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Friday, 23 June 2017

A Few Words On A Friday

Hopefully some of you have been watching the episodes of Comic Book Palace?  It, like many others on You Tube now, show the real state of comics and what comic readers think rather than the industry and dealer hyping Comic Book Men, which tends to show everything wrong with comics being good.  But come on, the biggest industry mouthpiece (Kevin Smith)  runs the show and if you have ever heard one of his podcasts and have not vomited after five minutes of his utter arse-licking, sycophantic crap then you have strong guts!!

I loved, in Comic Book Palace, the sarcastic call-out "Hold the front page -we have a one dollar book!" You see the true value of comics shown and discussed and not slick staging of scenes. Believe it or not, there are fair comic shop owners out there.  Not met any in the UK yet but I have seen and heard the evidence from the United States.

The exposing of Free Comic Book Day being an Ebayers paradise. Remember, the store owners do not get given these books -they have to pay for them.  The scum go from store to store grabbing their freebies and get home need to do this on the next FCBD...that day you'll see all the FCBD issues for sale -a little like San Diego Comic Con freebies turn up the same day on Ebay at inflated prices.  Stamp your shop name on the covers: you paid for the books and are giving them away so remind anyone who does get interested in comics where they got that intro!

"Give me $17 credit for the book?"

"Why would I give you $17 credit on a book worth $12?"

I was waiting for the "It's got the Black Panther in it -there's a movie!"

That would probably have gotten a very interesting response!!  Oh, and you may well pay $100-$200 for a copy of the character Mantis' first appearance in comics -you'll be paying that for a, in very good condition, $20 comic.  Mantis in the comics is NOT the movie Mantis just like the Guardians of the Galaxy of the movies is not the original comic version (and I'm still laughing at people who paid up to $300 for that original comic appearance and have found it really worth $20-25 (mine cost £5 so about $6.30 last year).

Greedy melon farmers.

Avengers volume 1 (the only real volume of Marvel's Avengers) #100.  UK prices £35.00 -£100+ ($45-127).  Bought that issue plus #101 for £31 including shipping from the US.  Feck you UK comic dealers you are crooks.

But it isn't just comics.  People in Wargaming and fantasy role playing games in the UK also get ripped off with prices...well, an example.  Dinah Soar Hero Clix figure.  In the US you can get for 15-35 cents.  UK: £5.00 to £11.00 -that's $6-$14 BEFORE postage.

Gaming, crafting, whatever, the UK gets hit harder with prices and that was before Brexit so offer that excuse -FU. We used to buy from the US but then, like other postal services, the US Postal Service hiked up prices that put a lot of small traders out of business.  Why pay $6.00 for something from the US, that in the UK will cost $20-30, if the postage on top of that $6 is $45 (and some traders are cheating by adding to that postage price)?

In the past there would have been a united response to this, and to the monopoly in comic distribution in the UK: boycott until things are sorted out.  Fairer prices and monopolies broken. Today? No one gives a shit so long as they get what they want.  "A fair deal for everyone not just one" is a thing of the past.  Thatcher's legacy lives on.

Comic events would sooner go out of business than rock the boat and lower table prices for dealers and actually change guest lists so the same old same old are not always there.

You get the country you deserve and UK voters have shown what they want and these are the same people bleating about...well, you should know.  The time to change comics and other forms of fun such as gaming went a long time ago.

I'm old.  I'm near homeless. Ignore me.

Mr Dilworth

Letter being sent Monday

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Maakika Art and its Origins and the Book!

Whenever I try to explain to someone the origins of The Maakika I get odd looks. I have no idea why, unless the people I'm explaining this to have no artistic minds and have never known a fevered mind!

However, the story I told on the original Maakika Art site in 2008 is factual. These pieces have been called some of the best work I've done -my comic work getting swiftly dismissed! I'm also told, though I never saw it that way myself until I went through all the pieces again, that the pieces seem to form a type of mythology or at least hint at one.  I'll let YOU decide.

The Origins
"What is Maakika Art?"  I get asked that a great deal and to be honest it is a very brief story!

In 2006 I had a serious respiratory infection.  It came and went but,in 2007,it came back with a vengeance over several months and with complications I thought it would see me shift this mortal coil -and I am NOT joking!

Around May, 2007, it got really bad.  Then, suddenly,pouring with sweat, while seated on a bus, my mind started getting a rush of images -maybe 50-60.  I got home exhausted but I sat down and began to draw.  Honestly, at 50 years of age I had drawn many things but these new images were so out of my usual frame of image reference that I was stumped.

I drew a few, sat back and thought "What the bloody hell have I drawn?!" Almost instantly the word "Maakika" [pronounced "Mah-kee-kah"] came into my head.  At the same time I got the definition "solid black and white art under guidance from the Maakika".  Ahh, a fevered mind -and no drugs involved!

I've searched the word on the internet, in books and anywhere else I can but it seems not to exist. I cannot find anything similar.

And with each came a title or description.

So,a divine gift from the Maakika pantheon seems credible!

And lucky.

The original images are all 21x29cms and though I've not parted with the first "inspired" drawings which look crude to my eye, several were sold for between £150-£300 each.

I still have the original images in my mind [they won't shift!] but I've been inspired to work on larger images [60x42cms]. 

So,if you have any questions or comments get in touch! 

And remember:only one person does Maakika art -me (and I have absolutely no idea what's coming next!)

The Maakika Art ~ you can buy the book!

32 Pages 
Price: £10.00 (excl. VAT)
Prints in 3-5 business days

According to  one review:

By J Stransky

"Unique and eye catching. It is equal parts disturbing and wonderful. I've cut a few out and put them in frames on the wall in my work room. They are, I tell you, really quite though provoking. Recommended to someone with an interest in primitive art or hypnosis-state painting. Look at these images deeply for a while, they will seep into your soul."
Can you resist?

Comic Book Palace - Episode 3 (Season 2)

Michael Cho First Marvel and now...DC Comics

"Didn't you interview that guy does the JLA collection covers?"

Thank you for remembering.  Yes, I did though the interview looking at Michael Cho's early career is only available in The Hooper Interviews now. And at the time I did say he had a great talent and to watch out for future work.

Here is some of the DC work and an article from 2015.

Michael Cho Covers the Marvel Universe

You may ask who Michael Cho is?  He's a very talented Canadian artist I interviewed in 2011 -the interview (I believe his first) can be found in The Hooper Interviews

 Michael Cho Covers the Marvel Universe with Exciting Variants

Artist to provide over 20 variant covers in February!
This February, artist Michael Cho puts his own stamp on the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe. Marvel is pleased to announce a series of stunning variant covers, all illustrated by Michael Cho, coming to your favorite new Marvel launches!

An illustrator and cartoonist, Cho’s unique style breathes life into some of Marvel’s most popular characters. Featuring Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Wolverine, the Inhumans, Daredevil, and many more, you won’t want to miss these gorgeous covers coming in February.
“Michael Cho’s stylized, graphic approach abstracts the Marvel heroes into Pop objects while still maintaining their individual personalities as characters,” says Marvel Senior Vice President, Executive Editor Tom Brevoort.

“They’re vibrant and striking,” he adds.

Read about Michael's influences, work and how he started:
 The Hooper Interviews

Ron Howard Steps in to Direct Han Solo Movie

The Millennium Falcon has a new pilot.
© Amanda Edwards/Getty Images Ron Howard
Ron Howard has been named as the new director of Lucasfilm and Disney's untitled Han Solo movie, sources tell to The Hollywood Reporter exclusively. The official announcement is expected Thursday morning.
The move comes two days after directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were let go from the movie they had spent over four-and-a-half months directing. Creative differences over style and tone came to a head between the duo and Lawrence Kasdan, with the studio backing the veteran screenwriter.
The firing sent shockwaves around Hollywood and beyond as the movie was about three-quarters through principal photography and the replacement of a director at that stage is near-unprecedented.
Howard, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, will meet with the actors -  Alden Ehrenreich is playing the iconic smuggler, Donald Glover is playing Lando Calrissian, with Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton also on the roll call - to soothe a rattled set and will pore over a rough edit to see what the project has and still needs.
The movie was scheduled to shoot for three-and-a-half more weeks, with five weeks of reshoots built into the schedule - the latter a standard procedure on large franchise productions.
Howard, who won an Oscar for directing 2002's A Beautiful Mind, comes to the Han Solo film with several connections to George Lucas and the worlds of Lucasfilm. He appeared in Lucas' 1973 breakout film American Graffiti, and implemented Lucas' 1988 pet fantasy project Willow as helmer. Howard also revealed on a podcast in 2015 that Lucas had approached him to direct 1999's Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace.
Howard is considered to be a safe choice to complete the task, someone who will more than ably finish the movie while being a calming presence on set.
Howard's recent movies include Inferno and In the Heart of the Sea, costly ventures that have underperformed at the box office. 
He is repped by CAA.

Questions and Other Things

If you are interested in Black Tower Comics and Books please remember that you can ask questions on the Face Book page.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The First Ever Post On Blogger CBO

Because the number of visitors to the old Word Press CBO kept shutting the site down (on one day 20,000) I needed to set up an emergency back~up blog.  Lucky considering what happened later.

However, this was the first tester post on CBO!


Merriwether [Vol.1] Pages

Three pages from the above titled book published in 2009 and up-dated and published in a second edition this year.
I ought to address a few questions about the Good Reverend.

Firstly,how did I go about creating him? Well,I once lived next to a church and on one occasion saw a group of clergymen of all shapes and sizes. However,one was at least 6.5 feet tall-that’s about 1.82m. He had greased back hair and rounded spectacles. Thing was this Reverend was also skinny. I thought “If he had some muscle on him he’d look impressive!”

When I decided that I needed back-up strips for Black Tower Adventure in 1992 I thought that a demon-thumping Christian would be great. However,I wanted to avoid the cliche of a Roman Catholic priest and thought “Why not a Church of England vicar?” Yes,the soppy,liberal Church of England was going to become hardcore [and we're not talking mucky videos here!].

So I beefed up [is everything sounding like a double entendre?] the tall vicar and immediately his name came to me.
The series was to have been much longer with the warning given in “The Horror Of Hobb street” coming to pass [buy the book and see what I mean]. Vampires,werewolves,a village of demons and then I thought to myself that the series needed to end quickly [for personal reasons I'll not go into here]. And so,the Very Reverend Merriwether confronted the ultimate evil -Satan himself!

And if you’ve bought the book you’ll see how that ends.

After drawing this I was given a batch of old videoes which included End Of Days starring the 20th Centurys greatest action hero -Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ahh,luckily I’d not seen the film before that final Merriwether strip was drawn!

That said,Arnie is too short to be Merriwether.

Comic Book Palace - Episode 2 (Season 2)

The Mummy, Dark Universe, and Tom Cruise blame? ►Movie Blog

Japanese Yokai


Japanese Yokai ~Preview

Benjamin R. Dilworth Paperback,  A4 Black and white 32 Pages
Price: £5.00 (excl. VAT)Prints in 3-5 business days
The follow-up to Dilworth's Western Yokai is here!
Text accompanied by some superb illustrations by Ben Dilworth of supernatural beings interwoven in Japanese culture such as "Kappa" the Water Monster; "Azuki Arai"; "Kuchi Saki Onna" (the Big Mouth Woman) and others.
Into ghost stories or ghost comics then this will suit you to a terror!

Mr Dilworth

All going okay?

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

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Comic Book Palace - Episode 1 (Season 2)

Chung Ling Soo

Chung Ling Soo: The Curse Of The Jade Dragon and Chung Ling Soo: The Case Of The Thames Serpent were two cracking tales of magic, adventure, murder and deception -still available as single comic albums or collected together to form The Adventures Of Chung Ling Soo!

Chung Ling Soo: The Curse Of The Jade Dragon

                Chung Ling Soo 1                                    
Terry Hooper-Scharf (W)  Gavin Stuart Ross (A)
30 pages

Prints in 3-5 business days

Chung Ling Soo.  World's greatest conjurer and said to be an American stage magician in disguise.  Or was he?

In this story,Chung Ling Soo is called in by Scotland Yard to investigate a gruesome series of deaths -all amongst a party who discovered a Jade Dragon statuette in China.

Is the statuette cursed -and can Chung stop any other deaths?

 The Case Of The Thames Serpent

Chung Ling Soo Man Of Mystery
54 pages
Prints in 3-5 business days

Victorian conjurer and man of mystery and deception, Chung Ling Soo has been marked for death by a Chinese Tong that never fails to get its man.  Will Chung be able to escape death long enough to solve bizarre murders in London'd dockland as well as sightings of a sea serpent in the Thames?

And who is the Dragon Lord and how do his murderous plans fit into things?

The second in the Chung Ling Soo Man Of Mystery series

That scene still gives me chills.  But Chung Ling Soo is dead.  He is dead -right?  But if he was in the cab with Wilberforce HOW could he be the driver the book and find out!  :-P

Both books are available as single albums but ....

The Case Book Of Chung Ling Soo

mWriter: Terry Hooper-Scharf
Artist: Gavin Stuart Ross
84 Pages
Black & white
Price: £8.00 Ships in 3–5 business days

To many he was simply a stage magician. Others knew the truth –such as Scotland Yard and the very secret Q Bureau.

From a seemingly cursed jade statue bringing gruesome and violent death to those who found it years before to a plot by a Chinese supremacist group hoping to strike and bring terror and destruction to the heart of the British Empire and seemingly unstoppable Tong assassins and an evil warlord willing to betray and murder even his own allies–this is Chung Ling Soo's world.

Sergeant Wilberforce of Scotland Yard was the closest thing to a friend the Magician had yet even he was perpetually stumped by him...and his deaths!

Collecting together Chung Ling Soo And The Curse Of The Jade Dragon And Chung Ling Soo The Case Of The Thames Serpent By Terry Hooper-Scarf and Gavin Stuart Ross in which the deception begins but just what is deception and what truth?


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


Dene Vernon: The Thing Below!


Dene Vernon From The Burning Heart To The Thing From Below

If any of you out there has purchased Black Tower Golden Age Collection vol.1 you would have found the strip Dene Vernon -The Burning Heart”.  But who is Dene Vernon and why is he important to British comics history?

Firstly,his proper credit was “Dene Vernon. Ghost Investigator”.  In the 1930s and 1940s the work of ghost investigators such as Harry Price [despite what people write about his work at Borley Rectory] and the great Elliott O’Donnell could be found reported on in national newspapers as well as on radio.  
If they could inspire me as a teen to get involved in this type of work imagine the effect on everyday folk in the pre-TV era and before all the faking of Most Haunted and Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures as well as others.
Comic Book Cover For Funnies Album 1949 Part 2
But Amalgamated Press and D.C. Thomson were too “clean” to touch this type of subject unless it was a “real hoot” in a humour strip.

Gerald Swan changed all that.  His comics introduced a whole group of paranormal/occult types fromKrakos The Egyptian to Robert Lovett:Back From The Dead [all subjects of Black Tower collections].    Vernon’s appearance in Thrill Comics No.1,April,1940,marked the very first truly supernatural strip series in British Comics.
Tall,lean with a high forehead and thinning hair,Vernon bore a resemblance to the young Harry Price in a way.  However,his cases seem to have been pure O’Donnell and in case you are asking who O’Donnell is I give you Wikipedia's somewhat weak entry on the man:

Elliott O’Donnell (February 27, 1872 – May 8, 1965) was an Irish author known primarily for his books about ghosts. He claimed to have seen a ghost, described as an elemental figured covered with spots, when he was five years old. He also claimed to have been strangled by a mysterious phantom in Dublin.

He claimed descent from Irish chieftains of ancient times, including Niall of the Nine Hostages (the King Arthur of Irish folklore) and Red Hugh, who fought the English in the sixteenth century. O’Donnell was educated at Clifton College, Bristol, England, and Queen’s Service Academy, Dublin, Ireland.
In later life he became a ghost hunter, but first he traveled in America, working on a range in Oregon and becoming a policeman during the Chicago Railway Strike of 1894. Returning to England, he worked as a schoolmaster and trained for the theater. He served in the British army in World War I, and later acted on stage and in movies.

His first book, written in his spare time, was a psychic thriller titled For Satan’s Sake (1904). From this point onward, he became a writer. He wrote several popular novels but specialized in what were claimed as true stories of ghosts and hauntings. These were immensely popular, but his flamboyant style and amazing stories suggest that he embroidered fact with a romantic flair for fiction.

As he became known as an authority on the supernatural, he was called upon as a ghost hunter. He also lectured and broadcast (radio and television) on the paranormal in Britain and the United States. In addition to his more than 50 books, he wrote scores of articles and stories for national newspapers and magazines. He claimed “I have investigated, sometimes alone, and sometimes with other people and the press, many cases of reputed hauntings. I believe in ghosts but am not a spiritualist.”

Remember that bit about being strangled by a ghost [not unique in the lore itself]. This is what Denis Gifford wrote about Vernon’s first adventure:

“..Vernon spends the night in a haunted bedroom where a weary wanderer was found on the floor. ‘A gasp of horror came as they gazed on the terror-distorted features of the dead traveller!’  Vernon saves Dick from being throttled by a grinning black monster,chained by its neck since 1785.  But he had to burn the house down to do it.”

You know, I am quite sure that there is a similar O’Donnell story -though he never burns places down!

The creator of the strip was Jock McCail who also drew oriental detective Ah Wong for Swan’s New Funnies [1940-1949], Darrell King Of The Secret Service in Thrill Comics [1940-48],New Funnies [1949] and Slick Fun [1950].  McCail also drew Get-Your-Man-Gilligan, a Western strip for the Amalgamated Press title Jolly between 1938-39.

Dene Vernon ran as a strip between 1940-1946 so must have been popular -as many of the Swan horror strips were.
It would be nice to put together a complete Dene Vernon book at some point but these old British comics are very rare to get hold of either as printed items or scans!

But, in 2011, Vernon featured in his first adventure since 1946.  Yes, post-war Britain was the setting for…


54 pages

I think over 60 years was a long enough rest for him -and THE THING FROM BELOW was enough of atough task for him but...well, his final fate in The Green Skies is really ...."gutting"

hehehehehe er, Sorry.

But maybe an appearance in Black Tower Super Heroes before that?  I can't really say -I don't want to spoil the fun!!

Remember the name, though: Dene Vernon!