The Rise and Fall of Neptune Comic Distributors: Part Eight

Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Part Four. Part Five. Part Six. Part Seven.

Neptune was bankrupt and had been taken over by Diamond. Trident Comics and Toxic! had went bust with creators left unpaid and art never returned. Geoff was bankrupt, but he still carried on. Geoff had managed via Todd to somehow grab the UK reprint rights for Dark Horse Comics series of comics based upon Aliens, Predator, Robocop and Terminator.  In fact Neptune wasn’t finally wound up til the year 2000, but it was Geoff’s return to publishing with Phoenix Press in 1992 which seemed to ensure he still had a toehold in comics but not for long as dissolved owing hundreds of thousands.

At this point the rumour flying round that Geoff had shacked up with Carolyn, Neptune’s former secretary and that he was on the run from various people who he’d not paid, not to mention his name after the Phoenix Press fiasco ensured his name in America was mud. Some of this came from conversations with Pete Stevenson (who by the late 90’s had retired from Moore Harness) who I used to see when I’d go scouring for stock with Chris and Maurice, or in one case, myself and a ex-girlfriend bumped into him in the Shires shopping centre in Leicester where Pete told me the gory story of the final days of Neptune, not to mention the debts and ill will Geoff had built up. All of Geoff’s stock had been seized by bailiffs and was sold in early 1993. It was in fact bought by Chris and Maurice and ended up being part of the stock for Comics and C.D’s, the comic shop I worked in on and off from around 1992 to 1994.In fact that Neptune stock haunts me even today when I help Chris and Maurice out at marts when I sort out comics that I’ve probably been sorting out the same comic for nearly 25 years…

As to Toxic! and Trident Comics back issues, well, they lived in my garage for a while when I lived in Clifton in Bristol. Whats left now live in Chris’s stock or here in his lock up in a farm just outside Bristol.

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As for Geoff, around 2000 when I got regular access to the internet I’d decided one drunken night to track Geoff down. I’d managed to locate him still in the East Midlands in Northampton or Leicester.  I’d thought nothing more of it until when in the writing of this I was wondering where he is now, so again went and did some research to find all his directorships suddenly stop in March 2005 yet a company he’d set up still has Sarah and his daughter as directors in 2014. This caused a little bell to ring in my head so I checked further and that little bell was indeed right as Geoff died in March of 2005. A few years back I’d worked briefly in probate and it reminded me of what happens when a sudden death occurs and directorships have to be closed all at the same time. Upon finding this out all my bitter anger diffused as there’s no point staying angry with someone who died so young.

He’d have been in his early 40’s which is really no age for anyone to go. He does have a legacy in comics but because of his actions he’s a forgotten figure who has passed into the mists of time, but without him 2000AD wouldn’t be full colour every week, there wouldn’t be a history of American comics coming out in the UK as soon as possible after they get released in the US. Mark Millar wouldn’t have got a break and a major foothold in comics, nor would a number of creators who got their first work published in Trident Comics or in Toxic!. In fact the actions of Geoff through Neptune and the other companies he had very much shaped how comics are today so every time you get you’re copy of Batman remember that there were serious battles to ensure this happened, but in effect you’re supporting a monopoly with Diamond.

Sadly the British comics scene was virtually moribund for years and it’s only in the last few years that serious diversity in British comics (I’m tired of seeing endless superhero, crap horror or twee fantasy titles with bloody elves) returned. There’s also nothing as interesting as Fantasy Advertiser being published which isn’t to say there’s some great comic related blogs out there; there are. Most though are just acting as free advertising for the bigger publishers and actual comics journalism (Bleeding Cool tries sometimes but mainly is a gossip column) is thin on the ground and no, saying something is awesome isn’t actually criticism.

So there it is. The rise and fall of Neptune Comic Distributors. Brought down by a man’s hubris but at the same time it had an enormous part to play in the history of British comics & as made clear in this series of blogs, the lives of a large number of people. Now it’s all out in the open I hope I’ve informed people who were around at the time of things that happened at the time, and of younger readers who knew nothing of this. If I have one last thing to say it’s that I’d have that time over again like a shot, but without the insanity. See even though there were times when the stress coming from Geoff was insane and verged upon bullying/intimidation, there were good times most of the time…….

6 thoughts on “The Rise and Fall of Neptune Comic Distributors: Part Eight

  1. Pingback: What I thought of Savior #1 | My Little Underground

  2. Was looking for more info on Trident off the back of researching Aliens magazine and stumbled upon your blog. Really interesting read. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your first-hand experience in such an entertaining and informative manner. Beyond the lasting impact of Neptune you describe in the last paragraph above, Toxic meant a great deal to me at a very important time in my life.

    Cheers for your the part you played in that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A fascinating tale.

    I worked at Mega City in London in 1988-1989 and I remember Martin’s deliveries very well, especially the time that he came in beaming, because Titan had had their shipment of Howard Chaykin’s ‘Black Kiss’ #1 seized by customs as pornography, so only Neptune’s customers would be getting any until the matter was resolved; if, indeed, it even could be resolved, which remained to be seen.

    I went to work for Titan in 1989 and left again in the summer of 1991 when I emigrated. My period at Titan was probably the least rewarding of my life to date, and so it’s interesting to read what happened to it and Neptune after I left the company, the country and the world of comics.

    Sad to read that the comic industry is now essentially back where it was before the renaissance of the mid-eighties. It reminds me of the music industry, where today it’s almost as if punk never happened.

    I sold most of my collection in 1991 and lost a lot more in a storage warehouse fire many years later.

    Funnily enough, I found a NM copy of Cerebus #1 in my cellar the other day. No idea whether it’s still worth anything. I was so sick of the world of comics when I left the country in the summer of 1991 that I even stopped buying Cerebus, although I assume it eventually reached its conclusion at issue #300.

    You’ve reminded me of a very topsy-turvy time in my life, when I was struggling to make ends meet in a very unforgiving London, and trying hard to figure out who I was, what I wanted from life, and exactly how much control I could exert over my own destiny.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always loved dropping off with Martin at Mega City as he’d make it his last drop and I’d be let loose to meet up with mates in Camden in the days before it became a plastic playground for yuppies, tourists and pretendy alternative types.

    As for Black Kiss, we had to play some fun and games to sneak that through customs and as for Cerebus, it did eventually reach #300 to create a record as the longest running indie title. A title now held by Spawn!

    But yeah, comics is in a weird place right now. The films are making billions but the industry is still struggling having learned no lessons from the boom times of the 80’s or the crash of the 90s.

    Good to hear from someone also around back then.


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