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Monday, 31 July 2017

No More Blog

I was looking forward to revitalizing this blog but, sadly, it 's about to disappear.

I stated a year ago that my only income was from selling my books.  I also stated that things had gone beyond desperate.  The books are not selling and I can no longer afford to keep the online store going let alone have an internet presence.

After a ten months long legal battle that I seems I also lose.

Fandom is dead and support for independent comics is dead.

I think this blog can run until the end of August but I cannot update it.

Who would have thought it was the comic fans that would kill Indie comics ~I never did.


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Someone Asked For A Larger Version So.....

Here you go!

On Creating Golden Age UK Reprints, The Criticisms and More!

This site has had over 25,000 views since it began in 2011 and let's face it that is a decent figure for a blog looking at British Golden Age Comics. There is not that much interest in the UK in this period unless you are dealing with Beano, Dandy or something like The Eagle.

The original Golden Age comic experts were, of course, the late Denis Gifford and the still very much alive Alan Clark. Their work has been cribbed by so many of the new 'experts' who feel safe knowing only old farts like me are going to know and who cares about old farts?

I mention this as I noticed quite a bit of what I have published -things I found out after a lot of research and were not known about- have been used as "personal finds" by these new experts.  But you expect it because these people have egoes and want to be seen as the experts.

I also found that Golden Age scans I placed on my Yahoo! groups for members were used on other sites and the uploader listed "original scan source unknown".  Really?  Even the 'hidden' marks I put in panels are there because these people tend to remove my British Comics Book Archive notice from the bottom of pages.
I get a laugh occasionally. On several occasions I have had people on UK comic groups (that I tend never to go on any more) or even privately email me to ask if I gave them credit for "their" scan used in one of my Golden Age reprint books -because I mentioned that particular strip or material was included.  They get quite annoyed.

Let me make it clear: people like Denis Ray in the United States initially helped with some scans of UK GA strips they had. Now those people are credited.  They have real names. There are very sound legal reasons why a name such as "Biggy56" (made up as an example) cannot be credited as a source. I offered to send a copy of the book -NO!!!! No way were giving their real names let alone addresses out....this is comic fan stuff not dark criminal or espionage activity.  I doubt MI5 are waiting to send in Slicksure when they identify you.  So that material was never included.  Also, these people never purchased a copy of my book in question so are going by the title of what I have used.

I am 60 years old now and have been reading comics since I was around 5 years old. British, German, American, Chinese, Hong Kong, Russian...I have a lot of comics.  If you ever saw the photos of Room Oblivion on Comic Bits Online you would know that -the photos in this link are from 2015 and things have expanded since then!!

The thing is I have spent money...please do not ask me how much as it really hurts! But I have spent a "fair bit" on building up a small collection of British Golden and early Silver Ages comics.  The photo below is of my collection of Swan annuals...I think there are a couple Bonzo annuals there as well.
I am an idiot. I clean up and edit, sometimes re-letter or repair at 800x so it isn't noticeable and it can take a couple weeks hard work to get something like the single Collection volumes ready for uploading.  I know these Golden Age books are not going to make me money so why do I do it?

Well, the late Brian "Bib" Edwards (who was drawing and creating Steam Punk before the term was even coined) told me that the Ultimate Collection brought back memories and showed real fun comics.  I'm glad he got and read the book.

There are people out there interested in comic book history or who love comics and want to see what they were like back in the 1940s and 1950s. If a couple people get some escapism from the books then good enough.

I said I was an idiot...right?
You do have complaints from people who have not, again, purchased a copy of a reprint book. They see a low res scan used when promoting a book.  These are people that do not edit 60-70 year old comics!

Somewhere on this blog is an article about editing Golden Age comics and what it entails...

Colour printing was often poor quality because the Second World War restricted ink and paper usage so while US comics remained full colour with a lot of pages we Brits grinned and beard it. Look at Cast Iron Chris above.  A nightmare. Scan and get the artwork to look good in black and white then have to get the colour text to be readable.  Three pages of one strip took me two weeks of off and on working to get it to look good and be read!

"The text aint great on Back From The Dead" yelped someone who saw the non-published pages. Artists wrote and drew and lettered their own stories.  That was the British method.  Some had a good text hand...some didn't.

William McCail could have good text or rushed.  The fact that the paper and print quality was often shabby did not help.  The Back From The Dead was worked on for weeks. I then found another original copy (then stolen!) and found that all the problems were in every copy. A couple of fellow old farts who had owned copies confirmed this.  So trhe Black Tower version is better than the original!
I also had three people tell me that they would not by the Golden Age books if they were a mixture of humour and action.  "I'm only interested in super heroes" declared one...who I doubt would have bought a copy anyway!

Then there was the question of "non PC" material.  Let's get the record straight here. These Golden Age books are designed to reprint long lost comics of the 1940s. Artists drew how they drew and I am not going to censor history -like the morons who insisted that the famous photograph of Isambard Kingdom Brunel smoking a cigar in the 1800s be photoshopped...and it was. No longer a cigar present on many copies you see.

I almost fell into this trap.  Black people were drawn in a cartoon style.  Now, British comic strips were not known by that term back then. They were called "comic sets" because the art was cut onto wood blocks put together to make a set.  Shaded areas often consisted of very clear, precise lines for the ink to follow.  You had a solid black area then no problem. Large eyes and big white lips were used because they had to show up in the solid black. You will see in more serious art styles of the time that Black or even characters from India have their skin colour indicated by fine lines.  There were also some "black" characters in British comics who were smarter and out-witted the "white" characters.

But then I realised that the PC/"this is racist" faction were being very deceptive.  They were using "smoke and mirrors" to prove their argument.  I looked at the strips and then realized something. They were making us focus on the "black" characters and how they were portrayed which got the liberal knee-jerk reaction they wanted.  However, what about the squinty, bulging eyed, big nose and often downright ridiculous looking "white" characters. I realised that if you took the PC point of view then the portrayal of "whites" was also racist.  But hang on...the animals and even the backgrounds were ridiculously distorted from realistic.  Cartoony.

This argument, however, never satisfies the extreme PC mob.  But people have to realise that you cannot literally censor history because you do not like something in it.  I explained all this to one critic who, again, had never purchased one of my books and was assuming I reprinted these specific strips (I had not).  Apparently that just proved I was excusing my racist leanings -which made him look a bigger fool as he knew nothing of my family!
Above - a lovely strip but a nightmare from hell to make publishable in black and white. And that is where I get further criticism over.  "Why aren't you reprinting in colour?" Well, it works this way: if the Ultimate Collection is 405 pages and black and white throughout it costs me "£x" to print and you can buy it for £25.00. Now, if I add just one colour page then every b&w page is counted as full colour -it's how it works. Mad, I know but I'm stuck with that.  So it costs me over twice the amount a b&w book does and your price as a buyer? £50.00.  Believe me I wish I could print colour!

Trouble is that no one takes into account that I need to find and buy the  old books/comics. I need to select the strips to re-publish and do all the work of cleaning up, repairing tears or masking out sellotape and foxing. All the work I mention in that Editing post link.  That is money, time and a lot of effort and I have been told that the Ultimate Collection should properly priced at £45.00 -to me that is insane. I'd sooner take a loss at £25.00!   But the 68 pp single Black Tower Gold volumes are £8.00 a copy and rather than delete them from the online store I left them so people could see if they wanted to invest in a big collection.
Black Tower British Gold Collection 1Black Tower British Gold Collection 2Black Tower British Gold Collection 3UK GOLD COLLECTION 4Black Tower Gold 5:Back From The Deadblack tower gold 6

But the books are not just there to reprint.  Volume 1 also includes the Defining the Ages of British Comic Books, though that has been up-dated since.  There are articles and information I have found on some of the old comic creators because not all signed their work.  Embarrassment at "drawing comics", job on the side while working for other larger, low page rate publishers  -the reasons vary but it means so many creators are 'lost' to us.

Since I tried to start the BCBA -British Comic Book Archive- in the 1990s I met constant negativity from some UK comic 'fans' who only consider the Thomson or Amalgamated Press comics as worthwhile and Swan and the other small publishers as "nothing special". I do laugh when I point out this attitude and there is the almost high pitched voice denying any such thing was said -but I keep all my emails and conversations!

A few people have jumped in the help but the BCBA is basically what I have and by that I mean in my collection or scanned.  Comics do not get respect in the UK.  However, I plod on and have managed to identify creators and make many finds not listed by even the legendary Mr Gifford. I also help a lot of collectors identify their books, strips and much more.  And I don't get paid for that either.

The work continues but with books not selling the idea of another volume of Golden Age reprints I cannot even think about.  Yet I have a lot of material left.

I do not yet possess a copy of any issue of Triumph featuring Superman! But let's not get off topic. What about all the material I still have?

I decided that what I needed to do was mix GA along with Public Domain Silver Age strips and contemporary ones -make a mix for everyone!  So was born Black Tower Super Heroes. First issue has not sold and Nos.2-8 have not yet been published, though they are complete and print ready. And all are 80 pagers.

Being a small publisher is not easy, especially when your books are not selling!  But I'm hoping one day someone somewhere might find them and appreciate all the work!

Until then it's hoping that the books are discovered before the store gets shut down -which is a possibility since if books do not sell why bother maintaining an online store?

There you have it, a very long few words covering quite a bit.  Any questions -you know where the comments section is.  Keep enjoying comics!

Yahoo groups with LOTS of covers and more

Friday, 30 June 2017

Ace Hart ~Space Pirates!!

From Super Thriller Comic No. one is sure about dating but ~possibly~ 1958? Artist may be Rex Hart. Outside of the 1951 date but why not?

Monday, 5 June 2017

Golden Age Books and An Up-date On Pricing

Image result for british golden age comics

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

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

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

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

The five separate volumes range from 68pp to 96pp each.  For well over 5 years they have been ridiculously priced at £6.00 ($8.00) which meant there was nothing in the way of profit or compensating for the amount of time and work put into each. And guess what? Absolutely no copies sold.  For that reason I have had to price them (still cheap) adequately so that they are each £8.00 ($10.00).  That still means you are getting better quality reproductions for far less money than an 8 pager or 12 pager comic from this period that may be moldy, torn or almost unreadable.

Volume 5:

The Ultimate British Comics Gold Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The UK Golden Age Reprints WILL Continue

I am not sure how or who started the rumour and confusion but I have made it perfectly clear that Black Tower will continue its publishing of UK Golden Age strips.

In fact here is the post about this:

Also you will notice the new blog header.

The only person -the only person- who decides and details what Black Tower publishes is me.  No one has inside information or has talked to me about these projects.  Even the contents of each issue are only known to me.

You have a question ask me.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

On Fandom And Little Cliques..and sharing!

I have said before that I put a lot of work, time and effort and money into collecting British Platinum (1796-1938) and Golden (1939-1949) Ages comics and story papers. Not just because I like them and love discovering new things and identifying creators where ever possible, but because I want to share.

know that it is a very -very- small group in the UK but why shouldn't they get a chance to see the comics I have discovered?  Most of those I know who are interested cannot find or afford the price of the comics  and even when fairly priced it is finding the comics.  So I do the work and publish the collected Gold books or the complete collection which works out cheaper.

I will never ever make my money back!  But I never thought that I would. Unlike in, say, the United States where, were even a 350+pp b&w collection of US Golden Age available then it would sell to real fans or collectors, in the UK...obviously not. I won't even go into why as I have done so before and the lack of interest was overwhelming.

But the books are there for anyone really interested in UK comics of those periods.  There was the British Golden Age and UK Golden Age Heroes & Comics blogs.  The first has had 23, 834 views since it was set up in 2011. The second has had 6, 112 views since set up in 2013.

the Yahoo! British Comic Books Archives group was set up on 31st January, 2007 and has thousands of images over several album pages and a lot of interesting posts.  It has 55 members -and the majority are not even in the UK.

Sales of the Collected book, and I need to point out that not one of the slimmer volumes has ever sold...3 copies.  Once you take into account what I finally receive financially, those three sales do not even pay for one of the comics I purchased to go in it.

Now, in the old fanzine days it was common to find fans sharing photocopies of old comics (none of us had scanners or internet until the 1990s!) or swapping information. Initially, fans started to do the same thing over the internet but that more or less stopped years ago now. There are books fans are looking for and we know other 'fans' have copies.  Will they scan and share? No.  Why? "Because no one else here has a copy so it's mine and I'm not sharing!"  And that was actually said on one of my Yahoo group members.  These people tend to like to steal the work I have done and add it to sites so they get credit but simply state "original scanner unknown"....I guess the scans just appeared miraculously on their computers then?

When I have used material in a book scanned and sent to me by someone I name them.  But I do not credit people using silly, anonymous internet names.  And I have made it clear that I cannot (there are very sounds legal reasons why no one ever should) credit "anonymous" or some internet name.  Why on earth are these people scared to take credit for their scan work?

That adds something else to the mix.  Groups where scanners of Silver Age UK comics go into all their scanning details (which is pointless) and call themselves "comic editors".  Weird.  They are scanners and not comic editors!

And...allowing 95% of members on their groups to be anonymous is fine.  After all, MI5 would love to track them down  -seriously, you are on a fecking comic 'fan' group so why do you need a different internet name on that and 4-5 other groups??  The world's security services are not after you for reading comics.  Unless it's so there is no come back on them when they take part in petty sniping at other members? It's why I left those groups.

But, that offer scans over the internet on your groups but then get angry (and "angry" does not really cover it!) when someone has compiled all of those scans into a collection on CD to sell on Ebay.  Screeching -"Without given credit to me!" and "Profiting from group scans and contributing nothing back!" but this is the very funny part of it: they "all" want to know who this person is (I was actually accused once but that stopped as soon as I asked them to repeat the remark and get sued, stupid little infants) but how can you when you let all these people join anonymously? Any how could this person contribute back to the group?

Financially? Oh, well, how do they know this person has NOT contributed scans (I suspect he has and I think I know who he is and it is quite obvious unless you are a "comics editor" on a Yahoo group!)?  Who gets money?  And best of all is the idea that, somehow, their copyright and editing work has been infringed upon.  Firstly, a scanner has no copyright claim.  You offer a free scan on the internet it gets used....tell me about it...sob sob...just two of my Eros books have been illegally downloaded by the millions. I don't lose sleep over it or bleat on.

And now the "elite Platinum 'comics' clique".  I ask about certain characters or titles.  "Oh yes. That is in the (my) collection".  Any chance of a scan?  "I am rather busy.  Ask me in a couple months" and the one I always laugh at: "Oh, I had no idea that one had not been catalogued.  I've had that for years."  Seriously, this is what I call "a load of old bull crap".  So you are one of this studious elite and read everything there for years but this just slipped by?  You never knew?  Rather, you do not have a copy because other than that line nothing else is contributed.  Scan and you will solve all the problems and answer all the questions but no, just the  "Oh, I had no idea that one had not been catalogued.  I've had that for years." End of story.

And don't get me started on the fella (in the US) who joined my Face Book Golden Age group to find out WHO from his group was a member and banned them and very rudely told me I was banned from his group, too!

This is not fandom. It's rather like, when you were a kid and played "conkers" and there was always some lad claiming he had a "Twentier" (smashed 20 other conkers in a game) but would never produce it or bring it to a game. Or a "Hundredsy" marble -same thing.  If they are true fans they share for the love of the comics medium.  My collection was always open to be read (and sadly I paid the price for that) by other fans.  share and you get to talk about the characters, comic or creator -it IS fun.

But I see it with comic people from Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany and even France: most have no knowledge of comics prior to the 1980s.  Almost as though comics appeared in the 1980s and there was nothing before.  Worse are the snooty comic 'experts' who say with 100% confidence "France has always had more eye brow comics -never super heroes!"  And I, CBO, have shown that this is just an ignorant statement based on no knowledge.  "Germany never had comics during World War 2 -the Nazis forbade them!"  Same thing.  Proven false.

We need a good fanzine in the UK -most countries do- and we also need to get real, genuine comic fans to chat.  I say that with a 100% failure rate at the Golden Age blogs and on CBO comments are rare enough.

It seems to be more about snooty cliques or little cliques following bully boys in the UK.  On my Yahoo! groups you can join and use a pseudonym on the group BUT I need to know who you really are because I learnt the lessons.

think about it -what has your experience as a comic fan been like and what do you miss or feel is needed?
Black Tower British Gold Collection 1Black Tower British Gold Collection 2Black Tower British Gold Collection 3UK GOLD COLLECTION 4Black Tower Gold 5:Back From The DeadThe Ultimate British Comics Gold Collection

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Decision And Why. It Needs Explaining.

 I apologise for the ramble, though. I did say I would be open and honest about publishing so...

Firstly, I will make it clear that my severe financial problems have not gone away. They are here and I face them every day.  Nothing has changed there.

What has changed I will explain. I had a very long conversation and discussion with Frank Barrell on Friday and went over why I had made serious decisions lately regarding publishing.

All the lack of sales print outs from the online store were laid out. In fact, every printout covering 2010-2017 was laid out.

I will paraphrase Frank’s points.

I started publishing in 1984 though I was involved in printing in the 1970s and had even put together a school magazine (the story of that and why it was banned as well as my selling copies of Oz magazine can be found in my QRD interview).

1. When the school mag was banned did I give up and just say “well that’s it then”?

2. When I worked with small and later larger US Independent publishers and got ripped off or messed about did I quit?

3. When I invested more than a month tailoring Heroes Of India for Diamond Comics in India –almost 50 pages of art, colour samplers and covers- and they decided to drop the idea without telling me…the same thing another Indian publisher later did…did I quit?

4. When I put in weeks of work drawing horror/ghost stories and later, at the suggestion of a senior editor, put together a D-Gruppe sampler issue for Bastei Verlag who were then taken over by Egmont and all work in progress dropped without telling creators, did I quit?

5. Did I quit over the constant, daily, troll emails as well as lies these same people put on UK comic forums from 1999-2016?

6. When Fleetway cancelled projects I worked hard on and then never paid me the £5,00+ it owed me for scripts, did I quit?  When the two editors at Egmont did the same thing did I quit?

7. Marvel UK-same thing. Did I quit? (no mention was made of me holding a Marvel editor out of the window. Good)

8. Did I quit when the two best selling adult graphic novels I wrote were allowed (the publisher never even attempted to step in) to be illegally downloaded millions of times?

9. Did I quit when one artist after another who I had helped get into comics (when I was a creators representative) cold shouldered me?

10. When a lawyer from Defiant Comics threatened to sue me because my Black Tower logo (used since the 1970s) was similar to their logo (1993) did I just back down and quit or did I tell him I looked forward to seeing him in court and to **** off?   The answer to that is obvious.

11. When an idiot at IPC Media and their legal department threatening the full weight of Warner (who owned IPC then) if I did not stop using my own characters (seriously) and did not pay for using characters in Looking Glass, which was a project submitted to IPC a few years before, did I back off and quit? (same as with Defiant but I was on good terms with management at IPC and later Warner told me they had no idea any of this had been going on)

12. Did I back off and quite when a number of other such incidents occurred (I am not giving details here because the people involved are either no longer here (alive) or nothing to do with the companies today)?

At this point I have to say that points 13-20 involved personal events so I won’t go into those.

The obvious answer was “No” to each point. 

So when I asked what the point was I was asked “Why are you being a ****** quitter now?”

Bit rude, but….

Yes, I took the point that I have been without money before.  Yes, in the 1980s/early 1990s I did often go 4-6 days without food (note to youngsters: in those circumstances tomato ketchup in hot water tastes fine. I also lived on one cabbage for a week. Drink plenty of fluids and when you get food do NOT eat like crazy!! Small amounts only to start).

It was pointed out that with over 90 books over 9 pages on the online store it was stupid to just close it down.  There were also 10 other books prepared waiting publication.  And hundreds of pages of The Green Skies so was I seriously going to dump all that?

Frank then pointed out that Comic Bits gets thousands of views per day and has a truly world wide audience –more countries from Africa recently appearing in the stats, too.

I pointed out I still review books and the counter point was that “reviewing does not earn you money!”

I pointed out that a lot of genres were covered by Black Tower and these were in comics, comic albums and graphic novels –excluding the prose books.  Artists had turned in fantastic work but showing that on CBO had not resulted in sales –and I was told quitting meant those creators were being let down.

I pointed to the lack of sales and a few other things but the response was that I had never quit before despite major problems so why was I quitting now? 

Paraphrasing again: “You are too ***** stubborn to quit.  You know that once this rough patch is over you’ll be like an express train again.  You think about it. Can you live with having quit?”

I get the point.  But, for the foreseeable future, what?   Yes, I will continue reviewing books as they arrive but beyond that--?

I was told that I needed to keep the idea of one day comic marts in Bristol even if not before 2018.  Again, depending on how many people want to book tables to just sell comics because last time I mentioned this I got no real interest.

The look and design of the Black Tower comics and books?  No. The covers have nothing wrong with them and the quality of contents and printing are excellent. Black and white is the best and affordable option –one of the books at the store is £5,75 in black and white. In colour that same book would cost £12.00+ (and remember I only get a small percentage since the printer and Print On Demand company take sizeable cuts –I have no real say in pricing).

The quality of the books cannot be improved upon.  Maybe Mr Dilworth can think of a new jazzed up Black Tower log?

Apart from that I can only wait and see. Flow through the rough waters.

But I really do not like to quit.  I have seen so many small publishers vanish or meet their ends in the last two years. I’m not sure how but I’ll dig my feet in. I guess at my funeral someone is going to say “He was a stubborn sod. Never knew when to quit!” Until then I will be that old bearded man people point out but hope I never notice.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Redefining The Ages Of British Comic Books...up-date

Let's be honest -I should not be re-posting this again.  However, despite giving the link to several people who are very off the mark, they persist.  It is important that anyone who is really interested in British comics get the correct information.

And no one has so far given Gerald Swan the credit for introducing the US comic book format to the UK which, in itself, is a very significant and important point and credit.  Now you know.

Why re-post this article since it was first published back in 2000 and several times since then?  Well, despite the "serious comics history" pundits being given the link on a number of occasions it appears I am beneath their interest. I know this because they are now stating that the Overstreet Price Guide has published 'new' info.

Here is what someone wrote on Yahoos Platinum Comics group:

"But even that big news in Comic Book History has been overturned, with the discovery of an even earlier comic book, entitled The Glasgow Looking Glass, published in Scotland, in 1825."

Yes, well, Denis Gifford and myself both wrote about that (he WELL before me) back in 1984 and wrote about it in 1985.

Now I do realise that some "sequential historians" look down on us regular comic folk but seriously they are ten years behind the rest of us.

So here is the cranky old article but with new illos.

I thank you.
Despite attempting to fill in the Lost Era of British comics from the 1940s/1950s since the 1980s it is only recently, with the invaluable help of  Dennis Ray, owner of The 3-Ds comic store in Arlington, Texas, that a small chunk of this period has been rediscovered.

Characters not listed even in Denis Gifford references have been found. These have started to appear in the Black Tower Golden Age Classics series.  As they are unlikely to be big money earners the cover prices were kept low for those interested in the subject.

Oh, and as I've proven previously, the myth of the Germans "never had comics during the war" is just that.
A myth.

And though some comics continued few survived.  Thomson's continue but in much poorer form and British comics as an "industry" are dead. 

Above: Dennis Gifford

Above: Comics Historian Alan Clark

Here is a slightly up-dated version of my article defining the British ages of comics from my British Golden Age Comics web site and a couple years back on CBO.

 The late Denis Gifford spent many decades chronicling the history of British comics.  It was a never-ending task and at least we still have his books to rely on –these have been so plagiarised by new ‘experts’ that it shows just how valuable any Gifford book is. For this reason,I am relying solely on Denis’s and the “Tel’s From The Crypt” feature from vol.1 no.1 of COMIC BITS [1999].

Of course,there are some who would argue that comic strips go back further than the dates I give. This is debatable and,hopefully,one day the UK will have a symposium on the subject! 

Looking Glass was a tabloid sized periodical published by Thomas McLean and could be purchased as either a plain or hand-coloured edition. Some 36 issues were published starting on 1st January, 1830 until December, 1832 -but from issue number 13, that was published on 1st January, 1831, it suddenly got re-titled to McLean's Monthly Sheet of Caricature or The Looking Glass.

But this was not the first Looking Glass! John Watson published The Glasgow Looking Glass on the 11th June, 1825 and it lasted five issues up to August, 1825. From 18th August, 1825 and for twelve issues up to 3rd August, 1826 as Northern Looking Glass. Not to be confused with The Glasgow Looking Glass -no connection.

 THIS is the comic 'newly discovered' by the Overstreet Price Guide!

According to Denis, the first comic magazine was actually titled…The Comick Magazine!  The magazine appeared on 1st April,1796.  The publisher was Mr Harrison of 18 Paternoster Row,London who describe the title as “The compleat Library of Mirth, Humour, Wit, Gaiety and Entertainment”. 

Most purists would argue that The Comick Magazine was wholly text,however,it did come “enriched with  William Hogarth’s Celebrated Humorous,Comical and Moral Prints”. –one per monthly issue!  These prints formed the series “Industry and Idleness” and when put together in their “narrative sequence”, argued Gifford,”they could be described as an early form of comic strip”


 Above: Dr Syntax on Tour

Thomas Rowlandson  provided plates for The Caricature Magazine [1808].  On the 1st May,1809 came The Poetical Magazine and it was in this –Rowlandson the artist once more—that what is arguably the first British ‘comic’ super star was born:Dr Syntax!   The serial by William Combe,”The Schoolmaster’s Tour” was Dr Syntax’s first,uh,outing and in 1812 was reprinted in book form [graphic novel?] as “The Tour Of Dr Syntax in Search of The Picturesque”.  This featured 31 coloured plates.

Dr Syntax spawned merchandise spin offs,as any comic star does,such as Syntax hats,coats and wigs!!

Figaro 31st March, 1832

Inspired by the French funny paper Figaro,on 10th December,1831,the four page weekly Figaro In Londonappeared.  Cover and interior cartoons were by Robert Seymour.  This first funny weekly went on for eight years and was to inspire [imitation] spin-offs such as Figaro In Liverpool and Figaro In Sheffield.    We can see the future shape of the comic industry appearing here!

Punch In London  appeared on 14th January,1832 –this weekly lasted 17 issues and the last featured  17 cartoons! 

The longest lived comic magazine,of course,was Punch from 17th July,1841 until its demise in 2002!
It is a fact that Punch,on 1st July,1843,introduced the word “cartoon” into the English language;on that date the magazine announced the publication of “several exquisite designs to be called Punch’s Cartoons”.   Two weeks later the first appeared,the artist being John Leech.  [for more info on Punch see]


Punch number 1

Leech also drew “The Pleasures Of Housekeeping” [28th April,1849] –described as a slap-stick strip about a suburbanite called Mr Briggs which,ten years later,was published in book form as Pictures Of Life And Quality.
In 1905 Mr Briggs was still being reprinted in six penny paperbacks.  
Judy~The London Serio-Comic Journal started on 1st May,1867 and,on 14th August of the same year introduced a character  who became one of the greatest comic heroes of the day…….Ally Sloper!
Ally Sloper [so called because,when a debt collector turned up he Sloped off down the Alley!] was a bald headed, bulbous nosed figure with a rather battered hat. ..often described as a Mr Micawber type [as played by W.C.Fields and others over the years].  Ally was constantly trying to make money but more often than not never quite succeeded.

 Merchandise abounded, Sloper Pewter mugs, figurines, bottles and much,much more.  And you can learn a great deal more on a wonderful web site –

There was an Ally Sloper comic in 1948 and some might think that was it.  However, Walter Bell drew the old lad inAlly Sloper, a British comics magazine published by Denis and Alan Class in the 1970s.

Note: since this was first written the Ally Sloper's Comic Bits was shelved and also, in an interview with Alan Class, he told me he was NOT publisher of the 1970s fanzine!

Above the 1948 Ally Sloper comic.

Ally has certainly lived longer than his creator, Charles Henry Ross, could probably ever have imagined!
Into the 20th Century and there was the rise of many illustrated text stories and comic strips with text under each panel.

D.C. Thomson had titles like ADVENTURE and ROVER.  Alfred Harmsworth’s, and later his Amalgamated Press’,COMIC CUTS was the first comic though.  Issue 1 was published on 17th May,1890 and the final issue was published on 12th September,1953 with issue number 3006!    

But the 1930s saw a virtual explosion in comics from small publishers outside London.  These included Merry Midget, no.1 dated Saturday,12th September,1931 and published by Provincial Comics Ltd.,Bath –and the other  title from this publisher was Sparkler.  Also publishing from Bath were Target Publications who produced Rattler and Target
Above:The Illustrated Chips, 1933
Now these were traditional humour strips and gags along with text adventure stories.  But in 1939 something happened that ended the Diamond Age and saw the beginning of the Golden Age. 

On the 8th July,1939,the Amalgamated Press published, in Triumph, the strip “Derickson Dene”, drawn by that "mysterious" comic great 'Nat Brand' (Len Fullerton).  Gifford described the strip as “a four page serial strip that established him [Dene] as the first British super hero in the American comic book style”.  

And then,on the 5th August,1939, in Triumph no.772,compilations of the Siegel and  Shuster Superman newspaper strips started.  On the front cover,flying through space and drawn by John “Jock” McCail was The Man of Steel.   

These two very significant strips, in my opinion, ushered in the British Golden Age. 
Above: two 1943 comics still surviving in my collection.

There was only one little problem.  Across the English [or French] Channel,a little twerp with a silly moustache started a “bit of a tiff” we know as World War Two.  Paper restrictions and the banning of imported goods such as comic books,meant that British publishers had to use whatever they could. Comics were printed on brown wrapping paper,silver paper[!] and other inferior stocks. Many comics simply vanished. 

No new ongoing titles could be published so smaller publishers began to issue one-off eight pagers. 
The best known publishers  remembered today are the Amalgamated Press and D.C.Thomson,at the latter not just Lord Snooty and his Gang but also Eggo and Desperate Dan took on the Germans.

But Gerald G. Swan deserves a mention for books such as War Comics, Topical Funnies Special Autumn Number, Thrill Comics, and Slick Fun. .  Swan gave us Krakos the Egyptian and Robert Lovett:Back From The Dead. 

A. Soloway produced All Fun and after the war Comic Capers [1942] and  Halcon Comics [1948].  R & L Locker published Reel Comics and Cyclone Illustrated Comic.  Newton Wickham published Four Aces and Martin & Reid produced Grand Adventure Comics.
Gifford himself, later to work on Marvelman -and there are VERY strong rumours Marvel comics will be reprinting the 1980s series*, produced Mr Muscle.  Cartoon Art Productions of Glasgow published Super Duper Comics [1948]. W. Daly gave us Crasho Comic [1947].  Cardal Publishing of Manchester gave us the Gifford drawn Streamline Comics [1947]…….. 

There were so many publishers and titles and these titles included Ally Sloper, Ensign Comic, Speed Gale Comics, Whizzer Comics, Super Duper, The Three Star Adventures, The Atom, Prang Comic, Marsman Comic, Big win comic, Big Flame Wonder Comic, Evil Eye Thriller, The Forgers and many,many more –super heroes,science fiction, humour, detective,war comics the lot.  

However, there was soon to be a revolution.  Publishers started declining and the big companies continued on. Then,on 14th  April,1950, ”launching British comics into the new Elizabethan Age,and the Space Age” appeared The Eagle, starring Dan Dare.  This date can be seen as the start of the Silver Age of British comics. 
New characters would appear who would engrave themselves on the new generations of comic readers.
In the Amalgamated Press’  Lion no.1,23rd February,1952 Robot Archie made his debut.  In 1953, rivals D. C. Thomson featured General Jumbo in The Beano.  Miller, of course, brought us Marvelman and his family of comics.

More uniquely British characters followed and into the 1960s we saw “The House of Dollman”, ”The Spider” (created by Jerry Siegel despite what some UK pundits write. I spoke to the man in charge at Fleetway who when younger handled the scripts with Siegel's name on and told how the office was a-buzz about "the character -created by one of the men who created Superman"), ”Steel Claw” and ”Rubberman” appear.

In the mid –to- late 1970s titles began to get cancelled more and more frequently with Thomson and Fleetway/IPC seemingly not sure just where they were going comic –wise. In February,1977, 2000 AD made its debut and it was a pivotal point for British comics [not to mention for the US industry which later  recruited many of the talents involved to help its rapidly sinking comics in the mid-1980s.

 From all of this we can define the ages of British comics.

The Platinum Age                     ~ 1796-1938
The Golden Age                       ~ 1939-1949
The Silver Age                          ~  1950-1976
The Modern [Bronze Age]      ~  1977-1995

And there you have it;a brief  break-down and definition of the Ages. of British comics.  What we see today are little cliques of Small Pressers who come and go by the dozen every few months. Those who continue to declare there is an industry are rather sad as they depend on a non-existent thing to boost their ego and "be someone".