|Born||c. 1950 (age 71–72)|
|BEM (Bemusing Magazine)|
|Awards||Eagle Award (1977, 1978, 1980, 1981)|
Martin Lock (born c. 1950 in the United Kingdom) is a British comic book critic, writer, and publisher. As publisher of the fanzines BEM and Fantasy Advertiser , and then publisher of Harrier Comics, he was an important figure in British comics fandom in the 1970s and 1980s.
All during his publishing career, Lock had a day job in the sales department of a company in the chemical industry, the income from which helped finance his printing bills. When his employer moved its offices from London to Worcester in the late 1970s, Lock relocated as well. By the time he started Harrier in the mid-1980s, he had returned to London, settling in Northwood, Middlesex.
Growing up as a comics enthusiast in the U.K., Lock became a reader of, and eventual a contributor to, British comics fanzines like Nick Landau & Richard Burton's Comic Media properties and Alan Austin's Fantasy Unlimited (later known as Comics Unlimited). He also worked as an editor for a time on Mark Ellis' fanzine Fantasy Trader.
Main article: BEM (magazine)
In November 1973, Lock launched his own comics fanzine, Bemusing Magazine (later known as BEM). Billed as "The Comics News Fanzine," the fanzine featured industry news and gossip, interviews, comic reviews, essays, columns, and comic strips. Early issues of Bemusing Magazine were sold to customers waiting outside the frequent comic marts held in London, as well as the annual edition of the British Comic Art Convention ("Comicon").
One of Bemusing Magazine's key features was its publication of U.S.-based comics industry news that Lock acquired from the long-running American fanzine The Comic Reader (TCR). BEM was generally published on alternate months of Burton's Comic Media News, which also used TCR news, thus providing a dose of monthly comic industry news for readers of both publications. (Lock served as features editor for Comic Media News from 1973 to 1977, even after he launched BEM.)
BEM was also famed for its lengthy letters pages, Reaction. Lock became a member of the British Amateur Press Association, which was formed in 1977 in part due to a letter published in Reaction.
As time went, the fanzine also became more of a "strip-zine," with original comics content — some of it written by Lock — increasing year by year. Notable contributors over the years to BEM included Brian Bolland, Mike McMahon, Bryan Talbot, and Dave Gibbons.
By the late 1970s BEM had become the UK's leading comics zine; Lock's efforts with led to him winning two Eagle Awards — the 1977 Eagle for Favourite British Fan Personality and the 1978 Eagle for Favourite British Writer. (Lock was also nominated for the 1977 Eagle for Favourite British Comics Writer.) BEM was thrice nominated for the Eagle Award for Favourite Fan Publication, winning the award in 1980 and 1981.
BEM was acquired by the U.S.-based New Media Publishing (NMP) in 1981, ostensibly to distribute BEM in the U.S. and widen its readership. But production delays and the emphasis on British comics prevented the magazine from gaining a foothold. NMP produced only two issues before BEM faded away. In the end, BEM publishes 36 issues from 1973 to 1982.
Quickly pivoting, Lock revived Fantasy Advertiser, a popular British fanzine dating back to 1965 which had been dormant for a years. He edited Fantasy Adveriser from 1981 to 1985, putting out 20 issues before handing over the editorial reins to Martin Skidmore, in order for Lock to focus on his next venture, Harrier Comics.
Main article: Harrier Comics
From 1984 to 1989, Lock ran Harrier Publishing, popularly known as Harrier Comics. The success of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles led to a short-lived explosion of black-and-white independent comics in the United States in the mid-1980s. Harrier's titles followed the same mold, unlike most British comics publishers, who favored the comic magazine format. Lock himself wrote the company's first few titles, Conqueror and Swiftsure. (Conqueror traced its roots back to 1979, when Lock and artist Dave Harwood created the first stories for BEM.)
A number of top UK comics professional gave their support to Harrier by contributing covers and introductions to the company's various titles. Harrier's alternative comics imprint, New Wave, featured a number of notable creators, including Eddie Campbell, Phil Elliott, Glenn Dakin, Paul Grist, Ed Hillyer, Rian Hughes, Trevs Phoenix, and Warren Pleece.
By the spring of 1989, low sales forced Harrier to shut down. During Harrier's short existence, the company published more than 120 issues of over 30 titles.