BEAR ALLEY BOOKS

BEAR ALLEY BOOKS
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Comic Cuts - 27 March 2015

I'm going to have to make this a fairly quick visit as I have some paying work (!) to attend to that needs to be written before the end of the month. I've had to put my "book-in-a-week" project on hold but you'll be pleased, perhaps amazed, that the latter is almost done. I started it on Tuesday the 17th, worked on it Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (having taken Thursday off to write blog material for Bear Alley). I did a roughly half day on both Saturday and Sunday, picked up the pace again on Monday. So that's five days, in which time I've scanned and cleaned 180 pages. I've roughed out an introduction based on an article I wrote twenty years ago, adding some bits that I've discovered in the meantime. That just leaves laying the book out and creating a cover.

Whether I'll be able to do this in two days is... well, to be honest it's unlikely. But I won't be far off putting together a roughly 180-page book from standing start in maybe nine days. I'll hopefully have more news next week.

I'm feeling far more energetic than I have done for some weeks. Years ago, I used to have to work on two or three things at a time, with deadlines looming almost every other day, and I rarely had any problems. I may not be the greatest writer in existence, but I can't think of a time I missed a deadline... except those I set for myself. The Countdown book dragged on last year for months beyond what I'd planned. It was all for the better in the end, but I really should have been a little more strict about drawing a line under certain things.

Ditto the Don Lawrence book that's currently in production. Some of the pages were fine, but I ended up rescanning chunks of the book, which has meant it took a lot longer to piece together than it should have. Again, I should have been stricter with myself.

Anyway, enough of this self-flagellation, as the point I'm trying to make is that I'm feeling more positive at the moment than I was a month ago. I'm high on the adrenaline of working hard and the satisfaction that comes from it. And I'll leave it at that.

The latest issue of Spaceship Away! has arrived. As always, it's a gorgeous magazine presented in full colour and if you're in any way a fan of the old Dan Dare, you really ought to be reading this. From Don Harley's Phantom Fleet front cover to Don Harley's view on the rear cover of how Chaplain Dare could have looked, the magazine has plenty of gems, including a Don Harley centrespread (if you haven't got the message yet, I like Don Harley!).

Strip-wise, Spaceship Away! is still reliant on Tim Booth, who is writing and painting two Dan Dare strips in the classic style. Other strips include a reprint of a Jet Morgan yarn from Express Weekly and a "new" Nick Hazard adventure, 'Planet of Doom', by Ron Turner, nicely coloured by Martin Baines in Ron's distinct style. I'm not sure why there are quotes around the word "New" on the cover... it makes me wonder whether this, too, has appeared previously. I'm racking my brains to remember the story that appeared in an old Harrier comic, but I keep thinking the story was 'Invaders from Time'.

Articles this issue: Alan Vince relates the story of Harold Johns, one of Frank Hampson's early assistants who went on to paint many book covers (a few of which have featured here on Bear Alley); Jeremy Briggs explores 'The Lost Eagle' when IPC attempted to relaunch Dan Dare in 1973; and Andrew Darlington takes a look at 'Dan Dare in Lion & Eagle'. And there's a humourous aside from Ray Aspden, too.

You have to hand it to Des Shaw: he certainly packs a lot into 40 pages. You can find out more about the magazine, buy back issues and subscribe to the latest issues at the Spaceship Away website.

Here's an interesting mystery. Below is a piece of cover art by Oliver Brabbins, whom we've been covering in some depth in the last few weeks. It's in a style he used when he was painting covers for booklets published by Paget Publications in 1948-49. But this is one I've never heard of and I wonder whether it was ever published? My thanks to Morgan Wallace for the photograph.

Night Meeting leads us neatly into our random scans, the first of which is another cover by Brab from 1948. This is the cover for the unnumbered series Thrilling Romance, published by Bear Hudson.

Below that is an early Asimov UK paperback published by Panther in 1958. The artist is Josh Kirby, whose artwork graced many of the Discworld covers that I ran recently as part of our Terry Pratchett cover gallery.

Our last two scans are a pair of books I picked up recently, one an alternate world yarn wherein the Germans won the war, the second the first volume of a space opera series by Michael Cobley (cover by Steve Stone).

Next week might be a bit sparse as I won't have much spare time over the weekend to put anything together. There will, however, be an article by Jeremy Briggs, another in his series of Eagle Times' features, early next week.

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