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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Comic Clippings - 22 May

Some good news: Random House have officially announced The Bumper Book of Look and Learn now so my gagging order has been lifted. Only kidding -- I just didn't want to make any announcements before everything was signed, sealed and delivered which, I'm pleased to say, is where we are. The book has been edited by Stephen Pickles, who is also editor of the fortnightly Look and Learn magazine, and it's a nice big selection, weighing in at 256 pages. Random House are publishing it under their Century imprint and the official release day is 6 September 2007. Start saving your pennies... I've seen some of the selection and it's really nice. And, yes, it does include a complete adventure from the 'Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire'. There's a little blurb on the book (ISBN 978-1846052910) at I'll put up a scan of the cover as soon as I get one.

I've been talking to Rob van Bavel of Don Lawrence Collection and he's been filling me in on some of the problems he has been facing in getting the Karl the Viking box set together. Not least was his father's recent hospitalisation, although I'm glad to report that, as of today (Tuesday), his Dad is back at home. The big problem has been cleaning up the original artwork. A lot of the word balloons are missing, or were replaced to reflect publication abroad or in reprints. To keep the whole volume looking consistent, Rob has been scanning missing dialogue and captions from the weekly so they can be dropped onto the pages... a hugely time consuming task. So far he's completed volume one but still has three more to go.

Because of this DLC has pushed the publication of the set back to November which will give us plenty of time to get the whole thing right before it goes to the printers. I'll still be finishing off the introductions over the next few weekends but the pressure is off a little.

Good job, too, because I'd already committed myself to writing some introductory material for Titan's upcoming volume Before Albion. This is an anthology of adventure stories featuring some of the characters from the recent WildStorm Albion series and will feature episodes of 'Kelly's Eye', 'House of Dolmann', 'Cursitor Doom' and 'Janus Stark'. Should make an excellent volume. I've already put together a little piece on Janus Stark this evening and I'll be putting together some notes on the rest over the next few evenings ready for writing up over the Bank Holiday.

While I'm making announcements about books, a quick word on The War Libraries -- the index to all the Fleetway war libraries that David Roach and I have compiled. The book is that close to being sent to the printers you can barely see daylight. Expect printed copies to be hitting the shelf in July or August, depending on how rough the sea gets over the summer. Some time in June I'll be knuckling down to work on the next volume, The Adventure Libraries; as you can see, I still can't think of a better way to describe Thriller, Cowboy and Super Detective. Still it's better than the third volume which, at the moment, is being referred to as The Other Libraries. Below is the cover. I'll be posting various samples and bits of information over the next few weeks in a completely obvious attempt to generate some interest in the book; I might even resort to including outright lies like "it's better than sex." So be warned.

A couple of small items of news...
  • New Frank Bellamy website has just opened up at with some very extensive lists of Bellamy's output over the years ranging from the comics work you know and love to the unpublished and unseen Bellamy you long to see published in a bloody big art book. Norman Boyd has created the site and has also set up a blog companion. Both are well worth a visit. Incidentally, yesterday was the 90th anniversary of Bellamy's birth.
  • 'Dan Dare Recalled' is a nice introductory article on the subject by Ian Wheeler, now available at John Freeman's Down the Tubes website (20 May).


  1. Steve

    Thanks for the mention of the new Bellamy site. You mentioned Bellamy's birthday....we were hoping to celebrate the launch on the 30th anniversary of his passing last year, but just like Rob van Bavel of Don Lawrence Collection's problems (we wish his Dad a speedy recovery), life got in the way!

  2. RE" Dan Dare Recalled": I never could understand why Eagle is recalled by fans as going down hill in the 60's. The fifties were the dull period with boring biographies of Winnie Churchhill and Cecil Rhodes. The strips were dull compared with those of the sixties with Ortiz, Bermejo and Eric Kincaid. The sixties strips were some of the best in Europe with well-written stories of spies, robots, and UFO Agents. The art was superb and the religious pap of the fifties was downplayed in favour of exciting adventure.

  3. John,

    There's a definite division between the 1950s and 1960s Eagle fans. Many fans draw the line at the end of the Hampson-era Dan Dare and refuse to have anything to do with post-Hampson issues. But, of course, Hampson then drew 'The Road to Courage' and there's those pesky Frank Bellamy strips to admire.

    Personally, having never grown up with the Eagle, I can appreciate both eras for what merits they had: the 1950s included the Hampson studio on Dan Dare, 'Riders of the Range', 'Luck of the Legion' and lots of very good features and stories; the 1960s had Frank Bellamy on 'Fraser of Africa', 'Montgomery of Alamein' and 'Heros the Spartan', Martin Aitchison moved onto other strips, Frank Humphris on 'Blackbow the Cheyenne', Ron Embleton drawing 'Johnny Frog', strips by Jesus Blasco, John Burns, Gerry Haylock, Jose Ortiz, Brian Lewis... It's only towards the very end (1968-69) that the paper really lost its way, with various reprints and a reprint of Marvel's 'Tales of Asgard' looking distinctly out of place.

    There was a lot to like about the 1960s Eagle but I guess you had to be there. Editors made changes to my paper, Valiant, that I didn't like, introducing new characters and artists, and I gave up because I felt it wasn't a shadow of its former self. I'm sure someone who started reading about that time would strongly disagree with me. The same applies to Eagle and every other paper.

  4. Steve

    Do you know if The Bumper Book of Look and Learn will contain different material from the current fortnightly?

    David Simpson

  5. Hi David,

    There will be some small overlap in material because we want to put get as fine a selection of features and artwork into both magazine and book. However, even with 256 pages to play with, it would be impossible to include some of the long-running features that we've been able to (or are planning to) reprint in the magazine. There might be a particularly good episode in the book where you can find the full run in the mag.

    That said, there will be a lot of material in the book that hasn't been lined up for the magazine so that readers get the gist of the breadth of features that appeared in Look and Learn over the years. And editor Stephen Pickles has told me there will be a few surprises.