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Sunday, 30 April 2017

Charlton Comics: The Movie and Why I Should Not Have Posted Anything!


Oh do f*ck off.  Even Sherlock Holmes would back away from this.

I posted the two Charlton Comics videos yesterday because (a) I am a Charlton Comics fans (since about 1972) and (b) it showed the dubious side of comics publishing. 

So guess what?  Today I open my email and find one from the alleged owner of Charlton Comics characters as well as ACG characters and also of Atlas Seaboard characters and company name –Roger Broughton.  Yeah, right.

So what did ‘Mr Broughton’ want?  I neither know nor care because I looked at the email address and it was from one of those throw-away phone apps.

I deleted the email.  Why?  Well, I have all my previous ‘Broughton’ emails saved but this item from the old Comic Bits Online (January, 2008) ought to explain all.

Roger Broughton…or Is It?
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ACG  ~Or~DOES ROGER BROUGHTON EXIST?

For this article I have drawn on paper records and emails [1995-2007] from the individuals involved.  ACG (American Comics Group) had its stars such as creator Ogden Whitney, whose past I have tried to cover elsewhere –he was the artist behind Herbie The Fat Fury. Kurt Schaffenberg, famous as an artist for DC on Supergirl and Lois Lane, drew Magic Man, while Richard Hughes wrote huge amounts of script under various names.

As with other US comics from that period, I first saw the ACG characters within the pages of  Alan Class comics.  But then ACG vanished. I could say the same about Charlton Comics, though they at least  lasted into the early 1980s.

Incredibly, as the years rolled on, we discovered more about the, uh.”unorthodox”  workings of Charlton.  Anyone who is a regular reader of Alter Ego magazine will be familiar with the company history. Even now, creators really do not want to speak too openly about this or the “Mob” connections.

 

In the 1980s, Charlton material was auctioned off and John Lustig managed to grab a chunk of the Romance strips, which he has re-packaged over the years and the other prominent name amongst the purchasers was Roger Broughton who, again, reprinted much Charlton Horror and ACG material under his A +  logo.

However, no new strips ever appeared and though many people attempted to try to make deals with Broughton.  But Broughton is a hard man to track down and even distributors like Bud Plant, who have handled some of the poorly selling b&w A+ books, have had chequered contacts.

Between 1994-2005 I tried to track Broughton down with a project proposal.  Every previous address was either non-existent or unoccupied.  Some journalist friends of mine in the States tried to track Broughton down for me.  They came up with the same as well as rumours of Internal Revenue Service [IRS] and other less-than  savoury folk looking for Broughton.  That, however, was his business not mine.

On 12th November, 2005 I got an email from ‘Broughton’ -but read this for yourself:

“Hi.
thank you for your letter,
you van contact me at Roger @jerron.com for more information.

i am working on several projects with the ACG Charlton Char actors.
when we bought Charlton and ACG comics we purchases all rights without limitations ,
over the years much material has been reprinted in several countries and we are currently  working with a major publisher   and  movie studio. hence forcing me to move from Canada to the
US,
Chek soon with Bud Plant  for more inventory  from the ACG line meanwhile keep writing.
roger broughton”

Now, to be brutally honest, this is barely literate.  I sent a copy to some people who had corresponded with Broughton: they thought I was being hoaxed.  I was asked what address I had sent my letter to?  In fact, I had never sent a letter to any address as I had not found one that was real.

So, I forwarded all my proposals, sketches, referenced material and even a lengthy cv –everything I had [copyrighted of course]  and the email was also copied and posted to friends within the industry for protection “in case”.

After a few hours I got a new ‘Broughton’ mail:

“Thank you for your kind wishes,
I still have trouble understanding your inquiry. i have been dealing in publishing rights  for over twenty years. As a consultant I am still very much involved with the two of the major comic book publishers and I am currently working with two studios.
Your letter  was somewhat vague. What you indicated as possibilitie is somewhat true but a lot more com-plicated then indicated.

You can always forward a proposal on anything but  it is difficult if you have no professional association with any of the markets  you listed.

As far as the question and answer , the internet crowd will write what they like. anyway they should look at archive articles in the comic buyers guide who reported the purchase tot the media back in  86,  they did  a good job.
rb”

I sat reading this.  The style was slightly different and literacy poor but it seemed to be another person.  As I included a cv and had, or so I thought, been in communication with ‘Broughton’ before, I was very confused –this mail was nonsense.

But ‘Broughton’ was a consultant to “the two of the major comic book publishers” –this would be easy to check.  I made enquiries by phone and email to DC and Marvel on some pretence of needing to contact Broughton.  I checked with senior management as well as other departments.  None had the slightest idea whom I was talking about.

So, I tried a few of the larger Independents.  Similar results.

 

I was still trying to work in TV circles and contacted two of the studio “fixers” who knew everyone from studio bosses to the catering man.  No luck.  Besides, I was told “working with two studios” could mean anything.

I know a lot of people in publishing or reporting on comics in Europe.  They had heard of none of these licensed comics but Europe is a big place so….  

I was intrigued.  So I mailed ‘Broughton’ back stating that, of course he knew me and of my work –we had been in touch for ‘years’.  The response was… “mad”.

14th November,2005

“Ok Terry,
let me we know what is good for you and we will  do a meeting of the minds.
I am a comic book geek too . you will be happy to know that up to about 6 years ago a lot of material was reprinted in europe mostly Italy and
Germany..
Regards,
roger B”

But I only had ‘Broughtons’ email address.  I asked for the postal address to forward art prelims and written proposal.

No response.

I mailed again.

Nothing.

‘Broughton’s’ mail accounts were dead.

The only “Jerron” I could locate was involved in printing.  Roger Broughton was not listed as a member of staff.  I asked a friend who lived some 30 miles from Jerron if he could do a “paper check” on Jerron and Broughton.

No, Broughton was not listed with the company and no Roger Broughton seemed to be living in the state.

Then I got a couple of emails out of the  blue –this one from David Walker:

March 2006

“Terry.

I know we have corresponded in the past but I had no idea that you
were interested in the ACG or had been trying to locate roger
Broughton.

I can tell you that about five years ago I wanted to publish
reprints of some ACG and Charlton stuff.  I tracked Broughton down
to Jerron Printing but the replies I got were very confusing as it
took ages before he responded and then I was told he was ill so
could not reply just then.

It got more confusing when I was told Broughton only dealt directly
with “the bosses” yet it was my project and I WAS the boss but had
to deal with Broughtons front man.   This was a joke in itself in
that I got several replies to one mail and all contradicting
things.  I was then told Broughton had nothing to do with Jerron -
they just allowed him mail facilities!!!!

Phillipe Blaque a Quebec guy who was interested in the old ACG
comics told me that he had found Broughton was dead.  I was told
that before I exchanged any contract or money to make it clear that
I needed to have contact details OUTSIDE of Jerron because
Broughton was not an employee or their and they were doing all the
talking.

So, I contacted Jerron and told them that I needed persanal (sic) contact details for Broughton and to discuss the matter with HIM because he was the copyright owner and the man who I would need to make checks out to.

To say the response was hostile is understating things.  I  explained that I had been told that Broughton was dead and had only had a broughton  at jerron mail post but wanted to speak or at least write to him personally so my mind was eased.  The guy swore and slammed the phone down -their number is ——— if you want to try?
Im betting youll get the same response.

Let me know,guy.

David”


Well, I phoned and the lady who responded said “I’ll check for you though that name is not familiar to me”  A couple minutes waiting and: “I’m terribly sorry.  I guess you must be mistaken –there is no Roger Broughton on staff”.

So, I thought I’d email Jerron and I was a little  surprised, therefore, when I got the following from Jerron:

“Terry,
Thanks for your inquiry. Roger does indeed reside near us, he chose store materials and use our area as a base of operations. I’ll pass your email on. You may hear from others at Jerron too as the info email gets sent to an entire team. BTW since he is here (but doesn’t work for us as such) we did give him an email he’s been using, roger@jerron.com

I’m pleased to meet you, we are very involved in comics production in the USA and around the world. Our specialty is digitising classic materials.

I’m sending you a LinkedIn invitation. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a business resource and networking site, entirely private and free. Lots of comics people on. Feel free to connect if you like.

Best regards,
Ken Cooper
Senior Vice President
Jerron”


Right, so ‘Broughton’ lived near Jerron but does not work for them but stores material there and therefore gets an email assigned him  (which everyone at the company has access to and can view his emails)?

After this another email from ‘Broughton’ with a phone number.  Jerron phone number and the lady answering again told me there was no one called Broughton there.

February saw a good few mails from Broughton.  Never answering direct questions about who was printing what under licence and where I could buy copies: direct requests for  answers to my proposals –nothing.

Then ‘Broughton’ told me he was coming to the Book Fair in London during March and it was suggested we meet up.  I was given the hotel name, room number and telephone number along with extension number.  This I could not miss out on.

I confirmed a date and time that I would meet him in the lobby and he confirmed that was okay.  The day before my 250 miles trip to London I phoned the hotel and asked for the extension number.  A rather bemused hotelier said the extension didn’t exist and asked who gave it to me?  I said a guest in for the Book Fair.  He told me someone else might have dealt with the guest. 

Like a fool I thought it was a misunderstanding since the hotelier’s English was quite poor.  I should have asked about the room number.

So, 24 hours later, there I was; standing in the foyer of a very small hotel with a rather bemused manager telling me that, the room number I was given meant they would have had to have ten rooms more than existed!

I made enquiries at the Book Fair with the organisers.  “No. No, Roger Broughton here”. I tried the phone number again “just in case”. Nothing. Pissed off I started on the long journey back to Bristol.

I went home and mailed Broughton whose response was that the hotel must have made an error!  Oh, perhaps if I rushed up the next day I could catch him before he flew home?

That wasn’t going to happen.

I’d arranged with a publisher to interview Broughton and explained that it  I’d not managed to gather a lot of biographical data on him - there was one excuse after another given by him and so the editor of the magazine I was working for tried to contact Broughton but no responses and I later found out an American writer who had worked for the editor lived in the area where Jerron was based but had found no trace of ‘Broughton’ –and he even called at Jerron.

In the meantime, an enquiry about the rights to Charlton characters arrived:

So I emailed Robin Snyder who I was told had been involved in the Charlton sell off:

“Hello, Robin.

My name is Terry Hooper and I’ve been working on an article on what happened to Charlton Comics characters -whether rights sold off were character rights or simply reprint rights.

I was told that you might be able to advise me -Phil Latter was kind enough to pass on your email address.  If I’ve got the wrong guy my SINCERE apologies.  If I’ve got the right guy….can you help?

Regards,
Terry”

And the reply:

“You have found me, Terry,

I did indeed sell the various properties for Charlton, stats, negs, titles and/or any and all rights.

  A few (such as various ghost stories and Killjoy) went to Steve Ditko and me. Some westerns went to Bill Black. Roger Broughton purchased the lion’s share of the material for reprint only. There were others but who remembers?

Good luck,

Robin”

A similar response was received regarding the old ACG characters.

This all explained why everything Broughton had produced over the years was simple (varying quality) black and white reprints.  Reprints rights only.

I mentioned this very politely to Broughton in an email and even suggested how poor quality stats could be upgraded -and there came a rather belligerent reply.   I seemed to be unknown to ‘Broughton’ again (!) and he was rather insulting about my lack of comic knowledge and experience in comics!!

This time I asked for proof that he was Roger Broughton and not a couple of hoaxers and I asked yet again about the promised interview and for an address to send material to –I also asked why he said he didn’t know me again?

The response came  on 24th February,2007:

“A bad choice of words  “not knowing who you are”  what should have been said  is “who you are working with”
Being also somewhat of a historian and a fan of roman culture i know quite well your background roman history all the way to Defiant.. I envie were you live . A few thousand years of history at your fingertips, that’s very impressive..
(i am  working on a Boodika project  I hope to offer to TV)
 I  spent some time in Bath and Stonehenge during my last visit to  the UK  thinking  this was  this was a lot more interesting  to  discuss over dinner than comics.
Anyway please don’t take that as an attack on you  and your  own history. It was not meant that way.
All  of what i do is a lot more complex than  small press. The Charlton horror material represents a very small fraction of the material that we licensed over the last twenty odd years.
(I bet you didn’t know that Herbie and Fat man the Human flying saucer was printed in
Italy!)
again best of luck on your project
roger b”


Basically, ’Broughton’ had quickly checked the internet and discovered I had a reputation as an amateur historian specialising in pre-Roman and Roman Britain. Interestingly, the Queen of the Icenii who bloodied Rome’s nose in 1st Century Britain is often incorrectly given as “Boadicea” but her name was Boudica.  Who the **** “Boodika” is…!

My history with Defiant?  (Reading this now a penny drops.  The only ‘history’ I had with Defiant was that early morning phone call threatening me for having a Black Tower logo –explained later on so don’t worry) )

As to “who” I was working with…well, me!

I wrote back that after a couple years I was giving up and that I did not believe I was dealing with the real (the rumoured-to-be-dead ) Roger Broughton but a couple of hoaxers.  As he was so pally with Jerron I had suggested a photo of himself with the folk there that could be used in any interview –‘he’ got downright pissy over that!

In an earlier mail I mentioned that a former Charlton artist who had done some cover work for him said “Hi” from himself and his wife who had entertained Broughton before the 1980s auction.  He remembered the artist and dinner well.  I’d made up the artist and his wife story.

Comparing notes with others who had dealt with Broughton in the past, it was clear that we had all dealt with two or three hoaxers.

I told ‘Broughton’ I was no longer interested.

There followed a series of mails from ‘Broughton’ –all offering to sort out the misunderstanding and allow me “licencing rights for reprints”.  Desperate to get cheques for material to reprint but offering no address-of-business and no contract or other details.  Suddenly I realised why people might be trying to track him down. 

This was distinctly dubious.

As in the past, when the questions got too hot, someone writes to say “Roger is in hospital for a serious operation”.  Usually he then goes silent.  On this occasion, he contacted me the same evening as he had been rushed into hospital?!

Will we see more A+ reprints of Charlton or ACG material?

Who knows.

I would love to be proved wrong.  For Roger Broughton (who in another mail told me he had found I was looking for him on a Closed Membership yahoo group –where had my ‘letter’ gone then?)  to still be alive would be nice but I would advise anyone to first ask for positive proof that they are dealing with the real McCoy!

If the REAL Roger Broughton is out there I’d love to hear from him.

This entry was written by Terry and posted on January 27, 2008 at 4:43 pm and filed under FEATURES. Bookmark the permalink.

But the saga was not over.

Post Roger Broughton…or Is It?

Oh please, no. Nothing and then…TWO Roger Broughton mails in one day in response to the same article!  This was on a CBO comments.

One mail seeming to indicate that everything I said was wrong and not so well written and the other polite and well written and not blaming me.

Comics, folks. Funny old business.

1. admin on May 13th, 2008 at 3:29 am

I re-read your comments about our conversations as well as our emails and you told me you could not meet me in london and i did miss your call. You never showed at the hotel and you never mentioned that you did to me at any time.

You called and I was not as the show? Who did you talk too?

Publishing shows only list people and companies that have a booth? Ithink the center had a few thousand exibits.

I believe the $40.00 directory that they sell is for people like me that do these shows. I think the print run for such directories for the london show was over 30,000. Calling someone at a show short of paging them is futile unles they have a booth and even then the pace is frantic and you work of your voice mail.

I also never offered you publishing rights. Due to previous commitments I did offer to look into to it but there was regional complications due to future licensing projects.

No money was request and international rights are never and i say never handled by check. We use wire transfer or bank drafts until a relation is built.

And most of the material (80 %)we have sold in Europe was mostly licensed material. Popeye Hanna-Barbara ect, most of these to book publishers

The artist and the wife thing, why did you not name these people. I was never even in publishing until the mid eighties and it was not comics. Why did you not name all these contacts that you say you spoke to

I notice you did not publish any emails to this effect. We never requested any money what so ever.

I know Terry that not doing this project your pride was hurt. You seem to think that your name carries enough wait to move mountains.

I hope it can but the truth is all of this is your own conclusions.

Your knowledge of internatioal publishing seems to be some what limited. With the consolidation of publishers, distributors combined with the continuing battle for sale space we are all very cautious

The internet is the wild west when it comes to stuff like. This the only word of advice I can offer is don’t use libel as a tool. To elevate one self at the expense of others is simply wrong.

And I never did a google about you, your extensive resume that you e-mailed me (several times) was the bases of my conversation.

Sorry for spelling errors

Anyway I wish you well, and i wish you success in the publishing field.

2. roger broughton on May 12th, 2008 at 10:56 pm

And….

I am quite surprised that my life seems to be so full of inuendo and speculation. Working with major publishers does not only mean comic book publishers.
All this bit about unsavory people and such is real news to me.

And you are right I Am a client of Jerron along with DC and Marvel, Dark Horse ect.. Consulting is also a very private business.

As far as the rest I don’t know what to say except that publishing is a tight liped business. No one says nothing. everything is timed and planned over long periods of time. The Dark Horse was discussed over 3 years ago.

The other projects we have lined up have time frames of around two years.

This said i am sorry I could not see you in London, publishing shows run long and business runs late. Too bad we could not meet face to face.

You will see a lot of activity based on our archives starting with Dark Horse.

The person called Mark andre if you could forward him my email I so i can address the situation. “je vais regler la situation”

regards
roger b
3. roger broughton on May 12th, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Michael Brown then responded:

Interesting, interesting. As someone long interested in the works put out by Charlton and ACG, the reprints (real and promised) from “Broughton” have long been of interest.

Now that Dark Horse Comics are planning on doing archive reprints of ACG materials (complete Herbie and Nemesis books so far), one has to wonder how/if this is an impact. Maybe DH has done some digging and perhaps feels the ACG material is really public domain. One has to wonder as those rights languished for years before Broughton apparently bought them (from who?), and only lead to an aborted Herbie reprint from DH and a few reprints from A+ later on.

4. Michael Brown on April 11th, 2008 at 9:54 am

And

Well, what a story !

I had two or three e-mails with Canada-based Roger Broughton in the beginning of the new century, when I tried to buy his comic books reprints (Terry and other adventure titles). I think I found ACG e-mail in one of the comics. I remember that he was sympathic but he didn’t seemed to exactly know what he published -who was drawing, writing, from where came the material…-

I tried to trade copies of HOP!, the comics mag I wrote in, against his comic books. He looked very interested about the french (european?) market and promised to send the comics very quickly.

I sent him some other mails and, as did the Comic Book Artist editor, he swore he had sent the books.

I’m still waiting.

Last time I heard of him was about some trouble he had with the rights of the comics he said he bought. Some people thought they had the rights.

Bravo !

5. Marc-André on January 28th, 2008 at 9:40 am


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

Now, I want to go back to certain points. 

(1) The ‘Broughton(s)’ I was in contact with only want cashier cheques made out in US dollars.  That in itself is very dodgy and simply means you have an open cheque.  No bank or other ID involved. A business run legitimately would have a bank account for money to go into.  This is why I insisted on some proof that I was dealing with the real Broughton.

(2) The fact that my ‘history’ with Defiant Comics was brought up was interesting. That has been referred to here: http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/the-decision-and-why-it-needs-explaining.html

The lawyer was offensive and threatened legal action and my response was “Go ahead”.  I never had a caller check in those days so I could not get back in touch. But it seemed just too much of a coincidence –unless I am being paranoid.

(3) According to the people involved in the sale of Charlton material only reprint rights were sold. Not the characters which might have presented legal problems (as if Charlton cared).  When I tried to ask specific deal rights with Robin Snyder I was bluntly told the material was sold and he wanted no more to do with that subject.
O-kay.

(4) ‘Broughton’ owning the rights to Atlas Seaboard comics from the 1970s is pure bull-shit.  Atlas had a brief revival and the reason only a very small number of characters were involved was because of the creator copyright/ownership issues. I have gone into this in detail.  Go ask Jason Goodman.

(5) Someone involved in publishing, needing to promote the product within the industry or to studios tend not to be very camera shy –even if they do not like photographs it all helps to sell the “goods”.  In fact, neither myself nor anyone else who has looked into the question of “Who Is Roger Broughton” has ever come up with a photograph. A real address. A real permanent phone number or traceable email.

(6) a businessman so paranoid about giving any information about himself (who even those distributing his books cannot contact –‘he’ contacts them) uses an email that anyone can access?  Come on.

(7) how many company names do you need? 

A+/A-Plus
ACG Classix
America's Comics Group
Sword in Stone
Avalon Communications

You get a company, tell people what you have and build from there.  Also, according to the Grand Comics Data  base the last book published by ‘Broughton’ was ACG material in Shot Gun Harker 2003.  Another company but this was the last after the 1987-1992 flurry of reprint books.

Steve Malone tells me that after similar contacts with Broughton to my own he even checked tax returns under Broughton and the various company names.  Nothing. And “Everyone I talked to says they never saw Broughton. No one wants to talk about the reprints sell off and some say material was sold several times to different people.” I tried to contact Steve about a year ago over something else but heard nothing back.  Maybe he’s uh “swimming wid d’fishes”?

So, anything with the name Broughton attached gets deleted immediately. Based on what I learnt Broughton would be in his nineties now but I don’t believe it. I think that the name was adopted by someone connected with the original Charlton company.  No one who exists is 100% untraceable in this day and age. 

Personally, I do not believe that there was ever any such person as Roger Broughton. It was a “front name”. Don’t contact me –contact the people making the documentary if you can prove Roger Broughton existed and if you are Roger Broughton –ditto!











1 comment:

  1. Fascinating stuff...great entertainment and very informative...love this stuff Terry, you should have been a copper with those detective skills :)

    ReplyDelete