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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dr. John Springhall (1943-2015)

A friend of mine has just made me aware that Dr. John Springhall, who was a Reader in History at the University of Ulster, died suddenly last Sunday. Doing a search I found the following funeral notice:

August 23, 2015, (suddenly), at his home, 22 York Avenue, Portstewart, dearly-beloved son of Iris and the late Onslow and loving brother of Chris. A celebration for the life of John will take place in Wades Funeral Home, Coleraine on Friday at 1.00 p.m., followed by a private cremation. No flowers by request. Donations in lieu, if desired, by making cheques payable to Diabetes U.K., c/o Ms. Charlene Wade, 3 Upper Abbey Street, Coleraine, BT52 1BF. Lovingly remembered by all his family, colleagues and friends.

John and I were only occasional correspondents, but I found his work of huge interest as our preoccupations often coincided, whether it was Victorian-era story papers or the moral panic surrounding horror comics in the 1950s. I always thought of him as "one of us" as, unlike most academics who simply research by reading other academic papers, he actually did some coal face research into the subjects he wrote about.

John was born on September 24, 1943 and educated at Shene Grammar School. He studied history at the University of Sussex before working at the Record Office of the Greater London Council for a year. He subsequently worked as a lecturer, for many years at the University of Ulster, and author, writing numerous academic papers and writing and editing six books ranging from Decolonization Since 1945 to Youth, Popular Culture and Moral Panics. His most recent book was The Genesis of Mass Culture: Show Business Live in America, 1840 to 1940 (2008).

Friday, August 28, 2015

Comic Cuts - 28 August 2015

The week has been dedicated to Hotel Business as we have an enlarged issue to produce. I'm slightly in the hinterland between commissioning and waiting for stuff to turn up, so I had a change to do some maintenance, copying files around a couple of external hard drives to make life easier. This included a lot of the images that have appeared as random scans every Friday for the past few years or as part of galleries or illustrations to biographical features or checklists.

I was surprised by some of the numbers: 477 Pan Books covers but only 93 for Panther Books (or 94 if you count the one above); 291 Fontana covers, 185 Corgi Books and 169 Digits... these aren't definitive figures, because a lot of the covers are in folders dedicated to authors, so there are, for instance, another 48 Fontana book covers in my Ngaio Marsh folder. These all need to be sorted out, but it takes hours making sure that I have everything saved and mirrored – I don't want to lose my scans again as happened a few years ago when scans for all the early galleries, like the Larry Niven gallery I put together in 2008, disappeared in a puff of smoke when one of my hard drives crashed, never to recover. All the scans I did for the Sci-Fi Art book... gone; a whole bunch of Chris Foss covers... gone.

Nowadays, everything that I copy off my computer for storage is copied twice. The only thing I'm bad about backing up is my actual main workspace, where I might tinker with hundreds of files over a few months; I really need to back these up more often.

The first gallery I did was back in 2006 when I posted a pile of John Wyndham Penguin covers. (There's also a more formal John Wyndham cover gallery that I compiled in 2012.) I think I've saved all the cover scans I've done since then – or tried to. I've just totted up the number of files I have sitting in the folder Book Covers and the figure is 8,287. There are, in addition, 5,425 cover scans that need to be cleaned-up sitting on my computer. Some of them are probably damaged beyond even the repairing skills of PhotoShop, but I continue to plod through them whenever I get a chance, or just want to relax... and it is surprisingly relaxing! You can listen to music while you're painting out folds and stains (!); better still, it's something that you can see the improvement in immediately, which is great for massaging the ego.

Our tomato total has now reached 141 and we've just had our third cucumber of the year. We're not expecting many more of the latter – it has been something of a failed experiment – but the two we've had have been really crunchy and tasty; there are two flowers on the plant so with luck and a fair wind, we may see some more growth before the end of the season. Come to think of it, when is the end of the cucumber season? I haven't a clue.

Just down the road from ours there used to be a little restaurant called Jardines, which ran for just over three years (August 2010 to December 2013). Bit pricey but nice. It closed a couple of years ago to be replaced in April 2014 by La Cava, a tapas restaurant. Had some mixed reviews to start but improved quickly and was generally considered OK. It closed around June and the former bar is being turned into a branch of Michaels, the property consultants. I can't help but think that we've lost out. Thankfully, Mel makes a fantastic paella.

Today's random scans... well, while I was sorting through all those cover scans I couldn't resist attacking a couple of old fifties covers with what's known as "good girl art". The two Brett Vane novels were published by Curtis Warren; H. W. Perl was the chief artist for these and they are some of the best work he produced – presumably Curtis Warren paid him better than some of the other publishers he worked for. I've also included a couple of Nat Karta novel published by Muir-Watson.

Four different artists tackling the subject of a single woman, none of them featuring a background. Some of these scan collections I put together aren't so random after all!



Thursday, August 27, 2015

Commando issues 4839-4843

Commando issues published 27 August 2015.

Commando No 4839 – Eagles of the Crimera
In the Mid-19th Century, Adam Carrick, an American war correspondent with English ancestry, was at the frontline of the Crimean War. As British forces clashed with Russian infantry and cavalry, the young journalist stumbled upon a fascinating story — a long-standing rivalry between two British officers, one from the artillery and the other from a special Royal Engineers detachment.
   Adam even discovered some distant relatives of his own and soon became caught up in the fighting itself. Although a non-combatant, it soon became clear that the reporter would have to fight to survive.

Introduction
With only a few notable exceptions — step forward the Convict Commandos — recurring characters have been rare on the pages of Commando over the last 50-odd years. However we were of the opinion that you, our readers, might like a series which carried the story over more than one issue. With the pen of Ferg Handley recruited to do the writing, we decided that a historical saga spanning many generations would hit the spot.
   Episode Ten sees the continuing story of three — entirely fictional —inter-linked families and now we find them in the thick of battle in the Crimean war.
   In this instalment, one main character is a war correspondent, rather than a soldier, which makes for a different tone and pace to previous episodes. However, it would seem that being part a family steeped in a unending legacy of war can only have one outcome…
   We hope you enjoy this story and the journey to come.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

Commando No 4840 – Tank Buster
TWO old tanks – two knocked-out Italian tanks whose guns still worked, and were trained on the prison camp fence – these and some vicious strands of barbed wire were what stood between a crowd of desperate British prisoners and freedom.
   Captain Al Kelly and Lieutenant Pete Smith reckoned there was a fighting chance of escaping – and that was all these two desert fighters asked…

Introduction
This is a hard-hitting Commando yarn and no mistake. In the arid expanse of the North African desert, Captain Al Kelly, a non-nonsense Australian, has good reason to be mad at British Lieutenant Pete Smith — and a bitter clash ensues. But this vendetta is played out against a deadly backdrop — the battle for the war-torn port of Tobruk.
   Boutland’s script is taut, C.T. Rigby’s art is dynamic and Ken Barr’s font cover illustration is simply outstanding. I hope you agree.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Boutland
Art: C.T. Rigby
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando 164 (Apr 1965)

Commando No 4841 – Prisoner At War
When his P47 Thunderbolt was shot down over Sicily, Major Mike Dante of the USAAF was caught by some passing Italian infantrymen. However, when Italy surrendered to Allied forces soon after, this particular unit were having none of it. They decided to wage their own guerrilla war against a vicious German panzer grenadier squad who had killed one of their comrades.
   Still technically a prisoner, Mike knew that a fierce battle lay ahead…one that he felt honour-bound to get involved in.

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Morahin
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4840 – Suicide Run!
BLEAK Point – a training area for Captain Jake Baron and his Royal Marine crews of high-speed launches packed with explosives. There they learned the perils of mechanical failure, rough seas, bad weather — and how to tackle enemy defences. They began to think, though, that the biggest danger came from their hosts and rivals — the Royal Navy!

Introduction
This great sea tale has a lot going for it. At a secret base in a remote part of Scotland, a tough Commando Captain and his squad embark on their most hazardous task yet — piloting powerful experimental boats packed with explosives in the bows, ready to take out enemy targets on a one-way trip basis. Throw in a rivalry with the unit’s Royal Navy commander and writer R.A. Montague’s story soon speeds towards a thrilling conclusion.
   It’s nicely illustrated by Keith Shone, who, luckily, can draw explosions well — as there are lots of them throughout the 63 interior pages. An atmospheric cover by sea artist extraordinaire Jeff Bevan finishes things off perfectly.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: R.A. Montague
Art: Keith Shone
Cover: Jeff Bevan
Originally published 2406 (Sep 1990).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Caught in the Act: Pan Press

The dynasty that begat Pan Press began with Norman Feder, born in Riga, Latvia, in 1889. Norman, the son of Moishe Kremer and Chaie Kremer (nee Tzal) had a large family of brothers and sisters, a number of whom came to the UK in the years shortly before the First World War. Norman was in England by 2Q 1912, when he was married in Hackney, London, to Doris Esther Kamm.

The marriage resulted in two children, but did not last and the Kremers separated and divorced. Doris went on to marry Marks Plotkin in Hendon in 3Q 1924; they lived in Golders Green where Marks died in 1936. Doris died in 1954, aged 61.

Norman had married again, to Ida Sara Evelyn Cohen (or Kremer or Jacobs) in Thanet, Kent, in 2Q 1923. Norman carried on a business as a merchant in the 1920s, not always successfully (he was listed as "receiving orders" in 1927. He also ran a business importing plywood, a similar situation to his brother Nachman Kremer (1876-1944), who was a timber merchant.

Perhaps it was the impossibility of importing materials that led Norman Kremer and his family to set up a small publishing business during the war. The Alliance Press was incorporated in 1940 and its board consisted of Norman Kremer, his wife Ida, and the two of the children from his first marriage, Rita Zena Paneth and Major David Nathaniel Kremer.

The driving force behind the publishing company was Dr. Philip Paneth, who had married Norman Feder's eldest daughter, Rita, in 1943. Rita, born in London on 21 August 1913,  was listed in the marriage records under three names: Rita Z. Davidoff, Rita Z. Davis and Rita Z. Kramer. Davidoff was from her previous marriage in 1934 to Harris Davidoff and Davis was possibly a nom-de-plume.

Philip De Paney Paneth was a Czecholslovakian immigrant, born in Sobrancz on 8 July 1903. His earliest books appeared in Germany in the 1930s and was a foreign press correspondent in Prague between 1935 and 1939 before escaping to England. His earliest British publications appeared in 1939, Is Poland Lost? and Czechs Against Germans, both published by Nicholson & Watson. The latter was described in one review as offering "a full account of the condition of Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, and Carpatho-Ukraine under German rule. Dr. Paneth [is] in touch with all the leading figures of the country and his book, in spite of rather confused presentment, contains a great deal of useful information based on first-hand knowledge." (Western Morning News, 1 Jan 1940)

Paneth was caught up in the imprisonment of foreigners during the early months of the war and found himself detained in Walton Prison, Liverpool, under Article 12 (5A) of the Aliens Order. His considerable standing may be seen in the fact that Sir Richard Acland (MP for North-West Devon) asked in the House of Commons whether the Home Secretary would make a statement about Paneth and his situation and whether there was any prospect of his being released.

Alliance Press began publishing titles in 1943; amongst the earliest were books by Philip Paneth, mostly on foreign aspects of the Second World War (Alaskan Backdoor to Japan, Epic of the Soviet Cities, Meet Our Russian Allies, The Prime Minister: Winston S. Chuchill as seen by his enemies and friends, Reshaping Germany's Future, Sunset Over Japan, Turkey at the Crossroads). But he also penned books of humour (Have You Heard This?) and folk tales (Tales from East and West).

Rita Zena Paneth was also responsible for an early book of verse (Private Peregrinations), and other early authors included Mavis Axtell, Simon Fine, Harry C. Schnur, Alexander Howard & Ernest Newman, Magnus Irvine, James Russell, Max Mack, and Philippe d'Alba-Julienne.

Alliance published a broad range of titles, from political tracts to fairy stories. Humour played a strong part in their output, ranging from collections of stories from Italian papers to cartoons about Hitler reprinted from Russia.

The company also published The Bookshelf, edited by Philip Paneth, which ran for 17 monthly issues between January 1946 and May 1947 priced 2d. A spin-off company, Pan Press, published a range of other magazines (often edited by Philip and Rita Paneth) and booklets throughout 1945 and 1946.

Alliance maintained a busy schedule until early 1947 when their output was severely curtailed, possibly by the extremely poor weather. Their last titles appeared in May of that year. The company was still listed at their London address until 1950, but had disappeared from the telephone book by 1950.

Alliance are all but forgotten these days, with only a handful of collectors interested in their output, and then those titles by minor but popular authors of the day such as Mike Hervey and Leslie Fox.

Ida Kremer was injured in a car accident in Paris, France, in 1948; she returned to England where she died on 16 August 1948 at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington. The Kremers were living at that time at The Croft, Constable Road, Birchington, Kent.

Norman Kremer's third wife was Liselotte H. De Chabennes, whom he married in Chelsea in 2Q 1956. He eventually died in Brighton, Sussex, in 1967, aged 78.

Philip Paneth separated from his wife and went to America in the 1950s. There he continued to write, penning a number of books during the 1960s. He lived in New York, where he died on 16 May 1981. He was survived by two children, including Nigel Sefton Paneth (b. 19 Sep. 1946).

Rita Paneth was, by 1951, running a business of a kindergarten service, nursery school and children's hotel at 5 Sussex Place, Hyde Park, London W1. This was described "an hotel where rice pudding is on the menu every day, where clothes are provided for guests, and where a doctor's certificate must be produced before registering."

The 'hotel' included rooms for mothers or nannies with children, dormitories for children on their own, with a staff of college-trained nannies and teachers to take care of them. Children from all over the world were met at stations and airports with a brake decorated with nursery pictures and they leave with decorated labels on their luggage. The older children were offered ballet, riding, boxing and skating lessons, although many of the children were younger, brought to London by mothers around Christmas time  to visit the pantomimes.

Rita Paneth was quoted as saying "We have had children from every country in the world except Iceland. They settle down quite happily, and start to speak English, or understand each other's baby talk in a few days. Our most difficult problem is to persuade Eastern children to eat English vegetables." (Sunderland Daily Echo, 10 October 1951)

The hotel lasted a few years but the business, which traded under a variety of names, including Panda Kindergarten Service, Panda Children's Hotel, Kindergarten Service, Argincourt School and Panda Children's School, was sued for debts in 1953.

Rita Zena Paneth lived in Hove where she married Sol Feder in 1985. She died in Hove on 22 May 1999.

David Nathaniel Kremer, born 21 June 1915 and married Esther Z Van Praagh in 1945, died in Tavistock, Devon, in 1987, survived by two children, Ivan M. H. and Charles R. F..

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

John N. Makris

A back-cover biography reveals the following about Makris
John N. Makris has been a crime reporter for the Boston Traveller, feature writer for the Boston Sunday Globe, Chicago Sunday Tribune, and New York News, and book reviewer for the Boston Sunday Herald. He has also handled a number of murder investigations for a prominent Boston criminal lawyer who is now a judge. Mr. Makris is currently a free-lance writer and has contributed to many magazines including The Saturday Evening Post, Argosy and Pageant. He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.
Makris contributed stories and true-crime non-fiction to numerous magazines from the 1930s on, including Dare-Devil Aces, Smash Stories, National Detective Cases, Headquarters Detective, Greatest Detective Cases, 20th Century Crime Cases, Argosy and Mechanix Illustrated.

Makris was born in Massachusetts, in 1917, the son of Nicholas and Diamond Makris (nee Diamando Demakis), who were both Greek immigrants. Nicholas was a pedler for a fruit company living in Watertown, Massachusetts, where his children John, Betty (d. 2014, who later married Constantine Smerlas), Olga (d. 2011, later married Charles J. Paras), James N. (d. 2008), Catherine (later married Arthur DerBoghaosian) and Irene (later married Aristides Cagos) were all born.

Aside from his work as a crime reporter, Makris wrote a single novel, published as half of an Ace Double in 1953. In 1955, Matt Cvetic (Wikipedia), who had been involved in an FBI sting, posing as a Communist, was writing a book about his experiences with the aid of "a rewrite man" by the name of John N. Makris (). The book was dropped by a Boston publisher and it was eventually self-published as The Big Decision in 1959.

He was a patron of the Watertown Public Library. Makris, I believe, was married to Katherine C. George and had two children, Barbara and Nicholas. Makris died in 1975, survived by his wife who, when she died in 2008, was survived by three grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

PUBLICATIONS

Novel
Nightshade (with High Stakes by Lester Dent). New York, Ace Books D-21, 1953.

Non-fiction
The Silent Investigators. The great untold story of the United States Postal Inspection Service, intro. by D. H. Stephens. New York, Dutton, 1959.
The Big Decision. The story of Matt Cvetic, Counterspy by Matt Cvetic (ghosted). Hollywood, CA. Mat Cvetic, 1959.

Others
Boston Murders, ed. John K. Makris. New York, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1948.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pan Press Inside Detective and Front Page Detective

Pan Press was a small outfit founded shortly after the war to take advantage of the paper shortage. Their first books began appearing about five months after VE Day, drawing most of its authors from Alliance Press, which was run by the same people. Alliance published many of the same authors, including a trio of prolific pamphlet providers – most of the books being only 64-pagers – Leslie H. Fox, Michael Hervey and A. O. Pulford.

One little development of Pan Press was the publication of books in two series: Front Page Detective and Inside Detective Thriller. Both were slim (again, 64-pages) booklets with typographical covers usually promoting two of the true-crime stories inside. The collections often contained four stories reprinted from the American pulps Front Page Detective and Inside Detective, published by Dell Magazines. Inside Detective began life in March 1935, with Front Page Detective joining the ranks of true-crime magazines in August 1936.

The magazines haven't, as far as I'm aware, been indexed, so I've no way of confirming the sources of each of the stories. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to find that the lead story of "The Jig-Saw Corpse" by William F. X. Geoghagen came from Inside Detective March 1945, which advertises a story "Jigsaw Corpse in Brooklyn" on the cover. "The Oakes Case" story by Raymond C. Schindler is likely to be from the same magazine's October 1944 issue.

If anyone can fill in the gaps in the contents, please drop me a line.


Front Page Detective

Fishman, Joseph F. • Bullets for Two • (Nov 1945), 64pp, 1/6, [anon].
     • Fishman, Joseph F. * Bullets for Two * tc
     • Adams, James Taylor * The Mountain Murder * tc
     • others

Thorp, John S. • The Phantom Bandit of the Pullman • (Nov) 1945, 64pp, 1/6.
     • Thorp, John S. * The Phantom Bandit of the Pullman * tc
     • Blake, Alison * Last Date With Margaret * tc
     • others

Makris, John N. • The Mystery of Brompton Road • (Dec 1945), 64pp, 1/6, [A. O. Pulford].
     • Makris, John N. * The Mystery of Brompton Road * tc
     • Durand, Anthony * Murder of the Paris Playboy * tc
     • Fiske, Martin * Clue of the Pretty Girl's Snapshot * tc
     • Lane, Carlos * Meet Inspector King * tc
     • Stevens, Mark * Box-Car Extradition * tc

Schindler, Raymond C. • The Oakes Case • nd (Jun 1946), 62pp, 1/6.
     • Schindler, Raymond C. * The Oakes Case * tc
     • Harrell, Jack * Printed in Blood * tc
     • three others

Geoghagen, William F. X. • The Jig-Saw Corpse • (Jul 1946), 64pp, 1/6.
     • Geoghagen, William F. X. * The Jig-Saw Corpse * tc
     • Blake, Alison * Thread for a Hangman's Rope * tc
     • others

Inside Detective Thriller

Harrell, Jack • Death Comes to the Hermit [and] But Ghosts Can’t Kill by Dudley Hiller • (Mar 1946), 64pp, 1/6, [typo/Kay Furnival].
     5 • Harrell, Jack * Death Comes to the Hermit * tc
     21 • Hiller, Dudley * But Ghosts Can't Kill * tc
     31 • Murray, Bert * Mrs. Doom * tc
     47 • Tobeas, Walter S. * Cafe Society's Great Jewel Swindle * tc

Henderson, Jesse G. • She Had to Kill • nd (May 1946), 63pp, 1/6, [B.W.Farr].
     • Henderson, Jesse G. * She Had to Kill * tc
     • Makris, John N. * In Love with a Convict * tc
     • Frame, Barnabby * Death putts at the 19th Hole * tc
     • Haddock, Hugh V. Solving Missouri's Roadside Riddle * tc

Parkhill, Andy • The Queen of Spades and Robin Hood of the West by C.V. Tench • nd (Mar 1946), 64pp, 1/6, [typo/Kay Furnival].     • Parkhill, Andy * The Queen of Spades Screamed Murder! * tc
     • Tench, C. V. * Robin Hood of the West * tc
     • Durand, Anthony * Poison Plot of the Paris War Baby * tc
     • Thorp, John S. * Hide and Go Seek * tc

(* Cover images for almost the complete run of Inside Detective can be found here.)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

James Follett cover gallery

NOVELS

The Doomsday Ultimatum (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1976)

Crown Court (1977)
Futura 7538. Cover: still. TV tie-in.

Ice (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1978; revised as Second Atlantis, London, Severn House, 1998)
Mandarin 0749-30110-4, 1989, 206pp, £2.99.

U700 (1979)
Mandarin 0749-30033-3, 1989, 239pp, £3.50. 

Churchill's Gold (1980)
Mandarin 0749-30496-0, 1993, 223pp, £4.99. Cover design by Button Design Co.

The Tiptoe Boys (1981)
Corgi Books 0552-11975-X. Cover: still. Movie tie-in.

Earthsearch (London, BBC Books, 1981; revised London, Severn Books, 1993)
BBC Books 0563-17943-0, 1981, 208pp, £1.65. Cover by John Geary

Earthsearch II: Deathship (London, BBC Books, 1982; revised as Deathship, London, Severn Books, 1993)

Dominator (London, Methuen, 1984)

Swift (1985)
Mandarin, 1989
Arrow 0749-31012-X, 1994, 287pp, £5.99. Cover by Nick Farmer

Mirage (1988)
Mandarin 0749-30003-5, 1989, 388pp, £3.99. Cover by Lee Gibbons
---- [2nd imp.] 1989; [3rd imp.] 1989; [4th imp.] 1989.

A Cage of Eagles (1989)
Mandarin 0749-30036-1, 1990, 256pp, £3.50. Cover by Patrick Mortemore

Torus (London, Methuen, 1990)
Mandarin 0749-30492-8, 1990, 404pp, £3.99.
---- [3rd imp.] 1991, 403pp, £5.99.

Trojan (London, Lime Tree, 1991)
Mandarin 0749-30363-8, 1992, 489pp, £4.99. 

Savant (London, Heinemann, 1993)

Mindwarp: Prequel to Earthsearch (London, Severn Books, 1993)

Those in Peril (1995)
Mandarin 0749-31963-1, 1994
----, [2nd imp.] 1994; [3rd imp.] 1994; [4th imp.] 1995.
----, [5th imp.] 1996, 344pp, £5.99. Cover design by Button Design Co.

Sabre (1997)

Temple of the Winds (London, Severn House, 2000)

Wicca (London, Severn House, 2000)

The Silent Vulcan (London, Severn House, 2002)

A Forest of Eagles (2004)

Return of the Eagles (2004)

OTHERS

Starglider

Tracker

Friday, August 21, 2015

Comic Cuts - 21 August 2015

Having typed up something like 34,000 words of my latest e-book project, I suddenly discovered that quite a lot of the material is already available for free on the internet. Not the same, but similar enough for it to be a massive blow to my plans. I'm not willing to let that amount of work go to waste, so I'll now have to expand the project just to make sure there is new content for whoever buys it. So much for this being a little project that I could do on the side while I was doing my editorial work for Hotel Business. Grrrrr!

Apart from that... well, there was no apart from that. That's all I've had time to do. Using old newspapers as source material meant OCR was impossible (I tried it, and the results were unusable); with no digital solution available, I had to use my actual digits, and hand-type those 34,000 words over a period of five days. That doesn't leave much time for anything else, hence falling back on some scrapbook entries for Bear Alley and e-mails taking forever to respond to.

Catching up on tomato news, we've now had 136 between the three plants and still no end in sight. Still only two cucumbers. I thought the plant must be dead as the leaves were browning, but a flower opened up last weekend which is now developing into a reasonably sized fruit. Yes, it's a fruit.

Random scans. I picked up this trilogy of novels by Canadian SF writer Robert J. Sawyer some while back. Known as the Neanderthal Parallax, it concerns an alternate version of Earth where neanderthals became dominant and how it impacts our world when a connection opens up between the two parallel universes.

The first novel in the series won the Hugo Award in 2003; Humans was a Hugo finalist the following year. This seems an apt time to celebrate the award, which is being handed out at the World SF Convention being held this weekend, the winners to be announced on Monday.

Sawyer was also responsible for Flashforward, adapted as a TV series that ended frustratingly after only one season, and Mindscan, which won the John W. Campbell award, amongst many others.

 
 
 
I have a cover gallery lined up and I've squeezed in a little bit of research into a couple of minor authors, so that should keep Bear Alley busy into next week.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Scrapbook: a random collection of strips

In chronological order. The Jimbo set dates from the 14 May 1988 issue of Radio Times, the Daily Star set from 11 March 1991 and The Metro from 16 February 2004.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Scrapbook: Barb Wire

Who remembers Barb Wire? Probably the only reason anybody does is because she was played in the movie of the comic book of the same name by Pamela Anderson. It wasn't a huge hit, and was perhaps unsurprisingly nominated heavily for the Golden Raspberry Awards of 1996, with Pammy winning Worst New Star, although she lost the Worst Actress award to Demi Moore, star of the Worst Picture award, Striptease.

The film had little going for it, although the plot mirrored that of Casablanca. Anderson was no Bogart. Sometimes these kind of films can earn a cult following, but I suspect that won't be the case here.

The clipping is also interesting for the news that Quentin Tarantino is going to be directing a movie version of The Man From UNCLE as a follow-up to Pulp Fiction. This was 1995 and it has taken 20 years to bring the old team of Solo and Kuriakin to the big screen to the general consensus that it's OK without being brilliant.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dolores Drielsma

The Hornsey Journal published quite a few paperbacks in its day. The company was owned by George Wiltshire during the 1920s and 1930s when they were prolific publishers of hundreds of cheap paperbacks. Hey had taken over the "My Pockets" Novels series from Edwin J. Brett and used it as a brand for decades, the "My Pocket" Novels series being succeeded  by the "My Pocket" 3d Novels (or 3d Library) in the 1920s. Hornsey also took over the publications of the long-running Federation Press (F.P.) Racing Novels series in 1928 and continued publishing it until around 1943.

The "My Pocket" series published about 1,700 titles – my checklist of them is far from complete, so there could be some fascinating authors lurking invisibly amongst their output. Certainly the list that I have been able to compile has some interesting names and an equal number of interesting-looking names, almost certainly pseudonyms.

A name I stumbled across recently was Dolores Drielsma, author of at least three novels for the company.  Such an odd surname had to be a fake, I thought. But, no. The false bit was the Christian name, as Dolores Drielsma was the nom-de-plume of Adele Drielsma, née Lindow.

Born in Berlin, Germany, on 25 December 1874, she was the daughter of Joseph (a diamond merchant) and Lina Lindow. She married John Jonas Drielsma (c1873-1937), a stiler and gold stick mounter, in 1895. They lived together in Princess May Road, Stoke Newington. She died at the Royal Hospital, Richmond, Surrey, on 30 November 1923, aged 50. (“of 5 Camborne Terrace, Richmond, Surrey). She left her effects to Maud Isabel Crofts (wife of John Cecil Crofts).

Of her writing career I know very little other than that in 1910 she co-wrote the one-act play Kia’s Luck. I would not be surprised to discover that she had strong theatre connections, perhaps also as an actress, hence the slight change in the form of her name she was known as.

PUBLICATIONS

Novels
Her Soul's Desire. Hornsey Journal [‘‘My Pocket’’ 3d Novels 48], 12 May 1925, 64pp, 3d.
Sinning for Love. Hornsey Journal [‘‘My Pocket’’ 3d Novels 166], 12 Jun 1928, 64pp, 3d.
A Young Wife’s Folly. Hornsey Journal [‘‘My Pocket’’ 3d Novels 181], 25 Sep 1928, 64pp, 3d.

Plays
Kia's Luck (1910) 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dave Gibbons: Quest: AD 2130

From the pages of Interplanetary News... here's an early strip by Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons. If memory serves, Kev O'Neill was also a contributor to Interplanetary News and it would have been through him this this strip was reprinted. A single episode of "Quest: AD 2130" originally appeared in the pages of Eureka in 1971; it was then serialised in Fantasy Advertiser in 1971-73, so this was its third outing, appearing in issues 44-55 of Interplanetary News in 1972-73. This is the second episode from April 1972.



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