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Terry Hooper-Scharf

Thursday 29 August 2019

Inside/Comics 008 - Affenstark und mehr!

Cinebook- August 2019 Newsletter 140

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Dear Reader,
Growing up and finding oneself - that seems to be the general theme for this month. So pick up our books and prepare for some coming of age ...
In our second hardback volume of the Collected Lucky Luke, the Lonesome Cowboy begins to mature into the hero we know and love and would last over 75 albums - and counting! Rediscover some of his early adventures, along with 46 pages of extra material that will shed new light on his creation and the life of his creator Morris.
For the young Marsupilamis of the Palombian rainforest, a sudden gust of wind brings dire news. In that ever-hostile environment, coming of age is no mean feat, and tradition can be cruel. Will they learn how to survive, or will The Pollen of Monte Urticando be their death?
Finally, new series Islandia takes us far from the sweltering jungle and to the shores of cold, magical Iceland. When a young French orphan sets out on a journey to understand why such a distant land occupies so much of his dreams, he begins a saga of sorcery, betrayal and divine punishment that will change him, and the land, forever ...
August with Cinebook - for the young at heart!

Islandia 1 
Marc Vedrines
Boreal Landing

Sometime during the 1600s, Jacques, a young orphan from France, stows away aboard a fishing boat heading to Icelandic waters. Willing to brave the dangers and the rough life of a sailor, he is intent on one goal: to go to Iceland. There he hopes to find answers to the mysterious visions that have plagued him since childhood ... Read more

Lucky Luke 
The Complete Collection 2

After the heavily cartoon- and slapstick cinema-inspired first adventures, Morris turned towards the tradition of Westerns to flesh out his hero's world. In Under a Western Sky, Lucky Luke versus Pat Poker and Outlaws there is a lot of Hollywood and John Ford... Read more

The Marsupilami 4 
Batem & Yann and Franquin
The Pollen of Monte Urticando

Deep inside the Palombian jungle lays Monte Urticando, an ancient, nigh inaccessible volcano where millennia old cactuses grow. Every 15 years they flower, and the pollen temporarily drives away most of the dangerous predators. For the Marsupilamis, though, it's also the signal for a strange and cruel tradition... Read more

Lucky Luke
The Complete Collection 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

Prime 1 Studio Skull Knight Berserk (Summer Wonderfest 2019)

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Getting Rich Through Comics....

Last night I did something that I have not done in ages (no, don't be disgusting we're better than that!) - I sat down and started wading through and reading copies of Black Tower books.

Let me explain. I receive the completed pages for a book whether comic (around 20-30pp), comic album (48-90pp) or graphic novel (over 100 plus pages) and read through them.  I then check the artwork.  If all of that is okay and believe me I have been sent scans or even photocopies by artists that are not good and will not be good quality when I then scan them.

I then have to make sure that any ink specks or even dirty fingerprints are removed. 

Then comes the resizing and that can take two brief but boring processes -if you have to do this 48-300 times it kills your eyes and brain!

Then you have to pull all of the pages together to form a PDF file to send to the Print on Demand (POD) company - KS 001, KS 002, KS 003, KS 004, KS get the point. One out of place page (and with 120-300 plus pages it does happen) and it can take 20-30 minutes to correct things (I have it down to 10 minutes after all these years).

Completed the PDF then has to be uploaded to the POD which, depending on size  of file, server speed at my end or more usually the POD end of things, that can take 10-30 minutes.  Once that is done you then have to download the stored pdf after the POD converts it to printable to make sure they have got everything right -I learnt early on that with everything done automatically by computer you check every time.

Everything okay then you move on to putting the cover art together and that process with the POD company can take 30-40 minutes.  Download file to check the cover over....looks fine?  Then you have to go through the process of activating the file and that can be 45 minutes. 

Phew...glad that's over? It isn't.  You then have to sort out your pricing and remembering that just for storing the POD gets a big cut, the printer who shove everything through by computer get their cut. Then you have to go through all the store front description and so on.

THEN you order a proof copy.  Believe me with everything done by computer and lazer printer etc there is no quality checking or control and I think a total of ten books had me complaining as their computer rearranged a couple pages or the printer had not been cleaned and gave out very low quality printing.

The thing is that if anyone buys a Black Tower book he/she (I do not exclude the possibility of any aliens) is supporting my business and giving me their money so they deserve a good product.

So, excluding getting the creator(s) to complete the project -only the anthologies have occasional To Be Continued stories and all over books are self contained and absolutely no cross over into multiple books- by the time the book appears on the store front I may have put in 2-3 weeks of work on it.

British Golden Age reprint books are far more labour intensive as 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, blue, green, purple and even red inked pages. Now if you are converting that to black and white, or more accurately grey-tone, it’s a nightmare!

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.

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”!
At times I might need to enlarge a page up to 400 times to correct or replace lettering that either vanished over time or were not printed correctly -no one notices the mends! At the same time I will use the 400 x size to remove ink or dirt specks -"Who is going to notice that?" I was asked.  Well, it may be OCD but if I can clean a page so that the reader gets nice clean art why not?
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.
Which brings me back to the original point which I almost forgot. By the time these books go onto the store front I am completely sick and tired of seeing them -rather like someone I once knew who had a job at Cadbury's chocolates and sweets Bristol factory. He soon got tired of eating and seeing sweets! But up until 0230 hrs I checked.  The stories are good.  Art good. Printing and paper quality are the best you can get and the thick covers are tough so won't tear. They are the best anyone can produce and in the past I've been told at events my books look too slick and professional for small press events -so I should produce low quality books? If those sell then I will!  But if I'm expecting people to buy books they should expect a good quality product that will last and I have always kept the lowest possible prices on books -the Golden Age books are basically a work of love so the prices they are at do not make me much money at all.
There is also a guarantee if you buy from the store front and I'll give an example.
Someone emailed me that they had purchased a certain title from the store front but the printers had (I cannot find a rational explanation other than computer cock-up) put the wrong cover on it.  What the person should have done was contact the POD company since printing is handled by them. I suggested that he do this and I would also speak to them. The purchaser got his correctly printed book and "It seems slightly better printing".
Then I got another message out of the blue from someone who had ordered a £20 book but not received it after 9 days. I checked -no such order.I asked when he had purchased the book as it was not showing up in orders listed. He then told me that he had purchased his copy from an online book service. At that point he lost all sympathy.   He had seen the book on the store front where the cover price is clearly stated and you can even check postage (3 different methods/costs) before ordering. On this occasion, from my store front the book would have cost £25 and reached him in 3-5 business days.
He had paid £33 "because it was post free"....if there was even a minute amount of sympathy from me it vanished there and then. Firstly, if you check any online sellers Ebay or the book services they DO NOT offer free postage.  The £25 with postage book will cost you £33 because you ARE paying postage as well as extra profit from them.

Pricing and Creator Revenue:
My Revenue
My Price
Retail Print
£25.00(excl. taxes)
£25.00(excl. taxes)
£9.00(excl. taxes)
The Ultimate British Golden Age Collection will cost you £25 which is the minimum I can charge for a 400 plus pages book. Look at this from the POD site: Which shows you that Amazon et al get the books post free and for a book that took decades of work and a lot of money to put together they pay me £2.64: it's the deal they get because POD and other companies are desperate to please and get on big online retailers. So the online retailer charges the customer £8,00 more for a book that cost them literally nothing for a bigger profit AND the postage. 

The loser at the end of the day is me because I get £2.64 instead of over £6.00 -because some greedy fool decides £33 is cheaper than £25 and he'll cheat me out of some profit to keep the business going.Also, as I made clear after explaining all of this, any problems he has are out of my hands because he ordered through a third party who have to order the book as he would have had to order it so they wait 3-5 business days too. They then post it off to him which is why in some or most you'll read "takes 7-14 business days".  

The purchaser loses out at every point and get no support from me as the publisher as they went elsewhere to buy.This particular person did get in touch again to let me know he received the book after 14 days and he was quite happy with it. Moron.

So, you will receive good quality printed books within 3-5 business days (I always say 3-7) at the lowest price and any rare problems will be sorted out quickly -no muss no fuss.and I can get involved. There are also free interior views for each book.

Just remember that and keep supporting Independent publishers.

Monday 26 August 2019

SGCC hopes to connect aspiring creators with publishers with new initiative

If you’re an artist or comic writer looking for your big break, here’s your chance: The Singapore Comic Con (SGCC) is introducing a new initiative: The “Work In Progress” (WIP) programme with the hope of connecting aspiring creators and publishers.
The WIP programme will allow aspiring Southeast Asian creators to get talent spotted and published. Hopefuls can start submitting their work from Aug 29, and the work will then be vetted by well-known publishers such as Shogakukan Asia, Asiapac Books and Vividthree Productions + Darkbox Studio.
“Shogakukan Asia is pleased to work together with SGCC and fellow creators in the WIP programme,” said Bunsho Kajiya, Managing Director, Shogakukan Asia. “As the leading publisher of manga titles, Shogakukan Asia’s editors possess a treasure trove of experience and knowledge which we would like to impart to a new generation of local and regional talent.”
“We are delighted to be working with SGCC on this initiative to encourage aspiring creators in the region,” added Chong Lingying, Manager of Asiapac Books. “Our company has always been committed to nurturing emerging comic talent, having published early works of many successful and well-loved comic artists such as Wee Tian Beng (Singapore), Chan Kok Sing (Malaysia) and Hu Rong (Japan/China). WIP programme is a fantastic opportunity for artists to give their dream career a shot.”
Submissions whose entries display their passion in skill in original storytelling will get the opportunity to meet the publishers at SGCC, and stand a chance of getting published.
“Many of our fans don’t just gobble up comics and pop culture but are also aspiring creators with their own original ideas and unique stories to tell,” said Suhaimi Sainy, Senior Manager, Reed Exhibitions.
“We hope that with the WIP programme, we can unearth new talents, encourage people to explore opportunities to turn their passion into reality and make their dreams come true by turning their passion projects into published works,” he added.

Iggy Pop - James Bond (Official video)

Dan Didio, DC Comics, Reboots and what everyone seems to be missing

Is there a DC Comics conspiracy? Book delays, reboots called anything but reboots and characters changing skin colour and sex.

Look it is not a conspiracy. It is business.  Imagine you are DC comics which has hundreds of characters and with changing copyright laws, creators rights and money hungry creators' estates out there what do you do?

The Siegel and Shuster saga in which DC lost opened up a warehouse full of nightmares. So, the New Gods (created by Jack Kirby) were killed off. That left a very bad taste in the mouths of many fans.  Don't worry the New Unconnected To Kirby Gods are here! 

Book delays may well be down to more in-house continuity clean ups and other going on -check out the Howlermouse video:

Companies want properties (and that is all the characters are to them -property) that can earn the business money and not result in long legal cases costing high legal fees and the possibility of out of court settlements and restricted use of a character.

In the old days a quick "You'll never work in comics again!" snapped by a publisher shut up any creator since the publishers all knew each other and played golf together or had lunches.

I could put my comic fan hat on and say "DC Comics are a bunch o' bastards who have ruined the characters!"

However, if I put the publisher hat on I smile "Smart move".

Fans who have been around a long time have seen the changes -I've been reading Marvel Comics since the 1960's so if I look back to the 1980s when Jim Shooter made it great again and then look at the company now I am really stumped and ask "WTF is going on??"

Dan Didio is peeved that people buy more of the reprint books than new? No, that is still money coming in. The company needs to simply take a look at what it is producing when it comes to new books.

Peter Cannon:The Thunderbolt appeared briefly in DC Comic and there was a 12 issue series however, creator Pete Morisi owned the rights and since his death in 2003 his family estate have owned the rights and now the character is being used with a "humorous twist". But there was a lot of talk at the time that DC had the character rights following the Charlton Comics sell off. Apparently Morisi was not happy with something going on at DC and refused to sell his rights to the character.

It is important to note that the 1980s "Charlton sell off of character" was not a sell off of characters. 

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.

I contacted Robin Snyder who had been involved in the sell off and he responded:

“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,

Everyone else I contacted who had been involved with Charlton wanted nothing to do with confirming facts and one even responded "My hands are clean. I had no part in selling anything!" You might wonder why everyone kept quiet...well, Charlton did have less than honest people involved ("the Mob").

Rather as with British comics it is possible that there was a nod, a wink and some cash under the table to seal the DC Comics purchase. However, there was plenty of room for creators or their estates to make a claim for money.

Originally the Question (created by Steve Ditko) was news reporter Vic Sage However, after the events of the 2006–2007 miniseries 52, Sage's protégé Renee Montoya took up his mantle and became his successor. Following the DC relaunch The New 52, Sage is reintroduced as a government agent. It needs to be pointed out that DC apologised to fans for some of the things they did with that series (koff koff "Superman").

Hey, for all of those who like to push the warped view "Ditko was ripped off by Marvel" ask how much Ditko was getting from DC for The Hawk and The Dove, The Question, Captain Atom and so on. Nothing


Mentioning the character Captain Atom notice how he originally appeared how Ditko drew his later version but then became a walking bomb in his own series and Justice League -even a new-ish origin, and I'll be honest and tell you after that original DC series the character went down the hole.

Then we have Judo Master, killed off in Crisis on Infinite Earths and there have been two rebooted versions since then.

The Blue Beetle was a Fox and Holyoke Comics' character that Ditko, under the new owners (Charlton), redesigned for the 1960s version. I enjoyed the original DC series but the character  got so messed up and killing him off to reboot into a new version.....

It goes on and  on and you can see where this is going.

Incidentally, there was a character called Ozymandias in the old Gold Key comics.  Also, Ditko is often cited as a victim with his Captain Atom character being ripped off by others.  Rather like Ditko may have come up with the Spider-Man costume based on a fancy dress outfit (designed by Jack Kirby) how about the February, 1946, Sparks Comics title Atoman....ahem..nice costume....

This is nothing new. 

Marvel and its incompetent editors think that they must get Millennial readers in because the young are hip, cool and whatever.  They completely lost sight of what Stan Lee did to build the Marvel Comics empire. There was no insulting of fans or reboots just good stories and good art -Millennials will not be familiar with all of this so whatever Marvel does they think is standard and the norm.  That is why Marvel insults and distances itself from the old Marvelites.

You reap what you sow.

What I think DC needs to do to draw in more readers is simple.  However, as DC Comics are never going to read this or employ me or even pay me if they did read my "plan", I'll keep that to myself.

It is very simple but editors and publishers seem to not see what they need to do.

Here endeth the ramble.

Friday 23 August 2019

The Shocking History of YuGiOh | EVERY Change to YuGiOh Explained

Absolute Carnage (review)

Prime 1 Studio Dante & Nero Statues (Devil May Cry 5) 2019

"So what is your argument with Dark Horse comics then?"

"So what is your argument with Dark Horse comics then?" I was asked out of the blue.

To be honest I never knew I had a problem with the company but then I was told what I had written. It might be that the person who asked the question needs to re-read -carefully- what I wrote.

I mentioned, in more than one post, that I did not consider Dark Horse to be an "Independent Comics" publisher as is established by history: a very small, often single person owned and operated publishing house to which you can add low sales and often "very short of cash".

I exclude Dark Horse because their company has spawned movies, TV series and much much more over the years.  It certainly is not "very small" nor "very short of cash" which, honestly, is not an evil thing. The company should be proud of this.

In fact, I have given very good reviews of Dark Horse books I received (the last in 2014 -should I get angry about that? Grrrrr :-)

Dark Horse Comics: Gasoline Alley: The Complete Sundays Volume 2, 1923–1925

Dark Horse Comics: Alley Oop: The Complete Sundays Volume 1, 1934-1936

I even published press releases from them in 2014-2016 and I even reposted an interview with Dark Horse boss Mike Richardson -

An Artful Entrepreneur Finds Comic Book Success By Sarah E. Needleman from 2010 back in 2015

Distinguishing between companies that are mainstream and Independent is not -I really mean this- hating a company.  I have Dark Horse books on my shelves. A company is not obliged by law to send me review books nor press releases and the ansence of these on CBO does not mean that I hate them or have a grudge against them!

Image, Image Comics....GRRRRRRRRRR!!!!


Remember all the hard work put in by those comic book 'nice guys'

Back when Disney bought out Marvel Comics I explained in several posts why this would mean the end for Marvel UK as a separate entity.  Disney very rarely allowed its characters to be draw.n/written outside of the United States where their money and corporate muscle could pull strings to get what they wanted.  UK, creator owned and originated characters -no.

At the very next Bristol International Comic Expo (remember them?) there were many long faces and crying into beers -twice I was asked "Who's died?"

I spoke to several of the creators involved and explained that they might not be internationally known but they were known in the UK.  They should join together and create their own version of Image Comics.  It was that or face less and less good paying work.

We know the little runt who brown-nosed and said "We don't need creators rights. I never asked for them -the boss' should be in control" -I have that blog comment with date, time and user ISP on file. The others were all "But that means we'd need to put our money into it!"  I pointed out how Print on Demand worked and that investing was at least a way of securing earning money in comics. I said "Talk to ----- and ----- is in the same boat" but no. The response was despair mixed with anger at me suggesting such a thing.

At the time -and I posted about this after the Expo- I was at a loss as to why these people would sooner face shaky futures and harder to find work than combine their talents.

Now I know.

It appears (confirmed by two of the group themselves to me) that they were all back-stabbing each other. All smiles and friends in public but once backs were turned they scuttled off and told outright lies to editors, publishers and others who they thought were unconnected with their 'pals'. This is common and I found out how one writer who I had put forward for a new comic had actually sent the publisher involved an email that was a total character assassination.  I found out because the idiot sent me the email in error.  Publisher pulled out of the project.  It seems, as bits and pieces leak out over the years that at least three such projects were sunk this way and here is the incredible facts: These people did this and had to have been aware that in doing so it meant that the paying work they were in line for would vanish.

I had a chat with someone from a French publishing house in 2017 and they mentioned attending a convention in the UK and were scouting for creators. After that weekend the idea was scrapped:

 "I could not understand what was happening. I spoke to ---- and he was interested but told me that I should avoid another creator on my list as he was just trouble. I ignored that but the creator involved later said the same thing about the person who had told me not to have dealings with him. I spoke to eight of these persons and it was the same thing -yet they were together being photographed and smiling at each other!"

It is what happened when professional comic creators were replaced by the amateurs. Gil Page, former Managing Editor at Fleetway, told me once how the editor of 2000 AD had come to him once with a problem. One of the comic's artists had declared that he would no longer be working for the title unless they stopped work going to another artist who he disliked.  Gil apparently told the editor "The popularity of that character is not dependent on any one artist. Just tell ---- he does not dictate who works for us".  That story is very well known amongst people in comics as it saw the artist involved suddenly move off the strip.  Big fans of the comic can probably guess the "who".

This is nothing new. When Dark Horse UK was set up (many years ago now) I predicted that it would not last long. The quality of the material was fine but to most UK comic buyers it would be a case of "meh" -they could pick up the complete comics at their local comic store so why pay more for UK reprints in parts?  However, dealing with artists and writers at the time meant I was hearing a lot about what was going on behind the scenes  -this post is not about UK comics history that no one cares about, however.

I do wonder what the reaction would be amongst artists who have found they are no longer getting the regular work or that it has been cut back drastically if they found out that their 'old mate(s)' were behind it.

So when you look at the newsagents shelves with merchandise related magazines (not comics) just remember all the hard work put in by those comic book 'nice guys' to insure you do not have to spend money on new comics.