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Friday, April 18, 2014

Comic Cuts - 18 April 2014

The big unveiling . . . so this is the cover I'm planning for the Countdown to TV Action index. It's a little 'busy' but I wanted examples from a wide variety of the strips as it's their one chance to be seen in colour. I still need to tinker with a couple of areas (logos, the spine and I'll probably put a Bear Alley Books logo on the back) but I'm pleased with the way it turned out.

The first notion I had was to incorporate images into the numbers of a 5-4-3-2-1-0 countdown. Unfortunately, it looked horrible because the page is so tall and the numbers had to be vertically stretched so they're taller and thinner than they should be. I partly resolved that by using the two original logos to create a title logo plus some panels from the 'Countdown' strip for the back cover. I then used bands of different widths and elements from covers—and three from original artwork.

I spent my birthday designing it, so I hope you like it. I could have been watching TV or reading a book instead. It was a deliberately quiet day. Like the Queen, I have an official birthday and a day for public celebration, which will be Saturday—tomorrow if you're reading this the day it's posted.

So I added another year to my age during the week and aside from the expected cracks and creaks from muscles that used to work smoothly, I'm not feeling especially old. Part of that is down to being more active, having spent a good part of the year forcing myself to go for walks and get some exercise. The idea was not to simply lose some weight but to make a lifestyle change so that a morning walk became part of my regularly daily routine. I'm now walking a mile and a half every morning and another three-quarters of a mile in the afternoon; in fact, I now feel guilty if I don't walk.

I managed to lose 12 pounds and a few inches around the waist last year, but it has taken until now to shake off the couple of pounds I put on over Christmas/Winter. OK, that might not sound like much of an achievement, but you have to remember that this time last year I'd piled on a lot of weight after giving up smoking and it was still heading skywards. So in a year I've turned my (steady) weight increase into a (bumpy) weight loss.

My poor exercise bike is slowly falling apart. The strap over the left hand pedal snapped a long time ago, but this week the speedometer and mileometer broke after I'd cycled exactly 1,698 miles. I can still use the bike, but now I have to measure my cycling in time (I usually it in 15 minute bursts) rather than mileage.

I was sorry to learn of Sue Townsend's death as I was a long-time fan of her Adrian Mole books. There haven't been that many comedy books as funny as The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4—first published way back in 1982, so I probably read it a year or two later, so thirty years ago. That she was able to maintain the level of comedy throughout the series (and, I should add, in her other novels) is proof of her amazing talent. That she did it through quite a lot of adversary makes it all the more amazing (see her obituaries in the Independent and Guardian for more on her life).

Continuing with a little run of Ted Tubb Dumarest books, we present #19 The Quillian Sector, an Arrow paperback from 1982 with a cover by Fred Gambino. And finally a book I picked up last weekend, a Panther from 1968 with a photographic cover . . . something a bit different.

We'll be continuing to run the latest Paul Temple yarn . . . it's quite a long one, but I'm putting the time I'm saving to good use! Cheers!

Paul Temple and Project Deep Plunge part 17

(* © Evening News)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Comic Cuts - 11 April 2014

The problem with writing a weekly column that is intended to round up some of my personal news is this: I live a life that barely changes from one week to the next. If my life was to be filmed and sped up so you could watch a whole day in a minute, or a week in an hour, I would be a solitary, still figure in the middle of the screen, blurring occasionally as I left my chair before returning a half-second later with a fresh cup of coffee.

I would appear as if by magic. Light would crawl across the wall and crawl away as the sun rolled across the heavens and I would disappear for the night.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not unhappy with this situation. I enjoy piecing together the stories of the old comics I write about, I occasionally get to talk to interesting people and I'm always rooting around after some fact or other, the result of which can vary from disappointing to so fascinating I lose the rest of the day.

So... there isn't much news. Again. What I can tell you is that we're over the 30,000 words line—the latest count was 31,500, with around 21,500 in the correct order. (Just to explain: by this I mean that I have the bulk of the material written up in a fashion I'm happy with plus another 10,000 words of material that I'm still pulling into shape; most of this additional wordage is a precis of each of the storylines of each of the strips which I'm weaving into the introduction; there's also notes to myself about things that I've got to remember to talk about, footnotes, a lengthy precis of the 'Countdown' comic strip that I'm thinking of doing as a section on its own.

There are also notes that probably won't make it into the final draft, such as this paragraph charting the rise of television viewing, which I've decided I didn't need:

The nine-day Apollo/SOYUZ mission in 1975 was broadcast to more than one billion people (a quarter of the world’s population at the time) and the 1978 world cup in Argentina was watched by about a billion people in 42 countries as the host nation beat the Netherlands; a record viewership surpassing the 1976 Olympics. Three billion had access to the Seoul Olympics in 1988, four billion (Sydney Olympics in 2000) and 4.8 billion (London, 2012).

There, that's a cut scene from the book that might be reincorporated if I ever do a Director's Cut.

So let's dive straight into the random scans. I spent Saturday cleaning up a couple of pics for you, including another pair of Fred Gambino's covers for Ted Tubb Dumarest series. The Terra Data was published by Arrow in 1985, five years after it first appeared in the USA, and five years after the UK appearance of  Prison of Night, which was last week's random scan. Nectar of Heaven was another from 1985. Fred Gambino has a book out in a couple of month's time: Dark Shepherd: The Art of Fred Gambino, which should be well-worth looking out for.

I haven't read anything by Dan Simmons for years, so I grabbed up Olympos when I saw it in a charity shop. Unfortunately, it's a sequel and I don't have Ilium. But I love the cover. I couldn't read the signature, but I believe it is the work of Gary Ruddell, who was nominated for a Hugo Award for an earlier cover for a Dan Simmons book.

Finally, a return to the kind of artwork that appeared on paperbacks when I was trawling the shops every week for the latest SF titles—although this one is a non-fiction book on weapons. But who's the artist? I wonder if it's Tony Roberts. Anyone?

Next week: we're continuing the latest adventure of Paul Temple. Hope you're enjoying it.

Paul Temple and Project Deep Plunge part 10

(* © Evening News)