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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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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Now WHY Would So Many People Be Checking Out This Review? A Re-post:Titan Books:The Secret Service -Kinsman

The Secret Service - Kingsman

Millar & Vaughn
Art: Dave Gibbons
Full Colour
160 pp
US Trade Size
ISBN: 9781781167038
£9.99   
Available 1st April, 2014

http://titanbooks.com/the-secret-service-kingsman-6985/

Gary’s life is going nowhere. He lives in public housing with his mother and spends his nights carousing with his friends. But Gary’s Uncle Jack has taken a different path of glamour, danger and mystery. 

When Jack has to get his nephew out of trouble, their lives are going to intersect in a way neither of them could have foreseen. From Mark Millar (Kick-Ass) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen).

Soon to be a blockbuster movie!

I would like to make it VERY clear that my garotting the postman for heavily shoving another book through the letter box had absolutely nothing to do with this book.
Firstly, despite what you might read, garotting takes a while and can be a bit noisy.  Cheese-wire is best. Quick and silent.  Nothing written on a blog can be used in evidence, right?
Now the book.....
Well, I saw "Mark Millar" and thought "swear swear swear pointless violence -same old!" The only thing that attracted me to the book was Dave Gibbons.  Most comic readers will only know Gibbons from the super hero comics though he is far, far more versatile.  He is also quite a nice man and has a good streak of humour in him.
So, we have a big time Secret Service uncle who recruits his nephew from the tough council estate -I think most readers might recognise similarities between the "rough area" depicted so well by Gibbons in the book to ones they know.
I know this was first published in Clint magazine (which I've never read) so a collected book is a wonderful thing, baby.  Titan Books have great production quality and when I received this one I thought I might be dismissive of it, even if Gibbons was involved. So?  Well, I browsed though it and then realised I was reading the book straight though...then going back to check things out again. 
Now, I generally browse through a book. Put it down and then look again later.  That I sat down and read it all in one go says a lot for the story and the great art and, I really cannot ignore him -the colour work of Angus McKie which is EXCELLENT.
I am giving away no spoilers.  I even had to select pages to ensure nothing gets given away. This is probably -remember it is only March- one of the best English language books I've received so far this year.  
VERY recommended.

Before Quatermass There Was.....Dene Vernon: Ghost Investigator!

... Though that job description was flexible.

Dene Vernon:The Thing Below

Dene Vernon:The Thing Below

W -Terry Hooper-Scharf   A -Gavin Stuart Ross
Paperback, 
A4
Black & White
53 Pages
Price: £8.00
Ships in 3–5 business days

http://www.lulu.com/shop/terry-hooper-scharf/dene-vernonthe-thing-below/paperback/product-21918919.html

Dene Vernon the first UK comic book investigator of the supernatural faces his greatest challenge as he investigates and confronts The Thing Below London. Classic British horror set in the ruins of blitzed London docks in 1949.

Dene Vernon was one of those unique characters from the Gerald Swan "Swan Comics" -created and drawn by Jock McCail.  Swan seemed to specialise, whether he realised it or not, in characters steeped in the supernatural -Krakos The Egyptian being one of the others.  Stories of the true ghost hunters -some VERY scary- used to make newspaper news in the old days.  Harry Price, Elliott O'Donnell and a selected few others were well know household names.   Vernon is of that ilk.

In his time he dealt with supernatural curses, horrifying hauntings and, later when the whole thing exploded into the public consciousness, flying saucers.

In 1996 I wrote a script that was intended for D. C. Thomson (let's not go there)  and then Egmont showed interest...and decided it didn't want to do comics -a policy it has stuck to in the UK.  So, ITV thought it might make a good TV series....deregulation of TV killed that.  The BBC....well, if they ever followed through on anything it was a miracle.

Gavin Stuart Ross had been in touch with me a long time before and eventually drew the Chung Ling Soo series of Victorian mystery comics (there is a collection you know).  I thought, perhaps, if I begged, Gavin might give Dene Vernon a try.  He did and so Dene Vernon: The Thing Below came into being.  Finally!

It has been said many times that "horror is best in black and white" and that is true.  I cherish my old Charlton horror/ghost comics and German Spuk Geschichten and Gespenster Geschichten but black and white horror is king.

Incidentally, though it does not mean you will have to buy it as all BTCG books are stand alone, in The Green Skies you will learn exactly why Vernon is recovering and "not quite the same" any more.  That's a teaser.

But Dene Vernon: The Thing Below is just for you horror fans -it even has a slight Quatermass feel to it. Don't believe me?  Buy a copy and see!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

"I Just Do NOT Want To Sort Through This Box!"

And with those words....I sorted through the box.

Go figure.

Papers, journals....hello....a piece of artwork?

Wow.  It was the original, pre-Letraset lettering, 1986 Black Tower ad that I thought had been lost years ago.  Featured are Wildmane, Runestone (the flying guy with the big moustache if you have never -WHAT?!- read a Black Tower book before) and to their rear, Team Nippon's own Red Dragon (when Black Tower had a super hero group).

You see -you can make surprise finds!


Actress Geraldine McEwan dies

BBC News Online

Geraldine McEwan  
 
Geraldine McEwan died following a stroke, her family said
 
Actress Geraldine McEwan, known for playing Agatha Christie sleuth Miss Marple on ITV, has died aged 82, her family have said.

She died on 30 January following a stroke at the end of October, her family said.

She appeared as Miss Marple from 2004 until 2009.

The Bafta award winner had a long and successful career in theatre, television and films.

Her son Greg and daughter Claudia said in a statement: "Following a stroke at the end of October and a period in hospital, Geraldine McEwan passed away peacefully on January 30.

"Her family would like to thank the staff at Charing Cross Hospital who cared for her incredibly well."

Actors she worked with during her career included Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Williams, and she won a Bafta TV award for best actress in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.


Geraldine McEwan as Marcella in Troy Kennedy Martin's exciting thriller "The Man Without Papers",  
 
She played Marcella in Troy Kennedy Martin's thriller The Man Without Papers in 1965.
 
 
Geraldine McEwan  
 
She also played Miss Rose Farnaby in the 1990s comedy series Mulberry

Tempus fugit

2015 -Hey, It's Buy Black Tower Books Year. Honest.

 From Monday I will be running a good few adverts on CBO to promote Black Tower Comics & Books since this is, after all, my blog!

Also,  I need to start saving for my retirement!

So first off, today, here is the excellent Dark Night Detectives  by Ben R. Dilworth.  Makes Soylent Green and Blade Runner look like kiddy stories.

The Dark Night Detectives
Ben R. Dilworth
 Paperback
A4
Black & White
50 Pages
Price: £8.00
Its a world where if you stand up for what is right you'll be lucky if its just a beating you get. A world where people are starving (if poor) and the rich live in luxury. 
 
A world where you have to have birthing Rights. Where sacrificing someone to the Devil is acceptable -as long as they pay the wages. 
 
A world where if you DO NOT take that bribe you WILL be made an example of. 
 
Some of Ben Dilworth's most provoking and dark work in ages.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Rod McKuen, 'King of Kitsch', dies aged 81

One of my favourites. Sad news again -bbc news Online

Rod McKuen  
 
 
 
McKuen reached the peak of his popularity in the late '60s and '70s
Populist poet and prolific songwriter Rod McKuen has died at the age of 81.


Known as the 'King of Kitsch', he died in Los Angeles of respiratory arrest after suffering from pneumonia.

A Grammy winner and double Oscar nominee, McKuen worked with a string of household names including Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand.

His best-known song was arguably Seasons in the Sun, a number one hit in the US for Terry Jacks. He later wrote for Madonna's Ray of Light album.

The artist was co-credited on Madonna's track Drowned World/Substitute for Love, which borrowed from McKuen's Why I Follow the Tigers.


Seasons in the Sun - like another of his compositions, If You Go Away - was an English-language reworking of a song by McKuen's idol, French artist Jacques Brel.


"It was like winning the Nobel and the Lottery on the same afternoon”
Rod McKuen on working with Frank Sinatra
 
McKuen earned two Oscar nominations, one for the song Jean, from 1969 film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and another for the song score of 1970 Peanuts movie A Boy Named Charlie Brown.

He clinched his only Grammy, for best spoken word recording, for his Lonesome Cities album, one of nine albums to chart between 1968 and 1971.

Of his collaboration with Sinatra - on the album A Man Alone - he wrote, in 1999: "You can imagine how excited I was when Frank Sinatra asked me to write an original album for him.

"What could possibly be nicer, more flattering and challenging than being commissioned by the world's most inventive and popular singer to write and compose something, let alone a whole album.

"It was like winning the Nobel and the Lottery on the same afternoon. Scintillating and scary."
The album included one of McKuen's most popular hits, Love's Been Good to Me.

Dolly Parton, Chet Baker, Glen Campbell and Dusty Springfield are among many artists to have recorded his material.
Rod McKuen  
McKuen's song compositions were used in major film and TV productions, including The Borrowers and Cheers
 
 
In the US at least, though, he remains best known for his poetry. He published 30 volumes in all, including the best-selling Listen to the Warm.

Born in California in 1933, McKuen ran away from home at 11 to escape an abusive stepfather. He worked as a stuntman, cowboy and DJ before settling in San Francisco, where he began writing poetry.
The St James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture describes McKuen as having been, at his height, "the unofficial poet laureate of America".

In an article in 2008, the Guardian claimed he was the world's most widely-read poet. "It was in that crossover between lyrics and poetry that he flourished," wrote Ben Myers.

"He went from appearing on poetry bills with Kerouac and Ginsberg to being a far greater seller of poetry than either."

"I think it's a reaction people are having against so much insanity in the world," McKuen once said of how his poetry was embraced.

"I mean, people are really all we've got. You know it sounds kind of corny, and I suppose it's a cliche, but it's really true; that's just the way it is."

Time to end on one of my favourite tracks from Rod.....

Tempus fugit

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Ready For A Gag? And, NO -I Do NOT Mean It Like That!!

Back in the early 1990s I wrote  single gags to go into European newspapers and magazines for, amongst others, the German Baaske Agency.  Got paid once and heard no more since -these could be in constant reprint and I'd never know it!

Anyway, I scanned some on the old 1990s computer so quality ain't great but here -see if they give you a smile!

Artist on these was John "Sepp" Schiltz.








X-Men For TV? Fox Gives Disney The Finger ....which has a totally different meaning in the UK than in the US!

This item, posted over at Pastemagazine: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/01/fox-wants-a-live-action-x-men-television-series.html  seems to indicate that Disney (Marvel) are not going to get their characters back any time soon. 

After all, Fox has seen how many bucks 'Marvel' super heroes pull in.  Disney would need to buy the US Treasury to buy the franchise back right now.

Anyway, over to the marvelously named Turner Minton.....

Fox Wants a Live-Action X-Men Television Series


Fox Wants a Live-Action <i>X-Men</i> Television Series

Not every superhero saga has to be a multi-million dollar production set for the silver screen.


Today, multiple comic book adaptations are heading for the living room. The CW network has a nice crossover set-up going between Arrow and The Flash, a leap and bounds better than their early experimental days with Smallville. Netflix has recently ordered the first season of Daredevil, which is set to premiere its first episode April 10. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter seem to be doing well for themselves on ABC. Now, Fox is looking to get in on the action with a live-action version of X-Men, according to an exclusive from Collider.


Hold your horses moviegoers. Before anyone gets carried away, the series is in early development and should not interfere with any plans to complete the popular film franchise. With cast negotiations settling down for the latest entry in the film series, X-Men: Apocalypse, the studio is securely placing its bets on viewers wanting more mutants. Although the films have proven box office successes and guaranteed high paychecks for everyone involved, Fox has to believe that the series can’t go on forever. After all, Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine an unprecedented seven times. Although it’s unimaginable to see anyone else in the role of the metallic clawed mutant, audiences can’t expect him to stay young forever, unlike the character he plays.


The new series was first rumored in April of last year when writer/producer Simon Kinberg, who is currently working on the script for X-Men: Apocalypse, talked about the possibility of a X-Men television series coming to the Fox network with Collider editor Steve Weintraub:


“We’re still in this place of figuring out what the future of the franchise will be but when you look at S.H.I.E.L.D. to some extent and what Marvel is doing now with Daredevil and other shows on Netflix, it makes sense to tell some of these stories in TV partly because there’s just not enough screens to do all these characters and also because the serialized format of comic books is better suited for TV. Because that’s it, every week you come back to the same characters, different story, and in comic books every week it’s the same characters, different story. I think what [Fox is] seeing now is with the proliferation of new kinds of visual and special effects, there’s a way to make these stories that doesn’t cost $300 million every time you have to make a huge movie.”


The esteemed studio will have a few hurdles to jump over if it is going to get the show jumpstarted. The current deal between the studio and Marvel doesn’t include the rights to make a television adaptation of the Stan Lee comic series. Fox Entertainment Chairman Gary Newman had the following to add concerning the negotiations with Marvel:


“We’re cautiously optimistic, we had a good meeting with them. That will not be on a fast track creatively. This is just the deal, now we have to find the creative.”


Audiences have to be as cautiously optimistic about the promise of such a live-action series. On the one hand, the lower production value could diminish the value of the comic books with the lack of attentive action sequences. On the other hand, there should be an increased story arc leaning toward character development. Finally, the long-awaited love triangle between Jean Grey, Cyclops and Logan will get all the attention it needs.


The only question left to ask is how the series will be handled. Right now, the film series is trending towards a focus on the younger lives of the heroes, a step in the opposite direction of how the series got its start. With such a large cast to fill, the stars will most likely be unknown or lesser known celebrities. Ideally, no matter how the series approaches the content, the work will remain faithful to its source material.

Black Tower Overseas Licensing?

Posting no. 82 for January -happy Bob?

As 2015 is going to be my last fully active year in comics -though, like Bond, I never say "never again"- I need to make some money.  Seriously, if any overseas publisher is interested in publishing Black Tower books under licence then please get in touch -derails in the About section at the top of page.

Remember that BTCG books are black and white and I do NOT provide a translation service.

I've been asked a couple of times about an interview well, my usual objections I'm throwing aside for this year so....

That's it.  Now I need to go draw!

Welcome To Post No. 81

It's interesting that France and Germany have been in the top five sources for views of CBO.  Germany tends to drop off and back to 4th, 5th or 6th place while France has at times exceeded views from the United States or United Kingdom.

But though France seems to be providing a steady source of CBO views Bulgaria has gradually been creeping up the positions so that, today (it's 1325 hrs here in the UK) it is the country producing the highest number of hits.  Yes, Bulgaria is Number 1 in the CBO chart!

Thank you, Bulgaria.


Our good friends at Lambiek (which you should really all be checking out) provided a guide, albeit brief,to Bulgarian comicshere: http://www.lambiek.net/comics/bulgarian.htm

What comics, if any, are being published in Bulgaria today I have no idea.  I do know that in Sofia there is Elephant Bookstore (? if I remember correctly) and a comic museum opened in 2014 -I hope I'm remembering this all correctly as I have too much junk in my head.

Bulgaria -YOU NEED BLACK TOWER COMICS!  That or a company to reprint them under licence!

So, welcome, Bulgaria and if there is comic media news you would like to see more of on CBO get in touch.  Or want people to know about your comics?  I'm an easy going guy!