Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Classic Phil Latter Interviews Terry Hooper-Scharf

This is the more "personal" interview. I hate these!


Terry Hooper has been writing, drawing, and self-publishing comic books in England for several decades, now. He has been extremely prolific, creating his own characters, and putting them out himself, a one-man show. Some of his self-published comics titles have run over 50 or 60 separate issues, with no end in site. Also, Mr. Hooper has published some very popular titles which have interviewed, and which continue to interview, British comic book artists and writers from older as well as newer, and quite well-known British comics titles. He also chronicles the obscure and forgotten past of Britain’s rich and diverse comic book publishing history over numerous decades, right back to the earliest of them. Lest we forget.

Terry has, for decades, worked very hard at ‘filling in the blanks’, documenting the rich, lavish history of British comic books, in numerous interviews and articles in his various publications. Additionally, he has written some quite interesting American comic book publications. He’s very talented in quite a number of areas, as you will see as you read on, right here! Shall we get started?

Phil Latter: Terry, I’d like to start by asking, where were you born, where did you go to school, what was it like growing up, what were your interests at that time, (comics, TV, movies, etc), how old were you when you first discovered comics, and what made you notice them and get some?

Hooper: Phil, I was born in the Saint Michael’s Maternity Hospital, Bristol, on the 6th of June, 1957. My mother said I looked like an orange with a black tuft of hair! I grew up in the St Werburgh’s area of Bristol which had a park. I went to school at the St Werburghs Infant School then to Mina Road Junior school before moving and attending Greenway Secondary Modern Boys School, in Southmead,from 1968-1974.
I took Science, Biology, Mathematics, and I got A grades in Art, History, English Language, English Literature and Geography. While at the Greenway School, I created the school-sanctioned magazineStarkers: The Magazine That Tells The Naked Truth, in 1972, and which was supposed to be distributed and sold at other schools but it was banned because of the title.  I wouldn’t compromise so “ta-ta”.
above: Earliest photo of me so around 1957 sat on my mother's knee and my gran holding on to my older brother, Peter.

Like most kids of my generation, I began reading comics at the age of 5 years. Comics that I enjoyed ranged from Bimbo, Beezer, Topper, Lion and so many others. When my family moved to Germany, my reading, naturally, had to change and I began reading comics from companies such as Carlsen, Disney and Germany’s biggest publisher of European comics, Bastei.

Obviously, reading comics led to my trying to draw them, and this in turn led to helping other pupils years later in after-school classes to learn to draw. Starkers, of course, came later.

above:Billy The Cat -one of Hooper’s favourite comic strips.

Latter: Like The Man In The Yellow Hat’s Curious George, I’d additionally like to know: what was the first comic book you recall getting or reading? I want to make you feel comfortable during the interview with endless questions, so that you’ll feel right at home at ‘The Spanish Inquisition.’ Which reminds me: can I call you ‘Monty’? We’ll make it a regular flying circus.

another Hooper favourite -Billy The Whizz!

When did your family move to Germany, and what part of Germany did your family move to? You are originally from Bristol, England -why did your family move to Germany? Was it for your parents’ work-related reasons? I believe that in the past you have described yourself as being part German? Was your mom or dad German to begin with? Also, when did you return to England as a family, and why?

Hooper: My mother met my father while he was doing his national service in Germany. There were a lot of us German-British kids at junior school in the 1960s! My mother’s family originally came from Jauer, German Poland before WW II – some of her uncles died fighting the Nazis, another was shot as a conscientious objector by the Nazis. And one of my relatives who joined the Army  vanished in North Africa!  You can’t win! When the Russians got closer, the civilians fled and there was a lot of strafing of civilians by British fighters; a one-year old cousin of my mother’s was killed and had to be left at the roadside. They then settled in Dalborn, which is a village near the garrison town of Detmold -back to where she met my father….and where I nearly died. Simple as that.

I have Welsh, English and German blood in these here veins!

Growing up in the 1960s in England, and playing in that park, which I mentioned earlier, in St. Werburgh’s, there were still plenty of bomb sites from where the German planes had bombed in World War Two, right where we played. We wandered about and knew Bristol’s alleys and back streets as well as rivers well before we reached the age of ten!

Metropol Cinema was the main place to go where we went to watch The movie The Ten Commandments, Robinson Crusoe Of Mars, in addition to television’s Batman and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. series. For TV, well, we had those U.N.C.L.E. guys – The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and laterThe Girl From U.N.C.L.E. , starring Stephanie Powers; To Catch A Thief, Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, The Saint, Dr Who, Adam Adamant and later Doom Watch, Rat Catchers, Tarot, Tomorrow People and so on.

Oh, the Boris Karloff horror TV series – there was one with a scarecrow that scared the bejabers out of me!

circa 1967/68 in Sevier Street. Terry,his brother Peter and Lassie the Dog!

Latter: Boris Karloff? I take it, then, you’re not referring to Walt Disney’s The Scarecrow Of Romney Marsh, which starred The Prisoner’s Patrick McGoohan.

As for Robinson Crusoe On Mars: I haven’t seen it, but I have heard about it. Wasn’t that a Dick Van Dyke comedy?

Hooper: No. This was a modern horror tale. Robinson Crusoe on Mars did not star the great Dick Van Dyke, but rather, Batman’s Adam West….a big eared chimp as well as aquatic…sausages! Great fun!
Latter: What a title: ‘Robinson Crusoe On Mars.’ It sounds absolutely insane. Like you said, great fun! The title, ‘Robinson Crusoe On Mars‘, reminds me of another old movie I’d give my left arm to see:Santa Claus Versus The Martians. It sounds like it’d be a real hoot! Or Billy The Kid Versus Dracula. Billy The Kid versus Dracula, that one I saw as a kid, but I barely remember it. I understand there were two versions with different titles. I’ve never seen the other version.

By the way, I just checked on the internet. Dick Van Dyke was in a 1966 Disney movie called Lt. Robinson Crusoe USN. That was the one I was thinking about…

Yes,it did exist! Adam West,pointy eared chimp and aquatic sausages!

Hooper: Of course, as I got older, I watched late night Saturday horror double-bills.

I was an insomniac and a manic depressive by age eleven. I lived with my grandparents and my grand dad, Bill, who used to buy me British comics such as Robin, Bimbo, Play Time and later a mixture of Fleetway and D.C. Thomson titles. Of course, playing with modeling clay (Plastacine) and soldiers was an additional past-time.

Johnny Seven O.M.A. - History's Best Toys: All-TIME 100 Greatest ...
oh if only I still had my Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army)!!!

Latter: for me, aside from lots of comic books, it was the Marx’ toy company’s Johnny West and General George Armstrong Custer dolls (real men knew who they were back then and didn’t feel the need to over-compensate by calling them ‘action figures’.) Smile. I also had the fuzzy-bearded later 1970′s versions of G.I.Joe (the mod versions as I called them) and the like. Speaking of which, what was with that useless left hand on all of those vintage G.I. Joe dolls, where this so-called crack soldier couldn’t even hold a gun, with the fingers of his hand turned (molded) in? I never did figure out which brand of turpentine the Hasbro Toy Company people were drinking when they came up with that brilliant idea! EG: “I’m a soldier. I can’t hold a rifle (that takes two hands), but I’m gonna butt you to death with my head. That’s what the helmet is for.”

Hooper: There was a short-lived British made Action Man called Tommy Gunn -I got him and the first black version. The colour thing never bothered me because of where I grew up.


Latter: I grew up with black people, too. People were, and are, people, of course.

You just reminded me of something, Terry. I was out with a black girlfriend of mine about eight years ago in a pub, locally. We were talking about the accomplishments of blacks in history. She broached the topic with me. A Caucasian white 17 or 18 year old girl with lots of earrings through her face leaned over, butting into our conversation, and said, “You know, saying ‘blacks’ these days is blatantly racist. You should say ‘African Canadians’ instead. I know you mean well, but….”

Latter: So then my black lady friend Shalese, who I was with at the time, said, “Oh really?” to this blonde young girl. “How long have you been black?” Shalese then went on a tirade about whites who seek their best to butt into others’ conversations with their political correctness “fascist nonsense.” You know. Trying to ‘police’ the way people talk and express themselves. So much for a free society and freedom of speech and expression. Which struck me as extremely funny to me at the time. The narrow-mindedness of it all. Eighteen year old girls (and guys) who are brainwashed at an early age by this stuff, thinking they are open-minded and progressive by telling other people who are older and thus wiser, people who are in their thirties and forties…..how to talk ‘properly’ in ‘polite society.’ This is how we are raising our children these days. Eighteen year olds who probably still live at home, they haven’t really ‘lived’ yet, but they nonetheless think they have the answers to everything, and that they are more worldly and intelligent and open-minded than the rest of us who are more than twice their age, with more than twice their life’s experiences. 
My former Chinese roommate Dave Wong, who is also a comics collector, was a lot like Shalese, too. Speaking out against PC restrictions put on the way people express themselves. Dave Wong kept me laughing. He’s a hilarious guy. I think his ideas rubbed off on Chalese somewhat, as we would all hang out when she came over. Despite the fact that he is somewhat of an introvert. I was actually content, what I describe above. They both like to make speeches, and I must say, I’m with them in their points of view. You can call me a Liberal. Freedom of speech is a pet peeve of mine.

Terry, where did you go to school, what kind of work did you do, how did you get started drawing, and what did you draw? And, how old were you then?

Hooper: Initially, Mina Road Junior school, that was up to 11 years of age. I then had to move with my parents to another part of Bristol and ended up in the Greenway Secondary Modern Boy School until age 15. I drew all the time as a kid but my parents threw most of those illustrations out.

Latter: Gee, that’s encouraging….It didn’t stop you, though. You kept going and going and going. The Everready battery company is going to sue. Help! Here comes that big pink bunny rabbit with those drums. Run for your life!

Hooper: On leaving education in 1974, I went to work for H. Tanner & Son, a small printing firm based in Southmead. When I moved to Manston, Kent, in 1977, I began working as a paste-up assistant to Philips Printers. This involved designing and then laying out and pasting up newsletters, commercial flyers, and so on. From 1980-1984, I worked for Bennings Printers and Stationers, Keynsham, where I put together publications as well as advertising material until the company ceased trading in 1984.

Latter: You mean they went out of business?

Hooper: Yes. During 1977, I also began writing articles on astronomy, meteorological phenomenon, space exploration and other general subjects — something I have continued up until this date in the UK and Europe as well as in the United States. In the UK, the main market has been the County Magazine trade.

Latter: This is very interesting. As I said, you’re full of surprises. Not that it matters, of course, but, was this paying work?

Hooper: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I read and investigated everything; my German family called me “The Professor” because of this.

Latter: I know you’ve been drawing consistently, from a very early age. What types of paper materials did you use early on, to draw on, and with what sort of pens?

circa 1965[?] Sevier street again and ice cream eating Terry and his gran,Rose. that's "Ma" who supplied me with the books to draw in!

Hooper: My grandmother, Rose, got blank paged receipt books, etc, from work and I drew strips which combined British and American comic heroes together. Making the heroes out of modeling clay was fun, too!

Latter: Heh, heh. That’s interesting. I did stuff like that as a kid, also. I didn’t make action figures out of plasticine, but I did take those 1980′s Super Powers DC Comics action figures, having bought lots of duplicates, and I then made some duplicates of ones I already owned, into lots of OTHER characters, including all of the Silver Age Charlton comics’ Charlton super heroes, the JSA, and so on. I still have them all. Unfortunately, I ‘outgrew’ that hobby of transforming them into other characters, eventually. I was quite good at it. I’m delighted to know you didn’t stop modeling your own versions of characters with your hands. What were some of these team ups you drew as a kid which you described above, in particular? Meaning, what characters were in them?

HooperCaptain America, Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, Thor, Goliath (Marvel), Iron Man, Hulk, and British characters Billy the Cat, Captain Hurricane, Billy The Whizz, and so on. Fun for me! The (Marvel comics) original Captain Marvel in the mid to late 1960′s was another favourite, in his old white and green cossie.

Latter: I remember that, as a young teenager, I drew a handmade comic book, wherein, I had the Marvel Kree Captain Marvel, in his red and blue outfit, meet the Silver Age 1960’s M.F. Enterprises’ alien robotCaptain Marvel, who he found in a cave in suspended animation (like Captain America), only in the desert, sort of like the Silver Age Hulk’s old cave hideout. The Marvel Comics’ Captain Marvel then revived this alien robot. Of course, the M.F. Enterprises’ Captain Marvel, once awake, assumed this Kree Johnny-Come-Lately was trying to cop his best gig, so there was this multi-page obligatory fight scene. Hey, how original is that? I tell you, an instant classic! I wish I still had it. I’d bust a gut laughing, now!

How old were you when you started drawing your early comics, and what year was this? What comics, characters and/-or artists were your inspirations? EG: British, American, foreign? Was it hard to get American comics? What were your favourite British comics?

Hooper: How old was I? Perhaps eight? Yeah….1965? It was perhaps hard to get American comics. I never knew they existed, then. We had British comics that reprinted, in black and white, Marvel strips in parts. Fantastic and Terrific were my favourite British comics titles. There was a truly unique look and feel to these comics….and the smell of newsprint of those British comics in the 1980s… I learned that most kids sniffed the ink print. It brings back great memories. Artists were mainly anonymous; not signed.


Latter: I know exactly what you mean about the musty smell of old comics, old paper. It’s true: particular odours from vintage periodicals can indeed bring back warm memories. It’s like, in your mind, it takes you back to an earlier time. Oh wait, I just said that. LOL.

above: I have Marvel's The Essential Sub-Mariner now but the story split up into weekly parts had me gripped!

Hooper: Between 1984-1994, I worked as a writer/artist/editor/agent in comics as well as comics journalism for MU Press, Blue Comet Press, Fantagraphic Books, Eros Comics, (both of which are American), Dorne, Fleetway, IPC and others in the United States, UK and Europe.

Above:circa 1987[?] Westminster Comic Mart. Brother Mike,to rear Darron Northall,the Kirk Douglas of comics John Erasmus,Terry and Tom Elmes.

During this period I also produced large numbers of single panel gag cartoons for agencies in Germany such as Boiselle-Lohmann and Baaske Agency — these going to magazines and publications around Europe.

And then, of course, Phil, from 1984-2004, I was also self-publishing comics as well as publications on a wide variety of subjects under my own (British) Black Tower Comics Group banner. Additionally, I have produced packages of work for India, Hong Kong and China. I’ve also been working as an industry advisor for smaller companies in countries such as India and Canada.

Latter: If you don’t mind, my being a Canadian myself, I’d like to enquire, in detail, more about this advising: what it entailed, and what companies were involved. Including, of course, the companies for which you advised in Canada.

Hooper: Basically, I’d be contacted by companies or people who wanted to publish comics or who were already doing so. I can’t tell you names of companies because that’s confidentiaI as part of the deal. Better recent examples are from India and China where, if they can get their act together, they will be the next big thing after Japanese manga. A couple of companies from each country (unbeknownst to one another and I was staying quiet because a lot of businesses are very secretive about new projects and if they know you don’t gossip or blab..more work!), asked me what the potential market was, how could titles be developed to fit that market, a whole bunch of questions and I drew up a document for each which I’m told they are happy with. Curiously, I’m still waiting for the mention of money!

In Canada, there was someone called John Brayton in 1987 who wanted to publish comics, but he never got any further than that. I think he got into music.

Most companies don’t like rumours that they are consulting foreigners about their business -it can be a big problem business-wise. I’ve been compiling a British Comics Industry Over-view since 1992 and at book fairs people talk to each other. Do you think maybe I should ask for a wad of cash up front?

Latter: Sounds like a plan. I’m your new agent, by the way. I get 60%. I’m in a generous mood today. Smile.

ILLO;Folks, here is one of many Lee Falk’s The Phantom pages that Terry Hooper drew some years ago, in an attempt to land a job drawing that feature professionally. If you ask me, he really has the knack for it!

Hooper: I am regarded to be a British comics historian, having met and interviewed many of the creators who worked for comics here in England, and I also traced the history of British publishers in my publications. As a talent spotter, I helped various creators break into the comic industry such as John Royle, Jon Haward, Duncan Fegredo, and Art Wetherell, to name some.

Lee Davis, as an introduction to an interview of myself in Imagineers magazine, noted that I was “…a near legendary figure in the British comics industry.” I was very flattered. However, I’d sooner have a lot of money…no, seriously!

Latter: Well, no one can put food on the table nor pay the rent based on ‘they love me.’

Hooper: That’s true. In the U.S. magazine Amazing Heroes, Hal Hargit described me as “….the hardest-working man in comics!” Gerd Hamer, in a German comics magazine, described me as “…the father of European super heroes…”

Latter: That’s high praise, Terry. When do you find time to sleep?”

Hooper: Sleep? I used to work twenty hours a day, 365 days a year, no Christmas, et cetera. I’d get artists or other comics people passing through Bristol who’d call in at one, two or three A.M. They all knew I was an insomniac. Of course, that later caught up with me after twenty years; pot after pot of coffee, not eating properly. Hey, I coulda been a drinker or smoker!

Latter: Instead, you’re a comic book addict, like me. Smile. We should both be in a comics ‘twelve steps program.’ “Hi, I’m Phil and this is Terry.” We’d hang our heads down low and continue, in shame: “…and we’re Comicaholics…”

Hooper: Apart from writing and drawing comics, I have, since 1986, been promoting European comics in the UK, both in my publications and on my various websites. My interests in this area include Russian, Chinese, Czech, Hungarian, German, Finnish, Belgian, Australian, New Zealand, and, naturally, British and American comic books.

Latter: Hey, you left out Canada. Although, I’m actually kidding. Because, folks, I know for a fact, having yakked with Terry Hooper for a couple of years, now, daily, by emails, that Terry is a big fan of Canadian comic books. He promotes them on not just one, but TWO different websites, which he created, some time ago, on the web, devoted to Canadian comics. He’s quite a fan of the Golden Age 1940′s ‘Canadian Whites’ comics, books, and Captain Canuck, to name just a few.

As it says elsewhere in the interview, folks, not only is Terry Hooper a writer, an artist, a publisher, a British comics historian, etc,etc,etc…..he is also a historian of history.

Illo -Awhile ago, Terry told me that the hood of the Silver Age ‘Nemesis’ superhero was based on hoods from the medieval age. I found that hard to believe. Well, he proved me wrong! Look at this scan!

Terry and I trade large parcels of British and Canadian (U.S. as well) — comic books by mail, regularly. Not only that, Terry has been working on a self-created tongue in cheek revival of the 1940′s Golden Age ‘Canadian Whites’ superheroes, intended as a comics mini series, which he wrote and drew himself. It is entitled ‘Canada Must Die!’

Hooper: “Tongue in cheek”? Did you think it was funny? I’ve just been reworking pages but there’s nothing meant to be “tongue-in-cheek” about it -they destroyed the JLA and Blue Beetle last time that phrase was used. Actually, look at what they did with that GLA title -or the New Defenders. Gods forbid I do that!

Latter: Sorry. What I was actually referring to was the title name itself, ‘Canada Must Die.’ I just meant, Terry Hooper is not out to destroy Canada. Uh….you’re not, are you?

ILLOS;Here’s some art scans, attached, folks, of Terry’s character studies for the 1940′s Canadian superheroes The Dreamer, and The Penguin, the second of which I should point out is NO relation to The Batman’s nemesis of the same name! Both of these characters were Canadian-created superheroes in the Golden Age of 1940’s World War Two era comics, also known as ‘The Canadian Whites’! Terry Hooper drew these as characters studies while doing his all-new ‘Canada Must Die’ comics mini-series, resurrecting these 1940’s Canadian superheroes, in brand-new comics stories!

ILLO;Terry Hooper has also created innumerable examples of his own created comics characters, just like many other comics fans have, including myself. The difference with Terry, though, is that he has published numerous comic books, self-published, over decades, with his own characters!
Here’s an illustration of just some of them.

Hooper: When I lived in Germany, I read comics from Bastei and the Disney stuff, but Bastei comics were drawn by French, Spanish, Italian and even Belgian artists. These were reprints in the German language.

Latter: I remember you mentioning that, awhile ago. You are part German, right? What can you tell me about that? And, do you speak fluent German? I know you moved to Germany at one point from England, but, were you born in England originally, or Germany? And if the former, how is it that you are part German?

Hooper: I’ve not been back to Germany in 24 years, my German is stale. Uh, I was born in Bristol.

Latter: Like the lyric from Elton John’s Made In England CD from the CD of the same name, “I was made in England, like a Ford Cortina…” Smile.

Hooper: I later learned that a lot of Italian and Spanish artists, as well as South American artists, worked on British strips -hence my odd mix of British/-European and U.S. art style.

Latter: Your style works just fine for me. As someone I have been chatting with for a couple of years now, on the internet, I am of course aware that, for decades now, you have been writing, drawing and self-publishing your own periodicals: comic books, interview type magazines or fanzines (including COMIC BITS, which I just love, very high quality stuff), and ongoing comic book titles including Adventure, and Black Tower Presents. Adventure, for example, has had many more than fifty issues written, illustrated, and self-published by you, for example. That’s pretty prolific, I would say, for a self-publisher!

I should also take a moment to inform our readers that your self-published comic books and other publications, of which you’ve kindly sent me many, come under the title heading of Black Tower Comics.

The Black Tower art logo of which, interestingly enough, Defiant Comics later used for their OWN line of comics, without your permission, after asking you for a copy of the design at a British comic book convention numerous years ago, for the stated reason that they ‘liked the design. Hey, can I have a copy of that?”

Meaning, they later stole/-plagiarized your design, which is something you’ve proven to me. You’ve told me this interesting story in the past. Would you be willing to share it with our readers?

I cannot remember when Defiant Comics was set up but it must have been around 1992 or 1993.

Latter: I have some of their comics, the earliest of which, first issues, including Dark Domain # 1, are dated inside as being from 1993.


Hooper: Certainly some British comic mags referred to the fact that Defiant had adopted a logo very much like my own Black Tower logo graphic-except they added a little namby-pamby window in it! By that time I’d already used the Black Tower as a letter head and as a publishing icon for…ten years or more! Long before Defiant Comics came into existence under Jim Shooter.

My Black Tower Comics with Black Tower cover logo graphic, depicting that black tower, dated from the 1970’s to the present! I know I met Jim Shooter at a UKCAC (UK Comic Art Convention) in London and gave him lots of my stuff, at his request, as well as story ideas. He stated that he was quite interested with my Black Tower design on the masthead covers of my self-published small press British comics, and he asked me for copies. At the time I was flattered to be asked, and I thought no more of it.

One night in…1994 or a little earlier, it was around 11:45pm, when the phone rang, and my brother called out to me that someone “legal” wanted a word. I took the phone and said: “Hello. Terry Hooper speaking.”

And this man, an American, on a crackly line spoke.

“Mr. Hooper, I am _______________ (I don’t remember his name), and I am from the Defiant Comics Legal Department in The United States. I am calling to tell you that you are infringing on our black tower logo and copyright and you must desist immediately or face the consequences”.

It was a thick New York accent. I asked what he was talking about? “That goddamn logo of yours. You are ripping us off, our reputation and possibly misleading comic buyers into thinking you are part of Defiant Comics.”

I said, “I’m sorry but I’ve been using that logo since the 1970’s, and I’ve been using it on my publications, self-created and self-published since 1983/ 84–”

Him: “Cut the bullshit! You continue, you’ll get your ass sued!”

This was a little bit of a shock and I reacted in kind by repeating what I’d said with a few expletives and stating that BEFORE Defiant was even an idea, I had handed Jim Shooter my own self-published British material, including that illustration Black Tower art/-logo at HIS request, since he sounded like a pro who also sounded like a fan, in front of several respected comic industry creators. And thus, if Defiant Comics wanted to sue me, well, “Go a-F******** head and sue me *********!”.

He said that I had not heard the last of this.

Well, I phoned Defiant’s phone number in the U.S.A. and I spoke to people there, who told me I should not use my own logo, which had been in published existence long before Defiant Comics was even an idea. Long before they used MY logo, having ripped ME off! I repeated the history and I told them to tell Mr. Shooter I await his pleasure in court!

Nothing more came of it. Because they KNEW they had plagiarized my logo. But this legal rep was from Defiant and he had tried to bully me over the phone. Now I have Scharf-Hooper-Case family blood – you DO NOT threaten us and expect a meek response. In fact, he seemed taken aback at my language!! That was it. A few mags PRINTED this story because at that time I had a phone call recorder and this cut in when the phone rang and so the whole conversation was recorded! The mag editors heard the whole thing. I would have expected the offer of money to stop using my OWN logo or whatever.

Latter: Defiant Comics’ War Dancer # 1 is an extremely disgusting comic book. In the final pages of this premiere issue, this weird character, War Dancers, kills this little girl’s dog by blasting the pet, with a force blast from his hand. The dog blows apart in every direction; you can see bits of teeth, separated jaw, bone, stomach contents and fecal matter.

The little girl, understandably upset, says, in tears, “You’re not a good guy at all!”

War Dancer replies, “I am the dancer”, then does the very same thing to her, and this scene is drawn in an even more disgusting manner, by Alan Weiss. Who wrote this gem of a comic book? Alan Weiss….and Jim Shooter.

Note: Dark Domain # 1 is dated inside as October 1993. Whereas, War Dancer # 1 is dated inside as February 1994. Numbers don’t lie.

Latter: Terry, you’re a gentleman and I know that you don’t like to think the worst of people. But think about it. You gave your designs to Jim Shooter at his request, who asked for them. Meaning you were flattered that he liked the design. Obviously, you did not mean that he nor anyone else could publish your design on their own comic books. And, this all happened at a British Comics convention in front of witnesses including industry pros. You had the whole thing on tape, when his crony (or him posing as his legal crony) phoned you in an attempt to scare you out of NOT using your OWN published company logo design, which Jim Shooter himself got a copy of from you, previously, in person.

Jim Shooter OWNED Defiant Comics. In the first issue of Defiant Comics’ Dark Domain, a comic book which bears the Black Tower ripped-off-from-you cover corner design, Jim Shooter, ironically wrote an inside editorial that an unrelated court case was over, the subject of which was that Marvel had sued Defiant Comics on another matter. The edititorial about this IN Defiant’s b>Dark Domain # 1 comic book covered the fact that the Marvel versus Defiant court case was over, but that a ruling decision had not yet been made.

Hooper: Yes, I’ve seen the Defiant LOGO but none of the comics. Remember, I live in the United Kingdom, not in North America. I think that they were perhaps counting on the fact that, likely I would never, ever see a Defiant Comic book, nor even hear about it. You’d think they would have at least offered me some money, having stolen my already-published-several-times design. I guess they just thought I was small potatoes, no threat to them. What could I do? It was because this suddenly appeared {Defiant} and the logo similarities that people thought I was involved there. Today, I’d sue them for every penny and have them withdraw the logo but back then I was kinda…..nice.

Worry about someone suing me?


Latter: Right. You can’t sue someone who has no money. And you would have won in court. They knew you could legally prove that they stole/-plagiarized your design.

Latter: I spoke to Shooter in…1991? I think they started publishing around 1992-93?

In 1991 or so, I showed him all the art samples from the people I represented including my Previews comic and Black Tower stuff -all with the Black Tower logo on cover and edit page. He took Previews there and then (a 60+ pages comic.) Of course, I think I was being nice to him but you are quite right that he was THE big boss there at Defiant Comics.

I guess Shooter must have thought it was pretty cool. I have no idea who the phone man was; it was long ago and who knows where he might be now?

Latter: When did Defiant start? I say, 1993 or not much earlier. You had them beat, time wise, by several years. And, we’re going to prove it.

  Above Hooper (back to Camera chats to a certain Darron Northall at the October 2013 Bristol Comics & Zine Fayre

Hooper: It’s time the truth came out. But after all these years who cares? Not me.

Latter: Also, about Jim Shooter: you said that Jim Shooter himself asked you for those printed Black Tower graphics logos at the British Comics Con all those years ago. WHICH year would this have been?  The point is, if it was Jim Shooter who asked you for it and you gave him a copy (not knowing he’d rip you off), does it not then sound reasonable that it was HE who gave it to Defiant, telling them to copy it? Jim Shooter owned and ran the company, and he got the design in his hand, from you, in person.

Hooper:Well,I have no idea what was going on behind the scenes.  Someone may have just seen the logo and thought it might work.  For all I know Shooter was being polite when he asked for samples and may just have put them in a box when he got back to the US.  Although I never liked the Defiant attitude and threats I have absolutely no proof that Shooter was behind anything.  He’s always portrayed as a villain so people jump to conclusions.  If I had proof I’d have written to him.

Latter:When you started self-publishing, decades ago, what titles did you publish, how large or small were your print runs, fanzines, magazines, and other titles, and where did you advertise them for sale? EG: publications, etc. In other words, how did you get the word out that you were in business and looking for readers and/-or subscribers?

Where in the world did you ship them to? How many people on average would be reading each issue?

Hooper: Well, the Hooper Coat of Arms has a black tower on one version and I had this flat, mini chess piece like that also, and it looked cool. So, from the 1970′s on, I used this on paper, etc.
In 1983, I put together lots of strips and published Black Tower Adventure and Black Tower Presentsin 1984.

Latter: I have some of each which you’ve sent me over the past couple of years. I enjoyed reading them. I have some of the earliest issues, including Black Tower Presents # 2, which has that Black Tower logo. Preceding Defiant Comics, with that incredibly very similar logo, by several years. How many issues did each of those two Hooper Black Tower Comics Group titles run? What was their frequency? Are they still going?

Hooper: My comics interview magazine Comic Bits is due to re-appear in May,2006 in a new format. There is also its internet counter-part at http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk

The comics? Well, there will be much more coming out in 2006 with a new look.

I advertised through the first small press news, reviews, interviews and PREVIEWS mag in the UK which I set up with Paul Brown and Jerry Holliday, titled ZINE ZONE. We had a ZZ mail order and comic mart stall and we really pushed the UK small press into the shops and so on. My PREVIEWS mag in the UK bears no relation what-so-ever to the American PREVIEWS monthly comics order catalogue.

Having done a survey, we know ZZ was read by about 200 people -some copies were read by 3 to 5 people and passed around. By 1990, I was running the whole thing, writing, editing, paste-ups and printing. I also worked for MU Press, in Seattle as a British reporter and distributor/agent.

Latter: That’s interesting. I didn’t know. What can you tell me about MU Press? What does MU stand for? You didn’t live in Seattle, right? You mailed your stuff to them? What kind of articles did you write for them and what type of a publication was this? Was it a newspaper, or?

Above: With Paul Ashley Brown

Hooper: MU Press I think was Miscellanie Unlimited Press? They produced Donna Barr’s Desert Peachcomics and compilation books, a series called Rhaj, oh dear lords I’ll have to send you references. I interviewed Edd Vick the publisher, for Zine Zone International; he publishes under AEON now -check out Previews. I wrote a column for their newspaper Comix FX under “Tel’s From The Crypt” and I acted as a promoter/ UK agent for MU and other independent publishers in the 1986-94 period….though none of them paid me as they were supposed to. Know why I dumped the job?? Bill Black’s AC Comics was a joy to promote. I love their stuff!

I was promoting AC, Chrome Tiger, Mu and others and I was in touch with Donna Barr and Roberta Gregory as well as creators in Europe and Canada.

Zine Zone was going out to Hong Kong, China, Russia, the then Czechoslovakia, Poland, Finland, Germany, France, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Bahrain and the US so the title changed to ZINE ZONE INTERNATIONAL.

Latter: You were working for Zine Zone, not publishing it yourself, I take it? Is ZZ still going? When did ZZstart?

Hooper: I put together -typed, photocopied and pasted up artwork, photocopied and published Zine Zone International.

Latter: How many different titles did you publish, how many issues of each, etc? Can you name some more of the titles?

Hooper: I believe Adventure is at # 60. I published a new talent comic, Previews in the 1980’s, and creators like Art Wetherell, Matt D’Israeli Brooker, Duncan Fegredo, John Royle and even Jon Haward appeared in that and went on to pro work.

Jenette Kahn at DC liked this comic I put out. DC Comics hired a lot of creators from Previews. Tom DeFalco praised it and some editors told me they kept the copies in their desk drawers.

Latter: Interesting. How many issue numbers did Previews run?

HooperPreviews ran four issues. And it was actually called by two comic mags, “One of the most successful – if not THE most successful United Kingdom New Talent comics. series.”

Outside of comics, I have worked with companies such as Yorkshire Television and HTV to create ideas and programmes for TV, such as the Channel 4 “Carry On” film weekend in 1999. I have also been featured in documentaries; TV/ Radio news programmes in my capacity as a veteran naturalist and police consultant. I’ve consulted with them on wildlife.

I am also a historian specialing in Pre-Roman and Roman Britain, Celts and rediscovered ‘lost’ history.
There is a whole idea in people’s minds that Colombus discovered America and that the only people before him were the Vikings. In fact, late Romans ended up in Arizona. This has been proven scientifically. Celts and even the Irish were going to America before Colombus, and traders from Bristol made their fortunes on that same route long before Colombus got there.

Ask yourself, why would a painting of a Roman feast contain an image of a pineapple, which is a New World fruit? There are tons of this information that academics laughed at but now, they have to take seriously. “Forgotten History”.

Latter: Interesting. About the documentarires, do you mean you have been featured IN those domentaries? Or that you yourself filmed those documentaries, wrote or consulted on them?

Hooper: I’ve been filmed for two or three BBC TV programmes and one independent film mainly as an expert on large cats and exotic animals in the UK countryside.

For others, I put together ideas usually with a company (when there was more than one!) -believe me, the idea of copyright and one TV executive I worked with told me: “They rejected the project. In a year, they’ll have made it and if we say anything, they’ll say they simply came up with the idea”….and he was right! I’m putting together research for some now but can’t talk about that or someone will steal the idea!!”

Latter: Hmm. What is that saying, something like humans will sink down to the lowest common denominator, stealing from others, and taking the credit for themselves. Hey—Defiant Comics!

Terry, what did the police consult you on? Or, what were you a Police Consultant on?

Hooper: Police have sightings, photographs, plaster casts of tracks, livestock deaths where its suspected a large cat, like a puma or panther –(panther being a black leopard), and they get in touch with me. I’m a Police Consultant but no fast cars, loose women or mystery murders in mansions! On both wildlife and history I have published numerous papers between 1979-2004.

Latter: Terry, you never cease to surprise me. Wow. How did that make you feel, that you gave these guys their start (comics pros.) ? And, what topics did you write some of these papers on?

Hooper: I was quite happy. A lot of these people are now “big shots” but there are one or two who publicly acknowledge me as “the man who gave me my break in comics” such as Jon Haward who draws Marvel UK stuff like Spider-Man and underground star Mark Stafford. I thought I sent you Mark’s comic the same time as Deadman & Hyde, etc. I have a mail from you on this…?

Latter: Yes, you did send me the British comic book Deadman & Hyde # 1 and # 2. They were quite good!

Hooper: Some of the titles I have published over the years are : Hanley’s Garage, Windows, Adventure, BT Presents, Previews, Turkish Locomotive, Dervish Ropey and the Maximin Sword, Walter Wicks, various one-offs, more recently Classic British Westerns, Classic British Action, Classic British Funnies, Chung Ling Soo and the Jade Dragon King, Liz & Jen….oh boy,that’s all I can think of!

Maximin was drawn by the wonderful John Erasmus.

Latter: I liked in particular Liz & Jen, a comics story you did about two lesbians. I am not kidding nor trying to pun, when I tell you it was a touching story. Well-done and with an important message. I wish more people could see it. It’s quite good. When did that one come out?

HooperLiz & Jen….I wrote and drew it and about a year later someone said “have you seen that new comic -Love And Rockets? Since you did this, Terry, you’ll love that”…when did Love And Rocketscome out….1985? I actually got a great deal of mail at one time over that strip – including from women who read it and decided there was no shame in “Coming Out”. One woman and her girlfriend told me they cried over it. Was it that bad?!

Latter: No Terry. The problem with it was, it was that good. Smile. There was another, later American lesbian comic book short-lived series, also called Liz & Beth. This one was a porn comics title. I have # 1. Hey, how that version got into my home, I uh, have no idea….I think it came after yours. The titlesHanley’s Garage and Turkish Locomotive kind of grab me. What were those about?

Hooper: John Erasmus drew a load of strips and we published them under his own created comic title -Turkish Locomotive. Just seemed cool at the time! Hanley’s Garage only saw one issue as the creator couldn’t be bothered after writing/ drawing the first part.

Today there are quite a few American artists that I think are great. Gene Colan, Alex Toth, John Byrne (he really brought me back to a point where I got enthusiastic about comics again),Tong Wong, and lots of European creators. And, I have to add to the list and give a special mention to Los Bros Hernandez. I fell in love with Jaime’s work and I still think he is one of the most under-rated artists in comics! I’d give my right arm to work with him, or all three brothers, for that matter!

Latter: good choices. I grew up with reading Gene Colan and Alex Toth comics artwork in the Silver Age, although it wasn’t of course called The Silver Age,back then.

You know you’re not a spring chicken anymore, when you (me)reminisce, and it then suddenly dawns on you that you grew up in an era that now has a TITLE. You know: “The Silver Age”. Like The Mezazoic Age, The Precambrian Age. This is where I, finally, come to the irrescapable conclusion that I’m a dinosaur, any way you slice it! Smile.

John Byrne, of course, came later, from Canada. I still have a lot of his early stuff, including CPL (Contemporary Pictorial Literature), a 1970′s Charlton Comics fanzine done by many of Charlton’s later talent, Byrne’s Wheelie And The Chopper Bunch, Space: 1999, Rog: 2000 backups in E-man, and of course, Doomsday + One. Pre-Marvel stuff, for him. John Byrne was then, and is still, incredibly prolific.

Terry Hooper also wrote (not drew) the adult content Two Hot Girls On A Hot Summer Night mini series, for the U.S. company Eros Company, which has been reprinted frequently, all over the world.

How that came about: Years ago, Terry contacted them to see if they could use his comics talents. Well, they could, but they only published smut comics, so Terry, never one to resist a challenge, rolled up his shirt sleeves, and got to it! I’ve read some of them, including # 1, and they’re actually quite funny! And yes, well-done.

Terry, this is as good a time to mention, that you also have numerous websites of your own devoted to comic books of many countries, including England, Canada, India and New Zealand and Australia. You work hard to spread the word and educate people concerning comic books written, illustrated and published by numerous comics the world over! I don’t want to make you blush, but I’m been a rabid comics reader, collector and enthusiast for over three decades, and I nonetheless don’t know a single other soul who does this, in terms of websites devoted to comic books from foreign countries, to the extent that you do. In my opinion, you are quite unique in this regard!

And then of course, you have your very own Black Tower Comics website, for your own self-published, written and drawn small press comics. How about sharing with our readers the many URL website links for all of these links?

Hooper: Sure. Happy to. I don’t scan and post whole comic books to my sites, by the way, just covers, for info purposes. As well as some graphics, and a lot of text information. Background and historical information on them. I get a lot of compliments on my comics sites!

Here is a  list of some of them, their internet locations. To readers of this interview, simply click on them one at a time:


I should point out here, that I had the very first Alan Class website, which is provable from the dates of the earliest posts to that group. Now, there are more Alan Class sites from others.

Latter: You mean, there are more? GASP. Smile. That’s amazing. You’ve certainly got lots of drive and ambition, also known as ‘get up and go!’

Thank you so much for talking to us today, Terry. I know you don’t like interviews but it’s been a real pleasure, and exquisitely interesting, my friend!
And my online store is at:


The QRD Interview -Terry Hooper-Scharf (reprise)

There is this problem.  People seem to think that I need to do far more interviews. Now that is just egotism because I'd much sooner sell my books!

However, to appease Frank Barrell, I have posted two of the interviews I've been caught up in over the last ten years.  I have been involved in UK Small Press and Comics promotion as well as publishing since the early 1980s and I've promoted the UK comic/Small Press in the United States and beyond. In fact, according to Frank, who should know, no one in Bristol has been involved in comics for so long -40 years and before that with school magazine publishing (and banning!).

Yes, I am really the oldest comicker in Bristol.

It seems a few people had trouble getting to read the QRD interview so...here you are. Apologies if you come across any "&" which seemed spread throughout the QRD interview but I think I got them all!

Indie Comic Creator interview with Terry Hooper-Scharf
July 2015

Name: Terry Hooper-Scharf
City: Bristol, UK
Comics: Wow –so many.  Check out his online store: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/hoopercomicsuk


QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics and did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?

Terry – Ohhhhh boy.  You realise that I am very, very old, right? I used to have comics bought for me by my grandfather, Bill. Being in the UK and the 1960s we are talking British weekly comics. I began reading comics at the age of 5 years. Comics that I enjoyed ranged from BimboBeezerTopperLion, and so many others. When my family moved to Germany, my reading, naturally, had to change and I began reading comics from companies such as Carlsen, Disney, and Germany’s biggest publisher of European comics, Bastei.

Below:That's me (about 10 years old) older brother Peter and Lassie the dog in Sevier St., St. Werburgh's my then comics stomping ground.

So that’s 50+ straight years of reading comics.

QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?

Terry – When I got my weekly pocket money (allowance) it was not much.  The family were typical working class so money was short.  However, with money I could decide what I wanted to buy and read.  I purchased UK reprints of the Dell Tarzan series, UK black &whites such as The Purple Hood and The Adventures of Mark Tyme, but what was the very first comic?  That was over 40 years ago. I really cannot remember!

QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?

Terry – Long story short.  I put together a school magazine titled Starkers -- The Magazine That Tells The Naked Truth. The title came from the deputy head teacher and it was supposed to have cartoons, jokes, and a comic strip.  Apparently one of the school secretaries who had to prepare all the pages for print objected to the title and the head teacher banned the mag.  I had to wait until 1984 for Black Tower Adventure (volume 1) #1to be completed and printed!

QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?

Terry – The Golden Age period of the 1930s-1940s laid out all the groundwork and things got stunted in the 1950s thanks to idiots like Wertham.  The 1960s I would say is a time when things took off more and publishers developed more originality.  In the UK we had a long history of anti-heroes in comics.  The Spider was a master criminal with a crime organisation, but he also helped out the law later on so you were never sure which way he might turn next.  

And the Bat by William Ward might be considered a freedom fighter or a terrorist (depending the side you were on) as he fought to liberate his country, Stahlia. We also, in the UK, had a long history of occult characters -- Dene Vernon who tackled violent ghosts, demons, cults and even aliens and subterranean foes in the 1940s-1950s.  Too long winded?  

I’d have to say 1960s because the UK did see all these new characters appear & some were quite risky (we never had a Comics Code Authority), but then Marvel gave comics a creative kick in the ass. 1960s.
 Above: Terry along with an Alien friend at the 2011 Bristol Comic Expo

 QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?

 – I do all. I write and draw comics and publish them -- I also wrote for Marvel UK and other companies -- but I also write as a comics journalist, but also on specialist subjects such as wildlife, but also about the strange and weird things I’ve investigated over 35 years.  So I get to do all these things. Love it.  Prose books on factual subjects are harder as you have to include lots of research references and notes.  Now I do my comic journalism online!

QRD – Do you see mini-comics and indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?

Terry – Not any more.  A lot of the creators who are well known these days and who started in comics in the 1970s all began by contributing to fanzines as writers or artists and that gave them the experience they needed -- that applies in the UK and US.

Today, companies such as Marvel and DC are very restrictive about bringing in new talent and Dark Horse and Image can cherry-pick what they want.  With print-on-demand most people like the creative freedom: you can write and draw what you want and publish it -- no editor or moneyman saying, “Well, okay… but maybe if you changed…”  You also sell your own books -- whether for fun or to get the experience and feedback and make a few extra dollars -- YOU get all the money not a small percentage.

Below: The 2011 Big Draw event where I went to see how Paul Ashley Brown was getting on and ended up with about twenty youngsters teaching them how to draw spiders, worms and stuff in general.

In the UK the entire comic scene now is small press and indie comics and a lot of those involved in the small press have never even read a comic book.  It isn’t the same feel now and I think it’s easier to produce your own comic and try to get it to a company editor and see if they publish creator owned books because Marvel and DC do not.

It’s your choice which path you take, Grasshopper!

QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?

Terry – I never discuss print runs.  It is not important.  Sales are.  In the old UK comic days editors would tell you “We have a 120,000 copies print run!” or, later, a 60,000 print run. But that was print run not sales and when Fleetway still owned 2000 AD the editor and publisher told me “We have a 60,000 print run…it has a “cult” following,” which meant that the minimum number of copies a printer would handle was 60,000 but actual sales were maybe a quarter or half that -- and I may be being very kind with those figures!

Print On Demand means that you do not have to store thousands of copies of books -- just the original art!  With an online store or via Amazon or one of the other outlets who sell Black Tower Comics, what happens is that someone orders a book  that goes through to the print company who process the book and send it out.  That simple. For comic events you order as many as you think you might be able to sell -- so I have two big boxes here full of books for the next event.  Print runs mean nothing now.

QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?

Terry – Are we talking Marvel and DC?  They charge what they want and make up an excuse as to cover prices (read Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics The Untold Story!).

If you mean small pressers & indie publishers… there are a number of factors.  First is that, unlike mega big corporations like DC or Disney/Marvel, small publishers cannot call the shots on cost of printing.  We have to go by what the deal is we get offered.  With print-on-demand black & white comics are cheaper. If you had a 24 page b&w comic but decided to add 4 colour pages your cost goes up.  Printers charge so much per colour page but with print-on-demand all the pages, even if they are black and white, are charged as colour pages so your cover price has to reflect that.

You then, if you are buying in copies to sell at events or via mail order, you have to cost based on how much per copy and then add in postage of the books to you and then what it will cost to mail out a book someone orders from you.  Publishers get a small discount, so if you add together cost of postage of items to you, table costs and then divide it by the number of books you have to sell you ought to at least make some profit on each book.  I dealt with this in more detail in an online article: http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/uk-comic-events-hate-me-for-who-i-am.html

I do not think there can be a standard cover price -- that went out the window when producing your own comics got easier.


QRD – How many books do you produce a year and how many would you like to?

Terry – I don’t go by a schedule. For instance, Ben R. Dilworth, who drew Mark Millar’s The Shadowmenback in the 1980s, sent me a completely drawn 28 page comic.  I read through it.  I then scanned and edited it and published it. Small pressers and indie comics do not get picked up by Diamond and we do not appear inPreviews and store owners really do not give a flying crap about us or our books -- they will when the mainstream industry implodes, which probably is not that far off and, as with the “black and white comics explosion” of the 1980s that saved all their businesses, oh they’ll love our books then.

But at the moment scheduling a book to be ready by such-and-such an event is done by many, however, we are our own bosses and so we can make our own schedule. At the moment, the online store lists 85 books -- these are prose books, comic albums of 24-70 pages, collected editions, and so on.  These have all been produced since I went to print-on-demand in 2009, so if you want a statistic that breaks down to 12.25 books per year!  I have enough material to continue publishing for a long while!

 QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?

Terry – I was brought up with British weekly comics so a series would run 2 or 3 or 4 pages in a comic each week.  You might have to buy 12 comics to get a full story. We never had monthly US comics in the UK, just the occasional copies that found their way here, so The AvengersFantastic Four, etc., were serialised.  So when I found colour Marvel and DC comics it was like “Wow -- it’s all in one book!”

I think indie comics have the choice of a trade or serialised.  I have always said that I would never publish or start publishing a comic until I had every part in my possession.  The reason is simple: I collect all sorts of odd comics from companies and people going back to the 1960s and you find part 1… part 2… and that is it.  With the internet, IF you can find reference to those titles you can find out what happened, but a lot were just cancelled -- never sold many copies or whatever.  So you have two parts of a series that goes nowhere.

Below: rough page for Heroes Of India

If you have parts 1-4 of a series, then you have no real problem.  I, like many other comic fans, wasted so much money getting into and buying a series that, “Don just didn’t want to draw comics any more so that was it,” which is an excuse from a moron.  I think that if you are going to ask someone to buy your comic, then you owe it to them to make sure there is a complete series or else you are just making a fast buck and running off.

Black Tower Adventure had series divided into parts such as Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes.  But I knew there were people who would only want to buy the super hero series or the fantasy series, but did not want the rest.  Whereas others wanted the whole contents as a series of books.  So, the various strips were taken and put into collections – Return came to 135 pages, but I then expanded that so the book came to over 300 pages -- but was still cheaper than buying all the issues with the original story parts. 

Other books I bring out as a single book. A fairly priced book packed with goodies. To me it made more sense.  People might buy a book so they can read a story from start to finish (we do NOT have ads in our books). Paid for and there to read over and over if they wish.  For those who like the anthology title I began publishing Black Tower Super Heroes so they can still enjoy that “part works” experience.

It is up to individual publishers and as a rule I go for all in one book.

Below: Rough page for an Indian publisher: Heroes of India

QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books and which medium do you prefer?

 – That’s confusing.  You need to define what you mean. Comics are comic strips -- Love and Rockets is a book with a comic strip by Jaime, another by Gilbert, and maybe one by Mario.  Anthologies are made up of a series of comic strips.  Monthly comics such as from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and Image are single stories or a main story with a back-up strip.  In either case I like them -- I’m a comicker!  If you mean as in a newspaper comic strip, then I do not buy newspapers but I used to enjoy Garth, Axa, and a few of the other old newspaper classics.

QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?

Terry – Again, it depends on how you work. When I worked for Eros Comix on Two Hot Girls and Maeve I would sit down and, in the case of the former title, I would type up the script for four issues starting from 8 a.m. and working til about 2 a.m. and then that would go to the artist -- Art Wetherell -- and to Eros’s editor and once the editor approved, I had to wait for it to be drawn and the publisher to print it (I had no say in anything after the script!) and that took six months?

Now, if I want to sit down and draw a comic (I do not use scripts for myself, so it’s straight to work) of, say, 24 pages; then I would do that in two weeks -- pencilled, inked, and lettered and then publishing it would take a day so it can be that fast.  These days, as no one is paying me, I can take a few days off.

QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?

 – I draw better than 40+ years ago when I was trying to work in comic publishing or as a scriptwriter.  I don’t use the computer for any part of the creative process other than lettering, which in my case is heaven -- my lettering was bloody awful.  Making a PDF is the main use of the computer after that, so I’d guess lettering and drawing.

Below: Krakos The Egyptian

 QRD – Do you do thumbnails?

Terry – No. Never have done.  I just draw straight to paper and if it fails dismally I chuck that out and start again.

QRD – At what size do you draw?

Terry – A3 which is twice the size of the printed book -- our standard size is A4.  A3 measures 29.7 x 42.0cm or 11.69 x 16.53 inches and A4 measures 21.0 x 29.7cm, 8.27 x 11.69 inches.

QRD – What kind of pens do you use?

Terry – I use a variety.  As a jobbing artist you have to use what is best & achieves good results at the cheapest cost to you because those pens are coming out of your pay-cheque!  At the moment I am using Uni Pin Fine Line pens with tip sizes from 0.05, 0.1, 0.2 up to 0.8.  I’ll also use other fibre tip pens and to speed up work I’ll not use a brush and ink for large areas of solid black, but a thick tipped permanent marker. I still use brush and ink for some work and I also use hard bristle toothbrushes for ink spray effects -- a very old technique used by artists going way back.

 I did a post on Comic Bits Online on this a couple years back:


QRD – What does your workstation look like?

Terry – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA…oh, you’re being serious?  Well if you are a working artist and deal with paper, pens, brushes, ink, and glue -- yes, I still use cut and paste -- then your “work station” is going to look like a bomb hit it. I have a photo if you need to see the “tidy” area?  Most artists you’ll see Facebook posts from reading: “Took hours, but the room that looked like a hurricane hit it is now tidy. Now back to work so it will all be a mess by tomorrow!”

It’s how it goes.  You work and things mount up. I make hot cups of coffee put it on the desk and start work then remember the coffee… with now has ice on it!  Artists tend to live in degrees of mess, filth and total chaos -- people know where I work is called Room Oblivion.

Terry Hooper-Scharf 

a table..

QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?

Terry – I use my digits (I am so clever at times) all the time.  No, as I wrote above, I letter my computer and then the scanner to make the PDF. I prefer the ink stains on my hands and fingers and the smell of paper and crisp ink.  Digital is a rude word.

QRD – What do you think of digital comics and webcomics?

Terry – I work too much, so I’ve only seen a few web comics such as the enchanting Donna Barr’s Desert Peach After Dead (which I highly recommend http://afterdead.thecomicseries.com/)…. web comics are okay if you like them, but I really am the sort of person that will not read comics via the computer.  I love books and comics in print.

Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes!

QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black and white?

Terry – Black and white.  For UK weekly comics the format was 79% black and white. I have done some colour, but I prefer black and white -- you see the old Marvel Essential or DC Showcase Presents titles where the art is in black & white and it looks superb.  Colour is okay, but hides a lot.

 – How many different people should work on a comic and what should their jobs be?

Terry – One. Seriously?  If someone can write & draw their own comic and do the covers, then just one.  If it’s a writer who cannot draw, then there has to be an artist… who generally does pencils and does not letter… see, we old school were taught to pencil, ink & sometimes letter (mine was too bad) and these days I get looks of shock when I say I pencil, ink, letter by computer, and if I colour a cover I use inks or paints. They keep calling it “old school”, but you had to know your job. “Ken has fallen and broken a finger -- we need pencils fast!” so no problem. “Hey, Ron just got diabetes in his inking fingers!”  No problem.  You had to be a jack-of-all-trades.

So number of people on a comic varies -- as does any profit from sales when it needs sharing.

 – How do you find collaborators?

Terry – I don’t. Not any more.  I used to get one artist after another contact me and, quite literally, beg for a script (I used to be a creators agent from 1985-1995) and a project to work on.  I used to go through every aspect of a project with them and I got the commitment to draw the series, which would be completed and more sellable to a publisher.  I wrote so many scripts that I still find them and can’t remember them. But I also have a huge box full of part or full issue art that was done before the artist either changed their minds because they had no idea how hard it is to draw a comic or they were simply “play-at-being-comic-artists”.

In 2009 I stopped doing scripts for other people -- unless it was a publisher paying. Someone who shall remain nameless, but went on to do work at Marvel, kept pestering for a script. I relented and wrote one and sent it to him. “I’ve changed my mind,” he then wrote back.

There are only two people I’ve cooperated with as writer -- Gavin Stuart Ross, who drew the Chung Ling Soo and Dene Vernon books and Ben R. Dilworth who I have worked on-and-off with since the 1980s. A superb and vastly under-rated artist.

So I no longer look for collaborators on books.

The Cross Earths Caper 

QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?

Terry – I tend to write tight scripts when it comes to dialogue and descriptions of scenes but I always allow an artist I work with a certain amount of a free hand. If action involves something taking place that is important to the plot, I’ll write that tightly; but action scenes apart from “the two fighting move from the castle keep down onto a steep winding stairway” I leave drawing the action scenes to the artist --they have to draw it!

I have, however, several times, had to write a tight script, but also provide art breakdowns and even character illos for artists.  You need to be flexible and if you are a good writer or know how artists work then you should be fine!

Below:art by Dean Willetts but colour work by Terry Hooper-Scharf see:http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/it-was-cosmic-fulcrum.html

QRD – Do you think it’s important to have a full story arc completely written before starting to draw?

Terry – Absolutely!  As I wrote above, you absolutely must have that story completely written because artists may need to do research work on things like weaponry, uniforms -- if that is needed I have a big stack of those books so I’ll include references -- or even vehicles or locations mentioned.  The artist also needs to see the complete script from start to finish because if she/he sees script #1 then something may be drawn in a certain way, but script #3 gives a description that makes the previous interpretation wrong -- it can happen for various reasons.

An example: I was in a meeting with about twenty artists and writers and we were told the theme of an anthology book.  We all had to write our own chapters, but we all had to have an old airship somewhere in the background.  I asked, “What type of airship --there are many different types and we all need to be producing the same thing in our individual chapters?” Without hesitation the editor waved his hand and said “We’ll sort that out after all the chapters are in!”  Now that made no sense.  He should have decided the type of airship and supplied a copy illo to each of us, but he was saying “draw it all and you can change the airship to what I decide later” -- and this was on a tight deadline. A lot of people who have never worked in comics like to pretend they are "editors"*

So full story and all the reference the artist will need.

QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?

Terry – I seriously cannot answer that.  It’s been said over-&-over that I have no ego to speak of.  With comics I do the work that needs doing.  My artistic influences come from all over -- Europe, the United States, UK artists and even the Spanish artists that worked for the UK industry.  We should -- should -- have our own individual style as writers to a degree, but as artists definitely our own styles.

I think it utter egotism and arrogance to say or write “I’m more a Sal Buscema type artist” or “Well, I like to think I draw more like Gene Colan”.  I’ve had young artists say, “I’m going for a Dave Gibbons look to the art,” or a Finch style and I say, “NO! Draw in your own style & unless it is essential to the book you are working on, develop your own style!”

I would never, ever compare myself to another comics creator.

QRD – What do your friends and family think of your comics?

Terry – Well, my main supporters were my grandparents, who are long dead now but they used to encourage me to draw and -- to my utter embarrassment -- tell people how good I was.  My parents are dead and what’s left of my family I never get feedback from about my comics.  

I think artists or writers who have partners who support them and realise being a creative person you need to concentrate and be left alone a lot of the time and you’ll be very messy, miss meals, or leave them til they are cold -- and still want to live with them -- they are very lucky.

QRD – What do you think of superheroes?

Terry – Real life ones or in comics? I’ve met some of the “real life” UK superheroes and they are lovely, but I wouldn’t trust them to cross the road.  Comic book super heroes I love.  I’ve been collecting The Avengers andFantastic Four & Justice League & so on since the 1960s (no new Marvel or DC, though).  So long as people remember that super heroes are not all comics are about, then no problem -- there are many great indie titles out there covering many genres.  People need to realise that and support indie publishers.

QRD – Marvel or DC?

 – Up until about 2005 I was a Marvelite from age 6, so a lot of my life invested in Marvel comics and characters. I did read JLS -- loved the JLA/JSA team ups, read quite a lot of 1980s DC books.  Over all it used to be Marvel.

QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?

 – Only if the original characters not the rebooted & rebooted & rebooted ones… uh, I was going to say JSA since Avengers will never happen (like JSA would!).  Hmm. I have to say a good few of the old US Golden Age characters -- not Timely or National.  So much potential there.  Or the more obscure Marvel characters like Wood God and so on.

QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?

Terry – I do.

QRD – What conventions do you try to attend and why?

Terry – Conventions in the UK tend to have the same old guests, exhibitors, & creators which is stale.  I’d like to, one year, go over to Europe for a couple conventions -- maybe Erlangen in Germany. Not to forget the Netherlands. I would certainly love to go to a couple of small US comic conventions… but money!

QRD – How do you feel about doing work for anthologies?

Terry – Done that all my life.  For other people, if I get paid I love them!

QRD – What do you do to promote your books?

Terry – Wow. YouTube videos, postings on Comic Bits Online (almost 2 million views so far and 2-3000 views a day to which you can add almost 2 million on Google+) and Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook -- I have Yahoo groups I post to and various blogs, so I do a lot!!

QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?

Terry – Comic shops are not interested.  It doesn’t matter if there are super heroes, horror, or whatever.  They are indie, black and white and NOT DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, or Image.  Shops don’t care, so I no longer consider them.

QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?

 – I wrote scripts for a couple of UK TV series but they never came to be as it was at the time how TV was run changed –de-regulization.  I worked with an animator in South America on a project called The Paranormals, but I think that studio went bust.  Not lucky, am I?  I think an animated series where gradually a rotating cast of characters could be used.  TV -- well, how many British or European live action shows are there? It’s very unlikely but a bit of fantasy now and then helps!

QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?

Terry – I read comics & I try to find missing back issues and whereas I cannot afford issues 1-60 of Marvel’sThe Avengers, it doesn’t matter as the Masterworks editions fill in the gaps.  It isn’t about value, bagging, boarding & boxing or even having comics graded. 

I know people who have 4, 6, or even 10 (TEN!) copies of one comic; not because it is important, but because they want to get a better and better grade that gets graded, slabbed in plastic and hidden in a box somewhere.  Until I was in my late 40s I had no permanent home, now I can sort things out & when I finish current projects I intend to sit back and read The Avengers from #1 up to the end of volume 1 -- 400… no, 502(?) comics.

When I slip this mortal coil, all the books will be sold off or dumped, so I enjoy reading them without the collectors mania -- I have the complete Silver Age Sub-Mariner series now & it’s lovely to read.

QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?

Terry – Well, hopefully, Diamond’s monopoly will be shattered.  It tends to make the rules which are: “You WILL buy what makes US money!”  It does not care for the small press or indie publishers.  In the UK it has the monopoly as all other distributors have been forced out (monopolies are supposed to be illegal in Europe). Basically, most store owners do not either.

I think that, so long as postal services do not get any more expensive, comic buyers for indies & small press will do business online unless some distributor comes in and treats us fairly without robbing us -- and they can get stores to treat these books with respect.  I would like to see that, but will it happen?

QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?

 – Making more for youngsters, to get the next generation of comic readers in.  Not Marvel or DC, but indie publishers need to be trying to do this, but most want to publish exactly what they want -- “Ain’t our business to bring in new kid readers!” But it is.  In the UK there are far more small press events organised locally, but they tend to all be people who know people & friends -- almost little cliques.  These could do a lot more to bring readers in; but, as I wrote, most small pressers have never read comics.  At one event no one knew who Jack Kirby was.  No one knew of Steve Ditko. John Byrne? No. Stan Lee…”Oh, that old guy fromThe Big  Bang Theory!”

We need to get comics -- free comics -- to groups who help kids from poor families because a comic can provide hours of escapism, maybe even be a way out of poverty by encouraging these kids to create comics.  Hold free comic open days (not Free Comic Book Day ) to encourage families to get into the medium.  Comics could do so much for kids -- and adults -- but everything at the moment seems to be self, self, self and “let’s grab those dollars!”
That would make comics a very soul-less medium.

QRD – Anything else?

Terry – Yes. Please buy my books.  Make me rich. Other than that, enjoy reading and making comics.

*As the chapter I did out raged the, uh, "editor" because I wrote, pencilled and inked it (!) and it involved my Zero Heroes, it and another (rejected by the same person) are adapted and going into Black Tower Super Heroes -all inter-linked into The Green Skies and another story!

all photos/illustrations (c) 2016 T. Hooper-Scharf