I've spent the whole of this week working on the next Sexton Blake Annual. Not the one that's just about to come out – that's the 1938 Annual, which you can see above – but the 1941 Annual, which will be released in October. With luck I'll have it finished Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, although I won't be doing anything with it until I have a second project completed as I want to do two sets of proofs in one go as it helps lower the postage costs. These books don't make huge amounts of money – not enough to live on, that's for sure, but if I can keep my costs as close to zero as possible and they won't cost me the shirt off my back, I should be able to keep going.
Zero costs also means no publicity budget, so it's nice to get as positive a review as London Is Stranger Than Fiction did from author Christopher Fowler on his blog. The review ends "The original books have been highly collectable for many years now, but finally they’ve been republished in a single volume from Bear Alley Books here for the ridiculously reasonable price of £14.99. Do yourself a favour. Find out where you can see 11 clocks by standing in one position on a London street – they’re great reads."
I couldn't agree more.
And if you don't yet have a copy, check out this link and take a look.
Once I've finished with the 1941 Sexton Blake Annual, I may move straight onto the 1942 Annual just to get it out of the way, although I'm not planning to release that one until the end of November.
I've also got to get back to the Mike Western book... I'm determined that it'll be out this year!
Just to step back to the 1938 Sexton Blake Annual for a second, I'm waiting on a final proof from the printers before I press the green button, but I'm not anticipating problems and copies should start going out next week.
We've been assured of an update from the couriers again this week: what we have been told previously, as I've said before, has been at odds with the reality of a continued lack of delivery.Issue 5 still hasn't a release date as far as the print edition is concerned, but it is available digitally on the iPad. See the Strip Magazine blog for more information.
__Unfortunately, as I have also stated before, what we have been told has not proven definitive enough to inform subscribers and Diamond of a confirmed release date we can guarantee - that remains in the hands of the couriers.
__We're painfully aware that unless delivery issues are resolved this impacts on our news stand plans, so we're lining up an alternative that will kick in when Volume Two goes into production.
__I realize this whole matter is deeply frustrating for our readership, subscribers, the many creators involved -- and it is definitely very frustrating for us.
Mind you, all this talk of issue 5 reminds me that issue 4 hasn't made it as far as Ace Comics in Colchester. Did the print edition actually appear?
What saved John Carter was the fact that my introduction to science fiction was through pulp SF – both Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov (two of the earliest SF authors I read) were high on ideas and poor on characterisation. Ditto many of the hard-SF authors I liked (Larry Niven, Hal Clement) whose aliens were more interesting than their human contacts. So watching John Carter was just like stepping back to when I was twelve or thirteen when my experience of SF was stories of spectacle... films have finally caught up with the books covers I was seeing in the 1970s. I tend to think along the lines that movie SF is to science fiction what pulp SF is to modern SF.
Anyway, it's an excuse to run Bruce Pennington's wonderful cover for A Princess of Mars. And that made me think of the old Pinnacle cover for Thuvia Maid of Mars, which is just terrific.
Rounding out this week's selection are Joe Haldeman's Marsbound (just to keep up the theme of Mars) and a stray Harry Harrison I turned up since I posted the Harry Harrison cover gallery the other day.