I missed my regular Friday Comic Cuts column due to the announcement of Bear Alley Books, so I thought I'd squeeze one in today. I didn't have much time for anything last week outside of getting everything ready for Friday. There's still a lot of work to do before I've got everything sorted out but I'm hoping that I'll have all the ordering information and that kind of thing up and running soon. Cautiously I'll say by the end of the month but I don't know what unforeseen problem I might run into (that's why they're called unforeseen). I'm registering the first two titles today and have set the publication dates: Cursitor Doom is 1st August, Phantom Patrol is 15th August, but I'll say now that the books might be out plus or minus two weeks of those dates.
The week between announcing the announcement and actually making it was a weird one. Some days I was nice and calm and getting on with the job. Every now and then I'd wonder what the heck I was doing. And there was one moment of panic when a hard drive--the one with the scans for the two books--started having trouble booting up. Thankfully, it's a back-up, but I was up until four in the morning copying everything to another hard drive. Just in time: the next day it didn't boot up at all. It's a pain in the bum as it was a 1tb hard drive about half full, so I'm going to be struggling for space and nothing can be backed-up until I can afford to replace it. Which may be a while because the washing machine has gone kaput and we can't live without a washing machine.
Only two major panics in a week that chaotic... I'm counting myself lucky.
The new issue of Crikey! arrived (#10, June 2009) with the usual eclectic mixture of articles. Around half the issue is dedicated to some of comicdoms finest females: Jane, Axa, Carrie, Wicked Wanda and the George & Lynne strip, which existed pretty much just to show the latter topless. Interleaved are articles on Marvel UK, Zero-X, Rogue Trooper, Countdown, daredevils of the Evel Knievel variety from the pages of Tiger and Speed, plus an interview with sculptor Terry Curtis who worked on various Gerry Anderson shows.
The big news from Crikey! is that the next, September, issue will be a major relaunch with the title going bi-monthly and expanding to 84 full colour pages. And they're being distributed in Borders. And it's all for the same £4.99 price tag. Phew! You'll find subscription details at the Crikey! website.
William Rudling's Jeff Hawke's Cosmos hits vol.5 #3 (May 2009) and runs to a very substantial 90 pages, with three Jeff Hawke stories. "Out of Touch" from 1957-58 has a plot about a large alien artefact approaching the solar system, pre-dating Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama by fourteen years. The script was by Harry Harrison, who named his alien vessel that defies all attempts at communication the World of Rhamm. The other two stories are brilliant examples of Willie Patterson's complex but lighthearted plotting: "Made in Birmingham" (1965) is a time-travel story where nobody travels in time and "The Changeling" (1963) sees a drunken alien gamble himself into exile on Earth in a remodelled body. As always, there are detailed background notes by Duncan Lunan and a couple of additional articles, including Andrew Darlington's look at American newspaper strip hero Brick Bradford.
Jeff Hawke's Cosmos is published three times a year and subscriptions are a mere £18.50 (£28 overseas [Eur. 38] by air mail; for further details of rates and any other enquiries, contact william [AT] williamrudling.com.
Finally, I get a wee mention in a new Spanish book called Diario de Guerra (Panini Espana, 2009) which collects four tales from War Picture Library drawn by Hugo Pratt. The four stories, plus an introduction by Antoni Guiral, make this a solid collection, 270 pages of superb Pratt artwork in a neat little hardback which reproduces the artwork in a slightly enlarged format.
My knowledge of Spanish is zero but for those of you with better language skills than I, it's well worth 15 Euros. I'm looking forward to future volumes from Panini.
A couple of bits of stray news. Dave Jones passed on the news that his late uncle's very extensive collection of old British story papers and comics is being sold by Dominic Winter Book Auctions on June 18th. The Auction is the Children's Literature & Illustrated Books sale and the various lots are listed under the heading of the Joseph Harry Saunders M.B.E. Collection. "He took a real pride collecting these things from a young boy to an old man," says Dave. "Both my Mum and I want them to go to a good home."
If I'd known before I bought a washing machine, we might not have a washing machine.
Koki (whose Spanish is, I suspect, much better than mine) has passed on a link to a very good overview of the life and work of the late Pepe Gonzalez.
I'll be answering some of the questions that have come in over on the Bear Alley Books blog during the week so please drop by. Please keep the suggestions for strips you'd love to see reprinted rolling in.