Are You Watching For The Green Skies?

I did say that work on the final part of the Invasion Earth trilogy, The Green Skies, was being delayed for various reasons.

As noted in a previous post, this all started out (and I’ve found the rough notes page!) as “Invasion Earth 1987” but there were all sorts of problems and it was scrapped.  Then came The Ultimate Game for Fleetway.

This could get long and messy so:

And there’s an interview here:

In fact, I had not realised it -I seem to have done so subonsciously- but there are tie-ins (you do not have to buy these!!) with the whole thing in The Dr Morg Trilogy, The Bat Triumphant! and even in Krakos: Sands Of Terror -it was only while I was going over books to order that I came across the blatant link in Krakos!

But, to cut a very long story short because this is not Marvel nor DC Comics news or even Marvel/DC movie related news so you probably aint interested…….sorry, I got out of breath there.

Where was I?  Oh, yes.

Well, I did estimate that The Green Skies would be bulkier than the 331 paged Return Of The Gods

The bridging book, The Cross Earths Caper was a sad disappointment to me as I cut out so much and it was a tiddly 107 pages.  107 pages -what kind of book is that??

There is far more in the way of “personal” life of the various characters in Green Skies.  We see how they prepare their loved ones and themselves for what will be the ultimate battle against evil in the form of Kathatakathalaka. Jack Flash and his attempts to evade the ultimate evil has already had repercussions…in the past –

“Ah, but that means he’ll bring in heroes from other parallels again!” you may say. No. A few have dared to come to help this Earth in what could be its final days, however, the multi-verse has  “quarantined” the Black Tower parallel in fear that Kathatakathalaka will enter their own.  A few have defied the quarantine such as Blacksmith and Jones and Dr Science but the ultimate outcome will be faced by 664s heroes and I have the declare here that many will not be making it.  That in itself has been a very depressing business -drawing characters that have been with me 40 years making the final sacrifice.

Very depressing.

And newbies out there: unlike other comic companies where characters die but then come back –in the Black Tower Universe death means DEATH. No coming back.

How long is this final part going to take?

Well, I have had to chop out and re-think the original concept several times.  Nothing major just incidents and events that would have taken the book to over 600 pages.  How can I know that if I do not write a script and draw it “as it comes to me”?  Well, I am currently up to page 265 and though the minor incidents and events do just come to me, I know the main events in the story.  I’m probably looking at 400 pages if I’m lucky with everything cut to the main story and events.

I may just retire when I’ve finished this book!


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

A re-posting from the old CBO site.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Crackpot by Protheroe…

Another of those Golden Age British nightmare pages to share.
Firstly, thanks to smoky1980 for scanning/forwarding this and its from a batch of loose pages marked “Swan 1948/49”.
Even had this not been signed the art style is a dead give-away.  This is the work of Glyn Protheroe who was born in Swansea, Wales, on the 3rd July, 1906.  Sadly, I can find no record of when he died. After leaving school, Protheroe went on to study art under Walter Fuller.
In the 1920s he moved to London and became a professional cartoonist and press artist.  At that time he had a studio in  Shaftesbury Avenue but also worked from Southampton Row. His work appeared in Sports Post, The Journal, Sporting News and The Leader -all well known national publications.
His comics work took off in the 1940s when Soloway, Amex and Gerald Swan used his work.  His first work for Swan appeared in 1942 and titles he contributed to included War Comics, Cute Fun, Topicaol Funnies, Slick Fun, Thrill Comics and New Funnies.  Work was also contributed to a number of albums from Swan -Albums were collections of reprint strips with more pages than weekly comics -more like the yearly annuals but soft covered not hard cover.
For Soloway, starting in 1943, he contributed to Comic Capers, All Star and Comic Adventures.
For Amex, Protheroe contributed to Merry Midget, Midget Comics, Bantam Comics these were all from 1943.
The sets (strips) that Protheroe provided were usually a collection of jokes strung together in a “talking heads” format.  According to Alan Clark, from whom most of the data is culled: “His style was instantly recognisable; his characters looked like clowns…a distinctive ‘morose’ quality.”
And the artist signed himself as either “Glynne” or “Protheroes”.
The below Professor Crackpot strip is a typical nightmare and the orange ink might have looked bright and fun to war time kids but….oy.
I had to remove the colour and alter brightness and contrast four times to make it a mere black and white page.
So, here is your example of Glyn Protheroe at work!

An extra treat for you all!

NEW!! Black Tower Super Heroes 1

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

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

Cover  £5.00

Order via the online store at:;jsessionid=CC7BAEB855E714BBCC9D5C39757F2D05

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

Unless you are one of those fans of rare British Golden Age comics then TNT Tom will mean nothing to you. However, as most of us old farts know, a similarly named character was used by Grant Morrison in the 2000 AD series Zenith. With TNT Tom in Zenith was TNT Tina.
That is where the mystery begins.
You see, in over 25 years of searching I never ever found an example of a TNT Tina strip nor anyone who had seen one.  Even the, uh, ‘experts’ on British comics had no idea. The best I got was that “Morrison made her up to add something to Tom’s appearance.”
My conclusion, about a year ago now, was that there was no TNT Tina.
A few weeks ago I was transferring old comic stuff from disc to flash drive and there was a scan of Coloured Slick Fun number 86, dated as 11th November, 1950. Scrolled through it and did a double take. A page I had just transferred with a heading “The Jungle Pals” was in this CSF as TNT Tom. In my rush I had miss-filed the page.
So what?
Well, take a look…..
Oh yes. That is TNT Tina.
The scan was sent to me around 1999 so this means I KNEW that there was a TNT Tina. It’s my age.

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

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

So here is the TNT Tina appearance -exclusive!

Slicksure: The Terror of Grimstone Castle!

An adventure of Secret Agent Slicksure who first appeared in Swan’s Fresh Fun no. 1, April, 1940. The artist was Edgar (Harry) “Bang” Banger but this strip from Comic Colour Album  1953 shows a far more, can I say “improved” (?) action style –Bang was, after all, a humour man on Super Stoogie. Check out his work in this page previously posted on this blog –
Ahh, but Swan was produucing pulp magazines and there were no flies on him when it came to trying to attract readers! The early 1950s were the days of talk of horror comics and in the newspapers and on radio there was talk of flying saucers -something that cropped up a lot in strips published by Swan.
And what better a story from a main contributor like Banger than a spy needing a rest and taking a walking holiday…and encountering -a horror!!
I LOVE this. It’s fun. It’s a bit older than I am! I know Denis Gifford seemed to have a problem with Harry Banger -it was never explained but he just did not seem to rate his work at all. Me? I love Stoogie and I love Slicksure!
You can read about Banger (pronounced as in “Danger”) here: