Friday 26 September 2014

Happy Birthday, dear Electric.... Happy Birthday to Soup!

Issue #6, initial cover, by Dave Alexander
Concluding our 2 weeks of Soupy celebrations let's start with the above, the test print of the issue #6 cover that never was. It seems all that saw the issue were in agreement that the yellow just didn't have enough pop and so (for a few issues, at least) a bold red was added to the mix.

Issue #6, initial back cover, by Frank Quitely
Dave reckons only 10 or so of these were printed and isn't entirely sure if the copy he has is the only one still in existence....

Destination Underpants, by Tommy Somme
This illustration, culled from the 1993 Glasgow Comic Convention brochure, was supposed to herald the arrival of Destination Underpants (like most Electric Soup legend this name revolves around Frank Quitely, a bus ticket and the unfortunate mistake of what seems to have been his mother leaning too hard whilst writing an 'essentials' list for a trip to London - evidently it was hilarious enough to spawn the title, but little by way of content)....

Soupermen, L-R, Padam, Jim, Tommy, Frank and Dave
And now we head into the office for some exclusive pictures courtesy of Dave Alexander....

Jim McEwan and Tommy Somme in the Soup offices
Dave Alexander, ultra suave cartoonist....
Padam Singh contemplates all things comic....
Fresh faced Frank Quitely quite frankly needs a break....
Debbie Mathison, the Soup's sole female contributor....
Och aye spy, with Jim McEwan (seated) and Hugh McKenna....
Finally, to round things off here's an informative interview from Glasgow's Evening Times that gives some insight into the genesis of the early issues.... Thanks for reading, yabassas!

Evening Times, 13th January, 1990

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Happy Birthday to Soup (part 5)....

Issue #17 cover, by Hugh McKenna
Not a huge amount to be said as regards today's birthday post, but a few obscure-ish pieces to add into the Soupy mix....

Issue #17 back cover, by Rob McCallum
Issue #17 also came with a 1993 Wall Calendar, stitched together here in all it's glory. Dave Alexander - amid good humoured grumbles as to how he had to compose the piece around other artist's contributions - also confessed to contributing the, er, wrapping paper design that (dis)graced the back....

Issue #17, 1993 Wall Calendar, V/A
Issue #17, wrapping paper, by Dave Alexander
Condensed Soup, cover by Dave Alexander
Condensed Soup, back cover by Frank Quitely
In Dave's words, here's what happened a decade later, "The next outing for the MacBams was in Electric Soup again - this time the imaginatively titled (by me) "10th Anusversary Issue", which was put together single-handedly (by me), distributed (by me) - you starting to see a pattern here? - and which gathered together most of the old Soup gang. Any enthusiasm for a 20th Anusversary Issue had long since evaporated, although a few misty-eyed dreamers did ask."

Anusversary Issue, front cover, by Dave Alexander
We'd guess this blogger was one such 'misty-eyed dreamer' as there was an attempt to rouse the beast for the ongoing Khaki Shorts zine at the time. Shug '90 and Frank Quitely (yep, indeed!) duly rose to the occasion, producing a few new strips and Dave himself did have a rummage about in his drawers, handing over an previously unearthed gem for our middle pages. Blink and you'll miss the reference on John Miller's cracking cover, mind....

Monday 22 September 2014

Happy Birthday to Soup (part 4)....

Issue #13 cover, by Frank Quitely
Again we return to the world of Electric Soup as we continue our anniversary celebrations. Perhaps in keeping with the prevailing mood here in Scotland it seems none of the guys have very much to say today, so we'll have to stick with just the covers for now....

Issue #13 back cover
Issue #14 cover, by Frank Quitely
Issue #14 back cover, by Gerbil

Issue #15 cover, by Dave Alexander
Issue #15 back cover, by Tommy Somme
Issue #16 cover, by Tommy Somme
Issue #16 back cover
Dave Alexander commented last week that the above back cover to #16 was photographed in the street outside of J&T graphics, and just so happened to coincide with a busload of Japanese tourists passing by. You can surely guess the rest....

Friday 19 September 2014

Happy Birthday to Soup (part 3)....

Issue #9 cover, by Dave Alexander
Once more into the breach.... Today Dave Alexander returns to guide us through the beginnings of Electric Soup (em, apologies, but once again it's a piece nabbed from a book intro)....

Issue #9 back cover, by Tommy Somme
"In 1985 (!), when Tommy Sommerville and myself began talking about starting a comic, Tommy's strip "Adolf Bustard - Traffic Warden" and the now two page MacBam story with front and back covers, comprised what was to become Electric Soup.

Issue #10 cover, by Tommy Somme
Electric Soup from the start was a self-financed venture, and distributed round local record and comic shops (especially the aforementioned FutureShock! and AKA) in the time honoured fashion - plastic carrier bag and Shanks's pony.

Issue #10 back cover, by Hugh McKenna
The money made from each issue financed the printing of the next one, and it wasn't until John Brown Publishing signed us up after 7 self-published issues that we actually started to get paid for our efforts - £50 a page, but still welcome.

Issue #11 cover, by Hugh McKenna
With print runs of 50,000 we went national and international but didn't end up millionaires like the Viz guys. Where's the fuckn justice, eh?!"

Issue #11 back cover, by Padam Singh

Issue #12 cover, by Padam Singh

Issue #12 back cover, by Rob McCallum

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Happy Birthday to Soup (part 2)....

Issue #5 cover, by Frank Quitely
Continuing our Electric Soup celebrations today Hugh McKenna truly takes the mick and graces the blog with some carefully selected words of wisdom (i.e. they're retyped from the outro to his collected Shug '90 book, er)....

Issue #5 back cover, by Dave Alexander
"In the late '80's I went to a Comic Fair in the Glasgow City Halls and met a group of guys who had published a comic called Electric Soup.

Issue #6 cover, by Dave Alexander
The Soup invited me down to the print shop, J&T Graphics in Parnie Street, where they were based. I took along my drawing book and left it with them to decide if I could get a strip in the comic.

Issue #6 back cover, by Frank Quitely
Next came a Friday night "brainstorm" at which Frank Quitely went insane, eating an entire pack of dry Tea Biscuits in the process! Meanwhile I wondered what type of madness I was letting myself in for! But as it turned out, they liked my early stuff.

Issue #7 cover, by Frank Quitely
The Soup ran for 17 issues and in that time it went from being Glasgow's best kept secret to a UK-wide magazine, distributed by John Brown Publishing (of Viz fame).

Issue #7 back cover, by Tommy Somme
But, as with the brightest of stars, it burned out all too soon...." (kinda like this commentary!)

Issue #8 cover, by Frank Quitely

Issue #8 back cover, by Dave Alexander

Monday 15 September 2014

Happy Birthday to Soup (part 1)....

Issue #1 front cover, by Dave Alexander
Yep, yabassas, it's 25 years this month since Electric Soup first (dis)graced the shelves of local retailers. Without further adieu we'll hand over today's blog to Dave Alexander for his recollection of the first issue launch....

Issue #1 (limited edition) back cover, by Dave Alexander
"I can't remember the exact date, but it was a Saturday in September 1989 at a comic mart in The City Halls in Candleriggs in Glasgow city centre. It might have been put on by Frank Plowright, as his early Glascac comic conventions took place there in 1990. The original Electric Soup team were there - Tommy “Somme” Sommerville, Padam “Zing” Singh, Frank Quitely and Dave “Zander” Alexander. (Jim “Jammy Jamster“ McEwan, Hugh “Shug” McKenna and several others became part of the regular team in 1990).

Issue #2 front cover, by Frank Quitely
A large crowd had gathered outside the double-doors, and Tommy and myself cunningly stationed ourselves at either side to hand out flyers. When the doors flew open the crowd surged past us and we managed to hand out about ten flyers between us. Rather sheepishly we headed back to our table, where we sat for an hour without a single person coming over, and not selling a single comic....

Issue #2 back cover, by Tommy Sommerville
Then Frank Quitely had one of his brilliant (if desperate) ideas - "Why don't I stand at the table as if I've just bought a copy, and laugh my head off?" This he did, shouting at the top of his lungs "HAW - THIS IS RERR!!!" (i.e. rare, brilliant), and giving out the loudest most unconvincing pretend laughing fit ever heard. Three hundred or so people stopped everything they were doing and stared over at us in a mixture of fear and amazement....

Issue #3 front cover, by Tommy Sommerville
We were, quite frankly, totally embarrassed and hid our faces behind copies of the comic - Somme's face going an even deeper shade of red than it usually was, and Zing's going a few shades paler than usual. Vin's overacting seemed to do the trick however as people started trickling over, picking it up, looking through it, laughing, and amazingly - buying it. We sold at least a hundred copies over the next couple of hours - not bad for a comic and a bunch of would be comic artists nobody had ever heard of.

Issue #3 back cover, by Padam Singh
The late Neil Craig of Futureshock in Byres Road was suitably impressed and there and then paid for 100 copies - the first comic shop owner to take it. John McShane of AKA Books and Comics was hot on his heels and put in a similar order to be delivered to their shop in the now sadly gone Virginia Galleries in Virginia Street.

Issue #4 front cover, by Padam Singh
Three weeks later we had sold the last copies of our initial 1,000 limited edition print run, paid off our printers Expressprint, and ordered another 3,000 copies of issue one. There was no stopping us after that and we started working on issue two, aiming for a Christmas release. Two and a half years later we had produced seventeen issues and the best selling "Cream of Condensed Soup", a collected edition of the best of issues one to seven. Not bad, considering we were only going to do one issue for a laugh."

Issue #4 back cover by Frank Quitely