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Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Doom That Came To Ashton Vale...Or, Why I Ain't Rich!

When you read the below blatant advert please think about what is involved. I know what you are going to say "What? £25 for a black and white comic?!!"

This is where I will school you (hark at me getting all "Street").

Firstly, I had to buy the 60-70 year old comics.  These were printed at a time of ink and paper shortages.  The war in the UK meant things were "rough".  The idea that, like the United States, a country expecting at any moment to be invaded and preparing to fight a suicide resistance war against occupying forces, could produce vast quantities of full colour comics is a fantasy. So the lowest quality paper and ink were used -paper used to make brown paper bags and even silver paper!  And ink -orange, red, green, purple, blue and some times a mix of 2 or 3 of those colours.  

For a kid trying to escape the fear of bombing they were great escape.  To comic collectors today they are "low quality rubbish" -but they will try to screw you on a price when you become interested because, suddenly, it is a "very rare collector's item!"  Now, I have mentioned before that working on the pages of these comics to make them available today takes a lot of work.

I have a post here from the old British Golden Age Comics blog (and it's nice to see a few people stole scans from there and used as their 'own' work!).

Editing British Golden Age Comics

I’m hoping that Ernesto Guevara does not mind that I’m using part of an email I sent him  to explain things.…the problem was, as in the US, paper drives for the war effort. Even if kids never wanted to part with their comics their mum’s no doubt did!  I know Denis Gifford mentioned -in one of his books also I think- that he came home one day to find his mother had cleared out the pesky comics!
We have so much info via books and magazines like Alter Ego on the US Golden Age but the UK Golden Age seems to have been forgotten. Swan, Denis M. Reader, et al were the life blood of the UK GA and I was very depressed to have some scanarama and Spacevoucher members say they never considered these publishers or their books worth noting.  Yet, get a Dandy or Beano or Amalgamated Press book of that period and its song, wine and fireworks!meh. We’re all comickers -different strokes for different folks.
I do know there are at least two collectors on one of my groups (they think anonymously ?!) who have Back From The Dead, Krakos The Egyptian and The Bat in their collections but won’t share.  The odd thing is that those who might not have a problem sharing are more likely not on the internet or haven’t found the yahoo group -its why I duplicated the British Golden Age blogs so its on Word Press and Blogger so one of them might stumble upon it!
In fact, through Denis Ray (an American) and Ernesto (I know there is another guy but my memory for names!) we’ve come up with 100% more on the small publishers of 1939-1951 than was available before.
Its odd that the Silver Age group, BritComics (set up in 2004) has over 150 members (157) while the British Comic Book Archives (set up in 2007) has…52!
I’ve done this before but, as I’m getting over a migraine and couldn’t draw or finish editing, I thought I would spend the day looking online for British Golden Age Comics or groups dealing with them.
With the odd break, after seven hours, every single image points me back to my own sites (there is a free servers site I’m just up-dating).  On Yahoo there are only two groups -Britcomics and the BCBA.
This, to me, is very, very depressing.  It might also explain why the British Golden Age collections I published hardly sell.  Having written that I do know scans of those books are widely distributed -illegally meaning I lose money.Everyone cry now. NOW!!!!
After about three decades of looking there has been some headway made.
I’ll keep at this, as I’m sure will other members when they can, but I have this image of my funeral and someone running in breathless waving a comic -“Is it too late -I’ve found a copy of Swan’s Krakos comic!!”
In fact, though the completed collected book eludes us 2 sample pages from a William A. Ward Krakos strip plus a complete one have come to light in the last two weeks  -the latter features in the newTales Of Terror 4 -see, we’re making headway!
We just need to keep letting people we know and on other groups know that we need scans!!  That 4Share account needs to be fit to bursting!  But I’m getting really weary of chasing Holy Grails.
I need to also find some way of making sure that if I pop off the Archive is still there.
And the Golden Age strips/books we find are usually in a heck of a state. Different qualities of paper were used -none of them of a high standard. Inks and the quality of printing varied and you’ll find orange inked pages, blue, green and even red inked pages. Now if you are converting that to black and white, or more accurately grey-tone, it’s a nightmare!
Oh lords of comics -then you get the foxing, mold or spattering of ink (from printing). And worst of all the pen scribbles and tears repaired using sellotape (AAARGH!).
Some people who have seen an original scanned page do not believe it is what the printed version comes from. I’ll demonstrate but I want to share a funny story first.
I posted the following page on a couple of my groups. “Stew” emails and asks how I got the page when he hasn’t scanned it yet -?!
Then Dave sends me an email with the same comment.
I’ve seen THEIR pages now and can tell you they are the same page, tear and the tape repairs arealmost identical.It could be that this particular book was damaged during printing and several copies were affected. Whatever, it’s weird.
Anyway, this is the sort of original page I get:
It’s dis-coloured and there is that tear and the yellowing-brown tape. First thing to do is get rid of the colour from the scan so I get this:
It’s a sort of off grey. So my next move is to up the contrast and get this:

Which means pushing up the brightness, saving that and then upping the contrast to get this:

You can still see the tear so a bit more fine tuning and….
This is close to the finished item but on this I would enlarge the page to around 400% and then deal with the tear in Paint Shop.
One page like this can take up to 2 hours to tidy.
One thing I will not do is re-panel. The whole point is to show the original strip and how it appeared.  Some artists draw crooked panels. I learned a long time ago to leave these! I ‘straightened’ a page in photo-shop to correct the tilt on a page but then realized something else was crooked. I corrected it…uhh, not that wasn’t right…I then stepped back and realized most of the panels were just very faint lines (as in the above page).  So I left it.
You have to remember that William Ward, Jock McCail, Glynne Protheroe and others were writing and drawing their own strips -a huge number of them.  As far as Gerald Swan was concerned the comics were throw-away entertainment for kids so as long as his books were filled and he raked in the coppers or brass or silver he was happy.
And the books end up battered or chucked in a box in an attic, a cellar or even under an old bed.  we’re lucky that not all “mums” threw out “those silly comics”!
When people say to me “These aren’t very good quality print-wise are they?” I say they should buy an original Swan comic and check the quality….oh, wait, very few appear for sell so they can’t. Also, I’ve had one purchaser of the Ultimate British Golden Age Collection write that he thought he would never see the comics he read as a kid again (he’s 75 years old) -“and in a lot better quality!”
THAT makes the work worth it.
Though I would still like to be rich!
You see, it does take a lot of work. Scanning can take days and the number of alterations made to a single before "pre-edit" can vary from a couple to....a lot.  Now that's the time and that is before you even think how much money the comics cost me in the first place.  Seriously, I do not want to think about that. I love comics and comic art and I want to try to show people the comic strips by creators forgotten today.  At one point I was taking a great deal of mockery regarding my interest in these comics because they were "unimportant" and "toilet paper has more interest".  But when interest picked up, suddenly even the mockers were praising these comics. That was a fad, though.
But pull all the pages together into either the separate volumes or the 405 pages Ultimate Collection...the cost in time and money...really, you might be able to buy two of the poorer quality 1940s comics for £25.00.  Here you have not two 8 pagers that you can never call "reading copies"(!) but well printed, perfect bound books.
Now, the point of this post (and I do know there are people out there who complain that I "do not bullet point" everything -I could be so rude.)
If I wanted to buy a copy of the Ultimate Collection I get the creators discount (I try not to laugh). A copy will cost me £9.70 which is Euro 11.41 or US $12.60 (with postage the book costs me £16.00).  Before postage because, yes, I have to pay that just like you. So no one wants to buy the collection off my online store and I have had people say they "can probably get it cheaper on Ebay or Amazon".  No. I have gone over this before.  You, as a buyer get ripped off.  I, as the person who has put a year's worth of work into the book get beaten up and dumped in an alley and then get pissed on.  "Over the top"?
Would you like to see just what I would make if one of these online big boys ordered my book to sell at over the online price? 

£2.64...oh, and look at the bottom of that scan..."Revenue may be subject to witholding and minor fluctuation due to changes in currencyexchange rates"  My printer is based in the US and so the IRS likes to take something.  But here is where it gets REALLY bad. Ingram will have bought that book at a major discount and someone into finances who once looked at this noted that "these companies then make 100-125% profit" So, you see?

You may buy the book for £25.00 but the book costs £9.00+(Euro 11+/$13+) to print. The POD service want their cut. Oh, and a US based POD means the US Tax people want a cut as they see me as a foreigner earning money in the US.

Yeah, I may as well hand copies out to strangers on the street.  But that's how it works so don't balk about the cover price. To actually earn £25 I would need to sell 4 copies.  

Word to the wise.

And Now For Some Pure Golden Age!

And if there is one thing "Herr Professor" loves it is discovering and presenting long lost UK Golden Age (1939-1951) comic strips and characters from publishers such as Gerald Swan, Foldes, Denis M. Reader, Cartoon Art Productions and others.

Scanned and restored as best as can be considering the poor print quality of the rationing years -especially red, orange, yellow, blue and purple ink printing!

Ace Hart The Atomic Man!  The Tornado!  TNT Tom!  Dene Vernon!  Acromaid!  Cat-Girl! Bring 'Em Back Hank! Robert Lovett:Back From The Dead and so many other action heroes and humour strip characters -William A. Ward, Jock McCaill and a host of known and unknown creators contribute -either in single volume " 

Black Tower Gold" albums or all six collected into the 400+ pager -The Ultimate British Golden Age Collection!

The Ultimate British Comics Gold CollectionBlack Tower British Gold Collection 1Black Tower British Gold Collection 2Black Tower British Gold Collection 3UK GOLD COLLECTION 4Black Tower Gold 5:Back From The Deadblack tower gold 6

The Ultimate British Comics Gold Collection


Ed. Terry Hooper-Scharf
405 pages
Black & White
Perfect bound paperback
Price: £25.00

Combining volumes 1-6 (still available as individual issues but that works out far more expensive) of the BT Golden Age British Comics Collections (minus adverts) this is the ultimate for any Golden Age collector or historian or just plain comic lover.

Ace Hart
The Phantom Raider
Captain Comet 
Acro Maid
Phantom Maid
Dene Vernon
The Iron Boy
The Boy Fish
Professor Atom
The Tornado
Wonder Boy
Dane Jerrus
Tiny Tod
Maxwell The Mighty 
Back From The Dead
Zeno At The Earth's Core
Colonel Mastiff
Ally Sloper
Super Injun
Super Porker  (oo-er, no, Madam, ooh),
Tiger Man
King Of The Clouds
Captain Comet 
and MANY others!

Plus text features defining The Ages OF British Comics (Platignum, Gold, Silver), the artist William A. Ward and more.

If you knew nothing about British comics of the Platinum, Golden and Silver Ages then once you buy and read this book you'll be a goddam omic intellectual dinosaur! Yipes!

All in that beautiful Iron Warrior cover exclusively drawn for Black Tower by that meta-gargantuoso talented Ben R. Dilworth!

I sold my family to be able to get this book out! Help me buy them back by purchasing your very own 
whizz-o copy today!

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