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Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Decision And Why. It Needs Explaining.


 I apologise for the ramble, though. I did say I would be open and honest about publishing so...

Firstly, I will make it clear that my severe financial problems have not gone away. They are here and I face them every day.  Nothing has changed there.

What has changed I will explain. I had a very long conversation and discussion with Frank Barrell on Friday and went over why I had made serious decisions lately regarding publishing.

All the lack of sales print outs from the online store were laid out. In fact, every printout covering 2010-2017 was laid out.

I will paraphrase Frank’s points.

I started publishing in 1984 though I was involved in printing in the 1970s and had even put together a school magazine (the story of that and why it was banned as well as my selling copies of Oz magazine can be found in my QRD interview).

1. When the school mag was banned did I give up and just say “well that’s it then”?

2. When I worked with small and later larger US Independent publishers and got ripped off or messed about did I quit?

3. When I invested more than a month tailoring Heroes Of India for Diamond Comics in India –almost 50 pages of art, colour samplers and covers- and they decided to drop the idea without telling me…the same thing another Indian publisher later did…did I quit?

4. When I put in weeks of work drawing horror/ghost stories and later, at the suggestion of a senior editor, put together a D-Gruppe sampler issue for Bastei Verlag who were then taken over by Egmont and all work in progress dropped without telling creators, did I quit?

5. Did I quit over the constant, daily, troll emails as well as lies these same people put on UK comic forums from 1999-2016?

6. When Fleetway cancelled projects I worked hard on and then never paid me the £5,00+ it owed me for scripts, did I quit?  When the two editors at Egmont did the same thing did I quit?

7. Marvel UK-same thing. Did I quit? (no mention was made of me holding a Marvel editor out of the window. Good)

8. Did I quit when the two best selling adult graphic novels I wrote were allowed (the publisher never even attempted to step in) to be illegally downloaded millions of times?

9. Did I quit when one artist after another who I had helped get into comics (when I was a creators representative) cold shouldered me?

10. When a lawyer from Defiant Comics threatened to sue me because my Black Tower logo (used since the 1970s) was similar to their logo (1993) did I just back down and quit or did I tell him I looked forward to seeing him in court and to **** off?   The answer to that is obvious.

11. When an idiot at IPC Media and their legal department threatening the full weight of Warner (who owned IPC then) if I did not stop using my own characters (seriously) and did not pay for using characters in Looking Glass, which was a project submitted to IPC a few years before, did I back off and quit? (same as with Defiant but I was on good terms with management at IPC and later Warner told me they had no idea any of this had been going on)

12. Did I back off and quite when a number of other such incidents occurred (I am not giving details here because the people involved are either no longer here (alive) or nothing to do with the companies today)?

At this point I have to say that points 13-20 involved personal events so I won’t go into those.

The obvious answer was “No” to each point. 

So when I asked what the point was I was asked “Why are you being a ****** quitter now?”

Bit rude, but….

Yes, I took the point that I have been without money before.  Yes, in the 1980s/early 1990s I did often go 4-6 days without food (note to youngsters: in those circumstances tomato ketchup in hot water tastes fine. I also lived on one cabbage for a week. Drink plenty of fluids and when you get food do NOT eat like crazy!! Small amounts only to start).

It was pointed out that with over 90 books over 9 pages on the online store it was stupid to just close it down.  There were also 10 other books prepared waiting publication.  And hundreds of pages of The Green Skies so was I seriously going to dump all that?

Frank then pointed out that Comic Bits gets thousands of views per day and has a truly world wide audience –more countries from Africa recently appearing in the stats, too.

I pointed out I still review books and the counter point was that “reviewing does not earn you money!”

I pointed out that a lot of genres were covered by Black Tower and these were in comics, comic albums and graphic novels –excluding the prose books.  Artists had turned in fantastic work but showing that on CBO had not resulted in sales –and I was told quitting meant those creators were being let down.

I pointed to the lack of sales and a few other things but the response was that I had never quit before despite major problems so why was I quitting now? 

Paraphrasing again: “You are too ***** stubborn to quit.  You know that once this rough patch is over you’ll be like an express train again.  You think about it. Can you live with having quit?”

I get the point.  But, for the foreseeable future, what?   Yes, I will continue reviewing books as they arrive but beyond that--?

I was told that I needed to keep the idea of one day comic marts in Bristol even if not before 2018.  Again, depending on how many people want to book tables to just sell comics because last time I mentioned this I got no real interest.

The look and design of the Black Tower comics and books?  No. The covers have nothing wrong with them and the quality of contents and printing are excellent. Black and white is the best and affordable option –one of the books at the store is £5,75 in black and white. In colour that same book would cost £12.00+ (and remember I only get a small percentage since the printer and Print On Demand company take sizeable cuts –I have no real say in pricing).

The quality of the books cannot be improved upon.  Maybe Mr Dilworth can think of a new jazzed up Black Tower log?

Apart from that I can only wait and see. Flow through the rough waters.


But I really do not like to quit.  I have seen so many small publishers vanish or meet their ends in the last two years. I’m not sure how but I’ll dig my feet in. I guess at my funeral someone is going to say “He was a stubborn sod. Never knew when to quit!” Until then I will be that old bearded man people point out but hope I never notice.


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Black Tower Super Heroes




The final covers for Black Tower Super Heroes 2-7 have now been completed. The reason for the slight delay is simple: it has always been Black Tower policy that no title gets published unless all parts of any multi-part serial are completed.   That has now been done.

All issues are 80 pages, Black & White, A4 (Comic Album) format and will feature British Golden and Silver Ages strips as well as newer material and strips from the old Adventure (vol 1) zines of the 1980s.

The Golden Age material features The Iron Warrior,Madame Foretell, Dene Vernon, Halcon Lord of the Crater Land and many others.
All contents conform to the law as laid down by HM Copyright Office.

The cover price as well as publication dates (monthly) have not yet been decided upon.

There is an issue 8 and that is designed to lead straight into The Green Skies.  It should also mark 34 years of publishing and an end to BTCG anthology titles

It is hoped that BTSH 1-8 and The Green Skies will see publication in 2017.  All books will then remain available at the online store until December 2018 which will see the store terminated.









































Friday, 6 January 2017

So, The British Comic Book Archives Is Dead then?

Back in the late 1990s I had intended to set up an archive of British Platinum, Golden and Silver Ages comics. Some of you will know this was called the British Comic Books Archive -BCBA.

Many of today's British comic 'experts' were not doing British comic history back then. The two main historians were the late Denis Gifford and Alan Clarke -it is from the works of these two men that much has been, uh, 'borrowed' and declared as new work. I've even found this with my own work which is being used by others as their own.

The BCBA started falling apart when the internet kicked in. For some reason old comic fans no longer wanted to help. So I suggested scans of books rather than donated actual comics. I knew some members of my two main Yahoo groups -Britcomics and Britishcomicsarchives had (they bragged on other groups) scanned most of their collections to go onto disc. I asked for contributions. Nothing.

At least nothing from the UK, initially, most contributions came from US members like Denis Ray of Texas.  From there it was a case of building up a collection myself so that I now have a good few Swan annuals and comics from various publishers. Another thing I learnt: never tell your group members if you find a Golden Age book for sale online. On three occasions it resulted in members putting in higher and private bids and getting the books which they bragged about. Never scanned or made available.

Britcomics was founded in 2004 and the Britcomicarchives group in 2007.  There are hundreds of images over a couple pages (tip: you get to the bottom of, say, the Albums page, you will find a "next page notice its not all on just on one page).





With only scans to form an archive the Yahoo groups seemed the best places, though they are always imperiled by Yahoo's own "tell no one of changes made" policy.

The Golden Age books -the single volumes- and the Ultimate Golden Age Collection took a lot of work. Scanning and cleaning up heavily damaged, taped or even foxed pages.  In some cases I do not just fiddle with contrast, brightness and resize but will zoom a page up by 800% to correct text and problems in panels.

These books are a work of love. They do not sell -I think the Ultimate Collection sold 2 copies in 5 years- and make me a load of money. That would be nice but the main point is to find rarities, the obscure and completely forgotten characters and comics. I was once made fun of on two well known UK comic groups (Yahoo! groups) for considering the books of Gerald Swan lost and important. Pfah! They were not old Beanos or Dandys so who cared? They were nothing.  I kept those messages -which is good because some of those people a few years later denied ever having said any such thing.

In the United States comic book history is taken very seriously.  In the UK it tends to be more "can I make money out of this or boost my ego?"   We all know who those people are.

There is one thing I have learnt in over 30 years of doing this: collectors do not want others to see these comics.  I refused to believe this myself for ten years but Denis Gifford explained it to me.  Now, Denis would let no one get near his books -of course, he was a true comic lover and collector and never had access to scanning -and I doubt he would have risked ruining his comics by scanning!

So I plod along.

I get requests from families of creators -grandfathers and fathers- whose work they have no samples of.  If I have examples of those strips I scan, or if they have no computer, will print off pages fort them. I don't charge. I do not help 'researchers' whether writers or students studying comics for a thesis or whatever.  You are supposed to, according to strict academic guidelines, credit sources. After seeing my work used word-for-word in various papers and no credit to me I drew a line. £100 consultation fee for research.  No one has bothered me since.


You learn things that go against what comic 'historians' state. In the case of Denis I was staggered when I found that the UK character, the Falcon, did not get his costume in the year everyone says (because they cribbed from Denis) but at least six years earlier.

And not one of the 'experts' ever mentions the biggest contribution Gerald Swan made to UK comics.

Here is something I found from a 1940 British comic -State Marshal V Killer!- this is a partially cleaned copy of the page. There was something very familiar about the art-style but I thought it would be a case of never know.  Until I spotted the big give-away!  It was not a big surprise because the artist involved did humour and some action strips but it was a find and previously uncredited to the artist.

The other reason for finding these gems is to not  just reprint but, where possible, and without "rebooting", produce new strips featuring the characters. I've done a lot of that since 1984 but there is another creator who has, in my opinion, contributed far more quality strips featuring the likes of Slicksure, Iron Warrior, Acromaid and so on -Ben R. Dilworth.  I think that without his contributions the whole idea might have sunk into nothing.  He has made the biggest contribution to keeping these characters alive!

So, one day, when I am out of my current dire straights, the BCBA will need to be polished up somewhat and maybe one bigger online location found.  So, no, the idea is far from dead.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

You want to see more?

Folks, if you want to see more British Golden Age material on this blog then you'll need to show your support because, financially, its easier for me to just close the blog and concentrate on trying to get work that pays because I have gone past the crisis point.

There are individual British Golden Age collections as well as the Ultimate collection that you can find at the online store. 

Freely giving out material that others use while I sit here wondering what I'm going to eat next is no longer an option.

If you support the work and effort PLEASE check out the books and you can buy and hold a real collection of GA British strips in your hands! 

Thanks.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Iron Warrior -Nothing Dies!


Uncle Terry Has A Wish List -Can You Help??

You want nonsensical post headers you got 'em!

Hello All!

 Still alive, barely, and I've gotten to a computer that works.  Now,  based on past experience I expect nil responses but this is Christmas! Wishes may come true...or not but you gotta try, right?

I've totally given up on trying to get scans of William A. Ward's The Bat artwork and the original Krakos the Egyptian book -though I have samples of the various Krakos strips. So I'm not going to ask for the impossible.

I know some of you belong to old Boys Papers groups, etc., so here is the list of old comic strips I'm looking for and if you can find any examples PLEASE let me know.

Abra and Cadabra -Puck 1926-1935

Bob The Pet Navvy -Jester and Wonder 1903-1906

Freddie Fluence  -Favourite 1912

Ronnie Roy -Funny Wonder 1940-1950

Professor Radium -Puck 1904-1916 (the image at the top is all I have and is VERY low res)

Merry Margie -Knockout 1939-1940

That's it.

Now, have a good Christmas and READ COMICS!!!


Up-date: it took a week but Merry Margie can now be ticked off the list but I've no objection to further sample strips!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Black Tower Comics And Books





Well, here goes.



Seriously, it may have gone past survival time but I am NOT going out without a fight...maybe a whimper!

 See why we are Europe's largest publisher of  Independent Comics.



The Hooper Interviews

The Hooper Interviews!  

 To celebrate, at the time of publication, over 25 years of interviewing comic creators -writers, artists and publishers- this 365 pages book was produced.

Interviewees included Yishan Li, Marv Wolfman, Dave Ryan, John Cooper, Mike Western, Donna Barr, Roberta Gregory, Sonia Leong, Emma Vieceli, Pekka A. Manninen, Alan Class, Karen Rubins, Kate Glasheen, Ron Fortier, Jon Haward, Franco Francavilla, Rick Geary, Tania Del Rio, The Etherington Brothers, Olivier Cadic (Cinebook the 9th Art), Holly Golightly and MANY others.

Profusely illustrated with art and photographs!

Reduced in price until October to £16.80 -an odd price but it's what the printer and lulu.com earn -I get zilch!

http://www.lulu.com/shop/terry-hooper-scharf/the-hooper-interviews/paperback/product-22078000.html


All Black Tower comic albums (that is A4 format) are in black & white.  Once you've had black and white you won't go back to colour, baby.

BTCG has specialised in presenting original material covering super heroes, crime, adventure, sci fi, horror as well as illustrated prose -not to mention ground breaking books on "world mysteries" and wildlife.  Oh, and even a huge book of interviews with comic creators and publishers.

All the books are, naturally, available for overseas licence -but we cannot translate work: that will be up to any licensed publisher.

What follows is a brief glimpse at some books but you can visit the online store to see more details and books at:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/hoopercomicsuk


You  can also find some on Amazon and other sources but they do not make me much money so, come on, buy from the online store and remember that at least these books will be collectibles! 



To contact me please check out "About" at the top of the page -thanks! 

 ****************************************************************************

Black Tower Comics began in 1984 as a Small Press publisher of A5 (US -Digest size) titles such as Adventure,Presents,Windows and Hanley's Garage.  Then came the news, reviews, previews and interviews publication backed up by the mart and mail order service -Zine Zone (later Zine Zone International).

In 2009, with the innovation in publishing of Print On Demand (POD), Black Tower jumped in head first!

One of the first titles to see print in the new comic album format (A4) was The Bat Triumphant! This saw the complete story, begun in Black Tower Adventure vol. 1.  William A. Ward's long lost 1940s character once again saw print as he fought a host of  enemies in an attempt to reclaim his homeland.


THE BAT TRIUMPHANT!

And while The Bat may have fought fist and nail to reclaim his homeland, another 1940s Ward creation, Krakos the Egyptian, seemed far from willing to claim a new Egyptian Empire as promised to him by the Gods.  Tackling a number of foes and even encountering the Many-Eyed One, Krakos turned his back on the gods and the final panel of Krakos -Sands Of Terror, delivered a true twist!

Krakos -Sands Of Terror!


Of course, the flag-ship title had to return!  And so Black Tower Adventure -eventually reaching new heights when the legendary Ben Dilworth jumped on board!  Volume 2 consisted of  ten issues. Just look at these covers....

Black Tower Adventure 1Black Tower Adventure 2BLACK TOWER ADVENTURE 3Black Tower Adventure 4Black Tower Adventure 5Black Tower Adventure 6ADVENTURE 7Black Tower Adventure 8BLACK TOWER ADVENTURE 9Black Tower Adventure 10

And, with something like 40 years worth of files and investigation reports could all that much delving into UFOs, lake and sea creatures and many other mysteries not result in a book or two...or three? Some Things Strange & Sinister, Some More Things Strange & Sinister as well as Pursuing The Strange and Weird: A Naturalist's Viewpoint set a precedence.

Whereas for decades those involved in "UFOlogy", "Cryptozoology" and "Forteana" declared many mysteries, that photographs were lost "to history" and so on, these three books swiped away the false claims.  Alleged lost photographs -found.  'Mysteries' solved by doing actual research work and reading the sources -something others had never done.
Some Things Strange & SinisterSome More Things Strange & SinisterPursuing The Strange & Weird:A Naturalists Viewpoint

And, of course, mention natural history and Black Tower Books broke new ground with that in The Red Paper: Canids.


The Red Paper: CANIDS

But not all the prose books covered mysteries and wildlife.


And if there is one thing "Herr Professor" loves it is discovering and presenting long lost UK Golden Age (1939-1951) comic strips and characters from publishers such as Gerald Swan, Foldes, Denis M. Reader, Cartoon Art Productions and others.

Scanned and restored as best as can be considering the poor print quality of the rationing years -especially red, orange, yellow, blue and purple ink printing!

Ace Hart The Atomic Man!  The Tornado!  TNT Tom!  Dene Vernon!  Acromaid!  Cat-Girl! Bring 'Em Back Hank! Robert Lovett:Back From The Dead and so many other action heroes and humour strip characters -William A. Ward, Jock McCaill and a host of known and unknown creators contribute -either in single volume " Black Tower Gold" albums or all six collected into the 400+ pager -The Ultimate British Golden Age Collection!



The Ultimate British Comics Gold CollectionBlack Tower British Gold Collection 1Black Tower British Gold Collection 2Black Tower British Gold Collection 3UK GOLD COLLECTION 4Black Tower Gold 5:Back From The Deadblack tower gold 6

Another great love is Centaur Comics from the United States.  Right at the very start of the American Golden Age of Comics Centaur had creators who were ahead of the others!  Before Plastic Man there was Plymo!  Before The Human Bomb there was TNT Todd! Before Green Arrow and waaaaaaay before Hawkeye there was the mysterious red hooded archer called The Arrow!  And, to just break your comic mind world there was even a Black Panther -decades before Kirby came up with his character of the same name.

The Eye Sees All.  The Owl. The Iron Skull.  Amazing Man. The King of Darkness.  The Invisible Terror. The Blue Lady. The Shark. Mini Midget & Kitty.  Mighty Man. Super Anne.  The company may have been short-lived but it's characters -oh boy!

The two volume Centaur Heroes Collection has been compiled into one sweet 140 page comic collection!
The Ultimate Centaur Collection 2011

Horror. Ghost stories.  The twist-in-the tale.  Did you think that a publisher who is a big horror comic/film fan would ignore these?

Nope.  Each year since 2010, BTCG has published a Tales Of Terror anthology album and 2014s included some fun and spooky lost Swan Comic strips.  I mean how can you go wrong -even Ben Dilworth is in these!

 Tower Tales Of TerrorTales Of Terror 2TALES OF TERROR IIITales Of Terror 4

The Church Of England has it's own basher of dark forces in the Reverend Merriwether -"God's Demon0-Thumper" as the press billed him.  From an ancient Egyptian demon to a village of the damned and Varney the Vampyre, werwolves and a final confrontation with Satan himself -Merriwether pulls no punches and offers no compromise.  And in those last few seconds between life and death, Merriwether's mind recalls past cases -thanks to Ben Dilworththe Tall Man of Osaka.

Merriwether: God's Demon Thumper and Merriwether: The Test Of Satan are available as individual comic albums or in one swanky book The Collected Merriwether: God's Demon Thumper.

 Merriwether:God's Demon-ThumperMerriwether:The Test Of SatanMerriwether: Gods Demon Thumper

Oh, did I forget to mention Dene Vernon -British comics' first investigator of the supernatural and strange mysteries?  I did? Unbelievable since Gavin Stuart Ross drew the 1948 based Dene Vernon: The Thing Below!

 Dene Vernon:The Thing Below


 And did you know Ross also drew the two adventures of Victorian mystery man Chung Ling Soo? Chung Ling Soo: The Curse Of The Jade Dragon and Chung Ling Soo: The Case Of The Thames Serpent were two cracking tales of magic, adventure, murder and deception -still available as single comic albums or collected together to form The Adventures Of Chung Ling Soo!

Chung Ling Soo 1Chung Ling Soo Man Of Mystery





THE CASE BOOK OF CHUNG LING SOO

Ben Dilworth is no slouch either!  Chung Ling Soo's police "counter-foil" isnone other than old London "Jack" (police man) Inspector Wilberforce and when Dilworth says "Here's a Wilberforce one-off: PUBLISH IT!" you do not argue!

Wilberforce



And did you know you can be a Gold Master of Japanese Haiku?  Well, neither did I -but guess what?  Ben Dilworth is such a master and his Osaka Brutal features his Haiku in English!

 Osaka Brutal

Old saleman that he is, Dilworth just keeps on going.  He produced Aesop's Fables -a darker version of the childrens tales and then went on to write two well illustrated prose albums looking at spirits and demons -Dilworth's Japanese Yokai and Dilworth'sWestern Yokai.  Osaka and the Yokai books were combined with Aesop's Fables into the one volume The Collected Ben R. Dilworth -though the single volumes are also still available.

The Collected Ben R. DilworthDilworth's Japanese YokaiDILWORTH WESTERN YOKAIDilworths Aesop's Fables


Horror comics yes but also some nice illustrated prose from Dilworth in...Dilworth's Horror & Ghost Stories but for the connoisseur those stories were collected together with the Phantom Detective comic strips into The Complete Phantom Detective!
Dilworth's Horror & Ghost StoriesTHE COMPLETE PHANTOM DETECTIVE



And could anyone forget the sensational Iron Warrior Versus Big Bong:When Giants Fought? But add to that the various Iron Warrior strips from Adventure and you get The Iron Warrior Collection -When Giants Fought!  In the 1940s, William A. Ward's creation was to be the most graphically violent comic strip seen until the 1970s.  That is some legacy. It continues....with a touch of fun!

The Iron Warrior Vs Big BongTHE IRON WARRIOR COLLECTION

In case you are wondering, yes, obviously there are super heroes.  Mix in ancient pantheons of gods, giant robot, alien invasion, Lovecraftian dark ones and so much more that the book runs to over 320 pages then you have part 1 of Terry Hooper-Scharf'sInvasion Earth Trilogy" or as it is titled Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes!  And epic ending with the words: "Dr Morg has killed us all" -and if you have never read the mind altering counter actuality that is The Dr Morg Trilogy you may be saying "What? Who-?"

And part 2 of the trilogy The Cross Earths Caper ought to get you in the mood for 2015's big 31st Anniversary third part of the trilogy The Green Skies.


 The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super HeroesTHE CROSS EARTHS CAPERJourney Of The ID:The Dr Morg Trilogy

check out all the Black Tower Comics and Books at the online store -see why we are the UKs largest publisher of  Independent Comics!