PLEASE Consider Supporting CBO

Please consider supporting Comic Bits Online because it is a very rare thing in these days of company mouthpiece blogs that are only interested in selling publicity to you. With support CBO can continue its work to bring you real comics news and expand to produce the video content for this site. Money from sales of Black Tower Comics & Books helps so please consider checking out the online store.
Thank You

Terry Hooper-Scharf

Tuesday 30 April 2019

YOU Are YOU. Ignore the Comic Book Bullying

The world HAS changed since the 1970s and in many way not for the better.

Graffiti artists who faced arrest are now Street Artists and some making a LOT of money from spray paint cans and stencils.  No real art. If you ever visit Bristol during its Upfest you will see some great artists, no stencils, drawing and painting incredible pieces free-hand.

Robert Crumb was the hero of the Underground Comix movement in the US, UK and other countries. He pushed boundaries and offended a lot of sensibilities. I do not like all his work but some is incredible.  Apparently, according to the 'nice guys' who want  to reboot comics history and get rid of anyone far more talented than themselves and their Beano/Dandy comics strips (yeah, real hard core to these people), Crumb is persona non grata (not welcome, to be side-lined and then ignored) in comics.   Yes, they are jumping on the spineless Social Justice Warrior band wagon and be righteous feminists (though I can tell you what these 'nice guys' have said about women behind their backs as well as "ethnics").

As I have mentioned before, people appear to crawl from under stones, wipe the slime off of themselves and then tell tales of the "disgusting human being" that is Robert Crumb -oh, and any woman Crumb has been with at certain times in his life.  These, once you check them, turn out to be half truths or outright fabrications by people with a grudge or just pure jealousy.

Crumb 'supports' the use of drugs, sexist language and the degradation of all women. Women are there to be quiet and get used for sex then kicked out of the door.  Is it any wonder with this type of constant online attack that Crumb keeps to himself?

But how does this affect the 'nice guys|' and their work?  Okay, most of it is art for Dandy that has not progressed in style, in fact it has stagnated, since the 1980s. However, they are 'friends' with artists that draw loosely clad women, some other rather anti-SJW work and above all else, creators who openly promote the use of drugs -not occasionally but in every strip they draw.

Now before anyone starts shouting out any claims let me get things straight. I knew policemen involved in Operation Julie in the mid 1970s. Far from the doped out idiots claiming this was aimed at people "innocently wanting a bit of Puff (cannabis)" it was in fact aimed at LSD manufacturing rings in the UK.  When these creators start spouting their rhetoric about this all being aimed at pot smokers the sounds they make come from their asses.

"Dope don't do you any harm".  Yes. Yes it does if you are a "recreational user" smoking it 2-3 times a day AND consuming alcohol at the same time -that part of the scientific research they often quote they leave out.

I have seen the medical benefits of marijuana and even helped administer it once when it was totally illegal in the 1970s.  I have seen someone going purple in the face, uncontrollable coughing, rasping breathing and the crackling sounds coming from the chest I remember vividly. Within two minutes of smoking a joint the person was able to breath again.  In his case his own doctor had recommended cannabis but could not prescribe or supply it/  I have seen other examples.

So, I am not backing "The Man"...that they still use that term...

There are no DEA agents on covert missions backed up by black ops and all sorts of super tech gear. No war planes or drone strikes. The UK has never had that so to weave this fantasy into some story about "a few innocent lads who just want to chill out" is embarrassing. Time after time after time and it makes those involved in the comics look like jokes and it is a genre of comic that really is not going to be remembered for much.  hose behind these comics show talent but will not venture away and try something new.  The question is whether this is through choice or whether it is because they have been told that they have to stick with doing this -oh, there are people who act like little groups of bullies and tell you what you must do and if the artist has no backbone he'll do what he's told for an easy life and 'acceptance' ...until he steps out of line.

Amongst certain UK creators there is a culture of heavy drinking (attend any UK comic convention still going) and smoking dope (some  while being outspoken against it).  I have seen this first hand since the 1980s and many others can cite the same sort of thing. On the various incarnations of online CBO I have reported on drunken creators and their behaviour, including swearing, throwing things across rooms where they are supposed to be on panels and hitting people and even hotel staff complaining about their intoxicated behaviour.  This is/was a laugh to the 'nice guys' who were hanging on to coat tails or part of the group.

Bland, silly and outdated fantasy drug culture material is acceptable -anyone read Bryan Talbot's The Naked Artist ? - but Crumb and other creators not conforming to what these 'nice guys' like, because then they can say they support "talent" and British comics (and their own inane work looks better then).

This is the sort of thing you can expect if you become involved with  UK comics.  It is the reason that many talented UK Silver and Bronze ages creators avoid events and any online group.

No one tells you whose work you should read or look at or even like.  No one can tell you what you must draw and that you must never develop beyond what they like.

Do not join the long line of could-have-been creators or event organisers who give in to bullying from a small group of people who lack real talent for anything but that.

You are you.  

Fuck them.

Monday 29 April 2019

I Thought It Was A Joke At First...

Someone contacted me via one of my groups and asked...seriously, after telling me how they were "a regular follower of CBO":

"Why won't you review comics and books any more?"

I do. As I pointed out to this person, I cannot magic up books. People have to send them to me. Small press, Indie comics, graphic novels whatever:I receive them they get reviewed.

Oh, I did get another "If you want to buy a review copy of my comic" messages. My response was to tell the person to FRO. I DO NOT -and NO ONE- buy review books. Seriously, are people getting that dumb that they have no concept of sending review books?

People know where I am but I don't know where they are or what they are publishing.


Cinebook the 9th Art Newsletter 136 - April 2019

Dear Reader,
This month we're all about exalted leaders – of the villain persuasion. Some might even pass as super ...
Starting with Lucky Luke's newest opponent and temporary Dalton ally: Dunkle the Prophet, a man with breathtaking megalomania and, unfortunately, a real gift for recruiting people to his cause. Especially the weak minded – and who has a weaker mind than Averell Dalton? Witness now the inevitable chaos!
Next, in Mermaid Project, we follow Romane's training with her new and rather extraordinary partner, and their mission to infiltrate a suspicious corporation's headquarters. What they will discover in there definitely has a supervillainous vibe to it ...
And then there's the ultimate example in terms of supervillain, the final word in the matter – or at least the final letter: Z! In this direct follow-up to The Clockmaker and the Comet, Spirou and Fantasio may have to time-travel a bit more and deal with a terrifying prospect: in the future, the Z rises again!
April with Cinebook: yep, definitely super!

Lucky Luke 73 
Morris & Nordmann
The Prophet
Returned to their penitentiary by Lucky Luke for the umpteenth time, the Daltons meet a troubling character: Dunkle, a self-proclaimed prophet fond of fiery speeches. His continual preaching eventually converts the ever hapless Averell. Soon, all five escape together ... Read more

Mermaid Project 2 
Simon & Leo & Jamar
Episode 2
Now attached to French intelligence, Romane is training hard with agent El Malik and Delph, a genetically modified Dolphin with extraordinary mental abilities. The goal of their coming mission: to infiltrate the premises of Algapower, the company at the heart of their investigation ... Read more

Spirou & Fantasio 16 
Janry & Tome
The Z Rises Again
Back in the present after their adventures through time, Spirou and Fantasio try to pick up their life where they left it. But the magazine refuses to publish Fantasio's account of their extraordinary journey, and he falls into depression. Until, that is, the bizarre and annoying Snuffeller reappears... Read more
Distant Worlds 3
Episode 3

North-American readers, to locate a comic book shop near you that stocks or can order these titles and many more, us this handy Read more 

Or, if you're a retailer yourself, please go to: Read more

May 11 & 12, 2019: Cinebook will exhibit at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, Canada

Spot the Difference

Thursday 25 April 2019


Singapore, Indian and other Comic experiences

I have mentioned before, on CBO and the Black Tower Face Book page, my dealings with publishers in India and the amount of work and effort I put into projects only to find that the publisher was not seriously interested in anything but wasting my time.

That experience meant that I had a base core of self created heroes and villains from India and the heroes appeared in Return of the Gods: Twilight of the Super Heroes and will appear in The Green Skies again.

Another rather negative experience came in dealing with 'comic creators' in Singapore. I learnt fairly early on that comics were looked on as childish and that, despite all the big talk on comic forums, no one was really producing any actual local comics to offer an alternative to mainstream Manga on sale there. A Singaporean friend told me: "No one in Singapore is going to do all the hard work it takes to produce a comic -its just seen as a hobby with a few fan clubs of sorts scattered around" -this friend had been a member of one of those comic clubs.

Me, I'm dumb. What I did was go on the main forum and offer creators the opportunity to produce 3-5 page strips for inclusion in a Singapore Comic Creators showcase book. The deadline was six months from the announcement.  One after another came the excuses that "this is a lot of work to do in six months" and "We'd need to come up with a concept, story and then go through the process of drawing 3-5 pages!"

It hit me that these people had no idea about how to put a comic strip together let alone a whole comic.  But I'm a persistent old sod. I offered to write the scripts so that all they had to concentrate on was the art...."We can't just churn it out like a Honkers sweat-shop" said one. Now I had seen the term "Honkers" used a lot and found out that it was a very derogatory term used to describe citizens of Hong Kong.  I raised this matter as it did not exactly sit well -especially as there were two Hong Kongers that were group members.  Ignored. 

So I tried pushing the comic idea further. Nine months from then deadline? Not enough time. An artist should be able to do 3-5 pages in a week at the absolute minimum. One day I was posting on the forum and saw that a year had passed since the original announcement. I gave up.

That was a pity as Singapore is a lovely setting for a comic or comic strip but by this time I had developed my own characters for Singapore who appeared in...guess what? Return of the Gods: Twilight of the Super Heroes and will also appear in The Green Skies.

Indian and Singapore comic forums are for fans who like to talk but do not draw or put comics together. I learnt that the hard way.

Hong Kong produces its own comics through methods that Westerners would get very confused over but they still produce them -I wanted to find out more about Hong Kong characters but would never dare try to compete with HK comics!

Taiwan tends to concentrate on Manga and some of the people at companies can be quite demanding...and quite rude!

The idea that "I only read British comics" or "I read only Marvel/DC" is a very limiting one. There are European comics -Franco-Belgian, German, Dutch as well as those from central and Eastern Europe (that I really would like to see more of), Australia -it goes on. I love comics (I've wasted my life on them!) and seeing the different formats and characters even if I do not understand the language: comics are a visual medium and if done correctly you should be able to follow what is going on.

I am probably wasting my time here but if YOU or a friend produces home grown comics send a copy to me along with a few details and I'll mention it on CBO. Either a small press or pro style comic -it does not matter just let people see what you are doing and you might even get some sales out of the publicity.

If you are in the UK or US  you are not excluded so don't feel left out.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

It's All Analytics, Baby updated

The numbers chase  means nothing to me. I've just shut down some of my blogs that had views in the hundreds of thousands -apparently to the shock of others! :-)  Why put hours of work into blogs that achieve nothing?

When I began concentrating on the Black Tower Comics and Books blog a week ago the view were at 40,000 plus. Today views stand at 44,144 so 4,000 plus in one week ain't bad. The audience appears to be world wide and no real difference.

Creating content is problematical for the Black Tower blog since constantly posting art pages and strips doesn't achieve much (for me as a publisher) since, as with CBO, no one comments or asks questions. With CBO there are a lot of people who are very into action figures and toys -as proven by the views on those items. Every time there is a toy fair and I post videos from people (PLEASE consider giving them a Like because they are providing you with entertainment!). This weekend New York Toy Fair promises a lot of content and as new videos upload I will post them.

Apart from Cinebook the 9th Art,Titan Books and other big publishers few Indie or small pressers send their books in for review now. There has been a lot of talk that the number of UK small press events has dwindled which seems to be true -even the number of people self publishing as a hobby has dwindled -again, that seems true but these hobbyists tend to be little cliques rather than actively reaching out to others so there is no way of definitely telling.  Certainly only a few people have visited the Zine Zone blog (5,115 since 2016) which was designed to solely promote the small press.

Oh, views on the Black Tower Face Book page have also risen.

The number of views as well as the ages and people visiting is probably down to not aiming the blogs at anyone specifically.  No focus group. Just people who are interested in comics, movies, action figures and so on. I was surprised to see that the Steve The Horse post had over 600 views and yet I thought there would only be low interest. Get me.

So let's see how this all goes as despite the increase in views the stats are pretty constant.


The last time I used Google Analytics, which were far more accurate  than Blogger's own stats I discovered that the number of all time views were far in excess of what I thought.

I thought I'd check again but it seems the recent Google purge of everything useful means that I can only get basic data.  What I have found out, however, is the following regarding CBO viewers:

45.8%   are female
54.15% are male

Ages of viewers:

27.50  18-24 years old
37.50  33-50 years old
15.50  35-44 years old
12.50  45-54 years old
5.50    65 plus years old

I can also see that CBO does indeed have a real world-wide audience.  With Blogger I can see that the stats for this month are:

United States
United Kingdom
Unknown Region
United Arab Emirates

And for this week (its Wednesday in the UK)

United States  1541
Russia   406
United Kingdom  272
Ukraine   165
Unknown Region  123
Germany   119
United Arab Emirates  91
France   89
Brazil   40
Poland   36

I can't say I get impressed by figures and stats but there are some who are so there you go. Excluding Spiders and Crawlers and that kind of internet stuff the page total at the top of this page can be almost trebled...dyscalculia means that its just a jumble to me.

Not bad for -now what is it that blogger (no longer blogging) called CBO five years ago...oh, "a no name site".  

Come Brexit, Come the British Comics Industry Revival

Or so some think.

The Yahoo group Britcomics shows that the British comics industry did not start with the Dandy on the 4th December, 1937 nor with the Beano on the 30th July, 1938.  This is a misconception fed on a regular basis to the media and public more often than not by persons who see themselves as comic celebrities or experts ( "X" =The Unknown and "Spurt" is a drip under pressure).

The origins of British comics I have  dealt with before on numerous occasions over the last 40 years and on the internet for more than two decades. Origins lie in the old Penny Dreadfuls and those who wrote them (mostly anonymously through embarrassment -ditto creators in comics later on) and who illustrated them -many ignored by today's xspurts.

Then there are the Boy's Papers that introduced us to many characters including masked, costume and super powered or tech-using heroes and anti heroes including the first man in a bat suit in the 1890s. These are largely forgotten if the xspurts even know of them. These publications and their characters were part of the British Platinum Age of comics history.

The "British Golden Age of comics" did not start with the Beano or Dandy either.  Well before 1937 or 1938 there were British weekly comics from companies such as Target.  Rarely mentioned because it seems comics history is "rebooted" to fit in with certain factions and their likes.

Names such as Roland Davies, Tom Browne, William Giles Baxter, Marie Duval, Ernest Wilson, William Hogarth, Chase Moore, Mary Byfield, John Byfield, James Gilray. Edgar Banger (pron. as in "Ranger") et al should be ones that a true comics fan would recognise or at least know of.

Currently, the biggest publisher of comics -in the form of comic albums no less so no excuse for people to keep asking me "What do you mean by comic album format?"- in colour in the UK is Cinebook the 9th Art.  Yes, they are translations of Franco-Belgian comic albums but they sell more than D. C. Thomson and they are a UK company.

The Small Press is not an industry and neither are the few Independent comics out there.

Which leads us to the title of this post.

Someone posted to Britcomics that "Once Brexit is out if the way everyone agrees that the British comics industry will be revived".  I asked who exactly "everyone" was and was told in depth about UK comic forum posts in which the oh so familiar 'comics nice guys' had noted Cinebook would shut down and with no European influence British comics could once again be established as a force to be reckoned with.

I would suggest those people change their medication.

There is one main reason why the British comics industry declined and that is the people involved. Editors just cashing their pay-cheques until retirement or their badly edited books were cancelled. There was internal back-stabbing and worse going on -from personal experience and what I was told by management I know fraud and theft was included.  John Cooper told me that he was told, on some original artwork being returned, that "a lot had gone walk about from the warehouse".

In the early 1980s Thomson management stated "Comics as we know them will be gone in ten years" -that person being a true idiot with no grasp of comics or the medium.  Thomson editors (including the one who described me to someone as "a c===!") have just sat back and demonstrated no real will to move comics into (now, since they missed out the late 20th century all together) the 21st century. Thomson has an inventory of characters that developed properly could be very profitable.  Instead they sit on their arses waiting until no one cares and they can fade away.

So Thomson (Dundee Editions) will not be the saviours to bring back a great and strong British comics industry. As for Brexit getting rid of European influences, again, these statements come from people who have no idea. Just how has Europe negatively influenced British comics?  

Thomson and IPC/Fleetway/Amalgamated Press attended all the book fairs in Europe to sell their strips (not that the artists/writers knew or got extra money) -Vulcan to Kobra in Germany, Robot Archie in the Netherlands and so on -again highlighted on CBO so many times over 2 decades.  UK comic strips and characters went world wide and even today are big in parts of India. UK publishers recruited creators such as Belardinelli, Vanyo and...well it is a very long list. Artists were recruited from Brasil and at the height ofd the Falklands/Malvinas War Fleetway recruited Argentine artists for football strips "because they were cheaper than British artists".

The UK has, in fact, exported more of its characters and strip series to Europe than vice versa and things were bad which enabled Egmont to buy the failed Fleetway.

So get facts straight: the decline in British comics came long before the UK joined the EU.

In fact the 'comics nice guys' have back-stabbed, lied and prevented at least three attempts by people to establish new mainstream comics in the UK.  These people have targeted creators who do not fit into their scheme of things.  Again, this I have posted on many times in the past. The so called UK "comic community" is toxic enough to  kill any new plans or wreck any new projects -even if it is a case of "Cutting your nose off to spite your face".  They even destroy their very own projects!

I have always maintained that, with the right backer, UK comics are possible but that would mean using only creators with a professional outlook who can do the work and black-listing those who have actively spread the kind of negativity that has resulted in the current situation. 

It really is a case of "can you do the work and not back-stab your publisher or colleagues?"

There is one "well known" creator in the UK who put it in black and white on CBO (I still have that message) that he could not read European comics in English "because of the format" and he had similar problems with US comics. Which means that anything smaller format than an old British weekly comic or slightly larger....gave him difficulties. A comic strip on a printed page is a comic strip on a printed page no matter the format size (this fell raves on about the small formatted pocket war library comics) ...this is the mentality involved.

This is the sort of person predicting a new British comics empire post Brexit.


Avengers: Endgame Cast Sings "We Didn't Start the Fire"

Saturday 20 April 2019

Sales...I Am Sooooo Giddy

Posted on the Black Tower Face Book page:

There have been some sales this month.

Now, that is good but what usually happens is that someone buys a couple titles and that's it for the year. The problem is in trying to get the next person and the person after that to buy.
So I do tend to not get over excited.

However, never EVER think that I am ungrateful that YOU have spent your money on MY books. I am not.


Friday 19 April 2019

STORMCLOUDS Lost in Space (Rainfall single)

'Lost in Space' written by Steve Lines and performed by Stormclouds. Their debut 45 on Rainfall Records inspired by the TV show of the same name.

STORMCLOUDS Sailors on the Sea

"Sailors on the Sea" by Stormclouds. Written by Steve Lines. From the album 'The House on the Borderland' released by Acid Tapes, 1992.


Awesome Comics 1-3

Publisher: Awesome Comics

Writers: Vince Hunt, Daniel Marc Chant (Murder Road), Tony Esmond (Cockney Kung Fu), Dan Butcher (Vyper)

Artists: Vince Hunt (Murder Road), Nick Prolix (Cockney Kung Fu), Dan Butcher (Vyper)
US format

There I was, lying in the realm betwixt life and the eternal darkness when who should barge past my faithful retainer waving a batch of comics than Lord Paul Ashley Brown, 4th Baronet of Wedmore.

I gathered my strength and croaked:"You ******* half-witted piece of ******* can't you ****** see I am ******* dying??"  To which he reposted, as most professional reposters do: "Ha-HAH! But I am not -look at these!"  He then tossed (please, we are better than that) three comics at my head and missing by 3 metres (at the very least) before skipping gayly off through the Ashton Vale lavender fields singing "I'm a little butterfly".

Ahem. Back to the matter in hand...sigh

What I was handed was issues 1-3 of Awesome Comics (nothing to do with Rob Leifeld) that Lord Brown had picked up at some small press event that I was neither told about or invited to (oh feel the burgeoning power of my self indignance!!).  I browsed through them and thought "Sod off!" but that is not the way a professional reviewer of 40 years experience acts and so I decided to read through
the three issues.

Now I have been reading comics -everything and anything since I was about 6 years old and graduated from the Bimbo comic (oh, behave!).  I have seen comics drawn badly (my own included), adequately, well and excellently.  I have a collection noted for some of the most "eccentrically" or crudely drawn artwork.  Small Press, Underground, Independents and so on. There is one thing that I have noticed and continue to notice: there is a certain style of drawing (in fact about three) when people start out drawing comics.  No exception here.

Ask me some time about my thoughts on my early comic strips!! Even John Byrne has stated that his early work breaking into comics "was not good" and other famous artists rate their initial work until they garnered experience as "barely adequate" and "I can't bear to look at it".  Artists are a highly sensitive lot so that means even suggesting that a human should not be drawn with two left hands can cause apoplectic seizures.

The worst drawn comic I ever reviewed got one of the best reviews because you could "feel" that the person involved was having FUN.  No pretence of being a major comic talent or looking for the TV series then movie deal. He was just drawing comics for fun and enjoying himself.

Murder Road was interesting to read and none of the artwork made me cringe. In fact it was fun to look at before reading.  The car about to hit the walker and the panel that follows I liked. In issue 2 the art really improves and be warned "naughty language" and violence are part and parcel of this and it looks like more is about to follow as "Mom" turns up at the end of part 3.....wonder how this ended?

With Cockney Kung Fu we come to an art style I have seen from the United States, Germany and Finland.   Again the art improves as it goes along and develops a more humoristic style.  Violence and that ever prevalent "naughty language" are included but I somehow think this was not meant to be seen by readers of the Dandy.

The other thing of note is that the artist has crammed as much as he can into each panel/page but has not gone overboard and ruined the look or the story.  It means that as you read there are lots of things that add extras to the panel rather than a bland "clean" panel and....and...hand lettering??!!! Excellent.

I am not a big fan of comic art produced by computer. Rather like CGI animation have turned films into heavily ansiscepticized "things" (The Incredibles was well put together but I still cringe because everything is so perfect and clean compared to real hand produced animation).  Jeezo, I am one big bag of prejudices.

Vyper looks like "it has had some work done" and when you look at the first two pages you might think "hhmmm" but even as the story develops the art improves.

I have no objection to people drawing comics using a computer but the art has to be good and not look like (I know who they are) "I'll use Background A1 and insert Action Posed Figure S3" it has to show that a person drew it and not a computer.  With Vyper I can see the tiny flaws and by part 3 I was enjoying the strip.

Comics have changed and we have no real industry in the UK but what we do have are people who are producing good quality comics that, in the "old days" might have been cranked out on a photocopier while the boss was out of the office and on 80 gsm of varying qualities. I moved from zines and photocopiers then home printing to lazer scanned art and printing and I can see how things have changed *Jeezo, I used to use a Gestetner hand cranked printer back in my old school days so I HAVE seen changes!).

The paper stock used is good quality and thick while the printing process itself is excellent -apologies for my scans but my PC died and I am using a cranky, near dead laptop and all its scanner settings are...insane. Covers look good and with Sid James (?!) dancing on the cover of issue 3 who is complaining.

This is a comic well worth supporting.

To the artists on the book all I can write is that they have done okay and it would be interesting to see their work five years down the line (if  I'm still alive!).  Don't be afraid to try new things or develop your own styles -you're young and one day you may well be saying "Is that what my art looked like back them?"  Joking aside -well worth the cover price of the printed book!

66 Naked Ladies on a double-decker bus

You KNOW you deserved that.

Thursday 18 April 2019

Page views by Countries

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States
United Kingdom
Unknown Region