There is a reason I'm re-posting this here from the original CBO site so bear with me.
Back in the 1970s I was young,foolish and so desperately wanted to be a comic book publisher. One day a friend working at BBC TV Pebble Mill phoned me and said:”Stan Lee is going to be on Pebble Mill At One-can you get to Birmingham?”
Pebble Mill At One was a chat/features show that went out at 1p.m. each day and Stan Lee was only “guaranteed” for that show’s duration. Could I get there? Yes!
Well,that was the plan. There used to be an old newsagents/tobacconist on Newfoundland Road before it became part of the motorway into Bristol. The owner at the time,Reg,didn’t like distributors of magazines and comics for reasons I never learned. When I asked I was told,in amongst the coughing,”Theyz all a buncha bastids”. Anyway,I got a good few of my Charlton Comics in there and Reg loved horror comics. I mentioned going to Pebble Mill and Reg told me he had to “pop up to” Leicester on that day to pick up new issues of a comic -he could drop me by Pebble Mill?
Well,leaving early we got to Thorpe & Porter and if you bought comics in the UK the “T&P” stamped on those comics meant they were distributed and repackaged in some cases by Thorpe & Porter. I got chatting with one of the managers there and within half an hour I was talking to bosses with a cup of tea getting colder by the minute as I asked question after question.
“Kid in a sweet shop”
I missed Stan Lee. I’m sure he’ll forgive me. But I got into regular correspondence with people at T&P and paid a few more visits with Reg [who would also have nothing to do with management -apparently they were all "Bastids" as well!
On one visit I had plucked up enough courage to ask about buying rights to horror strips -T&P were repackaging Tales From The Tomb,Terror Tales and others [as well as Official UFO which had interests for me]. I was told that T&P were cutting back and the black and white horror comics were going and if I wanted I could buy the rights but I’d have to reprint from printed comic stock and not use the strip combinations they had used.
I was in a cold sweat. By today’s standards £100 isn’t much but in the 1970s it was a small fortune. I sold loads of items and duly got the rights. However,printers then asked for more and more money as they claimed this-and-that had to be “tweaked in house”. So,I was there with a comic but it would be too expensive to print.
I asked Alan Class about his printers and he gave me the details. Their rates were very reasonable. Then,out of the blue,I heard from T&P:it seemed I’d have to also negotiate with the original publisher in the US. This was a shock to me. I thought all the work belonged to T&P and no one ever mentioned a US publisher. Apparently,T&P were notorious for these,uh,oversights.
I wrote a long letter to MF Enterprises and I sat back nervously awaiting a reply. One week turned into two and then three. I really thought I’d sold a great many things and paid out money for nothing. It was a depressing month.
On the fourth week the telephone rang at 2 a.m. -either someone was ill or had died [no one ever calls that time of night about anything else!]. I’m assuming that it was a loud New York [?] voice that greeted my nervous “hello?”. Apparently,I was talking to Myron Fass who told me he’d gotten my letter and read it through and told me I’d gotten a “shitty deal” from T&P. I was regaled by talk of pulp SF publishing and how he’d made a good $4 million dollars on a magazine about the Kennedy Assassination and how he was making fast bucks with porn books.
At thispoint I ought to point out that I was wondering why he was telling me all of this and was he impressing me before telling me to take a hike?
Then came the crunch. Mr Fass said he’d read what I’d sent him [a proposal of how I intended to use the strips and so forth] and it looked good –a brief moment of thinking he was going to offer to publish the title was soon dashed. He said he’d noted I was going to add a super hero strip into the comic to draw in fans of that genre [a bad idea that I'd never try today!] and asked if I had a super hero comic strip? I said I was still looking. There was a laugh and a “Kid,yer lucky” ["kid"??]. He then told me how he had a super hero that had been a hit in the 1960s called Captain Marvel.
Here I immediately thought of Fawcett’s Captain Marvel. I asked if he meant that character? I was told that the Captain Marvel he’d published was far more popular and original. After five minutes of talking from him I had agreed to pay a sum for the horror strip rights in the UK [using the T&P provided art pages] and Captain Marvel.
The money was sent and then I hit the major snag. I was told Marvel Comics would sue if I used the name Captain Marvel. In fact,when I tried to clarify the position I learned that DC comics owned Captain Marvel [Fawcett's] and they would sue. I was young,inexperienced and out of money and in it deep.
So,I still have the horror pages and I have the Captain Marvel pages [though issue #1 pages are missing after 30 years] but never used them.
Of course,I only learned in the 1990s about the man known as Myron Fass. The business partner beating,gun-toting,wheeler-dealer. I have to say,though,at the time he was very nice but loud,as I expected Americans to be. I was in awe.
In fact,I wonder whether I had a lucky escape. I was typing this and wondered whether there was anything on the internet about him. There is! So,to learn more of the legend visit: