Welcome back to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question comes from our very own Donna Barr and is as follows:-

“What’s the WEIRDEST thing you ever got in the mail from a fan? What’s the coolest? Which fan scared you the most? Which fan made your jaw drop with amazement?”

Axel Alonso:

Weirdest mail: Two fans sent me photos of themselves doing unhygienic things with a toothbrush. I still lose sleep over that one. Coolest mail: Some guy sent me a bag filled with super hero action-figures made completely out of colored twisty-ties. Only one problem: no Black Panther.

Scariest fan: Little dress, large Adam’s apple.

Best fan: The reigning “Gang Bang Queen” — since deposed — told me she was a “really big fan.” I don’t think she had any idea who I was, but who cares?

Scariest e-mail: It involved an unsettling j-peg of David Hasselhoff, let’s leave it at that.

Axel Alonso is an Executive Editor at Marvel Enterprises, Inc. ’nuff said.

Baz Renshaw:

“Fans? I have fans? Why didn’t anyone tell me, dammit!”

Writer, artist, editor and Liverpudlian Barry Renshaw is behind the ENGINE COMICS line of publications and a founder of the ACCENT UK collective, makers of among other things, REDEYE MAGAZINE, a quarterly for the UK comics scene.

Kev F Sutherland:

Fans? Did I mention I work for British comics? If they read you in big enough numbers (e.g. in The Beano, for which I currently work) they’re too young to know your name.

If you work for Marvel (as I did in the late 90s) your readers are in the US so can’t touch you. And if you work for Vertigo, you’ll find both of your readers easy enough to avoid if you try.

Of course I have spent 6 years running the UK’s Comic Festival, so I’ve met a lot of readers of others peoples’ comics, and they’ve mostly been lovely.

The worst thing I’ve got in the mail from fans, then, is bundles of tickets asking for a refund because Grant Morrison didn’t turn up (October 23rd 2004, I’m almost back in the black now).

Weirdest thing? Only free comics from prospective exhibitors, and in that instance weird is good.

Career hihglights include being writer and artist on The Bash St Kids in The Beano, Tarquin Hoylet He Has To Go To The Toilet in Viz, Star Trek and Dr Strange for Marvel, plus Dr Who, Red Dwarf, Gladiators, Goosebumps and heaps more.

Sean O’Reilly:

Ok…Weirdest? Kade is the gothic demon hunter who doesn’t feel and I
once had a girl think long and hard about this one…she started asking me about four or five questions on Kade’s sex life. I hadn’t really thought about it and I wanted to be as nice as I could answering the questions but it was difficult because she got well…fairly specific. There are many cool things I’ve received from fans. I’ve received over 400 drawings of Kade from people all over the world. I’ve tried my best to get them all published and I even extended the fifth book by 4 pages just to make sure that I managed to fit them in. Every time I get a new one, I consider that one of the coolest. There was also the time someone said that Kade was Kurt Cobain meets Conan…and that was pretty cool.

As far as scaring me the most, sometimes I get a fan or two start getting a little too graphic with Ezra. It’s kind of fun when it comes from a girl, but when a guy tells me he has a full size Ezra poster over his bed (true story) it starts to borderline on heebie-jeebies. As far as jaw-dropping amazement I’m going to withhold this level for someone who meets one of our ultimate dreams. Every year at SDCC there is a masquerade and everyone at Arcana LOVES this event and we are going to be sponsoring it this year.

The dream/challenge is for someone to dress up as Kade or Ezra (yes they’ll get a cash prize as well). So here’s to anyone wanting to dress up as one of our characters and for us to experience jaw-dropping amazement!

Sean Patrick O’Reilly is Editor-in-Chief of Arcana Studios, and the writer of their book, Kade.

Frazer Irving:

1. A cheque with a little extra on top.

2. The cheque with a little extra on top.

3. If i revealed this person’s identity they’d very possibly hear about it and hound me to death.

4. The one with the fit bod that I met at Bristol 2 years back. Never got her name (despite signing a copy of something for her) because my brain shut down to allow my libido to enjoy the moment more thoroughly.

Frazer Irving: Essex boy, artist, philanderer. Did the small press for 5 years, then 2000AD for another five, moved onto the glorious silky pages of DC recently. Not one for pigeonholing, he rejects the penciller-inker-colourist team-up and has merged 3 clones of himself into 1 so that he does all jobs. Possibly known for work on 2000AD‘s Necronauts, Judge Death and The Simping Detective, currently doodling Klarion the Witch-Boy for DC.

Lee ?Budgie” Barnett:

Hell’s teeth, if I ever get anything from a fan in the mail or email , it’s ‘hang out the bunting’ time.

Lee ‘Budgie’ Barnett is a writer of comedy and comics, firstly Imperium’s TRAILER PARK OF TERROR, then X-MEN UNLIMITED #4 (Aug 04). Online, he has GOING CHEEP at Pulse, and his novel YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE A MAN CAN FLY here. Famed in UK Comics for Hypotheticals (devised with and presented by Dave Gibbons, and inspiration for The Panel), he’s been described as being to accountancy what Indiana Jones is to archaeology.

James E. Lyle (a.k.a. Doodle):

Weirdest? A bizarre letter from a British fan of DoorMan who seemed to think that writer Mike Leonard and I both had to be on drugs to do such a series. We weren’t.

The COOLEST thing I ever got is the fan letter about a Utopia Comic Strip, from the girl who later became my wife!

The scariest? I was 20 and some girl came on to me in no uncertain terms – that was scary. I could say that my jaw dropped in amazement (I recall dropping my head on the table with an audible thump), but by the grace of God I let that one pass and later met my wife. That’s a tip kids! Wait for the right one!

James E. Lyle is a cartoonist and illustrator, including co-creating titles Escape to the Stars, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and DoorMan, plus work on Fright Night, Cynicalman Sells Out, and the accurately-spelt Wiindows. More recently Lyle worked on Turok, the “missing” Paul Gulacy T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, and DRASTIK #1.

Bart Thompson:

In the mail? It’d have to be some of the submissions… yikes! But I don’t have any weird mail stories. I’m kinda grateful… I don’t know how well I’d take opening a package and finding a severed human ear from my ‘biggest fan’. *shivers*

Though that would be flattering in a very disturbing and twisted way… *ponders* Nah. Let’s skip all that in advance, thank you very much!

I do have a weird convention story or two. Last year at the Wizard Chicago Con we were behind “the pirates” booth and that was a trip. I’m trying to think of some things that happened that I could say in an all ages reader friendly environment… hmmm… I’m at a loss. I’ll just say it was an experience.

Ditto for the other stories. “What happens at conventions stay at the conventions…”

No scary fans, yet (Thank God!). All of the (few) fans we have are pretty cool!

Jaw drop in amazement… well, there was this one book signing we had when Vampires Unlimited first came out and a BEAUTIFUL female fan came with some guy we couldn’t tell if it was her brother, cousin, or boyfriend. She was gushing about the series and I kept my composure and my friend Samal was there keeping the conversation going- fun for all. Then finally she had to go and we asked her name and she responded, “Peaches”… and that took some work not having my jaw drop and following up with flirting. After they left we figured from body language the guy was her boyfriend (we knew from the start, we were just hoping he was a relative) and sadly we haven’t seen Peaches ever again.

Bart Thompson is the founder of Approbation Comics and creator of Vampires Unlimited, The Metamutoids, ChiSai, and Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies.

Alonzo Washington:

1) The weirdest thing I have ever received in the mail is hate mail from the Klu Klux Klan for doing a Black comic book. What a joke!

2) Nothing scares me!

3) The coolest thing that fans send me is money.

Alonzo Washington is the creator of Omega Man and a noted black rights campaigner.

Alan Grant:

Weird: A packet of Argentinian condoms, which the fan (of Lobo) wanted me to sign and send back.

Cool: A page of original Breyfogle Batman given to me because the fan had read it was my birthday.

Scared: the heavily armed and mirror-shaded US cop who I thought was arresting me till he pulled out a half-dozen Lobo comics for signing.

Jaw drop: The first time I did a con in Buenos Aires, the other guests (Denny O’Neil, Breyfogle, Bisley) all dropped out at the 11th hour. I signed, did panels and talks alone from noon till midnight for 3 days straight. At midnight on the Sunday, the organiser told me he was worried there might be trouble, because the crowds weren’t dispersing on the street outside. As we drove down the street, between 500 and 1,000 fans lined up on either side and chanted their thanks. I felt like John Lennon.

Alan Grant, writer of Dredd, Batman, and the slightly mad Doomlord, can be seen currently with Arthur Ranson on Judge Anderson in the Judge Dredd Megazine, and the superb Com.X trade collection of The Last American.

Stephen Holland:

The coolest thing I’ve been sent through the post was the original art for Chapter 11, page 35 of From Hell by Eddie Campbell. Eddie’s a bigfan of mine. Really.

No, not really, this is just another one of those questions where the retailer gets to feel stupid, but Eddie was kind enough to give it to me for services rendered.

Emails from customers kind enough to take the time and trouble to write and thank us for taking their money off them always makes my jaw drop – which other industry would that happen in? Really makes our weeks.

And although it didn’t scare me once I realised who it was, receiving a death threat was quite startling. It was a genuine one too. You could tell the email was a death threat. The subject line read, “Die!!!”. The contents were pretty much along the same lines. I think that counts as weird.

Especially since Eddie Campbell inscribed the original piece of art:
“Stephen. May you live forever.” A lovely sentiment, if a little over-optimistic.

Stephen Holland runs Page 45 – a comic shop in Nottingham – with Mark Simpson and Tom Rosin. He can also be found, monthly, in Comics International.

Donna Barr:

The weirdest thing I ever got in the mail? It’s almost a toss-up. The “My Little SS-Pony” — and you can just IMAGINE that — has got to be terminally weird.

But the WEIRDEST thing was after I’d done a DESERT PEACH episode in which the Peach carried a rat around by the tail through most of the story. And then I got a letter in which my reader — a Scottish rat breeder — said I hadn’t gotten the testicles of the rat just right (I drew the testicles???) and enclosed carefully-drawn full-color diagrams of rat’s testicles.


Donna Barr has books and original art at http://www.stinz.com, webcomics at http://www.moderntales.com, < ahref=http://www.girlamatic.com>http://www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at http://www.booksurge.com. Nothing she won’t try, at least once…including writing a column for SBC at this link!

Kwanza Osajyefo:

Uhm… okay. The weirdest was back in the short-lived Marvel Dog era when cats either got the satire and loved it or were hatin’! So aside from this one dumb bitch writin’ about how she was an offended black woman and wouldn’t buy any more Marvel, blah blah blah, like her thick-spectacled, obsessive-compulsive, ass wasn’t gonna get her crack fix every Wednesday, there were these two punks that blogged on their Web site about how they were coming to a con to kick my ass.

Two things about this were funny and strange. The first were that these comic fans were so in La La Land, thinking Marvel was the kind of company that would pay to send a staffer to a comic convention. Yeah, and Spider-Man came by my cubicle everyday to tell me how special I was… okay he used to during tours, but then Ike fired him.

The second was that everybody though I was some scrawny white boy or
Bill Rosemann… I could go into some diatribe about racism and comics, but I think the assumptions then were clear evidence.

Okay. There was a third thing, those bitches actually thought they
COULD kick my ass!

Now that was weird!

Kwanza Osajyefo is the founder of Funky Comics, home to Jim’s Ninja and a number of other forthcoming comic book properties.

Roberta Gregory:

I had a fan send me a whole box of Mardi-Gras paraphernalia, beads, and so on. Very odd! I have been handing them out at parties ever since.

Another fan said he converted to Christianity when he got married and sent a whole box full of his very bizarre Pagan/Wicca paraphernalia, booklets, jewellery, and a sort of robe-like thing! AND a reader of mine sent a beautiful edition of Opal Whiteley’s childhood diaries published in 1917. It inspired me to write the biographical piece on her in Issue 33 of Naughty Bits.

Roberta Gregory is the creator of Bitchy Bitch, who not only stars in Roberta’s Naughty Bits comic book (ex from Fantagraphics), but also appears on television worldwide in animated adventures, the latest being the “Life’s a Bitch” series on the Oxygen Network.

I would like to end this week with a wonderful story from Bryan Talbot since I don’t have any crazy fans to mention or any fans at all… but maybe I will one day (http://www.portentcomics.com) hehehehe – James.

Bryan Talbot’s Mad Fan Story

Travelling back from a talk at Exeter University during the LUTHER ARKWRIGHT UK tour in 1989, I though myself lucky to get a table to myself in a crowded train.

At Bristol station, a hirsute and unshaven guy in dirty t-shirt and jeans burst into the carriage, waving around a half empty beer glass and proclaiming proudly to the passengers that he¹s just ripped it off from the station bar.

Bear in mind that throughout the following he was shouting, not just talking to me but addressing the whole carriage, occasionally rising from his seat and waving his arms as if he was giving a speech.

Spotting the empty seat opposite me , he stowed his duffle bag and sat down, all the while declaring “F*ck Maggie Thatcher! F*ck Maggie Thatcher! Bloody f*cking Maggie Thatcher!”

Not being a fan of Maggie, I asked him what the matter was. He launched into a loud monologue liberally peppered with “F*cking” before every noun, adjective and verb. Apparently, due to new government legislation, he was now forced to go to job interviews or his dole money would be stopped.

He was travelling to an interview in Manchester with the animation company Cosgrove Hall. Stuffed in his duffle bag was the suit he was going to change into when he reached there. He was late but was convinced he would get the job because he’d once sold smack to Dave Cosgrove! (Not, I imagine, the same Cosgrove.)

Other passengers were shifting uncomfortably in their seats, glancing nervously at the exit and avoiding his eyes as he swept his gaze around the carriage.

“That¹s right”, he proclaimed, “I used to be a f*cking junkie but now I¹m a f*cking COMICS JUNKIE!”

Apparently he was also a comics artist, though not just an “ordinary
One”: he did graphic novels though he hadn’t had any published yet. These seemed to consist of strips that he’d written and drawn to his wife while he was in prison. Still, he was now working on his magnum opus a brilliantly original concept: “See, it’s like a cross between SUPERMAN and FLASH GORDON!”

I must have appeared dubious because he then began an evangelical tirade about how comics were an art form and how there were these really good comics nowadays. He crudely lectured me (and the travelling public in general), listing all his favourites WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN and 2000AD – especially NEMESIS THE WARLOCK a strip I’d drawn for several years.

And he didn’t even pay for his comic habit: every week he simply went into his local comic store, FOREVER PEOPLE, with a couple of carrier bags and ripped off whatever he fancied! He was extremely proud of the fact and didn’t seem to mind that he’d just informed the entire carriage.

Now, as I said, I was in the middle of a signing tour and was returning to Bristol the following week to sign at FOREVER PEOPLE. The posters advertising this hadn’t gone unnoticed by the maniac who was excitedly looking forward to it. “Hey, next f*cking week Bryan Talbot’s doing a f*cking signing there!”

“Er, Bryan Talbot?” I ventured. “Yeah, Bryan f*ckin Talbot!” he announced and proceeded to describe my entire publishing history, from BRAINSTORM through 2000AD to ARKWRIGHT to the whole train. He was going to get them all signed by me next week!

Throughout all this I¹d been determined to keep quiet but, thinking of the scene in a week’s time when he’d realise that I’d kept him in the dark, I said “Oh, thanks a lot. I’m glad you like the work. I’m Bryan Talbot.”

I thought he was going to explode. His eyes bulged in disbelief. He jumped to his feet, energetically giving me the two fingers with both hands.

“F*CK OFFFFF! F*CK OFFFFF!” He screamed, “YOU’RE not Bryan Talbot!” He turned, pointing at me and gesturing to the rest of the passengers, urging them to join in. “HE’S NOT BRYAN F*CKING TALBOT! F*CK OFFFFFF!”

Desperately, I grabbed my portfolio from the luggage rack, fumbled it open and thrust some Nemesis originals under his nose. I pulled a copy of the new Arkwright volume from my bag and showed him my photo in the back.

His jaw dropped open as his face became a distorting mask of conflicting emotions. His eyes bulged even more as he stared at the artwork, swaying on his feet, his hands clutching at the edge of the table as if to keep some kind of grip on reality. After several seconds, he flopped down in his seat.


He then ran off to the buffet, insisting that he had to be able to tell his mates that he’d bought Bryan Talbot a beer.

Shortly after he returned, the train pulled in at the station where he had to change for Manchester and he left as loudly as he had arrived, shouting his goodbyes and waving his stolen beer glass. As the train started to pull out from the station, the other passengers, as one person, turned to look at me and gestured “Phew!”

As a footnote: the following week I told Colin, the owner of FOREVER
PEOPLE about their shoplifter, we decided on a code phrase I¹d use to identify him and he stationed a couple of guys to keep an eye on him. Fortunately he didn¹t show up. Even he must have realised that I¹d warn the owner.

Anyway, I have to get back to work now on my new graphic novel. It¹s a brilliant and original concept. It¹s a cross between Flash Gordon and Superman.

Bryan Talbot, if you don’t know who is he YOU SHOULD DO! Check out his website: http://www.bryan-talbot.com

Thanks too all involved with this week’s panel, sorry for the lack of photos on some of the panellists but normal service should be resumed next week! Remember send us your questions for The Panel.

“The views and opinions expressed on the panel are solely those of the panellist who has written them. They do not reflect the views or opinions of silver bullet comic books or myself. Freedom of speech is great isn’t it – James”

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