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Friday, June 08, 2012

Comic Cuts - 8 June 2012


As promised, the first of a series of new Bear Alley Books releases is soon to roll from the presses. I've been a Sexton Blake fan for many years and long thought he was a character worthy of revival. Unfortunately, any attempt to do so seems to have fallen on its face. Most recently was a collection that, whilst you couldn't fault the contents, straining to make out the tiny print made it no pleasure to read (read the comments here – it isn't just me who thinks so).

My thoughts turned to the scarce and collectable Sexton Blake Annual, which contained some great stories by some of Blake's finest scribes. The Annuals were rarely mentioned even in Old Boys' Books circles and, while I can't promise I follow eBay daily, they don't often show up for sale. At the moment I can see only four on Abebooks and the cheapest is £45 plus postage. The others are heading skywards from £70. Even the most die-hard collector is going to baulk at spending that kind of money – I certainly would.

I'm pleased to say that the first of these volumes – actually the second chronologically – will be published in a couple of week's time at the knockdown price of £16.99 . . . and anyone pre-ordering can get a massive 15% discount on that price, bringing it down to £14.45 – so you can save yourself an extra £2.50. This offer is only open until the book's publication date, which should be around 22 June. After that, the discount disappear, although I think that £16.99 is still a good price for a book that might otherwise cost you £70.

The first Annual on offer dates from 1940 and contains stories by Gwyn Evans, George H. Teed, Rex Hardinge and two stories by Anthony Skene, one entitled 'Zenith the Albino' (guess who features in that one!). This volume also reprints of two early stories, "Sexton Blake — Detective" by Blake's creator, Harold Blyth, and "The Man From Scotland Yard" by Michael Storm (Ernest Sempill), which introduced the character of good-cop-turned-bad George Marsden Plummer.

The reason I've chosen this one to publish first is because it also has a number of articles about Blake, his circle of friends, his methodology and even his authors. Of the four it's the best introductory volume. The other three will follow at approximately six week intervals to give your wallets a chance to recover.

Bear Alley Books will also shortly be releasing London is Stranger Than Fiction. More news about that shortly.

Random scans this week are in memory of Ray Bradbury, who passed away on Wednesday.

As I've been concentrating on other things this week, I haven't anything lined up for next week as yet. So it'll be as much of a surprise for me as it is for you. The situation hasn't been helped by having a filling drop out – the filling that was put in last August, so it has lasted all of ten months. If you don't see anything up tomorrow that will be because I've an appointment at the dentist late this afternoon.

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