HOOPER INTERVIEW BY FRANK BARRELL
As a freebee insert in ZINE ZONE DIGEST ,"HOOPER" was designed to answer questions Frank Barrell and others had been asking me for a while. I had no web site for myself at the time and having refused to do interviews since Paul Birch's interview of me in MU Press' COMICS F/X [June/July,1990],I made one exception for Lee Davis in 1997 [the rather awful result was a hacked-up mess and appeared in IMAGINEERS magazine].
Phil Latter did a very long interview of me for SBC [the web's largest online E-zine] -the link will be found elsewhere on this site.
But,for your amusement, a shorter interview with Me based on the full unedited version.
FRANK:Firstly,we know that you.like many other comic creator started off by drawing comics as a kid in old school excercise books and so on -and that these strips had a mix of D.C.Thomson and Fleetway action heroes as well as your own. You say the Avenger and so on saw life back in 1969/1970. So are the stories you are doing now the ones you drew then?
TERRY:Don't panic! Basically,my characters age normally so the Avenger you see now is not the Avenger of 1969/1970. The original character fought Intercrime,Blockbuster and even subterranean creatures. That Avenger is from a parallel world and died stopping the Krale invasion. A strip I did with Ben Dilworth actually showed the Avenger's Monument. A lot of the basics went into the current Avenger.
FRANK:Why is the Avenger so...surly,,,,and Jon Future so "up"?
TERRY:The Avenger is like he is because he's had a rough 16+ years! He's been knifed,shot,blown up and had seven tons of **** kicked out of him -and his girlfriend was blown up by Intercrime in 1986! Besides which,he's a true working class Bristolian! Future? Well,Future has been on Prozac,you know. Back in the time of the "Anti Vigilante Masked Crime Fighters Act" days he had been nearly killed by The Assassin -his Unit Z colleagues were killed. He faced blacklisting and really hit the gutter.
FRANK:You had quite a few Avenger fans didn't you?
TERRY:Yes. I got a few letters from people who said they liked the Avenger because he got the crap beaten out of him but always won out in the end,despite the odds.
FRANK:And a great idea to make them a team!
TERRY:Ah. They were never meant to be a team! They sort of naturally bounced off each other and it's rare now to see them in solo action. I have no idea why the two simply teamed up...it wasn't on purpose. Ask them!
FRANK:I almost forgot that in the mid-to-late 1980s you were the only person publishing super hero material in the UK Small Press. They were quite violent,too,weren't they?
TERRY:I think that Peter Philips later did one or two issues of a zine titled "The Superheroes",but,yes,I was publishing original UK heroes -Fast Fiction at the time tried to put me down for this,but that was the arty-farty crowd for you! As for violence:guilty. I had throats cut,people graphically blown away by shot guns....
FRANK:But suddenly the violent edge stopped-?
TERRY:I realised that a lot of youngsters were buying and reading my comics rather than there being a wholly adult readership. I knew you could do comics and make them good reads for young and old without obscenities or too graphic violence so just changed over.
FRANK:Are we talking The Attacker here?
Frank:Now,though not shown,and the strips had NO dialogue or captions,you had the black-clad Attacker [pre-Spiderman black costume] castrate a rapist,in another he rushed a dying junkie to a hospital where she gave birth to a baby ...born an addict! You didn't pull many punches.
TERRY:The Attacker was a true 1980s vigilante and he never spoke and was never seen out of costume. It's true that the strip was violent but not the greatest artwork! I was experimenting in using different angles and pens so,initially,the strip should not have been published. A certain Small Press service did ban Adventure because of the violence -this was before US comics got into trendy violence and "realism". The whole series was never published and when Ben Dilworth went abroad most of the pages were lost.
FRANK:So,does the lack of graphic violence mean you've gone soft? And can I ask that of the man who threw one person into the River Thames and threw another editor across a table at the Westminster Mart?
TERRY:No. Not gone soft. I'm not commenting on these stories,though,it is true one comic editor was almost held out of a window. Was I a masked wrestler for a whiole? Not telling! As for going soft in my comic work...well,I did some scenes from the Dutch Wars in Adventure no.52 [Sept.,2000] and what you see printed is NOTHING like the stuff I sketched....that was gorey realism and I dropped that went I actually drew the strip.
FRANK:You are very -very- critical of your own work. Ben Dilworth said:"One day,Hooper is going to produce a comic masterpiece. He'll look at it and say 's'okay' then next day he'll say 'that is utter s***!'" WHY?
TERRY:I do not have an ego. You see artists who cannot draw bleat on about their 'great talent' and I'd hate to be that type of person. I acted as an artists agent for a few years and used to get 50-80 letters and sample packages a week and very few of the comic hopefuls could draw to an amateur standard -but I responded to each one and offered guidelines on how to improve. Some took it well while others didn't! One 40 year old wrote back and told me that I was wroing because his mother said he was "a brilliant drawer" [!].
I've seen artists who I helped and got work for simply turn away when I've gone up to them because now they are "too big" to talk to a small man! I talk to fans,people learning to draw and so on. You see many artists walk away from that type of situation -they don't want to talk to little people who are,after all,paying their wages!
I was told several times by old editors that,had I been submitting back in British comics' hey-day I would have been in regular work. I do the job and that's it. No big ego trip. Sit down and write or draw and submit. I'm what was known as a jobbing artist.
That's the long,roundabout answer. The short one is,insecure?!
FRANK:I'd like to ask you about your Eros Comics work. I hear you wrote TWO HOT GIRLS ON A HOT SUMMER'S NIGHT while at an all-time low and don't like the series even though it has sold well?
TERRY:At the time I was ill. I had a pair of shoes with holes in and one good pair of trousers. Larry Pike phoned and asked whether I had any ideas for the imprints Fantagraphics wanted to bring out -Hard Boiled [detective],Monster and something else but the fourth imprint would be Eros comics -sex. Loooong story short;I got onto Art Wetherell and we talked it over and so the series was born -reprinted a few times,compiled into a graphic novel a few times and pirated everywhere it seems.
Initially,it was a trilogy:TWO HOT GIRLS,MAEVE and,finally,SHAFTS IN TIME. It took almost ten years for the second part to be picked up by Eros and I've had no luck with the final part!!
FRANK:The "time-crossed lovers" part would be explained?
FRANK:And Art's work on the series-?
TERRY:S U P E R B! The third issue,set in Victorian times was just wonderful black and white artwork by a true master [sadly,since this original interview,Art passed away at too young an age and he is sorely missed].
The story received a lot of praise from gay women and even gay magazines. I only wish it had made Art and myself a good living!
FRANK:I've seen your sketch books and M & J and even Maeve do re-appear in up-coming work?
TERRY:Yes -but I hasten to add not in an Eros style!
Frank:So,Liz & Jen,Classic British Westerns,Chung Ling Soo and,obviously,Adventure are all planned for in the future -what else?
TERRY:Lots of things outside the UK but Black Tower is basically now an Independent comics publisher and I'll still be doing Small Press stuff -the Small Press is the grass roots of the British industry [not that we really have one now]. But I never give details until 100% certain of publication dates.
FRANK:Okay. Thanks,Terry. Anything you'd like to say to people reading this?
TERRY:Yes.....PLEASE MAKE ME RICH!
TERRY:My pleasure....really. Can I go home now?
Above:1987 reprint of Adventure no.1
Above:The Mummy from Adventure no.2,1985 -the character later ended up in Germany as part of D-Gruppe!
SOME VINTAGE ZINE ZONE COVERS
ZINE ZONE [later ZZ International] was the Small Press/Independent comics news,reviews,previews and interviews mag [1984-1996],the circulation of which staggered even me!
Below:NACHTMART -one of the illoes drawn for an Illustrated Guide To Fairy Folk c.1994
Great days -Jon Future and The Avenger stop off for fish & chips -true Brits!
One of several projects that will never see print. Almost fully drawn,this adventure of the Welsh hero team was archived when the artist suddenly couldn't be bothered any more! Cover illo c.1992
Joining Group Cwmru,Looking Glass,Voyagers,etc. in the unpublished file:this 1960s strip was drawn but finished art never forwarded as the artist did a bunk! c.2004 T.Hooper