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Friday, April 18, 2014

Comic Cuts - 18 April 2014

The big unveiling . . . so this is the cover I'm planning for the Countdown to TV Action index. It's a little 'busy' but I wanted examples from a wide variety of the strips as it's their one chance to be seen in colour. I still need to tinker with a couple of areas (logos, the spine and I'll probably put a Bear Alley Books logo on the back) but I'm pleased with the way it turned out.

The first notion I had was to incorporate images into the numbers of a 5-4-3-2-1-0 countdown. Unfortunately, it looked horrible because the page is so tall and the numbers had to be vertically stretched so they're taller and thinner than they should be. I partly resolved that by using the two original logos to create a title logo plus some panels from the 'Countdown' strip for the back cover. I then used bands of different widths and elements from covers—and three from original artwork.

I spent my birthday designing it, so I hope you like it. I could have been watching TV or reading a book instead. It was a deliberately quiet day. Like the Queen, I have an official birthday and a day for public celebration, which will be Saturday—tomorrow if you're reading this the day it's posted.

So I added another year to my age during the week and aside from the expected cracks and creaks from muscles that used to work smoothly, I'm not feeling especially old. Part of that is down to being more active, having spent a good part of the year forcing myself to go for walks and get some exercise. The idea was not to simply lose some weight but to make a lifestyle change so that a morning walk became part of my regularly daily routine. I'm now walking a mile and a half every morning and another three-quarters of a mile in the afternoon; in fact, I now feel guilty if I don't walk.

I managed to lose 12 pounds and a few inches around the waist last year, but it has taken until now to shake off the couple of pounds I put on over Christmas/Winter. OK, that might not sound like much of an achievement, but you have to remember that this time last year I'd piled on a lot of weight after giving up smoking and it was still heading skywards. So in a year I've turned my (steady) weight increase into a (bumpy) weight loss.

My poor exercise bike is slowly falling apart. The strap over the left hand pedal snapped a long time ago, but this week the speedometer and mileometer broke after I'd cycled exactly 1,698 miles. I can still use the bike, but now I have to measure my cycling in time (I usually it in 15 minute bursts) rather than mileage.

I was sorry to learn of Sue Townsend's death as I was a long-time fan of her Adrian Mole books. There haven't been that many comedy books as funny as The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4—first published way back in 1982, so I probably read it a year or two later, so thirty years ago. That she was able to maintain the level of comedy throughout the series (and, I should add, in her other novels) is proof of her amazing talent. That she did it through quite a lot of adversary makes it all the more amazing (see her obituaries in the Independent and Guardian for more on her life).

Continuing with a little run of Ted Tubb Dumarest books, we present #19 The Quillian Sector, an Arrow paperback from 1982 with a cover by Fred Gambino. And finally a book I picked up last weekend, a Panther from 1968 with a photographic cover . . . something a bit different.

We'll be continuing to run the latest Paul Temple yarn . . . it's quite a long one, but I'm putting the time I'm saving to good use! Cheers!


Jim O'Brien said...


I have been meaning to post a comment on your forthcoming Countdown to TV Action companion since…well, since I posted an over-excited comment when you very first announced it was going to be your next project at Bear Alley Books. The cover design looks tremendous, with a good variety of the artwork available. Especially pleased that John Burns's colour work will have a suitably prominent place. I was lucky enough recently to meet someone local to me who had an (almost) complete run of Countdowns and a good few TV Actions which he kindly lent me to drool over. The eponymous Countdown strip is for me the standout, although I thought the Burns UFO strip was also excellent. Ditto Gerry Haylock's UFO and Who - for my money the very best Who strips of all (art-wise at least). And it was great to find some tremendous Brian Lewis work hidden amongst the Dastardlies and Mutleys and reprinted Thunderbirds pieces. Oh, and Jon Davis in colour on UFO (I think? - I had to hand them back, boo hoo). So - I can't wait to see the finished product! I have been heartened by all your recent postings - more words written? Good! Even more words? Better yet! Enjoy the Easter weekend, Steve and thanks for all your hard work on the blog. I think I can say for sure that it is one of the very few that I visit near enough every day.
You very kindly put me in touch with David Roach a few years back re Romeos etc and Spanish artists - next to John Burns my very favourite artists - so Romeo next for Bear Alley Books. Go on, you know it makes sense.


Steve said...

Sounds like you're looking forward to this book being finished almost as much as I am!

The next book from Bear Alley Books will hopefully be a collection of a comic strip I remember from being a ... well, I can't say kid because I was already in my teens. I'm in negotiations now and should have some news soon.

Allan Harvey said...

Good luck with the Countdown book. I have an all-but complete run, but it's going to be great to have an index for quick reference and to find out some of the behind the scenes tales. The cover design looks fabulous. I hope the interior pagination will be correctly reversed... :)