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Friday, February 14, 2014

Comic Cuts - 14 February 2014

At last! After what feels like a lifetime but is actually only a few days, I've finally managed to get a couple of articles up on Kindle. And these aren't the pieces I was originally planning to post. The Dail Ambler piece that I started writing a couple of weeks ago was put on hold when I decided that I needed a copy of one of her books before I could finish. There were cheap copies available, so I ordered one on Tueday February 4th. I received a note from the seller that it had been dispatched on the 6th, and then another note from the seller on the 11th to say that it had been damaged in transit. "This damage has resulted in the condition of your title being unacceptable to re-send."

How badly can the post office damage a book to make it unacceptable? I'm waiting for the money to be refunded and have ordered another copy of the book from a different dealer. But that's why the long-promised Dail Ambler article still isn't available.

The above pics are the covers to a pair of features on Edwin Self. The first one, The Big Panic: The Story of Edwin Self and Pedigree Books is a 5,000-worder about the publisher of Bart Banarto, Pete Costello and Jean-Paul Valois, three authors who landed Self in jail in 1954. Self subsequently set himself up as Pedigree Books and published books by Hal Ellson and Donald McCormick's The Hell-Fire Club, amongst many others.

The second feature, In Self Defence: The Obscenity of Pete Costello, is a 2,250-worder which takes a closer look at one of the books—the wonderfully titled Murder In Mink—that landed both its publisher (Self) and its author in jail. This is another piece that appeared in my out-of-print Mean Streetmaps collection.

I'll be setting up a page for these various Kindle articles shortly. In the meantime, you can find links to some of them at the Mean Streetmaps page on Bear Alley Books.

You would think that the cold weather would keep me indoors and in front of the computer but we've actually been very lucky out here on the East Anglian coast. We're about three miles inland, so we saw very little of the North Sea swell that caused houses to fall into the sea just before Christmas. And we've seen very little flooding . . . lots of rain and plenty of cloud, but occasionally broken up by some glorious sunshine. If you're reading this in one of those areas suffering from flooding, I hope the waters recede soon.

The one thing I've noticed on my little walks around town is that the roads seem to be breaking up. Most of it is cracked surfaces and minor scaring but a big hole has appeared in the middle of the road around the corner from us. It's about 5-6 cm deep and getting larger as cars slam into it.

And if you're wondering where this diatribe is going, it's going nowhere. I just happened to be out for a walk before sitting down to write this!

Illustrators #6 from Book Palace keeps up the fantastic quality of the magazine with a lengthy and insightful feature on Walter Wyles, one of the leading women's magazine illustrators of the 1950s and 1960s. Wyles avoided the cliched girl-in-a-clinch images and painted moody, evocative images that earned him a global reputation. In the 1970s and 1980s he produced countless paperback covers for Star and Corgi—notably for novels by the hugely popular romance authors Catherine Cookson and Patricia Robins.

Wyles beautiful paintings fill half the issue, which is filled out with features on Dave Gaskill, a British-born caricaturist who has worked in South Africa and Australia before returning to the UK and working on Today, Sun and other daily and Sunday newspapers; David Ashford provides a nice biographical sketch of Graham Coton, best known for his war library covers, which mostly illustrate the piece; and Jean Bray provides an insightful overview of the work of poster artist Laurence Fish.

The next issues also promises to be a treat, with features on Alan Lee, John Vernon Lord, Bernie Fuchs and Leif Peng. In the meanwhile, here are a few pages from the current issue, which you can pick up directly from the Book Palace website, price £15 + p&p.

Inspired by the above issue of Illustrators, our first random scan this week is a 1955 paperback cover by Laurence Fish.

The Planetoid Peril is the third of three titles by George Sheldon Brown, two of which I ran last week. The cover artist was FTM—otherwise Terry Maloney. The other two are a random pair of scans also relating to Edwin Self, the first a one-shot gangster novel by the pseudonymous Boyd Nolan—I have no idea who wrote this one— and Christina Hole (1897-1985), who was not a pseudonym—she wrote books about British folk lore and the customs surrounding Christmas and Easter, edited books of folk tales from around the world and penned a number of books on superstitions, ghosts and witchcraft. Add in a fabulous Ron Turner cover and you have a nice, collectable book.

Next week: we have the concluding episodes of "Hound of the Baskervilles". If I get a chance to post some extra stuff over the weekend, I will.

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