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Friday, 8 November 2013

"When is the next UK Golden Age collection coming out?"

I have been asked several times now "When is the next UK Golden Age collection coming out?"

The answer is simple: Never. Though I should remember to "Never say never again".

Firstly, the collection (cover to the see it?) is over 400 pages and quite simply does not sell. It's a work of love!  The strips in the book are so rare and the characters so obsolete that you will not find them anywhere else because no one cares.

Comickers go crazy for scans of old Beano or Dandy comics or even of Amalgamated Press comics or The Eagle and that's it.  I've been insulted by comic 'fans' for daring to even mention the publishers or titles because they are insignificant.

If we said that EVERY comic from the US Golden Age other than Timely or DC was ignored you GA comic fans will see what I mean.  In this case "It's not D. C. Thomson or Amalgamated Press!"  And then you get the asses who tell members of groups on the net "Oh, if you had a photocopier you could produce something just as good as these books"  Yeah, now that ass-wipe hid behind a pseudonym but I KNOW who he is because he filched as many UK GA scans off my groups as he could and has offered them all over the place as from "source unknown" (What the scan just appeared on his computer???)  or as his own work.  And you know what? I know for 100% certainty that he never ever purchased a copy of the individual issues.

Then you have the arse-cracks who write: "I don't like the humour strips. I don't think they are funny. I only want to see super hero strips!" and "If you continue to include humour strips I'm not buying."  Well, feck you. Because, I sold these books and I know again that these complainers NEVER purchased copies.  Then you have the "It's all black and white. No colour. I'd buy it if there were colour strips in the books!"

If any of you have checked out my GA blog -link to the right- you know the problems -orange, red, purple, blue, green and other awful ink colours that reproduce badly.  Now, had I included colour strips then the production cost is such that the Ultimate Collection would cost you over £100 a copy because even if there were only 10 colour pages out of 405 you are still charged the colour rate for EVERY page even if they are b&w!

Rarely I hear from someone who really appreciates the book. Brian "Bib" Edwards, creator of Captain Biplane and one of the minds behind the Braque comic, now in his 70s, wrote to say how much he enjoyed the collection and seeing strips from his youth he thought he would never see again.  That gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.

Black Tower has produced 100% more than anyone else on UK GA comics and strips and it is a LOT of work.

But it has not all ended.  Black Tower Super Heroes now includes a mix of old Golden and Silver Ages strips as well as new ones. And I ought really to say THANK YOU to the bosses at IPC Media who have been very kind.


I really do get encouraged by sales to produce more you know.

And if Ben Dilworth reads this take care of yourself, mate.


405 Pages 
Black & White
Price: £20.00
Combining volumes 1-6 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. Features Ace Hart, TNT Tom, Electrogirl, Wonderman, The Phantom Raider, Captain Comet, Acro Maid, Phantom Maid, Dene Vernon,The Iron Boy, The Boy Fish,Professor Atom and MANY others!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

NEW!! Black Tower Super Heroes 1

 TNT Tom, Invisible Avenger, Jack, Johnny Neg and many more. 48 black and white pages where the UK Golden Age meets the Silver and Modern Ages of comics.

Featuring work by William McCail, Terry Hooper-Scharf, Ben R. Dilworth and Stransky & Labatt!

Cover  £5.00

Order via the online store at:;jsessionid=CC7BAEB855E714BBCC9D5C39757F2D05

Friday, 30 August 2013

Face Book Pages Close

This is probably going to be referred to in amongst those interested on the net so here goes.

I set up the UK Golden Age comics page because that subject has no coverage.  Lots of covers from other countries comics were posted so to stop confusion I set up an International GA FB page.

Been unwell so apart from approving a few members yesterday, which is when the page was set up, nothing until this morning.


The last week, on top of everything else, I have had one idiot after another cause me problems on the net.  This morning I could hardly move but on opening my FB what do I get?...

“Lin Harrell
I am the admin for another [rather large and growing] comic book group and I don't like the idea that your guy ... Richard Boucher ... is asking members to leave my group and join this one. He is also posting links to another one of your groups. How about you do the work and build your own group. Stop feeding off other peoples hard work. He's banned from my group and I will not be adding anyone who is a member of this group or your other one.”

So I responded:

Lin. 'Thanks' for the rather aggressive message. I only set up my Face Book group yesterday morning and being unwell left it at that other than approving some people who asked to join.

I cannot be held responsible for what other people are doing without my consent.

I have a British Golden Age Comics FB page because there is very little about the UK GA out there so this was added to my web site. I started getting lots of postings of GA covers from other countries which is why I set up the International GA (which does not include US GA comics).

Banning some of your members because they joined mine?? And YOU joined it to find out who they were???

Man, what happened to freedom of choice and democracy??

I'm quite sure the new members are dumbfounded because I am. I am NOT filching your members -if they are members of your group they are still (or were) there but were probably interested in seeing another perspective.  I have no idea since I've not seen your group or what it's about and am banned anyway.

Is this what internet comic fandom has come to??? "You are in my collection of members and if you look at someone elses page -yer out!"

It would have been far better had you messaged me and explained what was going on so that I could have asked whoever is responsible to stop. I do not even know the name of your group or else I would have joined (nothing came up when I searched FB).

You HAVE over reacted without contacting me first because if your group covered the same subject as mine I would have closed mine.

Yes, HE joined to see who from his page had joined mine to ban them.  I know America is going slightly insane and comic fandom is not what it was but really? I do agree that they guy involved should NOT have started posting to his group about mine but I should have been told about this not have the pratt join my group to find out who else was on it.

I’m closing both my groups because these aren’t fans or people interested in comics just in themselves and I have nothing to say to them.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Face Book Page

Not sure whether anyone is going to be interested but I set up a UK GA Face Book page where people can ask questions, etc..

I'm also wondering whether GA fans or those interested might be equally interested in a get together at the 2014 Bristol Comic Expo?

Thursday, 22 August 2013

No "Point Scoring" Allowed.

In the old days you had the fan press that used to have LOCs -Letters of Comment".  There were articles by fans on characters and or specific comic titles or artists. You would get the odd "nasty" letter but once the moron responsible realised he would be getting no publicity he stopped.

The advent of the internet has put pay to that.

Trollers and flamers abound not just attacking via peoples' personal blogs but on "comic forums" (where for the most part they seem to be allowed to write whatever they want and get away with it -the moderator/owner having a spine of jelly).

I have been the victim of name calling, lies, slurs on my reputation and skills and knowledge.  I have had this every week, sometimes as many as ten mails a week.  Now I note ISP numbers and report them. They seem to think that they and their snide little pals can hide behind anonimity. That shows how dumb they are.  Even posting from cyber cafes or, of all places, public library computers, you leave a signature.

Those people, they know who they are, have mental health problems. It is as simple as that.  They contribute nothing.

But the type I really do hate are those who set themselves up as "comic experts" and who try, continuously, to demean other comickers.  They waste your time as you try to be helpful and then do not reply via email, where they set you queries, giving you all the information they asked for, but on publiv comments on blogs.

WHY would someone ask for information on characters and then tell you they have the information already having wasted hours of your time?

These are not true comickers. Not fans. They are trying to score points against you -"Nyah-nyah -HE doesn't have the information I asked for but I do!"

Sadly, these people get onto internet You Tube communities where it is easy to set up fake email names. Or they join your groups under THREE different names so if you kick them off once for misbehaving they are still there with two more chances.

All we can do as an online comic community is cold shoulder these people. Ignore them.

Comics are fun and some of us enjoy them!

William A. Ward's Sheriff Fox

William A. Ward, creator of The Bat (for Gerald Swan) and many others. A 1948(?) strip of Sheriff Fox!

Professor Crackpot by Protheroe...

Another of those Golden Age British nightmare pages to share.

Firstly, thanks to smoky1980 for scanning/forwarding this and its from a batch of loose pages marked "Swan 1948/49".

Even had this not been signed the art style is a dead give-away.  This is the work of Glyn Protheroe who was born in Swansea, Wales, on the 3rd July, 1906.  Sadly, I can find no record of when he died. After leaving school, Protheroe went on to study art under Walter Fuller.  

In the 1920s he moved to London and became a professional cartoonist and press artist.  At that time he had a studio in  Shaftesbury Avenue but also worked from Southampton Row. His work appeared in Sports Post, The Journal, Sporting News and The Leader -all well known national publications.

His comics work took off in the 1940s when Soloway, Amex and Gerald Swan used his work.  His first work for Swan appeared in 1942 and titles he contributed to included War Comics, Cute Fun, Topicaol Funnies, Slick Fun, Thrill Comics and New Funnies.  Work was also contributed to a number of albums from Swan -Albums were collections of reprint strips with more pages than weekly comics -more like the yearly annuals but soft covered not hard cover.

For Soloway, starting in 1943, he contributed to Comic Capers, All Star and Comic Adventures.

For Amex, Protheroe contributed to Merry Midget, Midget Comics, Bantam Comics these were all from 1943.
The sets (strips) that Protheroe provided were usually a collection of jokes strung together in a "talking heads" format.  According to Alan Clark, from whom most of the data is culled: "His style was instantly recognisable; his characters looked like clowns...a distinctive 'morose' quality." 

And the artist signed himself as either "Glynne" or "Protheroes".

The below Professor Crackpot strip is a typical nightmare and the orange ink might have looked bright and fun to war time kids but....oy.

I had to remove the colour and alter brightness and contrast four times to make it a mere black and white page. 

So, here is your example of Glyn Protheroe at work!

An extra treat for you all!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The British Golden Age, Collectors And The British Comic Book Archive

A re-posting from the old CBO site.


Denis Gifford in his The Complete Catalogue Of British Comics (Webb & Bower, 1985) notes that the 1930s was the UKs Golden Age.  The 1920s had seen comics develop  so that by 1930 the creators/editors were producing quality entertainment for children.

The 1930s also saw the creation by D. C. Thomson of The Dandy 4th December, 1937), The Beano (30th July, 1938) and Magic (22nd July, 1939).  Radio Fun 15th October, 1938) and Knockout (4th March, 1939) came from the Amalgamated Press. These were the new look comics.

Unfortunately, some former Austrian Corporal decided to go and start a “bit of a tiff” in Europe that became World War II.

This ushered in what Denis called “The Dark Ages.”

After the Germans took Norway the paper shortages really kicked in.  Puck, Tiger Tim’s Weekly, Joker and other titles began to disappear.  However, even if new comics were not really allowed the law did allow for unconnected one-shots which was a god send to many.  Philipp Marx, a refugee, issued two undated and un-numbered editions of The New Comics.  These sold out.  Kids were starved for comics in the UK while their US counter-parts were enjoying the four colour Golden Age.  So, Marx issued a new title each week (almost –no dating means it is hard to tell!).

Gerald Swan and many others tried their hand at comics, even if Swan did later consider his comics a non-topic for discussion but would only talk in depth about his pulp sci fi/horror books.

These comics were printed on any type of paper.  That is no exaggeration –any kind of paper available was used.  Stiff beige cardboard, silver paper in fact, if it could take ink it was used.  The print quality was also poor at times.  This all led to easily torn pages, fading ink and even problems you might not really expect with paper and ink.

My favourite is orange or purple –even a sort of blue- ink.  Little solid black so you got black, white and orage but with faded blue text in speech balloons.  The low quality paper stock also meant that “foxing” (the brown spotting you find in very old books) kicked in very early.  Low quality stapling created its own problems since no one was going to use good quality staples when any and all metal was scarce.

Many, many comics never even reached the British Museum, supposedly deposited for copyrighting.  Books in Denis’ collection did not exist in the British Museums collection.

Of course, as in the US, there were all sorts of drives going on –metal shortages led to dust bins, park railings and much more being collected.  Paper rationing led many parents to throw out the kids’ comics.  Many kids feeling that “war spirit” were all too keen to hand in old comics.

The poor quality of printing, the paper stocks used and trashing of these old comics mean that, as with the US Golden Age comics, many became very very rare.  In fact, probably rarer than US GA comics.
There are collectors who have these books and I know of several who have scanned their collections.  However, they will not share or even help with projects such as the British Comic Book Archive for one main reason.  The reason, they give is that “sharing scans of the books will make my comic collection less valuable!”

That in itself is rubbish.  You can have the internet flooded with these Golden Age British comics but they are just scans.  An actual book you can touch is far more valuable to a collector or prospective buyer because it is a real, actual object. True, even these rare GA British books are not that valuable –some on ebay recently were going for £1.99 and £3.99 ($2-4).

Also, the collectors I spoke to had no intention of selling their books which makes the whole argument even more pointless.

As collectors in the US and elsewhere have found out, scans can tend to peak interest and make printed books more valuable.  As it stands, only a few old farts like me know or remember the characters and publishers from this period –it kills any potential interest.

Even my Black Tower Gold Collections do not attract great sales but, as I think I’ve written before, these were pet projects intended to keep interest in the characters going and offering comic fans the chance to see these lost strips.  Also, the collection is all black and white reprint so the collector/hoarder has the advantage of colour original books.

I never expect collectors in the UK to share as Australian, New Zealand, German and US comic collectors do. It’s just how British collectors are.  After 20+ years of trying I’ve frozen the BCBA.  I would like to see it grow but….

If you have non-Amalgamated Press/Thomson comics you want to add to the few meagre examples forwarded mainly from the United States (!) please feel free to get in touch and maybe, one day, a fully British Comic Books Archive can be re-launched.

Monday, 19 August 2013

The Disasterous UK Golden Age Q&A Idea....

Hi, Comickers. Quick up-date on my Golden Age Q&A proposal made a while back.

Things have been VERY slow in getting any questions to respond to regarding British Golden Age Comics -NOT D. C. Thomson nor Amalgamated Press- even my own Yahoo groups have only produced two questions: already answered in previous postings.

The deadline was the 20th August. Tomorrow. I guess I should not find it hard to believe that people are a little ignorant of the non Beano, Dandy comics.  People lapping up 1950s/1960s comics on other groups tend to get a little snooty when you mention Gerald Swan or Forshaw, et al  -some have made it clear they "do not even consider these seriously". At least one person told me that he would never even look at one of these comics??


Oh boy. The difference between the UK and US...even other countries where they are looking at their own Golden Ages. Incredible.

But I'm not going anywhere just yet so any questions....

Saturday, 17 August 2013


 W. Forshaws (Liverpool) Zip-Bang Comic was published between 1946-1947 and, according to Denis Gifford saw two issues, though I have never found any second issue it's safe to say Denis no doubt had a copy.

 In his book Space Aces! (Greenwood Pub., London, 1991) Denis does not state which of the two issues Moon Man appeared in -the reproduced cover (below) carries no issue number as that was normal at the time).

As there appears to have only been one appearance of the character according to Denis, I'm going to guess at issue number 1 -but don't quote me!

Judging by the quote Denis gives, this Moon Man appears to have been on Earth or watching it for a while.  Another common feature of comics back then was the lack of space (due to ink and paper rationing) to give a background story.

The paper printed on seems to be a rather dull blue (see below)

 I have cleaned up the page to a degree to make it a bit crisper -if that's possible!

The information given is:

"In a space-ship fifty miles above the Earth hovers the Moon Man, saying to himself, 'It is some days since I was on the Earth. I will go down and see if I can find some adventure.' As he flies through the skies, he remarks, 'It's good to flash through the clouds again!'.

"Scarcely has he landed when he hears a gunshot and the scream of a woman. A gang of crooks have kidnapped the inventor of a secret ray!  'Moon Man will soon destroy these criminals!' he tells the distraught daughter, and flies after the crooks' car.

"To get the professor's secret, the crooks plan to ram a red-hot needle under his finger nails.  'Y-you devils!' cries the prof. 'Moan!'  But the Moon Man arrives, crying 'I'm the Man from the Moon!'  The crooks are not nonplussed.  Indeed, they are plussed, for one replies, 'Meet the ex-heavyweight champion of Ireland!'  After much hand-to-hand fighting and a struggle with a lady crook with short skirts and a neckline to match, Moon Man restores the prof to his daughter and flies home.

 'Great Scot!' gasps a bobby, 'th-th-they're whizzin' into space!'

And that was it.

There is no reason why Moon Man is watching Earth that we know of.  We know he flies, he has no problem with fisticuffs but that is it.  Today we have to fill in that back detail to a degree.

For instance, in the character's Black Tower appearances we know he flies, he has to have a certain degree of invulnerability because he is in space and then flies down to Earth so he's dealing with extreme cold and heat. Whether he can take small arms fire...that's an open question though it seems likely.

In his more recent cameo in Black Tower Adventure -"The Cross Earths Caper"- we see he is part of one of the smallish communities living below the Moons surface -but his is another Earth version but there is no reason to doubt his counterpart comes from the same background.

I think it safe to say this was a one-off appearance since Denis tended to note "and in the very next issue...."

In 2014 it is planned that Moon Man, along with his other planetary pal, Mars Man, will take a much bigger role in Moon War.

It really is a pity that the artist did not sign his work -despite the idea that it was the companies that did not allow this, many artists did not sign work because it was comic work. Oh, and quite a few moonlighted from AP or Thomson so if they were found out the sack beckoned (they got fired).

Hopefully, one day we'll find out who the artist is. I hope so.

DENNIS M. READER 1927-1995

 There can be very little doubt that Dennis M. Reader was influenced by American comics and films. Sadly, I never got to meet him (he died a month before I was due to) but I do enjoy his, for 1940s Britain, sometimes risque female characters.

I think he needs to be remembered so I'll post the obituary that Denis Gifford wrote. I think it says it all and he knew Reader.

Obituary: Dennis M. Reader

Denis Gifford
Dennis Malcolm Reader, artist: born Peterborough 1927; died Woodnewton, Northamptonshire 31 March 1995.

Dennis M. Reader was one of the first British strip cartoonists specialising in super-heroes, and his bold signature will be well remembered by avid devourers of British-made American-style comic books of the Forties.

Dennis Malcolm Reader was born in Peterborough in 1927. His mother painted sensitive water-colours, and Dennis was inspired to follow suit. "She did not force a pencil into my hand and tell me to get on with it," he recalled recently. "It was just that seeing her work in her every spare minute convinced me that that was what everyone did, so I should do it, too."


Reader learnt the art of story-telling by reading books to his blind grandfather: Hemingway, Saroyan, Dickens, and even Margaret Mitchell. His third great influence was the full-colour American comic supplements, sold at Woolworth's, with strips by masters such as George ("Krazy Kat") Herriman, Elzie ("Popeye") Segar and Milton ("Terry and the Pirates") Caniff. It was the last who perhaps influenced Reader's own style most, mixed with a dash of Joe Shuster's ground-breaking Superman.

Reader drew his own comics while still at school, before leaving at 14 to take up an apprenticeship with a local printer, where he stayed until he was 20, taking extra-curricular instruction from a retired art master.

The possibilities of strip cartooning had hit Reader when he encountered the comic books published by the ex-barrow boy entrepreneur Gerald G. Swan. This native genius hit on the idea of entering publishing when the Second World War stopped the import of American comic books, beginning with New Funnies No 1 in January 1940. Swan built up a chain of threepenny comic books, un-English and pro-American in style. But nobody Swan found echoed the true Yankee comic-book spirit until Reader submitted his four-page, 48-panel adventure of "Cat Girl". It was 1944, and Reader's sexy super-heroine was something never before seen in a British comic.

Reader now looked north to a little company in Glasgow, Cartoon Art Productions, or CAP-toons for short. Recognising the pseudo-American style as fitting perfectly with their publications (which always bore two prices, threepence and five cents, to fool their readers), they flooded Reader with work. It meant late-night working for Reader, who hung on to his job at the local newspaper.

Consequently the polish on his style disappeared, but his creativity ran wild under pressure, and beginning with his first super-hero, "Powerman", he unleashed a stable of super-stars. There was Rick Larson and Burt Steele, both 3000 AD; G-Boy and Wonder Boy, two super- teenagers; and even a cowboy, Dusty Trale. His super- heroines included Electro-Girl, Acromaid, Venus, Phantom Maid, and Starlite Rand.

Despite being offered a staff job as an inker at D.C. Comics in New York, Reader found himself drawn out. He gave up the comics and took charge of Perkins Engineering's art department, where he remained editor of their in-house magazine, Perkins Echo. With the onset of kidney trouble, Reader turned to writing and illustrating children's books. He produced his first, A Loverly Bunch of Coconuts (1989), for Walker Books. Moving to the Picture Lions series he came up with a number of delightful titles including Fed Up! (1991) and Joe Useless (1992). Two of his books were adapted for television. As nice as these books are, it is Reader's lively if somewhat slapdash strips which will be remembered by comic fans of the Forties.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

On The 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 new Tales 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 are almost 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!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The British Golden Age Comics Q & A!

This applies here as much as it does on my Yahoo groups so here's what I wrote!

You know, it struck me whilst I was drawing this afternoon. It was a cricket ball but I've no idea where it came from.

"Start with a gag" they told me. nyah -bit surrealistic.

Anyway, it did occur to me as I was drawing that I probably am the most knowledgeable person on UK comic characters of the 1930s-1951 (NOT D. C. Thomson nor Amalgamated Press!).  I've often asked questions or referred to characters here and got either no responses or answers telling me you've never heard of them before -let alone seen them

And, hey, I publish UK Golden Age reprints.

I recall once asking here, and on the British Golden Age Comics blog which characters from that 1939-1951 period you would include on a team. Again -no one had any ideas.

So I was thinking "Why not do a Q&A?"

If you have a question about a character from that period or any comic related question involving British comics (NOT D. C. Thomson nor AP!!) ask!! I'll put the whole lot together as a posting on the blog and as a File on group later.

What do you think?

Come on -we need to keep this group alive!!!

So, think and get back with your questions before 20th August. If none received then I'll give up!*:( sad

So, go. Think. Ask! Mail to:


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Slicksure: The Terror of Grimstone Castle!

An adventure of Secret Agent Slicksure who first appeared in Swan's Fresh Fun no. 1, April, 1940. The artist was Edgar (Harry) "Bang" Banger but this strip from Comic Colour Album  1953 shows a far more, can I say "improved" (?) action style --Bang was, after all, a humour man on Super Stoogie. Check out his work in this page previously posted on this blog - 

Ahh, but Swan was produucing pulp magazines and there were no flies on him when it came to trying to attract readers! The early 1950s were the days of talk of horror comics and in the newspapers and on radio there was talk of flying saucers -something that cropped up a lot in strips published by Swan. 

And what better a story from a main contributor like Banger than a spy needing a rest and taking a walking holiday...and encountering -a horror!!

I LOVE this. It's fun. It's a bit older than I am! I know Denis Gifford seemed to have a problem with Harry Banger -it was never explained but he just did not seem to rate his work at all. Me? I love Stoogie and I love Slicksure!

You can read about Banger (pronounced as in "Danger") here:

Friday, 2 August 2013

TNT Tina -The Mystery Solved...though I had the answer all along!

Unless you are one of those fans of rare British Golden Age comics then TNT Tom will mean nothing to you. However, as most of us old farts know, a similarly named character was used by Grant Morrison in the 2000 AD series Zenith. With TNT Tom in Zenith was TNT Tina.

That is where the mystery begins.

You see, in over 25 years of searching I never ever found an example of a TNT Tina strip nor anyone who had seen one.  Even the, uh, 'experts' on British comics had no idea. The best I got was that "Morrison made her up to add something to Tom's appearance."

My conclusion, about a year ago now, was that there was no TNT Tina.

A few weeks ago I was transferring old comic stuff from disc to flash drive and there was a scan of Coloured Slick Fun number 86, dated as 11th November, 1950. Scrolled through it and did a double take. A page I had just transferred with a heading "The Jungle Pals" was in this CSF as TNT Tom. In my rush I had miss-filed the page.

So what?

Well, take a look.....

Oh yes. That is TNT Tina.

The scan was sent to me around 1999 so this means I KNEW that there was a TNT Tina. It's my age.

 Holy Cow! Yep, Tina can fly just like Tom. Tom does all the rough stuff here but there is no doubt that Tom's cousin has the same abilities.  In fact, the duo even featured in The Return Of The Gods -our Earths counter-part to the Golden Age duo.

When I broke the news on some of my groups some were quite excited. We get like that.  The rare and forgotten UK Golden Age comics and characters when discovered are a breath of fresh and exciting air.

So here is the TNT Tina appearance -exclusive!

Monday, 1 July 2013

On The Price Of Old UK Comics

Over the weekend I met up with two fellows who I have mentioned before.  They valuate items for auction houses –no, don’t ask as I can’t say but the big ones.  They had been travelling around the UK observing auctions and talking to collectors. I was asked if I was free to chat “because you know more about these rare and obscure British comics of the 1930s-1950s”…After flattery like that what could I say?

Here is the conclusion they made after a three week trip –D.C. Thomson titles such as Beano and Dandy or certain Amalgamated Press (AP)  titles of the 1930s to early 1950s: VERY much sought after.

So I asked what sort of price they were estimating –apparently the first issue of Beano or Dandy and there was no fixed financial price.  “Idiots will pay ridiculous prices and for a first issue of either of those…who knows!” 

It seems that not even an Eagle first issue would command the price of a first Beano or Dandy…yeah, I found that surprising.

Apparently, no AP title commanded anything similar.  I rattled off a few titles –no. Nothing.  What??  I asked what sort of price various titles might get.  A first issue of Battle Weekly…£2-£4…..Action Weekly….£6.00 because of “notoriety”  and one of the men had privately auctioned off a full (first to last issue) run of Radio Fun for £100 –his colleague laughed at this and pointed out that auction houses had refused to sell that particular run because there “was no interest”.

Most weekly UK comics from the 1930s-1980s were valued at between £1 to £4 (“loony price”) but the Beano and Dandy’s could go as far as £5-£6 each because of “potty collectors”. 

I pointed out ebay prices and got two very loud howls of derision: “If you pay more than £4 for any UK weekly you are absolutely mad –and no one sane pays the fixed prices asked for on ebay!”  It was pointed out that one of my 1980s zines had sold on ebay in May for £25 –I can’t even sell these old books at their original price but it was called “rare” and “highly sought after”….what *******!

So we came to why I was contacted –comics from Swann, Fouldes, Comic Art Productions and so on. I was asked what sort of prices I had heard these comics going for?  I pointed out that finding them for sale tended to be rare  and I thought I was now going to be told they were worth a fortune.

I was kidding myself.

Both had copies of Gifford’s 1980s UK comics guide which included price estimates if you wanted to buy those books now.  Prepare for a major shock –apparently my jaw dropped and I looked “quite pale”!

It seems there was really no increased value to the books since Gifford wrote the guide. I pointed out the rarity of certain titles and suggested they must be more valuable now?

“We are not talking American Golden Age comic titles here –we are talking British, mass and very cheaply produced comics with quite poor printing and paper a tramp would not put in his boot”  To which I tried to counter with various points. Even as I made those points I could see the problems.

No one has a vested interest in obscure characters.  Or as one of the men put it: “Often badly drawn and one dimensional characters” that, it seems, do not compare in any way to the glories of Eggo, Desperate Dan, Lord Snooty, etc..  “Most auction houses will not even consider selling single issues or even collections because their commissions are usually more than the comics make” –the usual commission being around 17% I was told.

I was told of an old tea chest (which are big) that was full of Swan comics –all wrapped in grease proof bags (nostalgia there!).  Approximately 100 comics plus a few from other publishers.  The owner had died and the house contents were sold but not the box of comics that were, apparently, advertised online but got no interest. Rather than cart the box to storage it was dumped at the back of the auction room by the bins.


Another set of 1940s comics had been used by one auction house to wrap fragile purchases to send to people in the US and Europe.

I pointed out here, VERY quickly, that if they put the word around I would certainly buy any boxes or comics that were of “no real interest or value” but was told for single issues it was doubtful anyone would contact me –postage would probably cost more than the comic itself.  Collections –“It just isn’t worth the auction house’s time” BUT they did promise to pass on my details.

Of course, this lack of interest might explain why group membership numbers (British Comic Book Archives) have not increased and why no one seems that…interested.

This was all depressing.

So, you see high prices for any books on ebay…remember anything over £4.00 is a “rip-off”

Well, I’ll still look out for Krakos The Egyptian or The Bat…and I’ll still accept scans of books. I like them any way!!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Terry Hooper-Scharf Talks About The Ultimate Game and The Return Of The Gods

Frank Barrell talks to Terry Hooper-Scharf  about The Ultimate Game, The Cosmic Fulcrum and The Return Of The Gods!

I’ve interviewed Terry a couple times before –the last time about his resurrection of an old UK Golden Age character in The Bat Triumphant.  Not easy to interview someone who doesn’t like interviews and has rarely taken part in one in 30 years but here goes nothing!

Frank: Now I know you are a major fan of the obscure UK Golden Age heroes and you’ve incorporated many into your “Black Tower Universe” since 1984 and you have also published a book -400 plus pages?- of many of these old obscure strips, both humour and action. So, Return, is the biggest all original work book you’ve published to date?

Terry: Yes, biggest comic book or “graphic novel” if you prefer. I’ve published about five (?) bulky prose books –Some Things Strange & Sinister, Some More Things Strange & Sinister, Pursuing The Strange & Weird, The Red Paper and, of course, the best of 25 plus years of interviews in…The Hooper Interviews.

Normally, I’ve published A4 comic albums of between 15-120 pages.  Return, however, is the first graphic novel.

Frank: How many pages?

Terry: It’s 318 pages.

Frank: I may have gotten ahead of myself a bit here –I was reading Paul H. Birch’s Q&A with you on SpeechBalloon and got diverted –

Now, I know you’ve read comics since you were about six or seven years old and your influences were outlined in a full interview by Phil Latter (yeah, give a Canadian the opportunity to interview you but not your mates!)

and you’ve expanded on this background with postings on Manhwa, Manhua and Manga as well as European (particularly German) comics on CBO….

Terry: This is going to be a very long interview, isn’t it?

Frank: I’ll get there in a minute just hang about.

Terry: Then hurry up!!!!

below:art from the original The Ultimate Game. Pencils T. Hooper/Inks B. R. Dilworth.cbo ug 001 001

Frank: Okay, we’ll get back to Golden Age stuff in a while. As you are so impatient maybe you can tell us just how Return started?

Terry: In a way I think it goes back to when I was a nipper, drawing comic strips in old receipt books my gran, Rose, used to get me from work (she worked at Pople’s Popular Pies in Mina Road, St. Werburgh’s, and old blank receipt books were thrown away but she found it a very “economic” way to stem my need for paper to draw on)—

Frank: And you don’t have any of those books any more, do you?

Terry: Sadly, no. My parents kept moving about and I lost so much stuff but only managed to keep the odd cherished comic.

Any old way, I used to draw UK characters such as Billy The Cat, Billy The Whizz and The Spider –even The Phantom Viking—alongside US comic characters like Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Batman and so on. Actually, as I’m saying this I suddenly realise that Return is a sort of expansion of those old books. That is weird. I never really thought about it until now.

below: More of the original UG -credits as before!cbo ug 002 001
Frank: To save any legal threats we need to make sure that its clear you have not used any of those characters in Return!

Terry: Absolutely not. I’m not insane!

Frank: So you started drawing these strips in old receipt books and so on and you never lost interest in comics as you grew up?

Below: a colour “swatch” page for the colourist.
cbo ug colour
Terry: No. Not at all. I never had a terrible childhood –my grandparents, Rose and Bill, mainly raised me and though we were poor Bill did try to keep me supplied with a weekly comic or a shilling (5p today!) pocket money so comics and plasticine were always with me.  And when I eventually went to Greenway Secondary Modern Boys School in Southmead, Bristol, I found a few people interested in comics and later on taught a few younger lads to draw comics. School was not a good time for me so drawing and comics were a distraction.

Frank: Your original plan was to get into publishing and publish comics as a business or work as a comic editor, right?

Terry: Yes. All my contact was mainly with editors or publishers and I soon learned that it was a real closed shop. But that’s a very, very long story!!

Frank: Alright, zooming ahead. You were going to various comic companies in the mid 1980s and trying to sell comic title or strip series ideas.  It was at this point that the germ of what was going to become Return started: can you tell us about that?

Terry: Well, in a way it began (excluding those old receipt book cross-overs) with Fleetway in the 1980s. I had met Steve McManus and Dave Hunt and others at the editorial level but my real insight into things came through Managing Editor Gil Page –when he later retired (around 2000) he had been with the company since 1957 and had been there from Amalgamated Press, IPC, Fleetway, Maxwell PP and then Egmont.

I learnt things such as the fact that, as Gil put it in a letter: “everyone was excited about this big American comic writer who had created the Spider for us” –yes, Jerry Siegel created The Spider. And talk of the old characters they still had and never used led to me “kinda” talking Gil into letting me put together a 10 page preview titled “The Ultimate Game”.  I say “kinda” because no one could persuade him to do what he did not want to –he was affectionately known as “the UK Stan Lee” and I still hold him in great respect.

However, though the end result –The Ultimate Game– was liked and copies made and passed around all over Fleetway –I went to see Steve McManus about a 2000 AD related idea and he took the pages out of a drawer and said “You’re the guy behind this, aren’t you?”  Ah, the recognition at last!  Anyway, “someone” put a spoke in the works. Sheer malice but they bi-passed the editors and contacted upper management. From then on the old characters were really “a thing of the past” and later incarnations never treated them properly –though I love Shane Oakley and George Freeman’s work on Albion.
By total accident, I met a fella who was in management at Maxwell Pergamon Publishing and he blurted out -by accident?- that Robert Maxwell was buying out Fleetway and that Maxwell really wanted to publish successful comics in the UK. I have no idea what was going on behind the scenes but apparently Rupert Murdoch had a newspaper empire and had said at some point his company was going to publish comics -red flag to Maxwell!  I met the man once, very enthusiastic. I counted my fingers afterwards.
It took a while but then his people decided The Ultimate Game was going to be a full colour, 32 pager,  old style weekly –a bit like Battleor the new Eagle but full colour. At this point I was very excited but a warning voice always tells me to not get carried away.  Everything was ready…then Maxwell died and I have no idea what was going on.

Eventually, I was writing for Egmont, mainly on Revolver and then someone found the old Ultimate Game project. I think they were trying to impress their bosses with ideas which should have warned me!  I spent a lot of time up-dating it. Then the editor involved left, apparently on not very good terms with Egmont, and the project died again.

Marvel UK had shown an interest but wanted all rights so I said no. It would have been nice money but giving up rights to all the characters? No.

I ought to point out that after Fleetway and Egmont and Maxwell I had incorporated my own characters, some that I had created in the 1970s, into the story as I could not use the old Fleetway characters.
When I re-launched Black Tower Adventure in…2009  I needed a meaty main feature. The Ultimate Game had been adapted and the title changed to The Cosmic Fulcrum for Marvel UK and that title was used when it finally appeared in a Small Press version.  So, what I had in 2009 was a strip that had been reworked and re-titled as The Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes. I had thought Adventure would only go for six issues so the strip was perfect and I would finally see it in print in some form!


Frank: And Adventure is at issue 10 now!  But you combined the strip into Black Tower’s first graphic novel in 2012 and it did quite well –glowing reviews— so why a new version and how is it different (I know I’ve read my copy and its brilliant but for the readers)?

Terry: Well, the original book was a trade version of the six part series from Black Tower Adventure and came to a total of 196 pages. I talked to reviewers who are also comic artists/writers and we had a round robin discussion of the book. Most said that it was far better and certainly more enjoyable than DC Comics “52″ series and…fun!

But as we talked I realised that I had missed an opportunity because, since 1984, Black Tower has incorporated a lot of very obscure old UK Golden Age characters and some of these just appeared in a strip -no origin or anything.

Frank: But not included in the original six part story?

Terry: No, and as far as I was then concerned,  it was too late to sort that out and include some of them –though the Golden Agers are represented. However,  I had to re-think seriously re-think this later on.
cbo nrotg

Frank: You notoriously do not use scripts for your own work so how did you go about this series?

Terry: As you say, I never ever work with a script on things I am working on myself. I always start with a blank sheet of paper, pencil, pens and then see what develops. It gives a lot of spontaneity -I really have no idea what is going to happen on a page or even the next panel!

As far as the story is concerned I found that I was incorporating bits of The Ultimate Game and The Cosmic Fulcrum –another multi-character series.

After Return was published I was rummaging through an old box looking for an old reference image and found a thick wad of A3 pages –about 45 pages in total that were the build-up to the original strip -I thought those pages had been lost years ago. I read through it and realised the pages actually explained a few things and was paced for the big event. That put me in a rather odd position.

I had a week or so to decide whether or not I wanted to leave Return as it was or to tidy up the old pages and make it more complete. I also realised that there would have to be new  pages drawn to bridge the various story links. Then I thought that this was a chance to once and for all explain everything that had been going on in Black Tower strips since 1984 and explain the incorporation of the old Golden Age characters and their origins. It also helps to set up The Green Skies book in late 2013.

I figured the final book would total 250-260 pages so when I finished it and found over 300 I was a little taken aback.

A few people who got the advanced rough book just started raving about it so I thought “Okay. Job done. Move on!”
cbo NROTG 019 (2)
Frank: And it is a real cracker. But for those who know nothing about the book could you summarise it?

Terry: AGH! Well, it begins slowly enough with Earth’s heroes going about their daily tasks –such as fighting a giant robot controlled by a mad scientist’s brain, some villains,  both “regular” and mystical not to mention even vampire alien high priests of some mysterious cult and their zombie followers attacking various heroes to put them temporarily out of the way. Oh, of course there is a ghost and a young genius lost in time.

Pretty mundane super hero stuff really. “Just another day”.

But there is a huge alien Mother-ship near the Moon and psychics around the world have been getting vivid images of this for months –even non-precogs. Earth’s mystical heroes are stumped.

Then strange orange spheres chase some of Earth’s heroes in the UK, France, Czech Republic, Mexico, Russia and other parts of the world. Once touched by the globes that deliberately seek them out the heroes vanish into thin air –are they dead? Is some super villain exacting revenge?

Black, impenetrable domes suddenly appear and cover cities world-wide. Those outside are puzzled while those within face a terrifying reality…

…Alien invasion of Earth!

And then there is a war brewing between the Dark Old (Lovecraftian type) Gods and the pantheons that followed –Greek, Babylonian, etc.. After millennia of waiting the new gods will either triumph and return to Earth or be defeated…and whichever side wins it won’t be good for humanity.
cbo NROTG 033
There are warriors from various conflicts in the Earth’s past that are having to battle each day on some mysterious endless plain and whether they die in battle or not they are back the next day!

No one suspects the driving force, the evil twisted schemer,  behind the events that could cause destruction and chaos throughout the multi-verse.  Assaulted on all fronts can Earth’s defenders succeed or will they fail…is this truly the end?

The final words of the character Jack Flash on the last page apparently gave readers goose-bumps!
cbo NROTG 212
Frank: Those are chilling final words!!  But, as no shops or distributors wanted to touch what I, in my honest opinion, consider the really be one of the greatest British super hero sagas I’ve ever read –better than my old favourite Zenith- how can people buy a copy?

Terry: I thought you would never ask! It’s only available online at the moment so people will need to check out:

Frank: Terry, good luck with the book and I cannot wait for Green Skies!!


ALL artwork and characters are (c)2013 T. Hooper-Scharf and BTCG