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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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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Yeah, We HAVE Been Here Before: ‘Ultron Forever’ assembles time-traveling Avengers team


This posting by Noelene Clark at LATimes caught my eye.http://herocomplex.latimes.com/comics/exclusive-ultron-forever-assembles-time-traveling-avengers-team/ 

 Noelene Clark  @NoeleneClark

Visit the site for more images/links
The color cover for "Avengers: Ultron Forever" No. 1, the first of three oversized comic issues written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Alan Davis. (Marvel Entertainment)
The color cover for “Avengers: Ultron Forever” No. 1, the first of three oversized comic issues written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Alan Davis. (Marvel Entertainment)


Marvel is assembling a team of time-traveling Avengers from the past, present and future to fight mega-villain Ultron in three oversized comics, slated for release just in time for the much anticipated Marvel Studios blockbuster “Avengers: Age of Ultron” next spring.

The 90-page “Ultron Forever” story, which will unfold in “Avengers: Ultron Forever” No. 1, “New Avengers: Ultron Forever” No. 1 and “Uncanny Avengers: Ultron Forever” No. 1, aims to introduce casual readers to the robot baddie in addition to appealing to devoted fans’ nostalgia. And since comic book newcomers are more familiar with the big-screen incarnations of Marvel’s mightiest than the African American Captain America and female Thor currently in the pages of comics, time travel seemed a clever way to bring more familiar versions of the superheroes to the story, said Tom Brevoort, Marvel senior vice president of publishing and executive editor.

The “Ultron Forever” books, to be penned by Al Ewing (“Loki: Agent of Asgard,” “Mighty Avengers”) and illustrated by comics veteran Alan Davis, will gather the current iterations of Black Widow, the Vision and the female Thor as well as classic versions of Thor and the Hulk, James “Rhodey” Rhodes as Iron Man, and a never-before-seen future Captain America — the daughter of Netflix-bound Marvel heroes Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. They are ostensibly transported through time via Doctor Doom’s time machine in order to defeat Ultron, though there might be more to their arrival than is initially revealed, Ewing said.

The tale is set some 50 years from now in a dystopian future in which Ultron, an automaton hellbent on destroying humanity, has won. The scene was set in the recent Jonathan Hickman-written “Avengers” No. 31, tied to the “Original Sin” story line.


“It was a happy accident that Jonathan had just set that world of the future up, that Ultron-dominated world, because when we were thinking about this, it was sort of low-hanging fruit,” Brevoort said. “From what little we’ve already seen, that’s a world in which there are no heroes, so the idea that in order to face the threat of Ultron, you’d have to cast into the past and pull the great heroes of history gave us immediately a setup that fit for the kind of story we were trying to do.”

Ewing, who is still in the process of creating the plot for the “Ultron Forever” books, said the new tale will offer an explanation for Hickman’s strange future, which saw future Thor calling Ultron the “All Father” (the name usually refers to the god Odin).

“We find a bit more about why Thor is serving Ultron.… The robot, cyborg-type Avengers are serving Ultron, and we learn there’s a small cadre of human beings,” said Ewing, who got his start at Marvel writing Ultron-related stories for “Avengers Assemble” tie-ins. “Ultron is fun because you can kind of decide how human or inhuman he is. He can either be this completely soulless machine, or he can be this rambling madman who happens to be a robot. He kind of meets the needs of the story that way.”

And in this particular story, Ewing’s Ultron is more than a little mad.

“He’s achieved all his goals, and he’s kind of become this godlike figure,” Ewing said. “It’s almost like humanity is just this resource for him now, but at the same time, he’s enjoying lording it over them.… He’s enjoying pulling the wings off the fly, so to speak, and really taking his time over his final victory.”
Gathering a team of Avengers to face the robotic supervillain was a particular pleasure for Ewing, who had freedom to choose from an expansive roster of larger-than-life characters from all of Marvel’s 75-year history.

“My first thing with teams is if you put two of them in a room together, have you got a story? And I think with this bunch, it’s definitely true,” Ewing said. “There are in the story reasons why they’ve been taken from the particular times and places they have been. It turns out to have bearing on the story.”


A page from "Avengers: Ultron Forever" No. 1, the first of three oversized comic issues written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Alan Davis. (Marvel Entertainment)
A page from “Avengers: Ultron Forever” No. 1, the first of three oversized comic issues written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Alan Davis. (Marvel Entertainment)

Ewing, whose first introduction to Marvel superheroes was the landmark 1984 “Secret Wars” story line, chose the Iron Man and Thor of his childhood.

“Growing up, I didn’t particularly care who Tony Stark was — it was Jim Rhodes, this guy who was with the rest of the superheroes on this little alien planet fighting each other,” Ewing said. “So yeah, I do kind of want to have him back in the red and yellow, because it’s a nice nostalgic thing for me, and it’ll be good for a bunch of readers who remember that whole era.”

Ewing also chose the iteration of Thor popularized by writer-artist Walter “Walt” Simonson in the 1980s, with a big beard and blue and gold armor.

“It’s what I grew up with,” Ewing said. “I won’t spoil exactly which one, but it’s kind of important the particular time during the Walt Simonson run he’s been taken from.”

Walt Simonson’s Thor will come face to face with the lady Thor from Jason Aaron’s current run, though her identity will likely still be a mystery when “UItron Forever” is published, Brevoort said. And there will be at least one other Thor incarnation, Ewing said, joking, “It’s a smorgasbord of Thors.”

They will be joined by a pre-Avengers, Stan Lee version of the Hulk from the early 1960s — with three toes and a penchant for calling people “palookas,” Ewing said.

From the present are current versions of Black Widow and the Vision, two characters who have yet to interact in any meaningful way, Brevoort said.

“That’s a mismatched pair. For all that, in the comics, they’ve both been Avengers for a considerable amount of time, I can’t think of a lot of situations, circumstances or adventures that they’ve experienced together,” Brevoort said. “So here, they are sort of a strange odd couple duo.… They have a common bond that they’re both from today, and theoretically, that’s the same bond the reader has.”

And from the future comes a brand new version of Captain America, Danielle Cage — the grown-up daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, who is currently an infant in the comics.

“She’s very strong, and she’s as bulletproof as her mom and dad were,” Ewing said. “She has the Captain America shield with an anti-gravity unit in it, which she can sort of control with a unit on her glove. I’m going back to the days of the ‘60s where, for about five minutes, Captain America worked his shield with magnets. She’s not throwing the shield so much as flying it out, and then it ricochets off of people and comes back to her. It’s pretty cool.”

As the team member from the future, Dani possesses knowledge of the Avengers’ futures and offers some clues throughout the story.

“She keeps calling the Black Widow ‘Madame Natasha,’ and she’s just hinting that in the future, the Black Widow’s this sort of old-school Nick Fury figure, directing the future Avengers. And the last time we would have seen her from Black Widow’s perspective was attending her first birthday.”

Brevoort said the new, half-African-American, female Captain America could stick around in comics if she is well-received.

“Whether or not that infant will grow up to be that character in the course of our stories is part of the ongoing soap opera that we tell,” he said. “What tends to happen is we’ll do a story like this, and if the character clicks with people, we tend to do more of them.… She’s a good character, and if she bounces off the page in the way that we hope she will, then we’ll be able to do more.”


And with artist Alan Davis at the helm, she won’t lack for opportunity to pop on the page.

“He’s a world-renowned comic master,” Brevoort said. “He’s been in the business long enough to illustrate some of these characters from when they were new characters from the past. He is an excellent fundamental superhero artist who’s pretty much done it all and can do it all very, very well.”

Working with Davis inspires Ewing to reach for more grandiose moments and ambitious plot elements in planning “Ultron Forever,” the writer said.

“I seem to be writing a lot more expansive vistas and big spreads and big action moments — all the things I’d like to read in an Alan Davis comic — whereas usually I’m not thinking quite so epically,” Ewing said. “I grew up reading his stuff, so it’s a massive honor for me. I’m hoping so far I’m doing all right by him. I send him the plot, and I just get back these wonderful pages of art, which I then have to dialogue in a way that does them some kind of justice, and it’s kind of a dream come true, really.”

Brevoort said the three “Ultron Forever” issues will be released between April and May, “right in the umbra of the lead up to the film,” which opens in theaters May 1, 2015.

“The tremendous success of these films means far, far more people are aware of and interested in these characters and the stories that go on with them,” Brevoort said. “So as people are getting excited and seeing the latest ‘Age of Ultron’ trailer, these comics will be coming out to whet their appetite for the film and to feed their hunger for information as to what the big robot guy with the strings is all about.”

 __________________________________________________________________________

Now, yes, I am excited that Alan Davis is working on this but to be honest it is very unlikely I will buy the book.  Brevoort....my mother always said I might live to see crap talk.  Anyway, apart from that this has to be THE most original storyline Marvel has come up with since Avengers from the past, present and future were adrift in time helping Immortus stop Kang.....oh. Avengers Forever -one of the best ever Marvel series that tied up all Avengers continuity and was very quickly shat on BY Marvel.



Oh come on -Di$ney are rechurning these ideas over and over and the cash cow Ultron is going to be milked beyond belief....I mean, what the feck was Age of Ultron about???   Guess what -there were 13 tie-ins to that four month long piece of crap (according to a lot of readers with brains it was crap and some were die-hard Marvel geeks!).  I wonder how many tie-ins there will be for this one.

This is just continuing the Science Fiction bender Marvel is on -time travel, robots, blah blah blah.

Why don't they just get it over with and do the Star Wars-Avengers cross-over?  Now, I do not normally give out too much of what I hear from people working in comics (even though I have in the past and I've been spot on every single time and months in advance of "official" announcements but what the heck) but there is a Star Wars-Avengers comic treatment at Di$ney.  But can you imagine money leeching executives at Di$ney (please there is NO "Marvel") if there was a Star Wars-Avengers/Guardians Of The Galaxy movie?  Forgive the language but even the mere thought of the cash from what would put them in hospital for the permanent erections they'd get.

You folks enabled Di$ney.  It's as bad as enabling a junkie, alcoholic or, well, insert your own choice of bad.

The House of Unoriginality cashes in again.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

I Am Away!

In my mind anyway.  Totally and utterly exhausted with comics.  Face Book tells me I've reached a new milestone -"100 Likes".  I'd much prefer 100 sales.

Might be back who knows.

Antony and the Johnsons - I Fell In Love With a Dead Boy

Used for the fan video of Torchwood when Capt Jack Harkness met the real Capt Jack Harkness in WW 2.  This is an incredible song.                

I Can Now Breath A Sigh Of Relief!


Yes, it's taken all morning but the online store has been upgraded and all books re-priced.

It's ridiculous to think people have been able to buy 50-60-70 and even 80 and 100 pagers for £6.00-£7.00 for six years or so.  That is just so ludicrously cheap and, yes, practically give-aways.  I wanted to give potential readers a bargain and a good read.

I just got a poke in the eye back.

Well, all prices have been updated to be more realistic so if you never bought that book you 'wanted' at the old price -tough.

Thinking about it, I really do think that the lack of comic education is why people are scared of even picking up Black Tower Books.  They have sturdy, glossy covers and are in the A4 format -standard European Comic Album format.  What they generally see are A5/Digest, US comic size or book style publications. Even at last Saturday's disaster, looking around, I could see nothing like my books.

But for Black Tower graphic novels, prose books and others, A4 is standard.  I'm not going to spend months re-sizing just to please the eye of the dilettante comic buyers.

I stick by quality and, despite prices changes, a very good cover price for buyers.

The GREAT Screamin Jay Hawkins - I´m Lonely - Live 1999

Interlude.....Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Little Demon

While I finish repricing books on the online store and sort out the total **** up lulu.com has made of some files and not even told me about (nice) time for an interlude.  Normal service will resume as soon as possible.

The Raging River Of Responses.

Comments are enable, right?  Yes.  Hmm.

Well I am guessing that my postings and reviews from Saturday to last night have left the comics industry in a whirlwind of-of......

Let's face it: no one was interested.  I try and try and postings on the comics industry -the troubles and tribulations- do appear to be popular.  They tend to get very high viewing figures.  But thoughts? Responses? Not a one.  You do know that I could just as well go sit in the bathroom and say these things aloud to myself which is satisfying but does not take a lot of typing/editing?

Hmm.  From now on I am going to review books while seated 'pon the lavvie.  You don't hear my reviews then that is your fault.

Honestly.  Burned out.  Type/post and just watching the visitor numbers climb is boring beyond belief.  Should be a lesson there for me.  My books go the same way.  Years of research, editing, typing, editing and then design followed by publishing and...no one reads them.

Will I be back?

Who knows.

Who knows, indeed.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAkoff koff....oh my throat....

Wonder Woman Movie - Breaking Bad Director Michelle MacLaren

More movie news.  Hmmm. Could it be these people flock to the big budget super hero flicks because they KNOW it will mean big bucks and huge publicity?

Michelle MacLaren has signed on to direct ‘Wonder Woman’ for Warner Bros according to fresh reports.

The Hollywood Reporter claim the Canadian was always the studio’s first choice, and will guide the project with Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder and Charles Roven on board as producers.
Wonder Woman Hires Breaking Bad Director Michelle MacLaren

MacLaren has had her hand in a number of major television shows, having directed four episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’, three episodes of ‘The Walking Dead and eleven episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’, which she also executively produced from season three.

She also produced 46 episodes of ‘The X-Files’ at the turn of the century.
‘Wonder Woman’ is Warner Bros’ first major property to launch following the release of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ in 2016, and will star Gal Gadot as the Amazonian superhero. Gadot will make her debut as the character in the ‘Man of Steel’ follow-up.MacLaren is the third director to be brought into Warner Bros’ growing DC Comics Universe after Snyder and ‘Suicide Squad’ director David Ayer.

image
THR says Warner Bros had felt pressure to hire a woman to direct due to Wonder Woman’s theme of female empowerment, but were concerned that no woman has ever directed a CG-laden big comic book tentpole movie.

Thankfully they ignored the pressure and hired MacLaren anyway, who aside from being a woman is also clearly qualified to handle such a big production. 

Recent reports suggested that the ‘Wonder Woman’ films will act as prequels to the character’s introduction in ‘Dawn of Justice’ – with solo films set in the early 20th Century, including World War Two.

‘Wonder Woman’ will be released on June 23 2017.

Picture Credits: WENN/Warner Bros/DC Comics

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Oscar Isaac Lands Villain Role In X-Men: Apocalypse

Yeah, at first I read "Oscar Pistorius".  I come from another century!

After landing a role in ‘Star Wars VII’ it looks as though the up and coming star will be heading to the ‘X-Men’ universe… as he takes the title role in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’.


X-Men: Apocalypse - Oscar Isaac lands villain role


Not content with nabbing a role in the galaxy far, far away it looks as though Oscar Isaac is determined to conquer modern geek culture. And now the actor has reportedly signed up for the upcoming ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ as the movie’s big, bad villain.

According to Variety, the 35-year-old Guatemalan-born American actor has nabbed the role of Apocalypse in the upcoming ‘X-Men’ sequel.

“Oscar Isaac will be playing the titular comic book villain in 20th Century Fox’s ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’,” they revealed. “[Bryan] Singer has described the upcoming ‘X-Men’ film, which is expected to feature all cast members including Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy, as the most destructive movie in the franchise.”

Of course, Apocalypse has already taken to the big screen in a post credit teaser after the recent ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’. But while the scrawny-looking mutant was busy with his newfound pyramids, it looks likely that he’ll bulk up a bit for the upcoming sequel.

“‘Apocalypse’ will have more of the mass destruction that ‘X-Men’ films, to date, have not relied upon,” said Singer in a recent interview. “There’s definitely now a character and a story that allow room for that kind of spectacle.”

Reportedly taking place during the 80s, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ will feature younger versions of the classic ‘X-Men’ characters. And while it seems that ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ has found its villain, the hunt is apparently on for a young Cyclops and Jean Grey.

But will they be able to conquer the mighty Apocalypse? For now, we’ll have to wait and see. Although, if Isaac has to go up against Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, I don’t fancy his chances.

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ heads to cinemas on 19 May 2016.

“The French Laugh At The British At Angouleme –We’ve No Comics Industry!”



And So They Might


And that is a quote, baby.  Not from one person but several including some comic professionals from the UK who will not repeat those words in public because “I just do not want the grief that follows saying that!

Oh, yes. On the old CBO I got the reaction to writing things like this but not just off the top of my head for controversy but fully backed up by facts and statistics.  I once suggested that all UK comic bloggers add a banner to their sites: “Let’s Revive The UK Comic Industry” and the reaction?

I was told I had “a Saviour complex” and a lot worse.  “Oh, so YOU are going to come and save us all?!!”  Really nasty things were written and not just on CBO but on comic blogs and forums.

Let me make this clear (because ALL the postings and responses were kept –a full file of all this is with a solicitor “in case”): I was being attacked because I suggested all of us in UK comics get together and try to rebuild the comic industry as best we could.

At that point I realised that the main problem was that we never really had an industry anyway –the comics business was so crooked that it used to be known to tax people as “the double cooked books with triple layer mud”.  Distributors were no better and often acted in collusion with publishers.

Once the fan-boy got into comics that was it.

But I was asked why I do not include the Small Press as the new comics industry?  Well, I believe that I have written before that it is but it does no real good. It is a dilettante comics industry.

Someone just Googled “Dilettante Comics” to see if they are collectibles.

Now I know people do tend to misconstrue my words even though I try to make them clear so hold on to your lederhosen.

I began drawing as a youngster.  In school I edited the school magazine Starkers The Magazine That Tells The Naked Truth which was in…1971/72?  The title came from the Deputy Head, Mr. Wright –an ex-RAF man and one of the most popular teachers at Greenway Boys School.  I do know that there was/is a magazine by that name from London(?).  Never seen it and I did an internet search recently and cannot find reference to it.  I am positive that I did see it advertised in publications such as Fortean Times (in the old days).

Anyway, one of the school secretaries complained and it was stopped at printing and burned.  Also, the rather pompous religious Head Master disliked immensely that I called it a “zine” –it was NOT a magazine and I kept saying it was a “little magazine –a zine”.

I later did lots of other work with newsletters, magazines, printers and from the late 1970s on, the Small Press world of fanzines.  I have a big collection of Small Press publications –poetry, prose fiction/sci fi as well as fanzines and comics.  Unlike today, the 1980s saw people from all over the UK exchanging their zines and if anyone needed a strip to fill a page or so everyone chipped in.  This was in letter writing days –no internet and phone calls were too expensive.

Also, we all knew comics.  Whether UK weeklies or the US comics from Marvel, DC, Charlton or the rather obscure companies.  And, of course, we all had our Alan Class comics.  Strange to think how many of us were into horror movies and particularly some of the classic black and white movies.  Then again, we were working in a black and white medium.  I was very happy when I also discovered a great many zinesters were fans of Orson Welles because of his masterful use of angles, shadows and the B&W medium.

In other words we were a community without internet and only after the Westminster Comic Marts and other one day events became more popular in the 1980s did any of us meet up.  There is a term you don’t hear these days –“marts” that were, basically, a hall full of people selling comics and zines and creators meeting up.  Going to the Westminster Marts was fun but we must have looked odd: meeting in a corner or on a staircase feeling different types of paper we drew on.  Checking out each others pencils,  pens (one typo and a letter “i” there and I could put a whole new slant on things!), brushes, sniffing inks and pens –checking which were alcohol based or whatever because certain pens combined with certain papers or boards could be very messy. Most of all we talked.

Apart from one or two incidents involving certain people I was never once accused of throwing anyone out of a window or into the Thames.  There were no witnesses. Understand?  NO….WITNESSES.

Most of us were starting work in comics or already working in the medium.  We knew about our subject.  Everything except earning big money!

Mastering a photocopier not to mention paste-ups, removing ghost-lines and so on was not something you had a choice in.  It was what you had to learn if you were in comics.

In the mid-1990s computers started appearing and before you knew it everyone new who came along was thinking they were going to produce and get rich from a Teenage Mutant Turtles or Blade Runner rip off.  And the ‘new pros’ –well some were quite open about using tracing paper to draw their comics.  In the huge stack of news zines and papers I have there are some true horror stories about this.  Stick figures as “a genuine artistic comic medium”…..no, I really never did throw that man in the Thames though he deserved to be.

And it only got worse.  Once the wave of mostly untalented creators vanished they were replaced by those arty farty elitists who believed that only European comics –Bandes Dessinee matter and that everything else was purile.  Those people had been around in the 1980s and we used to call them “bow-tie *******” (this is a family site).  Here is the problem, though. These people only considered Franco-Belgian BD (must NOT call them “comics”!) legitimate.  Spain and Italy had comic industries and though Germany had a small industry that mainly reprinted Franco-Belgian and US comics Bastei Verlag at least had their books going to more than a dozen European countries.

Alan Clark and the late Denis Gifford –particularly Denis- were nastily mocked and their work looked at as “low interest” because, unless it was The Beano, The Dandy, The Eagle were any other publications or creators not in those comics of any worth? Denis had a life long love of comics which the alcohol and dope loving new creators didn’t like.  Despite the lies and rumours I can tell you that Denis did receive and read Small Press publications –including mine.

People who were “names” in the 1980s continued to hang on in though, and I find it funny, they become media comic luvvies but you go to a Small/Alternative Press event and mention their names and you get blank looks!  But, if as “media luvvies” they get to pay their rent, eat and enjoy life good luck to them. I have no problem with that.

Now while comic Expos –the new “Marts”-  are popping up all over the country it has to be said that, say, 90% have no interest in the Small Press and have never seen a SP comic –and if they have they probably grimaced the same way their mothers do when they find that “odd stain” on the bed sheets (ladies I ask you to submit your own comic slob image).

One comic geek –because TV programmes such as The Big Bang Theory have made comics “hip” and everyone wants to be known or called a comic geek.  Bless, they’ll tire of it after a while.  And everyone is a new comic collector spending money on the ‘cool’ comics that many do not read and a few think that because they were conned  into paying huge amounts for a comic featuring a character(s) from new movies –which they find out are NOT the movie characters- they think will make them rich one day….when every other one of the THOUSANDS of copies of that comic suddenly turn to dust!

Comics toys, cosplay (including those with no knowledge or interest in comics) and TV/Movie merchandise are their world. Honestly, real old style comic fans are driven away from events and their passion by hugely inflated prices of comics and event entry fees.

Then we have the SP/AP people.  Never heard of Stan Lee (other than “Is he that old guy –the character from The Big Bang Theory?”.  Never heard (NEVER) of Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko.  John Romita snr (not Jnr) or John or Sal Buscema?  Gene Colan? John Byrne?  No.  “Oh, they made a comic out of that Avengers film?” –it’s at this point that I usually fall to my knees (which hurts) and raise my fists to the heavens and scream out “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” and some ***** says “Mr Khnan from the TV comedy series? Why –is he okay?”

Honestly, I make a point of talking to these people and most, let’s face it, are at the oldest in their mid-30s so have never known UK comics other than the horrendous merchandise crap with toys attached.  Big names in UK comics –John Cooper? No.  Mike Western?  No.  Terry Hooper-Scharf?  “Didn’t he used to be held hostage somewhere?”  Yes. I have a beard so I’m mistaken for Terry Waite. 

WHAT THE ***** DO YOU MEAN “WHO?”!!!

Well, I suppose at least he kept the handcuffs and radiator.

But these people move in their own little circles.  I never realised that until I started name checking with people.  Some people in zines today do go to various events outside of cliques.  Our own Paul Ashley Brown –doyenne of the Bristol, London and he’s even known outside the UK.

I’m that man on the hill The Beatles sang about.  “Who are the Beatles? What man –Stan Lee?”  Do   not   try    my   patience……..grrrrrrrr

At events you note that exhibitors, if I may call them that, have their own entourages.  Their friends and others go to their tables and talk, buy a zine, talk….Twenty tables in a room with twenty different groupings of mates who might –might- look around and possibly buy things.

These SP/AP people are producing their own comics or zines (some really do have no idea their books are classed as comics!) without having read comics.  Some may have seen what friends have produced and decide to have a go.  Others may have seen something about European comics.  A good few start at art college.  But they have no knowledge of the history of comics and I have genuinely had these young folk say “Well, when did they start comics -1970s or 1980s?”

So we have an ever increasing number of SP/AP events around the UK –in London Dimitri Pieri is a human dynamo at organising events-  but most are independent of one another and some have no knowledge of the other events.

I meet the occasional creator who knows about comics but to a limited degree because, again as I found out from personal experience, most were not born until the 1980s (by which time the UK comic scene was dead) so if they are “doing comics” it is in the US format.  These days I just introduce myself –“I come from the comics world of another century and you may call me…..Methuselah!”

You are getting some of these nuggets of gold, aren’t you?

Most AP/SP people have been to Art School/college or whatever –some are still students and others have full time jobs.  The idea –if it is ever there as anything more than a dream- is to make zines, have fun and if you sell a copy or two –great! Very few actually get to go on to make a living out of their work and when I’ve asked about this in the past I get a furrowed brow and “make a living out of it? “ and they look at me oddly or laugh –and I am fully clothed.

Independent Comics are the same in a way.  A LOT of vanity publishing –you should never pay any publisher to have your work printed.  If it is that good, even if they don’t pay: they should shoulder the costs.  But I did wonder how the same publishers could attend one event after another throughout the year while claiming thay they do not sell enough books to earn a living or pay their creators?  Some do make money but there are a lot of gullible creators out there.

Here is the thing and I observe these things because “its what I do”: the Indie publishers are the same as the AP/SP people.  True most hope for that comic that is going to make them huge sums of money but they, too, have their groupies/entourages who do follow them to events.

You see, Print On Demand (POD) makes it possible for anyone to publish their own comics.  Good quality production in both hardback and paperback.  For Indie/SP/AP there is the buzz of seeing the books printed.  Books with your work in.  You don’t even have to learn all the old skills just use your computer –even print limited runs of zines on your own printer.

Do I get a buzz from publishing my books? No.  It’s hard work and I do it to try to make a living.  At events I tend to be the only person who is doing so professionally. The fact is that everyone else is doing this as a past time because they like doing it and have paying jobs so the “tomato ketchup on toast” meal is something they don’t have to face. 

Do you know that back in the 1980s I regularly went without food for days?  Usually three to four days and a maximum was six days –publishers didn’t care because they tried to hold back your earned cheque as much as possible (Fleetway/Egmont owe me over £5,000 from the 1990s but I’ll never see that!).  Trick is that you drink fluids and when you get food eat lightly.  The idea of a slap-up meal after days of no food is dumb because you will be spending a lot of time in the toilet afterwards!

I’m meandering in my textual …..what am I writing? I should make notes.  And before you ask: NO, printing off copies of bank notes on your printer is no good.  Shops do not accept them and they are illegal….that’s what the police told me.

You pay £25 for a table.  Sell one zine or nothing but you’ve had a good day and met your mates blah blah blah.  Really?  That £25 loss cuts into me. 

The attitude is not a professional one it is an amateur one. I like a lot of these people I meet.  Some are really lovely.  But they are dilettantes.  Nothing wrong with the attitude but it creates a major problem.

You see, if those attending events just go to see their friends and buy their books but do not look around at other tables, maybe a glance of a few seconds, then the people who are selling books to make a living are not.   You carry that over to a hundred events a year, small or large, then you are talking about many thousands of people who, were they more widely interested in comics as in the “old days”, would be looking around, checking other tables and books out (most will not even lift a book off a table let alone look inside) and chatting with creators they do not know.  These days they do not.

And at a comic event you will find “dilettante fan” who only goes for cosplay but not to buy books.  Or the “Nuevo geek” who is only after the “cool” Marvel or DC comics or the merchandise collector.
“Comics” has splintered into factions –one not knowing the other.  In the 1980s/early 1990s, we would buy our Marvel and DCs at a mart or convention but we would also check out and buy SP books.  None of the factions really knows of one another or cares.  Its not “their scene.”  If all of those factions did combine we would have one hell of an industry in the UK.

But that will never ever happen.

The comics background and mindset is now gone and comic ‘geeks’ make fun of or stick up their noses when the SP/AP is mentioned and vice versa.  Totally and utterly ridiculous.

Try to make a living out of comics in the UK gets you no real respect. 

So maybe those French BD people have a point –except they are also suffering from a stuffed shirt attitude.  For decades BD publishers and collectors have looked down their noses at the “poor relations” publishing US comics in French or original French books as now published by Hexagon Comics.  They just ain’t arty.  But the huge success of movies tied to Marvel and DC has made a few BD publishers sit up and take notice because there is nothing more “arty” than the smell of money.  So now they repackage some BD to take advantage and make money from this.

At least, though, they do have a comics industry.  And I so wish Germany would wake up and get in on the act.

For the UK the dilettantes –however sweet- have taken over and it has killed us.

A more happy, warm ending to a miserable depressing posting?

Okay.  A butterfly.  Let’s smash a butterfly on a wheel (5 kudo points to whoever got that 1980s music reference).