Quality Communications was created in 1981 as Skinn’s vehicle for launching properties (V for Vendetta, Big Ben – The Man with No Time For Crime, The Liberators, and so forth) to establish copyright and brand awareness and ultimately multimedia licensing.
His comics magazine WARRIOR (1982-84) won over 17 awards and was pivotal in the evolution of comics, considered by many to be second only to The Eagle. For more, see Wikipedia entry for Warrior.
His hardcover book, COMIX: THE UNDERGROUND REVOLUTION (2004) – covering the 1960s era of US unrest and the creativity it spawned – was launched at London’s ICA Gallery with Gilbert Shelton (Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers), Bryan Talbot (Tale of One Bad Rat) and cover artist Hunt Emerson (Casanova’s Last Stand) taking part.
It was published both in the UK and North America (Chrysalis/Thunder’s Mouth) and was highly praised by the UK music, lifestyle and broadsheet press, including Book of the Week in The Independent. Review here. Amazon listing here.
His latest book, COMIC ART NOW (HarperCollins/Ilex) has been published in various territories both in oversized hardback and softcover editions. As well as a lavish visual feast, it is a long overdue directory complete with contact details for a range of international graphic novel and comics artists. Review here. Amazon listing here.
As a magazine columnist he has worked for a range of international magazines including the men’s magazine Arena and Italy’s Star Comics while his Marvel UK Sez Dez column was revived as a regular feature from the first issue of Future Publishing’s recently-cancelled Comic Heroes.
As an editor, he has steered the direction of more than 70 titles from MAD Magazine to Star Wars Weekly. The often-heard “British Stan Lee” epithet applied to his name is probably derived from the number of comics and fantasy-related titles he has created or co-created, which include Doctor Who Weekly, House of Hammer, Starburst, The Buster Book of Spooky Stories, Hulk Comic, Warrior, Night-Raven, V for Vendetta, Laser Eraser and Comics International. Cancelled or failed characters he has successfully revived include such superheroes as Captain Britain and Marvelman/Miracleman, while his titles have provided a publishing platform to launch or boost the careers of many of today’s top creatives including Dave Gibbons, John Bolton, David Lloyd, Steve Dillon, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore and Alan Davis.
Because of his strong beliefs in education through entertainment and the increasing world levels in illiteracy, he has recently begun working with the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, initially chairing a discussion on Comics and Literacy in the Middle East with further events and workshops set to follow.
He has been interviewed numerous times. Here are a few of the recent ones:
* On creating Doctor Who Weekly and changes in the industry.
* On “discovering” Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, and working with Stan Lee and Marvelman.
* On working for IPC Magazines, early influences, MAD, Starburst and the industry today.
* On early influences and how to break into the industry.
* On 40 years in the industry, an interview for the Malta Comic Con 2012 .
* On editing MAD, Starburst, Marvel Comics and Warrior.
* On House of Hammer, there’s a nice little 10-minute US-made documentary on Youtube: HoH.
Eagle Award 1976: Launching and editing HOUSE OF HAMMER magazine (best UK title)
Eagle Award 1976: Editing HOUSE OF HAMMER magazine (best UK title)
Eagle Award, 1977: For revamping MAD MAGAZINE (as editor)
Eagle Award, 1978: Launching and editing STARBURST (best UK title)
Eagle Award, 1979: Launching and editing HULK COMIC (best UK title)
Eagle Award, 1979: Creating NIGHT-RAVEN (best UK character)
Eagle Award, 1980: Launching and editing DOCTOR WHO WEEKLY (best UK title)
Society of Strip Illustration Award, 1982 “The Frank Bellamy Award” for Lifetime Achievement to the Industry (a tad premature, to my mind!)
Eagle Awards 1982, 1983, 1984: Launching and producing WARRIOR (best UK title) as creator/editor. The title actually swept the board, winning 16 additional awards during its short life, for its creatives and for favourite cover, favourite character, favourite supporting character, even favourite villain!
After a decade or so, the 1976-launched Eagle Awards became dormant and were replaced in 1997 by the National Comics Awards, again voted for by the general public, and presented by Jonathan Ross and Paul Gambaccini.
National Comics Awards 1997: Role of Honour Dez Skinn.
National Comics Awards 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003: For producing COMICS INTERNATIONAL (best specialist magazine or website) as publisher/editor.
…plus an assortment more, to be added when time permits (and if they can be uncovered).
In 2010, Dez Skinn received a Guinness World Record award for his 1979-created Doctor Who Weekly which had become the world’s longest lasting TV tie-in title. He received further such awards for the title in the following years.
His name was also the answer to a question on BBC2’s Mastermind TV series (6/5/10) when a contestant was asked, “The first edition of Warrior featured both Marvelman and V for Vendetta. Who founded and edited the comic?”
Wikipedia: Sadly, the concept of Wikipedia is flawed, prone to childish sniping (one of their staff commented on the notes pages about attacks on Dez’s entry from a couple of jaded ex-employees: “This is, without a doubt, the worst article I’ve ever seen in nearly four years here.”). While it’s a continual struggle keeping it factual and having cynical attacks removed, the following is a link to a brief but more balanced career summary: comicbook database
Managing Director: Quality Communications (1981 to date)
Public Company; varying number of employees; publishing industry.
Skinn’s company was named after his post-Marvel desire to produce quality in favour of quantity. As such its output over the last 30 years has been small and selective: Warrior, Halls of Horror and Comics International having the highest profile. Idealistic follies and financial faux pas have included Toy Max (an attempt at establishing a newsstand glossy magazine for bigger boys’ toys). 2005’s Comic Expo Brighton (a critically-acclaimed though financially disappointing trial for an upmarket European-styled comicbook festival) and Ace Comics, working with City College Brighton & Hove to publish a 20,000 print run Foundation Arts & Design comicbook as a portfolio for its students. More about these on their relevant pages when time allows.
Managing Director: Hagar Business Developments (1986-1987)
Public Company; 54 employees; telecommunications industry.
Set up for US owners who had previously backed my aborted US Judge Dredd line. As MD, developed and launched national telephone group chatlines as a credible (and highly viable) industry and ran the sector’s largest company. Set-up costs of £35k was covered in immediate turnover. £1.5m year one profit on £0.5m cost. Entailed people phoning in for 100% monitored 10-person group chats through Confertel equipment. One such, advertised in Ireland only, achieved having “squaddies” and “paddies” actually talking civilly to each other. Callers instantly cut off (5-second loop) for sexism, racism, profanity, obscenity, abuse or personal details. Appeared on various TV/radio news and in national press defending credibility of such a “social safety valve”. Defeated an aggressive Jeremy Paxman on live BBC TV news during this period. Set up compensation fund with top five service providers against unauthorised phone usage.
Successfully headed defense at Monopolies & Mergers Commission. Tackled BT and Oftel over reducing high-priced Premium Rate charges. A heady time.
Director: Studio System Ltd (1980-1982)
Set up West End design studio with partners Graham & June Marsh to provide work for film and fashion industries. Clients included Liberty’s of Regent Street, Columbia Pictures, Browns of South Molton Street, Hornby Hobbies, British Wool Marketing Board, Warner Bros.
Editorial Director: Marvel UK (1979-1980)
Arm-twisted by Stan Lee to turn around the fortunes of his then-ailing UK publishing division. Revamped & refocused entire line (under the promotional umbrella of “The Marvel Revolution”), added new comics and magazines (Doctor Who Weekly, Hulk Comic, Frantic, Starburst, a line of pocket books, etc). Only stayed 15 months or so because I fulfilled my function to make the company viable once more and didn’t wish to simply replicate & dilute the successes or become a paper-pushing production editor. Moved on to other challenges.
Group Managing Editor & Editor: Williams/Warner Bros (1975-1978)
In addition to taking over editorship of existing Young Magazines Group titles (MAD, Tarzan, Laurel & Hardy) was encouraged as Group Managing Editor to build up the section. Added the multi-award winning House of Hammer magazine (based around Hammer Films properties), refocused MAD on more UK-centric spoofery and launched various film-related oneshots and specials. Was also responsible for the control on imported DC Comics titles for UK federated news distribution.
Sub editor: IPC Magazines (1970-1975)
Editing, subbing, proofing, magazine production, design, layout, writing, promotion… Learning the crafts of the trade! Was headhunted away to edit MAD Magazine.
Prior: Doncaster Evening Post, Croda Chemicals.
There are some nice words said on LinkedIn, and it’s always better to offer third party opinions (especially as they were totally unsolicited). A summary of such follows:
Journalist, writer, copy editor“Never mind the comics stuff, it’s Dez’s skills as an editor that I want to talk about. Of all the editors in comics, newspapers and magazines I’ve worked for, Dez was the one who gave me the best grounding in the basics of how to construct a piece. On one occasion – in the nicest possible way – he tore apart my latest submission and before my eyes turned it into something far more readable. It was the single best lesson in journalism I ever received. I owe a lot to Dez and, far more importantly, so does the British comics industry – his track record at developing talent and putting together creative and commercial publishing hits is peerless. IPC’s loss has been the comics industry’s gain.
Publican & publisher, Vworp Vworp“It is no exaggeration to state that Dez was instrumental to the success of our inaugural title – Vworp Vworp.
Dez’s enthusiasm, knowledge, exacting standards and unrivaled contact base made him the ideal mentor and critical friend to this quality small press venture. In particular, his input was critical in helping us deliver our launch product to market at a significantly reduced financial risk than would otherwise have been possible in a hugely competitive marketplace.
Dez embodies the comic industry, and with his sharp business acumen and well rounded perspectives on matters of “life, the universe and everything” simply cannot fail to add value to any project with which he is involved.”
Gary Spencer Millidge
Self-publisher, Abiogenesis Press“Dez is an individual whose presence permeates the history of comic publishing in the UK. He generously covered my work in his essential comic news magazine Comics International for many years. His experience in comic and magazine editing in the UK is without peer.” (20/1/2009)
Managing Director (UK), Gems TV“Dez is a pioneer in the world of comics. And outside of it too! An immensely knowledgable person, who is happy to share that knowledge and give others a lift along the way. Dez is both ambitious and idealistic …a heady combination. Altogether a joy to know.” (1/3/2009)
Tim Perkins – Wizards Keep
Managing Director, Wizards Keep Limited“Dez’s knowledge of the publishing world is an invaluable asset for anyone working with him. His totally professional attitude when getting the job done and out on time is just one of his many attributes and is part of what makes him one of the best in the field. As an editor his dedication as a perfectionist, coupled with his originality and his ability to think from left field set him apart from the norm. As a publisher he never fails to deliver. As an innovator he continues to tread new and often untested ground. The man behind the likes of House of Hammer magazine, the man who spearheaded the original Marvel UK, the man behind Warrior magazine, Comics International and a whole host of other UK and international best sellers. The UK comic industry needs more creative thinkers like Dez Skinn.” (23/12/2008)
Commisioning editor, MamTor Publishing Ltd.“Dez Skinn is a stalwart of the UK comics landscape, a publisher, an innovator and commentator. Without Warrior magazine, which Dez created, there would have been no V for Vendetta, no reinvention of Miracleman/Marvelman. Groundbreaking creators such as Alan Moore and Alan Davis – amongst myriad others – might not have had the chance to find their unique voices enabling them to grow into the renowned creators they are today. Comics International has similarly spotlighted new talent amongst its columns, features, news and reviews. Dez has more experience in the field than pretty much anybody else I know.” (10/12/2008)
writer/illustrator“Frankly, without Dez, I wouldn’t be doing the job I do. I was a 16 yr old wanna be comic artist when Dez did me the great favour of sending me my first rejection letter. It wasn’t dismissive or cruel – it was clear, constructive and informative: it was the moment I realised this was a job I could actually – when I got better at it – do, and make a living at. It made my dreams possible, not just a pipe dream. Without Dez, most of what we take for granted now about contemporary comics wouldn’t have happened. He has been the chance-taking, mad-dreaming catalyst to the core of modern comics – Dez gave opportunities to new artists and writers during his time at Marvel UK and then on his own magazines House of Hammer and Warrior, folks who are now the bedrock of our business: Steve Dillon, Alan Moore, Alan Davis amongst others. Would they have made it anyway? Yes, they had the talent – but would their careers have been so interesting? Dez gave them the stage to shine on. He’s canny, clever and immensely personable. I have no hesitation in recommending him. Oh, and I still have that rejection letter!” (8/12/2008)
freelance writer“Dez Skinn is something of a legend in British comics publishing. I’ve known him for the best part of two decades, but worked closely with Dez for several years from 2000. When I went freelance as a writer he offered me a column in Comics International, which he then owned and edited. As a client Dez was a dream, always open to ideas and suggestions, always looking to improve what he published. Dez never sat on his laurels and maintained a dry sense of humour through the most trying of circumstances. I can heartily recommend him!” (7/12/2008)
Director: Pulp Theatre“I’ve known Dez since 1994 when I worked under his talent agency Quality Communications. As well as running the successful Comics International magazine, Dez had an eye for talent and we kept in contact on both a professional and social level. Comics International – the acclaimed UK monthly news and reviews magazine – came out on a monthly basis due to Dez’s philosophy of working to deadline through sickness or health. His opinion on a consultancy level is highly valued, and his reputation within the comic industry is recognised for his decisive and straight forward attitude.” (7/12/2008)
artist: V for Vendetta, Kickback
“Dez has tenacity and drive, and always works hard to achieve the best results in any position he finds himself in.” (6/12/2008)
Director of Sales, Marvel Comics“Most people working for a trade magazine would do all they could to cater to the publishers that control the largest portion of that trade. But not Dez. To say he had no qualms about taking to task the industry leaders would be an understatement. And he *always* had insider news before it was released, from these same industry leaders. Somehow, Dez was always so charming a thorn you’d invite him in your side. Now *that* is a Journalist, with a capital “J.”” (5/12/2008)
artist, Marvel Comics“I’ve known Dez Skinn for the better part of a decade now and have found him to be insightful, creative and intelligent, with an inexhaustible desire to achieve the highest standards in all his endeavors. He’s honest with who he works with, and any company would find it a blast and an asset to have him on board. I couldn’t recommend him more.” (5/12/2008)
columnist, Comic Book Resources“Dez is the closest thing Britain had to Stan Lee. His contributions to the British comics industry are legion and legendary, and both the artform and business would have been poorer without his intervention. Whether transforming Marvel UK into a creative powerhouse, single handedly challenging all preconceptions as to what British comics could be with Warrior and V For Vendetta, or creating Comics International, the long running trade magazine for the British industry that gave it a voice and a public presence for so many years. Dez Skinn, a legend in his own lunchtime.” (4/12/2008)
owner, Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc.“Dez, in my opinion, is the UK Comic Book market. In faithfully publishing Comics International for many years, he has made it possible for guys like me to be able to interact with my many friends in the United Kingdom and played a significant role in getting Diamond UK accepted as a trusted supplier when we first purchased Titan Distributors back in 1993 and retailers didn’t quite know what to expect from us.. I’ll bet he didn’t even know that. With Dez, what you see is what you get, and that is a good thing.” (16/1/2008)
Managing Director, Markosia Enterprises Ltd“Dez is without doubt one of the most important individuals to have worked in the British comics scene in the past thirty years. His ability to pick out properties which have succeeded in almost all markets has been phenomenal. Dez’s knowledge of the industry and its workings have been an invaluable source for me personally, and to many others who have been fortunate enough to have been associated with him. I hope to continue working with Dez in some capacity for a very long time, and would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone in need of the knowledge, experience and dedication required to succeed in publishing.” (26/9/2007)