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26. Trick-or-Treat! Diamond Reveals Halloween ComicFest Titles!

Yes, Summer officially started last Friday.  You’re probably haven’t even done your grocery shopping for the Fourth of July cookout!  Or started packing for San Diego!

halloween comicfest 2014But for retailers and publishers, they think months in advance!  Comics shipping in October must be ordered in August.  Publishers usually try to think six months in advance!

So here are the titles for the next Halloween ComicFest, scheduled for October 25th, the Saturday before Halloween.

The big surprise?  Twelve full-size comics, and seven minis!  Last year there were eleven regular sized issues, with 11 minis.  In the first HCF, there were 4 regular-sized issues and 11 minis.

So what’s being offered?  Lots of stuff I wouldn’t give to kids…

HCF 2014 AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #1

hcf archiePublisher: ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
(W) Roberto Aguirre Sacasa (A/CA) Francesco Francavilla
Celebrate the most frightening day of the year with the most horrifying tale Archie has ever told! “Escape From Riverdale”: This is how the end of the world begins… Harvey Award-winning writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Carrie, Archie meets Glee) and Eisner-winning artist Francesco Francavilla (Batman, Black Beetle) take Archie and the gang where they’ve never been before – to the grave and back! A horrific accident sets off a series of grim events and Sabrina the Teenage Witch must try to repair the unspeakable evil her spell has unleashed. Gasp in horror as Riverdale faces an impending zombie Arch-pocalypse in this reprint of the award-winning, sold-out first issue! But be warned, kiddies, this one’s not for the faint of heart! For TEEN readers.
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140027
hcf batmanPublisher: DC COMICS
Just in time for Halloween, fans can get this FREE excerpt from the first chapter of the critically acclaimed graphic novel, Batman: Haunted Knight, which features dark tales of horror and intrigue featuring Batman facing off against his most demented and wicked foes. Taking place on the most evil of holidays, Halloween, the Dark Knight Detective confronts his deepest fears as he tries to stop the madness and horror created by Scarecrow, the Mad Hatter, the Penguin, Poison Ivy and the Joker.
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140031
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf avatarPublisher: AVATAR PRESS INC
(W) Max Brooks (A/CA) Raulo Caceres
Best-selling author Max Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z) takes the zombie genre to a whole new level with Extinction Parade, featuring the art of superstar Raulo Caceres (Crossed). As humans wage a losing fight against the hordes of the subdead, a frightening realization sets in with the secretive Vampire race: their “food” is dying off. This is the story of the Vampires’ decent into all-out war with the mindless hungry hordes of the zombie outbreak, with humanity caught in the middle. Extinction Parade introduces the “Vampires vs. Zombies” sub-genre with three species in mortal conflict. This is how a species dies…
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140029
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf grimmPublisher: ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT INC
(W) Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco (A) Jean-Paul Deshong & Various (CA) Mike Debalfo
A special reprint of the first ever Grimm Halloween Special! A couple is granted one wish for their dreams to finally come true only to have that wish turn into a complete nightmare! Now Sela must try to stop Belinda’s act of evil before more lives are destroyed. From the original writers and creators of Grimm Fairy Tales, Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco, comes this re-telling of the classic story “The Monkey’s Paw”, retold with a terrifying Zenescope twist that readers have come to love!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140037
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf hero catsPublisher: ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT
(W) Kyle Puttkammer, Jeremy Whitley (A/CA) Marcus Williams
A Hero Cat’s life is exciting enough, but what happens when imaginations run wild after a scary movie marathon at the local drive-in?! Ace, Midnight, Cassie, Rocket, Rocco, and Belle will win your heart in this frightfully fun-filled tale! Plus, an exclusive preview of the highly anticipated new Princeless series!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140026
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf Marvel1Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
Action! Mystery! Adventure! Reprinting the tale that started it all and sparked 75 years of storytelling in the Mighty Marvel Manner! Celebrate Marvel’s 75th Anniversary with the very first appearance of two titanic Marvel mainstays – android hero the original Human Torch, and aquatic anti-hero Namor, the Sub-Mariner! Reprinting material from Marvel Comics #1 (1939)!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140034
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf aspenPublisher: ASPEN MLT INC
(W) Vince Hernandez (A/CA) Agnes Garbowska
A completely brand new and unexpected Fathom tale for fans of all ages! Join none other than Fathom’s Ernie the Seahorse as the playful ocean dweller finds himself wrapped up in a magical Aspen-universes-spanning adventure that will test his limits! For the first time ever, Aspen Comics’ is excited to offer fans and readers a unique comic and coloring book that includes a crafted full length story geared for children to color, plus added puzzles, mazes and other fun-filled activities for kids of all ages! It’s the perfect treat for the Halloween holiday!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140028
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf mlpPublisher: IDW PUBLISHING
(W) Jeremy Whitley (A) Tony Fleecs (CA) Amy Mebberson
The Cutie Mark Crusaders go to the one creature that might just be crazy enough to help them get their cutie marks… Discord! Is he up to the task? Find out in this madcap adventure, perfect for all ages!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140033
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf rachelPublisher: ABSTRACT STUDIOS
(W/A/CA) Terry Moore
Halloween marks the return of a modern classic, Rachel Rising #1! Rachel wakes up dead in a shallow grave and climbs out to hunt for her killer. Seeking the help of Aunt Johnny and BFF Jet, Rachel encounters a mysterious woman and the scariest little girl in comics! This special reprint is just for Halloween Comicfest 2014 and features a unique cover variation to mark the occasion!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140025
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf vizPublisher: VIZ MEDIA LLC
(W/A/CA) Naoki Serizawa
The highly virulent C-virus became a global disaster, but where did the outbreak start? In this prequel to the hit Resident Evil 6 game, the terrifying origins are revealed! At the prestigious and elite Marhawa High School in Singapore, a female student suffers a horrifying transformation. Called in to investigate, Professor Doug Wright and his nephew Ricky find themselves caught up in a deadly and growing tragedy. As things get rapidly out of hand, Chris Redfield and his team from the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance arrive on the scene, while behind it all a mysterious figure looms….
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
hcf scoobyPublisher: DC COMICS
Just in time for Halloween, fans of all ages can get this FREE special edition of the first issue of the fan-favorite, all-ages series that features teams-up with the Scooby-Doo gang and the greatest heroes of the DC Comics Universe! Rumors of a giant bat-creature bring Scooby and the gang on the run – but Batman and Robin are already on the trail of their old foe, the monstrous Man-Bat. Before long, the crooks behind a fake bat-creature will come face-to-face with the real thing… with the good guys caught in the middle!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140030
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf MSHSWPublisher: MARVEL COMICS
Experience the ground-breaking 1984 classic again – or for the very first time! Under the watchful eye of an all-powerful being, the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes and vilest villains are transported away to a mysterious planet known only as “Battleworld.” The only way to escape? Destroy their enemies! Now, Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Wolverine and more must battle to the death against Ultron, Galactus, Kang, Doctor Doom and many more! Don’t miss the first issue in the genre-defining crossover that changed the Marvel Universe forever!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140035
In Shops: 10/8/2014
The mini-comics:
hcf angry birdsPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Nathan Crosby (A) Ivan Portier (CA) David Baldeon
When Professor Pig mistakenly electrifies all the pigs in the graveyard, he unwittingly creates Zigs… zombie pigs with only one need – Eggs! Can Red and the rest of the Angry Birds stop this ghoulish grab at their precious unborn flock? An all-new, all-ages Angry Birds Comics tale just in time for Halloween!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140046
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf b&vPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Dan Parent (A) Dan Parent, Rich Koslowski (CA) Jeff Schultz, Tito Pena
It’s a dark and stormy night – a fitting night for Betty and Veronica to stay inside and have a scary movie festival! But things go from “reel” to real when Archie, Jughead and Reggie try to crash the girls’ private party – and come face-to-face with an axe-wielding maniac! Is everything as it seems, or is it just a case of the boys’ imaginations running wild? Find out in “An Axe to Grind!”
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140040
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf boomPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Bryce Carlson & Various (A) Nichol Ashworth & Various
No tricks here, just treats as BOOM! Studios imprints KaBOOM! and Archaia offer up spooky tales from Adventure Time, Peanuts, and Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock in this mini-comic collection arriving in time for Halloween!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140042
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf lbxPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
Welcome to the world of Little Battlers eXperience! In the near future, a boy named Van Yamano owns Achilles, a miniaturized robot made of a new super-strong industrial cardboard. But Achilles is no ordinary LBX. Hidden inside him is secret data that Van must keep out of the hands of evil at all costs!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140050
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf merminPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W/A/CA) Joey Weiser
Mermin, the Mer-Man from Mer, returns! In this special Halloween-themed one-shot, Mermin and his human friends introduce Halloween customs to Mer. How will the undersea inhabitants embrace the dry land holiday? What kind of treats will they exchange in place of tricks? And, most importantly, what costumes will everyone wear?
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140048
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf pvzPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Paul Tobin (A/CA) Ron Chan
Crazy Dave-the babbling-yet-brilliant inventor and top-notch neighborhood defender-helps his niece, Patrice, and young adventurer Nate Timely fend off Zomboss’s latest global attack in Plants vs. Zombies: Timepocalypse! This new, standalone tale will tickle your funny bones and thrill . . . your brains! The hit video game continues its comic-book invasion!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140044
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf vampletsPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Gayle Middleton, Dave Dwonch (A) Amanda Coronado, Bill Blankenship (CA) Gayle Middleton, Bill Blankenship
Beware the Bitemares! Vampyres have always been obsessed with their pets, but now a new threat has arisen! Someone is releasing Bitemares all over Gloomvania, causing chaos in their wake. Who will be able to stop them, and what secret connection do they have to Cinder the Vampyre Kitten? The next chapter in the Vamplets saga starts HERE!Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140038
In Shops: 10/1/2014
My opinions:
  1. I order the mini-packs ($4.99, about the same cost for candy) and have my siblings in the midwest hand them out to trick-or-treaters.  I know some librarians who do the same in their schools.  So we have seven titles.  Nothing by DC or Marvel, so no free advertising for them.  (Really, Marvel?  You couldn’t find a Marvel Age story from those digests you sold back in the mid-Aughts and reprint that?)  (Dame goes for DC.  I see the Scooby-Doo story above, but what about a story from the Showfcase reprints?  Those reduce nicely (as seen in the Blue Ribbon digests of the 70s and 80s).  Those Showcse volumes are great for young readers!  Comics Code approved (perfect for red states!) and a 25 stories in one volume for a cheap price!)  I guess I’ll order some of the “big boy” titles from my friendly neighborhood comics shop, but not as many, given the cost.  I guess those copies are for shops, like Free Comic book Day.
  2. Were I retailer, I wouldn’t order the mature titles at all.  Why risk a parent picking up “Aferlife With Archie” and reading it to their child at bedtime?  Add in the memory of a dearly-departed family pet, and you’ve got the makings of a media witch hunt. (For those who think this far-fetched, remember this?)
  3. Marvel, is the Secret Wars collection available for reorders?  Yeah, it’s cool that you’re making it available again, especially to new readers.  (It hooked me back in ’84, so maybe that’s not such a good idea…), but if retailers can’t meet demand from customers, then why bother?  As for Marvel Comics #1…?  I thought the Human Torch was verboten.  Or are there some horror stories in the first issue?  Will this be a 68-page reprint?  (Myself, I think Amazing Fantasy #15 would be better.  Some good Lee/Ditko horror stories in that issue!)
  4. Diamond, do you have digital review copies on your Bookshelf website?  Librarians and educators (and retailers) will want to review the material before ordering copies for distribution.  Publishers, why not do this as well?  Fans will still want to pick up the free comics at stores, so this won’t hurt store marketing.

If you want to order any of these comics to hand them out on Halloween, write down the Diamond order codes (JUL140xxx) and talk to the store manager as soon as possible!

Retailers, here is an old column to re-read: Halloween and the Holidays.  Also: The Return of Halloween Comics.

0 Comments on Trick-or-Treat! Diamond Reveals Halloween ComicFest Titles! as of 6/22/2014 10:45:00 PM
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27. ONE AND DONE: Finding a Creative Team You Trust

Most of the time, trying to find a comic or two to buy in a given week is very hard. This week, it wasn’t at all. I’ve been looking forward to The Wicked + The Divine ever since it was announced. And now that it’s finally on shelves, I can tell you why.

One of the pleasures of getting into comics–and any medium, really–is identifying creators whose work most resonates with you. It’s the fun part, where you go to your library and scour its hopefully well-stocked comics section, checking everything you can out and requesting more from other branches.

You learn what you like and what you don’t. You gain an appreciation for how comics are different from any other medium. You delight in all the radically different kinds of stories that can be told by them. You remember the names of the people who told them.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a creative team that you love, one that works together frequently and consistently tells stories that you enjoy. For me, one of those teams is that of writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie.

Gillen and McKelvie are often described–by themselves and by others–as a pair that makes comics like pop songs. Their stories, from Phonogram to Young Avengers to this weeks The Wicked + The Divine #1, are ones that are boldly, helplessly, passionately about exactly what they say they’re about. They’re stories that don’t care for subtlety as much as they do about feeling alive, if only for one dance.

They don’t give a damn about being remembered, but while they’re here, you’re not going to ignore them.

The Wicked + The Divine is both the purest form of that ethos they’ve built up over nearly a decade of collaboration, and it’s also weirdly restrained in a way that feels mature and measured. It’s a title that knows it won’t be ignored, and it’s settling in to tell an assured story in its own way.

A lot of that comes from the contributions of the rest of the creative team–the colors from Matthew Wilson are remarkable, and the work of designer Hannah Donovan has done a lot to give the whole venture a strong visual identity–the reading experience starts with the front cover and ends with the back one. It’s elegance makes most books on the stands look sloppy.

There’s been a lot of hype for this book, and all of it is deserved. If you go into a comics shop and only have cash for one book, your $3.50 will be well spent on The Wicked + The Divine.

However.

Sex Criminals #6 also came out today. Now, there’s not much I can say about Sex Criminals that hasn’t already been said (and if no one’s told you about it go buy the first trade or borrow it from a friend. It’s fantastic), but I want to take a moment to talk about why you should buy this particular book as it comes out and not wait for a trade.

It’s the letters page. The Sex Criminals letters page is one of my favorite things in comics right now, for lots of reasons. The obvious one is that it’s absolutely hilarious–mostly because it shows how truly essential Chip Zdarksy is to the book’s sense of humor–but the other is because that’s where the book walks the walk.

Sex Criminals is lauded not just for being a great story well told, but for being a thoughtful, mature, look at sex and sexuality, a safe place in an industry that is often a mess of problematic sexual politics. When it hit stands, the response was overwhelming. People wrote Fraction and Zdarsky in droves.

Readers were connecting with the story in a very real way, and wrote in to share and laugh and confirm the one great truth the story is anchored in: we’re all alone together.

Every issue of Sex Criminals comes with pages and pages of letters. They’re a joy to read, and they don’t get published in the trade paperbacks (they are included on the digital versions if you buy from Comixology, though). Sex Criminals is a comic that’s worth buying; anyone will tell you that.

But there’s this extra reason that makes making a monthly trip to the comics shop or download on Comixology worth the higher expense: it’s that wonderful reminder that there are people like you out there. People who love comics, and love seeing that they’re full of stories that are a little bit like their own.

As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like.

Be back in a week.

6 Comments on ONE AND DONE: Finding a Creative Team You Trust, last added: 6/23/2014
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28. Paula: Owls #1

Playing with owls and patterns...

0 Comments on Paula: Owls #1 as of 6/19/2014 3:39:00 PM
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29. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Sean Phillips

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Sean Phillips has been working in comics for over 3 decades, creating beautifully rendered art on such titles as The Invisibles, 2000 AD, Judge Dredd, and Hellblazer. He was part of the British Invasion of Comics in the late 80′s/early 90′s along with cohorts Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, and Neil Gaiman. His ability to create striking cover illustrations, and draw fully formed characters in a classic, cinematic style has led to a long accomplished career as an artist. He is completing his latest collaboration with “partner in crime” writer Ed Brubaker on the supernatural thriller Fatale for Image Comics. August will see the premiere of their next series together, The Fade-Out, a noir tale set in 1940′s Hollywood. This also begins a 5 year deal with Image Comics for both Sean Phillips, and Ed Brubaker to produce comics exclusively for the publisher, which is a rare occurrence in the industry. This obviously shows the extreme confidence that both creator’s work, and craftsmanship inspires to land such a contract.

Sean Phillips has contributed cover and interior art for various Criterion Collection DVDs, including On the Waterfront, and 12 Angry Men.

He’s also been nominated for 3 Eisner Awards, and has won once with Ed Brubaker for best new series Criminal.

You can keep up with all of the latest Sean Phillips news, and art on his website.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

0 Comments on Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Sean Phillips as of 6/18/2014 4:49:00 PM
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30. Brian Wood Comics Return To Print From Dark Horse

New York Fourby Brandon Schatz

Over at Publisher’s Weekly, they’ve announced that a couple of Brain Wood series will return to print from Dark Horse, as part of a focus on YA content from the company.

In November, a collection of the two New York Four/Five volumes the writer did with artist Ryan Kelly for DC’s  Minx line, an ill-fated imprint that missed its mark more than it hit. Marketed towards the YA market, many of the books attempted to tell stories involving that age group instead of aiming upwards towards the older set. Take a look at a book store, and you’ll see the kids section filled with books telling stories about kids or teens who are just a little bit older than the age being marketed towards. As always, the younger set wants to seem more grown up, and the perfect way to hit the demographic is to aim higher, and market lower.

Keeping in that vein, Dark Horse will also be bringing Demo back into print, a series Wood did with artist Becky Cloonan, first for AiT/PlanetLar, and then for Vertigo.

It’s been a big couple of weeks for Wood, along with the announcement of his involvement in Marvel’s Moon Knight title following Warren Ellis’ departure. These are the first big project announced from Wood since accusations of misogyny were levelled at him late last year, though Dark Horse hints that there is more to come from the writer in the coming months, as The Massive draws to a close, and new series begin.

As noted by my piece earlier this week, I have my own problems with Wood, though as blogger and former DC editor Valerie D’Orzaio notes, it’s important not to confuse feelings on Wood’s actions with a call to action, or a means to an end. I know I’ve enjoyed these books in particular, and would love to see them reach a wider audience.

6 Comments on Brian Wood Comics Return To Print From Dark Horse, last added: 6/14/2014
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31. ONE AND DONE: ‘She-Hulk’ #5 and the Joy of Polite Comics

she-hulk5

One of my favorite things about monthly comics is the intro page. It has taken on special significance in recent years–I’d say it’s thanks to the wild success of Hawkeye. But I can’t say that authoritatively, mostly because I’m the guy who only buys one comic per week. But it’s a good example.

Every issue of Hawkeye tells you that Clint Barton is the greatest sharpshooter alive, that he’s an Avenger, and that this book is about what he does when he isn’t an Avenger.

Then there’s a dumb joke. It’s the best part.

The practice is far from new–superhero comics have a long tradition of slapping  a boilerplate paragraph on the title page describing the hero’s whole deal in brief. But recently, with Marvel titles like Hawkeye and Moon Knight and All-New Ghost Rider, these pages have taken on a bigger role than just a reminder of who this book’s about.

They’re a mission statement. A reassurance that All You Need To Know can be summed up in a few lines above the credits. It’s very polite of them.

‘Polite’ really is the best word to describe it. See one of those intro pages in a comic book, and it’s easy to see that the book is doing you a courtesy, making a conscious effort to remain accessible and friendly to the curious (and cash-strapped). The hope is that you can jump right in and be ready to go.

With She-Hulk #5, I absolutely did.

She-Hulk’s intro page isn’t like any of the aforementioned ones. There’s little in the way of style or design to it. It’s mostly just She-Hulk, breaking the fourth wall and telling the reader everything they need to know to appreciate the story they’re about to read–The Blue File. She also says that the currently absent letters page will be back soon.

It’s not very striking at all. In fact, it feels like a throwback. But it gets the job done, and doesn’t tip it’s hand toward the biggest surprise: Ron Wimberly’s art.

Part of the fun of all this, of buying comics off the shelf one issue at a time, is the feeling of discovery you can get. Not of just worlds or stories or characters, but of all the wonderful and diverse work that all occupies the same shelf space. Until this week, I’ve never seen Wimberly’s art before. Now I wish I had.

It’s playful, vibrant, and doesn’t give a damn about what you think. Wimberly plays with perspective, making frequent use of the foreground in panels and rarely elects to settle at eye-level, instead framing his subjects from above or below. Anatomy and proportion are more suggestions than hard and fast rules, with limbs dynamically filling up space to highlight sound effects and make the action pop off the page.

And the color work from Rico Renzi is just as bold. Day-Glo pinks and purples and oranges fill the pages, adding to Wimberly’s visual dynamism. It’s all such cool stuff, and feels more akin to a punk indie comic than a mainstream title.

Charles Soule’s script isn’t as bold and ballsy as the art, unfortunately. That’s not to say it’s bad–it’s clever and funny, with only a few beats that seem to refer back to earlier events that a new reader would be in the dark about. There’s a cliffhanger, and it’s a smart and organic one that holds promise for the rest of the arc, whether it be two more issues or six.

But man, if only it had the stones the art did.

Now comes the tricky part–how do you decide if a book you picked up on a lark is one you’re going to keep picking up or just wait for other options. I’m not disappointed by She-Hulk #5 on the whole–I’m actually very satisfied (it’s also one of the few Marvel books still selling for $2.99, so maybe that helps). But the story isn’t really one I’ll be turning over in my head much–and now that I’ve seen Wimberly’s work, I’ll be inclined to seek it out more than I’ll probably want to reread this issue.

Or maybe I won’t really know for sure until #6 is on the stands and I find myself compelled to jump back in. Sometimes you don’t have an answer right away. That’s okay. I’ve got time.

As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like.

Be back in a week.

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32. Call for Submissions about Monsters: Story Magazine


STORY #2: THE MONSTERS ISSUE

Deadline: July 15, 2014

The new Story magazine is seeking work for our upcoming issue dedicated to monsters---in whatever form they might come: physical or psychological, imaginary or real, inherited or invented.

Story is a biannual magazine about the human need for story. We’re looking for stories in whatever shape and form they come: fiction, poetry, computer code, graphic design, lyric essay, comic strip, grocery list, memoir, conceptual art, and so on.

We're looking for work that addresses the theme (depicts monsters), deconstructs the theme (unpacks monster ideologies), or even expands upon the theme (adds to the monster canon).

A traditional short story? Certainly. A poem-comic? Yes please. A zoology report on scorpions? We'd love to check it out. An essay about your Nazi-sympathizing father? Send it. A mathematical theorem? Why not. A political treatise? You bet.

The theme is meant to be broad. Story + monster. In whatever form.

We are looking for high quality work that transports, mesmerizes, disturbs. Authors are paid for original material.

Submit via Submittable.

Or by regular mail, with an SASE or email for response to:

Story
441 Country Club Road
York, PA 17403

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33. The World Cup Reminds Me…the time I proved I had no coordination skills

The 2014 World Cup has begun!! Now here’s a fun fact, soccer was my first sport. Gosh how I loved it, I played for seven years and looked forward to every Saturday’s game (confession: the after-game snack a LOT too!) like nobody’s business. Why did I stop after seven years?? Enter exhibit A:
running sports cartoon
I sucked. Like I REALLY sucked. I can vividly remember scoring my first goal…mostly because it was my first and last. I don’t even have an excuse for one goal in seven years, like I played goalie or defense…nope, I was a forward and mid-fielder. Right where one with any iota of coordination would be set RIGHT up to score a goal.

Hey, at least I can own my suckiness. I know I can handle turning left and running in a straight line. So I stopped soccer when, totally honest here, the only team I could still make was the rec team. The qualifications for making the rec team is having your mom or dad write the $35 check to the community rec league. I was in junior high at the time, meaning my rec team would be all the 4th and 5th graders still too young for the Comp and Select teams.

That’s when my mommy-o suggested I try cross country. I thought it was a traveling team, “Cool!! I get to go touring around…I’ll bet I’ll find lots of fun new foods to try!” I though. Yea, even at that age it all comes back to foods and treats, right? I was in for a shock. No traveling done unless you run there. I got tripped pretty bad my first practice and later had to pick gravel out of scars I still have today.

i run. i'm hungry. cartoon

i run…do the math.


My first race I spent hovering over a bush for about 15 minutes certain I’d barf. I didn’t, but my dad still has a picture of me hovering over the bush. The thing is though, I kinda liked it. I sucked at anything with ‘real’ coordination skills but I kinda liked that I could grimace in pain and pass some girl up a hill. I would like to also mention I sucked at running too. That girl I passed up the hill, maybe was the only girl I passed. Like I was slow, but in my mind I didn’t fully grasp 1) how slow I was 2) how HORRENDOUS my form was!! Gosh, even my mom in later years admitted, “Yea, I’ll never forget trying not to laugh the first time your little club coach saw you run and remarked that you looked crazy.”

I owned my crazy then and I own it now though! ;) But hey, I stuck with this whole running thing. I do promise I kinda really hated it the first couple weeks, but I swear there was like this insane shift after you get past the ‘hump’ I call the hazing weeks. Basically once you become consistent enough to where your body and muscles don’t go into the shock of thinking, “Wait, she’s running…that must mean there’s a bear chasing her!!” resulting in unwalkable sorenesses the next day. Get past that and you’re golden. ;)

Look at running, turning into about my favorite thing to do. Shall we just be thankful that I actually DID have a little too much pride to out-age my rec teammates by four years? Best $35 my mommy-o didn’t have to spend. ;)
———-
My latest on RunBlogRun: Phoebe Wright Can’t Be Stopped! <--- this is actually one h*ll of an inspiring story and she's HILARIOUS!! Read the story then check her blog and twitter feed!!

Also on Want to Run in College? This is what it takes: Hakon DeVries of the University of Kentucky
———–

1) Are you a big soccer fan? Will you be unreachable and completely ignore any and all of your surroundings until the World Cup is over?

2) Were you good at other sports besides running?

3) Have you ever barfed after a race?
Hey, I hovered over that bush but nothing came up. Never have thrown up after a race or workout, that one time over the bush was the closest I’ve come.

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34. How Garfield Got His Groove Back: The ‘Garfield’ Remix Phenomenon

Poor Garfield. In his heyday, he was amongst the most beloved characters on the funny pages, his plush likenesses fastened to car windows and his sarcastic barbs adorning office walls around the globe. Then, somewhere along the line, he underwent a pop-cultural re-evaluation. Jim Davis’ strip is now something of a pariah: just look at how "The Simpsons" paired it with "Love Is" as the kind of strip that Milhouse reads. What a comedown for a character once hip enough to be quoted in “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. But yet, the orange cat has been saved from cultural oblivion by a peculiar trend: the remixed "Garfield" strip.

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35. The Hermit of Shooters Hill – An Interview with Steve Moore, Part 2

Here’s the second part of my interview with Steve Moore, with more to follow. The first part can be found here, along with some explanation of how the interview came about.

INT028

PÓM: Did you go to many SF cons?

SM: Only two or three, I think … at least, that’s all I remember! They were all in the mid-60s, and after that I started losing interest in SF in favour of comics. And by the end of the decade I’d pretty much lost interest in conventions in general.

PÓM: You were involved in the first British comics conventions as well, I believe?

SM: The first two, yes. The first one was at the Midland Hotel in Birmingham in August 1968, and the organising committee was Phil Clarke, his then girlfriend Kay Hawkins and myself. Being on the spot in Birmingham, Phil and Kay did most of the actual organising, while I helped out with publicity (mainly through Odhams’ Power Comics line) and printing with my ‘trusty’ Roneo. I’d already printed off a couple of personal sales-lists for Phil called The Comic Fan, which we then turned into two issues of The Comic Fan Special, which was our news-bulletin, and also listed comics (mainly Phil’s) that were being sold to raise money for expenses. Looking at the second issue of this, I see there was going to be a convention booklet, which I wasn’t going to be printing, but if I still have a copy of that, it must be somewhere in the loft.

I remember very little about that first convention (for many years I thought it had been in 1967!), though I recall the hotel as being big, old and gloomy. I think there may have been about 50 or 60 people there, and a few ‘non-attending’ members. There was the usual stuff: movies, panel discussions, auctions, but I only know this from looking at the bulletin, not from memory! It was all very small scale, and modelled on what we knew of SF conventions, but we had a good time and that was how it all started. I’m afraid I’m one of the guilty men …

Anyway, I obviously hadn’t had enough, as I got involved with the second one as well, at the Waverley Hotel in London, the following year. This time the committee was Frank Dobson, Derek Stokes, Alan Willis (of whom I remember nothing whatever), and myself. It was bigger, more organised … and again I remember virtually nothing about it, though this time that was mainly because I was in a blind, exhausted panic through most of the weekend, trying to make sure that everything worked. And that was enough organising for me. I went to the third in Sheffield, and I think to another one at the Waverley. And then I’d really had enough of conventions in general, and entered my ‘reclusive phase’ … which has lasted for about 40 years so far!

->PÓM: You have been a recluse, apparently, ever since then. Did you just decide it all wasn’t for you, or what happened?

SM: I’m basically a recluse as far as comic conventions and personal appearances go, that’s all. I have a number of very close friends, some going back decades, who I like to see as often as possible, and I’m certainly not agoraphobic in terms of not wanting to leave the house! But by the time we got to the comic cons I was working in the business, which made me a bit of a ‘celebrity’, and I’ve never had any interest in that. And the idea of being in a large room full of people who know me, when I don’t know them, just makes me uncomfortable. Besides, by 1972 I’d gone freelance, and I made a conscious decision to stop reading other people’s comics so I could develop my own style, so what was the point of going to a convention to discuss things I was no longer familiar with or interested in? By then I just wasn’t ‘a comic fan’ any more. So I just withdrew from that whole scene.

PÓM: Do you remember who attended those early comic cons?

SM: Well, looking at the membership list published in an issue of The Comic Fan Special, I see that a number of notable fans were due to be at the first one, like Dave McCullough, Nick Landau, Pete Phillips and Paul Neary. But if you’re asking me who I remember, apart from Phil, Kay and myself, it basically comes down to Jim Baikie, who was living not far from me in South Norwood at the time, and with whom I developed a fairly close friendship, before he moved back to the Orkneys.

1968-Convention-booklet-p4
The membership list for the first Comicon

As for the second one, like I said, it was pretty much of a blur. But among those there were Alan Moore, Steve Parkhouse, Barry Smith and Bob Rickard, the future founder of Fortean Times, none of whom I had as much time to talk to as I would have liked. I also remember shouting at a young kid called Dave Womack, who was making a rather loud nuisance of himself throughout the weekend, and being baffled by an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan called Frank Westwood, who asked me where he could find a Roman Catholic church on the Sunday morning; something which had simply never occurred to me to find out (and which, at the time, I actually thought was pretty weird; after all, when there was a comic book convention going on, why would you want to go to church?).

PÓM: What do you think drove you to want to produce all those fanzines?

SM: Essentially, it was what fans did in those days. There was no internet, no blogs, so if you wanted to do stuff about comics, you did fanzines. It was a mushroom industry in the late 60s, early 70s, especially as cheap offset printing started to come in. Everybody seemed to be doing it … some people were doing four or five at once, on different topics, and the adzines were both offering comics for sale, but advertising all the various fanzines as well. And fanzine editors would trade both copies and adverts with one another, as well as offering space for articles, etc., that you might not have wanted to do in your own fanzine. In many ways it was a bit like an early version of the internet, but done with printed paper, envelopes and postage stamps. It’s how we kept in touch.

As I’ve said, I was mainly interested in getting new material together, rather than articles, and I don’t think I wrote much about comics, preferring to contribute stuff to magazines that fringed away from comics into fantasy and underground material, like John Muir’s Crucified Toad. A strange man who, I’m told, ended up in some sort of shady business in the East, and got himself murdered for it. Or so I’m told.<-

PÓM: Wasn’t it around that time that you first started working in comics yourself?

SM: That’s right. If we backtrack to autumn 1966, I’d been stuck in the laboratory job for a year. So I decided to write letters to half a dozen comics publishers in London (yes, there were actually that many comics publishers in those days) and simply asked them if they had any jobs. I got polite replies (‘no’) from a couple of them, and one offer of an interview, from John Spencer & Co., the publishers of Badger Books, who at the time were publishing a couple of really bad black-and-white superhero books, which in the end only lasted a couple of issues each. So I made my way over to West London one evening to their tiny premises, which I think was pretty much one office and a storeroom, but it turned out they basically wanted a warehouseman, which really wasn’t what I was looking for. So I knuckled down to the flour samples and sulphuric acid fumes again.

And then six months later, out of the blue, I got a letter from a lady at Odhams Press, saying they had a vacancy for an office junior. At the time, they were publishing their ‘Power Comics’ line, which revolved round reprinting Marvel strips in black-and-white, which was right up my street. I went for an interview and was told I was a bit too old, being nearly 18, but I was enthusiastic, knowledgeable about American comics, and I could show them Ka-Pow. So they offered me the job. Everyone at Rank’s told me I was making a really bad mistake, giving up a job with ‘prospects’ to be an office boy, and for less money too … but I was off as soon as my week’s notice had run out.

I started at Odhams, in their offices at 64 Long Acre, on 1st May 1967. The date sticks in my mind because the first thing they did was send me over to Blackfriars to join the NATSOPA trade union and, of course, being Mayday, the offices were shut. Perhaps not the best of omens to start my career with …

Having arrived, I found that I was actually the junior office junior, there being another guy who’d already been there a year or two. My duties were pretty much getting post in and out of the building, running errands, and so on, but I adopted a simple strategy: when I didn’t actually have any specific tasks, I’d head for the offices of the various different comics and asked the editors if there was anything they needed me to do for them. So within three months I’d leapfrogged the other guy (who I don’t think ever did get beyond being office junior) and got myself promoted to junior sub-editor on Pow! and Fantastic. Both of these were run from the same office, under the editorship of long-time professional scriptwriter Ken Mennell who, I see from looking on the web, sadly seems to be far more honoured in France than in the land of his birth … probably as a result there being no credits for writers and artists in those days. We were a team of four: Ken, who was also contracted to write a couple of adventure scripts a week as part of his duties, a senior sub-editor called Jane, another sub-editor called Paul, and myself. And I was working in professional comics …

PÓM: What did all those sub-editors actually do, or was that just a catch-all title for anyone who worked on a given title?

SM: Well, we were producing two titles a week, Pow! and Fantastic, so everything was on a pretty tight schedule. Ken Mennell was in overall charge and made the ‘strategic’ decisions, like which strips we’d run, in collaboration with managing editor Alf Wallace. I think Jane was mainly responsible for Fantastic, which, being mostly page-for-page reprints of Marvel Comics in black-and-white, with only one original strip (‘The Missing Link’, which later evolved into ‘Johnny Future’; written by Alf Wallace and drawn by Luis Bermejo), was a relatively simple, one-person job. Paul and I worked on Pow! which was a bit more complicated, being more a of traditional British comic apart from the ‘Spider-man’ reprint, which had to be resized to fit a British page format. It was mostly one or two page humour strips, with one or two original adventure strips, so that meant a lot to keep track of. We had a large-format ‘make-up book’, with two pages per issue and a sort of grid system on them, in which we’d write the dates that scripts arrived; when they were sent to the artist; when the artwork came back; when the pages were sent to the letterer (all hand-lettering in those days; no computer setting) and when they came back; and so on. Scripts had to be read and edited before they were sent out, and when the finished, lettered pages were in they had to be proofread and sent to the art department (the ‘bodgers’) for correction. I think we all proofread the pages to make sure nothing got through that shouldn’t be there, as the letterers were known to be occasionally mischievous … particularly John Aldrich, who seemed to take every possible opportunity to letter ‘public’ as ‘pubic’, and so on, just to see what he could get through … and Ken, as editor, certainly checked all the pages after we juniors had been through them. It was also drummed into us that we should never allow the use of the word ‘flick’ or the name ‘Clint’, which, when lettered in capitals were dangerously liable to turn into something quite unsuitable for a kid’s comic. Another maxim I learned very early on was ‘all printers are bloody idiots’, which meant their instructions had to be spelled out absolutely precisely, especially when it came to things like marking up the artwork with its reproduction size. Again, all this was pre-computers, so we were sending original artwork to the printer, and all the corrections had to be done by hand, rather than on screen. Obviously we also got proofs back from the printers that had to be checked through as well. ‘Editorial’ largely consists of reading stuff over and over again.

So, all that had to be controlled, and artists and writers phoned up and chased to make sure everything was on schedule. Then there was the mail to go through (perhaps a hundred letters and postcards a week, most of which was unusable) and pick out possible items for the letters page, and we’d ask the kids who wrote in to include a coupon on which they named their three favourite strips; so these had to be added up to give us an idea what was most popular. And at the same time we were working on a new project, a much more traditional adventure comic in the Lion mould called Spitfire, which had no Marvel reprints; but that never got beyond the dummy stage, as by then the Power Comics line was starting to contract. So we had plenty to keep us occupied, though we always left the office on time; I don’t remember us ever being pressurised into actually doing any overtime.

That was also when I got my first freelance work, though it wasn’t writing. As the Spider-man material we were reprinting in black-and-white was merely the line-work for something had originally been drawn for colour, we used to give it a bit more body by applying Zipatone (an adhesive film that had to be imported from the States at the time, which was then laid on the artwork and cut to shape with a scalpel) to various parts of the pictures. I managed to persuade the art editor, John Jackson, that I could do that, and did so for a number of months. It paid a massive 5/- a page, but to put that in perspective, my weekly salary was only something like £15.

PÓM: What was the Power Comics line, which you mentioned above?

SM: Basically it was Odhams’ attempt to model itself on Marvel Comics and included a fair amount of Marvel reprint. The titles involved were Wham! and Smash! , which were already established as more traditional British comics, but then started to include one or two Marvel reprints, with the American material

resized to fit a British page; Pow! which was in the same format, but was first published at the beginning of the Power Comics line, and Fantastic and Terrific, which were in a more American format, each page reproducing a single American page, though each carried one original, British-created strip. There were letters pages, and all the comics carried a half-page news section, in imitation of Marvel’s ‘Bullpen Bulletins’, ‘From the Floor of 64’, which was named after 64 Long Acre, the office address; while instead of ‘Smilin’ Stan’ Lee, we had ‘Alf, Bart and Cos’: Alf Wallace, the managing editor, Robert Bartholomew, his No. 2 and editor of Eagle, and Albert Cosser, editor of Smash! and Terrific (who later went on to edit TV Times for several years). I’m not sure why Ken Mennell wasn’t included in that lot, but maybe they couldn’t fit him in with the ‘A, B, C’ of the other three.

As I said, the offices were at 64 Long Acre, an old newspaper building on the edge of Covent Garden. The ground floor was full of loading bays and was still in use for storing enormous rolls of newsprint, etc. We occupied the entire first floor, which was divided up into smaller offices with metal and frosted glass partition walls. The place was actually a listed building, but it stood on a very prime piece of real estate. A few months after we moved out of the building, it burned to the ground, thus allowing a large and costly redevelopment to take place. Curious, that …

PÓM: What other comics were Odhams producing at the time?

SM: Eagle and Robin, which Odhams had taken over from their original publisher, Hulton Press, in 1959. Their companion papers, Swift and Girl had already folded by then. Eventually all the Power Comics titles started to suffer from declining sales, and merged with each other until there was only Smash! left. Then in 1969 Odhams and Fleetway were merged to become IPC Magazines, and that was pretty much the end of the line. For the last few months of Odhams’ independent existence we moved from Long Acre to offices in High Holborn, and then with the merger everything was transferred to Fleetway House in Farringdon Street.

PÓM: What was the British comics industry like at the time?

SM: It was in pretty good health, which was probably about the last time you could say that. There were Odhams and Fleetway in London, and D. C. Thomson in Dundee, all with a sizeable number of titles, and a few smaller publishers. Of course, Odhams (and IPC after 1969) was the only one I had direct experience of, and that was also the first one that really had any awareness that there might actually be ‘fans’ to be catered to, rather than just kids who bought the comics off the newsstands. But all the creators were anonymous, this being long before anyone got credits, so there was far less egotism than there is in present-day comics. I tend to look back on it as ‘days of honest toil’, when you had a bunch of solid, professional writers and artists who’d turn in their material on time and take their pay-cheques without ever thinking they were doing anything particularly interesting, because they were working for children’s magazines, and that was how they made their living. I think I was pretty much the first fan to get into the business, and after that there were a few others, but in 1967 things were pretty much a closed shop, often with people introducing friends or members of their own family to the editorial staff. Ken Mennell’s son Ian ended up on editorial at IPC, while the writer Ted Cowan’s son Geoff was on the editorial staff of Eagle. At the time no one thought there was anything ‘special’ about comics, and I think a number of the editorial staff just considered it a relatively easy way to get their press cards from the National Union of Journalists, which they could then use as a stepping stone to move on to a better job as a magazine journalist.

PÓM: Did you sell any of your stories at that time?

SM: The first story I sold professionally was a three-page ‘Pow Short Story’ called ‘The House in the Haunted Swamp’, that appeared in Pow! No. 45, late in 1967. It was drawn by a Turkish artist living in this country, called Ayhan Basuglu, and taught me a swift lesson, similar to the one about all printers being idiots … which was that you had to write for artists as if they were idiots as well, especially if English wasn’t their first language. It was set in a decaying house full of barrels of paraffin, and I’d told the artist to draw a guy exploring the place with a torch in his hand … meaning, of course, an electric flashlight. Mr. Basuglu promptly drew him with flaming torch, which wasn’t quite what I’d intended with all that paraffin around, so I had to do a bit of rewriting on the dialogue. By one of those weird symmetries, the same sort of thing happened on the last comic strip I wrote as well, Hercules: The Knives of Kush. On one issue they brought in a couple of Mexican artists to fill in, as Cris Bolson was getting behind schedule. My script asked for some characters wearing skullcaps, by which I meant close-fitting felt caps covering the cranium, and they drew a bunch of guys with actual skulls on their heads. Fortunately we managed to catch that at the pencil stage, so it wasn’t a problem, but with 40 years between the two events, you understand my feeling of déjà vu …

I know I wrote another ‘Pow Short Story’ called ‘The Hunter out of Time’, which, like the first one, suffered from the usual beginner’s error of having far too many words per panel, and there may have been one or two more. Those are the only two I know I wrote, because in those early days I’d keep a scrapbook of the stories I’d done, but after I’d been freelance a few months there got to be so many of them I just gave up. When I was on editorial for Whizzer & Chips at IPC I wrote a four-episode fill-in on ‘Wonder-Car’, which I really enjoyed as it was drawn by Ron Turner, someone I’d long admired. But I didn’t really write a great deal while I was working in-house, and when I went freelance in 1972, it was pretty much a leap in the dark. I thought I could write, but I didn’t actually have any sort of track record that said I could. It was pretty much the way I blundered through my career. ‘You want a prose story written (or a novel, or a movie script, or whatever)? Oh yeah, I can do that …’ I never had any prior experience of doing them, but as it turned out, I could. Looking back, I seem to have got away with an awful lot, somehow. It’s just that I’m not sure how I did it!

PÓM: Do you remember many of the people who worked on the comics?

SM: As for the in-house staff, apart from the people I’ve already mentioned I mostly just remember first names, though the overall art editor was John Jackson, his assistant Roger Barnden. One of the senior sub-editors on Eagle was a guy called Dan Lloyd, who also happened to be the assistant editor on Flying Saucer Review, and when I was still the office boy I’d sometimes have to run UFO stuff between him and the editor, Charles Bowen, who worked at South Africa House in Trafalgar Square. At one point Dan had his new toy set up in the Eagle office, which was next door to ours … a ‘flying saucer detector’, which I think was some sort of magnetometer that FSR was promoting, so Roger Barnden used to sneak into our office and slap a powerful magnet on the metal partition wall, just to wind up Dan by setting off his detector.

As for creators, a lot of the humour strips were written by Walter Thorburn, who we’d lured away from D. C. Thomson, who were notorious for paying less than their London-based competitors. They’d also lured away Leo Baxendale, though I think he worked mainly for Wham! As for the adventure strips, I think Ken Mennell wrote mainly for Smash! … I’m fairly sure he wrote ‘Rubber Man’ ‘Bunsen’s Burner’ and ‘Cursitor Doom’ for them. Another string to his bow was coming up with plot outlines for thriller novels for the publisher W. Howard Baker, who had a stable of writers who’d then write them up. Ken would knock out the outlines in his lunch hours, at £30 a time, and I was obviously impressed by his productivity. Other adventure writers were Tom Tully and Scott Goodall, but I can’t remember which strips they were responsible for. As for humour artists, there was Mike Brown, who was very much a Leo Baxendale clone, and who I suspect may well be the artist on some material that’s been mistakenly identified as Baxendale. There was Mike Higgs, writing and drawing ‘The Cloak’, and the brilliant Ken Reid on ‘Dare-a-Day Davy’, who was actually a bit of a nightmare to work with, as he’d rewrite all the scripts he was sent, and we’d get back this lovely artwork with tiny pencilled dialogue in the balloons that was twice as long as would actually fit if lettered properly, so we had to cut it in half to make it work. There was Graham Allen and Terry Bave, who also wrote his own stuff. As for adventure artists, there were John Stokes and Eric Bradbury, though a fair number of stories were by Spanish artists, working through agencies like the Temple Art Agency.

It was while working on Pow! and Fantastic in 1967 that I first met Steve Parkhouse and Barry Smith (this was before he moved to the States and started calling himself Barry Windsor-Smith). They turned up one day as a writer-artist team, trying to sell us an SF strip as a ‘Pow Short Story’. It wasn’t accepted, but Barry ended up drawing the pin-ups of Marvel characters on the back cover of Fantastic and Terrific. I’m not exactly sure when he started, but the early pin-ups were drawn in-house by John Jackson.

PÓM: Did you end up working with any of your professional colleagues on any of your fan publications?

SM: Eventually, yes. I’d started another fanzine called Aspect, the first issue of which appeared in September 1969. It was the first comics fanzine I’d done using a Gestetner duplicator, and was run off for me by Derek Stokes, but I wasn’t at all pleased with it; in fact I was rather embarrassed at the way it came out. But by the time I got round to doing the second issue, in March 1970, I’d got in touch with the guys at Orion Press in Manchester, who were essentially fan printers, but who could do justified typesetting and litho printing, including fairly primitive overlay colour covers. Steve and Barry had been working on a large Kirby-esque epic called ‘Paradox Man’ which I was quite eager to run, but instead Barry decided to intercut pages from that with a number of apparently unrelated other pages and the whole thing ended up as a sort of 20-page montage called ‘Tales of Hyperborea’, which looked very nice, so long as you didn’t expect any sort of connected narrative. There was a prose sword-and-sorcery by Chris Lowder, who I was by now working with at IPC, and who later started calling himself Jack Adrian, with a career as a writer, anthologist and critic; that was illustrated by Steve Parkhouse. And there was an article on Frankenstein movies by Denis Gifford.

For some time, Steve and Barry had been intending to do a magazine called Orpheus, along with Bob Rickard, who they’d actually got in touch with after seeing a letter that Bob had had published in a Marvel Comic. So at that point we decided to merge and brought out the first issue of Orpheus in March 1971, nominally edited by Steve and myself, though we all had an input into the issue. By that time Steve was working at IPC with me on Whizzer and Chips and Cor!! So we roped in a few of our friends from there as well, like Chris Lowder and Robert Knight, and again we had strips by Steve and Barry. We actually managed to get a second issue together and printed by Spring 1973, which featured some very early art by Ian Gibson, but Steve and Barry then decided they weren’t satisfied with it, so it was never released, though I managed to nab one copy for my own files.

Eventually Barry moved to the States and Steve to Carlisle, and, sadly, we lost touch. But Bob’s remained one of my very dearest friends for the last 45 years and, of course, it’s because of that that I’ve had a long-running association with Fortean Times since it began in 1973.

PÓM: Were they good times or bad times at Odhams, do you think, looking back?

SM: Certainly good when I was working on Pow! Ken Mennell was a nice man, London was a hip place to work in 1967 and I was doing what I wanted to do, which was working in comics. As things started to shrink Ken left and I ended up working on Smash! , which wasn’t quite so much fun, simply because I didn’t take to Albert Cosser (who was always called ‘Cos’ rather than Albert) quite as much as I did to Ken, though we got on well enough. By 1969 the writing was on the wall, and we knew about the upcoming merger with Fleetway, and for the last few months we moved from Long Acre to offices in High Holborn. For the last month of its life I worked as extra editorial staff on Eagle, which was quite nice, as I’d grown up with the title, but it was pretty much just a case of giving me something to do. Except for a couple of people, virtually everyone at Odhams took redundancy pay, but I’d only been there a couple of years, so that wasn’t worth anything to me and, besides, I wanted to stay in comics. So I hung on and moved over to Fleetway House as part of the new IPC Magazines set-up where, at least to start with, I wasn’t anywhere near as happy.

PÓM: Why not?

SM: Well, I’d basically gone over to Fleetway House as ‘superfluous editorial staff’, and they promptly put me on Valiant, which already had a full staff so I was, basically, superfluous. And while Odhams had been quite relaxed, the whole ethos at Fleetway was much more old-fashioned, with very rigid and strait-laced working practices. The managing editor was a guy called Jack LeGrand, who looked like a rather beaten-up old newspaper hack. He was probably perfectly nice, but I seem to recall there’d be a vague tremor every time he’d walk into an office. The editor of Valiant, Sid Bicknell, was a complete martinet, and I think his chief sub-editor, who was probably only about 30, used to turn up every day in a three-piece suit and a bow-tie. So I got dumped among a staff like that with my lengthening hair and vaguely hippy notions, and we spent six months in mutual loathing.

Valiant was probably the most old-fashioned of the Fleetway boys’ adventure weeklies, and I particularly detested their lead strip, the ‘jolly’ World War II hero Captain Hurricane, which I thought was nauseatingly jingoistic and downright racist (‘Take that, you piano-toothed rice-noshing baboons!’). I seem to remember working for a couple of weeks on Tiger at the end of my stint on Valiant, but then, without asking me what I thought, they suddenly decided to move me on to War Picture Library, which, of course, I hated even more. For those who don’t remember them, these were pocket sized-comics about seven inches by five, with 56 pages plus covers, and usually two or three panels a page.

Working on War Picture Library was even more dire than Valiant. I remember early on having proofread an issue in 25 minutes, and then being told that I couldn’t have read it properly because all the other staff there took 45 minutes. So after that I had to spend 45 minutes on a book regardless of whether it needed it, and some of the stuff was reprint that had already been subbed anyway. I was bored rigid and hated the subject matter, with its constant references to ‘Huns’ and ‘Nips’, and the typical World War II story is something I’ve always refused to write. Mind you, I’ve never written sport either, but that’s mainly because of ignorance rather than any moral scruples.

PÓM: Did you end up working at IPC Magazines for long?

SM: Fortunately, after two months of misery on the War libraries, they decided to bring out a new humour weekly called Whizzer and Chips, under a relatively young editor called Bob Paynter; the idea being that Chips was somehow a ‘separate’ comic that was bound inside Whizzer. As was usually the way, they advertised the job of sub-editor in-house first, and I naturally applied for it, and got it. So that’s where I spent the next two years, until I finally left to go freelance in the summer of 1972. During that time, we also added Cor!! to our line-up, which was another humour title. Both were pretty much modelled on Buster, but perhaps with a slightly younger appeal. They were virtually all humour (a lot of which was written by Roger Cook, who’d formally written TV Comic just about single-handedly every week) with, I think, one adventure strip.

We were down on the second floor (most of the comics were on the top floor, which I can’t remember whether it was the 5th or the 6th, with the libraries on the floor below that), so we were pretty much a separate production unit, cut off from the others (which suited me). And in the time I was there, we ended up with Steve Parkhouse and Dez Skinn on editorial (I think Dez was mainly on Cor!! ), and Kevin O’Neill as art assistant. With the usual nepotistic way of taking on staff, we also had an art assistant called Tony Jacob, who was the son of a cartoonist, I think called Peter Jacob, and there was a rather cute artist/letterer called Diane Flowers, who was developing an interest in palmistry and wanted to read my palm (offhand I can’t remember what she said, just the inky palm-prints … though I think it was more about character analysis than prediction). I don’t think Chris Lowder worked with us, but I think he hung around quite a lot, mainly because of the aforesaid palmist. So we had a decent team there, and Steve Parkhouse and I became quite good friends. And I was reasonably happy for a while.

To be continued…

0 Comments on The Hermit of Shooters Hill – An Interview with Steve Moore, Part 2 as of 6/9/2014 2:01:00 AM
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36. One and Done: Why Moon Knight Is The Perfect Monthly Comic

moonknight4

What makes a comic ‘worth it?’

In the comments to my introductory column, a lot of readers seem to gauge the value of a comic by dividing the time spent consuming by the amount of money spent. There’s nothing wrong with that formula; it’s one that I use all the time myself. Under that formula, the comic I  decided to purchase this week–Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire’s Moon Knight #4–is a terrible value proposition.

It’s also possibly the best book you could spend four dollars on.

Reading this month’s issue of Moon Knight–or really any of the current (and sadly soon-to-be-concluded) creative team’s run will not take you much time. Like a lot of books on the stands, if there’s a line for the register, you can probably read all of it before the end.

But comics aren’t just words to be read. They’re visual, and how much value we place on those visuals are where the cracks in the aforementioned formula start to show.

The subjective nature of art makes it impossible to have a definitive answer–and I have no aspirations to be definitive about anything–but is there anything all that different between an illustration hanging in a gallery that people will pay hundreds of dollars for and the art in every panel and page of a comic book? It’s a tough question, but the art team on Moon Knight is worth every penny.

Shalvey and Bellaire’s work has been a consistent delight to pour over, and they’re bolstered by Ellis’ spare scripting, which leans on the artwork to tell the story–previous issues would often barely make sense if the reader only gave the art a cursory glance. Like a song with intentionally obscured lyrics, the book’s visuals hide layers of story in its lines and colors.

It also helps that writer Warren Ellis has been using the book to show off his mastery of the short story–you’d be hard pressed to find a more satisfying collection of one-and-done stories on the stands right now. And this month’s story, a psychedelic mystery about a recurring nightmare pushing the patients of a sleep clinic to madness, is Ellis’ best yet.

Part of it has to do with the story potential opened up by the revamp–by brilliantly repositioning Marc Spektor as a literal white light in darkness, the series has opened up a story direction that is surreal and unique unto itself.

“Dreamers are people who travel at night,” says Spektor. “That is my specialist subject.”

And much like dreams, which are fleeting yet heavy with meaning, Moon Knight  shows just how much you can hide away in twenty-two brief pages.

 

Addendum: Why I Left Out Webcomics

A lot of commenters brought up something that I probably should have addressed from the start: why no webcomics?

Make no mistake, if you’re someone who just likes sequential art as a medium and aren’t attached to paper or characters, publishers, or creators that have brand recognition, webcomics are where you want to be. The amount of incredible work available for you to read for free is absolutely stunning, and if you want to find people to talk about them with, they’re usually only a scroll or click away from the strip you just read.

Don’t let money keep you from comics. The good folks at io9 compiled this list of 51 excellent webcomics worth checking out–of them, I can personally recommend Evan Dahm’s Overside stories in general and Rice Boy in particular.

 If you’re craving something more substantial, Si Spurrier, writer of the recently-concluded, extremely idiosyncratic X-Men Legacy (one of the best books Marvel put out over the last two years) has been working on Disenchanted, a weekly webcomic with a whole wiki of supplemental materials to mull over.

Also, I’ll occasionally talk about digital exclusives, as most of them run for 99 cents, a much more fair price for a serial publication. But I’ll rarely go into the same depth with a digital comic, since the agreeable price point negates the kind of approach I take for these reviews. If, for example, an issue of the absolutely excellent High Crimes isn’t friendly to new readers or doesn’t necessarily tell a complete story given its intensely serial nature, I won’t care as much. My criteria for what’s ‘worth it’ changes, and the sort of review I’d give it is the kind you could probably read anywhere else.

This column–by design–heavily prefers print comics. Print comics are a perfect storm of bad economics that most comics media doesn’t deal with. I want to wrestle with that problem here. I don’t get review copies of anything. Every comic discussed here is paid for with my own money. I’m not sure that I’ll always be happy with what I get, but making impossible choices is part of the deal. My goal isn’t just to discuss comics, but the difficulties of being a comics consumer.

So help me out: before next Wednesday, June 11th, tweet me @jmrivera02 with the most satisfying single issue purchase you made this month–and why. Tag your responses #OneAndDone, and I’ll select four winners who will receive a free digital copies of one of the four Moon Knight issues I’ve purchased so far. I’ll include your recommendations in next week’s column.

As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like. See you next week.

6 Comments on One and Done: Why Moon Knight Is The Perfect Monthly Comic, last added: 6/9/2014
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37. Peacocks Stop for Runners

Because how could they NOT stop and gawk at such a well-dressed runnerchick. ;) #Ezzere Baby!

peacock runner tee movie

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This short video hit my Instagram feed first…be sure to follow me there so you’ll be the first to see when new artage and such get dropped. :)

Mosey over the BUY YOUR Ezzere Peacock Runner Tee…or any of the others. ;)
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38. Harts Pass No. 204



A couple of years ago, my now 11 year old daughter did this fine Bigfoot comic. In the tradition of Bill Keene (Family Circus) and in honor of this week's Young Writers Conference at MVES, the writing credit for this week's strip goes most assuredly to the 9 year old author of "Quiet Comics." Thanks much kiddo! And I look forward to teaching another session or two of "Making Comics" on Friday afternoon.

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39. By Its Cover (Week Of 5.28.14): Requests & Tangents

by-its-cover-E

[No one has guessed my challenge from the other week, so I'll hold off a few more weeks before revealing the answer.]

A few people have asked if I take requests. I think I’m up for the challenge. Let me know if there are any older covers you’d really like to see analyzed/discussed, or any recent covers you felt I overlooked.

Today’s reader request comes from Heidi MacDonald, who wanted to know what I thought of the recent JLA: Earth 2 redesign. It generated a little bit of discussion on Twitter recently when Andy Kouri tweeted about it:

Unfortunately, Twitter’s character limit doesn’t leave a lot of room for specific critique. A few people seemed unsure if Khouri was complaining about the redesigned title or the different art. After doing a little digging, I figured out that this are is from the original Hardcover release (bottom right), while the Softcover (bottom left) had new art that flipped the positions of the two sets of characters.

JLAEart2SC-JLAEart2HC

I’m pretty sure Khouri was reacting to the new text design, and I agree that it has some problems. However, to be completely honest with you, I was never a big fan of the original text treatment either. The way the words just ever so slightly overlapped seemed kind of random and arbitrary to me, not to mention that it created odd tangents and almost-tangents.

tangent

A tangent is when two elements just barely touch, like Owlman’s head and the letter “H” above. This is considered a design faux pas because of the way it creates unintended visual tension. Visual tension can also be created with almost-tangents such as when two elements are just a little too close to one another (such as Ultraman’s head in proximity to the word “Quitely,”), or when two elements don’t quite go far enough in overlapping each other (like the number “2″ and the bottom of the “r” and “h” in the original cover design).

But what stands out to me most in the new design is that strange empty space under the title. It looked to me almost like the creator’s names had been placed in there at one point, and the box wasn’t resized when the names were removed. It turns out I was half-right – the new design was originally created for the Deluxe Edition:

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The only other issue I have with the cover is a problem I also had with both of the originals: the first time I ever saw Quitely’s image (I can no longer remember which one I saw first), I didn’t immediately notice that the reflections were different. I’m just so used to reflections being background information that I didn’t bother looking closely on first scan.

You might argue that this isn’t a problem at all, that it’s one of those minor details for you to discover on closer inspection. But what if it could be used as a way to get people’s attention and create interest?

JLA-remix-3

Above I’ve mocked up an idea for how I might’ve approached the cover. The familiar heroes would be at the top of the image as the primary focus…but something’s clearly wrong. They appear to be reflections of something else, and why is there upside-down text?

JLA-remix-4

You’d flip the cover automatically, almost without thinking, and discover these warped versions of the characters. Getting you to flip the cover also ties into the theme of the story turning everything upside-down.

A missed opportunity, or am I just off my rocker? (Or both?)


 

And now last week’s covers:

trees-01-cvr-0f5ed

 TREES

Evil and/or death is literally lurking beneath the surface in this cover by Jason Howard. I’m not sure it could have been conveyed any more clearly than this. I also kinda like how the middle letter in the title fits nicely within that vertical bar.

 

STK637936

BRASS SUN #1

Am I the only one who gets a little bit of a Ghibli vibe from INJ Culbard’s illustration? It looks lovely. Also, notice how they’ve expertly balanced their trade dress and centered the title while still passing the Hibbs Test.

 

STK639774

THE FUSE #4

I’m a big fan of Kubrick-esque symmetrical compositions, like this cover by Justin Greenwood. The only thing that kind of bugs me is that I wish the window was centered vertically as well as horizontally. Also, it might’ve been cool if the words looked like they were being reflected in the glass rather than printed on it. But it’s cool.

 

STK647439

EVIL EMPIRE #2

I kind of wish the text in the background was slightly more readable, though the argument could be made that it’s creepier to leave it to the reader’s imagination. My favorite part of Andre De Freitas’ composition is the red dripping down from the background over the character, cutting into her. Nice for a creepy horror vibe.

 

SandmanSpecEd2E-Cv2-1-d5324

 THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE – SPECIAL EDITION #2

I keep trying to figure out something to say about this cover, and I just don’t know. J.H. Williams III definitely succeeded dark and dreamlike. I like the way the title on this Special Edition is just a line of text along the top, letting the image carry the cover.

 

STK638324

AMERIKA

Such a clean illustration, and an amusing concept. I just wish the rooftop wasn’t cut off. The black box is kind of awkward in that it at first looks like a dark sky behind the building, but then the left side of the roof just disappears. It would’ve been more elegant to use the edge of the rooftop to create the box to place the title in, the title floating in the sky.

 


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

5 Comments on By Its Cover (Week Of 5.28.14): Requests & Tangents, last added: 6/4/2014
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40. Kale Video: Like cabbage only cooler

Runners, be you vegan or not, you should get friendly with our friend, Kale. :)

This video was posted on my Instagram page, so if those 15 seconds left your eyes darting to read all the awesome Kale facts, let me run through them again for you:

* Iron
* Calcium
* Vitamin B6, A, C, and K
* Chockfull of antioxidants
* Fights inflammation

So yea, Kale really is hip. Without the skinny jeans. ;)

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More posts on NUTRITION
Post all about the importance of IRON
More foods that FIGHT INFLAMMATION
More CARTOONAGE :)
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41. On The Drawing Board…Dogs, etc.!

I’m working on and finishing up a few projects, and all have a dog or dogs. Also, in different styles. Below are clips from the final or working toward final illustrations.

may-together

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42. Runner’s Strip: Running Insurance

I think I’m in love with my new penguin. First he schools us on ice cream, now he speaks to another runner’s truth.

runner penguin with toilet paper

What nugget of wisdom with Mr. Penguin be dropping on us next time?

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More running CARTOONS AND LAUGHS

Posts on GI Issues for Runners HERE and HERE
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1) What nugget of truth do you think our penguin will be quipping about next time?

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43. Talbot Toluca Crosses Dimensions in an All-Ages Epic Adventure

Las Vegas, NV May 29, 2014 – Two weeks ago, award-winning children’s picture book author and illustrator Kenneth Lamug launched a Kickstarter campaign for his newest book,The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca.

This adventure book aims to reignite the all-ages genre by combining the high-impact visuals of comics while engaging the reader with Where’s Waldo-like hidden-object games, mazes and puzzles. The story follows a group of friends who must save their science professor by travelling through different dimensions and battling the robotic minions of evil scientist Dr. Kadoom.

“This campaign has definitely been an adventure all of its own,” says Lamug. “We’ve been lucky enough to have a great launch and consistent pace. Friends and social media have made a huge impact on getting the word out. Now we just have to make it across the finish line.”

New add-on rewards and incentives have been added for current and future backers, including exclusive art prints and free domestic shipping. Backers who wish to be part of the book as a character can still pledge under the Monster Package.

Currently, the project is 75% funded with less than two weeks to go, ending on June 10th.

For more information visit the Kickstarter campaign athttp://kck.st/1skCg51

Contact:
Kenneth Lamug
www.talbottoluca.com

Talbot-cover

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44. Runners and Ice Cream

What is it about ice cream and running? It just fits. Perfectly.

i run. i'm hungry. cartoon

runners love ice cream

Cuz running and ice cream are both serious business.

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More CARTOONS!!

Tips for RUNNING NUTRITION! (because there’s more than just ice cream)

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45. Sunday Morning Running Motivation: Withdrawals

Because let’s be honest, running withdrawals hurt a h*ll of a lot more than the injury.

injured runner cartoon

For all those healthy enough to run…be THANKFUL. Never forget that, on the days you really aren’t jazzed to suit up and start, put it in perspective. Would you rather be chained to the cross trainer?

Our runner hearts go out to all the currently injured runners…we’ll donate some miles on your behalf. Heal up, cross train like you mean it, and you’ll be back at it again in time. Don’t go mad until then though!

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Posts all about Running and Injures
More Motivation for Runners
Even runners going through withdrawals can at least LOOK runnerchick chic in an Ezzere Tee!!
Tips for Cross Training
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46. The Hermit of Shooters Hill – An Interview with Steve Moore, Part 1

INT027On the 26th of August 2013 I started doing a very long biographical interview with Steve Moore (as mentioned in my earlier post, Steve Moore 1949 – 2014: A Personal Appreciation). The plan was that it would take as long as it would take, and then we’d spend a bit more time fiddling about with it, then decide exactly what we wanted to do with it. Steve died on the 14th of March, give or take a day. At that point, we had reached the end of the questions and answers about his time at Warrior in the early-mid eighties, and I had sent off three final questions about it, just to clarify a few final details, before we moved on to whatever came next. The answers to those questions, although they were written, never got sent, and were found on Steve’s computer after he died. They’ll eventually make their way to me, and will be in the last post in this series.

In the meantime, there’s 48,000-ish word of interview between us that I have decided needs to be seen, even though it is unfinished. The current plan is to put it up here in reasonably sizeable chunks, every Sunday.

One note on the text: As we went along, I would ask supplementary questions, which got inserted into the previous text. To make it clear where a question has been added in later, I’ve included little arrows for those subsidiary questions, like this: ->. Occasionally, there were further questions, which are indicated by an ever expanding length of arrow, like this –> or this —>. Hopefully this will help to understand how the interview unfolded. So…

Pádraig Ó Méalóid: Before I get to your own life, can I ask you about your parents? Where they were from, what they did, and how they ended up in the house on Shooters Hill where you were born?

Steve Moore: As far as I can tell, my father, Arthur James Moore, was born in Charlton, South-East London, in 1908, the son of a soldier in the Royal Artillery. For reasons that aren’t very clear (possibly because my grandfather died or left the family), he seems to have started working at the age of 11 for a chemicals company called Frederick Boehm, firstly at Silvertown in East London and later at Belvedere in Kent. He stayed with the same company for the whole of his working life, eventually rising to middle management, before dying of a stroke in 1972.

My mother, Winifred Mary Deeks, was born in 1917, and came from New Cross, also in South-East London. I believe she was working as a secretary at Boehm’s when she met my dad, and they married in 1938, after which she became a housewife. She passed away from a stroke in 1985. The Moore side of the family seem to have been pretty much working class: bakers, soldiers and factory workers, and the earliest trace I’ve been able to find is of a Moore who was a farmer in Derbyshire in the 18th century. The Deeks seem to have originated in Suffolk, where my earliest traceable ancestors seem to have been brickmakers. If I have any sort of vague literary connections in my ancestry it seems to be on the Deeks side; grandfather Deeks was a printer, and my Uncle Don was a book distributor who specialised in oriental publications.

Jim and Mary, as they preferred to be known, seem to have lived in Charlton to start with, though they eventually bought the house on Shooters Hill in 1942 (Not 1938, as was stated in Alan Moore’s biographical confection about me, Unearthing, though this information only came to light after Alan wrote the piece). By one of those weird twists of fate, when my father was called up in World War II he was disbarred from serving on the front line because he’d worked for Boehm’s, a German-owned company. As a result he ended up in the Home Guard, working on an anti-aircraft rocket battery on Shooters Hill, which at least didn’t give him very far to walk to work.

My brother Christopher was born in 1943, and evacuated a year later, with my mum, to Gloucester, during the V1 and V2 raids. He eventually began working at Boehm’s too, though by then it had been taken over by the Hercules Powder Company. He rose to laboratory supervisor before being made redundant when the company moved, and spent the rest of his career doing bar work and greenkeeping at Shooters Hill Golf Club, at exactly the same location where my dad’s rocket battery had been situated, and on the same golf course where my dad passed away. Chris eventually died of motor neurone disease in 2009.

And then there was me, of course, born in this house on Shooters Hill on the 11th of June 1949 (at 2:00pm BST, in case anyone wants to work out my horoscope and perform evil magic against me!), and I’ve pretty much been here ever since. We Moores don’t move around much…

PÓM: I presume you went to school locally as well, then?

SM: It certainly was local – In 1954 I started attending Christ Church Primary School, halfway up Shooters Hill and about 200 yards from my house. It’s been extended since, but at the time it was absolutely tiny. Only 60 pupils, spread over six years; ten pupils per year. There were only two classrooms. The first two years (‘infants’) in one, the other vaguely divided into two, with two teachers, who each taught two years simultaneously.

Thinking back, I realise that my physical world was really quite small as a kid. Although I was theoretically in London (the border with Kent was only a quarter of a mile away), being on top of a hill rather cuts you off from the surrounding territory, and half the hill was covered in woods besides. There were a couple of ‘corner shops’ on the hill, but that was all. If you wanted to get to a shopping centre or cinema, etc., you had to get a bus; and as no one in the family drove we tended to stay home a lot. I don’t actually recall eating in a restaurant at all as a kid, unless we were on holiday. In the summer holidays my mum would take me off to the museums in central London, but that meant both a bus and a train to get there, and I didn’t really spend much time at all in central London until I started working there, aged 17. I suspect that may be why I still, to this day, dream an awful lot about trains and stations: they were the portals to the exciting world of possibilities that London represented.

On the other hand, living on top of the hill meant that I had enormous horizons – I could see the whole of central and East London – and a very large sky. I think that may have affected my mindset; I may have been pretty much stuck in one place, but both literally and figuratively I could see for miles, and fill up a very large world with my imagination. Which, being fairly solitary, I did. My brother was six years older than me, so he was already at school before I was born and the age gap meant that we never really played together much; it was a bit like being an only child in a two-child family. So I read a lot from quite early on.

->PÓM: What sort of a child were you: quiet, outgoing, or what?

->SM: I’ve really always been introverted rather than extroverted, so I was quiet, shy, occasionally sulky and easily bored. I also found it quite hard to make really close friendships, and as soon as I left primary school I left behind all the friends I’d made there. The same thing happened with grammar school and the job at Rank’s. The really close friendships I’ve tended to make have been based on shared interests, usually creative or scholarly, and they’ve been few and long-lasting. On the other hand, I think with hindsight that I was also a bit hyperactive, though I’m not sure the term had actually been invented then. In my teens and twenties I’d spend more time pacing up and down in my bedroom than sitting down, listening to music, thinking about story ideas, and so on. I suspect that’s reflected in my rather dilettantish shifting of interests over the years.<-

PÓM: And what sort of things were you interested in as a child?

SM: As for early interests, they divided roughly into two. On the one hand, there was the ancient world, and especially mythology – I remember from a very early age having an exercise book in which I’d collect, in my very bad hand-writing (it’s never improved), lists of gods and goddesses from all parts of the world, delighting every time someone gave me a new name to add to my collection. Possibly that sprang from seeing movies like Helen of Troy or the Steve Reeves Hercules movies (for which I still have a lingering affection), but it’s an interest that’s stayed with me ever since. On the other hand, I was also mad for outer space, especially after the first Sputnik went up in 1957 (about which I still have some original newspaper clippings somewhere in the back of a filing cabinet). Although I read some juvenile SF like E.C. Eliott’s Kemlo series and Angus MacVicar’s Lost Planet books, my interests were mainly non-fictional. I was a member of the junior branch of the Royal Astronomical Society and had my own telescopes; I read Patrick Moore’s books; I collected the complete set of 88 Space Cards bubble-gum cards (published by Topps in the States in 1958, and by ABC here), which explained, speculatively but not fictionally, and with painted images after the style of space artist Chesley Bonestell, how mankind would explore and colonise the solar system (I still have them too – quaint, naïve and absolutely gorgeous). And, of course, there was Dan Dare to read every week. My brother had taken the Eagle since issue one in 1950, and I just grew into it, and we kept having it delivered every week until it closed in 1969 (those, alas, I don’t have any more). As a kid, I used to think ‘I hope I’m still alive in the 21st century’ (which seemed an awfully long way away then), as I was expecting us to have moon bases, and colonies on Mars, and regular spaceflights. Needless to say, the reality has turned out to be a gross disappointment, to put it mildly.

->PÓM: I’m guessing, from what you’re saying, that you are something of a hoarder?

->SM: Pretty much so. Over the years my comics and SF collections got trimmed back so I pretty much only kept the stuff I really loved at the time, but I find it very difficult to get rid of anything, particularly non-fiction books, which I regard as part of my reference library, and which I also want to pass on to the Fortean Times people when I’m gone, as a research aid. And even though I’ve got the entire house to myself now, it’s still packed to the rafters (literally – the loft’s pretty full too!)<-

SM: Anyway, that went on until 1960, when I picked up my first adult SF book, an anthology of stories from Astounding called Men Against the Stars, edited by Martin Greenberg, on a holiday in Guernsey. That was quite a life-changing event, as I then spent at least the first half of the 1960s just devouring enormous quantities of SF paperbacks – people like A.E. Van Vogt, Leigh Brackett, Jack Vance, Kenneth Bulmer, New Worlds in the John Carnell era, before it was edited by Mike Moorcock – and although I don’t read a great deal of SF these days, my tastes are still very much influenced by that ‘50s and ‘60s space adventure material. To start with, paperbacks were 2/6d each, and my pocket money was 2/- per week – but by some miracle (or more likely the kindness of my mum) I managed to get a book every week. That was pretty much the start of a collecting mania that these days has filled the entire house with books, though now very little of that’s SF. Just as an aside, back then ‘science fiction’ was always abbreviated as ‘SF’, and anyone who said ‘sci-fi’ was considered a hopeless know-nothing. I suspect that as SF has become more mainstream, the media have enforced a more pronounceable abbreviation, but to someone of my age, ‘sci-fi’ (or worse, ‘syfy’) still grates hideously.

Still, getting back to my education. I next went, in 1960, to the Roan School, a boys’ grammar school in Greenwich which, even if it was a bus ride away, was still fairly close at hand. I mainly chose it because they played football rather than rugby, which I didn’t fancy at all – mind you, I never actually wanted to play sport anyway. Still, with a greater interest in the past, these days, I’m actually quite pleased that I went to a school with 400 years of history. Influenced by my space and SF background, I ended up in the science stream, took my GCE O Levels a year early, and then embarked on the first year of A levels in biology, chemistry and physics. By then, of course, I’d discovered that what really interested me about science fiction was actually the fiction, not the science – and I was thoroughly fed up with school anyway – so as soon as I was 16 (barely), I was away [so, probably 1965 - PÓM]. Of course, what little qualification I had was in science subjects, so I ended up working in a laboratory at Rank, Hovis, MacDougall, the flour makers, in Deptford. By the time I’d been there a week, I realised I hated it, but I didn’t know what else to do, so I just retreated further into fantasy – which by then included comics.

PÓM: What exactly were you doing at the flour factory?

SM: I was working in the quality control laboratory, attached to the actual mill. We’d get in samples of grain and flour, which needed half a dozen different tests, though I can only remember a couple of them. One was ‘moistures’, where you’d weigh out a certain quantity of the flour into a small, close-topped tin. Then you’d bake a batch of tins in an oven for a couple of hours and weigh them again, and from the difference in the weight you’d work out a percentage for the moisture in the sample that had been driven off in the baking. The other was ‘proteins’ which entailed boiling the samples in flasks full of sulphuric acid (but I don’t quite remember the details). You’d spend a week working on one test, then move on to another the next, so you weren’t doing the same thing all the time, but it was all very routine. You see why I wanted to get out of there. About the only good thing about it was that they had a games room where you could spend your lunch hour playing snooker or table tennis. And there was a pub a few yards away…

PÓM: Do you ever regret leaving school so early?

SM: What’s the point of regret? I made a decision almost 50 years ago and there’s no going back to change it. Seriously, though, there was nothing they could have taught me at school that would have helped me in a career as a comic-strip writer. When I was at Odhams I did a day-release course in journalism for several months, and that was completely useless to me as well. On the last day of the course I presented the lecturer with a copy of my fanzine, Aspect #2, fully typeset and with a colour cover, with professional artists and writers, and he said ‘Why didn’t you show this to us before?’ The answer being, first, that I already knew all the relevant stuff he’d been trying to teach me and, second, I just didn’t want to, as I’d been bored rigid all the way through the course. I think it might just have been a way of showing my contempt for the course that I’d wasted so much time on.

Of course there are times when, considering my non-fiction research interests in the classical and oriental worlds, I think it would perhaps have been useful to have gone to university and learned Greek, Latin or Chinese properly, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. And knowing how much I hated school, I doubt I would have had any better time at university. Or that either of those things would have helped me make a living.

PÓM: Now, I wanted to ask you about comics. What comics were you reading at this stage?

SM: As a very young kid I read Robin, the junior companion to Eagle, and then I think I probably had the same line’s Swift, before working my way up to Eagle itself. I seem to recall reading DC Thomson’s The Beezer for a while when it first started (I was probably seduced by the free gifts given away at its launch) and as I said, I then grew into the Eagle, which was my main boyhood comic. I may have read some other stuff, but I don’t recall reading any of the major boys’ adventure comics like Lion or Tiger. I have vague memories of reading the odd copy of Marvelman and Young Marvelman, probably borrowed from other kids at school, but I wasn’t really into comics at primary school. Too busy reading The Boys’ Book of Space!

PÓM: Had American comics started to become readily available, and were you reading them?

SM: No. I think American comics weren’t imported into this country before 1960, by which time I was at grammar school and reading ‘grown up’ SF. The first American comic I saw was a copy of Mystery in Space, which my mum (knowing my tastes) bought to cheer me up while I was in bed with some minor illness. I liked it (and Adam Strange has always retained a special place in my affections as a result) but, again, the bug didn’t really bite at the time.

PÓM: You were part of the very first wave of British comics fandom, I believe. How did that come about, and how did you become involved in it?

SM: Well, first I was involved with British SF fandom, which was long established – from before World War II, I believe. I think it was about 1964 (maybe 1963) that I joined the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), probably as a result of seeing an advert in something like New Worlds. At the time there was quite a thriving London ‘scene’, particularly Friday evening meetings at the flat of a woman called Ella Parker, who lived in Kilburn, which I started attending regularly. I made a few contacts there and, while it might be too much to say I got to ‘know’ them, I at least got the chance to meet and hang out with authors like Mike Moorcock, John Brunner, Kenneth Bulmer and E.C. Tubb; and sometimes to share the tube back to Charing Cross with the charming John Carnell. Big thrills for a 15-year-old kid – though obviously I was too young to really make a connection with the professional writers.

It was through the BSFA that I got to publish my first fanzine, Vega. Things were pretty primitive back then – no computers, no printers, not even any copy shops. The height of amateur printing technology was the Gestetner machine, where you typed on plastic stencils which were then placed on an inked drum and printed from there. If you wanted to reproduce illustrations, you sent them away to someone who’d make ‘electrostencils’ for you. The BSFA ran something called the Publishing And Distribution Service, where you cut your own stencils and sent them in for printing (by future author and critic Charles Platt, who had his own duplicator). I don’t think there were more than about ten members of PADS at the time, but the idea was that you got a few copies of your fanzine for your own use, and there were also copies printed off for the other members, so you’d get an envelope full of everyone else’s fanzines as well.

Frankly, Vega was embarrassingly awful. The first issue was six pages long, the second and third eight pages. Having no contacts, I wrote the whole of the first two issues – mainly stories and book reviews – though by the time I got to the third issue a couple of other PADS members had taken pity on me and contributed stories. But by then even I couldn’t stand my own magazine any more, so I knocked it on the head – which was probably a relief to all concerned. But looking back, I can see a beginning there: I didn’t so much want to write about SF, I actually wanted to produce it, which was something that carried over into my comics fanzines. Not long after that, I started building up a nice little collection of rejection slips from magazines like New Worlds, but never sold a story at the time.

Charles Platt also published a very classy (and very fat) fanzine called Beyond, which was where, in early 1964, I first read an article about the exciting new Marvel Comics that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were producing, so I went out and picked up a few, and after that I was lost. For the rest of the 1960s I was collecting everything in sight … mainly Marvel and DC, though I’d look at just about anything … and as it was relatively easy at the time, I soon managed to pick up everything I wanted back to the time when American comics were first imported. But I was always picking up stuff as a ‘reader’ rather than a ‘collector’: it was very nice to have a brand new copy of something, but as for older stuff, so long as I had a copy I could read I really wasn’t fussed about condition and the idea of going out and buying comics as an investment and storing them in mylar bags would have just struck me as ridiculous. Later I picked up some older stuff from the ‘40s and ‘50s, but again condition wasn’t that important to me, and with that stuff I was much more interested in SF comics than superhero material.

Anyway, my first involvement with comics fandom really came about when I met Phil Clarke at the World Science Fiction Convention [Loncon II] in London, in 1965. We were a couple of 16-year-olds and hung out that weekend, and from that developed a close friendship that lasted several years. At the time, of course, everyone basically kept in touch by letter, but every now and then I’d go to Birmingham to see him, or he’d come to London to see me. And before too long we’d decided to produce a comics fanzine together. I think we might have seen a couple of American examples, but at the time there was nothing over here.

I then acquired a Roneo spirit duplicator, which is just about the most primitive form of printing you can get. Essentially, you’d have a ‘master’ sheet of paper with an ink sheet attached, like carbon paper, facing the back of the master. So you’d then type or draw on the master, and you’d end up with a reversed ink impression on the back of it – the standard ink being purple, though you could get other colours. The master would then go on the drum of the duplicator and be dampened by pure alcohol, which would dissolve just enough of the ink to print the image or text. It was hand-cranked, one page at a time, smelled appalling, and was good for maybe 50 or 60 copies per master. And, of course, if you left the pages in direct light for too long, they faded horribly. So that’s what I printed Ka-Pow with.

Frankly, my memories of this period are pretty vague now. Hunting out the old issues of Ka-Pow, it became obvious to me that we’d prepared masters of interior pages for a first issue, which are dated April 1966, but this was never published – though obviously I ran off at least one print from them, as I still have it. I suspect we just weren’t happy with it. But we eventually released the first, much improved issue in July 1967. As far as I know, that was the first British comics fanzine, though Tony Roche’s Merry Marvel Fanzine, published in Ireland, was a little earlier. By then we’d met a pretty good fan artist from Durham called Ken Simpson (though I’m not sure if he ever made it professionally), who contributed a cover and a strip called ‘The Cat’ while I, under the absurd delusion that I might be able to draw, did a strip called ‘Nite-Man’, and there was a text-story called ‘American Eagle’ by ‘John James’, which I think was me (at least, it was a pseudonym I used later when contributing an article to the men’s magazine Game about women fighters in kung fu movies), although it could have been Phil and I together. I suspect it was just a move to make it look like we had more contributors! And Phil and I both did articles about old time British comics. The line up was pretty much the same for the second issue (February 1968), except the article (on Tarzan strips) was by Gerald Cleaver. That was printed on the Roneo again and, frankly, large parts of my copy are now unreadable!

The third and last issue (August 1968) was all litho, which again I think was a first for this country, and featured strips by Mike Higgs, Ken Simpson and John Hudson (I’d learned my lesson by this point). I don’t know why we stopped – I suspect we may just have run out of steam. I was eventually involved in a couple more fanzines, but they come a little later in the story.

By then, of course, there were a number of other comics fanzines, and it was standard practice to trade issues and adverts with other editors, which was pretty much how the whole fan publishing network built up. Another good friend I made at the time was Frank Dobson, original publisher of the adzine Fantasy Advertiser, who lived not far from me in Lewisham. And although I’d realised by then that I couldn’t actually draw, I could still swipe, so I did most of Frank’s covers in 1968 and 1969, being basically pin-up pictures of favourite costumed characters. Frank was very good to me in that period. At weekends we’d jump in his van and go round the market stalls in London, where it was still possible to pick up second hand comics, Frank looking for stock and I for stuff for my collection, and there was never any competition. If I found something I wanted it was mine, even if it might have been something that Frank could have sold for a fair amount. He was a great EC collector, always looking to improve the quality of his collection by trading with dealers in the States; and, of course, EC had only gone out of business a dozen years before at that time. So if he’d got a pristine copy of something to replace a poorer one, he’d pass that on to me for about half the price he’d sell it in FA – which was great because, as I said, I wasn’t that fussed about condition. So I got quite a nice collection of original EC Comics really cheap, particularly the SF titles, which were obviously the ones I was most interested in.

Probably the most important other friend I made at this time was Derek ‘Bram’ Stokes, future owner of Dark They Were and Golden Eyed, the first specialist SF and comics shop in the country (and, I’m not sure, possibly in the world). I think I first met Derek at an SF convention where he was regarded by the more straight fans, many of whom could be surprisingly conservative, as a long-haired weirdo (particularly when he turned up for the fancy dress as a barbarian, wearing little more than a sword-belt and a translucent scarf as a ‘loin cloth’), but I rather took to him. He was hip, and it was the Sixties, and we had a lot of fun. At the time he was running a mail order business for SF, horror and comics called The Vault of Horror from a lock-up in North London, but eventually he decided to open a shop. I remember him coming over to my place with a couple of young ladies called Eileen and Cathy, and we then all sat on my dining room floor (as one did in those days) discussing a name for the place. There were two options: to call it after the fairy tale collection East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which I actually favoured, but the other three outvoted me and it ended up as DTWAGE, after the Ray Bradbury story.

->PÓM: Did you have many girlfriends at the time?

->SM: The short answer to that is no. Having been to a boys’ grammar school, and with my usual sort of stay-at-home lifestyle, I hardly had any contact with girls before I left school. The first time I asked one out was when I was already working at Rank’s. But besides my rather sheltered upbringing, I don’t think we matured as early then as kids do these days.

I got to know Eileen and Cathy as friends of Derek. They were part of a larger group of friends who gathered around the beginnings of DTWAGE (I think Cathy worked in the shop for a while), and we’d hang out together, smoke dope, go to concerts, and do all those other things people did in the late ‘60s – including getting together to sit on floors and talk about weird shop names. Later, of course, there were other ladies I was very fond of, but they all tended to be on a one-at-a-time basis. ‘Many girlfriends’, though – no.<-

SM: Derek’s first shop, a tiny place with its frontage painted a wonderful deep purple, opened in Bedfordbury, on the edge of Covent Garden, in, I think, 1970. I painted a pair of big, golden-pupilled eyes in the front window for him. I seem to recall doing this in black and gold gloss paint, so how the next owners of the shop actually got them off again, I’m not sure! Eventually he moved to larger premises in Berwick Street, and finally, and most famously, to an impressively large shop in St. Anne’s Court. That was pretty much my second home in the late seventies. By then I was freelance, and if the work was a bit short I’d go in a couple of days and work behind the counter – and at other times I’d just go in there and hang out, make cups of tea for the staff, etc. When it finally closed in 1981 I felt like I’d lost an enormously important part of my life, and a lot of good friends. But Derek ended up in Lancaster, and I just lost touch with him.

->PÓM: What else were you interested in in your teens and twenties? Music, cinema, television, anything like that?

->SM: Ah, now you really want me to show my age! The first record I owned was a 78 of Elvis Presley singing Hound Dog and, when he was still singing rock’n’roll in the late ‘50s, I quite liked Cliff Richard too (but please don’t use this in evidence against me – surely the statute of limitations must have run out on that one by now!) though I was actually much more interested in The Shadows, and an underlying interest in instrumental music, rather than songs, has remained with me ever since. From there I moved to the American guitar band, The Ventures, which in turn led my interest toward surf music for a while. I listened to The Beatles, but was much more fond of the Rolling Stones (their first album was the first LP I bought), but the band I really loved in the ‘60s was The Yardbirds, especially in their Jeff Beck period. Again, the guitar solos were a considerable attraction, but from there I developed a liking for blues, bands like Cream and some British psychedelia, and then for several years around the late ‘60s and early ‘70s I was into West Coast bands like the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service where, again, the emphasis was on extended soloing. By the mid ‘70s I was turning to jazz-rock, and people like Al DiMeola and Jean-Luc Ponty, and since then I’ve had phases of classical, Elizabethan harpsichord, world music, and so on. In all this stuff it tends to be the music that interests me rather than lyrics, possibly because I tend to listen to music more when I’m doing other things as well, so I don’t really want to be distracted by songs. And I have a great love of complexity; I tend to go back to things like Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas, or Paco Peňa playing classic flamenco guitar.

As for TV, I remember watching the BBC serial of Quatermass and the Pit, literally from behind the sofa as it scared me so much (mind you, I was only nine at the time). I really liked The Man from U.N.C.L.E., but the main series that impressed me in the ‘60s were The Avengers (particularly the Diana Rigg period) and The Prisoner. I never really took to Doctor Who, probably because the first series featured William Hartnell and a girl supposed to be his granddaughter, and I never liked programmes with kids in, so I swiftly gave up on it, and never really watched it until I actually had to write the character as a comic strip. And there was other stuff, of course, that I don’t remember. But I think that, generally, we watched far more TV in those days when we only had two channels than we do now, when the choice is almost infinite.

As for movies, like I said, I was brought up on late ‘50s sword-and-sandal epics, which I couldn’t get enough of. In my later teens I was fond of Hammer films, and still have some affection for that comfortable, non-threatening Gothic supernaturalism; whereas I wouldn’t dream of watching a modern horror film, most of which seem to be about horrible ways of murdering people or torture-porn. And while I was working with Steve Parkhouse at IPC, we’d often go off to the British Film Theatre or the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill, and watch European art movies like Last Year in Marienbad and The Seventh Seal, and Japanese samurai movies, though considering where we saw them, these were mostly the up-market productions of people like Kurosawa and Kobayashi. And then in January 1972, Bob Rickard introduced me to the Hong Kong and Taiwan historical swordfighting movie which, again, caused a major shift in my life.

->PÓM: Do you read any recent SF, or is it more what you used to read when you were younger that you go back to?

->SM: No, I haven’t ready any current SF for a long time. When the ‘New Wave’ came along in the late 1960s, I started to lose interest. I’d always loved escapist space opera, and the New Wave stuff was much more contemporary and concerned with current ‘issues’. Like a lot of people at the time, I turned away from that (although I appreciated some of the fine writing by New Wave authors) and got into the burgeoning sword-and-sorcery/fantasy field, and the Weird Tales authors; particularly Clark Ashton Smith. The more traditional SF authors started turning out ‘hard’ SF, but whenever I looked at that stuff it just seemed to me like a lecture in astrophysics, which didn’t appeal to me, despite my boyhood interests; and by the 1970s I was moving into other areas anyway. Occasionally in recent years I’ve gone back and reread a few of my favourite ‘50s and ‘60s authors, but that’s really just a nostalgia trip. Apart from that, I don’t really intersect with SF at all these days.<-

To Be Continued…

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47. Interview: Hayley Campbell on Her New Neil Gaiman Book and the Strange Things in His Attic

art-neil-garmen

On Tuesday the 20th of May Harper Design publish The Art of Neil Gaiman, written by Hayley Campbell. (The book was originally commissioned by Ilex Press on this side of the Atlantic, but we won’t see it until July, not that we’re in any way bitter, you understand.) Effectively, this is a companion volume to their recent – well, 2011 – Alan Moore: Storyteller by Gary Spencer Millidge, which you should all have by now. Anyhow, when I heard that Hayley was doing the book, I decided that nothing would do me but to interview her, if I could.

Now, full disclosure: I love Hayley Campbell. She’s one of the most amazing people I know. She’s absolutely fearless, and says what she thinks, regardless of the consequences. And she’s epitomises the notion that we’re only here the once, so we might as well try your hand at whatever takes your fancy. And she writes like an angel – occasionally a very foul-mouthed angel, but I suppose we’ll have to blame the Australian upbringing for that. Go have a look at her website and read something, just at random.

[That photo is by Ellen Rogers, and used with her permission.]

Perhaps more interestingly, Hayley is someone who has literally come alive off the pages of comics. Her father, Eddie Campbell, produced a vast body of work these past many years, much of it autobiographical, which by default contains all sorts of stories about his family. So we got to see Hayley growing up in the pages of his books, before she actually appeared fully grown in London, writing not only her own blog, but for the New Statesman, McSweeney’s, The Guardian, The Comics Journal, and various others.

And, most importantly, at least to me, she is my friend. We got to meet a few times, once when she was working in Gosh! Comics in London, and later on at An Evening with Alan Moore, the event to publicise Lance Parkin’s Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore, where we got to hang around afterwards, while Alan signed everything for everyone. The plan was for everyone to go to dinner, but the signing overran so long that we were all just fit for our beds by the end of it. But, for the time it lasted, there was probably a greater concentration of cool comics folk hanging around there than I’ll ever meet again in this lifetime. That’s Hayley and me, up there, and I can assure you I was much happier on the inside than you’d think, looking at it.

Anyway, that’s enough from me and, finally, and without any further ado, here’s that interview…
==============================================================================================================
Pádraig Ó Méalóid: How did you end up writing a book about Neil Gaiman?

Hayley Campbell: Partly breeding, partly luck. I moved to London from Australia in August, 2006, when I was 20, and had no money and didn’t know anyone. My Dad’s Eddie Campbell so I was using his book How To Be An Artist as a guide to the city as much as I was using the A-Z, so I ended up hanging out with all the comics people. I was their old pal’s kid and I think they were freaked out about the fact that I was now a full-grown human instead of some baby in a comic. I think they’re still a little weirded out.

PÓM: Why did you decide to move to London?

HC: Because that’s what Australian people do, especially ones who live in Brisbane. There’s even a film called All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane. I think it’s because you’re living on an isolated (albeit huge) island so far away from everything that the idea of living in a country that’s about an hour away from another country instead of dozens is slightly unbelievable. ‘I’ll be able to pop over to France,’ you think. Then you don’t because you get to London and find out you have no money. Australian women tend to hang around long enough to find a British guy then drag him back home where they clump together like molten metal and hang around in faux-Irish pubs looking awkward in shorts.

Plus I was born here and the photo in my British passport is so much better than the horror in my Australian passport.

PÓM: Have you ever had the urge to move back to Australia, or are you up this side for good now?

HC: Every February when I want to kill myself. I don’t think any humans should live in England in February. (This past one was okay because I got a SAD lamp and a cat on the same day. Now that I’ve got the cat I’m here for as long as he is. [Ned, pictured over there --->])

PÓM: You know I’m going to have to ask you for scans of both of those passport photos, right?

HC: They’re ‘government secrets classified.’ You can have my railcard though. I look hot like Ulrike Meinhof.

Ulrike MeinhofRailcardJoan JettGaye Advert
[Only one of these is Hayley Campbell. The others are Ulrike Meinhof, Joan Jett, and the divine Gaye Advert, which is who I think she looks most like.]

Here it is, featuring the last haircut I was given before leaving Australia. In Australia you see haircuts you don’t get anywhere else in the world because they are too terrible to export. This is one of them. Also, related (people think I’m being offensive when I say this but it’s true): in Australia people with Down syndrome all have identical haircuts. So much so that it looks like it’s government-issued (it’s still quite a racist country so it’s kind of an extension of that, only with haircuts, probably). One of the things that blew my mind when I moved to London was seeing a whole group of Down syndrome guys with a variety of haircuts. Any haircut they liked. One had a wee mohawk. I did a proper Keanu ‘Woah.’

So anyway, one of the first jobs I got right after being fired from a restaurant in Mayfair was writing website stuff for Forbidden Planet. While I spent much of that time doing what I was paid to do I’m just going to come clean (hi Nick Landau) and say that I spent most of my time on the internal instant messenger to Titan editor Nick Jones. When he up and moved to Ilex Press (who published Gary Spencer Millidge’s Alan Moore: Storyteller) it was his idea to give the Gaiman book to me.

PÓM: Can I ask why you got fired from the restaurant?

HC: Uh. Because I refused to go and buy cigarettes for a rude businessman who tugged on my apron. Because I got stuck in the stairwell with three plates of venison and could not go forward or back without throwing the venison in the air so I chose to wait and be stuck for about ten minutes until someone found me, by which point everything was cold anyway. Because I hid and cried in the fridge on a regular basis while eating olives straight from the massive jar. Because I accidentally tipped the massive jar of olives over and a thousand olives tumbled down the stairwell I’d recently got stuck in. Because I got drunk and embarrassing while hosting a wine tasting and kissed the chef.

Any number of reasons. All of the reasons. I would have fired me, I was a fucking shitty waitress.

PÓM: Speaking of food, is it true that you’ve a great fondness for Hummus? [See here for irrefutable proof.]

HC: I’m about 98% chickpea.

PÓM: Was it not Tim Pilcher who commissioned the book while he was at Ilex Press?

HC: Yeah, Tim phoned me up while I was on lunch at Gosh! (the London comic shop I worked in for five years) in March 2010. I thought he was nuts and spent the rest of the afternoon being talked into it and out of it by various people. My dad just bombed my inbox with emails about how much of an idiot I’d be not to do it. I was iffy because I thought it would be a bit weird to do since I was so close to Neil — which is exactly why Tim thought it was a good idea, but it was also why I thought it might be a bad one. In the end I just emailed Neil that night and said ‘I know this is weird, but will you be my Duran Duran?’ He said no, but he’d be my Douglas Adams (as long as I came out to America for a week to go through his attic and walk the dogs). If anyone else had asked to do the book I think he would have said no.

Between doing the plan for the London Book Fair and actually writing it was about two years, I think, because of publishing and contractual-sorting-out reasons (it’s co-published in the States by Harper Design). Then there was a year and a half between me finishing writing it and a copy arriving in the post. I had a day job while I wrote it at nights and on weekends so I barely saw anyone for about six months. I wore one particular cardigan until it died and I got a bit fat.

PÓM: You knew Neil Gaiman from before you came to London, though, didn’t you?

HC: Yup. I first met Neil when I was about seven. I was already a fan of his work by this point because Dad had given me a Sandman comic simply because it had cats in it, and he’d read to me doing the voices of all the different cats. I read it myself over and over until it fell apart and had to be stuck back together with sellotape. I still have it. It looks like a piece of shit. A much-loved one.

So Neil came to stay and I got kicked out of my bedroom so he had somewhere to sleep. He read me the first draft of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish off his laptop and I thought he was the greatest thing in the world. I see him talking to kids now and I know exactly what’s going on in their tiny heads. Neil doesn’t talk to kids like they’re stupid or too young or whatever — he gives them his absolutely undivided attention in the middle of the clusterfuck that is a Neil Gaiman signing and he talks to them like they’re adults, like he is genuinely interested in what they have to say (because he is). I’ve never seen a kid being shy around Neil. Adults, yes — thousands of adults — but not kids. Kids know. Alan Moore has this too, and having been a kid around Alan Moore I get why. In the middle of a crammed signing I have seen Alan spend ten whole minutes talking to a five-year-old about whether custard creams are better than bourbons or not. The guys with the suitcases of Swamp Things are always audibly pissed off by this which is partly why those suitcase dudes are cunts and why Alan Moore will always be one of my favourite people in the world. That kid will remember this huge hairy wizard with the biscuits for the rest of his life versus some guy sticking something on eBay for twenty quid.

Then Neil kicked me out of my bedroom again when I was about 12. In exchange he let me wear his jacket for a bit. It’s what Neil does. He kicks children out of their bedrooms and placates them with stories and leather jackets they drown in.

PÓM: I’m pretty sure I’ve seen at least some of that in one of your father’s books, at some point. Which is a thing I wanted to ask you about: seeing as Eddie was chronicling his own life as he was going along, it meant he was by extension chronicling your life, as well. Do you have any strong feeling about that, these days, now that you’re grown up?

HC: I remember hanging out in the Top Shelf booth at San Diego Comic-Con when I was a teenager and seeing how Dad sold the books. If there was anyone vaguely female hanging about he’d point at the Alec books and say, ‘There’s a picture of Neil Gaiman’s bum in that one.’ Worked a treat.

[It's actually in Bacchus Book Nine: King Bacchus, or you can click on the image for a larger version.]

I love the autobiographical stuff. There were moments as a kid when I didn’t — if you were about to do something bad the threat was never ‘you’ll be grounded’ or ‘there’ll be no telly for a week’ it was ‘if you do that I’ll put it in a comic’.

Now I’m grown up I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t like it. Other people have dads that were never around — mine was the opposite. He was paying attention to tiny details and recording things we barely noticed were happening. He was always there. Well, physically. But you’d be able to tell when he’d mentally left the room. You still can.

[A panel from the Angry Cook strip in The Fate of the Artist.]

PÓM: You’re very close, you and your dad, aren’t you?

HC: I’m a daddy’s girl, always have been (or at least that’s what gets shouted at me if I take his side in an argument which is mostly). When I was really little he was at home all day drawing From Hell and Mum was out doing a real job and making actual money so that we had stuff to eat and didn’t die, etc. We’d go and meet her at the train station at the end of the day, both of us having spent the day drawing comics.

Also our brains are similar. Well, until recently. He thinks Two and a Half Men is a good TV show.

PÓM: How about Neil? He’s your godfather, isn’t he? How do you get on with him?

HC: Neil’s not technically my godfather but it’s that kind of relationship. When I first got to London he would turn up and make sure I was eating my greens, report back to my parents that I was not yet dead, and introduce me to a bunch of new people. I got to tag along to things in different cities like I was his Doctor Who girl (now that job has been handed over to the very funny Polly Adams). ‘Godfather’ is easier than saying ‘I met him when I was six and we’ve been friends ever since’ and has less of a Humbert Humbert vibe. And the French didn’t really know what to do with that longer explanation apart from not believe it. I think Neil started saying ‘godfather’ when we were in Paris, they thought we were definitely sleeping together to the point where they ignored his request for two hotel rooms and he had to be awkward and English and say ‘No, really’ and ‘No, seriously’ a lot.

I love Neil. He’s been one of my favourite people in the world since I met him.

PÓM: I know that while Eddie was drawing From Hell, you were drawing your own book, which there’s a few pages from in the From Hell Companion. How did you end up doing this, and are we ever going to see it in print in its own right?

HC: I ended up doing it because that’s what I thought you were supposed to do: sit at home all day drawing horrific pictures of people being cut up while they’re sleeping. I didn’t have anything else to go on. Dad did it first.

I’d love to get it printed. Unfortunately that involves getting something organised and sending it to a place and it might even involve going to the post office which is something I strive to avoid.

PÓM: When you say you were his Doctor Who girl, does that mean you went off on adventures through space and time with him? Or just that you were his feisty young female companion?

HC: I wouldn’t say I’m feisty. More looming. I loomed next to him in various cities on earth including ones In Europe which is basically all of time and space when you’re talking to someone who grew up in Australia, which I think is technically light-years away from any other country in terms of time spent on planes.

My favourite Doctor is a toss up between Tom Baker and Neil Gaiman. Neil’s winning because he fed me.

He’s got a new companion now.

PÓM: You mentioned it was Polly Adams, who is Douglas Adams’s daughter, isn’t she? Do you all have some sort of Daughters’ Club, that you all hang around in? I know you shared a flat with one of Neil’s daughters, and that you’re friends with Leah and Amber Moore, Alan’s daughters, so the evidence is starting to mount up, to be honest.

HC: Polly is my replacement. I was all ready to hate her and then I ended up loving her to bits which really scuppered my plans to be jealous and brooding. Plus also Polly has saved my arse so many times she’s due a free punch in the direction of my face.

I think the Daughters’ Club only exists on the internet. I met Amber when I was tiny, and I met Leah a few months ago. There’s a picture of us together where we look like different species.

PÓM: Can you give us examples of how Polly Adams saved your arse, all those times?

HC: There was an incident with a drunk person who may or may not have been me, who lost her jacket at a wedding and then shouted at the groom because ‘all of his guests [were] thieves’. Polly may have taken this drunk person and locked her in a tiny museum of wartime army uniforms until she calmed down. For example. The jacket was on the back of a chair.

PÓM: You’re on the Great Wall of Vagina. Why did you decide to do this? It is, after all, a very public thing to do with a very private part of yourself.

HC: I only did it to be polite after I was kind of rude to the sculptor at dinner by being a dick about vaginas. He said he was doing this great thing about female body image and acceptance and blah blah blah and I was all: yeah but have you heard this one in Roger’s Profanisaurus?

(It was ‘Attenborough’s Passport: fanny like, sim. Descriptive of a lady’s bodily treasure which is distinctly dog-eared and well-thumbed in the style, one would imagine, of the erstwhile globe-hopping naturalist’s travel documents. “Christ almighty, I knew she’d been round the block a few times, but when I got down there she had a fanny like Attenborough’s passport“.’)

Anyway, I learned two things: 1) it turns out Viz lied, you absolutely cannot tell what a woman’s been up to just by how flappy her bits are, and 2) trying to find your own vagina in a wall of 360 plaster vaginas is hard. I narrowed it down to about five.

PÓM: How did you actually do the research for the book about Neil? Did you just follow him around exotic foreign locations, taking down bon mots, like a Boswell to his Johnson, or was there a more organised research process?

[Neil and Hayley, hard at work on the book in Scotland.]

HC: After his 50th birthday party in New Orleans we went to his house in Wisconsin and I sat up in his attic going through boxes and boxes of stuff. Old scripts and notebooks and pages of ’80s porn magazines that had hairy vaginas on one side and Neil interviews on the other. We went walking with the dogs in the woods and I’d regret not bringing my dictaphone. Interviews are better in the woods with dogs.

And then in the summer of 2012 we went to middle-of-nowhere Scotland and did a week of interviews by the fire. We went walking over fields and craggy mountainy bits and I had the same regret about the dictaphone.

PÓM: You mentioned that you came across Neil’s porn stash while you were ‘researching’?

HC: Neil used to slice all his interviews out of Knave and file them away in a folder. His work tended to immediately follow the centrefold, so frequently only included the bottom half of the lady on the back of the page. If someone else found it and thought it was purely a porn collection they’d think it was a very specific one. Just dozens of big hairy ’80s bushes.

PÓM: Were there any places when you were interviewing Neil, where you were trying to get something out of him, but he wasn’t giving you the answers you wanted? I know, from occasional interviews with him myself, that he’s very good at gently moving things along and you finding that he has avoided the question. So, I was just wondering if that happened to you too, or if he was more forthcoming seeing it was for a proper book.

HC: He would give me all the answers I wanted plus loads of things that were entirely irrelevant because it was just me and him talking in a room and we do that all the time. It was a weird interview to do. I only noticed this was happening when I had to transcribe 17 hours of it back in London, and sat there listening to us trying to save a bumblebee who’d got caught in the fireplace. For half an hour. ‘Ooh he’s got soot on him. Look at his giant cardigan. Shall we put him outside on a flower?

Honestly I think I have to burn the tapes.

PÓM: I’m guessing this isn’t going to be your one and only book…?

HC: I’m working on a novel. And I’m collecting a bunch of essays together. Hopefully one or both of these will turn into a real life thing very soon (or four years from now if The Art of Neil Gaiman is anything to go by).

PÓM: Do you want to tell us any more about those two books? I know you’ve done a lot of writing for various publications, and online, so can we expect to see some of that in the book of essays?

HC: Yep, plus stuff I’ve read live but never put online. I’m saving them for the book.

PÓM: Am I right in thinking you once did a stint at the Edinburgh Festival, about doing the book with Neil?

HC: No, you made that up. But I will be interviewing him on stage at the Barbican in July and then following him up to Edinburgh to do the same. I’ll come on after he reads The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains.

PÓM: Fair enough. A man can’t remember everything correctly! [This is what I was thinking of, it turns out.] The Truth… is a thing he’s done with your father Eddie, right?

HC: Neil reads the story live accompanied by a string quartet called Fourplay who are excellent, and Dad’s paintings are projected behind him. They did it at the Sydney Opera House back in 2010 first but I missed it because I was in the wrong bit of the world. They’re taking it to Carnegie Hall in July. When I see it at the Barbican it’ll be for the first time. The book of it (available June) is beautiful and craggy and Scottish.

PÓM: And that more or less brings us all the way around to where we started. Or at least it does in my head. Hayley, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. It has been a pleasure.

HC: No problem. Thank you for convincing The Beat it would be a good idea.

neilandartofneil
Neil Gaiman, Hayley Campbell, and the book

The Art of Neil Gaiman is published by Harper Design in the US on the 20th of May 2014, and can be bought on Amazon.com or through you local comic or book shop. It will be published in the UK by Ilex Press on the 16th of July 2014, and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.co.uk, or from your local comic or book shop. And, if you don’t already have it, you could buy yourself Gary Spencer Millidge‘s Alan Moore: Storyteller as well. You’ll never regret it!

9 Comments on Interview: Hayley Campbell on Her New Neil Gaiman Book and the Strange Things in His Attic, last added: 5/23/2014
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48. By Its Cover (Week Of 5.14.14): Q&A

by-its-cover-E

Being that it’s the column’s one month anniversary, I thought I’d do some reader questions. Except I don’t have any reader questions, so instead I’m going to ask you the questions.

1) What’s your favorite part of the column so far, the opening topics or the weekly cover picks?

2) How would you feel if the opening topics eventually became a separate column (one that maybe even discusses interiors)?

3) Can you name the comics used in the “ransom note”-style title image above? I will give an authentic Non-Prize* to whoever can even name issue numbers (if applicable).

*Non-Prizes are absolutely not just a cheap knock-offs of No-Prizes, and are in no way affiliated with Marvel Comics or its subsidiaries.


Last week’s covers:

PEOPLEIN-4x6-COMP-SOLICIT-WEB-c495d

THE PEOPLE INSIDE

Attempting to read the cover like a comic page is like watching an avant garde movie trailer consisting of short unconnected moments played out in a rhythmic staccato manner. The bar in the middle functions as a container for the title, but also as a place for the eye to rest, during which you might notice the peaceful little cloud hidden in it. I don’t know what any of it means, but it makes me curious to know more.

 

25667

X #13

Personal Taste Alert: I’m a big fan of old record covers that didn’t have any text on the front, or that creatively displayed text within the image. So I love when I see comic covers do similar things, like this cover that use’s the character’s mask as the logo. It’s just unfortunate that they had to ruin it by including the story arc title (I could’ve ignored the barcode and other text, since it’s in a container outside the image).

 

NIGHTC2014002-DC11-LR-13736

Nightcrawler #2

I love the way that the character disappears into the background and between the spaces of the letters.  But doesn’t it seem like it isn’t a great fit for the space of the cover, or is it just me? I can’t help but think this would make an amazing landscape-oriented poster or double-page spread, but as a cover it feels like it’s missing something

 

ACv3n12-cover-bf2f5ASTRO CITY #12

It’s the little details that appeal to me in this cover. I like the way the word “Vertigo” fits under the issue number. I like the way the image just sort of ends at the bottom, in a reverse-silhouette skyline. I like the way the one skyscraper blends into the white shirt of the wolf. Oh, and the animals holding assault rifles. There’s also that.

 

STK637272

THIS ONE SUMMER

This composition is so fantastic. If they ever turned this into a movie, they’d pretty much have to recreate this image for the poster, because any other composition would be disappointing in comparison. I love how the falling characters lead you right to the title. If I had one critique, it’s that the blue color scheme seems very cold for a story about summer. Or is that symbolic of something in the story? Otherwise, it might’ve been nice to have even just the two characters in warm colors, to make it feel more summer-y.

 


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

7 Comments on By Its Cover (Week Of 5.14.14): Q&A, last added: 5/25/2014
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49. Monday Morning Running Motivation: Please don’t waste

I grew up in a house where my mom HATED to see things go to waste. We were a household who left-over’ed and if we didn’t clean our plates we could usually count on Mommy-O to finish them off. She WAS a runner after all. The thing was, it killed my mother to put food in the trash or down the disposal.

Wasting is, well, a waste.

penguin and spilled ice cream art
This holds true in life. And with the human body, if you’re even an iota interested in physiology, anatomy, and sports science you’ve got to just take a step back and think, “Holy crap, the body is amazing. Like freaking incredible.” All the complexities, the systems working together, playing off of each other, people can quip the ‘miracle of life’…heck, it’s pretty dang remarkable what goes in to just digesting! Something enters the mouth, get broken down, gives you the energy to run, and then gets pooped out the other end. That’s pretty dang cool!

Not taking advantage of just how amazing and remarkable the human body is, it’s a waste. Obesity, a growing lack of exercise, a growing disinterest…bordering on HATE of activity is a waste, it’s sad. Here is this amazing human body machine…just waiting to DO, to perform.

A body can be worked. It can be run. It can be trained. It can be stressed by training and then, if given the chance to recover, it will GROW, become stronger, tougher, faster, and then eager to achieve even more. Keep doing that and watch how far you can go.

Physiology is quite amazing, don’t forget that. Don’t take it for granted either…PUSH yourself to discover your own potential.

A vehicle left abandoned is waste. Take advantage of the miraculously, mind-blowing things your body can DO and get DOing.

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50. Electricomics: Alan Moore Reinvents Comics. Again.

Electricomics Leah and Alan CU
Alan Moore, Writer, along with Leah Moore, Editor

Anything that has the tagline ‘Not so much pushing the envelope of comicbook storytelling as folding it up to make a nice hat‘ just shouts Alan Moore, doesn’t it? But there’s no point my trying to tell you what it’s all about where there’s a handy press release to do just that for me, so…

——————————Press Release——————————
Alan Moore creates digital app

The most famous modern comic book writer in the world, Alan Moore, is leading a research and development project to create an app enabling digital comics to be made by anyone.

Already known for revolutionising the comic book industry in the 1980s, Moore is pushing boundaries again with Electricomics – an app that is both a comic book and an easy-to-use open source toolkit. Being open source and free, the app has wide potential not just for industry professionals, but also businesses, arts organisations and of course comic fans and creators everywhere.

Electricomics Logo Victorian

Personally, I can’t wait,” said Moore. “With Electricomics, we are hoping to address the possibilities of comic strips in this exciting new medium, in a way that they have never been addressed before.

“Rather than simply transferring comic narrative from the page to the screen, we intend to craft stories expressly devised to test the storytelling limits of this unprecedented technology. To this end we are assembling teams of the most cutting edge creators in the industry and then allowing them input into the technical processes in order to create a new capacity for telling comic book stories.

“It will then be made freely available to all of the exciting emergent talent that is no doubt out there, just waiting to be given access to the technical toolkit that will enable them to create the comics of the future

.”

Electricomics will be a 32-page showcase with four very different original titles:

Big Nemo – set in the 1930s, Alan Moore revisits Winsor McCay’s most popular hero;

Cabaret Amygdala – modernist horror from writer Peter Hogan (Terra Obscura);

Red Horse – on the anniversary of the beginning of World War One, Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys) and Danish artist Peter Snejbjerg (World War X) take us back to the trenches;

Sway – a slick new time travel science fiction story from Leah Moore and John Reppion (Sherlock Holmes – The Liverpool Demon, 2000 AD).

Electricomics will be self -published by Moore and long-time collaborator Mitch Jenkins as Orphans of the Storm, and funded by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. As a publicly funded research and development project, Electricomics will be free to explore the possibilities of the comic medium, without the constraints of the industry.

The app will be built by Ocasta Studios, under the guidance of Ed Moore (no relation). Ocasta create apps for the likes of Virgin Media, Vodafone, Harveys and The Register. They are excited to be making their first foray into the world of comics.

The research team will be led by Dr Alison Gazzard, who has published widely on space, time and play in interactive media, and is a Lecturer in Media Arts at the London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education. Joining her, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey is a pioneer in the field of experimental digital comics and senior lecturer at The University of Hertfordshire.

Moore’s daughter Leah will edit the project, having created the 150 page digital comic The Thrill Electric for C4 Education in 2011.

About the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts

The Digital R&D fund for the Arts is a £7 million fund to support collaboration between organisations with arts projects, technology providers, and researchers. It is a partnership between Arts Council England, Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta.

We want to see projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or develop new business models for the arts sector. With a dedicated researcher or research team as part of the three-way collaboration, learning from the project can be captured and disseminated to the wider arts sector.

Every project needs to identify a particular question or problem that can be tested. Importantly this question needs to generate knowledge for other arts organisations that they can apply to their own digital strategies.

——————————Press Release Ends——————————

You can find Electricomics on Facebook and on Twitter.

Not only that, but I believe this is what’s going to be on the Electricomics website, once it’s properly up and running…


—————————————————————————logowide-copy

Welcome to… Electricomics.

Almost three years ago, Alan Moore had an Idea.

Whilst working with director Mitch Jenkins on The Show, an eerie film and TV concept which seemed to have a life of its own, he imagined the children in the background of a scene reading comics on transparent flexible scrolls called Spindles.

The comics, he idly supposed, would be Electricomics, and would be yet another facet of the multi-nuanced and multimedia world of The Show.

So far so dull right? Big Idea Man has yet another idea.

Wrong.

Alan Moore ideas have an uncanny habit of inveigling themselves into reality, by fair means or foul, they emerge somewhere and demand to be taken seriously.

Almost a year on, when the small film project had inflated in the manner of an airbag deployed in case of cultural stupor, to become not just one but several films, not just one story but dozens of them woven together into a huge billowing cloud of wonder. It was then, that a colleague of theirs happened to chat to a friend and mention that scrappy little idea, Electricomics.

That was all the chance it needed, and before you could say ‘Hold on is this wise?’ or ‘Don’t we all have other jobs to do?’ there was a meeting and a pitch and a funding application to the Digital Research & Development fund for the Arts. The path was not straight or quick, but in the end it arrived here, in this website, in this project, before your very eyes.

The team that was assembled then could not be more delighted, and more than a little surprised, to find themselves here and now in this position.

They have been charged with the task of producing new comics for the digital age.

They must attempt new storytelling techniques, create and use new comic making tools which they must then make freely available to everyone.

This large and somewhat daunting burden will be shared with them, by such mighty talents as Garth Ennis, Nicola Scott, Jose Villarrubia, Pete Hogan, Peter Snejbjerg, and Todd Klein.

The stories produced will not only showcase what is possible but also hopefully inspire others to do the same.

The Electricomics toolkit would give users the power to create their own Electricomics.

Different, better comics, completely new and fresh comics in every way.

Right now, as this project launches, Electricomics is still an idea up in the ether, a hope and a plan before it becomes a reality, but like I said, Alan Moore ideas usually find a way to get through.

Electricomics.

Coming soon.

Electricomics Logo Square
—————————————————————————

So now you know. Alan Moore is going to reinvent comics, again. Considering that the last time he did that, back when he did Watchmen in the mid-eighties, he gave the comics industry material that they continue to exploit even now, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with this time.

And, if I may make a personal observation, it’s great to see him coming back to dabble in a medium that has not always given him back as much as he has given it.

10 Comments on Electricomics: Alan Moore Reinvents Comics. Again., last added: 5/29/2014
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