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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

On Pricing Comics

I have just finished editing and have now uploaded a 20 pp book on lulu.com ready for publishing but I’ve just hit the big snag.

Pricing.

See, I can buy a copy of the book for myself at £1.55.  Not bad?  Well, the postal service lulu uses means the cheapest rate is £2.99 so the book will actually cost me £4.54.

Now, if I want to sell the books at a mart or expo and I need, say, 20 copies that will cost me £31.00 on top of which I have to add postage of £16.49.  So those 20 copies will cost £52.99 so I have to work out how how a copy I can charge.

So, say, £53.00 divided by 20 and that’s £2.65 a copy. but you cannot guarantee selling every copy and there are travel expenses and table costs to consider.  So, if I charge £4.00 a copy that’s £80.00 if I sold the lot.  Now £80.00 – £53.00 equals a profit of…£27.00.

The annoying thing is that lulu.com’s printer is about 25 miles from where I live and I could get a train there to pick up books but no, NOT ALLOWED!

Just bear in mind when you see Indie comic prices that they might look steep but Disney ain’t paying their bills!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Myron Fass,Thorpe & Porter And ME!

There is a reason I'm re-posting this here from the original CBO site so bear with me.

terrors.jpg
Back in the 1970s I was young,foolish and so desperately wanted to be a comic book publisher.  One day a friend working at BBC TV Pebble Mill phoned me and said:”Stan Lee is going to be on Pebble Mill At One-can you get to Birmingham?”

Pebble Mill At One was a chat/features show that went out at 1p.m. each day and Stan Lee was only “guaranteed” for that show’s duration.  Could I get there?  Yes!

Well,that was the plan.  There used to be an old newsagents/tobacconist on Newfoundland Road before it became part of the motorway into Bristol.  The owner at the time,Reg,didn’t like distributors of magazines and comics for reasons I never learned.  When I asked I was told,in amongst the coughing,”Theyz all a buncha bastids”.  Anyway,I got a good few of my Charlton Comics in there and Reg loved horror comics.  I mentioned going to Pebble Mill and Reg told me he had to “pop up to” Leicester on that day to pick up new issues of a comic -he could drop me by Pebble Mill?

Well,leaving early we got to Thorpe & Porter and if you bought comics in the UK the “T&P” stamped on those comics meant they were distributed and repackaged in some cases by Thorpe & Porter.   I got chatting with one of the managers there and within half an hour I was talking to bosses with a cup of tea getting colder by the minute as I asked question after question.

“Kid in a sweet shop”

I missed Stan Lee.  I’m sure he’ll forgive me.  But I got into regular correspondence with people at T&P and paid a few more visits with Reg [who would also have nothing to do with management -apparently they were all "Bastids" as well!

On one visit I had plucked up enough courage to ask about buying rights to horror strips -T&P were repackaging Tales From The Tomb,Terror Tales and others [as well as Official UFO which had interests for me].  I was told that T&P were cutting back and the black and white horror comics were going and if I wanted I could buy the rights but I’d have to reprint from printed comic stock and not use the strip combinations they had used.

I was in a cold sweat.  By today’s standards £100 isn’t much but in the 1970s it was a small fortune.  I sold loads of items and duly got the rights.  However,printers then asked for more and more money as they claimed this-and-that had to be “tweaked in house”.  So,I was there with a comic but it would be too expensive to print.

I asked Alan Class about his printers and he gave me the details.  Their rates were very reasonable.  Then,out of the blue,I heard from T&P:it seemed I’d have to also negotiate with the original publisher in the US.  This was a shock to me.  I thought all the work belonged to T&P and no one ever mentioned a US publisher.  Apparently,T&P were notorious for these,uh,oversights.

I wrote a long letter to MF Enterprises and I sat back nervously awaiting a reply.  One week turned into two and then three.  I really thought I’d sold a great many things and paid out money for nothing.  It was a depressing month.
On the fourth week the telephone rang at 2 a.m. -either someone was ill or had died [no one ever calls that time of night about anything else!].  I’m assuming that it was a loud New York [?] voice that greeted my nervous “hello?”.  Apparently,I was talking to Myron Fass who told me he’d gotten my letter and read it through and told me I’d gotten a “shitty deal” from T&P.  I was regaled by talk of pulp SF publishing and how he’d made a good $4 million dollars on a magazine about the Kennedy Assassination and how he was making fast bucks with porn books.

At thispoint I ought to point out that I was wondering why he was telling me all of this and was he impressing me before telling me to take a hike?

Then came the crunch.  Mr Fass said he’d read what I’d sent him [a proposal of how I intended to use the strips and so forth] and it looked good –a brief moment of thinking he was going to offer to publish the title was soon dashed.  He said he’d noted I was going to add a super hero strip into the comic to draw in fans of that genre [a bad idea that I'd never try today!] and asked if I had a super hero comic strip?  I said I was still looking.  There was a laugh and a “Kid,yer lucky” ["kid"??].  He then told me how he had a super hero that had been a hit in the 1960s called Captain Marvel.

Here I immediately thought of Fawcett’s Captain Marvel.  I asked if he meant that character?  I was told that the Captain Marvel he’d published was far more popular and original.  After five minutes of talking from him I had agreed to pay a sum for the horror strip rights in the UK [using the T&P provided art pages] and Captain Marvel.

The money was sent and then I hit the major snag.  I was told Marvel Comics would sue if I used the name Captain Marvel.  In fact,when I tried to clarify the position I learned that DC comics owned Captain Marvel [Fawcett's] and they would sue.  I was young,inexperienced and out of money and in it deep.
So,I still have the horror pages and I have the Captain Marvel pages [though issue #1 pages are missing after 30 years] but never used them.

 Captain Marvel (1966) 2-A by M.F. Enterprises

Of course,I only learned in the 1990s about the man known as Myron Fass.  The business partner beating,gun-toting,wheeler-dealer.  I have to say,though,at the time he was very nice but loud,as I expected Americans to be.  I was in awe.

In fact,I wonder whether I had a lucky escape.  I was typing this and wondered whether there was anything on the internet about him.  There is!  So,to learn more of the legend visit:

http://www.badmags.com/bmmyronfass.html

Oh,youth!

Monday, 27 February 2012

I Am At One With The Universe…ommmmmmmm


ommmmmm….

More like “koff! koff!” but the point is that I am here.  I got an email from Mark and Steve about the International Comic Expo in May and the cancellation of the panel on the British comics industry.

Firstly, no I am not upset by people pulling out of the thing.  It’s what I’ve come to expect. It simply means that I’ll be able to be more of a punter this year than before. This suits me fine because for the last couple decades every event I go to has been work, work, work.

Mark (Jarvis?) asked if I would have a table at this year’s Expo?  No.  I am only going to get tables at some of the Alternative/Small Press events where everything is much easier going and fun and not as insular as comic conventions.  Will it work out? I certainly hope so.

The question of people not buying much in the way of comics has been raised.  Normally, and believe me I have done the years and checked all the details, comics as a form of entertainment have managed to do well during recessions.  Cinebook and other publishers are doing well in the UK and US and, as we’ve seen, Marvel and DC are not doing so great.  I don’t consider D. C. Thomson worth mentioning here.

In France the BD and comic market seems to be doing very well, even though population-wise we should be doing better than them.  They are even branching out into newsagents.

Now, each year I keep my eagle-eye on dealers at conventions and speak to them.  So I note how sales are going and what titles they are selling out of. I’ve watched several sell out of books and make a healthy amount sales-wise -one told me last year “Everyone says it’s quiet but I’ve sold three times as much as I did last year!”  There is a reason (actually several) why Independent publishers don’t want to brag about what they make -I refer to the 2009 “tax man in the building” scare thanks to Joe!

Why is Europe doing better than a country like the UK?  Well, unlike France or Belgium kids do not -or did not- get encouraged to read comics and even educationalists and the Government noted kids should be encouraged to read comics to improve the literacy rate.  Compared to France our attitude as a nation to comics stinks.

I am always happy to see the number of families who visit the Cinebook stand at the Expo and how the attitude of M. Cadic and his helpers is very friendly, helpful and NOT trying to hard sell.  You visit some of the other tables at the event and it really is depressing…and getting more expensive.

So, if you want to do well with your comics take the Gallic attitude and don’t just sit there looking as though you are terrified of even breathing as people approach your table.

That’s me done.

I now have to get back to the temple for more meditation and chanting.
:-)

Cinebook Newsletter 50 – February 2012


French BD Classics In Newsagents




A chaque numéro, 1 album BD des aventures de Ric Hochet – Le n°1 Traquenard au Havre : 1.99 € seulement

Some interesting news from Sebchoq about the expanding French BD market.

For some months now, great publishers like Hachette with participation of bd publishers launched some bd classics collections sold in newsagents or subscriptions. you can’t miss it, there are ads on tv, magazines, newspapers … here are some collections …

http://www.hachette-collections.com/livres-et-fiches/collection-alix/votre-numero-1/

http://www.hachette-collections.com/livres-et-fiches/collection-bd-ric-hochet/votre-numero-1-sa/index.htm

http://www.hachette-collections.com/livres-et-fiches/collection-buck-danny/votre-numero-1/
http://www.hachette-collections.com/livres-et-fiches/collection-lucky-luke/votre-numero-1/
http://www.macollection.fr/spip.php?page=commande-rahan&id_article=300&gclid=COe82LLmvq4CFSMLtAodrQqpFw

Black Tower Comics 1984 – 2012: 28 Years!


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy….

Well, apart from the recent new book, Pursuing The Strange & Weird
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/pursuing-the-strange-weird/18883379

 
I’m also editing the up-dated version of the 1984 Chronos:The Watchman by Ben R. Dilworth. Ben up-dates and adds a few nice touches to one of the original Black Tower super heroes.


I’m also putting the editorial touches to the next bumper edition of Black Tower Adventure -which will be issue 8.


Then there is the other Dilworth offering featuring the Dark Night Detectives in a bleak look at the future where “Community policing” has a completely new meaning!


D-Gruppe 5 will be another bumper issue to clear out the old new ready for the new new! If you get what I mean?


The much delayed Tick-Tock It’s The Clock has to be out by August and there are other books to fit in around a few events I’ll be attending.


Business isn’t slow here -how is it with you?

COMING VERY SOON…..



LET THE DECEPTION BEGIN!

The British Comics Industry…Cancelled.



Well, the International Comic Expo panel in May, “The State Of The British Comics Industry” is cancelled.
I’ve tried all those people who were all up to being on the panel and had strong views on the subject but only one has responded with a “well…maybe…not sure.”  Not good enough.
 
Seriously, if this is publisher/creator attitude there is no point bothering.  As I’ve written before, this speaks volumes about the industry and those working/trying to work in it.  ‘Good luck’ to you all as you try to crawl your way into…well, what-ever might still be going.
 
Personally, I’m too busy with business to try helping to save an industry full of people who just want to live off past glory (if any) and who do not care.
 
I can see why certain factions in the UK hate European comics: in Europe they tend to be passionate and care about their industry and comics as an art form.  Do not tell me “Comics are a dying art here -fewer people are buying” because I’ll seriously do you some damage.  Cinebook goes from strength-to-strength and there are still Independent publishers out there doing well.
 
phrrt.

Cinebook -The 9th Art:XIII – Three Silver Watches






XIII – Three Silver Watches
Authors: Vance & Van Hamme
Age: 15 years and up
paperback
Size: 18.4 x 25.7 cm
Number of pages
56 colour pages
ISBN: 9781849181099
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT
Publication: January 2012


XIII has freed a country, exposed a traitor, reunited with his wife… and found his father. As he deals—somewhat against his will—with the aftermath of the revolution in Costa Verde, Sean Mullway recounts for him his family’s history: Irish immigrants, remorseless Mafiosi, Mexican gold, and three silver watches. New answers will also bring new questions and a whole new set of potential enemies just as old ones come back to the fore.

Ahh, this probably has to be the best European comic book (or Bandes Dessinee) thriller.  There’s a touch of the Spaghetti Western in this one but don’t let that fool you for a minute.  The action and plot twists are still there as we learn more about XIII –but being surrounded by hostile troops on a bridge that’s about to be blown up..maybe he’s pushed his luck a little too far?





Cinebook -The 9th Art: The Bluecoats 5– Rumberley




The Bluecoats – Rumberley
Authors: Lambil & Cauvin
Paperback
colour
Number of pages: 48
Size: 21.7 x 28.7 cm
Age: 8 years and up
ISBN: 9781849181082
Price: £5.99 inc. VAT
Publication: January 2012
After an even bloodier battle than usual, the Union army is out of men. But so are the Rebels, and General Alexander decides to retreat and come back with reinforcements quickly before the enemy can do the same. To move faster, he leaves his wounded—including Stark and Chesterfield—behind in the nearby town of Rumberley, in the care of its inhabitants and Corporal Blutch. But Rumberley’s a Rebel town…


You see, I like this. You have the seriousness and misery that was the American Civil War plus all the battle scenes –look at that frikkin cover! But drawn as only Willy Lambil can.  And all the detail is there from uniforms to buildings and more –you might think that odd in a book that’s humorous but it all works so well.  Cauvin’s script obviously betrays the fact that he must be (he must be) an old Western film fan!

Great fun…makes me want to get my Civil War soldiers out and play!





Cinebook -The 9th Art: Lucky Luke 32 – Rails on the Prairie



Lucky Luke 32 – Rails on the Prairie

Authors: Morris & Goscinny
Paperback
Number of pages: 48
Colour
Size: 21.7 x 28.7 cm
Age: 8 years and up
ISBN: 9781849181044
Price: £5.99 inc. VAT
Publication: December 2011

The First Transcontinental Railroad is stopped dead near its starting point, both in the East and in the West. Repeated injunctions from the president of the “Transcontinental Railroad” are having no effect: His workers are constantly prevented from working by agents of a mysterious traitor. But Lucky Luke witnesses one of the acts of sabotage and stops it. Soon, he is in charge of security for the entire westward push—and he will have his work cut out for him!


Thirty-two. When you have now had 32 volumes of Lucky Luke published in the English language you know the character is far more popular in the UK than anyone guessed!  And what is more Cinebook has achieved a record because no one else has even gotten up to volume 5 before now in English (if they have I’m sure I’ll be corrected).

The original Dargaud edition of this was published in..1971.  But looking at the cover and the crisp interior art you would be forgiven for thinking this was new! So, for all of you who said “they’ll only publish about four of the books and that’ll be it!” :-p



Saturday, 25 February 2012

Jean Yves Mitton (aka:John Milton, Jym) and more!

You see, for me it all began on a visit from Dalborn to Lemgo (both in Lippe, Germany). I was looking around the hypermarket there and saw some comic albums and a few comics.

This was still the day of Bastei before Egmont bought them out and really screwed up things.  There were a few of the ghost comics Spuk Geschichten and Geister Geschichten.  Grabbed those. Then, behind a copy of an Ehapa Batman And The Outsiders I spotted a bit of purple coloured costume.  There were two issues so I pulled them out.   Mikros.  And the back-up strip -Photonik. I had seen neither before but suddenly I was hooked!

I read and re-read the comics and I even wondered whether the comic shop in Lemgo might have copies.  However, the shop had really odd opening hours so I never go to find out.


Firstly,Cool French Comics on Mikros:

“Created & Written by: Malcolm Naughton (pseudonym of Marcel Navarro) (1919- )
Artist: John Milton (pseudonym of Jean-Yves Mitton) (1945- )

Mikros features three Harvard entomologists and Olympic athletes, Mike Ross (Mikros), Priscilla Conway (Saltarella) and Bobby Crabb (Crabb), who are unwillingly mutated into insect-sized humanoids by the alien insectoid race called the Svizz.  The Svizz plan to use armies of insect-sized slaves to conquer Earth, but Mikros and his friends defeat their plans and overthrow their ruler, Super-Termitor.   Later in the series, the heroic trio is forced to move to France, where they encounrer their arch-eneny, Raoul de Roquemaure, Count of Monsegur, a.k.a. Psi, who turns Saltarella into her queen.



Mikros was the creation of Marcel Navarro, Publisher-Editor of Editions Lug, who later entrusted the character to writer-artist Jean-Yves Mitton, with whom he had previously collaborated on a Silver Surfer story.   Sixteen episodes of Mikros were originally serialized in “Mustang”.



FOR MORE BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT “MUSTANG”, .

After “Mustang”‘s cancellation in 1981, the series was continued in “Titans”, which also published French versions of “Star Wars”,  “Dazzler”, “Iron Fist”, “New Mutants”, etc.  At Mitton’s behest, the series, which had originally taken place in the United States, moved to Southern Europe, in particular Venice (“Titans” ep. 1) and France (“Titans” ep. 7).  Mitton also introduced the heroes’ arch-nemesis, a power-mad mentalist named Psi.

Mitton eventually gave a sequel to the saga of Mikros in Epsilon (a.k.a. Moi, Epsilon, 15 Ans, Fils du Néant) [I, Epsilon, 15-Years Old, Son Of No One], which also featured the return of the nefarious Psi.
Mikros was recently reprinted Editions Sang d’Encre.  Two volumes have been published so far.”
Mikros by Jean-Yves MittonMikros by Jean-Yves Mitton
Rather than meander through this myself,I’ve lifted further information from the above excellent Cool French Comics site.

“After the success of the Marvel Comics translations launched by Editions Lug in 1969, Publisher-Editor Marcel Navarro decided to create his own brand of French super-powered characters.  The first of these was Wampus (1969).

Then, in 1972, Lug launched the magazine “Futura“, which featured several characters such as Jaleb the Telepath, Homicron, The Time Brigade, The Other, Larry Cannon, Jeff Sullivan, etc. and ran for 33 issues until 1975.  “Futura” was followed by the short-lived “Waki” (1974), about a prehistoric hero whose colorful adventures took place in a post-cataclysmic world, “Kabur” (1975), about a mythical warrior hero and Lug‘s answer to Marvel’s Conan, and finally “Mustang” (Series II) in 1980.
While the above series had all been worthy efforts, none had met with the success Navarro had been hoping for.  Certainly, none rivaled the success of the Marvel material. Navarro then decided to call on writer-artists with a better understanding of the super-hero genre, and try them in a new magazine and a new format.



That magazine was originally going to be entitled “Sup’Heros” but, for business reasons, at the last minute, Navarro decided instead to revamp one of Lug‘s existing western magazine “Mustang“.  With No. 54, “Mustang” therefore became a full-fledged super-hero comic.

Unfortunately, the new “Mustang” was not profitable enough -– at least compared to the relatively inexpensive purchase of American material -– and was cancelled with issue 70 in 1981.  Nevertheless, it had revealed two new, native stars to the French readers: Cyrus Tota with Photonik, and Jean-Yves Mitton with Mikros.

Seventeen episodes of Photonik were originally serialized in “Mustang“.  (The last one was produced by Mitton.)   After “Mustang“‘s cancellation, Photonik returned in the Marvel-based magazine “Spidey“, starting with No. 22 in 1982.  In 1987, four episodes were again written and drawn by Mitton.
In 1999, “Spidey” eps. 21-24 and 25-28 were reprinted in two hardcover editions by publisher Delcourt.”
For far more info on stories/issues check out:

http://www.coolfrenchcomics.com/photonik.htm




Mitton’s Mykros is superb and I feel are long overdue a translation into English.
According to Lambiek:

“Jean-Yves was born in Toulouse and studied Fine Arts in Lyon. After completing his studies, he found employment in the retouching studio of Lug publishers. Here, he discovered American and Italian comics. His first series, ‘Sammy Sam’, was published from 1965 in magazine Pim, Pam, Poum, Pipo. For this series, he took on the penname Jym. Next, he took over the series ‘Pugacioff’ from the Italian artist Giorgio Rebuffi in Maxi Pipo, which was later illustrated by Amouriq and Yves Chantereau. He also created the little indian ‘Plume’.

With scenario writer Navarro, he made series like ‘Oum le Dauphin’, based on the television series, and ‘Blek le Roc’ (‘Il Grande Blek’). For this last series, he changed from a humorous to a realistic style. He was additionally a productive cover artist for the Lug publications. Under the pseudonym John Milton, he worked for Nova, where he made several comics with superheroes like ‘The Silver Surfer’, ‘The Fantastic Four’ and ‘Spider-man’.


In 1980, he started the saga ‘Mikros’ in Mustang and Titans, and made a comic adaptation of the television series ‘Blackstar’. Continuing his work on superheroes, he illustrated stories with ‘Cosmo’ and ‘Photonik’, and created ‘Epsilon’ and ‘Kronos’.

Starting in 1987, he associated himself with François François Corteggiani, with whom he made ‘l’Archer Blanc’ and ‘Noël et Marie’. In 1989, Mitton took over ‘De Silence et de Sang’ from Marc Malès. Next, he began a series about the Gaulish-Roman time: ‘Vae Victis’ and a comic about pirates, ‘Les survivants de l’Atlantique’. In 1994, he produced his series ‘Chroniques Barbares’, a saga about a tribe of vikings. Additionally, he made ‘Quetzalcoatl’ for Glénat and several comics for the Scandinavian magazine Fantomen, such as ‘Herman Storm’ with text by Eirik Ildahl.

As a scriptwriter, he has worked with Frank Bonnet (‘Attila… mon amour’) and Michel Rodrigue (‘Les Truculentes Aventures de Rabelais’). For the advertising agency Jet Stream, Mitton produced ‘Papoose’ with scriptwriter Chantelouve in 2002. His series ‘Colorado’ was published by Carpe Diem.”

Atomics 3
Regarding Cyrus Tota,my favourite source -Lambiek- has this very short entry:

“Cyrus Tota started working for the publisher Lug in the 1970s, mostly retouching comics and making cover illustrations. He contributed to the ‘Blek’ series of the Italian Essegesse studios from 1977 to 1980. In 1980, he started his own series, ‘Photonik’. Later on, he also created ‘Fuzz et Fizzbi’ for Glénat and three volumes of the ‘Aquablue’ series for Delcourt.”


The thing was that,at that time in the 1980s,I had no idea these were super heroes created by French men. Initially I assumed they were German but the style and colour of both strips is so eye-catching and the stories were full of fun and enjoyable -I loved Mykros in Vienna for the Carnival totally unaware that the Black Gondolier was on his way to Earth.

Yes,the “Black Gondolier”.  Imagine a black Silver Surfer with gondoliers straw hat steering a..gondola.  Beautiful.

There were epic story lines -this wasn’t just junk comics.

Talk of an animated Photonik tv series was brief so,sadly,I’ve no idea whether it happened or not.
While Cinebook The 9th Art publish an incredible line of books of all genres for all ages I think there is room for the publishing of Photonik,Mikros and other French characters including Wampus.   Wampus,of course,has been collected into a book by Hexagon Comics and you can find details here:
http://www.blackcoatpress.com/hexagon.htm


I would encourage anyone with a love of comics to check out Cool French Comics and to discover some of these gems.  Publishers -there’s an opportunity here somewhere! So,please,don’t think Cinebook are the start and end of French comics and with the number of BD published each year…well,I wish I was rich and read better French!

That’s what I wrote back then. Mitton should be working for Marvel US, though that doesn’t mean to say he wants to! Europe offers creators far more freedom and I really must start saving the pennies because I want those two L’Archer Blanc books…I want to Photonik and Mikros books.  I just plain want!
To me, Mitton shows true style -blending European style and flair into whatever he draws.
Want some links ?-THANKS to Sebchoq!
http://www.bleus-et-originaux.fr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=213%3Amitton&catid=18&Itemid=105&lang=fr

And
http://translate.google.fr/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.saintrapt.com%2Fimaginer%2Findex.php%3F2011%2F04%2F24%2F87-lee-falk-1911-1999&sl=fr&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8

Atomics 3
Atomics 4
Below: fans have been waiting a long time to see Mitton’s Phantom work for Egmont (Scandinavia as Egmont does not publish comics in the UK just those adverts with some ‘comic’ work).

The Phantom by JY Mitton
The White Archer was another fan favourite and two new volumes appeared a few years back.
Archer 1
Archer 2
Below: For the last couple years, Mitton has been drawing Ben Hur for Delcourt and his work is incredible.
Ben Hur by Jean-Yves Mitton
Until Mitton’s work is published in English…
MAKE MINE MITTON!