|JezUK Ltd - My chum Ken took me out for lunch on Tue ...|
|<< Previous||March 2006||Next >>|
My chum Ken took me out for lunch on Tuesday, which was jolly decent of him. He's recently given up his swanky (expensive) offices to work from home, so wanted to pick up a bit of working-from-home-fu. Not sure I really helped a great deal, especially as I gave him all last years 2000ADs. He gave me some copies of BEM from 1979 to 1981.
BEM is a gone, but not quite forgotton, comics fanzine put together by a guy called Martin Lock. He later went on to set up Harrier Comics, and as such has played a pretty significant role in the development of comics in this country. I'd never actually seen a copy of BEM before, and they really are quite wonderful. First of all, of course, they are from a time before desktop publishing so they look very different from today's zines. Next, you notice the sheer quantity of words. The articles are longer, far longer than you see today particularly on the web. They're qualitively different too.
Comics companies are extrememly media-savvy these days (which is what you'd expect really, what with them being media companies) and seem to keep quite a tight rein on news, creator interviews and so on. Many creators now are on exclusive contracts, for example, so can't actually talk about what they do without permission. There appears to be all this comics news, but most of it is basically press releases because comics news websites have the same relationship with comics publishers as, for example, E! has with Hollywood film studios. Thirty years ago that wasn't the case. Issue 29 of BEM, from 1980, has a massive, I mean really enormous, interview with Steve McManus and Alan Grant, then editor and sub-editor of 2000AD. It rambles all over the place, is interesting (even now), and doesn't pull any punches -
McManus: ... I took Nick Landau's job in fact.Interviews like that don't seem to exist anymore, anywhere.
Interviewer: He left?
McManus: He didn't leave actually, there was a bit of skull-duggery which was nothing to do with me. He was double-crossed. I think you ought to ask him about that, not me.
Interviewer: How did you become editor?
McManus: I became editor when Kelvin resigned as editor.
Interviewer: It all sounds a bit underhand.
McManus: He'd had enough of 2000AD, he wasn't being able to do what he wanted, he wasn't getting on with the people above him, and he decided to resign.
Amusingly, BEM drops its already slightly too-small typeface another point or two for the letter columns. Years later Pete, unknowingly I'm sure, did the same for Vicious, and I'm sure Andy Brewer had to do the same for Battleground. Letters were so important to the health of zine, and yet you didn't want it to look that way. So you dropped a point, to try and keep the number of pages down. BEM also breaks up the letters pages with random spot illustrations, something again repeated a decade and more later by Battleground and Vicious.
No idea if the sample I have is indicative, but BEM had terrific cover illustrations -
I got a couple of issues of BEM in a job-lot of zines and SP comics and, to be honest, wasn't all that impressed. Methinks you've got something of a good crop here.
BTW sorry for the birod on bra and pants in the Moon Man strip - I was scared my mum would find me in possession of nude lady drawings!
To be honest I'm surprised at your comments that zines don't carry "honest" interviews anymore, or the like. Very surprised. I kinda expected the game would've notched up a gear or two in this respect.
The long interviews are good aren't they? I may have another one or two kicking around here somewhere - certainly one with a huge Pat Mills piece (Nemesis the Warlock cover), and a great little zine called Fantasy Express interviewing Joe Colquhoun (sp?) of Charley's War (Battle). I'll dig around...