|Area(s)||Retailer, editor, publisher|
|Titan Entertainment Group|
Nick Landau is a British media figure. He is co-owner of the Titan Entertainment Group, which publishes Titan Magazines and Titan Books, and owns the London Forbidden Planet store. In the 1970s, before starting up Titan Distributors, he published a fanzine, organized comic marts and comic book conventions, imported American comics into the UK, and even spent part of a year as an editor with 2000 AD.
In 1972, Landau and fellow enthusiast Richard Burton Landau and Burton established the Comic Media brand, from which Burton published the fanzine Comic Media News and Landau organized comic marts and delved into direct market distribution.
First, Burton and Landau published the short-lived fanzine Comic Media. Burton's Comic Media News (CMN) ended up lasting 40 issues, until 1980. (Landau contributed articles to CMN throughout much of its history.) In 1973, when only a small range of US comic books were available in British news agents, Landau established Comic Media Distribution Service, which imported American comics from the "big two" publishers DC and Marvel. During this time, while also pursuing a post-graduate course at film school, he ran a shop selling imported US comics in London's Notting Hill.
In August of 1972, Landau organized Comicon '72, the fifth edition of the British Comic Art Convention. Later that year, Landau and Rob Barrow produced the first official London Comic Mart, a one-day event held at Lyndhurst Hall, that attracted around 250 attendees.
After producing another Comic Mart in late February 1973, Landau and Barrow stepped in to rescue Comicon '73, scheduled for the weekend of 21–22 July, but which had been abruptly canceled. Landau and Barrow, however, managed to put on a one-day version of the show on 22 July at Comicon's usual London location, the Waverley Hotel. (From that point, Barrow organized and produced the following five editions of Comicon.)
In 1974, Barrow and Landau expanded Comic Mart to become a more frequently occurring affair, with four editions, the summer one being a two-day affair co-billed with Comicon '74. With Barrow now focusing his energies on Comicon, in 1975 Landau continued the Comic Marts on his own. That year he produced three editions, one of them being a two-day affair, held at Central Hall Westminster (which eventually would become Comic Mart's signature venue).
Landau staged two Comic Marts in 1976, both at London's Regent Centre Hotel. Meanwhile, Rob Barrow (under the aegis of his corporate entity Fantasy Domain), returned to the "mart scene" in mid-November, organizing a competing, "more intimate" mart. Landau staged seven London Comic Marts in 1977, in such locations as the Regent Centre Hotel, Old Town Hall, and the Royal Horticultural Society's Old Hall in Vincent Square. (Meanwhile, Barrow put on two of his "Rob Barrow's Comic Book Marketplace" events.)
Also in 1977, Landau was one of a group of individuals (including his Comic Media partner Burton, and retailers Mike Conroy, Colin Campbell, and Phil Clarke) who set up the Eagle Awards. (Landau continued to be involved with the Eagle Awards, up into the late 1980s.)
IPC Magazines and 2000 AD
In the spring of 1978, Landau changed focus (temporarily, it turned out) to join the editorial staff of IPC Magazines. The opportunity came from an interview he conducted for Comic Media News at the offices of the still-new science fiction comic 2000 AD with editor Pat Mills. Mills was planning on resigning once 2000 AD 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 the 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 at 2000 AD 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 2000 AD's new sister title 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 No. 1 was cover-dated 13 May 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 points out, however, 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 No. 86 (cover-dated 14 October 1978), when Starlord was merged into 2000 AD, Landau was moved into the same role at the war comic magazine Battle (swapping places with Steve MacManus). Landau soon resigned from Battle and moved full-time back into the world of commerce.
Titan Distributors / Forbidden Planet
The first thing Landau did after leaving IPC was to turn his focus back to comic book distribution. With new partners Mike Lake and Mike Luckman, Landau rebranded and re-formed Comics Media Distribution Service as Titan Distributors, a wholesaler for comics, science fiction, and other genre materials. Titan Distributors supplied material to retailers all over the United Kingdom, operating from 1978 to 1993 (see below).
Comic Marts part II
One of Titan Distributors' actions was to "take back" the London Comic Mart from Mike Conroy. Beginning in 1980 and continuing through the decade, Titan Distributors and Rob Barrow's Fantasy Domain basically alternated months to hold their marts, with Landau's group using Central Hall Westminster as their event base. (Titan's comic marts became known colloquially as the Westminster Comic Mart.) Publisher/editor Paul Gravett began his career managing the Fast Fiction table at the bimonthly Comic Marts. Gravett invited artists to send him their homemade comics, which he would sell from the Fast Fiction table with all proceeds going to the creator.
The October 15, 1983, London Comic Mart was the host convention for the Eagle Awards, which were presented by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. (The British Comic Art Convention had disappeared after the 1981 show, and the United Kingdom Comic Art Convention didn't start up until 1985, so there were no actual comic book conventions being held in London during this time.)
Titan Books, Eagle Comics
In 1981, Landau, Luckman, and Lake set up the publishing company Titan Books, whose first title was the trade paperback collection 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, and Titan Books followed the first title with numerous other 2000 A.D. reprints.
In 1983, Landau started up Eagle Comics, a short-lived comic book publishing company that was also formed to republish stories from 2000 A.D., repackaging them into the American comic book format in the same way Titan Books had been reprinting them as trade paperbacks. In 1986, IPC's license for the material was awarded to Dez Skinn's Quality Communications, and Eagle Comics went defunct.
Titan Books, however, expanded operations, in 1987 putting out its first original title — Pat Mills and Hunt Emerson's You Are Maggie Thatcher — and also taking over publishing Escape magazine. Titan Books continues to publish both new and licensed graphic novels, as well as film and television tie-ins.
Landau, Luckman, and Lake go their separate ways
In 1992, Landau, Luckman, and Lake dissolved their partnership and traded their company shares: Landau became sole owner of Titan Books and Forbidden Planet London; Luckman became sole owner of Forbidden Planet's New York stores, and Lake became sole owner of Titan Distributors. (Other stores in the Forbidden Planet UK chain were owned by individuals.) Lake almost immediately sold Titan Distributors to the U.S.-based Diamond Comic Distributors and then established his own Forbidden Planet line of stores — Forbidden Planet International — mainly in northern England and Scotland.
Titan Entertainment Group
Landau set up the group company Titan Entertainment Group (TEG) in 1993. The group now includes Forbidden Planet London, Titan Books, Titan Magazines (established in 1995; publishers of Star Trek Magazine, the Wallace and Gromit comic, UK editions of Simpsons Comics, and many other titles), and Titan Merchandise (producers of licensed merchandise for global properties, including Marvel Comics, Doctor Who, Kick-Ass, The Avengers, Breaking Bad, The Beatles, and more). 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 runs TEG with his business partner, and wife, Vivian Cheung.
In popular culture
- Landau, Luckman, and Lake, a fictional organization appearing in Marvel Comics, is named for the original three founders (including Landau) of Titan Distributors and Forbidden Planet bookstores.
Landau has written some comic stories:
- M.A.C.H. 1: "Origins" (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)
- Skinn, Dez. "Early days of UK comics conventions and marts, part 3" Archived 2012-02-01 at the Wayback Machine DezSkinn.com. Accessed Mar. 3, 2013.
- Burton, Richard. "Meditorial," Comic Media News #20 (May/June 1975).
- "Comic Catalog is Dead! Long Live Comic Media!", Comicon '72 program booklet (1972), p. 17.
- Burton, Richard. "Meditorial," Comic Media News #15 (Sept. 1974).
- Burton, Richard. "Meditorial," Comic Media News #29 (Jan./Feb. 1977).
- "The February Comic Mart," Comic Media & The Comic Reader UK Edition Newsletter #3 (Feb. 1973).
- Roberts, Peter (21 October 1972). "6th British Comicon". Checkpoint (25). Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- Sallis, Ed. "Fan-Things," Bemusing Magazine #10 (Aug. 1976), p. 7.
- DMR. "The Insider Strikes," Bemusing #4: Comic Mart Special (Feb. 1975), p. 6.
- Rob Barrow's Comic Book Marketplace advertisement, Bemusing Magazine #11 (Nov. 1976), p. 6.
- Lock, Martin. "Fan-Things," BEM #16 (Dec. 1977), p. 11.
- Burton, Richard "'The Eagles' are launched!" in Burton (ed.) Comic Media News #30 (Mar-Apr 1977), p. 11.
- Plowright, Frank. Opening Shots: And As Ye Reap, So Shall Ye Sow," The Comics Journal #122 (June 1988), p. 11.
- Sallis, Ted. "Fan-Things," BEM #17 (Feb. 1978), p. 5.
- New Original Comic Mart advertisement, BEM Comic News #20 (Aug. 1978), p. 6.
- Thrill Power Overload, p. 34.
- Thrill Power Overload, p. 35
- Thrill Power Overload, p. 36.
- "A brief history of Starlord" from "Watch the stars!" website Archived 28 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Thrill Power Overload p. 41.
- Thrill Power Overload p. 42.
- Thrill Power Overload p. 44.
- Thrill Power Overload p. 45.
- Thrill Power Overload pp. 46-47.
- Thrill Power Overload p. 50.
- Thrill Power Overload, p. 51.
- Barnett, David. "How cult comic book shop Forbidden Planet changed the way we consume geek culture: Four decades on, the institution is still enjoying a position both at the top of the market and in the hearts of nerds across the land," The Independent (07 September 2018).
- "Comic Mart: Britain's Largest Comic Fan Gathering" advertisement, Comicon '79 program booklet.
- Green, Steve. "This Month," The Birmingham Science Fiction Group #147 (Nov. 1983), p. 2.
- "The Eagle Awards - Results: 1983," Eagle Awards website. Archived at the Wayback Machine. Accessed Jan. 27, 2020.
- "News From Hither and Yon: Eagles Return, New Dog Strip, EC Update, Computer Comics," The Comics Journal #84 (Sept. 1983), p. 22.
- "NewsWatch: Diamond Acquires Titan Distributors," The Comics Journal #154 (Nov. 1992), p. 14.
- "Newswatch: Diamond Acquires Titan Distributors [part II]," The Comics Journal #162 (Oct. 1993), pp. 35-36.
- Company information on Titan Entertainment Group
- Cronin, Brian (27 March 2008). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #148". Comic Book Resources.
- Titan Magazines US official site
- Titan Magazines UK official site
- Titan Books official site
- Forbidden Planet official site