Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Comic Cuts

I've spent most of the week working on the first two books that will be appearing from Bear Alley, one a reprint of an old penny dreadful from the 1870s (from which the above picture is taken), the other a collection of essays. I've been print testing and the results I've had back have been pretty amazing. I've been showing them to everyone who walks in the door and everyone so far has been impressed. I've already had one order for the essays book—and I've not even finished writing it yet. It does wonders for your confidence.

Once these are out of the way it's back to The Mike Western Story. I've been working on it in fits and starts because I've been trying to locate and borrow copies of as many of Mike's strips as I can, some of which I've only read parts of because my own collection of comics is so patchy. I'm also working on a couple of other comics-related books that, if all goes to plan, should be out this summer. Titles and whatnot to be announced.

In the meantime, here are a few more new titles announced by Prion Books for release this autumn, including David Roach's Art of War and the next Commando book.

Art of War, edited by David Roach (ISBN 978-1853756627, 4 August 2008)
Follow-up to David's Aarrgghh! It's War book.

The Best of Punch Cartoons, edited by Helen Walasek (ISBN 978-1853756795, 1 September 2008)
"The Giant Book of Punch Cartoons" is a superb new book. This, the biggest collection of cartoons ever published from the most famous humour magazine of them all, is packed with superb gags and beautiful artwork by some of the world's finest artists of the past two centuries. The page size is huge, showing the cartoon art off in the best possible manner. And, at more than 600 pages, this book is an essential purchase for any fan of cartoons, visual humour or of the legendary "Punch" magazine.

The Best of Boyfriend, edited by Steve Holland (ISBN 978-1853756658, 1 September 2008)
"Boyfriend", a new kind of girls' paper, was launched in the spring of 1959. It was the first girls' magazine to truly put music first. Each week there would be a new 'Boyfriend' - Russ Conway, Johnny Mathis, Lonnie Donegan - introducing his life story and, to prove that he had a softer side, his favourite romantic story.You could also meet 'The Girl Behind the Boy'. Whether this was so you could emulate her to get your own pop-star boyfriend or a case of "know your enemy" so you could steal her boyfriend, I don't know.Away from the music, Rachel Lindsay handed out fashion tips on everything from clothing to hairstyles and twins Johnny and Jeannie Talbot offered weekly advice on the "Boyfriend" problems page."Boyfriend" really came into its own when the sixties began to swing. The magazine gave itself over to modern pop: as early as February 1963, before their first album was out, "Boyfriend" was describing The Beatles as "even more modern than modern." Cliff Richard was a favourite of the magazine and was given his own column to introduce other stars of the pop scene...although it's unlikely that Cliff ever got any closer to the column than cashing the pay cheque he earned from the magazine for using his name.

Seven years after its birth, "Boyfriend" sank beneath a swelling tide of pop magazines and girls all over the country mourned its passing."The Best of Boyfriend" celebrates the life of an iconic sixties publication with a welter of material that represent some of the best pate.

The Biggest Jackie Annual Ever! The Best Thing for GirlsNext to Boys (ISBN 978-1853756672, 1 September 2008)
Your daughter, or even your granddaughter, probably has no idea what it was like growing up in the sixties and seventies. Nowadays, MTV, mobile phones, the internet and downloaded pop bypass much of the excitement of rushing to the newsagent each week to find out who were the featured pin-ups, which of your favourite stars were being interviewed and what intriguingly delicate problems Cathy and Claire were tackling.This bumper edition of nostalgic pages is from the magazine that was truly top of the pops with every girl in the country for almost thirty years after its first publication in 1964.The magazine's heyday came in the seventies when The Osmonds, David Essex, The Bay City Rollers, David Cassidy and Slade were among the regular faces appearing in its pages but it wasn't just for the pop, TV and film stars that girls beat a path to their local newsagent's door. Like the original magazine, "The Biggest Jackie Annual Ever!", it includes fashion and beauty tips, puzzles and quizzes to help you find out, for example, the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone, recipes, horoscopes and enthralling Readers' True Experiences, as well as a smattering of romantic picture story strips.Now is your change to relive all of those golden Jackie moments and show the youngsters in your life what life was like when you were growing up. You can listen to a few hits while you do so, too, because of "The Biggest Jackie Annual Ever!"

Commando: Bandits at 12 O'clock, edited by George Low (ISBN 978-1847321282, 1 September 2008)
Everybody who has ever turned a page of a "Commando" war library has a favourite air story. The first thing to catch the attention are the names...Spitfire, Hurricane, Typhoon, Tempest, Whirlwind, Mosquito. Who wouldn't want to read a story with aircraft like that twisting and turning through the pages, machine guns or cannon flaming?And then there are the men who flew the fighters, bombers, seaplanes, flying boats and transport aircraft into combat. These pilots of every nationality had one aim...to make sure that they won their deadly duels high in the sky."Commando: Bandits at 12 O'Clock" is a collection of some of the finest and most exciting air adventures ever published by "Commando", so strap in, buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Hospital Nurse Picture Library: Love on Ward B, edited by Melissa Hyland (ISBN 978-1853756665, 1 September 2008)
Blonde and impossibly beautiful, Sally Brown is a probationary nurse at General Hospital and the star of 'Hospital Nurse Picture Library'. With her friend and colleague Maureen Evans she patrols the kind of wards that would have been familiar to her readers thanks to television. "Emergency Ward 10" had been running since 1957 so everyone knew that hospitals were buildings full of dishy doctors and patients in need of a little tender loving care."The Hospital Nurse" series was first launched in 1963 and for years thereafter, young girls, young women and not-so-young women invested a shilling each month to keep up with the romantic adventures of young Sally Brown. In the 1960s, nursing was second only to being an air hostess when it came to glamorous occupations for girls. Tales like "First Love", "Live and Love", "Kiss and Remember" and "Fooling With Love" tap into the obvious elements of love and romance - but titles like "Man Crazy" and "Naughty Nurse" hint that there is more fun to be had in these picture stories than between the prim covers of a Mills and Boon novel.If you think hospitals are just sterile wards full of sick people, think again.

News from elsewhere...

* The BBC 4 radio show The Reunion for 20 April will be a celebration of D. C. Thomson's Dandy and Beano. Presenter Sue McGregor "gathers together editors, cartoonists and scriptwriters to recall the halcyon days of the D. C. Thomson comics, to celebrate the characters they created and the comic strips they drew, and to discuss the challenges the industry faces in an ever-increasing multimedia age." The show will be available for 7 days via the BBC's Listen Again.

* John Adcock's Yesterday's Papers blog has recently included some strips that appeared in the comics' supplement of the Sydney (Australia)-based Sun Herald newspaper. Amongst them were reprints of 'Robin Alone' drawn by Bill Lacey and 'Strongbow the Mighty' drawn by Ron Embleton (above), both reprinted from the British Mickey Mouse Weekly.

* Alex Fitch has posted a number of podcasts of interviews since I last checked in. His Reality Check show has included an interview with Bryan Talbot as part of a number of interviews at this year's [SF] Eastercon, Orbital '08. Part 2 of the same report includes a chat with Neil Gaiman. Panel Borders for 8 March 2008 was an interview with Doug Braithwaite which has only recently been posted as a podcast. Coming to a podcast soon, hopefully, will be James DeCarteret's interview with Bryan Talbot & Mark Stafford about their new graphic novel, Cherubs, "a supernatural comedy-adventure about the apocalypse." Although I tend to only cover older British comics material here on Bear Alley, you might want to also check out some of Alex's other broadcasts on small press comics which you can via the main page of his Reality Check & Panel Borders blog.

* Peter O'Donnell, creator of Modesty Blaise, was 88 on 11th April and had his birthday celebrated with a brief interview in the Press Gazette (11 April). (link thanks to John Adcock)

* One of my other main hobby interests, old story papers, tends to get short shrift here at Bear Alley since they're uncommon and new information doesn't often come my way unless I'm looking for it specifically. But that doesn't mean nothing's happening. For instance, Georges Dodds has been putting together a fascinating website about author William Murray Graydon for some time now and has compiled some useful biographical information and a wide-ranging sampling of texts. And over at Yesterday's Papers, John Adcock recently published a lengthy column looking at the old penny dreadful Boy's Herald from 1877-78.

1 comment:

  1. I may as well say here that i for one have been enjoying the articles on the old story papers, and long may they continue¬!



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