- any of the women currently jump onto the comic scene become real comickers then great.  The more the merrier and the same applies to all those men who are in the same category.

Mass buying huge stacks of comics then saying "I have no idea what this is -is it any good -leave a comment!" shows what you are.

Ebay Comic Traders -Time To Name and Shame The Bad Ones ...

....In My Case to Around 2-4000 readers a day!

I made some Ebay purchases from a dealer called  hp.*saucy and it was a nightmare any comic fan/collector will understand.

"I received Avengers 400 yesterday, bent double. Bagged but no backing board. The outer packaging (I should NOT call it "packaging") was one side a piece of breakfast cereal box card and the other a flimsy piece of light corrugated card -held together by brown tape. I thought a one off and today I get Young All Stars in the SAME 'packaging' -again bent and twisted.  This is NOT how you package comics -cheap but sturdy packaging is available. ."

The response to this?

"Sorry to hear that the packages sent to you were damaged in the post. I consider cardboard backing the best way to protect comics, but our opinions clearly differ. I apologise if the packaging was inadequate on these occasions. The damage you describe does sound as if excessive force had been applied.
Kind regards,

So....now if I try to order something I get a message that I do not meet the sellers "criteria" for customers.  Ask why...nothing.

Seriously, you DO NOT take someone's money for a flimsy comic and send it with cereal box cardboard and then hissy fit because you get a complaint.

Destination Venus is another Ebay dealer I've bought from. Even a single comic gets a sturdy cardboard Comic Book Flash Mailer packaging.  THAT is how you send a comic -not in a brown A4 envelope, some birthday wrapping paper or worse.  I mean one of these:


Silver Acre comics.  Well, I kept getting the same message that I never met their criteria. No email response so I asked Ebay what was going on?  They told me it was the trader's doing.  I contacted the trader -yeah.  They'd sell to me. Off Ebay.  And they did.  Now? Still getting the same messages and they do not reply.

This tells me that (1) they are making so much money that they can afford to say "f you!" to comic buyers. (2) they really do not give a crap about the comics or how you get them so long as they get the money.  (3)  Package/comics damaged?  Complain -you get banned.

I now see WHY old pro collectors video record packages they receive and package openings.  I'm doing the same from now on.  AND I am naming and shaming the bad boys from now on...and I will NOT buy from Newcadia comics in the US again, either.  I don't even want to go into that!

You show the customer -me- some respect and the customer will keep giving you business.  Bad traders need to be named and I've given them all a chance to sort things out or respond.  If you have a blog and you get the same crap -name and shame don't just sit there taking it. It is YOUR money.

Here is something I posted before (no responses to it on the page) but the poster nails it http://www.ebay.co.uk/gds/The-proper-way-to-ship-comic-books-my-suggestion-/10000000002065018/g.html:

The Challenge:

I am often disappointed when I win an auction for a near-mint comic, wait in anticipation and when the package arrives, I find the comic is damaged.  It is not that I was sent a poor quality book, but that the item was damaged during the shipping process.  The situation is even worse when purchasing a CGC graded item.  Recently, I purchased a CGC graded copy of Amazing Spiderman 129.  The item arrived packaged in a "bubble-pack envelope".  As soon as I saw the envelope I said to myself "I am exhausted with receiving expensive items so carelessly packaged". Of course the item was damaged, cracked in several places.  The common response to a damaged item claim from a seller is "good thing you got the insurance" or "I will send a refund after you return the item .. ps. I do not refund shipping charges".  Who needs the hassle? Who needs the time and money that is wasted chasing damaged item claims?

Listen, I know we all look for ways to cut cost but some corners should not be cut.  Here are some "common sense" rules that should always be followed when considering the shipping of a graded or ungraded item. 

1.  Shipping Cost is not overhead !  The buyer pays the shipping ! The cost of shipping (if you calculated correctly) does not come out of your pocket.

2. Your postal provider does not care about your package any more than you do.  A "FRAGILE" stamp on a flimsy package does not cause a carrier to handle your package with acutal care.  And what happens when your package is in the cargo hold of a plane with a ton of other packages on top of it? Where is the care in handling then?

3.  The Post Office gives away "FREE" boxes in an effort to expedite your shipping needs.  So the "I couldn't find a box" excuse no longer applies.

4.  The money spent in ensuring a safe delivery, pales in comparison to the money you lose when your customer returns a damaged item, along with NEGATIVE feedback. 

The Solution: 
As mentioned previously, the solution is an inexpensive product called "CARDBOARD".  It is simple and easy to use, plus you can get tons of it absolutely FREE !

Packaging an ungraded item enjoys the same procedure as packaging a graded (CGC/PGX) item.

1. Take a cardboard box (stiff, flat, thick) and cut two pieces to the exact dimensions of your "BAGGED AND BOARDED" comic book or GRADED ITEM.

2. Put the item(s) between two pieces of cardboard and tape securely into place. Use clear scotch-type tape, not DUCT tape as I recently encountered in a bubble packed item.  Items should not be allowed to slide around between cardboard pieces or damage could still occur to the corners of the item.

3. Place cardboard-secured item into the appropriate sized box with loosely balled-up newspaper as a buffer or insulation.  The item should "float" inside the box because of the newspaper you put into the bottom of the box and on every possible side of the item.

4.  Close the box and shake gently side to side, listening to hear if the item is sliding around inside box.  If it is, add more newspaper to the top or bottom, or side to side because movement equals damage.

5.  The newspaper is loosely balled-up because less paper is less weight. On average three comics, packed in a PRIORITY MAIL box, should weigh 1 lb. 11 oz. or less and one CGC item should weigh the same.  The Post Office generally charges 4-7 dollars for Priority delivery (less than 2 lbs.) within the continental United States.

To pre-cut several pieces of card-board and to have a few boxes and newspaper on hand. This will save you time in the packing process. 

NEVER use BUBBLE-PACK envelopes for shipping comics!  They only protect against scratches not against impact damage which is the leading cause of damage to shipped items. Plus you will save money by using cardboard because you will never have to purchase another bubble-pack envelope.  You will also, save even more money by recycling your newspaper instead of buying bubble-wrap.

This is a cost effective option to securely ship graded and ungraded comics and to ensure a safe, undamaged delivery to your customer.  You will have peace-of-mind when shipping delicate and expensive items and your customers will return enthusiastic POSITIVE feedback for the care you have added in packaging their items. 

Thank you for reviewing this guide.


Now, the UK Post Office does not give away free boxes but the principles are the same. 

"Free postage" on an item is absolute bollox.  You are giving away a comic and making a loss?

No. Your price includes the postage.  Just check Ebay and you'll see it everywhere. 

Or you get an item at £1.00 which is 6 times cheaper than anywhere else -bargain! Uh, no. Check postage of £6.75 which, for some of the items involved I can tell you it will NOT cost to post (especially in a cheap jiffy bag) -you are paying the FULL PRICE for the item.

There are so many horror stories out there and 99% of the time the traders are rude, even try to blame YOU for THEIR bad packaging...in the hope you'll say "screw you!" and just give in.


Saturday, 2 May 2015

I May Not Be Back For A Good While.

Completely washed out and exhausted so I may have been a bit snappy with some people of late.

I've written about comic book geek chic and how calling yourself a "nerd" is trendy -fashionable.  So, I have had three emails from companies addressing me as "Nerdblogger" to which my response WAS snappy and I pointed out I have read comics since I was about six years old and I'm now...58(?) so I was a comicker before their parents were probably born and I'm not jumping onto the comics bandwagon as a trendy.

I got one apology and an explanation that they throw the word around so much because they publish books that are quirky and nerdy.

I note a lot -a lot- more women are jumping onto this whole "nerdster" thing.  One in a blog stated that it was her way of trying to break into "pop culture and a media career". pfah! 

That is WHY I'll watch comicbookgirl19 vlogs because she has been into the whole thing before it became trendy.  You can check out her videos on You Tube -a link on the blog roll.

Now, I do apologise but THIS is the sort of thing I'm talking about and it is so OVER THE TOP it gave me a migraine. 

You see what I mean, right?  It's like an advert for "Geek Gear".

Women into comics, my mother used to read through them, I have never seen a problem with.  Women have always read comics but it is that Big Bang Theory syndrome AGAIN: "Girls do not go into comic shops!"  And if they do, even if they are "not pretty" (WTF???) they get stared at.  I actually pointed out to several regulars in the comic shops I used to go into (I've been dry three years now) that it was good to see women not just going for Manga books.  "What women?" I was asked.  "I've not seen any in here" I'm told. The last person said that I pointed to a group of three women buying comics and he seemed taken aback!

And they are women NOT "girls".  Sorry, I came from the time when women were fighting for equal rights and to not be called "girls" (basic biology -sorry, boys, hit puberty and you are an adult).

I know, I'm writing this and no one cares.  I'm sure women read this blog but why back the old man up, right?

I am a comicker.  I am NOT a "geek" or "nerd" -my name is on University and wildlife conference technical papers FFS.

I may not be back for a looooooooooooooong time.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Everyone Should Have A Silicon Heart...

I'm sure people here remember Kat Nicholson?  She was interviewed on CBO as one of the artists on Classical Comics A Mid Summer Night's Dream:

No idea where the interview went.  Hmm.

Anyway, I do not promote kick-starter projects.  I can, however, point you in the direction of some nice art and what might be a very good project to support by passing the word around.

The project Face Book page (it's on the blog roll) has some interesting art so why not check it out?



The League of Regrettable Superheroes

For every superhero hitting the big time with a blockbuster movie, there are countless failures, also-rans, and D-listers. The League of Regrettable Superheroes affectionately presents one hundred of the strangest superheroes ever to see print—from Atoman to Zippo—complete with backstories, vintage art, and colorful commentary.

Drawing on the entire history of the medium, the book celebrates characters that haven’t seen the light of day in decades, like Natureboy, Dr. Hormone, Thunder Bunny, and more. It’s a must-read for comics fans of all ages!

Jon Morris is a cartoonist and graphic designer. Since the late 1990s, he’s operated the blog Gone & Forgotten, an irreverent look at the weirdest and most unfortunate stories and characters comic books have offered. In 2001, he was invited to participate in a superheroes-themed episode of the public radio program This American Life, a popular and frequently rebroadcast episode.
  • Available as an ebook
    E-Book ISBN: 
  • ISBN: 
  • Book Dimensions: 
    7 x 9
  • Page Count: 
  • Release Date: 
    June 2, 2015