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Saturday, 27 July 2013

More treasures from comic book stores. Con.

The Printed word and written word was our information on the superhighway connected by independent Comic book stores (and the odd chain of stores) that would be most people's first look at translated Manga and news on Japanimation  (later to be known as Anime by fans). 

 By the late 80's more would trickle in America, in the form of a magazine called “Animag” edited by Trish Leoux and only published 3 times a year (thou it states Bi-monthly by 'Pacific Rim Publishing Company)!

We will look at these Professional magazines in the not to distant future!

[These hubs of information and entertainment where limited to me by geography, and as I did not own a car, the adventure of public transport awaited me, as I travelled by Bus to my nearest cities of Nottingham and Leicester.]  

Our Local Heroes were people who ran comic book stores.

Manager Lance Fielder from 'Another World' comic book store (specialists importers of Science fiction) in Leicester (sadly no longer independent, just a Forbidden Planet Toy shop with week old comics).

Final Fronter comic book store, (shut down in about the year 2000, Leicester)
[I remember when the shop was based in the “Silver Arcade” having a big poster on the wall of “Grey” the futuristic apocalyptic S/F story by Yoshihisa Tagami, and I thought Wow that's cool!]

Magic Labyrinth (now still independent, managed by Dave Holmes that can be found at 2-3 Charles St., Leicester that has been going since 1992) A good source of back issues, as you enter the shop the shelves all full, the floor is starting to fill up with piles of stuff, and the up-stairs rooms are a goldmine for comic book Geeks!

Nostalgia and comics (Shut down [date unknown], Broad Marsh Shopping Centre, Nottingham),
Part of an expanding franchise now with the help of Forbidden Planet International the surviving parent store is kept going! [I can not comment about its independence].

Then a comic book concession in the basement of Nottingham’s Virgin Megastore, then moved to 'The Fantastic Store' and later “Page 45” (it is with great sadness that one of the guiding lights to so many comic book fans and writers is no longer with us - Mark Simpson (1968-2005) he was only a year younger than me, and a fan of Hayao Miyazaki's 'NAUSICAÄ of the Valley of the Wind'. The team of "Page 45" are always welcoming; Stephen L. Holland,  Jonathan Rigby, and Dominique Kidd.
I can not do justice to his passing, so I would ask you kindly to go and read what is on Page 45's website

It was the vision of managers and comic books store owners individualism and their passion that made the retail experience that of going to a friend’s house, and not getting the “Hard Sell” or the indifference of “if it's not on the shelf, we don't have it!”, it is a love for the genre when you hear “Hi, can I help you” that they are sincere in wanting you to have a fun experience reading comic-books!

[So you out there are support your local comic-book store, it is a feeling that the Internet can not mimic!]

As you have read following my recollections and transcribes of correspondence and ephemera from the 1980's, you can see that information on Japanese cartoons and Japanese comic books came mainly from an imported market aimed at boys and young adults in the form of Robot war machine's Model kits and toys, backed up with a series of competing Science fiction novels, with a smattering of VHS videos for kids. Near the end of the 80's translated comic books, Amateur Fanzines and professional magazines on Japanese pop culture would make their mark.

[So Hobby and Toy stores, and then Comic book stores imported goods, it was then “up to you” to recognise what was Japanese and find out more, even the high street had hidden gems! ]

Monday, 15 July 2013

More treasures from comic book stores.

A locally started fanzine from Nottingham was 'Console-Magazine' (edited by Onn Lee), a monthly zine about the newly imported video game consoles, many of the games came from Japanese Manga & Anime, and in a few cases the game was made in to a Manga, and Anime show, so the cross-over of die-hard console gamers would soon become aware of Anime and Manga.

The other source of information in the late 80's and beyond was of course the fledgeling Comic books of translated Manga from such companies as :- Eclipse International, VIZ Comics, Dark Horse, First, and even Marvel comics ( under the trade name Epic Comics).

A few containing snippets and portions information, such as, Writers profiles, a Letters Page (with names & address, and some insight from the publishers), cultural articles by well respected authors and translators, Fan Club details, and of course all had the original authors, Artists, and Japanese publishers (This I would use to my advantage later on).

[Information on American and Canadian Anime fan clubs and pen pals, would be a lifeline and hub for UK fans in finding out more and even being put in touch with other UK fans who may live close by.  [Note: started to find more details here EDC & Anime Hasshin.]

[With so few people owning home computers and having Dial-up access to online information, the written word and the art of letter writing became our super-hiway.]

Sunday, 14 July 2013

More on Comic Book stores

Our Local Heroes were people who ran comic book stores.

Manager Lance Fielder from 'Another World' comic book store (specialists importers of Science fiction) in Leicester.


I first picked up an Issue of 'Protoculture Addicts' which at that time was the official Fanzine for Robotech, (produced and printed in Canada) sometime in the late 80's. With such features as “The voice of the Freedom Fighters” (Fan letters page), “Japanimation & manga” (Reviews), “The shaping of Protoculture” (feed-back to readers including :- addresses for Pen Pals, retail stores that do mail-order, and other Fan clubs), the “News & Reviews” page focussed on available translated Manga, Anime magazines, Fanzines, and fan clubs too).

['Protoculture Addicts' started with only 6 fanzines by the end of 1989, this would only grow and grow, more on this later..!]

[With some very well known Fan Clubs from America; C/FO (Cartoon/Fantasy Organisation), Anime Hasshin (run by Lorraine Savage), and Earth Defence Command (EDC) – just a few of the clubs in all, and I must say that many individuals and organisers help support the UK Anime fandom, and are in touch to this day!]

 [Note: started to find more details here EDC & Anime Hasshin.]


After picking up the two fanzines together MekTek 2 (Summer 1988) & MekTek 3 (Summer 1989) from 'Another World' comic book store in Leicester in the winter1989, these yearly British FanZines centred on Battle Suit Warfare games mainly BattleTech with new rules and scenarios for players, and surprisingly a follow-up on the Japanese roots of these Giant robots used in the games, edited by Ashley Watkins, with contributions such as the Stunning black & white Artwork by Steve Kyte
(Patlabor, Macross), and the many reviews from Helen McCarthy on Manga and Anime in the UK.

[I think 'MekTek 3' told us about an up and coming Science fiction Convention over the Easter weekend April 14th & 15th 1990 (note: this will be ground Zero for the UK Anime Fandom as I would know it).]

[I wrote to Ashley Watkins in November of 1989, and got a reply in January 1990 with flyers for EastCon 90 and the contact details for a very busy lady, by the name of Helen McCarthy (we have been Anime friends ever since).]

[Not forgetting the early form of Etiquette the Stamped Self Addressed Envelope (SSAE), this also enabled the recipient to reply a lot sooner.]

[just think of it.....the time it took to gather this information and then publish it once a year, if Wiki or Google was down for just a day the shock would reverberate across the internet and smart-phones, how like sheep have we become trusting on the reliance of technology?!]

[More on these pioneering fanzines will come later..!!]

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Comic book stores

One good source of information came from independent Comic book stores being in their very nature they imported a lot of Comic books from America, as well as giving an outlet to FanZines from the Canada and the UK, even companies had InfoZines and catalogues for re-marketed and translated Japanese merchandise.

One such source was  'Advance Comics', was a monthly catalogue from 'Capital City' a comic book distribution company (from America’s Midwest) showcasing what's new and up 'n' coming in the world of comic books, toys, and other pop-culture merchandise (from 1980 to 1996).What was on the shelves in America would soon become popular here in the UK. 

Helping me see a wider world!

[I remember ordering Aikra, Lone Wolf and Cub, and Nausicaä t-shirts by Graphitti (based on the comic book's art not any of the films or Anime) from these catalogues.]

[As of July 2016 I now have have one volume of 'Advanced Comics' dated April 1992 (Volume #40), and one volume of 'Previews' dated November 1992 (Vol II. NO.11) published by Dimond Comics Distributors Inc.]

[NOTE: the B&W and gray Advert was scaned from the comicbook 'Appleseed' book3 vol 2 dated September 1989.]

Even the “Unabashed House Organ” for Robotech Role Playing Games “ The Magic of Palladium Books” had a few pages on “How to find Japanese Animation Items” back in 1988!

Monday, 1 July 2013

A Harmony of Robot invaders.

It was about 1986 onwards that a new force of merchandise hit the UK shops, not only toy and hobby shops, but comic book stores and the video shelf on high street stores. This too was a re-branding under the trademark “Robotech” now in agreement with 'Revell' the company 'Harmony Gold' had acquired the rights to 3 Japanese cartoon shows, 'Super Dimension Fortress Macross', 'Dimensioal Cavalry Southern Cross', and 'Genesis Climber Mospeada'. [More about what happened to these 3 shows, will follow later].                                                                                                          


Living in a village with its Hobby\toy shop and News Agent, I needed to spread the search further afield, to my two nearest cities which where Leicester and Nottingham (in the East Midlands of England) to find more of what looked like Japanese Imports!

[Searching was done on foot, to find printed matter for the information, phone books, Yellow pages, comic books, magazines, fanzines, toy catalogs! Nobody had a smart-phone or mobile\cell phone, there was NO all knowing oracle called Google or Wiki! If you wanted to find something out YOU did the detective work.]