by Frank Barrell
I’ve known Terry Hooper a very long time and wasn’t surprised that
he hasn’t been shouting about his Black Tower books. He never
Some Things Strange & Sinister is a treat for anyone involved
or interested in UFOs,Ghosts,unknown creatures or just plain
weird phenomena. The success of the book has led to Amazon
jumping in to sell it and the cover price increase was dropped
because Terry insisted it made the book too expensive.
Now there is The Bat Triumphant! a 66pp black and white comic
album. I decided to corner the man himself,a rather dangerous
tactic,and ask a few questions. Time to see whether you can
squeeze blood from a stone!
Frank:Terry,The Bat Triumphant! has been around a good while
if not as a completed book then in serial form. When did you
start working on it?
Terry:1985. I had the Bat awaken to find Stahl,his kingdom,a
Soviet enclave. There were a lot of small countries under
Soviet occupation and as “Stahl” sounded very central European
I thought I’d place it there.
Frank:That’s the version you dropped -where you had a Soviet
Hind helicopter gunship being confronted mid-air by The Bat?
Frank:So why did you drop that version?
Terry:Bloody Russians. I do all this then the “Soviet Union” falls
apart and all these states like Estonia,Lithuania,Latvia,etc.,get
their independence. No consideration for comic creators -though the
Americans never stopped Soviet bashing.
Frank:Do you still have those pages?
Terry:No. I have one roughly pencilled page and I’m guessing the
rest were lost in one of my house moves -though there may be a box
Frank:Originally,the Bat was published by Gerald Swann and you talked
to him and you said you were not too impressed?
Terry:Denis Gifford had the same reaction I did. Swannhad been one
of those war time entrepeneurs who published all this material but
in his later years the comics seemed to mean nothing to him and he
was more interested in talking about his pulp magazines.
I said to him I was a big fan of his old comics and I’d like to do
something with The Iron Warrior,The Bat and other comic characters
he published and the response was “Oh,do what you like with them” and
then talked about the pulps again!
Frank:Why is it these people publish comics but go into books and
tend to ignore their comic history?
Terry:Honestly,he was publishing pulps before and no US comics coming
into the UK he saw a way to make money. Simple as that.
Frank:And your plans to republish the original Swann strip?
Terry:Ask Ben Dilworth where-ever he is! He had my copy to make lazer
photocopies [no computer scanning for s back then!]and that was the last
I saw of it. If I could find good quality scans then I might rethink
the publishing idea but UK collectors just do not want to share!
Frank:I know that you were a big fan of the old UK comic Fantastic and
they serialised The Sub-Mariner Tales To Astonish stories where he tries
to win back Atlantis -did this influence you?
Terry:It was serialised in Terrific you twit -remember I showed you those
issues? Anyway,not really influenced by them. I do recall that I
needed a back-up strip starting with Black Tower Adventure no.51 which
would have been…
Terry:Okay,in 2000. I found the first part of The Bat that had been
drawn in 1994 and thought that part 2 was somewhere so I’d not need
to draw part 3 for a few months.
Frank:That was the bumper 52 pages issue with the yellow cover?
Terry:Yes. Only as I got to part 5,I think it was,did I realise that
this was a quest for The Bat to get his homeland back. They were just
meant to be space filling back ups.
Frank:But The Bat proved popular?
Terry:Yes. I think the biggest fan was Lee Davis who published Mondo.
I remember how,after The Bat confronted the Blauraben I got a letter
from Lee saying “what a b*******!” Then I heard there were other fans
but I decided to leave publishing for a while to package comics.
Frank:I know you said that you finished the story because you were bored
and the changed the title and redrew a lot of the art?
Terry:Yep. “The Bat” seemed a bit short for a book so I thought it needed
a more dynamic title and “The Bat Triumphant!” said it all..but DON’T flip
to the last page!!
The originally published parts were redrawn and when it came to prepping
the pages for printing a lot of cleaning was done.
Frank:Now people might get confused that the book has an original The Bat
strip but NOT the Swann Bat?
Terry:No,the Swann Bat was a 1940s strip by William A.Ward who drew a lot
for Swann. The second Bat is by George McQueen and was published in 1952 by
Cartoon Art Productions[CAP] -their character is more supernatural avenger than
Frank:And a new [CAP] Bat strip?
Terry:Yes. I’ve no idea what happened to the first strip I drew with this
character so I drew another. My room is full of many ‘lost’ little
Frank:I’m surprised you don’t lose your computer.
Terry:Hmm. Getting bored talking about this..
Frank:Hey,I can’t believe you’ve answered all these questions! So,are there
text features in the album?
Terry:Oh yes. On Ward’s The Bat and McQueen’s The Bat!
Terry:Merriwether-God’s Demon Thumper. That should be out in July and then
a couple other albums before the follow up to Some Things Strange And Sinister
and a book of interviews.
Frank:I can see your eyes glazing over with boredom so I’ll say thank you
and let the folk know the book is orderable via this link!
Terry:Thank you. Know I need to go and set a snare for the postman.
Frank:And he’s not kidding.