Announcements And A Palm-Slap To Head!

Oh dear gods will I never learn?

I’m in comics so I guess the answer is “No. Never. Dumb-ass!”

Stransky & Labatt have produced some short, illustrated text stories and were due to produce some comic strips.  However, there appear to have been some “difficulties” (nothing to do with me) so I have no idea what will appear.

The text stories will still be appearing in Tales Of Terror or/and Black Tower Super Heroes so they should last a while.

The other major set back is that, due to circumstances well beyond his control, Black Towers main contributing talent (no, not me), Ben R. Dilworth is taking a break from comic work.  Again, there is a good inventory of his work but it leaves the new D-Gruppe project in limbo.

Two big kicks to the head but this isn’t the first and probably will not be the last time this happens -we’re talking about comics after all.

So, I’ll plod on with D-Gruppe and wish Ben a very speedy recovery back to normal, every day life and comics.  Take it easy, mate.

And me? I’m off to have an editorial breakdown!

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STRANSKY & LABATT ARE HERE!

 

If you read the first announcement that two well known comic creators in disguise were going to be doing work for Black Tower Comics here it is:

http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/stransky-labatt-comic-creators-in.html

And now, as I sit here thinking that its good to have very well known mates in comics willing to work for me while you try to figure out who they are….some bios (they tell me there are clues as to who they are in there!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D-Gruppe: Past, Present & Future

I was asked by Ekki what plans I had for D-Gruppe following the mini series and 2012 Annual -all events taking place before The Return of the Gods graphic novel?

Well, the important thing for me was to get the old stories that have been lying around for a couple decades, and which establish D-Gruppe, out in print first. The whole Revenge Of The Ice Queen followed by the Zeitgeist saga established a great deal and led into two main books: The Trial and, of course, The Return of the Gods: Twilight of the Super Heroes.

The Trial was originally published in the mid-1990s in four parts though it had been intended to serialise it before in the comic project JAG 2000 (long story). In this story, which I am NOT going to go into details of because it is currently being re-lettered (originally hand lettered but that is too poor a quality to offer readers today), the D-Gruppe members are seen inter-acting with the UK heroes and, in fact, the UK heroes travel to Germany to help D-Gruppe and heroes first glimpsed in the Zeit Geist story.

But important changes to BT characters took place in this story -how did Wavell get that huge facial scar we see in Return?  How did Tech-Man get replaced by Rachel Flynn?  Even the ending links all the D-Gruppe storylines to Return.

The Trial should be out as a graphic novel in December of this year (2013).

Hopefully, the very -very- long delayed appearance of Task Force Germany will have taken place before then.  The first story should have appeared in 1994 but there were delays -initially Art Wetherell was to draw the book but had to opt out and a couple other artists stepped in but there were problems.

Back in 1982 I was sending project proposals, character sketches and so on to Marvel Comics. At that point i saw working for my all time favourite comic as the star to aim for. What a dim-wit! Anyway, I wanted to develop the silent character, The Attacker, and I thought Marvel might go for a comic in which everything was visual -no caption boxes, speech balloons, etc.. The character was shortish and wore a skin-tight black costume with large white eye-holes.

I was a little shocked when I saw the black costumed Spider-man emerge a couple years later.  But that’s comics.  The other character I tried to convince Epic Comics (part of Marvel) was really “great” -the creator owned line had started up in 1982 so I got straight to it. Marvel had rejected The Attacker -“no comic fan is going to buy a comic where you never find out the characters real identity and there is no text!” but -BUT- surely a Lutheran priest (later changed to Catholic) that has some kind of strange, all-black creature linked to him would be a winner?

No.

Considering what they were publishing I thought to feedback of “too dark” was just ridiculous.  A year or so later came…Venom.

So the character who started out as German, had to be changed to an American reverted back to German. But there is a problem. If someone is the artist of a book and they have asked to work on your script -your characters- all and good. But, oh no, artists can be an odd lot.

“Yeah, I see him as a Nazi who was in charge of a concentration camp and was sent to Hell and he now hunts and kills Nazies(sic)” was how one artist saw it.  He even re-wrote everything to conform to his idea.

My response? “NO! You have the character details and you can choreograph action scenes freely BUT the story and the character ARE the story and the character”

And the response?  “I can’t see it going anywhere the way you’ve written it. If we go with my idea I think this would be a sure hit!”

We parted company. Never heard of the man again.

Then another approached me having seen my sketch and idea on a German comic forum -for the life of me I cannot recall what forum but I did get about a lot!  “Love the script!” he wrote.

A month later I got pages through and a letter. “I think this works better than your idea. I see him as a Catholic priest, a paedophile who was also a drunk and embezzler.  To cleanse his soul he makes a deal with lucifer….”

Oh dear.

Then the pages of a character that looked exactly like Venom. This was not the look I had wanted or explained. Neither was there a scene anywhere in my script showing a terrified little girl on a bed as the priest disrobed!!  I explained what the whole idea of the character was and that the whole story of the priest-amorph came out over the planned four issues in a big climax in Koln Cathedral.

“But that’s lame”, I was told, “the way I see it you have got to show people this guy is a ****** ****! Then you build on that. I can’t see it work your way.”

We parted company. I ought to point out that not only did the artist want to re-write everything and change character appearances and names but he also wanted that “Nazi element. Everyone knows Germans were Nazis!”

This is something I have come across over and over again in the last couple decades. I allways allow artists freedom to draw action scenes so long as the result fits in with the actual story/script -unless they really do need that action written for them. But I can think off-hand of fifteen artists I’ve worked with who have decided to re-write (badly) and make changes.  Where are they now?

So, I decided that amorph and priest would become a part of the Task Force Germany team.  Sadly, after a couple more stops and starts nothing came of it until now.

Leere (emptyness/blankness/void) was another problem. I tried explaining that the character is not an invisible man and neither is he wearing a mask like the old Charlton Question character.  You can see a vague “something” where the head is. But you could also see slightly through him. Clothes are the only solid texture on him/it/her.

There are several characters like this in Black Tower -a link I wanted to explore by now. Characters such as Nemesis (a Belgian character) and No Face from The Paranormals (published in Tales Of Terror 3.



The other character was Donar (Thor) but a more traditional version exiled on Earth and living in ancient forestry.  The exile would have been due to his objecting to the plans on Pax olympus that led to Return Of The Gods.
 And, living in the forestry, Donar would have a problem with the theft of food by a real-life European wildman called…uh, Wildemann!
 
This little group would have been brought together by Simon LeCorbeau, a multi-billionaire with a long history in Black Tower -he appeared in the second Pete Forrest & Geni story back in 1986.  And his choice to lead the team was…
Zauberinnen (Sorceress). Her origins were to be vague -was she a goddess or half-god or simply a supreme sorceress?
Her origins would be revealed towards the end of the first story arc but I do love to spin a mystery! A solo story -Tod Durch Bei Blind Verabredung or Death By Blind Date, would have revealed a few bits and pieces about the character in a back-up strip to have been drawn by Andrew Hope.
The Zeitgeist story had also established that heroes from other Earths had been stranded Black Towers Earth and there should have been stories establishing some of these -The Trial did so for some but Regenbogen Zauberer (Rainbow Wizard) never got to face the Storm giant in Germanys Höllental (Hell
valley -a real place).
 There was also the question, considering that D-Gruppe was getting over-crowded and the members needed to be accommodated at more convenient locations around the country ot “where?”
Well, for Klaus von Happe no problem buying out of the way property to redevelop. One had its own storyline -“Spukhaus” or Ghost House. What the heck was a house like this doing out in the middle of forestry?
And -haunted?  Well there is the Red Ghost…this old rough shows him. Though he may well become the Green Ghost and it is a character that last appeared in a 2002 (?) copy of Adventure and the Ten Dancing Monkeys story.
And the mystery surrounding Waldmeister should have grown when his brother (referred to in The Revenge Of The Ice Queen) Meer Peter (Sea Peter)…and another big jewelled staff!
But the characters seen in Zeit Geist were to change slightly.  David Holmes was a solicitor/lawyer when he was introduced in the story “The Owl” back in 1987 -he adopted the Owl guise in a rather violent pursuit of a murderer.  When he turned up in Zeit Geist he is merely a lawyer for von Happe Industries who helps out on some cases.
But after The Trial, Holmes was due to return to costume (reasons not being disclosed here!) and adapted/rebuilt one of the old D-Gruppe flyers (as seen in Revenge of the Ice Queen) into a personal transport which he named “Ollie” after his favourite TV character Ollie Beak http://www.turnipnet.com/whirligig/tv/children/smalltime/smalltime.htm

Above -the new and more violent Owl and below -Ollie the Owlcraft!

But there were newer characters independent of previous stories such as Adam Ewigkeit who had a very brief cameo in issue 2 of D-Gruppe, Herrc Spinne, Der Racher, Tom Katze und Kätzchen…well, the D-Gruppe world would be well populated.

All the rough sketches I’ve now found so I’m hoping that the new characters will appear fairly soon and we have to remember that some of D-Gruppe, including Kopfmann its leader, vanished into space during the Return Of The Gods story. Where are they? Will they return?

Guess.

“The Days Of Darkness” story should have been told by now but I’m planning and D-Gruppe will quite literally be shaken to the core by what happens.

And there is planned a couple of brief glimpses at the D-Gruppe of a darker Earth Parallel (EP667) -from which readers have already seen a far more different Link character.

All with Ben Dilworth on board so that the original team is back together!  Had Bastei actually published D-Gruppe and had that title continued we’d now be over twenty years into continuity!  Curse you Bastei!!!  :-/

Below, a glimpse of D-Gruppe EP667 courtesy of Ben Dilworth.

There was also the question of getting a permanent design for a D-Gruppe flier-transport  so a quirky design was this one….

Though a sleeker model could be based on the below which I think are quite cool and “futuristic” without becoming too science fiction.

As a final note on characters to have been introduced I have only two rough pages left featuring a character rejected by Eros Comix  because “its more humour not porn” -Devilina.  Independent of any D-Gruppe or Task Force Germany, Devilina would be a character popping up all over the place as well as in solo adventures.

Now, this posting is getting rather long but I hope it has shown that D-Gruppe was by no means a
small idea that never developed!

In fact, in 2014 it is planned to go all-out on the German side of Black Tower in a final “Do or Die” push so keep watching these pages.

All images, characters, designs (except the stealth aircraft!) are (c) 2013 Terry Hooper-Scharf and Black Tower Comics & Books

The Hooper Interviews -A Classic!

 

The Hooper Interviews

Paperback,
A4 (21 x 30cms)
365 Pages
lots of photos and illustrations

Price: £15.00

Ships in 3–5 business days

This book contains some of the interviews I did for Comic Bits, Zine Zone International, Comics F/X and CBO over the last 25 years.

Its black and white, fully illustrated with art and photographs and 365 pages -all for £15.00.

With the convention season in full swing this is a great buy to learn about your comic heroes -you can also find out why interviewing Marv Wolfman was like squeezing blood from a stone!

Who is in it? Well, amongst others:

JOHN COOPER

YISHAN LI

DONNA BARR

ROBERTA GREGORY

EMMA VIECELI

SONIA LEONG

ALAN CLASS

PAUL BIRCH

KAREN RUBINS

WILLIE HEWES

PEKKA A. MANNINEN

OLIVIER CADIC

JON HAWARD

MARV WOLFMAN

TANIA DEL RIO

JEFF BROOKS

MIKE WESTERN

MORAG LEWIS

DAVE RYAN

and many others.

You can order it via the online store at:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/terry-hooper-scharf/the-hooper-interviews/paperback/product-11914778.html

Subzero on Return Of The Gods Twilight Of The Super Heroes

I think it time that the hoary old chestnut that is Return of the Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes was cracked open again.

And how better than to re-post the review from Tales From The Kryptonian?

Terry Hooper-Scharf
Black Tower Comics & Books
Paperback,
A4
331 Pages
Black & White
£15.00

RETURN OF THE GODS ( I just love the logo font on page 4 ) is a new paperback reprinting the complete saga that combines several story-lines into one big event. If this was published by DC, Marvel or any other of the bigger comic companies it would be one of those big summer crossovers with a gazillion spin off books to rack in the comic buyers hard earned samolians.

Now the question is, after ZEIT GEIST which was the big Infinite Crisis of Parallel Earths of the Black Tower universe – how can one possibly top that ? We had heroes from all german parallel universes uniting against a common threat and you really have to up the ante to go one step further.

In come the gods.

Now this idea is not the most original because everybody does that from DC with the WAR OF THE GODS crossover or the NEW GODS comics to Marvel´s various Greek, Norse, Celtic or Egyptian phanteons fighting with / against the superheroes who themselves are seen by some of new versions of the gods. There is even the current storyline MAYAN RULE in the HULK books written by Jeff Parker and drawn by Dale Eaglesham in which El Toro Rojo ( or Red Hulk as the gringos call him ) teams up with everyone´s favorite Canadian unkillable ( at least in the long term ) superhero team Alpha Flight against the returning old Mayan gods.


Everybody loves a good superhero vs gods / new gods vs old gods / good gods vs evil gods slobberknocker. Since some scholars say that Todays superhero comics are the sagas of the gods of the modern age it´s only natural to have the modern gods fight against the older gods. Especially when you have so many of the more popular gods like Odin, Thor, Herkules, Zeus, Pluto or Aphrodite in the pages of the comics anyway. Throughout pop culture and also practically in every culture there are stories of gods battling each other and one or two endtimes of the gods no matter if it´s called Armageddon or Götterdämmerung. It´s also one of the oldest genres of horror books, novels or comics, the old dark gods returning which was forever made immortal by horror icon Howard Phillip Lovecraft and his stories about the Necronomicon and Chthulu.

NOW IS THE TIME THE OLD GODS RETURN EXACTLY WHEN THE WORLD IS NOT EXPECTING IT

In our story heroes around the world disappear after being chased by glowing orange spheres – the world believes them dead but they have actually been transported to a huge walled city on a dimensional plane. The home of the gods.

Unknown to the heroes, they are pawns in a game by the gods to use them to fight of the return of the Ancient Old Gods. Of course it´s not as easy or else it wouldn´t be a Black Tower Comic so, just to add another wrinkle to it, while a big part of Earth´s heroes have been transported away an alien invasion is taking place and the remaining heroes have to fight this off. The hero community as well as world governments find their resources stretched on several fronts. Join BTCGs Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Singaporean, British and other international heroes where heroes DO die and death is final.

And oh boy, is it ever. Like SAVAGE DRAGON on steroids heroes are killed off left and right and I think the final body count is a few times that of the original SQUADRON SUPREME miniseries.

Which shocked me a bit because in this story you know they are not coming back and you wish you had gotten to know those heroes a bit better. Here death means something and will not be retconned in a few months or is just used to streamline continuity before the next reboot, here it all works together to tell one heck of a story and there´s no parachute under the seat. I mean on one side it is hard to see this many heroes kick the bucket and you wish there was a way to bring some of them back. On the other side I have to applaud the guts to not take the easy way out and make it a dream or have some allmighty entity bring everything back to the old Status Quo. And I think it´s a better story because in the end a lot of the heroes pay the ultimate price.

Of course there are also some funny parts in this and one of the things that has always been a mainstay of such big crossover events from CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS to SECRET WARS is the sheer number of heroes especially heroes you don´t know. I mean, the exciting parts were not to see the heroes you were familiar with but those heroes with the cool costume, the freaky superpowers and the weird back story you just wanted to find out more about. And in that department Terry Hooper surely delivers since you´re probably unfamiliar with most of the characters to which he adds his usual cosmopolitical input.

If it was a joy to read so many German superheroes in ZEIT GEIST here Terry Hooper has heroes from India, China, Russia, America, England, Afrika, heck, every part of the world. And he seems to create them effortlessly, which for me has always been the sign of true genius. Like we would say in Spain : Chupate esto, NEW 52.

Like I said in my review of D – GRUPPE ZEIT GEIST, the art may not be to everyones liking ( one of my brothers was very surprised to find me reading it ) but Terry Hooper manages to evoke the feeling of Silver Age heroes whose roots lie more in the pulp genre like the great classics without resorting to silly stereotypes or parody. If there´s one thing I wanted to critique is that on some pages Terry should be a bit bolder using blacks. Otherwise the art reminds me of the comics from the Golden Age which sometimes were drawn a bit crude ( you have to remember that a lot of the professional artists were drafted ) but still had a lot of energy and excitement. Which is one of the reasons why I´m recommending this book : excitement. When was the last time you read a comic that was exciting and all over the place and pure fun ?

I´m going out on a limb here but I think Terry just put everything he liked reading about in comics into this story. Otherwise I can´t explain the Tohuwabohu of comic characters and concepts in this one. You have the old gods, which are kind of Chtululike monsters with the necessary number of tentacle appendixes, you have the ” regular ” gods which include gods from every pantheon, Mayan, Egyptian, Greek, heck even Monkey King is in it. And then – on top of that – you have all the heroes which are all kind of pulp heroes, super heroes and teen heroes you could think of. Some reminded me of the heroes I read about in KOBRA like Mr. Arachnia who looks a lot like The Spider or Mark 13 who could be the next model of Archie, others seemed to be inspired by american heroes but all were kind of familiar yet different.

There are also different cultures fighting against each other for the amusement of the gods, so you have Romans fighting Mayans, Christians fighting Indians, Babylonians against Sumerians etc. Not to mention robots, cavemen, aliens, cowboys, goblins, vampires, zombies, talking apes, walking skeletons, Sasquatch, Gilgamesh, Merlin and even the monster of Frankenstein.

And of course there´s a second encounter with German heroes like Rotkäppchen ( Little Red Riding Hood never looked so hot in the Fairy Tale books I read as a kid ), Deutscher Michel, Kopfmann and Goldener Soldat from D – Gruppe. I still get a kick out of seeing german superheroes in a comic, since they killed off german X – Man Kurt Wagner. By the way, best clobbering of a god goes to The Hornet in the garden with a lead pipe.

You have also factor in that RETURN OF THE GODS started out as ” The Cosmic Fulcrum ” in about 1992, had various artists, stopped, started and the finished item was drawn in 2002 by Terry himself. So the art reflects that. Which is not to say there is not some very elaborate sideway splash page depictions of the various armies from different time periods going at it or any of the superhero teams charging. Or, one of my favorite splash pages, the magician ( I can´t find his name right now ) floating upside down in his sanctum sanctorum / shop with shelf upon shelf of stuff behind him. You can see case files, books about other Earths, Dr. Mabuse, Alice´s adventures in Wonderland and on parallel Earths, a book about Adam Eterno by a certain Terry Hooper, Big Jugs ( probably a book about drinking vessels ) various occult books, maps, tapes and magazines. There are even various bottles with ingredients for magic rituals labeled ” eye of Newt “, “horse testicles “, ” tongue of toad “, ” wings of Beetle”and “Not sure ! “.

And the book can be ordered online here:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/terry-hooper-scharf/the-return-of-the-godstwilight-of-the-super-heroes/paperback/product-20981003.html

Return Of The Gods has been hailed as: “The greatest British super hero graphic novel ever!” Is it?  You decide!