Friday, October 05, 2007

Comic Cuts - 5 September

A week ago I was wondering whether I'd find any time at all to post anything. I needn't have worried it seems as I've not done too badly, albeit with a little help from Jeremy, who has been a busy lad on behalf of Bear Alley of late. I still have a couple of pieces he's written in hand which will be appearing over the next couple of days.

Why so busy? Well, Look and Learn always takes up the bulk of the day one way or another, either working on the Picture Gallery or, as I've been doing the last couple of days, putting together material for future projects. Then there's the next volume of the Fleetway Index series. The introduction runs to around 16,000 words so far and there's still a little way to go. I've most of the information mapped out but I've been talking to various people, fine-tuning the information and making sure it's correct, and digging through old interviews trying to tease out as much as I can so that the introduction, whilst maybe not being the definitive word, has as much new information as possible. It's rather sad that Angus Allan died recently as he had been a fine source of scurrilous tales of what went on behind the scenes: how one of the sub-editors was fired for losing artwork, or how one of the artists. slightly the worse for drink, managed to lose his own artwork...

Then there's the usual daily flood of enquiries, which can sometimes take a few hours to answer, watching the TV, which I don't do that much because so much of it is utter rubbish, and occasionally going out. This weekend I'm off to see comedian Milton Jones on Saturday and on Sunday it's the ABC Show at the Royal National. David Roach and I will be signing some books if you care to come along.

Having Jeremy fill-in a little has given me the time to read (or look) through a couple of magazines that have arrived this week. New issues of Eagle Times and Fumetto are always welcome arrivals.

The Autumn issue of Eagle Times leads with the continuing revelations by Alan Vince of obscure and occasionally unseen pieces of Frank Hampson artwork including, in this issue, unfinished drawings from Hampson's Ladybird Book about Winston Churchill which would, on this evidence, have looked stunning had it been published.

Other highlights this issue are David Gould's speculations on the authorship of 'Operation Saturn', Will Grenham's trip round Wiltshire in search of real locations of Jack O'Lantern, Will Grenham's article asking 'Whatever Happened to Harold Johns?' and the conclusion of Steve Winders' look at 'Keith Watson's Dan Dare'. This issue was rather more satisfying than the last two and not just because Bear Alley gets a mention. Subscriptions are £22 for four issues from Keith Howard, 25A Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 2UA (or £26 overseas, in sterling please).

Fumetto no. 63 makes me wish my Italian was better as I can barely read the damn thing. But I like the pictures and there are features on artists whose names I recognise, including Hugo Pratt and Dino Battaglia and articles by people I know, including Luigi Marcianò, Alberto Becattini (on Chic Young) and Paolo Gallinari, all talented writers of impeccable taste. Subscriptions cost 100 Euros from ANAFI, via Emilia Ospizio, 102 - 42100 Reggio Emilia, Italia.

The same publisher has been producing a series of reprint booklets for some time now and I'm pleased to say that one of the latest features a return home for one of Italy's finest artists, Franco Caprioli. Caprioli worked for various titles in the UK, including Ranger, Lion and Look and Learn and we were able to arrange a reprinting of the 1970 L&L strip 'The Legend of Beowulf' or La Leggende di Beowulf. This is its first Italian appearance, as far as I'm aware, so I'm pleased I had the opportunity to write the book's introduction. I've yet to see a copy of the book itself, but the latest titles in the series are advertised in the current Fumetto, price 25 Euros (not sure what the p&p would be outside Italy).

Here's a few bits of news...

* Nick Abadzis is the subject of the latest Inkstuds podcast, talking about his graphic novel about Laika, the dog who was launched into space in Sputnik-2 on 3 November 1957. He was also interviewed on The World. Can't find a link to the actual broadcast but some of Nick's interview can be found here. Nick was recently the guest blogger at First Second, where he talked about where he gets his ideas from. (Inkstuds link via Journalista)

* Neil Gaiman's collection, Fragile Things, won the British Fantasy Award. Can't remember if I mentioned this before. I'm a bit late with this as the awards were handed out at Fantasycon 2007 in September. Still, it gives me an excuse to link to the Forbidden Planet International blog review of Stardust where Joe reveals that we're in for a treat.

* Richard Johnston's Lying in the Gutters reports that Ian Gibson has recently quite drawing 'Robo-Hunter' for 2000AD. Richard points readers to a thread on the 2000AD message board that has clearly had some personal correspondence from Gibson removed. However, Gibson has confirmed elsewhere that he has not only quit 'Robo-Hunter' but 2000AD entirely.

* If you're wondering what Dez Skinn has been up to since selling Comics International, wonder no more: he's been developing 'Big Ben, The Man With No Time For Crime' as a kid's animated TV show and putting together Comic Art Now, a 200-page "comic art directory" for HarperCollins (US) and ILEX (UK) with samples of artwork from 100 artists working in the US, UK, Brazil, Sweden, Manila, Tokyo. Singapore, Bulgaria... The criteria, says Dez, is quality and, unlike some art directories, artists don't get charged to be included. The book is due in Spring 2008.

* Various sites have reported the death of Manfred Sommer (above), the Spanish artist of 'El Tigre' and 'Frank Cappa'. More information (unfortunately in Spanish) can be found here and here (the latter is a PDF file). Sommer worked for the UK via the Spanish Selecciones Illustrades agency, drawing war and romance strips and covers. Below is an example from War Picture Library no. 144 (1962).

* John Freeman notes (on the Down the Tubes blog) that Dennis the Menace is to star in a new animated series from the BBC. The show is in pre-production and will air on CBBC in the autumn of 2009. The interesting thing is that D C Thomson themselves will be more heavily involved and are also promoting a couple of other new animation shows, Marvo the Wonder Chicken an Wendy (which is a co-venture with another comics publisher, Egmont).

* Steven Moffat, who has written some of my favourite TV of late is writing scripts to three Tintin movies. I've been a fan of Moffat's since Joking Apart (the first season of which is now available on DVD; the show also has its very own website) and his abilities to create creepy, menacing tales is beyond doubt (Doctor Who, Jekyll). Combine that with his talents for characterisation and dialogue (visible even in his earliest writing for Press Gang) and I think you've got a writer in whose hands Tintin should be safe as long as there isn't too much interference from above. This news comes in the same week they announce a new Wallace & Gromit TV episode for 2008. And Spooks is back on the TV on Tuesday the 16th October. Nothing to do with comics but you'll know where I am if nothing gets posted on Tuesdays.

* The Birmingham International Comics Show 2007 is being held next weekend (13th and 14th). If you want to catch up on some of the press releases to find out what's going on, follow this link.

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