BOOKED! Bristol 2014

 

 

 I’ll be attending this event and, hopefully, looking around for a publisher to take on the prose books.

 
 

After co-producing the SCARDIFF Horror Convention last year and the aniManga POP! show in Plymouth last month, time to add yet another COMIC EXPO style Convention and where better than Bristol to do so….

 

FANTASY EVENTS are delighted to announce the

NEW CONVENTION we are working along side
BACK COVER PROMOTIONS
 
BOOKED!   a book festival  …in a day
 
Which is what it says, special guests, authors, publishers, panels, book launches , Q&A sessions, workshops and much more!
 
A multi channel showcase covering Sci Fi, Fantasy, Romance,
Children’s and
    …. beyond!
 
Expect Novels, Graphics and Live Music!
 
And where else to host the Convention than the old COMIC EXPO
stomping ground of the Ramada  Hotel in Bristol, well the nifty refurbished Double Tree by Hilton ( to use the new name! )
 
Saturday 29th November  is the date to Book BOOKED!
 
Website in now live with 1st wave of  guests, sponsor packages and
exhibitor details and the contact info!
 
 
 
 
 

Pursuing The Strange & Weird:A Naturalists Viewpoint

Pursuing The Strange & Weird:A Naturalists Viewpoint
Paperback,
249 Pages
Price: £15.00
Ships in 3–5 business days
2013 UP DATE -From Dead Aquatic (Humanoid) Creatures, the giant squid and yet undiscovered sea creatures; submarine and ships crews encountering true leviathans. This is a fully expanded section which also refers to the so-called ‘Ningen’ sightings and video footage. Extinct animals at sea that have been re-discovered. The subject of Sasquatch and other mystery Hominids around the world is dealt with including a look at the “Sasquatch-killer”, Justin Smeja. Dr. Bryan Sykes and his DNA test results for TVs The Bigfoot Files as well as the controversial Erickson Project and Dr. Melba Ketchum’s Even more controversial Sasquatch DNA test results. Also included are two early French UFO entity cases that still baffle. Ghosts, strange creatures and the Star-Child hoax. All dealt with by the naturalist and pursuer of the strange and weird
 
 
 

“Reboot”???? Remember The Alamo!!

 

 

The question has allways been, for me, do I ‘reboot’ UK Golden Age comic characters or do I leave them as they were?

Let’s be honest here: there was no big writer-artist teams in UK comics of the 1939-1951 period. No Simon and Kirby’s.  We’ve never really had an idea of what creators were paid in those days but I’m going to guess it was not a great deal.  Comics were cheap, throw-away entertainment that only cost a few pennies.

Gerald Swan is the best known publisher from this period and his attitude seemed to be that there was a huge gap in the market left by import restrictions (thanks to that Hitler bloke).  Swan was an entrepreneur and he paid what he thought was appropriate.  No doubt Harry Banger and others who could supply strips on a weekly basis got the best deals but even then the creator had to keep churning out the work.

I doubt that one of these men -or women- sat down one day and plotted a long term storyline for their characters.  This was not the “Marvel Age of Comics” and with all the restrictions facing publishers I doubt whether many even believed more work would be coming in and even if it was -for how long?

So, it was basically a strip with a few vizual gags and then a punchline or “wham bam action!” in the space of one or a few pages. No great characterizations.


Take Zom of the Zodiac by S. K. Perkins. One story in which Zom peeks around a corner, turns a bullied man into a taller, better looking man to trouncew the bully but when said man becomes too full of himself…Zom changes him back.  Yes, probably a moral in there and we Brits loved some morals in our comic strips!  But you have to ask -”What?” “Who?” “Why?”

I’ve used Zom now for almost 30 years and developed him into a more complex character but those questions still apply to a degree.  He seems to be friends with The All Seeing Eye, has had a hand in guiding super heroes/crime-fighters over the decades if not centuries but we still have no 100% answer to who or what he is.  The Green Skies will see a little more revealed and, perhaps, a glimpse or hint at who he might be.

And TNT Tom, and later his cousin Tina: given powers by aliens, Tom saves miners after a cave-in, stops a gang of cop-killers and even saves Earth from biological attack by aliens.  His main concern? That his dad does not find out “the Wonder Boy” is none other than his own son. Luckily, the odd press photographer is avoided but imagine TNT Tom based in 2013 with all the

 

cameras, cell phones, dvrs and so on!

Characters such as Moon Man or Marsman had one off appearances but over the years they have been developed somewhat.  In the Black Tower universe there is life on Mars, albeit underground -even an explanation as to why the various Martian races took that root.  For the Moon Man, well, we have a very rich literary history of Selenite civilisation from the pulps onward.  Both Mars and the Moon races feature in Green Skies (the Martians referring to Earth people as “our biological cousins” which ties in with the belief that life on Earth may have originated from Martian meteorites).

Rodney Dearth, creator of The Iron Warrior has been a bit of a regular in Black Tower over the years -can anyone forget 2011s incredible The Iron Warrior Vs Big Bong??  Dearth was, as I’ve pointed out in previous postings, a typical Colonial Britisher. Save you going all the way back to 2011 postings…

Was The Iron Warrior A Villain???

It occurs to me that,today,a lot of comickers who have no real knowledge of UK Golden Age characters will make things up or make bad guesses based on what they might have seen.

This can be said to be true when it comes to the Iron Warrior.

I can onloy find one source with any information on the character up to 1990 and that is the late Denis Gifford’s Encyclopedia of Comic Characters [Longman,London,1987].  In the entry for The Iron Warrior,Gifford writes:

..the most violent and bloodiest strip ever seen in British comics to this time,and for several decades to come.  Rodney Dearth,seeking the Jewels of Junius,arrives at the site of the Temple of Sloth in Central Africa,accompanied by his robot,the Iron Warrior. Captured by a White Princess,he summons the Warrior (‘wavelength 60,impulse 400′).  Crying ‘I come Master!’ and also ‘Ahrrr!  Whoo-roo!  Roar!’,the Warrior’s built-in chopper slices up the Sloths,cuts up a giant crocodile,and pulls the head off an outsize eagle.”

And from this we get entries in the Internationalheroes site:

“A robot controlled by Rodney Dearth, who used it to hunt treasure with him in Africa.
The Warrior isn’t really a hero, as it kills anyone who threatens its master, whose own goals are far from altruistic.”

Hmm.  But then we get,at the League for Extraordinary Gentlemen fan site:

“The Surrogate League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

When the government decided to form the Worral’s League they based it very closely on Mina’s first League, “When in 1946 it was apparent that Miss Murray and her colleagues had deserted our employ by going missing in America, MI5 elected to replace the group with surrogates in an attempt to recreate the impact of the 1898 ensemble…

  • The Invisible Man (Peter Brady) = The Invisible Man (Hawley Griffin)
  • Prof James Gray = Nemo (both submarine builders, Nemo even inspired Gray in League V2)
  • Worrals = Mina (female leads experienced in death)
  • Wolf of Kabul = Quatermain (both in the great white hunter tradition, they even both wear pith helmets)
  • The Iron Warrior = Hyde (both really killers pressed into service).

The Iron Warrior is a robot built by Rodney Dearth, Dearth was not a hero and had a more villainous overtone. He would command the Warrior to do various illegal things, including kill people, but mainly Dearth used him to hunt for treasure in Africa.”

YAAAR! RRRAHHH!  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Oh. I do beg your pardon.  Had a bit of an “Iron Warrior” moment there.  Seriously,I hate this whole “we know nothing about the character but it seems it was a killer controlled by a killer so let’s write that” crap.

“…Dearth was not a hero and had a more villainous overtone. He would command the Warrior to do various illegal things, including kill people.”

Dearth was not a villain or scheming killer.  Anyone read any old boys adventure books or H. Ryder Haggard?  By applying what the League page and Internationalheroes entry has written then we have to re-classify Alan Quartermaine as a cold blooded villain.  In fact,up until more politically correct times,most heroes would need to be re-classed according to this methodology.  Biggles takes on arch villain proportions.  Even Indiana Jones would be classed as out-doing the Nazis considering how many deaths he’s caused directly or indirectly.  Think on that.

Let’s get a little bit of perspective here.  Sit down kiddies because if you’ve not watched any films made between 1920 to…well…now,and if you’ve not read any history on the British Empire or American Imperialism ["Hey,Japan:we've gun ships and troops harbored offshore now do business with us 'voluntarily' or we'll make you!"] -in fact any empire or power!- you may be shocked.

Most sea-faring nations such as Spain,Italy,England,France etc.,sent out exploratory ships/fleets to seek out new lands and new treasures and subdue the local population by any means including genocide [keep some alive for slaves,of course]. The Ashante were great at being slavers and made a lot of money out of it.  It’s a two-way thing you see -are black african slavers villains? Hey,slavery still exists today and amongst some of the West’s best pal nations.

But these Europeans were brave hero-explorers.  Anyone hear of a little group called the Conquistadores?  Dutch East India Company? The British East India Company -all had their private armies to,uh,”smooth things through”.

Ever read King Solomon’s Mines?

In comparison,Dearth was a limp-wristed liberal!  Hmm. If you were a British soldier at Rourke’s Drift with Zulu warriors rushing toward you would you throw down your rifle and wave -”Hello! I’m really against all this imperialism stuff -care for tea and a chat?”  Mind you,in Zulu Dawn,Denholm Elliott’s character more or less did just that -and was killed straight away!

Whichever city you lived in -London,Berlin,Paris- you would hear stories of strange lands,lost treasures and much more.  The urge to follow those tales continue to this very day.  If a chap was on his uppers and the old estate was falling to bits and,to be frank,the family coffers had been emptied long ago it was disgrace and destitution -but if you could find the “lost treasure” or anything worth a few quid you were saved!

I know that it is wrong to just go marching in,putting down the “locals” and stealing things that belong to them,whether they want to exploit it themselves or not –hey,I’m still for returning the Elgin Marbles and all those Egyptian artefacts we,uh,borrowed!

The context is that this was a totally different world.  Officers and troopers posing for photographs of themselves resting their feet on a heap of natives heads should have been totally unacceptable even in the 19th century but it happened -apparently “fun” hunts were organised with horse-riding officers carrying “pig-stickers” but I get a feeling the natives involved  weren’t having too much fun!

A white man would have his weapons because,even if a peaceful person,not all native persons were friendly in return [read some history].  I could write on the subject all day but it wouldn’t help.

The point is that we know,in the Iron Warrior strip,only that Dearth arrives in Africa with his creation.  If attacked he defended himself.  In volume 3 of the Black Tower Gold Collection,I published such a strip.  Dearth is exploring an area when a local priest stirs things up -Dearth is attacked and,though he could easily do so,he does not set about killing everyone.  In fact,he does fend off an attack by rushing straight at the warriors but then tries to use cunning to defeat the witch doctor.

Once the threat is sorted,Dearth goes on his way.  The one thing we see is that the Iron Warrior is far from some type of remote-controlled killer doing its master’s bidding.  It’s what would today be called a controlled vehicle or “power suit”.

Dearth get’s inside the Iron Warrior and operates controls and fires his weapons from here.  He also operates the axe-wielding arm.  Guessing at Dearth’s height the Iron Warrior has to be around 3-4 metres tall [10-12 feet]. But,it is still nothing more than a kind of hostile environment suit -almost similar to later [better designed] deep water suits.

What Denis Gifford wrote I have to take to be accurate -he did have a massive collection.  So,I’m guessing that there was  a remote control device and,it seems,a vocaliser of sorts.  This does not appear in the later strips I’ve seen.  That said,continuity was never a great strongpoint in comics back then.

Yes,the strip was violent but you have to recall that in early Tarzan films there were people being killed violently and arrows sticking out of heads. And,sadly,in war time Britain death was a daily event and kids [and adults] enjoyed a good “Darkest Africa” story with some white chap up against the natives.

So,do not think that,based on what people who have a narrow view of a character write,that Dearth and the Iron Warrior were just deadly killers.  They weren’t.

Now,back to Big Bong!



The Iron Warrior vs Big Bong:When Giants Fought,written & drawn by Ben R.Dilworth is available from:
http://www.lulu.com/hoopercomicsuk

The thing is that you have to understand the age these characters come from.  Putting 21st century sensibilities or any modern day ideas into characters from the mid-20th century just make them horrible Marvel or DC style reboots

How does this work when the characters come into contact with contemporary Black Tower characters?  Well, buy the books and find out! Following Green Skies there will be a more formalised chronology for the characters so that there is a definite JLA-Justice Society (Earth 1 and Earth 2) vibe going on.  Though the characters have met before the Green Skies saga will clear things up for newer readers but -and I have to emphasise this- the characters are not changed and certain not rebooted!!

If you cannot treat characters with certain respect and try to stay true to how they first appeared then you have failed as a creator.  We do not have to reboot so that TNT Tom is afraid his father will find out he is the Wonder Boy because his father is a violent child beater!!

The reaction from people who first read the comics as kids 60-70 years ago and purchased the Black Tower reprints was that they were “over joyed” and thought they would never see their favourite characters again.  Okay, not great sales but just those few comments give me a big boost.

You can add or develop these old characters but you MUST be true to what they were and, being honest, the industry is swamped in reboots, darkness, blurry-lined “good and evil” and just not enough fun.

Yes, I’m an old fart but I think you still have to see comics as having some fun…

A Glimpse Into The Black Towers ROOM OBLIVION!

 

 
 
I was asked what “Room Oblivion” was?  Well, it was a jokey name I coined a few years back for the room that I work, sleep and eat in. These photographs were shown on the old CBO in 2010.  You’ll see UK comic annuals, trades, collections and a few figures and even the odd model tank (gamer, you know).
 
Now, these photos were from 2010 so you need to add a couple hundred more books and comic stacks not to mention gaming figures to make it look like a true “Room Oblivion”!
 
Occasionally things get tidied up but as anyone working in publishing/drawing/writing comics will tell you, things usually look like a bomb has hit the place (or some very messy aliens -it happens).  It allways makes me smile when an artist on Face Book posts “Finally tidied up the place today so that it’s un-recognisable….that’s it until next year!”
 
So, here are the photographs and if any of you spot the missing socks please tell me where you saw them -I can smell them but not find them!
 
 
 
I

 

 

Bye-Bye Bristol Comic Expo

 

 
When Mike Allwood was in charge of the Bristol Expo it was the event everyone wanted to get to and PRs, news flowed well.

Last year and the year before I struggled to get ANY news from the organisers. In fact, I had to trawl the net to get news. WHY was I not receiving news or PR?

 “We found it hard to find your contact details” (that WAS said with a straight face.

Well, Ask Mike? Just google me? Ask any of the exhibitors, most of whom know me? I am THE easiest person to contact in UK comics. 

So on 25th January I was told they’d check to see if I was on the PR list. 

Nothing. 

Another email to them…nothing. 

I just want to make it clear that after 14 years I am no longer actively promoting the event. If organisers do not have respect for you or the work you’ve put in to make sure people get up to date news and other details then forget it. 

So ignore any rumours you hear (there are a few I’ve been told of). THIS is the reason I’m not even sure if I’m attending the event this year.

Black Tower Comics: The Collected Ben R. Dilworth

 

 

 
 
The Collected Ben R. Dilworth

Ben R. Dilworth
Paperback, 
A4
84 Pages 
Illustrated Prose
 
Price: £7.00
Collecting together the best selling illustrated prose of Ben Dilworth.
 
In Osaka Brutal, the Haiku Gold Belt holder presents his own personal Haiku. Gritty and based on his own experiences of the city and life in general.
 
 In Aesop’s Fables the childhood favourites become rather darker and threatening. Originally intended to be for his daughter, Dilworth reconsidered that idea quickly!  Some great stories.
 
In Western and Japanese Yokai, Dilworth looks at a mixture of strange, sinister and deadly demons and spirits that inhabit Japanese and Western cultures and you would seriously not believe some of these inhabitants of the Outer Edge. And each story illustrated and some of those illustrations are worth the cost of the book in themselves.
 
Find out why Black Tower doesn’t just publish comic albums and graphic novels -The Collected Ben R. Dilworth is a book that HAD to be published.

Being Ripped Off In Comics Is Still The Norm…

Maeve and 2HG -Foreign Editions.

I’d like to ask all you good folk who visit this site for help.   I am told that, like Two Hot Girls On A Hot Summer’s Night that was reprinted in Spanish. So, to make things a little clearer a couple of older articles!

I Still Think It’s A Funny Old Business!

Apparently,illegal downloads of my Eros book Two Hot Girls have reached over 200,000.  For Maeve it’s said to be similar -far higher than I’d previously thought.

Well,even 50p for each illegal download would make me happy.   Apparently the three French editions [THREE??!] and Spanish collection are all  above board and legal contracts signed between the companies and Fantagraphics [the Eros publisher] -two French editions published in France and one in Canada. The contract between myself andFantagraphics clearly reads they have first English language edition rights but no foreign language rights as I’d stipulated.  Anyforeign language editions I was not consulted about or paid for.

Let me make it very clear,my series were reprinted several times against the terms of my contract -I was never told.  The collected books were without my knowledge.

I was told in writing and by phone [before the internet became common usage] that copies of the books had been seized and destroyed in Canada,Australia,New Zealand and the UK so were a financial loss to the company.

Incorrect.  I’ve been checking with customs authorities in those countries on seizure issues and mentioned the series involved.  Some checked back as far as 1989 [?] but all say that no such comic title or book was ever seized and destroyed.  Asking comic industry experts in those countries I learn that the Two Girls series sold “very well” and there was never a shortage of copies.

Myself and Art Wetherell never got royalties for those sales.  Fantagraphics said they weren’t sold there.
Someone asked me whether it was worth publishing your own comics or trying to get a publisher? My response:publish yourself.

It is so annoying that so many individuals make money from a creator while the creator makes a pittance.  Is the comic industry more above board these days? No.

Think very seriously before going into a comic creating career and get everything in writing [even though I did it hasn't helped!].

I’ve found no fewer than six fax copies, four letters and notes on phone conversations to/with Eros Comics re. ‘pirating’ of the books I wrote for then. When I complained that Eros/Fantagraphics were letting these people get away I was told “Fantagraphics is too small to mount a legal pursuit of these people”.  When I got responses from two of the companies stating the books were published under license Gary Groth responded with “More Hooper hyberbole!!”

And then…..

It Was Dead Easy To Be Ripped Off By Publishers


above:Kiss Comix carried a serialisation of Two Hot Girls as Dos Chicos Calientes

Every single ‘illegal’ printed version of the Eros Comix series/graphic novel Two Hot Girls I have come across have all got indeces stating that the books were published under license from Fantagraphic Books (Eros being an imprint).

Quite by accident I have tonight learned that Fantagraphics took money for other foreign editions but never gave Art Wetherell or myself a single cent -they never even told us.

Now, the contracts we had stated that Fantagraphics only had first edition English language rights.  That didn’t stop them from printing second, third or, later, the collected book without telling us or renegotiating.
The contract says, very clearly, that Fantagraphics has NO FOREIGN LANGUAGE RIGHTS. Had their been enquiries we should have been told as the creators.

Apparently Two Hot Girls was published in parts in Kiss Comic. I’d have loved a copy for the archives.  There was a Spanish language collection that missed out the vital link in the story!!

You see, prior to the internet publishers, even if you had a legal contract, got away with a lot and probably hoped never to be caught out.

Every time I found ‘pirate’ editions I told Fantagraphics who told me there was nothing they could do legally. Right.  I’d certainly like to track down other foreign editions…if anyone knows of them (I know about the French editions but there was also a French Canadian edition) let me know please.

below #9 with Two Hot Girls

 

Now Maeve was published in 1997 and Kim Thomson informed me by email in 2005, when I suggested re-promoting the books, that it, like 2HGs “has had its day”….but Fantagraphic Books, as Eros Comix has continued to sell it and it is STILL listed in Previews catalogue.

Totally without the permission of David Gordon or myself and certainly with no contract and no monies having come from Fantagraphics for years.  Now I learn there was a French edition of Maeve and one in Spanish -possibly under another title but using the original cover image (below).

PLEASE if you know of any non-English versions of these books get in touch -if you know the publisher or have a cover scan that would be great.

Please help support the stopping of creators being ripped off by publishers.