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Wednesday, 29 April 2015


Temporary deafness is great when it happens during an election.  Just saying.

Along with planting willows, garden repairs (what a stormy Winter!) and maintenance, not to mention shopping, I have managed to complete 16 pages of (un-edited) art since Saturday.  Action in Australia, New Zealand, Africa, South America, Arctic and Antarctic and now Finland is taken care of...oops. Forgot to mention Taiwan...Japan.

See, Return of the Gods: Twilight of the Super Heroes was originally published in six parts in Black Tower Adventure (vol.2) 1-6.  Then it expanded from the 196 pages "Trade" after I found what I thought were lost pages and that let me add a few more extras in.  So, 330+ pages and it was a full blown graphic novel.

For three decades I pestered UK publishers such as IPC/Fleetway and "the Scottish company whose name must not be spoken" about including more (grit teeth) "ethnic characters" since the UK is a multicultural society. Various weak excuses but as a rule the top boys in companies seemed to think it had a 99.9% white readership.

So, in my own comics, I try to reflect that.  But more importantly, I have had an international mix of characters in Black Tower since the start.  Sadly, with Return, a lot of characters were left out. Had I included every character in every country then the final book would have been over 400 pages and I just did not have the time.

With The Green Skies the threat and story takes in damn well near all the Black Tower 664 Universe (that means none of the heroes from other parallel Earths are involved).  So incidental characters that may have been seen in the background (such as the old man with cloth cap and little dog) are now seen in cameo as the threat builds and explodes everywhere.

Do not expect pages of big battles from EVERY country.  I would really LOVE to but time and book size dictate against it.  But the heroes and others are there.  Yes, there is, of course, violence. I mean -COME ON!!  My favourite Archie Comics Mighty Crusaders story was "Too Many Super Heroes"  and that might well be a sub-title for The Green Skies.  But at the end there will be a good few less heroes left.

I have said and written it so many times in the past but, if you die you die.  The one rule you have carved in stone with Black Tower is that no on returns from the dead and Black Tower will never ever 'reboot'.  For that very reason I get depressed when characters I have had for 40+ years suddenly die. In all seriousness I have no idea who is next as I just write and draw and "it happens" and though I might try to change a scene it never works until I go back to what I drew originally. A few times I've had "goose bumps" when something has happened.

At least the reason behind the always present alien vampire race -the Vampirons- is revealed as well as why parasitic races like the Krale have focussed on Earth.

And the Many-Eyed One.

But that's all on Earth.

In space heroes die while trying to warn Earth of "something" approaching.

There is "the Martian genocide"

And more.  All the while help from outside this parallel is prevented as the Universal Council quarantines 664.

How does it end?  I have no idea.  This has grown and grown and as this is my last big work I really had considered everything ending.  Once the Earth action is sorted out I have to done a space suit and get up to the International Space Station to do some panoramic sketching.  There ARE surprises on that front that I get an inkling about but that could all change.

I love working without a script.

I love working without a definite deadline.  2015...will Mankind survive?

He Died To Save The Earth

Now I am not sure why but when I found these it had a sticker on the back of page one that read "inks Dilworth".  I am guessing that came off of something else!

You see, these are NOT Ben R. Dilworth inks or lettering.

Let's get into explanations.

You'll note the date on The Avengers monument reveals the date of his death as 1992.  For delays before publication I usually date everything a year ahead.  So, this would have been inked in 1991 at least.  I think I drew the pencils in 1989?

There's a little oike (derived from "bloke" and "idiot") who has been telling people (offline as far as I can tell since he knows if he starts up his little games again he is in BIG trouble) that I am talking crap about when Return of the Gods: Twilight of the Super Heroes/"Invasion 1987" not to mention The Ultimate Game  began/happened/ whatever.  I have no idea what this is even about since my recorded history in comics is searchable online.  Also, I have all the existing artwork, scripts and even the my-company correspondence regarding these projects.

I guess some people just like being made to look arses.

Page 10...I do have page 10 "somewhere" -the original and an A4 copy.  But can I find them?  I will, though.  I just thought that I might treat you to the unedited pages of the aftermath of the Boarman Invasion which was later detailed in Return.  Of course, this never happened in the BT Universe (well, not now!) but it was nice for me to see the old characters.

And who inked it?  A fellow by the name of Dean Willets who, in the 1980s did a great deal of strip work for Martin Lock's Harrier Comics.  Dean also worked on a couple of the pocket-sized fantasy books from "the Scottish company whose name may not be spoken" and he drew issue 1 of The Survivor that I wrote and would have been linked into the whole Invasion saga.  And, Dean also drew the first issue of The Cosmic Fulcrum which went on to become Return.

Dean's inking style is very recognisable -even over my scrawling pencils!  It is fair to say that he was an artist that really SHOULD have gone on to draw for Marvel or DC and he certainly deserves a better mention in UK comics history.

I did find Dean again on Face Book a few years back but he vanished.  As far as I know he does not draw comics any more and that truly makes me sad.  A great talent.

So, here are the pages:

It Was A Cosmic Fulcrum........

It was "back in the day" (about 1989/1990?) and I was visiting the Fleetway-Egmont offices regularly if not to take in scripts for Revolver then to pitch ideas.

I have already posted on The Ultimate Game and mentioned its predecessor, The Cosmic Fulcrum. Blogger has managed to delete most of the images (AGAIN!) but you can find it here:

Now this all became Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes.  And I had lost all the pages to the Cosmic Fulcrum....or so I thought.  I'll explain.

I had only photocopies of Fulcrum, drawn originally by Dean Willetts whose black and white art I posted samples of a couple days back. LOVELY  art but, though I never got excited since I knew what companies were like, Fleetway-Egmont expressed interest.  I had spoken to the Revolver editor and had a rather heated few words about WHY I was very unhappy that "Igor thinks this series title is so great he wants to use it so if you can re-name the series---" and on my way out bumped into another editor and we got talking.

Apparently, Egmont, owning Fleetway, were looking for something new.  I arranged to call back the following week having pitched The Cosmic Fulcrum.  Next week I turned up with the pages -black and white and the hurriedly coloured pages.  I was told it all looked good but he'd need to show it all to the boss.  So, he took everything and was going to copy it all and hand it back on my next visit (a third trip to London in a week -eugh!).

So, I turn up at the offices and the man "isn't here any more" -this happened a lot back then for no reason. But the young lady handed me my folders back and had been instructed to tell me "no thank you".

I got home not very happy.  A week later I needed to make more copies but the black and white pages were gone -someone had accidentally put various financial documents in the folder.  And some colour pages were missing while others had been hole-punched!  I return the financial papers but I never got the art returned.  After six months I gave up.

There are differences here compared to Return in which RIM (Robotic Infantry Man) and Femme Avenger and Justice (being watched by the trilby wearing shadow) never got to Neo Olympus.

Here is what I found in a folder at the bottom of a box -inked using Windsor & Newtons.  I've not tidied them up but this is comics history....somewhere!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Superstooge -"In Days Of Old"!

Worryingly, I'm in kind of a good mood.  I'll have to watch that in future.

I know what you are thinking -Sun, new meds, but no.  Just an odd day

So I've decided to treat you with a British Golden Age classic as you'll only find in my collection of Gerald Swan Annuals.  Yes, I scanned something else but I'm sure this HAS been posted elsewhere before but, what they, heh?

Harry E. Banger (pronounced as in "Ranger") and Superstooge -a Swan Comics Classic -just for YOU!


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Annual Legal Notice

 This Is From HM Intellectual Properties Office THE official last word in such matters. I do hope that a certain trouble making little nark takes note.  IPC and Egmont tell me that they agree with this and stand by the legislation.
Dry. Boring but then, it can't all be The Mighty Crusaders!

Subject: UK Comic Book copyright query


I was wondering whether you could help me re. the above matter.  I am a comics historian/publisher and have, obviously, studied the UK industry for over thirty years now.

Contracts were never signed between creators and comic publishing house such as Fleetway, IPC, Odhams, etc.  The companies changed hands many times over the years with no new deals with creators.  In fact (c) was not even given on many titles.

I was put in contact with a solicitor last year and he sent me the following;

"UK Copyright

Someone was asking what the legal position is in the UK.

The writer and artist own the copyright in the strip jointly, under the Copyright Act 1956 (or the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 in the case of more recent comics), unless there has been a written transfer of their copyright ownership to a third person (such as the Publisher).

This is called Author's copyright. It lasts for the lifetime of the writer and artist, and thereafter for a period of 70 years from the end ofthe year in which the last survivor of them dies.

Each strip within an issue of a comic is thus the copyright property of different people: i.e. the writer and artist who created that particular strip; and so a lot of individuals will have copyright interests in
each weekly edition.

 The Publisher has a seperate copyright (called Publisher's copyright),which protects the entire published issue of a comic, including its overalltypographical layout, not just indivdual strips within it. This lasts for 25years from the end of the year in which that issue of the comic was
originally published.

This second type of copyright has now expired for any comic with a cover date on or before 31st December 1984.

I was wondering whether you could tell me whether this is correct? The problem is that many now retired creators are wondering where they stand -most get the same (above) responses from solicitors as I had.

Any help in clarification would be very helpful.

My thanks in advance

Terry Hooper
Dear Mr Hooper,

Thank you for your recent enquiry. Although we are unable to provide legal advice regarding specific cases, I hope the following general information is of use to you.

Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, in the case of written (including software and databases) theatrical, musical or artistic (including photographic) works, the author or creator of the work is also the first owner of any copyright in it.  The only exception to this is where the work is made by an employee in the course of his or her employment. In some situations two or more people may be joint authors and joint owners of copyright (as may be the case for instance with a comic strip).
Where a written, theatrical, musical or artistic work, or a film, is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work (subject to any agreement to the contrary).  'In the course of employment' is not defined by the Act but in settling disputes the courts have typically had to decide whether the employee was working under 'contract of service'.

Where a person works under a 'contract for services' he may be considered by the courts to be an independent contractor and his works may then be considered to be commissioned works.  When you ask or commission another person or organisation to create a copyright work for you, the first legal owner of copyright is the person or organisation that created the work and not you the commissioner, unless you otherwise agree it in writing.

Even though the legal owner of copyright is the creator, it is possible that the commissioner may be considered by the courts to be the beneficial owner of copyright and therefore entitled to legal ownership.  This could be where you intend to stop others using or copying the work that has been commissioned for instance a logo designed to be used as your trade mark.

I outline these points since you mention the absence of a formal 'signed' contractual agreement between the creators and comic publishing houses.  In the event of a dispute as to ownership it would therefore be for the courts to decide ownership and/or the nature of the ownership (it may be that there are joint creators [writer and artist] and they may or may not have some rights in the work along with the publisher). Each situation must therefore be considered on its merits.

I would suggest the situation is less clear under the Copyright Act 1956 and you may wish to seek further legal clarification of Section 4 and in particular section 4.(2) in order to ascertain whether this situation could apply to comics.  This section seems to limit the ownership of a work by an employer to the publication in his/her newspaper, periodical or magazine and beyond that the creator would be entitled to any copyright subsisting in the literary, dramatic or artistic work.

In relation to a publisher's rights I was confused as to the 1984 date in relation to typographical arrangement (25 years from publication) but then noticed that you sought this advice last year.  The publisher may also have copyright in the 'compendium' of strips which he has produced as a comic.  His copyright [as well as the individual creators in the absence of any assignment to him] could therefore be infringed if the whole or a substantial part of the comic is reproduced without his permission.
It should be remembered that irrespective of whether the creator or another party own the copyright, then provided the creator died less than 70 years ago the work is still likely to be protected.  This will also be the case in relation to publishers etc where the duration of copyright protection is calculated from death of the employee creator.  Again, where a company changed hands or was bought it would be necessary to consider who then owned the intellectual property rights.  Under both the 1956 [s36(3)] and 1988 [s90(3)] Acts an assignment of copyright is not effective 'unless it is in writing signed by or on behalf of the assignor'.  Each situation should then again be taken on its merits.

I hope this helps. I should emphasise that this information does not represent legal advice but rather seeks to assist you on what issues you might seek further legal clarification. 

I hope this response has been some help to you.


Copyright Enquiries

Monday, 6 April 2015


From Mystery Men Comics #12  1st July, 1940 (Fox)


No, danger was not lurking and ready to pounce on The Moth as this was his last appearance.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

How About Zhong Kui: King Of Ghosts?

I love Chinese comics and I love ghost stories.  I was hoping that I might find inspiration from Chinese comics but, sadly, cannot get hold of any of the horror comics.

It also seems my book of traditional Chinese ghost stories went missing years ago without me knowing.

I did remember one name and -voila!  Wikipedia:

And with a title like "King of Ghosts" how can you not be inspired?

As related on Wikipedia -I remember the story being MUCH longer- this is how Zhong Kui became....

.... the King of Ghosts!!

According to folklore, Zhong Kui travelled with Du Ping (杜平), a friend from his hometown, to take part in the imperial examinations at the capital. 

Though Zhong achieved top honours in the exams, his title of "zhuangyuan" was stripped by the emperor because of his disfigured appearance. In anger, Zhong Kui committed suicide upon the palace steps by hurling himself against the palace gate until his head was broken. 

Du Ping buried him. 

During his judgment, the Hell King saw potential in Zhong. Intelligent enough to score top honors in the imperial examinations, but damned to hell because he committed suicide. 

The Hell King, judging Zhong Kui,  then gave him the title, as the King of Ghost, forever to hunt, capture, maintain and order ghosts. After Zhong became King of Ghosts in Hell, he returned to his hometown on Chinese New Year's Eve

To repay Du Ping's kindness, Zhong Kui gave his younger sister in marriage to Du.

Yes, the story has the ring of many others over the centuries and then in comic books -Jim Corrigan, cop, gunned down and then resurrected by The Higher Power to combat evil.  And Atlas (Seaboard Periodicals) Grim Ghost was a betrayed highwayman, hung and resurrected by Satan to find and bring him evil souls as...The Grim Ghost.

Forgive my ignorance if there has been a comic book adaption of this story but I think "the Black Tower treatment" is needed.  I see a whole Tales of Terror 2015 (volume 5) dedicated to Chinese and Japanese ghosts.  Hmm?

But first, those Green Skies need taking care of!