Thursday, 29 June 2017

Bristol Mart

If a one day comic mart can be organised for Autumn any comic dealers/sellers interested in attending?

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Zines And Small Press Books ARE Reviewed

Seriously.  Send in the book you want reviewed but remember to include info like how people can buy it and for how much...and from whom.  Basics people forget.

Books/zines reviewed here will also be featured on CBO and shared via social media.

The Old Way Of Making Zines, Murder And NEVER Confessing In A Blog Post That You Murdered The Boss When He Walked In On You

A couple people have said that it "must" be a "bit of a come down" to have to set up business at Small Press events.

I'll not apologise if I was a little brusque in my response.  Read "About" at the top of this page for goodness sakes!

There is no real comic industry -well, there isn't one- in the UK.  I started out doing small press comics then writing a drawing comics for a living.  The industry as it was back in the 1980s/early 1990s was on its last legs. I have no interest in discussing why. Anyone with the slightest knowledge knows why it was dying. All I will say is that if you have publishers who just really cannot be bothered anymore and incompetent editorial staff then...

Back in the old days -you kids who were not born until 1988 or later will have no idea- Gestetners were used to produce early fanzines and some well known comic creators got into comics that way.  The Small Press -which in 1982 I started calling "zines" because the genres covered and types of publication were so varied- was a "seat of your pants" affair.  Cut and paste -kids, I mean "cut" literally with a pair of scissors and paste down with Gloy Glue (until the goddess Pritt Stick appeared!) onto paper after typing up was just part of it.  Photocopying was still a bit pricey -5p per copy was 1/- for goodness sake (look it up). In the days of the C30, C45, C60 and C90 tapes (go listen to Bow Wow Wow and  "c30 c60 c90 go") zinesters were the Ninja Shadow Warriors.

Right. Yes, I may have over-hyped zinesters a little there but there used to be a campaign: "Watch Out. There's A Thief About!" and that could have easily been changed to "Watch Out! There's A Zinester About!"

You see, first trick of the game was to learn where the office photocopier was or the copier room/cupboard. There then followed days of surveillance as you noted who used the copier.  Whether people had a regular schedule for copying.  When the copier engineer turned up to change the toner and so on.

In your rather dilapidated little bed-sit (or bedroom at home) you would have maps, charts, photographs, marker pins all on display on the wall.  You would sit back.  Slurp a mouthful of cold or tepid coffee.  Maybe wave away the smoke if you were a smoker.  The sunlight cutting shafts of light through the blinds over the windows would give you just the right amount to see by.  A bite of a stale sandwich or doughnut.  At the important moment your eyes would decisively narrow into slits as you clenched the back of the rickety old char you were sat on.  "It's tomorrow.  I go in tomorrow."

Or maybe I'm thinking of the TV series Private Eye with Alfred Burke ( )?  That's him below...

Anyhow, unless you were palsy -that's "palsy" -friends and not "Palsy" which is a medical condition. I am getting so old I keep losing threads...and that jacket does need sewing.  That reminds me of my stint in the Army and the Falklands campaign.

We'd worked our way into the jungles of the Falklands and hiding from an Argentinean plane, Brigadier Jeff Chandler was on the radio telling Margaret Thatcher that keeping his 3,000  jungle fighters hidden from the enemy for 200 miles was "driving me nuts". Basically we made it to the jungle swamps but were spotted and the main column was soon under artillery  fire. Lt. Chalky Stock's platoon  take out the artillery battery mainly due to platoon sniper "Bullseye" who shot their commander and we destroyed the emplacement with covering fire and hand grenades
Chalky Stock reported to the fatherly Chandler that...wait a minute.  Were the Argentineans Japanese-like? And Claude Akins....why was Jeff Chandler a Brigadier in the British Army in the 1980s -he died in 1961!

Ah, I'm thinking of the movie Merrill's Marauders, arent I?

Yeah, that wasn't the Falklands War.

Right, so, if you were matey  with the boss (Matey was a very popular kids bubble bath back in the day) and he let you do a "bit" of copying then it had to be all done by stealth. "Oh, I'll tidy up the place after work, boss. No problemo!" (in like Flynn -which was a  Copying. Look over shoulder.  Copy. Look over shoulder.  Copy.  "OH MY GOD -IS THAT HIM COMING BACK? No." Copy and so on. Pages askew, poor quality since the copier was used as toner was running out.  Hey, never use the copier when the toner has just been put in!  Boss: "What?! The toner was only changed yesterday and it looks like its run out! Why does the copy counter read 2345?"   And that was the other high-tech piece of espionage you learnt early on -tampering with the copies counter.

The thing was to always -always- remain calm and keep a clear head if the boss did walk back in. Otherwise things could get a wee bit out of hand...

Because if you lost it then you'd realise just how bad things are and how stupid you were and the consequences -NO ACCESS TO A PHOTOCOPIER!

And, uh, yes, the quality of paper used to copy on.  Some of it like kitchen towel -well, you grabbed what you could and there was one person of my acquaintance (he did NOT commit murder) who photocopied onto brown wrapping paper, a tissue-tracing paper "stuff" and...well, he used to staple zines together on his knee.  Owch.

uhhh, I can't remember what this was all about?

Anyway, whether for music zines, comic zines, fan zines, poetry zines -small pressers used to use quite clever design techniques as well as packaging.  Spray painted acetate covers, home-embossed -the creativity was boundless.  

A lot of creators tried to draw their comic zines à la the Americans but a lot tried to get more creative in page design. Open panels, panels laid out diagonally with a full page image in the background, Panels laid out in a big "X" formation.  Use of water colours to tone, not to forget home-made spray effects.  These were all things that you were not really allowed to do in a mainstream comic.  Today some creators have tried the unusual panel layouts and people go "Wow!" "Amazing!" "That is so cool and original!"  No. We were doing that thirty years ago.

With the passing of the UK comics industry and the birth of print-on-demand, home publishing via your computer-printer and so on "comics" have changed a lot.  Don't get me wrong, the UK could still have a strong mainstream comic publishing industry but it needs to have someone with the finances and the faith to back projects.  The one thing I've learnt from attending small press events is that 99% of the creators and visitors know absolutely nothing about comics!  Stan Lee is a character from The Big Bang Theory TV show!  "Jack Kirby -does he do that zine with---?"  "Oh, The Avengers is based on a comic?

Even programmes people watch like The Walking Dead (yes, I know the Big Bang Theory is watched!) or Arrow these new kids have no idea are based on comic books.  Some of them, say 90%, will lose interest in the small press in a year or two. But it is interesting to see what they come up with.  Much of the 'originality' harkens back to the 1980s/1990s -but they do not know that!

And, yes, maybe 75% of them cannot draw but they do and they do it because they are having fun.  When I did zine reviews for Comics World"back in the day" (I gave up when they stopped 'forgetting' to send my payments) the best review I ever gave was to a zine, and I wish I could remember what it was called, that was badly drawn and written but you could feel that the creator didn't really care -the book just exuded FUN!

Just like Punk Rock (my record "****!  ****!  ****! **** You!" is best forgotten like my wrestling career), where you never really had to be a musician or singer -you relied on total and utter energy and having a good time- so small pressers create for fun.  They are accountants, teachers, school cooks, international assassins, teachers, students and it's all just a fun hobby.  And, yes, I get odd looks when I refer to my books as "stock"!

I never had a big ego.  I never thought I was some big star. I wrote and drew comics for a living.  Some people in comics today seriously have major issues ego and talent-wise.  Brown-nosing keeps them in work, though.  The UK has never really accepted my enormous talent -whereas outside the UK I get more recognition. Initially I got frustrated "Why aren't they trying to pitch their books to punters? They'll never earn money just talking and drinking coffee!"  

But then my Shaolin comic mentor explained to me that I needed to be "like the pebbles on the beach.  Accept that some times the sea will caress them but at other times it will roll like thunder into them" and "Even the strongest buck grass must bend before the wind.  Accept the wind.  Do not try to imprison the wind.  Let the wind out" and that taught me a lot.

No, it is not a come down to have a table at a small press event.  I never get invited to UK comic conventions (though I have an open invitation from one organiser).  Pity but that's how it goes -same old guests from one event to another and that includes traders, which sort of makes you wonder about this bidding for a table at has to be rigged.

So, as long as I get to see interesting things, talk to interesting creators and sell books I am happy.  Better than some of the back-stabbers out there in 'the industry' today.

I eat dead pigeons and sewer rats can't you tell from the way I act I'm born from the blood of Spring-heeled Jack?

We Make Zines Announcement

 by Edweird

Hello Zine Lovers!

As many of you know, last year we received notice that the financial side of maintaining a site on Ning simply is no longer doable. Since then, a small team of zine enthusiasts from the site has been working on a new cosy home for We Make Zines.

The wait for our new space is nearly over!

We are looking to make the final, complete move on July 1st with a few things from the ‘old’ space but plenty of room to create a whole new space. (Yay start of International Zine Month!)

You will only receive one more email about this, and that will be the email letting you know that we’ve fully transferred over and that it’s time to sign up at the new space! We’ll get into the logistics of the new place and all related details in that email.

If you have any favourite blog posts, threads, or anything else on the site that you want to keep, now is the time to save them! We have transferred a few things, a few topics, but we’re not stashing away everything. If you love it, save it!

The WMZ Team

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Looking At Covers, How I worked And Business

Back in 2015 I posted on how I put together comics after being asked and this ties in with this post so read on after an explanation.

Originally, the Dr Morg Trilogy was a Small Press publication and this cover was used on -the art on a couple of different shades of card stock.

But when it came to the trade version of the six part Black Tower Adventure series, Return Of The Gods: The Twilight Of The Super Heroes the Jack Flash character appeared on the cover but not as a silhouette.

I played with two ideas.  this one...

And this one...which I rejected pretty quickly!

But the original 197 pager ended up with this cover....

But when amended to over 300 pages, which saw Jack Flash and his involvement become more central, a new cover had to be created and I went with this one -both versions are still available at the store.

That's how it works, folks!

Now that 2015 post!

Someone Asked (a while ago) How I Draw My Comics

I found a disc that had "family photos pets etc" written on it. Being in a morbid mood I thought I'd see if there was anything that needed transferring to a flash USB stick.

I got a surprise.  Well, for me. Photographs taken while I was working on two comics in May, 2005 -I could have sword it was much later but the photos are dated for that time! The first is the end products -Words Within Worlds, that became the first part of the Dr Morg Trilogy and had a limited run as a small press comic. This one has a white cover and others had a yellow card cover. Worth a few £s now.  The other is the original A6 (A6 measures 105 × 148 millimeters or 4.13 × 5.83 inches) GoBo zine that I was handing out at the Bristol Spike Island event BUT thanks to a certain person sitting there saying "It's s***. Bin it, it really is s***!" a good few ended up in a waste bin by the doors -and I 'recycled' them!

 I am one of those people who prefers not to be tied down to a straight forward 5-6 panels page. I like to use a few different techniques in my work.  I will draw on an A4 (A4 paper size is 210mm x 297mm, or 8.267 inches x 11.692 inches) sheet. Maybe a single illo. Maybe 2-3 illoes and I will then cut and paste these onto an A3 (A3 paper size is 297mm x 420mm, or 11.7 inches x 16.5 inches) sheet.

This means that you can move the panels around until they look okay on the page and then glue 'em down! The good thing about this method is that you can take an A4 sheet and make it a panel to them work on and alter before pasting down. For instance, below, that page to the bottom right features the character Jack Flash -a major character in theReturn of The Gods and a key character in Green Skies. Originally there was a strange creature to the background, heavily shaded and an outreached claw coming over his shoulder. But I then realised that the page worked better with a solid black background which left a lot up to the reader's imagination.
Below shows the A4 "blacked out" page and the actual print-proof copy of WWW where the creature and claw are seen. I looked once and thought "redo".  I do not waste paper and if a page is wrong and can be corrected with white India ink, Tippex or a patch (a piece of paper cut out to fit over something that needs redrawing) I do that.

Below I'm busy at work cutting and pasting.  Why take a very long time to draw a figure broken up into puzzle pieces when it's more fun to draw the figure and then cut it up into puzzle pieces to then paste into a panel?
I have absolutely no idea what happens from panel- to- panel in my comics let alone page-to-page. I do not use a script -I only write scripts for other people.  This means that, quite literally, a character in panel 1 is talking to someone and in panel 2 a chunk of rock falls on him and I never actually (consciously) thought about that.

Also, I'll be drawing and think "right, I know" and will look around and perhaps grab a template or something else to go around a panel or become a central object on the page. As with the floral pattern on that page my hand is over.  I only use brushes for large solid black areas so all size brushes come in handy and in 2007 (?) I purchased a 600 ml bottle on India drawing ink and it is still quarter full. Ink needs time to dry and if the ideas are coming fast and furious you cannot mess around.

For quick solid blacks I use Berol Broad and even Fine fibre tips and have done since the 1980s -people used to argue that I was using brushes to draw when I just used Berols to draw! I was given one but the ink seems to last far less than a Berol -someone want to send me Sharpies to try out and review? I've recommended Berols to artists for decades.

There's an article here but I'm guessing some of the photos are missing by now so I may re-write it soon:…

Below: I washed and posed for this photo with GoBo for a photo for an interview in The Imagineers (I think it was for that) but it was never used.

And below some of the last "Small Press" Adventures (volume 1) -the yellow covered bumper issue is VERY rare but some idiot on ebay paid £20 for it?????

The End

Now for the business side of things, as if!

Invasion Earth Trilogy I & II-The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super Heroes/Cross Earths Caper

I -The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super Heroes

Black & White
331 Pages
Price: £20.00 (excl. VAT)

It begins slowly.  It always does. It's a deception that everything in the world is as it should be and that never changes.

Earth’s heroes and crime-fighters are going about their daily tasks –fighting a giant robot controlled by a mad scientist’s brain, attackers both human and mystical -even alien high priests of some mysterious cult and their zombie followers and, of course, a ghost and a young genius lost in time. 

Pretty mundane. 

But psychics around the world have been sensing something.  A "something" that sends feelings of sheer terror through their psyches.

There is a huge alien Mother-ship near the Moon. Undetected by deep-space radar and other instruments, only a few on Earth have sensed it and they cannot penetrate the hull but only feel psychic screams and....worse.

And then it begins: strange orange spheres isolate and chase some of Earth’s heroes who then vanish into thin air –are they dead?  An attack by an old foe or foes -?

Black, impenetrable domes cover cities world-wide. 

Then it becomes clear to those within the domes what is going on: Alien invasion of Earth! 

A war between the Dark Old Gods and the pantheons that followed! 

Warriors from Earth’s past having to battle each day and whether they die or not they are back the next day! 

No one suspects the driving force behind the events.  One single evil guiding events.  Events that could cause destruction and chaos throughout the multiverse.

Assaulted on all fronts can Earth’s defenders succeed or will they this truly the end? 

II-The Cross Earths Caper
The Cross-Earths Caper: Part II of the Invasion Earth Trilogy
Black & White
107 Pages
Price: £15.00 (excl. VAT)

Following the events on Neo Olympus and the Boarman invasion of Earth, many heroes and crime-fighters have withdrawn from activity. Some are trying to recover from injuries while others are fighting the mental scars left by the events.

But things have to go on.  As heroes from other parallels who helped during the recent events return home, members of the Special Globe Guard are shocked at the sudden appearance of Zom of the Zodiac. Never a sign of good things a-coming!

Very soon, a group of heroes mount a rescue mission and find that a quick rescue mission can turn sour equally quickly. As they overcome one challenge the the heroes become lost between parallel Earths and face new threats.

 Sometimes one Earth just is not enough. The complete story published in issues 7-10 of Black Tower Adventure now handy dandy book!



NROTG 012 (2)

ALL artwork and characters are (c)2017 T. Hooper-Scharf and BTCG

Bristol Comic Mart

If a one day comic mart can be organised for Autumn any comic dealers/sellers interested in attending?