Monday, 17 January 2011


IPC Magazines former HQ - King's Reach Tower
One of the things
that surprised me when
I began my professional
comics career way 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
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 en-
thusiasm and exuberance with regard
to my involvement in the field.  BOB
PAYNTER, group editor of the IPC
humour division, was one of the few
exceptions 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 biz, and also to later depute-editor
ALAN McKENZIE - who gave me as much
work as I could handle, but I was puzzled as to
why not everyone regarded their jobs with the
same unadulterated joy that I did.  Doing it too
long perhaps?  Never wanted to do it in the first
place?  Not allowed to do comics the way they
would've 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
pal Derek Pierson in IPC's 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 conjunction with a Dutch company*,
later known as EGMONT.  (The only
periodical not included in the sale was
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 jet-
tisoned 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
me a strange sense of connection
to those earlier times.  As did
meeting editors and production
staff who had worked on comics
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.


*Regarding Egmont, the story I heard at the time was that Maxwell
bought 50% of the Youth Group, in conjunction with GUTENBERGHUS
(later renamed Egmont), who bought the other 50%.  When Maxwell died,
Gutenberghus acquired full ownership of the former IPC comics group.
Can anyone confirm this, or was I misinformed on this aspect?

Click here for more info on Steve MacManus.


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?

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.

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