Monday, 17 January 2011

MAGICAL MEMORIES OF A TIME LONG PAST...


IPC Magazines former HQ - King's Reach Tower
One of the things
that surprised me when
I began my professional
comics career back in
1985 was how much the
comicbook business
seemed like "just a job"
to some of those working
in the industry. Having
grown up on the 1960s
MARVEL BULLPEN
and copycat ODHAMS
GARRETT image, I expected everyone to be really enthusiastic about what they
were doing, but I found that - with a few exceptions - most people on the office
side of things didn't seem to be ecstatic about what they did for a living.

Bob Paynter - or is it The Shadow?
To non-comic fans, they were "in
publishing" - almost as if they were
embarrassed by their profession. As
for me, it was as if I'd died and gone
to Heaven, and I was bursting with
enthusiasm and exuberance as regards
my involvement in the field. BOB
PAYNTER, group editor of the IPC
humour division, was one of the few
individuals I met who found my enthusiasm refreshing (instead of embar-
rassing), and he did his best to channel as much work in my direction as he
could. (Incidentally, in the photo above, Bob was posing - I didn't snap him
unawares as he was putting on his jacket.)

Steve MacManus
Special mention must be given to 2000 A.D.
editor STEVE MacMANUS, who gave me my
start in the business, and also to later sub-
editor of the comic ALAN McKENZIE - who
gave me as much work as I could handle, but
I must confess to being puzzled as to why not
everyone seemed to regard their jobs with the
same unadulterated joy that I did. Being doing
it too long perhaps? Never wanted to do it in
the first place? Not allowed to do comics the
way they would have wished? Who knows, but I
look back on my time in the last dying embers
of a once thriving industry with great fondness.

Art assistant Kevin Brighton and his
pal, Del - in the famous IPC canteen
Dying embers? I'm afraid so. You
see, about a year and a half or so after
starting my freelance career, IPC sold
their YOUTH GROUP - the department
responsible for producing their comics -
to the infamous ROBERT MAXWELL,
in conjuction with a Dutch company,
later to be known as EGMONT. (The
only publication not included in the sale
was the long- running football mag,
SHOOT.) It's more than likely that the discussions which led to this purchase
had commenced a good while before I began my career, but it's strange now to
think that the once mighty IPC comics-publishing empire was winding down
just as I was revving up. Looking back, it doesn't seem fair. Once IPC jettisoned
the Youth Group its fate was sealed - the number of published comics soon
began to dwindle, as title after title faded into oblivion.


King's Reach Tower at night
However, having said that,
I had a 15 year career as a
comics contributor, visiting
London once - sometimes
twice - a week for about the
first two years or so. Getting
to see various bound
volumes (and artwork) of
ODHAMS PRESS and
FLEETWAY comics from
years ago, lying around the
offices of KING'S REACH
TOWER, gave me a strange
sense of connection to those
earlier times. As did meeting
editors and production staff
who had worked on comics I
had read as a boy. Ah, such marvellous moments, such magical memories.

It's an experience I wouldn't have missed for the world, and one for which
I'm extremely grateful.

******

Click here for more info on Steve MacManus.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I must have read a few of the comics you worked in the 80's. My little brother read a lot of your stuff when he read Sonic the Comic as a little boy about 8 or 9. We both loved a lot of the stuff that came out of the UK comic industry back then.

Kid said...

I worked on SONIC as a letterer in the early or mid-'90s, so your little brother would indeed have seen my name in the comic. If you read 2000 AD and EAGLE (plus others) from about the beginning of '85, my name would have been in there somewhere. Ah, wish I could turn the clock back.

Anonymous said...

How did you feel by the end of your run?

And what dod you do now, if you don't mind saying?



cheers
B Smith

Kid said...

At the end of my run I was tired and worn-out - but sad at the passing of the last of the dinosaurs. (Once-mighty comic empires.) Poor health currently prevents me from doing anything.