Forbidden Planet is about to celebrate its 42nd birthday and Forbidden Planet's Group Operations Director Leigh Baulch has been video-interviewed by colleague Andrew Sumner, going live at forbiddenplanet.com/fp42 on Saturday, August 29th – but not about the store, but his own contribution to the designs of Sandman. More designs for Saturday…
"It's smaller than I think most people make out but I met Neil the year I joined Titan. He was trying to negotiate to get the Douglas Adams book or another book, I can't honestly remember and we crossed paths and then we ended up both looking to work on a comic that was being packaged by a chap called Hunter Tremaine. I didn't know Neil was pitching to do work for it, I just thought it was some comic strip work, do it in the evenings, do it at the weekends, it'd be nice to keep my hand in. Basically I ended up working with Neil on visualizing his cyberpunk comic strip. I'm trying to remember the name of it, he'll kill me for not remembering. I did a lot of the characters design and then passed it on to somebody else."
"I was also working on one of one of those strips and I'd seen the work of a chap called Dave Mckean at one of the Westminster comics marts and I contacted him and suggested maybe you know he'd like to pitch to do something on it as well because to me he seemed like this incredible talent, he wasn't really doing much professionally at that point in time. And he joined in as well and that's how he and Neil met. And then a year or so later Neil does the pitch for the Sandman and Dave does some initial visuals for it, and I did another bunch as well which included I'm reasonably certain the first visualizations of Death so if I had a claim it's I probably got to draw Death first…"
"Neil, at any point I'm happy for you to correct me if my memory is wrong heading towards 40 years ago, so you know yeah my recollection isn't that clear. So yeah so I did did some of that stuff for that, the book got allocated to Sam Keith and obviously he did his thing and then you know it evolved into what it is but I think one of Neil's great strengths is you know he writes towards what artists excel at. So he tailors his stories to work well with the person he's actually got illustrating the books so you know you've seen that time after time on Sandman and on other things as well."
Neil tellls me "I'm not sure if Leigh ever drew a Death but he was definitely the first to draw Dream and Dream's Helm." Well it was a long time ago. More designs to come on Saturday. Because on Saturday, August 29th, ForbiddenPlanet.com will be hosting ForbiddenPlanet42, with a huge range of celebrity interviews, as alumni from the worlds of science fiction, comics & popular culture come together to help the store celebrate 42 years of pop-culture addiction – and ponder the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything with an all-star cast of their oldest friends and customers.
This event will feature new, exclusive interviews with some of their more celebrated customers including William Shatner, DMC, Neil Gaiman, Alice Cooper, Jonathan Ross, Gerard Way, Garth Ennis, Kevin Smith, Michael Moorcock, Simon Pegg, Mark Millar, Dan Slott, V.E. Schwab, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Dirk Maggs, Chris Claremont & Ben Aaronovich amongst others, hosted by Forbidden Planet and Titan Comics Andrew Sumner.
It will also host a tribute to the late, great Douglas Adams in the shape of a rare, never-before-heard interview with Douglas recently discovered in the vaults conducted by friend of Douglas and author of Don't Panic, a certain Neil Gaiman. who is known for some other things too.
Discussing this special event, Forbidden Planet owners, Vivian Cheung & Nick Landau said "Forbidden Planet 42 (yes, it's our 42nd birthday!) is an auspicious tip of the hat to our old friend Douglas Adams, the genius behind The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy – for whom the number 42 was the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe & Everything. Douglas was one of the first authors to ever sign at the store and he returned for every new book he wrote. We are joined by a galaxy of stars from comics, music, science fiction, film & TV – friends of Forbidden Planet who have signed at the store over the last four decades. This celebration is dedicated to every creator who has appeared at FP and every staff member who has worked with us over the years – but most importantly, to all our customers and to every pop culture fan who shares this passion with us."
And they have a bunch of quotes to run alongside…
"I look at Jeff Beck, I look at Paul McCartney, I look at the Stones, Clapton, Jimmy Page – they've always been quality. Same thing with Forbidden Planet." – Alice Cooper
"Before I ever visited London, Forbidden Planet was whispered about in New Jersey, you'd read about it in the letter columns of comic books, it actually appeared in the comics themselves. The first time I went over to the UK, one of the most important things to me about London was: we HAVE to go to Forbidden Planet!" – Kevin Smith (Clerks)
"Forbidden Planet has a special place in my heart – it was June 19th 1983 when I realised such a magical kingdom existed. Discovering Forbidden Planet was like discovering an Aladdin's cave!" – Simon Pegg
"I went to university in London because I wanted to stay and enjoy things like Forbidden Planet. That's when the whole new wave of more adult, progressive comics began. It was such an exciting time – there was a lot of new books & new publishers coming out – and the ONLY place you could find them was at Forbidden Planet." – Jonathan Ross
"I'm so glad that your Forbidden Planet stores exist – they are wonderful!" – William Shatner
"Forbidden Planet is amazing! I had always heard about it but I had no idea how phenomenal it was – more exciting than Disney World, more exciting than Coney Island. Walking into Forbidden Planet is like walking into another dimension. For real." – DMC (Run-DMC)
The festivities will continue with special offerings and promotions in-store at all branches throughout the UK