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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Search/Destroy: A Strontium Dog Fan Film

Toy Hunting in Tokyo - Toy Cats Showcase 2017



Man to be in a Japanese toy store and have money in my pocket!!  Micronauts...aww I'm going to cry!!!

What I Am TRYING To Read

Read Matthew Lewis' The Monk a good while ago.  Ponderous but in its day absolutely shocking!  Judging by what some bloggers have written they have never read the book!

 I am now, if my failing eyes let me, trying to read the 551 pages The Skeleton Crew, or, Wildfire Ned (published 1866~1867).

Mad does not cover it but if you are not used to Victorian prose as used in "Penny Dreadfuls" look out!

I do hope I survive to the end.....of the book!


jjjjjj

Sir Roger Moore 1927-2017

BBC News.  Photos added


Actor Sir Roger Moore, best known for playing James Bond, has died aged 89, his family has announced.
He played the famous spy in seven Bond films including Live and Let Die and the Spy Who Loved Me.
Sir Roger's family confirmed the news on Twitter, saying he had died after "a short but brave battle with cancer".
The statement, from his children, read: "Thank you Pops for being you, and being so very special to so many people."
"With the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated," they said in a Twitter post.
Sir Roger, who died in Switzerland, will have a private funeral in Monaco in accordance with his wishes, they added.
"The love with which he was surrounded in his final days was so great it cannot be quantified in words alone," read the statement from Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian.
"Our thoughts must now turn to supporting Kristina [his wife] at this difficult time."
It added: "We know our own love and admiration will be magnified many times over, across the world, by people who knew him for his films, his television shows and his passionate work for UNICEF which he considered to be his greatest achievement.
Along with his famous Bond role, Moore was also known for TV series The Persuaders and The Saint.
As Ivanhoe (1958-1959)
Moore as The Saint   (1962-1969)
                         Moore as 007 James Bond 1973-1989
Above with Tony Curtis in The Persuaders (1971-72)
Tempus fugit

We Should Never Forget: The Amazing Art & Sad Deaths Of OGDEN WHITNEY & JOHN FORTE

A LOOK AT TWO GREAT GOLDEN & SILVER AGES ARTISTS

I need to start this posting off with a little bit of back-story. I have written and posted numerous times before about how the old Alan Class Comics  were a mainstay in my childhood reading.  Most of the artists I loved the work of but, for some reason, I got "tickled" by that of John Forte and Ogden Whitney.

I began trying to find out more about these two artists and, eventually, in 2004, published this very article on the old Freeservers CBO which ran alongside the main one. 


I then re-posted to the main Word Press CBO.  Here I got a tirade of a comment from someone (I cannot even remember his name now) accusing me of stealing the entire thing from a magazine published in the US -I think a fanzine but I'd not heard of it.  I suggested that he  "wind your neck in" and explained that I had spoken and written to many people between 1979-2004 trying to gather more info on Ogden Whitney.  I heard no more. 

Someone trying to start a little "internet flame war" to increase his blog stats?  No idea.  Don't care. Or he might well have been someone who considered the artist his property to research and I've come across that before.

So, if that person reads this again -feck off.  Don't even bother trying to comment or whine on.  All my posts are backed by research notes and correspondence.

Now, on to what really matters -John Forte and Ogden Whitney!
*************************************************************
As a comic historian, specialising mainly in British comics, I have a meagre collection of  Class Comics.  These were black and white reprint comics of between 62-100 pages and published by Alan Class between 1962 to the early 1980s.  Class had gotten agreements to reprint strips from the big boys at Timely/Marvel, ACG, Charlton and others.

At a time when getting US comics was a little hit-and-miss,to me,as a kid of the 1960s,these Class Comics were a treasure trove! I first saw FING FANG FOOM! [wonderfully returned to us recently in EXILES] and many Kirby and Ditko classics “anyone recall the strip “I RELEASED SHAGG UPON THE WORLD!”?

There were plenty of MLJ/Archie reprints such as the adventures of The Fly, Jaguar and so on. But there were various science fiction and spooky tales added to these issues.

Two artists work struck me as a youngster,though it wasn’t until the 1980s that I tried to find out more about them -an interest re-kindled whilst cataloguing the issues I had.  Ogden Whitney and John Forte seemed to have no written history and I asked any pro artist or writer I met at UK conventions if they knew anything about them....many returning blank expressions.
 
No photographs can be found of Whitney, but there is his self-penned illo for and ACG book. Which I reproduce here!

I learnt that Ogden had become a comic book artist during the late 1930s and drew for A-1 Comics and Big Shot Comics. It became quite obvious that fans loved the way Whitney drew women!  So,working on Romantic Adventures and Wedding Bells was quite natural and I have to admit some of the work leaves me in awe!

But,Whitney was not just a “good girl” artist;he was reknowned for his drawings of automobiles as well as work on war strips and for horror comics such as Adventures Into The Unknown.

Tower Comics also gave Whitney the opportunity to work on T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents NoMan as with the story “The Good Subterranean” [NOMAN #1, November,1966]. A very distinctive style!

For those interested in Golden Age heroes,Whitney is probably better known for the character Skyman “the character even made a cameo in HERBIE #8,1965. For DC in the 1940s he had drawn Sandman and a strip called “Cotton Carver” but World War II meant “call up”.


All I have managed to find out about Whitney’s war-time is that he saw service in the Phillipines.  Interestingly enough, in the same outfit was another comics artist and a person who had worked with Whitney both at DC and the Columbia Comic Group -Fred Gaurdineer.

Happily,after the war Whitney continued his comic work,though it has been said that he had often tried -“unsuccessfully- to break into the more lucrative advertising market. Whether this was purely for the money or through disenchantment with comics I wouldn’t like to guess.

Luckily, the Editor at the American Comics Group, Richard E.Hughes, was a former “old-timer” and gave Whitney work.  I’ll put my hands up and declare here-and-now that I know next to nothing about Hughes except that he often gave work to those considered as “fading comic book artists” -I should draw so well as those old boys!
 http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_XKZzywxP6P4/SUyAo6wAq_I/AAAAAAAAEDQ/Aac5SzlzM3Y/s1600/SkymanBigShot8Dec4010.jpg

Richard E. Hughes introduced a number of characters to comics such as John Force,Super Katt,The Black Terror and the Fighting Yank.  Hughes created characters under an amazing number of pseudonyms ;there is even a silly rumour on the internet that Hughes was Julius Schwartz!  And in Michael Vance’s “Forbidden Adventures: The History Of The American Comics Group” [page 43] it is stated that Frederick Iger voiced the opinion that Richard E. Hughes was actually a Leo Rosenbam! 

In fact, if I may, I’d disagree as people were still referring to his widow as Mrs Hughes years later....ahh, what a tangled web they leave us!

Now, Hughes or Rosenbam, it was as “Shane O’Shea” that he created a legend. Nay, more than a legend!  This boy..this Herbie!

 
Herbie Popnecker  was a rotund, basin-haircut, spectacle wearing and lollipop sucking kid! The first appearance of this youth was in Forbidden Worlds #73 [1958],a science fiction, fantasy and horror title that,as far as I can tell, had never before featured continuing characters.  Obviously Hughes must have realised there was something special about Herbie. 

 The story “Herbie’s Quiet Saturday Afternoon” was typical ACG fair; Herbie was hated by his peers because he was over-weight,slow and had an addiction to lollipops. However,unknown to his school mates and even his family,Herbie had vast and certainly undefined super powers. During the course of the strip,Herbie used his powers several times and even foiled an alien invasion -before anyone even knew there was an alien invasion!  By the end of the story Herbie was back to enduring the taunts of other kids. 
 http://images.furycomics.com/viewer/81/811b0be522d724c80580e258ec1cf1f1/0.jpg
Another Herbie story appeared in Forbidden Worlds #94 after popular feed-back. Then came a third strip in #110.  Pretty soon Herbie was appearing in each issue.  It’s rather interesting that Whitney,said to be a rather “big man”,is said to have based Herbie on his own appearance as a boy.

In May,1964,Herbie got his own book which ran until #23 [February,1967]. Settings for Herbie adventures and genres included the Wild West, pirates, science fiction and so on. Then Herbie took the super hero route and became “The Fat Fury” [very politically incorrect,of course!].  In #14 [January,1966] ACG’s two other mystical heroes,Nemesis and Magicman guest-starred.
 http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vqIWmPLkd6c/ULgwxJE0DZI/AAAAAAAAk9c/kv1XXXWbnFg/s1600/MH07-26.jpg
With Herbie gone fans felt disappointed but not long afterwards ACG ceased publishing. Hughes went to DC to write.  Whitney got work at Marvel where he drew several issues of The Two Gun Kid and some covers for Millie The Model and one odd collaboration with Jack Kirby in Strange Tales #149,a Nick Fury Agent Of  S.H.I.E.L.D. story. In this Fury looks exactly like Herbie’s father, Pincus Popnecker -plus eye-patch!
 .
 .
But what happened to Whitney who seems to have vanished from comics in,it seems,the late 1960s?  Hughes widow has told comic enthusiasts that the couple used to socialise with the Whitneys up until Mrs Anne Whitney died in the late 1960s [1968?]. 
 



 There has also been confirmation of Mrs Hughes’ claim that Whitney had been a functioning alcoholic, a not completely unknown condition amongst old time comic pros who spent days in isolation, working late into the night week-after-week trying to keep up with deadlines. But there is nothing in Whitney’s printed work to show this.  

Whitney apparently ended up in a nursing home after a nervous breakdown following his wife’s death and the effects of drink and died of a possible stroke in the early 1970s -possibly 1972?
 https://dominobooksnews.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/fw_52_301.jpg
Alcohol, sadly, as we have read before in cases cited in Alter Ego magazine, has led to many an untimely death amongst old comic pros.


Perhaps, one day, a comic historian based in New York can do some in-depth research on Whitney.  For instance, after all these years I have been unable to find out whether the Whitneys had any children. One source said there was a son and daughter but another said there were none. If there are any offspring could they add more to our knowledge?
 
The other artist, John Forte Jnr I know a lot more about.  Born in 1918, Rockaway, Illinois. In Forte's case at least we have a photograph that, originally, took me a few years to get hold of.  I've not seen it used elsewhere so here you go!


Forte started work at Timely in 1941 but also worked for other companies in the 1940s and 1950s,including ACG horror comics and romance comics for both Timely and Quality Comics. When DC purchased Quality Comics in 1958,Forte moved along with the company.
 
Above -I believe the very first Tales Of The Legion Of Super Heroes story from Adventure Comics 300, 1962.  Artist Al Plastino for many years had to "re-touch" faces in strips and I believe this is one of those instances!
 
above: Forbidden Worlds 61 Dec 1957


Forte had pencilled some early Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane stories and had even inked some Curt Swan pencils -as in “Superboy Meets Supergirl” in Superboy#80,April,1960.  Of course, to fans of the original -“the genuine"-  Legion Of Super Heroes will be aware that it was with this series that Forte made his mark. 

And as for Adventure Comics 300, well, I have just found a blog dealing with that issue in detail (better page scans, too!) called Days Of Adventure -http://adventurecomicsblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/adventure-comics-300-september-1962.html

Forte had made his name drawing those fantastic fun tales featuring the Bizarro World and moved over to draw the LSH with,as far as I can tell,Adventure Comics #304,January,1963, And the story “The Stolen Super Powers”.
 http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PvsJ2koRTXA/T9_ZvFDDQLI/AAAAAAAAmqU/dhJGZk2DrHg/s1600/arrowhead_004_20.jpg


Above: Some of Forte's work for Atlas Comics in the 1950s. And, good lords! There's even a post about Forte and this strip over at Four Color Shadows!


 
But suddenly, in 1965, Forte left comics.  To many of us this seemed odd but the usual assumption was that he had moved on to other comics we weren’t getting in the UK or he had, quite simply, left the industry.

The sad truth was that Forte had left to fight colon cancer. From what I can uncover, he lost that fight and died in hospital in New York  in mid-1966.

I would,if permitted, like to make an appeal here to any of the old time pros who worked or had contact with Whitney or Forte -even fans who may have had commissioned sketches drawn by these men. 

 
We would all like to think that those creators who brought us many hours -many years- of fun and entertainment simply slip into their sunset years and live on through their work.  For me it was a sad day when I finally learned the truth about Ogden Whitney and John Forte but at least we still have their fantastic archive of work to look back on that will go on forever!
 

 And I have JUST found another blog with an entry on Forte!  Destination Nightmare:
 http://creatfeatforever.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/cartoonists-make-better-lovers-john.html  see -good taste does show through eventually on all things!

But for me, in 2015, it's back to trying to find out more about British Golden and Silver Age creators we know next to nothing about!

Fin.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The Forgotten Golden Age Creator -Steve Dowling: Father of Garth!


Back in 2011, because it seems that everyone had forgotten him, and the legendary character he created,Garth, I re-posted an interview the late Denis Gifford conducted with Steve Dowling.

My Britcomics group and British Golden Age Comics sites were the only places where anyone could find photographs of Steve.  Since that time, as is always the way, the photographs have been pilfered repeatedly and writers 'anecdotes' have been stolen from this interview.  I know this because Dowling only ever got interviewed once as no one thought him important because he was not Asbury, Allard or Bellamy -most people seem to think Bellamy created Garth!

According to a family member, Steve had very little money after he was forced to retire (obligatory under company law -supposedly since it never stopped Giles from continuing on) and his younger family members had no idea he had been a working artist.  In fact, after his death, apart from one or two drawing he had made for youngsters,the family had no samples of his newspaper work.  Piers Morgan at the Daily Mirror, that had published Garth, made no secret that he detested newspaper comic strips.  When I spoke to him on behalf of the Dowling family (whom the Daily Mirror had already refused a request from) it ended with him saying "Why are you bothering me with this rubbish?" and he put the phone down.

So called British comic 'experts' also refused to get involved or track work down -it was one of the reasons that I set up the Yahoo Britcomics and British comic Book Archives groups.  No creator should be forgotten or treated as though their original work had no value when compared to the later 'stars'.

Before I get too angry -here is the interview!

Steve Dowling -Father Of GARTH!


Around 1999, I had an email from the grandson of Steve Dowling who was living in Canada.  I learnt that Steve had been bumped out of his job simply because he had reached 65 years of age (only in the UK!).  He then spent many years living off a poor pension.  Steve had no original art from his newspaper strip days to show his family -it’s why I was contacted because of my British Comic Books Archive project.


Apparently the family had asked the Daily Mirror newspaper if it could just get some photocopies of the pages for themselves.  No.  They asked then editor Piers Morgan (can I spit?) who basically responded that he had no time to waste of dumb comic strips (his hatred of them is well recorded).
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-wRIWCUDaTzQ/VPJeLCev44I/AAAAAAAAn7Y/YZhkd7RXhuA/s1600/YP08%3Afeb%2B20%2B1952%3ADM.jpg
I lost the email from the family when my old computer blew. IF Steve’s family in Canada read this then I have Garth strips I can offer on share file.


Published in ‘Ally Sloper’ #1, 1976, and reprinted in ‘Comic Bits’ #1, 2001. Denis Gifford conducts an on-stage interview at ‘Comics 101′ on 20 March 1976 with Garth creator Steve Dowling, who died in 1986.

STEVE: I might say that it’s been more than worthwhile to come all this way, because I thought nobody knew me any more, let alone thought me worthy of an award! Everybody’s been so kind to me and said so many nice things that I’ve really been rather overwhelmed by it all. Thank you very much, everyone.

DENIS: Well, we’ll get on to the British newspaper strip, which you were almost solely responsible for. You worked under several different names and different styles. How did it all start?

STEVE: It started by my going riding with a friend who did a strip called ‘Tich’ in the Daily Mirror, the ideas for which were supplied by my brother, Frank. Coming back from this event, rather full of liquor, unfortunately there was a car accident and the artist, Martin, died. And so I had to step into his shoes and was plummeted into the strip business in a rather shaky condition, having gone through the roof of a car! ‘Tich’ ran for some years. [from 1931 - DG]


DENIS: But you were an artist before this?
 Steve Dowling receiving an Ally Sloper award from Denis Gifford and Bob Monkhouse at Comics 101


STEVE: I was in advertising. As a matter of fact, I was at the time Assistant Art Director for Dorland Advertising at the age of 24. I gave up my job at Dorland’s because I could do ‘Tich’ in one day a week – there were very few lines in the thing, very slick little drawings – and then I could go down by the seaside and put my feet up for the rest of the week, which was very nice indeed!

DENIS: There were strips in the Mirror before ‘Tich’, ‘Dud’ and ‘Jinks’ and so on – but after ‘Tich’ strips seem to blossom.



STEVE: Well, old Guy Bartholomew who was chairman of the Mirror was mad hot about strips. Having been an artist himself he regarded the strips as the main part of the paper. His opinion was that most people couldn’t read, anyway, and liked looking at pictures!

DENIS: What was the genesis of ‘Ruggles’, your first real strip?
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_SvmlM7-oNw0/Soredsp4k2I/AAAAAAAAO5c/ab_smNddU1I/s320/steve+dowling.jpg
STEVE: I think having seen American continuity strips. I got the idea for this character ‘John Ruggles’, an ordinary chap, and my brother who had quite a gift for humorous writing,wrote the words. In point of fact I think ‘Ruggles’ was the first continuity strip to appear in a national daily. The others were all daily incidents. The idea of having a serial story run in picture form was new in this country, although, of course, it had been done in America. I remember Cecil King, who was rather small-fry then, always wanted me to make ‘Ruggles’ build a shed in his garden, because his 14 year-old son had suggested the idea! If I had taken King’s advice ‘Ruggles’ garden would have been so stiff with sheds that he wouldn’t have been able to move!

DENIS: Did you sit down and create ‘Ruggles’ as the average man with an average family?

STEVE: Very average! In fact we were trying to write down to the readers, a thing one should not do! Trying to make the strip as like the family life as we could. After a time my brother gave it up – he became the editor of the Picture Post instead – and I took it over. I tried to strengthen the storyline and some of the humour went out of it.
https://www.lambiek.net/artists/image/d/dowling_sp/dowling_p_garth_1950.jpg

DENIS: Why did you sign it with a pseudonym: ‘Ruggles – by Blik’?

STEVE: Oh, that was just a short name like: ‘Tich – by Dart’.

DENIS: And: ‘Belinda Blue Eyes – by Gloria’?

STEVE: Oh, I was just one of a long line of Glorias! That was actually written in the first place by Bill Connor, who later became Sir William, ‘Cassandra’. He wrote it to order for Bartholomew the chairman. Everybody took a hand in those days. Basil Nicholson, the editor, who was the man who re-modelled the Mirror, his idea of having a comic strip was to have a different person every day slipping on a banana skin. One day a clergyman, the next day a policeman; he thought that was the level of public understanding.

DENIS: Later ‘Ruggles’ featured the public actually in the strip. How did that unique series come about?

STEVE: They thought the strip was flagging a bit and Philip Zec, who was then the strip editor, asked me to come up with a twist. Well, Wilfred Pickles on the radio was then ‘Meeting the People’ and I thought I would try this in strip form. I took some roughs into Zec, who didn’t think much of the idea. He took it to the chairman, and next day I got a telegram from Zec: “Please draw some more along the lines I suggested.” Well, I did, and Zec got into trouble for claiming it was his idea – it became the chairman’s idea! But I must say that the idea eventually reverted to me – when they found that the series didn’t go down very well!!

DENIS: Why did ‘Ruggles’ come to an end?

STEVE: Well, they felt it wasn’t pulling. They asked for letters and, of course, more people will write and say they don’t like a thing than those who do, so ‘Ruggles’ went.

DENIS: And so, we come, at last to Garth. How and why did he begin?

STEVE: I had been writing and drawing ‘Belinda . . .’ and not enjoying it very much. Then they found another artist, Tony Royle, to take it on, so they asked me to produce another strip in order to justify my salary. It took me about three months to think up Garth and draw the first three weeks’ strips. The chairman thought that was rather too long – so he docked my pay!



DENIS: Did you set out to create a British equivalent to ‘Superman’?

STEVE: No, ‘Terry and the Pirates’ was my great influence, if anything. I was rather interested in Tibet, and the Forbidden City, and the magic that was there. For instance, in the beginning Garth was resuscitated by the ‘kiss of life’ from a rather attractive young woman called Gala. Well, the ‘kiss of life’ was not known here then, but I had read about it in a book on Tibet.

DENIS: Garth was a man of mystery. Did you have a solution in mind from the start?

STEVE: Oh, no. I had no solution at all. I had no more idea who Garth was than the reader!

DENIS: One mystery was that Garth drifted in from the sea, and there is no sea around Tibet!

STEVE: Artistic licence!

DENIS: Another striking feature was the constantly bared bosom of one of Garth’s girlfriends.

STEVE: One had to fight to show a little in those days.

DENIS: A “little”? I’d call it a lot! I suppose the exposure was very calculated?

STEVE: Oh yes. I certainly enjoyed drawing it.

DENIS: Why did you stop drawing Garth?

STEVE: I had to. I was freelance up to 1949. Then I joined the staff to get a pension, and when I reached the age of 65 I had to go. That was the rule, so I went.
http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130414174626/ukcomics/images/thumb/c/cb/Dowling-Ally-Sloper-illo-716x1024.jpg/500px-Dowling-Ally-Sloper-illo-716x1024.jpg
Self drawn illo for Ally Sloper Magazine

And that, my friends, is how it ends.  Sad, but at least Steve realised how much his work was loved by fans and he deserved even more than that Ally Sloper but....

The Secret (Actually Forgotten...by ME!) Origins Of The Special Globe Guard


Published by Martin Kelter Verlag, based in Duneburg, Germany (surprise!) the Checkpart series was a sub-series of futuristic thrillers. The subtitle wasWorld Super Crime 2000 or Checkpart Mit Dem Special Globe Guard Team.  The series itself was conceived by Kurt BrandPublished between 1970 and 1972  there were 54 of these 66 paged (double columned) prose stories.  

The series consisted of 54 booklets with the cover price of  90 Pfg, but at  issue 44 it rose 10 pfg to 1.00 DM. 

So, you might ask:"How do you have issues 151 and 153 then?"  Good question163 stories in the series -the ones I have are right toward the end of the run. A trifle brusque, but good question. You see, there were 54 issues featuring the SGG but as I mentioned, they were a sub-series that started in Kelter Krimi Nr. 57 with "Top Und Das Killer-Girl"  ("Top And The Killer Girl") by Torsten Reschke.
Got it? Good.

At the top of the posting you'll see the original title banner with World Super Crime 2000 and, below, the later banner with Mit Dem Special Globe Guard Team.




  

Nr. 153 "Ein Fuchs wie Aso Tokyo" ("A Fox Like Aso Tokyo")  by Konrad Schaef-another British actor but I cannot remember his name. Neither of the films these stills are taken from  have been on TV for a long time


I love the stills from movies used to sell the books -no doubt to attract the eye from all the other publishers' titles that used to fill news vendors shelves.  There was Richard Widmark, Adam West, Kirk Douglas, Lee Marvin, Jeff Bridges, David McCallum -you can list the movies the stills were taken from all day!

And, out of pure boredom I thought I'd check the interwebby-thing and see what I could find. Nothing. But then I thought why not use an old German publisher guide. Just a brief mention and then -SF Hefte Deutschland: BINGO!

Covers and numbers of all the books. And now you, too, can check out the covers (I know I'm going to):
http://www.sf-hefte.de/Checkpart.php

Now, I can see you sat there and thinking "What has THIS got to do with the post title??"

Okay, a trifle brusque -again- and wanting things explained too quickly but, probably, a legitimate question (I need to change these tablets I'm taking).
Well, in the mid-1980s I thought that I needed a central body that a rotating team of characters could feature in. I had smaller groups of heroes -The Crime Club, Anti-Crime Squad, Crime Busters UK (a team that very nearly made it into a Fleetway comic!) and so on.  Global Guardians had featured elsewhere and I almost plumped for my old 1970s Legion of Law Enforcers -which kinda still gets used- but then I thought "Special Globe Guard" -excellent! 

As I had bought and read those two Kelter Krimis more than a decade before I had forgotten them. In fact, I have no memory of whether I thought "That's a good name I can use" or thought it was my original idea. Look, I am very, very old. But it stuck.

So when in (I think) 1987 I wrote and pencilled "Earth Scream" I used the SGG -an excellent UK artist, John P. Britton inked over my pencils (that makes him a saint!) and Ben Dilworth lettered.  It looks pretty rough now but I still love the team and story (parts 2-4 are lost thanks to a Fleetway editor).

The SGG were, of course, the vanguard in defence of Earth in Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes -some giving their lives.
But this ramble would not be complete (unless I forget) withought a few of those original 1980s pages -IF blogger allows them to be shown.

Enjoy.
 


 




 





ALL artwork/characters (c)2017 Terry Hooper-Scharf & Black Tower Comics & Books

On Chinese Ghost Stories...And Comics...and a little Liu Yifei!


I have to say that  Oriental Ghost Stories: Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural was a little disappointing.  Almost two thirds (or more) deals with Japanese ghost stories rather that Chinese as the sellers indicated.  Really -did I think they had read the books?


But Strange Tales From A Chinese Studio has not disappointed.  Plenty of good stories, if not what many Europeans might think of as ghost stories. So a lot to go through!


Someone might think that I have forgotten my plan to research Chinese traditional ghost stories in the hopes of producing a number of Chinese Ghost themed comic albums.

I have not.

I'm hoping Pu Songling's book will fill in a lot of gaps in what I know (they are BIG gaps -come on I have never investigated any Chinese ghosts!). That and Lafcadio Hearn's (apparently he is better known and still respected in Japan) Oriental Ghost Stories: Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural.

Would they ever be as good as some of those old Charlton Horror comic strips set in Japan andKorea and drawn by Sanho Kim? 

Oddly, I used to have some Hong Kong horror Manhua but those simply vanished -I mean, who the ----- steals comics they don't understand (unless they were just interested in the art?).  Whatever, The Thinker (possibly) presenting some good Chinese horror stories would be fun.

In the meantime I have to find another source to buy Manhua from!  It seems the other large Chinese store in Bristol gets newspapers and magazines but not Manhua.  Oh the struggles of my life!  :-)



This was my original posting on the ideas I had, and still do.

Zhong Kui -The King of Ghosts!

I love Chinese comics and I love ghost stories.  I was hoping that I might find inspiration from Chinese comics but, sadly, cannot get hold of any of the horror comics.

It also seems my book of traditional Chinese ghost stories went missing years ago without me knowing.

I did remember one name and -voila!  Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhong_Kui

And with a title like "King of Ghosts" how can you not be inspired?


As related on Wikipedia -I remember the story being MUCH longer- this is how Zhong Kui became....

.... the King of Ghosts!!

According to folklore, Zhong Kui travelled with Du Ping (杜平), a friend from his hometown, to take part in the imperial examinations at the capital.

Though Zhong achieved top honours in the exams, his title of "zhuangyuan" was stripped by the emperor because of his disfigured appearance. In anger, Zhong Kui committed suicide upon the palace steps by hurling himself against the palace gate until his head was broken.

Du Ping buried him.

During his judgment, the Hell King saw potential in Zhong. Intelligent enough to score top honors in the imperial examinations, but damned to hell because he committed suicide.

The Hell King, judging Zhong Kui,  then gave him the title, as the King of Ghost, forever to hunt, capture, maintain and order ghosts. After Zhong became King of Ghosts in Hell, he returned to his hometown on Chinese New Year's Eve.

To repay Du Ping's kindness, Zhong Kui gave his younger sister in marriage to Du.





Yes, the story has the ring of many others over the centuries and then in comic books -Jim Corrigan, cop, gunned down and then resurrected by The Higher Power to combat evil.  And Atlas (Seaboard Periodicals) Grim Ghost was a betrayed highwayman, hung and resurrected by Satan to find and bring him evil souls as...The Grim Ghost.

Oh, and here is a tale!

 Zhong Kui's popularity in folklore can be traced to the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang China(712 to 756). According to Song Dynasty sources, once the Emperor Xuanzong was gravely ill. He had a dream in which he saw two ghosts. The smaller of the ghosts stole a purse from imperial consort Yang Guifei and a flute belonging to the emperor. The bigger ghost, wearing the hat of an official, captured the smaller ghost, tore out his eye and ate it. The bigger ghost then introduced himself as Zhong Kui. He said that he had sworn to rid the empire of evil. When the emperor awoke, he had recovered from his illness. So he commissioned the court painter Wu Daozi to produce an image of Zhong Kui to show to the officials.


This was highly influential to later representations of Zhong. (see image below)



Forgive my ignorance if there has been a comic book adaption of this story but I think "the BlackTower treatment" is needed.  I see a whole Tales of Terror 2015 (volume 5) dedicated to Chinese and Japanese ghosts.  Hmm?



But first, those Green Skies need taking care of!

Oh, and if you are wondering about the photos they are of Chinese actress Liu Yifei -also known as Crystal Liu Yifei- in costume promoting the movie Chinese Ghost Story costume.  You can find more

 info here: 


And see a trailer here: 
Have fun!