Thursday, June 26, 2008

Comic Cuts

The long wait is almost over. I'm pleased to say that the Karl the Viking box-set that DLC have been working on for the past couple of years is approaching the finishing line. The project dates back quite a few years: I think Rob—publisher and king-pin of DLC—first discussed it back in 2006. I first mentioned it here at Bear Alley in early 2007 as something that was going to be available that summer. But it took a long time to bring the scans of the original artwork up to scratch and Rob had the idea of reproducing the original lettering as it had appeared in Lion when the strip ran in the 1960s. Not the easiest task as all the balloons that were missing from the artwork had to be painstakingly scanned, cleaned up and reinserted into the artwork.

For my part, I started writing the introduction in April 2007. Because of the various delays, I didn't finish it until about seven weeks ago. We had a last minute juggle of the contents to squeeze in another annual story so that it truly was complete for all the Karl stories which meant a quick bit of rewriting to fit the new pagination for each volume. I think I excised about 1,300 words, which is no great loss. The final introduction consists of a foreword, a four-parter called 'The Saga of Karl the Viking' which runs across the four volumes, plus the two-part 'The Viking Age' which appears in the first two volumes; the total clocks in at something like 18,850 words.


The Sci-Fi Art book will probably work out at an even higher wordage. 20,000 at least, I should think, once you add all the captions.

Talking of which, even while I'm supposed to be concentrating on science fiction, I can't get away from comics. I'm reading Journeyman: The Art of Chris Moore by Stephen Gallagher and came across a mention of Brian Delaney. Delaney was a prolific artist for D. C. Thomson in the 1980s--his work was briefly discussed in the comments section of an old post about The Professionals. Take a look, though it's little more a bunch of people scratching our heads and admitting they know nothing.

Well, Chris Moore mentions that, after he left the Royal College of Art, he set up a design group in Covent Garden. This would have been around 1972. Moore says, "There was myself, a chap called Michael Morris who did graphics at the Royal College, and another guy called Brian Delaney, who also did graphics. Brian went off very shortly and teamed up with somebody called Darryl Ireland and they became Ireland Delaney..."

Not much to go on, I'll admit. It might be a completely different Brian Delaney, but it kind of fits if his work was appearing in the 1980s. If Chris Moore went on to become a book cover illustrator (and an excellent one, I must say), why couldn't Delaney have turned to comics?

Talking of Sci-Fi Art, here's a cover scan that hasn't made the cut. I was looking at a load of Jim Burns artwork last night and picked out a couple of likely examples to use. The image below was one of them—a lovely example of his work from the 1970s but impossible to clean up to the required standard. Still, nothing goes to waste when you've got a blog to fill. If you want to see the picture in all its glory, find yourself a copy of Jim Burns' Lightship. I picked up a copy recently from Book Palace and they have a lot of very good art books going cheap.

One of the images that will make the cut—editor-willing—is another Jim Burns cover that took me four attempts to get right. First attempt in two parts: couldn't quite match the two halves. Tried to patch it with a scan of the spine but couldn't match the colours. Tried scanning it the other way round: didn't work because the creases where you fold a dust jacket around a book pop out like nean striplights. Threw everything away and started again, rescanned the cover in three parts making sure I matched the colours, joined them all together perfectly except—d'oh!—for the quarter inch of the jacket flap that I'd somehow chopped off. Rescanned that (thankfully I hadn't reset the scanner or scanned anything else), merged it with the rest of the scan and... bingo! Two hours of my life gone but a damn fine picture for you to marvel at as a result.

I'm trying something new with Bear Alley, namely a rolling news column which you'll find somewhere down the right-hand column. I've been thinking about it for a while as I don't update on news very often and this seems a workable solution. If you spot any newsworthy items, drop me a line and I'll see about including them. I try to keep Bear Alley British-oriented as there are already plenty of very good US news sites (go visit Dirk Deppey's Journalista to see what a proper daily news column should be like ... please don't forget to come back).

That does not mean that Comic Cuts will disappear as there's always bits of news that are worth a link or a comment and I've occasionally got some news of my own to ramble on about. And I get to use up those otherwise unused scans...

I hear that the Rick RandomSpace Detective book is heading off to the printers. Against All Odds: War Picture Library Vol.2 was listed in the latest Previews and should be out in August. And we're hoping to have the Frank Bellamy's King Arthur book out in September which means I'll have seven books out that month if you count the four books in the Karl box-set as four rather than one.

Phew! (again)

News from Around the Net...

* Neil Gaiman's "The Witch's Headstone" has won the Locus Award for novelette. You can hear Gaiman himself reading a chapter here. The story is actually an excerpt from his forthcoming novel The Graveyard Book (due out at the end of September) and has also appeared in the collection M is for Magic. Gaiman's 'Sandman' was placed at #46 in the Publisher's Weekly 1000th issue celebration list of 100 Modern Classics. Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons was #13 in the same list. Gaiman himself offered his Top 10 New Classic Monsters, led by Moore's 'Swamp Thing'.

* StarShipSofa presents a 3-part video interview with Mike Moorcock recorded in Paris in November 2007.

The video lasts about 9 minutes. Part 2 (9 mins) can be found here and part 3 (11 mins) here. Alternatively, there's a two-hour audio podcast version that can be found at the StarShipSofa website.


  1. Ken,

    I've only seen one issue (#3) and the strip was drawn by Peter Dennis. I've had to delve back into paper files to find this so ghod only knows when I jotted that little note down. The Loadrunner strip was written at various times by Bill Scolding, Peter Dennis and Steve Craddock.

    Craddock's name I recognise: scripted Captain Britain and worked as a letterer on Warrior, various annuals, plus Captain Britain, Dr Who Magazine and various other Marvel UK titles. Also V For Vendetta for DC, although whether he relettered the strip or received a credit for the original lettering I don't know. Anyone know what happened to him? Maybe he would know who the mysterious Peter Dennis is.

  2. Ken,

    The issue I had was issue 3, so Brian Delaney may have done the first couple. A handy solution as that would mean we're both right.

  3. The Karl The Viking box set looks mighty impressive!I can but dream that one day we will see an Adam Eterno collection along the same lines.If I win the Lottery I'll do it! :-)

    The Cap.



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