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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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Friday, 29 May 2015

Sun Trap? Oh, It WAS Supposed To Be A Comedy? Now Let Me Tell You...


Back in the late 1980s-1990s, I wrote scripts and series proposals for TV.  Back then you had BBC, ITV (before de-regulation did everything all the top boys were saying it would not), Channel 4 and later Chennal 5 (the station hardly anyone used to be able to watch thanks to total screw up technical issues).

My most famous failure, that actually got a mention by a BBC TV producer whose name I cannot recall in some Guardian article, was A Cabinet Of Curiosities which was written at the same time as the horror-sci-fi The Diaries Of Fred Purvey -the BBC man told me "We'll go with your idea for the two main characters!" which would have been Roy Hudd as Fred Purvey and June Whitfield as "Mystic Marge".

I wrote all the scripts for each series (seven for each), put together creature and production illustrations and handed them in -the offer of the BBC footing the huge photocopying bill seemed a good one (all the scripts were typed, kids -no computers.....who is that keeps fainting at the back??).

Nothing.  Then more nothing.  So a couple of calls and eventually I hear "Oh. Didn't anyone contact you? There's this new TV series from the US -it's already made so no production costs."  And my kill fee? Ever tried to get money out of the BBC?  Bureaucracy and "we have no idea what you are talking about" followed by "Who was the producer?  Oh, he's left. We can't enter into discussion on this."

So I cursed this stupid, no name, crap US TV show and prayed for it to be a massive flop.

It was called "The X-Files" -no, I never heard of it either.

Anyway, I continued with my quiz/challenge show projects, documentaries and even comedy.  Yes. I wrote comedy.  Sad Lad's Pad was described by someone at the BBC as "a very surrealistic version of Bottom but with three characters rather than two."  I guess he must have read the script!  

I think the first episode was titled "Barbara Windsor" and if memory serves me right the second involved the Sad Lads ending up in a Moroccan style British prison.  Hookahs, fez's the works.

The guy in charge loved it. "I'm glad you came to us rather than radio first!"  I never even thought of radio. Anyhow, the six scripts (I think I only have the rough first two episode scripts now) were read and the producer loved them.  And then came the inevitable silence.  Then a letter from a new producer stating "sadly these scripts are not as funny as you seem to think they are" -which was feckin' weird.  I never laid any claims and I had never said in writing or over the phone that my scripts were great because I never would. Also, WTF was this new man?

A quick call and I found out that the old producer had left for a higher paid job at an independent company.  The assistant, who I had talked to a great deal before then told me that it was "traditional" for a new producer to throw out any ideas approved by a predecessor -if it bombed HE got the blame.  If it was a success then the previous man got the credit for commissioning the series.  So in the bin it went.

I asked about what for the BBC was a very -very- rude letter?  "Oh, he's straight out of university and never worked in TV before so he's rather rude to the point of insulting even established scripters."  I wish I remembered his name (it's in a file) because one day.....

Let me tell you, this approving, going through discussing, sorting out cast or presenters and producers then leaving and everything being dumped covers all BBC departments including Wildlife -three times I was asked by the BBC Wildlife unit in Bristol (over the phone once and twice in person) "Do you know where that piece of footage is?"  To which I responded: "It's BBC footage.  Wildlife footage.  Surely you know?"  but it seems "the BBC is a big place as is the wildlife unit and those pieces of footage could be anywhere here!"

Now, the BBC seems to have lost its reputation for TV comedy.   "Mr Khan" appears to be a 1970s, not very good ITV comedy...for children.  Bottom and  The Mighty Boosh seem to have been the final stabs at comedy before obscenity filled 25 minute crap took over.  Not funny but unless there is an obscenity every other word it cannot be funny, right?  Oddly, I did actually enjoy Uncle for some reason.

But the other night I watched the latest late night comedy, Sun Trap.  Bradley Walsh has proven himself a good actor and funny so I thought "why not?"  I sat there, my sister also watching the TV, not a single laugh.

WHY was this on at 22:45hrs?  Kayvan Novak from this performance, should never work again. Bradley Walsh was only really a cameo but this really dented his reputation.  Novak had a Scottish (??) accent that covered being a gay Frenchman(?), a.....no.  Basically it covered every accent you need. If ever a show needed canned laughter it was this.  It had no life.  No humour and it, again, seemed to be a failed CITV (Childrens ITV) programme from the 1980s.

I may be a little hard on Novak because he had a senseless -and I DO mean senseless- script that had no gags or humour.  The characters were sheets of blank paper.  

I got quite angry.  I thought my age.  Then I got angrier as I thought through it that night.  My scripts back in the early 1990s were  "sadly these scripts are not as funny as you seem to think they are" but in 2015 the scripts for Sun Trap were funny? 

Kids, look for independent companies or produce your own shows or films or audio podcasts -anything but go through what many, many others have over the years. Learn.  You will always get ripped off, messed about, insulted and hardly ever paid!

Below: Bradley Walsh: "We took the money. Sorry."

I Think We ALL Know Which One I Am.....

Cinebook The 9th Art: Thorgal 15- Arachnea


Thorgal 15- Arachnea
Authors: Rosinski & Van Hamme
Age: 15 years and up
Size: 18.4 x 25.7 cm
Number of pages: 48 colour pages
ISBN: 9781849182478
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT

Publication: April 2015

Thorgal, his family and their friends Darek and Lehla have left their island to sail south and look for a safer place to live. After a storm scatters them, Thorgal and WolfCub’s boat flounders on reefs at the foot of a strange, mist-covered cliff. One perilous climb later, the little girl is trapped by a mysterious, invisible force, and her father, after going for help, discovers a very curious city cut off from the world...

I usually like to spend some time when it comes to Thorgal to discuss things -we've moved from the sci fi origins to Meso America...it has been a very exciting read.  Now we have more fantasy, with a tinge of horror? Yes, my favourites (but not it seems 99% of humanity's) -spiders.  Bless 'em.

Great art, great colour work by Graza and a nice twisting tale with a little "ahhhhh" toward the end. And at album number 15 this has turned around completely the impression I had of Thorgal from what I had read in German.  I made the assumption it was "just another barbarian" series. It certainly is not. Writer and artist both deliver some of their best work. 

No wonder Thorgal is a popular series!


What Do Artists Do All Day - Frank Quitely

A mix here. I like some of Quitely's work but it often leaves me cold -too clean and antisceptic. But he is very popular and I still likr reading his Earth 3.

Profile - Boo Cook - Comic Artist


Oh my gods. Pencil roughs for a writer would be never heard of in old weekly comics -you drew it and that was that. If you are doing a graphic novel or a series you REALLY want to be your best work then this amount of effort could be useful.

I just say "Why spend time on thumb-nails and roughs -just draw the feckin' book!"  But that might just be me. Boo Cook does seem to be enjoying himself though....WHAT???

One Day In The Life of a Comic Book Artist

I was responding to a comment earlier about the "old School" comic artists who work on paper and....did someone at a Wacom drawing tablet just faint?  Any way, here is Gerry Alanguilan who has worked for Marvel, DC, Image and so on.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Cinebook The 9th Art: Spirou & Fantasio 8 - Tough Luck Vito

Spirou & Fantasio 8 - Tough Luck Vito
Authors: Tome & Janry
Age: 8 years and up
Size: 21.7 x 28.7 cm
Number of pages: 48 colour pages
ISBN: 9781849182485
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT

Publication: April 2015

An old seaplane skims the waves over the Pacific. Onboard are Vito Cortizone, former Don of the New York Mafia forced into early retirement by Spirou and Fantasio; Von Schnabbel, unscrupulous pilot; and a mysterious cargo supposed to turn Cortizone’s fortunes around. But the mafioso is cursed with terrible luck, and the plane ends up at the bottom of an isolated island’s lagoon. When two months later a sailing boat arrives, an unrecognisable Vito sees none other than our two adventurer-reporters come ashore!

I think the first page below shows what I what I meant when I wrote of Papyrus as being cartoony character art but set in a really well drawn world.  Look at those palm trees and that aircraft and last panel -big foot character art!

And wait til you see the aircraft flip in the shark infested water.  Sorry, why do they call this man "Tough Luck Vito"??

It's great story, gags, lovely art and Stephane de Becker's colour work, like many of these European artists, adds more weight to the pages.  Another of those books that I think cover "kids of all ages". Really nice read.

I'm getting old.  I saw Spirous and Fantasio looking around and Vito with a gun behind them and thought "uh-oh!".  It was only on checking the cover a third time -a third time!- that I saw the shark behind Vito.

I need to retire.


Seriously, I COULD Have Bought A House!

As a little postscript to my looking at The Avengers titles I was trying to sort out I have to say "What a ***** mess!"

The current -I say "current" as I don't think it's all ended again as of...oh, I see it has.  Anyway, the last volume of Avengers was volume 6 even though people keep calling it volume 5.  See, the 1963 run was volume 1.  Then there was that awful year long volume 2.  But some do not count that run as a volume but it is. 

Volume 3 was when Busiek and Perez brought back the great stories and art....before others took over. And this is where it gets odd because at around #83 they decided to continue numbering from volume 1 so from #83 you get quite quickly to the final issue -#503.

#503 is the end of volume 3.

Volume 4 has 36 issues and then it moves on to volume 5 which goes to #34.  Volume 6 is The Avengers NOW run which is currently/has ended.

New Avengers volume 1runs to #64.  Volume 2 runs to #34 and New Avengers NOW is volume 3. 

Avengers-Invaders, Avengers Ultron Imperative, Avengers Next, Last Hero Standing and Last Planet Standing are part of the "alternative future" Avengers that featured J2, et al.  Those three mini series along with Marvel Adventures The Avengers were probably the most fun style comics in Marvel's last 20+ years.

Oh, there was also -deeep breath:

 Avengers Finale, Avengers Strike-Force, Secret Avengers (vol. 1 -34 issues), Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes (vols. 1 and 2), Dark Avengers, Avengers Infinity Gauntlet (4 issues), Avengers Terminatrix Objective, Avengers Unplugged (4 issues), Avengers -Thunderbolts, The Last Avengers Story (2 issues), Avengers Classic, Avengers V X-Men, A v X (mini series), Avengers Domination Factor (4 issues), Avengers v Agents of Atlas, Avengers-Transformers, Young Avengers, Young Avengers Presents.....

This is overkill unlike any previous comics overkill such as with Superman, X-Men or, good grief -even outdoes Batman and Spiderman overkill.

And I never even touched on The Ultimate Avengers.

There are a few "key issues"  as dealers like to call them.  They are issues they can exploit and try to screw every red penny out of one of those new moronic comic geeks.  The rest?  Well, I've now had FOUR people telling me that selling comics by the kilo is what a lot of people do now because they are like 1920s Deutsch Marks -a barrel load got you, if you were lucky, a loaf of bread.  Sell by bulk and the buyer picks the ones he wants and the rest....he doesn't care.  Bin. Burn.

Really, I know all the ins and outs, I've been buying and reading comics for near on 50 years and to sit here and look at these boxes and realised I could have purchased a house if only I had saved and not bought comics!!

Spread the word.  The Comic Bubble is about to burst -SELL YOUR COMICS WHILE YOU CAN!!!


Tilda Swinton To Be "The Ancient One" In Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’??

Hahahahahahahahahaha--oh.  You're being serious?

Talk about sticking it to the fans. Great actress but just WTF????????????????

According to Variety: http://variety.com/2015/film/news/tilda-swinton-doctor-strange-cast-benedict-cumberbatch-1201506594/
Tilda Swinton Doctor Strange
Cindy Ord/Getty Images
Tilda Swinton is in talks to co-star with Benedict Cumberbatch in Marvel’s “Doctor Strange"
Scott Derrickson is directing the comicbook movie.

Cumberbatch will play Stephen Vincent Strange, a former neurosurgeon who becomes the next Sorcerer Supreme and primary protector of Earth against magical and mystical threats. Marvel Comics vets Stan Lee and Steve Ditko co-created the character in 1963. Strange’s mentor is a Tibetan mystic known as the Ancient One, who is training pupils to be the next Sorcerer Supreme. In the comics, the character has been a male, and Marvel Studios was initially searching for a male actor. Given Swinton’s interest in the film, however, the studio has now rethought the role.

“Doctor Strange” will debut on Nov. 4, 2016.

The news was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.
Above: Dr Stephen Strange and The Ancient One when he still had a willy.  A todger. A John Thomas. A...get it right?

Cinebook The 9th Art; Papyrus 6 - The Amulet of the Great Pyramid

  Papyrus 6 - The Amulet of the Great Pyramid
Author: De Gieter
Age: 8 years and up
Size: 21.7 x 28.7 cm
Number of pages: 48 colour pages
ISBN: 9781849182409
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT

Publication: February 2015

Drawn by strange cries coming from the necropolis at the foot of the pyramids, Papyrus comes face to face with Anubis, the god of the dead. The jackal-headed god, angered by a rash of grave robbing, orders the young Egyptian to enter the Great Pyramid and retrieve there the heart scarab of Kheops. But the pyramid is already 1000 years old to Papyrus, and robbers have long ago desecrated it. The young boy will have to search it from top to bottom.

I think this was one of the first European books I saw from Cinebook that showed a rather cartoony figure style could be employed in amongst wonderfully drawn Egyptian architecture and scenes from daily life.

Of course, there is some history thrown in, Anubis gets to appear in a comic (he complains so!) and young Papyrus has to face snakes and other dangers.  The series is very enjoyable and I would, again, write that this title is "suitable for kids of all ages".  And, incidentally, the colour work by B. Swysen is excellent and adds to each scene.