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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

EP 667: The Missing Link....Absorbo!

EP 667 -The Missing Link by Ben R. Dilworth

In A Black Tower In The Vale Of Mist.....

T-Shirts, Mugs, Caps, Comics and more -Black Tower Stores

All Black Tower comic albums (that is A4 format) are in black & white.  Once you've had black and white you won't go back to colour, baby.

BTCG has specialised in presenting original material covering super heroes, crime, adventure, sci fi, horror as well as illustrated prose -not to mention ground breaking books on "world mysteries" and wildlife.  Oh, and even a huge book of interviews with comic creators and publishers.

All the books are, naturally, available for overseas licence -but we cannot translate work: that will be up to any licensed publisher.

What follows is a brief glimpse at some books but you can visit the online store to see more details and books at:

You  can also find some on Amazon and other sources but they do not make me much money so, come on, buy from the online store and remember that at least these books will be collectibles! 

To contact me please check out "About" at the top of the page -thanks! 

The Hooper Interviews

The Hooper Interviews!  

 To celebrate, at the time of publication, over 25 years of interviewing comic creators -writers, artists and publishers- this 365 pages book was produced.

Interviewees included Yishan Li, Marv Wolfman, Dave Ryan, John Cooper, Mike Western, Donna Barr, Roberta Gregory, Sonia Leong, Emma Vieceli, Pekka A. Manninen, Alan Class, Karen Rubins, Kate Glasheen, Ron Fortier, Jon Haward, Franco Francavilla, Rick Geary, Tania Del Rio, The Etherington Brothers, Olivier Cadic (Cinebook the 9th Art), Holly Golightly and MANY others.

Profusely illustrated with art and photographs!

Reduced in price until October to £16.80 -an odd price but it's what the printer and earn -I get zilch!


Black Tower Comics began in 1984 as a Small Press publisher of A5 (US -Digest size) titles such as Adventure,Presents,Windows and Hanley's Garage.  Then came the news, reviews, previews and interviews publication backed up by the mart and mail order service -Zine Zone (later Zine Zone International).

In 2009, with the innovation in publishing of Print On Demand (POD), Black Tower jumped in head first!

One of the first titles to see print in the new comic album format (A4) was The Bat Triumphant! This saw the complete story, begun in Black Tower Adventure vol. 1.  William A. Ward's long lost 1940s character once again saw print as he fought a host of  enemies in an attempt to reclaim his homeland.


And while The Bat may have fought fist and nail to reclaim his homeland, another 1940s Ward creation, Krakos the Egyptian, seemed far from willing to claim a new Egyptian Empire as promised to him by the Gods.  Tackling a number of foes and even encountering the Many-Eyed One, Krakos turned his back on the gods and the final panel of Krakos -Sands Of Terror, delivered a true twist!

Krakos -Sands Of Terror!

Of course, the flag-ship title had to return!  And so Black Tower Adventure -eventually reaching new heights when the legendary Ben Dilworth jumped on board!  Volume 2 consisted of  ten issues. Just look at these covers....

Black Tower Adventure 1Black Tower Adventure 2BLACK TOWER ADVENTURE 3Black Tower Adventure 4Black Tower Adventure 5Black Tower Adventure 6ADVENTURE 7Black Tower Adventure 8BLACK TOWER ADVENTURE 9Black Tower Adventure 10

And, with something like 40 years worth of files and investigation reports could all that much delving into UFOs, lake and sea creatures and many other mysteries not result in a book or two...or three? Some Things Strange & Sinister, Some More Things Strange & Sinister as well as Pursuing The Strange and Weird: A Naturalist's Viewpoint set a precedence.

Whereas for decades those involved in "UFOlogy", "Cryptozoology" and "Forteana" declared many mysteries, that photographs were lost "to history" and so on, these three books swiped away the false claims.  Alleged lost photographs -found.  'Mysteries' solved by doing actual research work and reading the sources -something others had never done.
Some Things Strange & SinisterSome More Things Strange & SinisterPursuing The Strange & Weird:A Naturalists Viewpoint

And, of course, mention natural history and Black Tower Books broke new ground with that in The Red Paper: Canids.

The Red Paper: CANIDS

But not all the prose books covered mysteries and wildlife.

And if there is one thing "Herr Professor" loves it is discovering and presenting long lost UK Golden Age (1939-1951) comic strips and characters from publishers such as Gerald Swan, Foldes, Denis M. Reader, Cartoon Art Productions and others.

Scanned and restored as best as can be considering the poor print quality of the rationing years -especially red, orange, yellow, blue and purple ink printing!

Ace Hart The Atomic Man!  The Tornado!  TNT Tom!  Dene Vernon!  Acromaid!  Cat-Girl! Bring 'Em Back Hank! Robert Lovett:Back From The Dead and so many other action heroes and humour strip characters -William A. Ward, Jock McCaill and a host of known and unknown creators contribute -either in single volume " Black Tower Gold" albums or all six collected into the 400+ pager -The Ultimate British Golden Age Collection!

The Ultimate British Comics Gold CollectionBlack Tower British Gold Collection 1Black Tower British Gold Collection 2Black Tower British Gold Collection 3UK GOLD COLLECTION 4Black Tower Gold 5:Back From The Deadblack tower gold 6

Another great love is Centaur Comics from the United States.  Right at the very start of the American Golden Age of Comics Centaur had creators who were ahead of the others!  Before Plastic Man there was Plymo!  Before The Human Bomb there was TNT Todd! Before Green Arrow and waaaaaaay before Hawkeye there was the mysterious red hooded archer called The Arrow!  And, to just break your comic mind world there was even a Black Panther -decades before Kirby came up with his character of the same name.

The Eye Sees All.  The Owl. The Iron Skull.  Amazing Man. The King of Darkness.  The Invisible Terror. The Blue Lady. The Shark. Mini Midget & Kitty.  Mighty Man. Super Anne.  The company may have been short-lived but it's characters -oh boy!

The two volume Centaur Heroes Collection has been compiled into one sweet 140 page comic collection!
The Ultimate Centaur Collection 2011

Horror. Ghost stories.  The twist-in-the tale.  Did you think that a publisher who is a big horror comic/film fan would ignore these?

Nope.  Each year since 2010, BTCG has published a Tales Of Terror anthology album and 2014s included some fun and spooky lost Swan Comic strips.  I mean how can you go wrong -even Ben Dilworth is in these!

 Tower Tales Of TerrorTales Of Terror 2TALES OF TERROR IIITales Of Terror 4

The Church Of England has it's own basher of dark forces in the Reverend Merriwether -"God's Demon0-Thumper" as the press billed him.  From an ancient Egyptian demon to a village of the damned and Varney the Vampyre, werwolves and a final confrontation with Satan himself -Merriwether pulls no punches and offers no compromise.  And in those last few seconds between life and death, Merriwether's mind recalls past cases -thanks to Ben Dilworththe Tall Man of Osaka.

Merriwether: God's Demon Thumper and Merriwether: The Test Of Satan are available as individual comic albums or in one swanky book The Collected Merriwether: God's Demon Thumper.

 Merriwether:God's Demon-ThumperMerriwether:The Test Of SatanMerriwether: Gods Demon Thumper

Oh, did I forget to mention Dene Vernon -British comics' first investigator of the supernatural and strange mysteries?  I did? Unbelievable since Gavin Stuart Ross drew the 1948 based Dene Vernon: The Thing Below!

 Dene Vernon:The Thing Below

Dene Vernon From The Burning Heart To The Thing From Below

If any of you out there has purchased Black Tower Golden Age Collection vol.1 you would have found the strip Dene Vernon -The Burning Heart”.  But who is Dene Vernon and why is he important to British comics history?

Firstly,his proper credit was “Dene Vernon. Ghost Investigator”.  In the 1930s and 1940s the work of ghost investigators such as Harry Price [despite what people write about his work at Borley Rectory] and the great Elliott O’Donnell could be found reported on in national newspapers as well as on radio.  
If they could inspire me as a teen to get involved in this type of work imagine the effect on everyday folk in the pre-TV era and before all the faking of Most Haunted and Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures as well as others.
Comic Book Cover For Funnies Album 1949 Part 2
But Amalgamated Press and D.C. Thomson were too “clean” to touch this type of subject unless it was a “real hoot” in a humour strip.

Gerald Swan changed all that.  His comics introduced a whole group of paranormal/occult types fromKrakos The Egyptian to Robert Lovett:Back From The Dead [all subjects of Black Tower collections].    Vernon’s appearance in Thrill Comics No.1,April,1940,marked the very first truly supernatural strip series in British Comics.
Tall,lean with a high forehead and thinning hair,Vernon bore a resemblance to the young Harry Price in a way.  However,his cases seem to have been pure O’Donnell and in case you are asking who O’Donnell is I give you Wikipedia's somewhat weak entry on the man:

Elliott O’Donnell (February 27, 1872 – May 8, 1965) was an Irish author known primarily for his books about ghosts. He claimed to have seen a ghost, described as an elemental figured covered with spots, when he was five years old. He also claimed to have been strangled by a mysterious phantom in Dublin.

He claimed descent from Irish chieftains of ancient times, including Niall of the Nine Hostages (the King Arthur of Irish folklore) and Red Hugh, who fought the English in the sixteenth century. O’Donnell was educated at Clifton College, Bristol, England, and Queen’s Service Academy, Dublin, Ireland.
In later life he became a ghost hunter, but first he traveled in America, working on a range in Oregon and becoming a policeman during the Chicago Railway Strike of 1894. Returning to England, he worked as a schoolmaster and trained for the theater. He served in the British army in World War I, and later acted on stage and in movies.

His first book, written in his spare time, was a psychic thriller titled For Satan’s Sake (1904). From this point onward, he became a writer. He wrote several popular novels but specialized in what were claimed as true stories of ghosts and hauntings. These were immensely popular, but his flamboyant style and amazing stories suggest that he embroidered fact with a romantic flair for fiction.

As he became known as an authority on the supernatural, he was called upon as a ghost hunter. He also lectured and broadcast (radio and television) on the paranormal in Britain and the United States. In addition to his more than 50 books, he wrote scores of articles and stories for national newspapers and magazines. He claimed “I have investigated, sometimes alone, and sometimes with other people and the press, many cases of reputed hauntings. I believe in ghosts but am not a spiritualist.”

Remember that bit about being strangled by a ghost [not unique in the lore itself]. This is what Denis Gifford wrote about Vernon’s first adventure:

“..Vernon spends the night in a haunted bedroom where a weary wanderer was found on the floor. ‘A gasp of horror came as they gazed on the terror-distorted features of the dead traveller!’  Vernon saves Dick from being throttled by a grinning black monster,chained by its neck since 1785.  But he had to burn the house down to do it.”

You know, I am quite sure that there is a similar O’Donnell story -though he never burns places down!

The creator of the strip was Jock McCail who also drew oriental detective Ah Wong for Swan’s New Funnies [1940-1949], Darrell King Of The Secret Service in Thrill Comics [1940-48],New Funnies [1949] and Slick Fun [1950].  McCail also drew Get-Your-Man-Gilligan, a Western strip for the Amalgamated Press title Jolly between 1938-39.

Dene Vernon ran as a strip between 1940-1946 so must have been popular -as many of the Swan horror strips were.
It would be nice to put together a complete Dene Vernon book at some point but these old British comics are very rare to get hold of either as printed items or scans!

But, in 2011, Vernon featured in his first adventure since 1946.  Yes, post-war Britain was the setting for…


54 pages

I think over 60 years was a long enough rest for him -and THE THING FROM BELOW was enough of atough task for him but...well, his final fate in The Green Skies is really ...."gutting"

hehehehehe er, Sorry.

But maybe an appearance in Black Tower Super Heroes before that?  I can't really say -I don't want to spoil the fun!!

Remember the name, though: Dene Vernon!

 And did you know Ross also drew the two adventures of Victorian mystery man Chung Ling Soo? Chung Ling Soo: The Curse Of The Jade Dragon and Chung Ling Soo: The Case Of The Thames Serpent were two cracking tales of magic, adventure, murder and deception -still available as single comic albums or collected together to form The Adventures Of Chung Ling Soo!

Chung Ling Soo: The Curse Of The Jade Dragon

  Chung Ling Soo 1                                    
Terry Hooper-Scharf (W)  Gavin Stuart Ross (A)
30 pages

Prints in 3-5 business days

Chung Ling Soo.  World's greatest conjurer and said to be an American stage magician in disguise.  Or was he?

In this story,Chung Ling Soo is called in by Scotland Yard to investigate a gruesome series of deaths -all amongst a party who discovered a Jade Dragon statuette in China.

Is the statuette cursed -and can Chung stop any other deaths?

 The Case Of The Thames Serpent

Chung Ling Soo Man Of Mystery
54 pages
Prints in 3-5 business days

Victorian conjurer and man of mystery and deception, Chung Ling Soo has been marked for death by a Chinese Tong that never fails to get its man.  Will Chung be able to escape death long enough to solve bizarre murders in London'd dockland as well as sightings of a sea serpent in the Thames?

And who is the Dragon Lord and how do his murderous plans fit into things?

The second in the Chung Ling Soo Man Of Mystery series

That scene still gives me chills.  But Chung Ling Soo is dead.  He is dead -right?  But if he was in the cab with Wilberforce HOW could he be the driver the book and find out!  :-P

Both books are available as single albums but ....

The Case Book Of Chung Ling Soo

mWriter: Terry Hooper-Scharf
Artist: Gavin Stuart Ross
84 Pages
Black & white
Price: £8.00 Ships in 3–5 business days

To many he was simply a stage magician. Others knew the truth –such as Scotland Yard and the very secret Q Bureau.

From a seemingly cursed jade statue bringing gruesome and violent death to those who found it years before to a plot by a Chinese supremacist group hoping to strike and bring terror and destruction to the heart of the British Empire and seemingly unstoppable Tong assassins and an evil warlord willing to betray and murder even his own allies–this is Chung Ling Soo's world.

Sergeant Wilberforce of Scotland Yard was the closest thing to a friend the Magician had yet even he was perpetually stumped by him...and his deaths!

Collecting together Chung Ling Soo And The Curse Of The Jade Dragon And Chung Ling Soo The Case Of The Thames Serpent By Terry Hooper-Scarf and Gavin Stuart Ross in which the deception begins but just what is deception and what truth?


Ben Dilworth is no slouch either!  Chung Ling Soo's police "counter-foil" isnone other than old London "Jack" (police man) Inspector Wilberforce and when Dilworth says "Here's a Wilberforce one-off: PUBLISH IT!" you do not argue!


And did you know you can be a Gold Master of Japanese Haiku?  Well, neither did I -but guess what?  Ben Dilworth is such a master and his Osaka Brutal features his Haiku in English!

 Osaka Brutal

Old saleman that he is, Dilworth just keeps on going.  He produced Aesop's Fables -a darker version of the childrens tales and then went on to write two well illustrated prose albums looking at spirits and demons -Dilworth's Japanese Yokai and Dilworth'sWestern Yokai.  Osaka and the Yokai books were combined with Aesop's Fables into the one volume The Collected Ben R. Dilworth -though the single volumes are also still available.

The Collected Ben R. DilworthDilworth's Japanese YokaiDILWORTH WESTERN YOKAIDilworths Aesop's Fables

Horror comics yes but also some nice illustrated prose from Dilworth in...Dilworth's Horror & Ghost Stories but for the connoisseur those stories were collected together with the Phantom Detective comic strips into The Complete Phantom Detective!
Dilworth's Horror & Ghost StoriesTHE COMPLETE PHANTOM DETECTIVE

Ben R. Dilworth
black & White
36 Pages
Price: £6.00 (excl. VAT)
Murdering Ghouls. Satanic Masses. Demonic Possession. Werewolves. Poltergeists. Vampires. To many of the uninitiated these are just “things that go bump in the night” -TV or film fantasy. 
In the Victorian era, The Phantom Detective used his decades of occult study to help those in danger from these “things” and he paid the ultimate price…. ….
Yet he continues to help and to observe as best he can for now he is a true... 

From one of the UK's most under -rated comic creators, Ben R. Dilworth, comes new life breathed into and a new slant given to the adventures of the former mortal who has become one of the Watchers -forbidden to act even to save a life from supernatural forces.  Except "rules are there to be broken or at the very least stretched until you can see through them!"

The much anticipated collection from the co-creator of Peter Wisdom and artist of Mark Millar's The Shadowmen!

And could anyone forget the sensational Iron Warrior Versus Big Bong:When Giants Fought? But add to that the various Iron Warrior strips from Adventure and you get The Iron Warrior Collection -When Giants Fought!  In the 1940s, William A. Ward's creation was to be the most graphically violent comic strip seen until the 1970s.  That is some legacy. It continues....with a touch of fun!


In case you are wondering, yes, obviously there are super heroes.  Mix in ancient pantheons of gods, giant robot, alien invasion, Lovecraftian dark ones and so much more that the book runs to over 320 pages then you have part 1 of Terry Hooper-Scharf'sInvasion Earth Trilogy" or as it is titled Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes!  And epic ending with the words: "Dr Morg has killed us all" -and if you have never read the mind altering counter actuality that is The Dr Morg Trilogy you may be saying "What? Who-?"

And part 2 of the trilogy The Cross Earths Caper ought to get you in the mood for 2015's big 31st Anniversary third part of the trilogy The Green Skies.

 The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super HeroesTHE CROSS EARTHS CAPERJourney Of The ID:The Dr Morg Trilogy

If you pass the ESTC (Epileptic Seizure Test Cover) on Dr Morg well, you are fit and healthy enough to read it and to check out all the Black Tower Comics and Books at the online store -see why we are the UKs largest publisher of  Independent Comics!
Currently working on a few more Men t-shirts but also including designs for Women t-shirts.

Yes, now the Black Tower T-shirt online store is open!