04-03-23 | Greetings, my friends! And welcome to my latest misadventure peterpancomics.com. I say latest, but actually Peter Pan Comics has been around for no less than three years. And it’s all because of those damn horror comics!
Several years ago, when I was on a train to Amsterdam, I noticed a man about my age reading a graphic novel. Not on his phone, mind you. An actual physical comic book. A rare sight in the Netherlands, which I took this to be a good omen. You see, at the time I was on my way to meet my potential comic book distributor for the very first time. Several months earlier a series of events led me to pursue a career as a publisher. And here I was staring at my potential audience. Sheer coincidence or a sign from the heavens?
Having studied in Amsterdam I can confidently say I knew my way around town. Nevertheless, I had checked and double checked Google Maps to make sure I was heading in the right direction. I detest being late, considering it a discourtesy to others. My walking route was quite straightforward. All I had to do was exit the subway, turn left and I’d stumble upon the main office of my distributor within five minutes.
As I marched towards the appointment which could potential change my life, I fantasized about all the incredible comic bundles I was planning to publish. Books filled with superheroes, space raiders, cowboy gunfighters and vampire vixens. I had a particular ambition to produce a definitive collection of classic horror stories, filled with sardonic humour and grizzly imagery. For it was the horror comic which had led me to this comics distributor in the first place.
Being a huge fan of classic horror movies, I’ve always been fascinated by the public domain. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve come across DVD copies of White Zombie and Little Shop of Horrors. Their public domain status allows every horror fan to start his or her own distribution company, resulting in a glut of black & white monster movies flooding the market.
But what about horror comics? I first became aware of Warren Publishing reading their magazines Creepy and Eerie online, believing them to be public domain. I have since found out they actually aren’t, but my interest was now well and truly peaked. I remember the clammy excitement of stumbling across Eerie issue 1. Not the Warren magazine this time, but rather the seminal series from 1947. Tumbling down the rabbit hole I discovered Chamber of Chills, The Beyond, Weird Mysteries and many others. A plan was formulating … I was to become a comic book publisher!
This was at a time in my life when I was increasingly frustrated by my inability to get a film or series off the ground. I had been pursuing a career as a filmmaker since 2014 with mixed results. I was undoubtedly legitimate, but not in a position to produce anything which reflected my personal interests. And then there was the horror comic. Hordes of vampires, ghouls and other ghostly creatures! Free of charge and to do with as I please! Eureka!
All I had to do was seal the deal. Fantasizing about creating comics was one thing, turning it into a profitable venture was quite another. If there’s anything I’ve learned from reading autobiographies of embittered B-movie directors it’s that the distributor holds the key to your success. Or, as western producer Denver Dixon once put it: ‘if you want to make movies you’d better know how to get rid of ‘em’. I wanted to get rid of comics. Fast.
But I wasn’t getting anywhere fast. Literally. At my brisk walking pace I should have reached my potential distributor by now, but there was still no sign of the familiar office building. Another five minute pass, and I’m beginning to worry. And after about twelve minutes I hit a dead end. The road simply stops! It leads to a series of dilapidated auto companies and very little else. Beyond them nothing but trees. I have no internet connection and I’m starting to sweat profusely.
Stepping into one of the garages I ask whether I could check Google Maps real quick. I’m now fifteen minutes late and I realize my error. I embarked at the right station and should indeed have turned left. But what I failed to realize was that my subway train was approaching the station from the other angle, meaning I should have turned right! I thank the kind auto mechanics, jog my way back to the station, cross the street and within minutes finally catch sight of the office building.
By the time I enter the reception area I’m forty minutes late and it takes another five for my appointment to meet me. ‘I can’t tell you how sorry I am –’ I begin to explain. ‘– I promise you it’s not like me to be an hour late’ I exaggerate. ‘Two hours. –’ the man coldly replies. ‘ – It’s now twelve. You we’re suppose to be here at ten.’ So much for good omens!
Despite of this, my pitch for a series of vintage horror comics was warmly received. A deal was made and we shook hands. Finally, after a decade of corporate nonsense, I was allowed to wallow into the world of ghouls and goblins. Finally my creative juices were allowed to flow. Together we prepared my first trade paperback and set a release date. The album was to be published in may 2020. What could possibly go wrong?!