|Area(s)||Editor, writer, publisher and retailer|
Early comics involvement
Landau was significantly involved in comics fandom from at least 1968. He was co-editor of the fanzine Comic Media, ran comic marts and imported American comics into the UK. In the mid-70s, he ran a shop selling imported US comics in London's Notting Hill.
In the mid-1970s, after finishing a post-graduate course at film school, Landau got his break when he went to the offices of science-fiction comic 2000 AD to interview then-editor Pat Mills for Comic Media News (a spin off from Comic Media). Mills was planning on resigning once the comic had become established, and following the interview, had decided that Landau would make a suitable chief sub-editor, saying:
Nick was clearly an exceptional person and I knew he would be of great value, but [IPC publisher John] Sanders rightly regarded most comic fans with deep suspicion, irrelevant to a mainstream undertaking. I agreed with feeling and still do. Nick was the exception to an otherwise golden rule.
Landau didn't get that job due to his lack of experience, but he was soon given the same position at IPC Magazines' Action. When Mills stepped down after sixteen issues, replaced by Kelvin Gosnell, Landau was brought in as Gosnell's chief sub-editor. Gosnell was overwhelmed by the amount of work needed to launch Starlord, and Landau took up the slack. As Gosnell describes it, "As soon as Starlord came on the scene, I lost it. I had to have someone running 2000 AD and that was Nick Landau. He was halfway between editor and chief sub" and Roy Preston was made a sub-editor to take up the slack and help Landau. With the focus on the launch of Starlord (issue #1 was cover dated May 13, 1978), Landau, Preston and art editor Kevin O'Neill had more creative freedom. As Mills says, "Some of the best decisions on 2000 AD's future were made while they were running the show. They were responsible for "The Cursed Earth", credit cards and encouraged talented artists like Garry Leach and Brian Bolland." Gosnell disagrees, stating that "[t]his wonderful gush of creative freedom they felt when I started on Starlord nearly got 2000 AD taken off the market."
They ran into legal problems over fill-in stories for "The Cursed Earth" (which satirised the big food companies, including figures like Ronald McDonald and the Jolly Green Giant) but the main problems came over Inferno, the sequel to Harlem Heroes. Concerns were raised over the violence in the story, but the sequence of events is unclear, as David Bishop writes in Thrill Power Overload, "[t]rying to determine exactly what happened next is problematic, due to conflicting memories and the passage of time." The outcome was that, with issue #86 (cover-dated 14 October 1978), when Starlord was merged into 2000 AD, Landau was moved into the same role at Battle, swapping places with Steve MacManus. Landau soon resigned from Battle and moved full-time back into the world of commerce.
Forbidden Planet and Titan Entertainment Group
Landau first saw the opportunity to distribute American comics in the UK in the 1970s, when only a small range of US comic books were available in British news agents. In the late 70s he established Titan Distributors, which was a wholesaler for comics, science fiction and other genre materials, with partners Mike Lake and Mike Luckman. In 1978, the three also opened the first Forbidden Planet shop in Denmark Street, London (also known as 'Tin Pan Alley'). They then set up the publishing company Titan Books, which in 1981 produced its first title, collected reprints of Brian Bolland's Judge Dredd stories from 2000 A.D. This was one of the earliest high quality, book format publications of comic material in the UK (the term graphic novel was not in widespread use at that time), and Titan Books followed the first title with numerous other 2000 A.D. reprints. Subsequently the publishing company expanded operations and now publishes both new and licensed graphic novels and film and TV tie-ins.
In 1992 Landau parted company with Lake (Luckman had departed earlier to run a Forbidden Planet store in New York). Lake later sold Titan Distributors to the US comics distributor Diamond Comic Distributors and then established his own Forbidden Planet line of stores, Forbidden Planet International, mainly in northern England and Scotland.
Landau set up the group company Titan Entertainment Group (TEG) in 1993. The group now includes Forbidden Planet, Titan Books, Titan Magazines, publishers of Star Trek Magazine, the Wallace and Gromit comic, UK editions of Simpsons Comics, and many other titles; and Titan Merchandise, producers of high-quality licensed merchandise for global properties, including Marvel Comics, Doctor Who, Kick-Ass, and Hammer Horror. TEG no longer distributes comics. Although TEG has made some attempts to establish Forbidden Planet abroad, there are no longer any TEG-owned FP stores outside the UK.
Landau now runs TEG with current business partner and wife Vivian Cheung.
He has written some comic stories:
- M.A.C.H. 1: "Origina" (with co-author Roy Preston and art by Lothano, in 2000 AD #59-60, 1978)
- Dan Dare: "The Doomsday Machine" (with Garry Leach (#82-84) and Dave Gibbons (#85), in 2000 AD #82-85, 1978)
- Dez Skinn's overview of comic fanzines.
- Thrill Power Overload, page 34
- Thrill Power Overload, page 35
- Thrill Power Overload, page 36
- "A brief history of Starlord" from "Watch the stars!" website
- Thrill Power Overload page 41
- Thrill Power Overload page 42
- Thrill Power Overload page 44
- Thrill Power Overload page 45.
- Thrill Power Overload page 46-47
- Thrill Power Overload page 50
- Thrill Power Overload, page 51
- "NewsWatch: Diamond Acquires Titan Distributors," The Comics Journal #154 (Nov. 1992), p. 14.
- Company information on Titan Entertainment Group
- Titan Magazines US official site
- Titan Magazines UK official site
- Titan Books official site
- Forbidden Planet official site