A Personal Journey Through Horror Comics

When I was 5 years old I was cute, was scared of the dark and had to sleep with an oil lamp on. By the time I was 8 I had started to collect Horror magazines and wanted to sleep in a coffin. At 12 I was building a library of the Occult and still managed to avoid child psychology.
“He’ll grow out of it”…
At the age of 26 I was still growing out of it. It all started ,though,around 8. When I was very young I remember seeing films that remain favourites. Dead Of Night was released in 1945 and is one of the most unique Horror films ever made. The Uninvited is a rarely seen Ghost story released in 1944 whilst The Haunting should not be watched late at night on your own. Made in 1963 it still remains a classic. From 1957 “The Night Of The Demon” remains another classic, thankfully untouched by a remake. When I was 7 The Galaxy Being from “The Outer Limits” (1963) left an indelible mark on me as did “Psycho” from 1960. In 1964 when I was 8 years old, other kids were reading The Eagle and building model aeroplanes. I was reading Creepy and learning about revolutionary France through plastic models such as a working Guillotine.
In 1968 when I was 12 years old I wrote,
“My hobby is collecting horror magazines and satire magazines. Over about 4 years I have collected about 90 horror magazines and 24 Mad Magazines. I have built up my set whenever I can and have revised many famous actors and film names and dates in my head. As well as my Mad collection I have a few copies of Cracked and Laugh-In magazines which are also satire magazines. The Laugh-In magazines are based on the famous television series. About five weeks ago I started getting the new Man, Myth And Magic and have got the first binder, in an effort to widen my scope of true horror, such as witchcraft, voodoo and black magic. Also it gives further information concerning Greek mythology. It will be 2 years before I have completed this set in which time I should have a considerable knowledge of the black arts.”
At the age of 12 years I was drawing Voodoo rituals and at every opportunity I caricatured the staff and my school mates. As I prepared for my ‘A’ Levels, though, things didn’t look good. The power of voodoo though was obviously wasted on my teachers but in a strange twist of fate, after completing my Art Degree, I ran a Life Drawing class in Halifax and one of my ‘pupils’ was my school Art teacher!
After leaving school I took a Foundation Art Course in 1974 at Calderdale College. A year later I had my first Comic page published, very loosely based on my experience of working in the butcher’s shop…very loosely!!
1975 saw my first published story in Comics Unlimited with Stephen Baskerville’s encouragement. The first hand drawn version of Shock Therapy was also produced.
Having left Halifax in 1976 I studied for a Fine Art Degree in Stourbridge.
By 1978 I found my own style, influenced partly by the comics and partly by my love of Funk music This wasn’t the kind of art they taught you on a Degree Course but one night I taught my tutors about the work of Pedro Bell, cover artist for the music I was listening to. Ten years later I was beginning to do artwork for the musicians who had helped me through College and was even corresponding with Pedro Bell himself. However, I was about to return home to Halifax to publish my own comic.
A year earlier, in 1978 The Halifax Courier ran an article about me which led to Tony Webster contacting me. While I was completing my Degree Tony had set up a printer and once home we managed to get further publicity including interviews on both Calendar and Look North.
Shock Therapy lasted for 3 issues before artistic differences and a struggle for distribution forced it to finish. A fourth and final issue was being planned and in true, bizarre fashion Tony and I drew and wrote a comic ending called “The Final Solution”.
In 1981Knockabout Comics in London printed “Arnold Gets Cross” by noted comic artist/writer Bryan Talbot. The final image echoed the first “Shock Therapy” cover, homage from on high.
The early ’80s saw new attempts to self-publish. “The Insider”, influenced by Steve Ditko’s ‘off the wall’ Superheroes never saw the light of day. Elsewhere I was sending work off to new British Comics like ‘Oink!”. In 1982 Marvel and DC Comics received my material. In exchange I received rejection letters
Caricaturing kept me going and I carried on planning new ideas for a possible return of “Shock Therapy”. Then in 1985 Harrier Comics agreed to publish a 6 part “Shock Therapy” series of all new material. I was able to give first comic work to artists such as Andy Lanning, who would later work on Batman and my old Foundation Art colleague Stephen Baskerville who would also work for DC and Marvel Comics.
As the 6 issue run came to an end I began planning a new series, “Task” for Harrier Comics. Issue 1 was completed when the company collapsed.
New ideas were explored and in 1988 Sideshow Comics published a set of cartoon strips under the creative title of “The funny butcher from Halifax
Then in 1989 the work took a completely unexpected turn! The New Funk Times, out of Germany, published a regular comic strip based on the musical heroes from my youth. This led me to the people who I had been listening to since I was 14.
New ideas like “Weaver” continued to be developed into the 90’s as did commissioned work but somewhere lurking was the hope that one day the short horror stories would return.
In 2011 “Shock Therapy” prepared to return which just goes to prove that some things you don’t grow out of and it really has been a lifetime…thing!!