Summon the Deathlords!
Following on from my recent 'Doomlord' post, I hereby present a brief interview with collector of British comics, and publisher of the Deathlords of Nox reprint, Mr. David McDonald. I was intrigued to find out how a Doomlord-enthusiast from Co. Mayo had managed to resuscitate a strip long consigned to (unwarranted) obscurity, and David kindly agreed to answer a few questions relating to the project.
So without further ado…here is the inaugural fustar.info interview (there will, I hope, be more to follow) -
fústar: What was the inspiration/motivation for the reprint of Doomlord: The Deathlords of Nox? How exactly did it come about, and was it difficult to obtain the rights?
D McD: About a year and a half ago Titan Books put feelers out through the net looking for people with collections of comics for them to scan for their proposed Spider and Steel Claw books. I got put in contact with Titan through a mutual acquaintance who knew I collected British comics. I lent my Lion and Steel Claw collections to Titan, and they used them to bring out the recent hardback volumes.
This got me thinking, if Titan can do it so can I! I found who held the copyright, got in contact with them, put my proposal to them, and they liked it enough for me to make a mock up and send it to them. When they got it, they approved it, I paid the licence fee UP FRONT, and away I went and printed them up.
fústar: What is it about 'Doomlord', do you think, that makes the strip as fondly remembered as it is?
D McD: Doomlord was an easy choice as I always felt that it was a 2000 AD story trapped in the Eagle. It was written by Wagner and Grant (who are responsible for Dredd and Strontium Dog, to name a few, in 2000 AD) and drawn, for the most part, by the legendary Eric Bradbury. Doomlord was the one truly great strip in Eagle and virtually none of the stories have been reprinted.
fústar: You decided to skip the early photostrip/fumetti period and go straight for the first conventionally illustrated Doomlord story. What was the thinking behind this, and what are your thoughts on the photostrip format?
D McD: I didn’t reprint the Photo stories for two reasons:
1. The pages don’t scan so well.
2. Opinion is split on the photo stories. Some love them, some hate them, and I wanted to appeal to the largest amount of people possible.
As for whether or not I liked the photo strips, when they came out I didn’t really like them, but looking back they were a brave experiment, and quite good…but I am glad they had to change to regular comics.
fústar: People, like myself, who grew up reading comics in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, were really the last generation to enjoy a robust and (reasonably) healthy British Comics Industry. Where once there was an impressive array of titles, we now find 2000 AD as, pretty much, the 'last man standing' in terms of 'action/sci-fi' comics. Is there any 'way back' for the industry on this side of the Atlantic do you think, or has the market changed irrevocably?
D McD: The market for what I would have bought as a kid in the mid 80s is dead and gone, I picked up the Dandy when it relaunched and I was disgusted. Four panels per page, remember when there were twelve?
Grumpy old man mode over…
The Dandy and Beano are still alive and appealing to a new generation of readers, the nursery market is booming, and there are a lot of these mags aimed at boys about TV and computer stuff, with a few pages of comics…so there is still hope for new comics, especially from D.C.Thompson. They are really the only big publisher in the U.K. with the skill and interest to produce any new comics, and I believe they are possibly toying with the idea now, especially when you see the likes of Billy the Cat in Beano (which hasn’t had an adventure strip for decades).
Anyway if a new comic does come out I’m sure I wont like it, because it won’t be like the one I used to buy as a kid! (Note: I’ll probably still buy it!)
fústar: Finally David, have you any other reprints planned?
D McD: There hopefully will be more. I don’t have the luxury of having credit with printers, so I’ve had to pay for everything up front, but as soon as I approach break even, there will be another book.
Many thanks to David for taking the time to speak to us, and I wish him the very best of luck with his subsequent publications. For those that would like to order a copy of the reprint in question (go on, you know you want to) David can be contacted at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
David's mention of hardback reprints of King of Crooks (featuring The British Spider) and The Steel Claw is indeed encouraging news for fans of those British comics long ill-treated as disposable (and insignificant) ephemera. If one also takes on board the publication of the recent Dan Dare and Charley's War collections, it would appear that Titan/IPC are finally realising that there's a neglected treasure trove of material 'out there' (pretty much) unseen since its initial release.
Finally, a further notable development in this mini-renaissance, is the newly-published Albion: potentially the most significant resurrection of British 'super-heroes' since Grant Morrison brought them back from the grave in 'Zenith: Phase 3′ (only for him to slaughter most of them again in their battle with the 'Lloigor')
It's 'plotted' by Alan Moore, written by Leah Moore & John Reppion, and illustrated by Shane Oakley & George Freeman. Since I have yet to see a copy I can't say more than that, but any comic that features Robot Archie, The Steel Claw, Captain Hurricane etc. (not to mention the involvement of the Moore family), has simply got to be worth a look.
More news when I get my (greedy) mitts on it.
January 18, 2006