Tagged: Clifford Meth

Martha Thomases talks with Tim Pilcher

Tim PilcherFor some of us, the 1990s was a certain kind of Golden Age of Comics. The success of Image Comics meant that creators were given a lot of freedom to do what they liked, with deep-pocketed corporations competing to see who could throw the most money at the talent. It was in this environment that DC launched the Vertigo imprint, and eventually set up a satellite office in London.

Art Young was in charge, fresh from a brief stint at Touchmark, Disney’s pre-Marvel attempt at the Direct Market. The only other person on staff was Tim Pilcher. Together, they published a slew of books (including most of the books originally commissioned for Touchmark) and generally made comics seem even cooler.

I only met Tim Pilcher a few times, although we talked on the phone fairly often. He always struck me as a delight, quick and funny and smart – although it should be noted that, like many, I am a sucker for anyone with an English accent.

Now he has a new book, Comic Book Babylon, not to be confused with this Comic Book Babylon by ComicMix pal Clifford Meth. Tim’s version is an account of his time in the Vertigo UK office, about the drugs and the sex and the blatant disregard for any sort of corporate decorum.

God, I wish I had been there.

MT: What titles did you work on? Were there any Vertigo UK titles you did not work on?

TP: Officially (meaning credited in the books) I worked on Face, Tainted, Shadow’s Fall, The Mystery Play, Rogan Gosh, Kill Your Boyfriend, and The Extremist. Unofficially, the first books I started working on were #4 of Enigma and #3 of Sebastian O. I was also working on Egypt, Flex Mentallo, The Eaters, Millennium Fever, and Tattered Banners towards the end of my tenure, but didn’t get credited in any of those. Other Vertigo UK titles I didn’t work on were the Tank Girl miniseries and film adaptation (which were pretty poor), and Mercy (as that was already completed by the time I’d started).

World ComicsMT: Ever since I saw The Monkees as a kid I assume that all rock bands share a house, and from there, I imagine all kinds of groups share houses. There was a point when I was at UKCAC one year when I realized that I subconsciously thought all British comic book creators shared a house. While that isn’t true (not even for The Monkees), you did share a flat with a few. What is that like?

TP: Well, actually, at the time, many of us were mostly fans creating stuff for fanzines and writing and drawing for free. When I look back on it, it was a fun time and funny how I took all that creativity for granted. I lived with Fiona Jerome, who was a respected comics journalist and writer who went to John Brown Publishing and revolutionized their magazine publishing. There was Martin Hand, a very well regarded small press creator and Howard Stangroom (nee Will Morgan) who wrote lots of strips for Meatmen Comix. Plus, the house owner, James Wallis, who wrote for various comics magazines and eventually became a games designer. But there were little groups like this all over the UK. I used to go and visit the “Worthing crowd” who all came out of Northbrook College including Philip Bond, Jamie Hewlett, Glyn Dillon, and Alan Martin. They all used to share houses and hang out together, so it was quite common. The British comics scene is pretty small and incestuous!

MT: Did you resent having to go to a day job when they got to stay home?

TP: Not at all! I got to work in Soho, the coolest part of London at the time, and we had various creators and people popping by the office all the time. Plus, there was a free bar on our floor and private advance film screenings in the Warner Bros. building at least once a week!

MT: Can you describe your first week at Vertigo UK? What was most different from your other jobs?

comicbookbabylonwebTP: It was the first proper office job I’d had. Prior to that I’d spent almost six years working in retail, so not having to deal with the public and just me and Art in an office was a big change! I was very nervous and mindful of not screwing anything up! I probably put in far more extra hours than I needed to, as I was enthusiastic and really wanted to learn. In those days everything was much slower as we didn’t have computers (initially) so all our business was conducted by fax, phone and Fed Ex. It feels really archaic now, as I work with digital files being transferred all over the world and talk to my colleagues in Paris and L.A. on Skype on an almost daily basis. Technology has definitely made comics publishing much easier (in certain respects).

MT: Can you describe your last week at Vertigo UK?

TP: It was very bleak. In many ways it was like the emotional hangover of someone who’d been raving on ecstasy for three days straight and now had hit the mid-week depression blues. All the dopamine of the job had been used up. The fun had gone completely and things were very tense. I’d learned some very important, and hard, lessons. I think in many ways those hedonistic days of the Vertigo UK office have actually switched me around from a crazed party animal to an obsessive workaholic! Hopefully, one day, I’ll find the correct work/life balance!

MT: My tenure at DC overlapped yours, and our office was run much differently. For example, expense accounts were monitored so closely that we were not allowed to tip more than fifteen percent. Do you know if anyone in accounting was ever asked to verify your expenses?

TP: I think one of the major factors for Art wanting to set-up shop in London was exactly to get away from that micro-management. Karen Berger trusted him enough to run the London office, and as far as I was aware he had a pretty much carte blanche expense account (at least initially). I think as the spending went up, and the titles’ sales didn’t match that, questions in NYC were started to be asked. But really, it was impossible for DC’s accounts to prove how much an average taxi or a meal would cost in London, so they had to take our word for it.

MT: What was the most outlandish thing you ever expensed?

Erotic ComicsTP: I was actually very wary of pushing things because I didn’t want to kill the golden goose. In the book I talk about when Art took myself and our intern, Helen, out for my birthday to a fancy restaurant and spent the equivalent of around £450/$650 in today’s money on the meal and champagne, which was charged back to the company. So, thanks for that, DC!

MT: Have you seen the movie, The Devil Wears Prada? (Or read the book, although I haven’t done that.) Was Art Young like that?

TP: Actually, that’s a pretty good analogy, it was a little like that. Art was a tad flamboyant at times! I actually used Toby Young’s How to Lose Friends and Alienate People as my template in approaching the story: Eager, keen guy gets job of a lifetime and screws it up! To be fair to Art, he was a brilliant mentor, and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for training me up and explain how the business works, and I’ll be eternally grateful for that…and all the free drugs.

MT: Finally, I asked Tim to tell me what people said about me, although I said I probably wouldn’t print that. Suffice it to say that he assured me that everyone thought I was the most beautiful woman in Puppetland, but he added this:

I can’t recall anyone being bitchy about anyone at DC at that time! You, Bob, Patty, Karen, et al were thought of as good guys. ;-) Sadly, it’s no longer the company we used to know! I don’t think there’s a single person left there working from our days! Nearly all the women have gone! All looks pretty bleak to me and sadly the company I grew up reading, loving and working for, no longer exists. Had lunch with Dave Gibbons the other day and he feels the same way!

Tell people that if they want copies of the book they can contact me on Twitter: @Tim_Pilcher

Review: “Comic Book Babylon”

Comic Book Babylon

Comic book writer, editor, and raconteur Clifford Meth took to Kickstarter to fund the publication of Comic Book Babylon, a collection of essays, stories, and interviews drawn from the almost ten years worth of columns he had written for various comic book news sites across the Internet, including ComicMix itself. Promising an introduction by Stan Lee and illustrations by noted comic artist/political crackpot Michael Netzer, Comic Book Babylon almost quintupled its original funding goal with $11,219 in pledges. Last week, Meth delivered with the release of Comic Book Babylon, published in print by Meth’s own Aardwolf Publishing or digitally through the Amazon Kindle store. (more…)

Kickstarter Alert: “Comic Book Babylon: The Real Heroes and Villians of Comics”

If you’ve ever read anything from Clifford Meth, you know he can be a ferocious writer, and ferociously talented. We like that sort of thing here, and that’s why we’ve published his stuff in the past. He’s compiling his columns and essays into a book, and you have a few hours left to pre-order it on Kickstarter:

Comic Book Babylon gathers icons HARLAN ELLISON, STAN LEE, ALAN MOORE, FRANK MILLER, JOE KUBERT, GENE COLAN, DAVE COCKRUM, WALTER SIMONSON and NEAL ADAMS into a conversation with CLIFFORD METH where anything goes. Among other stories, you’ll learn how & why X-Men co-creator Dave Cockrum became the first Marvel artist to receive a monetary settlement and lifetime royalties for his creations after years of suffering and virtual banishment… You’ll meet a well-known Hollywood film producer who doesn’t like to pay his writers (until someone squeezes his face)… You’ll read Harlan Ellison saying things no one else would publish…

This fascinating book collects Meth’s decades of comics columns and essays–some too outrageous to publish in their day–and adds never-before-revealed material. Everything is brought to life with sensational illustrations by the celebrated and beloved Marvel/DC artist MICHAEL NETZER.

What’s achieved is a startling look at the REAL villains and heroes of comics. Introduction by STAN LEE. Art by NETZER. Rants by METH. Join us!

Scholarships Are NOT Entitlements!

As a student at Rutgers, FDU and Wroxton College in the U.K., I often competed for writing scholarships. The awards proved invaluable on numerous levels:
1) As an amateur/student, I was forced to bring my writing to the highest possible level, at that juncture in my development, without any assistance.
2) I learned to meet a deadlines and follow word-count parameters.
3) Winning awards for my writing increased my confidence and allowed me to envision life as a professional.
4) Awards are solid resume material for as-yet unemployed wannabes.
5) Any monies I won were enormously helpful to my father, who earned a meager living but was otherwise happily burdened with my tuition and upkeep.
Needs-based awards have some value but, let’s face it, everyone has needs.
Merit-based awards are far more valuable. And character building.
After Dave Cockrum’s passing, Paty Cockrum and I launched the Dave and Paty Cockrum Scholarship at the Joe Kubert School where we annually award a second-year student with some tuition assistance based on their ability to create seductive, sequential art. We designed the award for someone who has demonstrated a stick-to-itiveness by hanging in for that second term. The scholarship now enters its 6th year and is funded, in part, by sales of Dave Cockrum’s personal comics collection.
After Gene Colan’s passing, I began funding a second scholarship to a promising penciller at the school, also in his or her second year. I was pleased to be informed that these scholarships inspired the creation and private funding of other named scholarships, including one in Dave Stevens’ memory.
With Joe & Adam Kubert at 2012 Scholarship Ceremony

This year’s award ceremony will take place next month and I plan to be on-hand once again to meet and congratulate winning students. This will be the first year my friend Joe Kubert is not there to emcee the event. But in contemplating that loss, I’ve decided to add a third scholarship (as yet unamed), which will be funded by selling signed comics. Today’s collectors like their comics signed and, fortunately, I am able to pick up the phone and ask some old friends for signatures. Stan Lee, Walter Simonson and George Perez were among the first to offer help.

I invite your participation in this new scholarship, too. If you have any signed comics that you are willing to part with (even one), please send them to: Clifford Meth (attn: Kubert Scholarship), 179-9 Rt. 46 West, Rockaway, NJ 07866. Or email me at cliffmeth@aol.com  Donated items will be auctioned on Ebay under the account DaveCockrumEstate (which is currently in use to fund the Cockrum and Colan Awards).

Scholarships helped me and kept me going forward. I am delighted by the opportunity to maintain the circle of life.

Thank you in advance for your kind support.

Read the original at The Clifford Method.

Announcing The SideKick Foundation

The Sidekick Foundation is a new confederacy that seeks to generously aid comics creators in need of financial and medical assistance. Sidekick’s board of directors and advisors consists of established, respected comics professionals who have agreed to support the organization’s initiative which, in its first year, shall be to donate 90% of all generated proceeds directly to those in need.

“Sidekick was established by Clifford Meth, whose work on behalf of comics creators in need is well known,” said Jim Reeber, president of Aardwolf Publishing and Secretary of Sidekick. “By adding the weight of some of the industry’s most respected names to his own, I believe Cliff can help more people than ever before and do so more effectively.”

“I’ve spent the last three years working for well-known charities and non-profits,” said Meth, a former Executive V.P. of IDW Publishing and recent spokesman for Kars4Kids. “Regardless of the cause, the one thing that always irked me was how much money goes to the overhead of charitable organizations. While it may be legal to only give away a small portion of collected proceeds, I find it ethically unacceptable. The Sidekick Foundation will not have a paid Director nor full-time staff. Most work will be done by volunteers allowing the foundation to keep expenses to a minimum.”

Sidekick’s Board of Advisors includes Neal Adams, Harlan Ellison, Joe Sinnott, Tom Palmer, Herb Trimpe, and Morris Berger (former president of IDT Entertainment and chairman of IDW Publishing).

“I’m particularly proud to have Neal Adams and Harlan Ellison with us,” said Meth. “Neal laid the foundation for art returns and his work on behalf of Superman’s creators is legendary, while Harlan Ellison is a stalwart champion of creator’s rights. With friends like these in your corner, you can move mountains.”

Sidekick will debut at New York ComicCon on Sunday, October 16. Artist David Lloyd (“V for Vendetta”) will be drawing for Sidekick at the Cadence table #3153 from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. In addition, Clifford Meth and writer Don McGregor will be selling donated art as well as items from the late Gene Colan and Dave Cockrum, among others. Future signings and events are planned from artists Michael Netzer and Bill Messner-Loebs.

For more information, visit http://www.thesidekickfoundation.org/

The Other Adrienne Colan

The Other Adrienne Colan

We are saddened to report the passing of Adrienne Colan, wife of Gene Colan, over this past weekend. Clifford Meth, pictured here at right with the Colans, adds this personal note for his friend.

The news hasn’t been great in the Colan home these last few months. If you’ve followed it, and if you’ve read between the lines, you’ve weeded out a kernel of truth and likely a whole cob of mistruths. And none of that really matters, now. It was all rubber-necking anyway.

But there are truths I’d like to share about Adrienne Colan, and chief among them was her and Gene’s love for each other. It read like an epic poem. The hardships and tragedies and obstacles were too numerous to count, but for half a century they remained at the center of each other’s universes. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. For better or worse.

The Adrienne Colan you met at conventions was the real McCoy. She was tough and funny and uncompromising; warm and intelligent and spiritual. And her sense of humor was splendid. I think that’s where we met—at that dark crossroads where everything was tragic-comic. Our friendship existed outside of my friendship with Gene; we corresponded for decades, sharing dreams and fears.

And I guess I loved Adrienne. Now that the end has come amidst ashes and tears, I owe myself that honesty. I loved her attention, loved sending her a new story and when she got something I’d written and dissected it (and me with it); loved that she was intellectually curious about everything I shared and painfully honest with me…and with herself.

“Something I find fascinating about you is how you came to give yourself permission to live by your own standards without alienating those that love you and
you love,” she wrote to me last December, following a personal tragedy. “How and where does one go inside to know they have that right to live by their own truth?  I’m so interested in this because I’ve always had a POV about how I need to live my life but continued to allow myself to be crushed by [others]… I’ve allowed their version of right and wrong choices to annihilate my world view. That’s what the weight is about. And I can’t begin to tell you dear Clifford how awful it is [for] one’s psyche to still be crawling my way out of that at the age of 67. At this age I feel I acquiesced to letting myself ‘die’… But I’m responsible, so I eat.”

And there it was—that dark humor inside the sadness. So I eat. You could hear her say it.


Gene Colan Hospitalized, Artwork Missing

Gene Colan Hospitalized, Artwork Missing

Gene Colan, who just received an Eisner nomination for Best Single Story, was injured last week and is now being cared for by his son and
daughter. In addition, it appears that some of Gene’s artwork has
disappeared, including pages from Nathaniel Dusk and a Star Wars-related
piece. The police are involved in the matter.

Clifford Meth reports: “If Gene Colan art
is currently circulating in the marketplace, it is possible that these
pieces were stolen. Collectors and fans of Gene are encouraged to email
if you see artwork circulating that is the least bit questionable.”

He adds: “I
spoke with Gene early this evening and he is in good spirits, as
always. Unfortunately, he is also in pain and unable to use his right
arm at this time due to a serious shoulder injury.”

Well-wishers should
feel free to use the comments section here and we will make certain
that Gene sees your notes.

Clifford Meth: Welcome to Hollywood, Part Deux

Clifford Meth: Welcome to Hollywood, Part Deux

Glenn Hauman promised yesterday that I’d deliver a “fuller explanation of what’s been going on” vis-à-vis my piece “Welcome to Hollywood.” So in the interests of keeping this story alive (because you haven’t lived until you’ve heard the words, “You’ll never work in this town again”) I’ll try to squeeze in another few inches.

Jason Brice and his site Comics Bulletin (formerly Silver Bullet Comic Books) have run my “Meth Addict” (formerly “Past Masters”) column without interference since 2004. Among other things, the column was a linchpin in helping secure an important financial settlement for Dave Cockrum that allowed the X-Men co-creator to live his last few years in relative comfort. Good for you, Jason Brice. If we never do another good deed together again in our wretched little lives, that may have been enough.

The yanking of “Welcome to Hollywood” after CB’s EiC Jason Sacks (the other Jason) had already accepted it and promoted it was a joint decision between the two Jasons shortly after the column was live. I wasn’t in the room when things got weird, but I imagine the conversation was fairly tame and thoroughly professional and went something like this:

Jason: Are you crazy?!
Jason: Huh?

The pair discussed the matter and decided that what I’d written was a little too dangerous for CB. Jason Sacks then pulled the short straw and sent me the following: “Jason and I have decided to pull the column out of concerns about CB’s exposure to potential legal action.”

Within moments, the story was live at Harlan Ellison’s site (“Read it…love it,” wrote Harlan) with offers from others, including comics pros Tony Isabella and Michael Netzer, to re-post. I called Glenn H. because I particularly admired how he’d pointed to the competitive website’s initial story on his own front page. “Want it?” I asked. “Yup,” said Glenn.

Did the Jasons abandon Mr. Meth in his hour of needful spleen venting? Not hardly. “I want to emphasize that as the editor of the piece and editor-in-chief at ComicsBulletin I both support and encourage Cliff to do everything he can to expose the horrible acts of this scumbag,” writes Jason Sacks at Harlan Ellison’s website. “It sounds like Richard Saperstein is the exemplar of exactly the sort of lowdown ripoffs of creative types to whom Mr. Ellison has dispatched his most scathing scorn.”

So where does that leave us? With a bunch of hyperlinks and meta-columns. Could be worse.

In conclusion, I’m sure you agree that it would be a case of chronic irony if the story of how my column was pulled and reposted somehow obscured the far-more-important tale of what occurred with The Futurians movie, the Snaked movie, and my brief love affair with Richard Saperstein.

And they lived happily ever after.

Stan’s Here! ComicMix Talks With Stan Lee About His New Project for BOOM!

Stan’s Here! ComicMix Talks With Stan Lee About His New Project for BOOM!

BOOM! finally made their teased-out Stan Lee announcement yesterday morning. And despite calls from 1000+ reporters, my 87-years-young friend stopped by to answer a few questions. Briefly.

Cliff: Were the characters and back stories for the new POW-BOOM joint venture actually created by you?

Stan: Yep!

Cliff: Do you still think it’s important for a hero’s alter ego to have an Achilles heel?

Stan: Yep… Usually.

Cliff: At what stage are you at with the projects that you’re doing with Walt Disney Studios?

Stan: All different stages. Script. Development. Production.

Cliff: When I was with IDT Entertainment, you shared a letter with us that you received from Paul McCartney pitching you a character. How often do you get pitches from fellow celebs?

Stan: Occassionally. An average of three or four a year.

Cliff: Now that you’re hitting middle age, do you have any intention of slowing down?

Stan: Not if I can help it! Excelsior!

Visit author Clifford Meth at thecliffordmethod.blogspot.com.