Sunday, January 20, 2008

Comic Cuts - 25 Years On

Looking for a way to celebrate post #600 (good grief!) I stumbled across the fact that this month is the 25th anniversary of my first ever published article. I'd been involved in a couple of things before -- helping compile a list of stories written by John Russell Fearn in Gerald Swan's magazines, for instance -- but it was around Christmas of 1982 that I sat down with a blank piece of paper, thought of an idea for an article and wrote it with publication in mind. The idea was to write something about the connection between comics artists and old British paperbacks and the published version appeared in the January 1983 issue of the Association of Comics Enthusiasts Newsletter, Comic Cuts (whose title, you'll notice, I've pinched for my own news column).

Since then I've had nearly 1,450 features published. Quite a few have been lists or reviews and quite a few have been news columns but even they had to be written. I'd hate to think how often I had to retype lists before the computer revolutionised the process. Everything is typed once only and can be added to an infinite number of times as new information comes in. Most of the research I now do from my office rather than trudging around London between Somerset House, St. Catherine's House and the British Library. I don't have to walk a block from my house to post a letter any more.

Other things haven't changed at all. 25-years-on and I'm still writing about comics and compiling lists. I still get onto the phone and talk to people whenever I can (today I had the chance to chat with illustrator Neville Dear for the first time). 25 years ago I wondered if I could make a living from writing because I kinda liked it. I got a hell of a thrill out of seeing that first piece in print. Today I'm still wondering even though my last 'proper' job was 17 years ago when I gave up commuting to London in 1990. Since then I've managed to squeeze a living out of writing and editorial work. Sometimes it has been like trying to squeeze blood out of a stone but for the most part I've enjoyed it. I'm never going to be rich but doing a job you enjoy takes the edge off that.

Unless I can find someone with wads of money looking for a tax write-off and a history of British comics, I suspect I'll be doing much the same for the next 17 years.

Today, as they used to say on The Fast Show, I have been mostly reading... Boyfriend. Why? Because I'm working on The Best of Boyfriend. (Yes, seriously. It'll be announced soon enough so you may as well hear it from me.) Stumbled across a strip by a very popular artist that was completely unexpected... and I'll have to keep you in suspense over who it was because I can't get to the scanner at the moment.

The date for the next London ABC Show and National Collectors Market Place has just been confirmed: Sunday, 16 March. Put it in your diaries. I'm hoping that we'll have the Bellamy Robin Hood book out in time for the show.

Paul Winsall has set up an interesting blog through which he intends listing the contents of the D. C. Thomson comic The Wizard from 1970 to 1974, covering the extent of his collection (which lacks only 7 issues). I'm sure he'd welcome any help from Wizard collectors to fill the gaps and extend the listing to Wizard's demise in 1978. You've got however long it takes Paul to post his 250 or so issues in which to dig out your copies from the attic.

A few more bits of news from the big wide world of the web...

* Paul Grist is interviewed by Michael Patrick Sullivan about the upcoming Jack Staff Special at Comic Book Resources.

* In an interview in Publisher's Weekly, Chris Staros mentions that the next Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book, Century, will be released in 2009, followed by The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic by Alan and Steve Moore. (link via Journalista)

* Alex Fitch has posted podcasts of recent Panel Borders interviews with Ian Edginton & D'Israeli and Jamie Delano & D'Israeli. Part 2 of the Achtung! Commando broadcast will be on the Strip segment of next Thursday's Resonance FM show at 5 pm. Unfortunately, it isn't being podcast (not Alex's choice, by the way... the ICA won't let him).

* Craig Johnson interviews Rufus Dayglo and David Hine at Comics Village. And Phil Elliott.

* Mike Lynch has posted an interview and overview of cartoonist Gerald Scarfe that appeared on Al Jazeera TV. (link via Journalista)

* Lew Stringer discusses a Daily Mirror double-strip day way back in May 1968, an older wartime issue, and the latest issue of Crikey!.

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