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Friday, April 19, 2013

Comic Cuts - 19 April 2013

I needed to take a small break following last weekend's birthday celebrations because... well, just because. My birthday no longer involves hangovers but I decided to take Saturday and Sunday off, eating cake with friends and then, once I'd decided not to post anything during the week, filling the time on Sunday catching up on e-mails and breaking out the new harddrive.

My 3TB harddrive was all hooked up and rarin' to go, so I began copying files from one of the smaller drives. Juggling between drives, I think I now have everything mirrored and 300-400GB of space on the most active drive. That should see me through the next few months.

At least I can now get all the scans for the Ranger book backed up. Everyone who ordered the book ahead of publication will be pleased to hear that copies are on their way and if you live in the UK your copy may even be sitting on your doormat. Go check. I'm now taking a couple of weeks off from writing to earn some money so that I can afford to write the next book. I can't say I'm too happy living so hand-to-mouth but you play the hand you're dealt.

If you ever wondered what the manuscript of a 576 page book looked like I can now reveal that it's the size of three housebricks laid side to side. That's what landed on my doorstep back in January 2011 after I agreed to read (on behalf of the British Library) the MS for Robert J. Kirkpatrick's From The Penny Dreadful to the Ha'penny Dreadfuller. This huge tome was sub-titled "A Bibliographic History of the Boys' Periodicals in Britain, 1762-1950" and it has now become a book of that very title and sub-title.

The book, itself a bit of a brick, has just been released by The British Library in the UK and Oak Knoll Press in the US. It charts the rise of boys' storypapers from their origins in, for the most part, worthy and educational children's papers, through the cheap, sensational fiction of the penny dreadfuls through to the cheaper, more sensational publications at the turn of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. The storypapers that thrived in the post-Edwardian era were positively tame in comparison.

Having already admitted my connection with the book, I'm tempted to just leave it at that. But I won't. I thought this was a superb book that covers in astonishing depth a period and form of cheap literature that hasn't really been covered before. I've written about some of it in the past, as have many others – the denizens of the Old Boys Book Clubs were a prolific bunch when it came to writing – but Robert's book pulls together the whole history between one set of covers, touching on virtually every title published and dipping into the careers of many of the leading publishers and authors.

Sometimes the bitterest of rivals, sometimes the best of pals, the penny-a-liners were an astonishing bunch of people often living on the edge of their talents. Eventually, even the greatest of them, Bracebridge Hemyng, fell from grace. Robert's book resurrects many of the old names – Edwin Brett, George Emmett, E. Harcourt Burrage – that today will only be recognised by a handful of researchers. That doesn't make their stories  any the less fascinating.

The book is expensive at £50.00 but you can get a tiny slice off that price by ordering from Amazon. Heavily illustrated, it's a fascinating journey through a long-forgotten era. And the book is so much nicer to have than those three housebricks.

Today's random scans are, for no particular reason, four novels by Vonda N. McIntyre. Dreamsnake is probably her best known novel outside of her Star Trek tie-in books. McIntyre was very active in the mid and late 1970s when I was in the throes of reading every SF magazine and book I could get my hands on. 'Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand' won the Nebula Award; it became part of Dreamsnake which won both the Nebula and Hugo.

Hopefully I'll have a C. S. Forester cover gallery up over the weekend. And we should be running a strip next week, although I haven't figured out what that will be.

There may be another break in transmission towards the end of next week or next weekend. This is due to me and Mel going out and enjoying ourselves.

1 comment:

Reuben said...

When I was a kid I was given a copy of Space Wars Fact & Fiction 'produced exclusively for WHSmith'. There is a comic strip in there I'd always wondered where it originated from and generally more about it. A long while ago I even sent photocopies of some pages to Comics International for the Q&A section where you sometimes answered some of the questions. My question was never answered.

Today received my copy of Ranger. I now know a lot more about that reprinted comic strip of SPACE CADET that I first came across over 30 years ago. So many thanks for that!