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Friday, June 07, 2013

Comic Cuts - 7 June 2013

I feel like I've time-jumped back to January. After finishing the Lion book, I wanted to do something that would be comparatively quick and looked to Boys' World and Ranger. I spent most of January trying to hustle Boys' World into some semblance of historical accuracy and update my contents lists. At the end of the month there was a minor glitch that persuaded me that Ranger would be the better option to work on and, as most of you will be aware, that book came out in April.

So now that the paying work has again dried up, I'm back on Boys' World and having a fine time reading stories that I haven't read for some years. Some that didn't grab my attention back then I'm reading for the first time and discovering one or two real gems. It's a shame we didn't have the European model when it came to comics whereby strips were gathered into albums after they had run in the weekly titles. The bizarre thing is that the idea of getting a second sale out of text stories dates back over one hundred years when the Amalgamated Press launched the Jack, Sam and Pete Library in 1906, reprinting stories by S. Clarke Hook from the pages of The Marvel. Thousands of these libraries appeared over the years – 1,488 issues of Boy's Friend Library, 1,310 issues of Girl's Friend Library, 411 issues of Schoolboys' Own Library, 274 issues of the Champion Library, just to name a few.

Although the paper shortage caused by the Second World War caused most of them to fold, the notion continued after the war with titles like Cowboy Comics and Thriller Comics reusing previously available material. Annuals recycled old strips and features endlessly and many comics would enter a phase of using reprints as they tried to save money. So reprinting wasn't an idea beyond the realms of publishers' imaginations; they just didn't gather together stories for reprinting in albums.


Regular readers will know that I'm not only the lead writer at Bear Alley Books but also head cook and bottle washer. And one of the tasks I have to do is put together a cover for each of the titles I produce. In the case of the comic histories/indexes I try to reflect the comics themselves, hence the wraparound cover on the Hurricane and Champion index and the iconic full-page space-suited youngster on the Ranger book. The Lion was based on one of the annuals. I've played around with a couple of images for the Boys' World cover and have chosen my own favourite. However, I hate to see effort go to waste, so here's a sneak peak at one of the cover roughs that didn't make it. The final cover I'll reveal in a couple of week's time.

Domestic news... I'm still managing to walk a couple of miles a day. I'm trying to put a positive spin on this but after the first week's efforts seemed to make an impact I haven't noticed any improvement. I don't know whether it's doing anything to my weight or whether I have achieved some sort of new balance – the additional exercise I'm doing is just enough to stop my weight increasing, perhaps, or at the very least has slowed it down. I'm slowly increasing the daily distance so I'm now doing a half mile extra compared to week one and maybe that will make a difference.

As both Mel and I have said, it took twenty years to put the weight on so it's not going to disappear overnight. I'm aiming to change to a (slightly) healthier lifestyle and it takes a while for that to become ingrained. Once I've rebuilt some stamina, I might be able to consider something a bit more active than walking.

Bird watchers amongst you will be pleased to hear that we seem to have had some successful fledging this year: I'm sure the blackbirds have bred twice and at least one male and one female chick have survived; the robins I'm not 100% sure about but I believe they managed to raise a couple of chicks. We caught one cat attempting to sneak up to the nesting area but managed to divert its attention.

We spotted a sixth cat prowling around, a tortoiseshell now named Scaredy, for the rather obvious reason that he scarpers every time he sees us. Apologies for the blurry photo. Scatterpuss and Fluffybum, who only ever turn up during the summer, are both OK; Blingy we haven't seen for some while, although Mel is convinced she saw him walking down the road a couple of weeks ago; Ninja... well, you wouldn't expect to see him!; and Socks has not been around for a couple of weeks. Maybe he realises that there's no food on offer or caught sight of next door's dog.

Random scans for today... As I was writing, I heard the news that Tom Sharpe had died. Although best known for the Wilt series I always preferred his debut novels Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure, both set in South Africa, where Sharpe worked for a decade. They were the only two that I kept when I had a clear-out a few years ago – I may not have read them for a couple of decades but I still couldn't bring myself to get rid of this particular pair, bought in about 1982. Probably the only books apart from Anthony Buckeridge's Jennings that made me laugh out loud. Cover art is, I believe, by Paul Sample.

Over the weekend we have a review of the latest Haynes Manual for the Dan Dare Space Fleet and a piece on Joy Laurey, who was famous in the 1950s as the creator of Mr. Turnip and the puppets for Gerry Anderson's Adventures of Twizzle, but who disappeared after that. What happened to her? Find out on Sunday.

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