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Author Topic: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters  (Read 35148 times)

I, Cosh

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #150 on: 13 May, 2019, 10:33:40 pm »
According to legend, Debbie Harry was the model for Anderson – true? She pretty much was … She was based on Debbie Harry.
She looks a lot more like Joni Mitchell there.

We never really die.

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #151 on: 13 May, 2019, 11:07:33 pm »



She was based on Debbie Harry ... I'm not sure she’s particularly Debbie Harry

She looks a lot more like Joni Mitchell there.

https://jonimitchell.com/images/jm0014-300.jpg

Bolland's Anderson looks like almost anyone except Debbie Harry. She doesn't even look like the way Bolland draws Debbie Harry. *

I reinstated more of that Bolland quote because it's interesting to watch how he goes along with the leading question then walks it back. Not sure I buy Gosnell's story, but it's worth hearing.


* Which doesn't look an awful lot like Debbie Harry.

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #152 on: 18 May, 2019, 11:33:17 am »

I posted scans of this before, but the images seem to have disappeared due to image-hosting site dickery. Sunday Telegraph magazine interview with Wagner, Grant and John Sanders, on the occasion of Eagle Comics launching in the US.

There's a Sanders quote that comes really close to paraphrasing Hitler, which fits with Pat Mills's characterisation of his former boss, but the real TL;DR for us is an excerpt from the script for what I'm guessing must be The Suspect (342), Sanders axed Ace Trucking,  and the information that Dredd's accelerated cloning was prompted by a reader pointing out the discrepancy in dates:


In his eyrie 19 floors above the river Thames, the dark lord of British comics is talking about history. In a tower near the place where Shakespeare once lived, John Sanders holds illimitable dominion over the destinies of Tiger, Buster, Whoopee and 15 other publications. He is looking westward, where the land is bright. ‘It has never happened before in the history of English comics’, he says. The export of sand to Saudi Arabia does not compare; an English comic has been exported to the USA.

In an Essex farmhouse, two Scotsmen are sitting on the floor, pictures from Hindu mythology about them, choreographing Judge Dredd’s next moves. Dredd was John Wagner’s idea. A very large man of 34, with a boy’s face somewhere in the bulk, he comes from Greenock and began his 15 years in comics in Dundee.

Wagner is not sure how he started working for the mysterious empire of DC Thomson. ‘You just find yourself there one day’. He has worked for 26 comics, from Romeo to 2000ad, the home of Judge Dredd. He likes the life. He likes the absurdity of it (‘where else do you get the chance to use your imagination in this way?’).

In the farmhouse rented by his collaborator, Alan Grant, they’re putting together something which has much more in common with the shooting script of a movie - ‘Scene 11. Close shot of Dredd only, part of his face, visor/teeth conveying menace ...  there is only the harsh glare of the lights, the hum of the lie detector, and the probing voice of the interrogator …’


Alan Grant's home looks exactly as you'd expect


But unlike filmmakers they work alone, and the instructions are for the artists only, men also working alone in places like this. Sometimes they add little words of encouragement to the scripts for the artist to read, like secret agents in an occupied country. When asked in a pub what they do for a living they say ‘writer’ and do not enlarge.

As no writer is allowed to take out copyright on any of his creations, and as rates of pay average £22 per page, they rely on volume, working under different names, creating characters and worlds with a profligacy which is staggering.

Few survive for long. Sales fall, the figures are relayed to the dark lord, and from the tower the command goes out. One of Wagner's favourite creations  - a group of haulage men in space, including a walking skeleton and an alien covered in hair, called GBH - was snuffed out in this way.

John Sanders plays an important part in the history of such things. For anyone who was a reader in 1970, John Sanders booked himself a place forever in the lowest circle of the Inferno when, as Editorial Director of the IPC Juvenile Group, he killed off the Eagle. But then, eight years later, there was Dredd.

‘A once in a lifetime find’, purrs John Sanders. The letters poured in, and the benison came when Miss Koo Stark was photographed in public wearing a Judge Dredd t-shirt. Merchandising is an important side to the comic, says Sanders.

So now the tills were tinkling in the tower beside the Thames. Sanders saw an opportunity in the emergence of a new network of specialist comic shops and Dredd appeared as a monthly title in the USA, with a first print run of 93,000 copies.

I expect to succeed’, says Sanders’. I like to think that by small beginnings we shall do something that will last for 100 years’. A new company has been formed in New York. ‘It has taken its name from what is described as ‘the most innovative comic ever published in England’. He has called it Eagle Comics.


Mills describes Sanders as his inspiration for Ukko


The film rights have already been sold to Hollywood, and on the bleak days in the Essex farmhouse Wagner and Grant amuse themselves by casting an actor to play Dredd. Their favourite is Bruce Forsyth, solely on the size of his jaw. Mr Forsyth would not be allowed to speak.

Many writers have worked on Dredd, the name coming from Pat Mills, the uniform and eagle from artist Carlos Ezquerra - ‘Carlos, he loves the Spanish embellishments’, says John Wagner’. But in the beginning Wagner was responsible for 90% of the scripts. For the last four years he has written all of them, either alone or, more recently, in collaboration with Alan Grant. He has thus worked on 350.

Because Dredd is still going strong and because they have written so many scripts, inventing so many criminals and mutants, they have long ago lost track of the facts. ‘I was at this comic signing’, says Wagner, ‘when this kid came up to me and asked about Dredd’s niece. We’d put her in a story, aged nine. But as this kid pointed out her father, Rico, had been in a penal colony on Titan for 20 years. We’d forgotten about that’.



Comic creators will never do an interview for legit media without being made to look a bit silly


And then there have been inconsistencies bequeathed by other writers. Dredd graduated from the Academy of Law in 2079, but that, as readers pointed out, would have made him 13 years old. Wagner & Grant informed readers that the Judge was an accelerated clone, who had been born at five years old. It was not entirely satisfactory, and they’re now assembling an enormous index of events in the series.

The strengths of the series come from the way Wagner and Grant use it for social satire. Near them in Essex a council tenant, unhappy with the way he’d been housed, had written his complaint all over the front of his house. It’s like that in Megacity One, says Wagner - nobody listens. One story, Citizen Snork, is about an unemployed teen who grows his nose just to become famous. ‘A citizen’, Wagner says, ‘with access to technology of the future, who just wants to be a chat show guest’.

‘Dredd seems to have caught on’, says Wagner. ‘He’s not everyone’s hero, but there is something about his devotion to the law. I thought he might become a cult figure, but I do have horrors of writing him forever’.



Scans of original article, here and here. I edited out some of the original hack's word-count filler and misunderstandings, but left others I thought were funny. I moved the frequent mentions of specifically English comics to juxtapose them with passages about Greenock, Dundee and the two Jocks responsible for the comic's success.



Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #153 on: 19 May, 2019, 04:42:46 pm »




Steve MacManus is credited as an important editor because he was Tharg during a period of the comic everyone sees as a golden age (1978-1987).

But MacManus is seldom heralded for the equally important, perhaps more important, rescue job he performed returning to an active editorial role following the precipitous crash in readership of the early nineties (120,000 to 50,000 readers in 5 years)

Following Alan McKenzie's dismissal, sub-editor John Tomlinson and then Megazine alumnus David Bishop were nominally in charge of the Galaxy's Greatest comic, but the prog's most successful editor (now Group editor) was involved in the day to day task of putting 2000ad together alongside both Thargs.


"The Pit was Steve MacManus's idea", Wagner recalls. "He felt there was room for a different style of Dredd epic, more of a judicial soap opera. I was sceptical about it until I got down to working it out, then I saw how well it could work".

'The Pit introduced Galen DeMarco, a young judge whose future became inextricably linked with Dredd for years afterwards. "When the story started, I didn't know how it was going to pan out for any of the characters", the writer says, "but when I saw Carlos's interpretation of her, I knew I had to use her again".


From David Bishop's Thrillpower Overload, p.182

Bishop's actually underselling the importance of The Pit. He's right to say that the dynamic between Dredd and DeMarco (and Jura Edgar) drove the direction of all major Dredd stories between 1995 and 2000 - from The Pit to Doomsday.

But, more importantly, Wagner never wrote another major Dredd story that didn't involve Dredd working in a managerial capacity with a team of younger judges - much as MacManus had done in his mentoring role with first Tomlinson and then Bishop.

Prior to The Pit, Wagner's big idea to escape the corner he (and Grant) had painted Dredd into with stories that explored the fascism of Justice Department and portrayed Dredd as a bastard, like Revolution and America, had been to redefine Dredd, in stories such as Mechanismo and Wilderlands, as a rugged individualist hero who didn't play by the rules.

That approach and those stories proved, at best, qualified successes.

The team dynamic that's central to the second half of John Wagner's Dredd career - in my opinion, the really good stuff - all came from The Pit. It all came from Steve MacManus, the greatest editor 2000ad ever had (twice).


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mighty-One-Inside-Nerve-Centre/dp/1781084750



Richard

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #154 on: 19 May, 2019, 07:42:33 pm »
Thanks for sharing.

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #155 on: 19 May, 2019, 07:55:14 pm »
Thanks for sharing.

Cheers, buddy. I should add that Bad Steve was voted Favourite 2000ad Editor at Lawgiver this weekend, by members of the 1977-2000ad Facebook group. You can see the obviously quite touched (not drunk*) Action Man's acceptance speech here.


* Yet

Steve Green

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #156 on: 19 May, 2019, 09:19:31 pm »
If John ever wanted to write his autobiography, maybe he could Nimoy it and call it 'I am not Drokk'

Dandontdare

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #157 on: 22 May, 2019, 02:01:35 pm »
The Sunday Telegraph piece is fascinating - although who uses words like "benison"? (and it wasn't a Judge Dredd T-shirt anyway!)

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #158 on: 24 May, 2019, 07:53:59 pm »

I got ... a dude sold me three front pages of The Eagle, from the nineteen-fifties, original Frank Hampson and, rarely, they were signed. They're from classic mid-period Dan Dare, and I got them for 500 quid, out of this bloke's boot.

I said 'have you nicked these?' and he was like 'no, no - my dad used to work for Hulton Press' and when Robert Maxwell bought out Hulton Press he went down to the basement and saw all the mapping drawers, where they used to keep all the old art from things like Look And Learn and The Eagle, and he said 'what's this? The art archive? I want all this shit out of here'. And this guy I bought the art off, his dad found it in the skip outside Hulton Press.

Robert Maxwell. You didn't think he was enough of a ****.  Some of the greatest art of the golden age of British comics and he put it in a fucking skip. He didn't drown enough, in my opinion.'


Phil Jupitus, speaking on the Rule Of Three podcast (52 min)

When Jupitus says Maxwell bought Hulton Press, he means the Bouncing Czech's purchase of Mirror Group (which included the Hulton archive) in 1984. This tracks with the descriptions we've all read of original art being used as cutting boards or to mop up spills. Art editor Robin Smith's efforts to return 2000ad art to creators came just in time.



Dandontdare

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #159 on: 24 May, 2019, 10:02:13 pm »
It’s a good job that so many pages were “rescued” and are now safely in the hands of private collectors.

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #160 on: 24 May, 2019, 10:24:11 pm »
It’s a good job that so many pages were “rescued” and are now safely in the hands of private collectors.

ARF!


From The Art Of Brian Bolland

It had never been the policy of IPC or Fleetway (I confuse the two), publisher of 2000AD, to return artwork to the artist, but by now they were coming to terms with the fact that they were running out of space to store it and something had to give.

There had been horrendous stories going round - like the one about the burst water pipe. Apparently some bright spark had had the idea of laying some of the art boards on the floor to soak up the standing water. The stuff they happened to pick was the sainted Frank Bellamys full color Neros the Spartan pages from the 1950s Eagle Comic.

Priceless historical artwork ruined. They didn't particularly want it, but they'd be damned if anyone else was gonna get it. Now the company was thinking the unthinkable: Why not let the artists have it back - providing the artists catalogue their pages and pay for a new transparency of each one. Like giving a kid his ice-cream back and then wrapping him on the knuckles for his impudence in asking for it.

Artists started doing just that and coming away with piles of their pages. I was a bit busy, so I made a deal with Mike Lake at Titan for him to catalogue my pages (there were about 280 of them), pay for the crannies, collect the artwork and sell it for a commission. After a while became back to me with news that hell taken possession of about 160 pages, but the rest were missing.

Fortunately, I'd recently borrowed my favorite 10 pages - including the "Gaze into the fist of Dredd" one - for an exhibition in Angoulem and hadn’t got round to returning them - they're still safe with me - but unfortunately the remaining missing pages had been stolen.

People from Titan, and more recently Quality Comics, had been given access to the artwork in order to reproduce them in their editions, so Fleetway had been used to people walking off with them. What they didn't know was that 110 pages of what they, at the time, considered to be their property had been lifted and had made its way into the hands of American art dealers.

To me, it was the theft of artwork, some of which I would have kept, amounting to quite a few thousands of dollars.

I was furious. I talked to people in the London comic shops. One told me: Yes, he had seen some of those pages on US dealers tables, but when l asked him which dealer's tables he developed surprisingly abrupt amnesia and couldn't remember.

Over the next few months I detected strands that stretched between UK publishers to people working for them and finally to their friends in the US, who just happened to be artwork dealers. And I developed the distinct impression that many of the people around me, some of whom I considered friends, knew part or all of the story, but had other friends they wanted to protect.

One or two Americans have informed me they bought some of the hot pages in good faith from people who were also squeaky-clean innocent parties. Recently, I heard a story that a page of my artwork has turned up in the vaults, but if I were to ask for it back the vault keeper would know who had told me and it would compromise that person special access privileges. Kafka-esque, or what?

All the pages that were returned to me and sold were signed by me. If you own one without my signature it was stolen and I want it back.



Remember, kids; unless your page of Bolland original art is signed with red pen, it probably fell off the back of a van.



norton canes

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #161 on: 04 June, 2019, 02:20:40 pm »
Just a quick thing to add, Frank - comics site downthetubes.net today published a piece on celebrities that have inspired the look of some 2000 AD characters, mentioning Debbie Harry and even Marianne Faithful as possible models for Judge Anderson. I've added a comment linking back to your recent post mentioning Deidre Vine, if that's OK.

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #162 on: 04 June, 2019, 05:36:44 pm »
Just a quick thing to add, Frank - comics site downthetubes.net today published a piece on celebrities that have inspired the look of some 2000 AD characters, mentioning Debbie Harry and even Marianne Faithful as possible models for Judge Anderson. I've added a comment linking back to your recent post mentioning Deidre Vine, if that's OK.

Thank you very much, Norton.  I see Colin's updated his piece to reflect your contribution:

That Marianne Faithfull nonsense is my fault, too. Not just my fault, but the fault of this very thread*. I eventually got clarification that Bolland wasn't using Girl On A Motorcycle for reference, but The Internet had it by then.

Just as with the Debbie Harry guff, Colin and Roger's articles will be there for others to Google forever.


* The link to the Facebook discussion in that post's dead, so my guilt in suggesting that image of Marianne Faithfull as the one on Bad Steve's mood board for the Megazine dummy issue has been erased from history.

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #163 on: 23 June, 2019, 11:33:32 am »

If you control for the overnight loss of 20,000 readers caused by the change of distributor in early 1993 (TPO p.158), 2000ad lost between 5000-6000 readers most years during the nineties, whoever was in charge.

Bishop gives a really good account of the numbers and the various factors that affected them here. His predecessor, Alan McKenzie, does the same here. Bishop's successor, Andy Diggle, confirms the weekly sales total when he took over here.

TPO says sales were starting to dip under 100k per week at the start of 1990 (p.138). McKenzie says sales were at 85k before the distributor switch and 65k after, falling to 55k per week by the time he left (Nov 1994), Bishop says sales were 'under 50k' per week when he took over (Dec 1995) and Diggle says sales were around 25k per week when he became Tharg (circa 2000). *


* That's 100k down to 85k in the three years between Jan 1990 and Dec 1992 (-15k), then 65k down to 55k in the two years between Jan 1993 and Nov 1994 (-10k). 55k down to somewhere under 50k a little over a year later, when Bishop succeeded Tomlinson as Tharg (more than 5k). Then more than 5k per year in the four years between Dec 1995 and Dec 1999 gets you to 25k when Diggle got the keys to the Command Module.

Bishop says there was a sales boost around the release of the 1995 Judge Dredd film, shortly before he joined 2000ad, just as there was following marketing pushes in the early nineties, but sales fell back to previous levels (and lower) following these blips.



Funt Solo

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #164 on: 23 June, 2019, 03:14:15 pm »
All of that historical data begs the question: what number the current readership?
fate amenable to change