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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Comic Cuts

Typical of my "feast or famine" working life, I've a bunch of thing vying for my attention. First and foremost is work on the Sci-Fi Art book; I'm just over the halfway mark on this and hopefully will have my sections finished in the next three weeks or so (as it involves lots of research, I'm not getting vast amounts written each day). Then I'm straight onto the next four albums of Storm which will be appearing as two deluxe omnibus editions in the StormThe Collection series from DLC. Getting on for 200 pages of glorious SF adventure... I'm looking forward to it. Continuing the SF theme, I'm also doing some work for the long-awaited update to the Science Fiction Encyclopedia. And continuing the comics theme I'm also trying to schedule work on the Frank Bellamy's King Arthur book and the Art of Ron Embleton which we hope to have out this year.

Because I've no spare time at the moment, my planned little publishing empire is on hold for a couple of months while I try to get my finances back in some kind of order. However, I've not deserted it completely: one book (not comics) is currently being proofed; I'm trying to sort out a cover for another and I'm cleaning up artwork scans for a third and fourth. As you can imagine, everything is creeping forward at a snail's pace but all projects are at least heading in the right direction.

Following Mike recent death, I've had a lot on inquiries about the Mike Western Story asking how it's going and all I can say is that it will definitely be going ahead. Quite when I will be able to get back to it I'm not sure. I want to get it done right rather than done Tuesday, to coin a phrase. I've had a couple of offers of artwork and sketches recently, which I'm taking up, so there will be a selection of odds and ends that Mike drew that have not seen print before. Again, it's moving at snail's pace but forward.

A few links relating to Mike:
I may as well take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who has written to me and hasn't had a reply—or has had a short and very belated one. I'm not checking my e-mail as often as usual and if a response is likely to require some work I'm having to leave it to one side. So if you've not heard from me, don't worry: I will get back to you at some point.

Mind you, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy so off we went to see Nina Conti and her monkey, one of the very few ventriloquists acts still touring and not one for the kiddies as the monkey has some strong opinions about what it's like to have someone's sweating fist inside you.

The act has always been that the monkey is aware he's a puppet, that this is ventriloquism, that Nina speaks for both of them, yet the delivery and interplay is so fast that the occasional stumble (or stungle) flies past before you've noticed it; monkey's asides and interruptions and Conti's reactions carry you along. For a puppet the monkey sure has a lot of character.

Other part of the show are quite surreal, with Conti appearing in various roles: a woman who wants to become a mermaid, a South African lecturer in voodoo who has a talking penis and as her own grandfather talking to his dead wife. The show takes surprising and odd turns into the melancholy but is always brought back on course by the monkey. Maybe it's because we've all grown up seeing puppet shows (whatever age you are: Basil Brush, the Muppets or Doogy Dog) and having one answer back with foul language is just hilarious. The child in us wants to believe the puppets are real; the adult in us want Basil to give us the real low down about dirty Gerty from number 30.

Here's a taste of Nina Conti's show, including what has become her trademark sketch. Watch and enjoy...

News from around the web...

* Down the Tubes reports that former Tharg David Bishop appeared on The Weakest Link on 23 May and won an impressive £1,400.

* Keith Chapman reminisces briefly about his days writing for Micron's Combat Picture Library at the Black Horse Extra website, dedicated to Robert Hale's Western line.

* No sooner have I mentioned them and Classical Comics win an award. Somehow I doubt if the two events are linked. Congratulations to John McDonald and Neill Cameron for their adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V which picked up the silver medal in the Graphic Novel/Drawn Book category at the Independent Publisher Book Awards. A full list of winners—and it's a long list—can be found here.

* Forbidden Planet International's Richard reminisces about Giles.

* Titan Books have revised their schedule for their Roy of the Rovers reprints: The Best of Roy of the Rovers: The 1980s (ISBN 978-1845769482) and The Bumper Book of Roy of the Rovers (ISBN 978-1845769581) remain on schedule for 13 June and 22 August as previously reported but the Roy of the Rovers Archives: Season 1954-55 (ISBN 978-1845769499) has been pushed back to 20 December.

Other titles from Titan's autumn schedule include:
  • Marshal Law: Origins by Pat Mills & Kevin O'Neill (ISBN 978-1845769437, 26 September 2008). "When one of San Futuro's leading sex queen hostesses turns up dead in what appears to be a bizarre suicide, it seems clear that there is more to this insidious situation than meets the eye. It's time for Marshal Law to once more don his black leather and barbed wire—and dish out the pain! Also featuring the classic 'Day of the Dead', this brand new and fully illustrated novel includes hordes of unseen artwork by award-winning artist O'Neill!"
  • Modesty Blaise: Green Cobra by Peter O'Donnell, John M. Burns & Pat Wright (ISBN 978-1845764203, 26 September 2008). "This latest volume features three classic hard-to-find stories: "Green Cobra", "Eve and Adam" and "Brethren of Blaise"... Featuring new story introductions by creator Peter O'Donnell, plus a host of features including unseen artwork by John Burns, as well as a selection of recently unearthed Modesty strips."
  • Tank Girl 1 (Remastered) by Alan C. Martin & Jamie Hewlett (ISBN 978-1845767570, 26 September 2008). "Marking the 20th anniversary of "Tank Girl", with a new introduction from Alan Martin, and previously unseen material from Jamie Hewlett, this is the first in a series of ultimate collections. Presented for the first time in chronological order and in glorious black and white - as nature intended! Warning: Adults only!"
  • The Best of Battle: Volume 1 (ISBN 978-1848560253, 24 October 2008). "Over 300 pages of relentless action are collected here, from the desperate dogfights of Johnny Red to the down-and-dirty Rat Pack, the reflective, critically acclaimed Charley's War and the uncompromising Hellman of Hammer Force! Created and drawn by some of the biggest names in British comics, including Pat Mills and John Wagner (co-creators of 2000AD), Joe Colquhoun ("Charley's War", "Johnny Red") and more, this is the ultimate gift for fans of blazing battle action!"
  • Charley's War: Return to the Front (ISBN 978-1845767969, 24 October 2008). "Returning to the front, Charley is reunited with old comrades Weeper and Old Bill—and, unfortunately, bully Grogan and the vile Lieutenant Snell. As the bullets fly and bombs fall, Charley faces as much danger from his own ranks as from the enemy's..."
  • The Cream of Tank Girl by Alan C. Martin & Jamie Hewlett (ISBN 978-1845769420, 24 October 2008). "Boasting tons of unseen artwork, rarely seen comic strips, every Jamie Hewlett "Tank Girl" cover ever, publicity posters, script samples and more besides, this is the ultimate guide to Tank Girl and her world! Bask in the glory of exclusive new commentary from writer Alan Martin! Shiver with pleasure at the sight of rarely seen drawings by Gorillaz genius Jamie Hewlett! Have a nice cup of tea whilst studying the recipe page! Verily, "The Cream of Tank Girl" is a smorgasbord of Tank Girl-osity."
Update: a second volume of Battle reprints, The Bumper Book of Battle by various (ISBN 978-1848560291) is provisionally scheduled for March 2009 rather than the date Amazon currently gives (26 September 2008).

(* The pic. at the top of the column is the latest Dutch edition of Storm book 16, Vandaahl de Verderver which is one of the stories I'm going to be working on shortly for DLC. Volume 8 of StormThe Collection will contain 'The Living Planet' and 'Vandaahl the Destroyer' and Volume 9 will have 'The Twisted World' and 'The Robots of Far Sied'.)

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