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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

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.

UK Comics -What Might Have Been: Maxwell Pergamon Publishing Vs News International

I have already written how, after late businessman Robert Maxwell had purchased Fleetway and made it part of Maxwell Pergamon Publishing, I met up with Maxwell.  He saw that comics could make money and I put a lot of proposals together.

Robert Maxwell

Very nice, genial and joking man but I recall as I left I WAS counting my fingers. There was something too "off" but if he had the money to back UK comics and re-establish the UK as a comic publishing nation who was I to complain?

But talking to an assistant, later, I learnt that, basically, Maxwell wanted his fingers in as many pies as News International boss Rupert Murdoch.  If Murdoch was involved in an industry -whether newspaper, media or sport then Maxwell had to try to outdo him.  And Murdoch vice versa.

I was told that if any representative of News International or Murdoch approached me regarding comic publishing I was to consider myself "being loyal to Mr. Maxwell -and let us know " -which had me imaging brown envelopes full of cash being handed to me in " special deals"  (I was in comics -come on, let me fantasize! )

I did discuss the matter with a couple of the higher ranking Fleetway people who were still at the company.  The advice was to go ahead -" it can't do any more harm can it?"

You see, only afterwards did I realise what was said: "It can't do any more harm..."

Well, we all know what happened to Robert Maxwell http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Maxwell

Oddly, even after Egmont took over Fleetway, things were shaky and I was left unpaid for work to the tune of £5,000.  And I was given the excuse that it was all "Maxwell's fault!"  But Maxwell had died years before and had nothing to do with Egmont-Fleetway!

But I digress.

Maxwell was paranoid about Murdoch who he said he knew -others confirmed it later- was going to jump into comic book publishing.  I even signed an agreement that I was committed to Maxwell Pergamon and would not discuss or advise on publishing comics in the UK (specifically) with News International representatives.

Rupert Murdoch - Flickr - Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer.jpg
 Rupert Murdoch

To be fair, at one point, while in London, I was approached by someone who said he was from News International but despite all his smooth talking I told him I was "under contract" -those magic words shut him up completely but he gave me a number to call "in case".

The interesting thing is that Maxwell had said that he knew Science Fiction (2000 AD) and super heroes were the best genres to jump in to.  He also wanted "the best" creators -"big names if possible but very talented if not".

How different the 1980s-1990s might have been with two battling media giants controlling rival comic publishing houses.  We might even have a comics industry today like any other in Europe. Of course, it would all  have depended on whether this was merely a one-upmanship deal or a serious business project. We'll never know.

This was all brought back to me as I looked through old papers.  I have a rule, based on my "other work", that any correspondence is strictly confidential for thirty years -unless it is needed to provide evidence in a legal case some how.  In fact, I have enough dirt on people in UK comics (letters, faxes etc) that I could quite easily cause them real problems!  The old joke of my body being pulled out of the River Avon and in my hand a note reading "Comic scandal if----" springs to mind.

But I have ethics.  And that makes me wonder how long I might have lasted in a Maxwell controlled comic industry.  Would have been interesting though.