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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Comic Clippings - 27 June

It has been one of those running-to-stand-still weeks where nothing seems to get done and every time I sit down to write my e-mail in-box bleeps at me. After last week's series of disasters things have been going well: good things in my life at the moment include the box-set of The League of Gentlemen and re-reading Sandman Mystery Theater from the beginning. I'm about 20 issues in and it's confirmed my disappointment about the recent 5-issue mini-series -- SMT works superbly as a historical piece set in the age of pulps. I didn't think the modern war setting worked.

Other good distractions: a very nice party on Saturday. I'm not saying my friends are geeks but when you have a six-year-old running around in a cyberman suit and the cake is shaped like a Tardis you know you're seeing the birth of the next generation of Doctor Who fans. (Talking of which: John Simm as The Master. Brilliant.)

Jamie Sturgeon turned up an old Columbine hardcover with a dustwrapper which mentioned a dozen or so novels that failed to appear. Columbine Publishing Co. ran for less than a year in 1939-40 and folded as soon as paper rationing came in in early 1940. But they must have been gathering manuscripts for some months beforehand as they advertised no less than seven novels by Hamilton Teed who had died in 1938. Only three ever appeared but, judging from the titles, the others were all rewrites of old Sexton Blake novels.

Anyway, I dropped a note about these lost titles into an old essay I'd written about the author, G. H. Teed, one of my favourite Sexton Blake writers. Teed had started his writing career as a ghostwriter, writing stories which were being sold as being the work of a guy called Michael Storm.

Thinking about Teed got me thinking about Storm. The late Bill Lofts once told me that more hours had been spent trying to locate authentic information on Michael Storm than all the other Sexton Blake authors put together. I seem to remember writing about various authors who had written under the name Michael Storm (or Michael Storme) back in 1994, so I've been digging for thirteen years -- maybe seriously for seven. And I have to say that Michael Storm managed to live his life without leaving a trace!

I've dipped into my notes on him countless times over the years and finally, last night, I think I may have cracked the mystery. I'm waiting on some additional information that I've had to order (nobody tells you how expensive doing research is!) but hopefully in a day or two I may be able to reveal who Michael Storm was. I'm probably the only person left whose interested.

I've also heard from a couple of people in the last two days who I'm hoping I can persuade to contribute something to the blog.

Aside from digging around into old books I've also been working on the second volume of the Fleetway Libraries series. Volume 2 will be The Adventure Libraries and will feature Cowboy Comics Library, Thriller Picture Library and Super Detective Library. David Roach and I will be signing copies of the first book at the comic mart at the Royal National on 7 October. If you can't wait that long, the Book Palace are now taking pre-orders for The War Libraries (ISBN-13: 9780955159626) and I hear we've already had one order! The book should be out in around six or seven weeks.

While I'm talking about things that are making me happy, I notice that the Battle and War library reprints from Carlton are doing even better than the new Commando book. C'mon, I worked hard on those books. I'm allowed to be a little smug every now and then.

* Artist Keith Robson has created an exhibition of comics and annuals at the Museum of Hartlepool which will run until 2 September. (Link from The Forbidden Planet International blog.)

* Tim Callahan, author of Grant Morrison: The Early Years, is interviewed at the Collected Comics Library podcast (20 July).

* More not-comics: Charles Lee has put up a signed Hank Janson photo on his autograph website. It's the only signed photo (signed by Steve Frances as Hank Janson) I've ever seen.

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