I've had a very dull week which I've mostly spent cleaning up artwork for an upcoming book. It's tedious, repetitive work and I can't help thinking of the old Monty Python sketch about the accountant who wants to be a lion tamer... I've been in the fortunate position in 2008 of being able to put together quite a few books that I'm proud to have sitting on my shelves but there's a downside to everything and for me it's cleaning artwork. With every stroke of the digital brush I'm thinking I could be doing something far more interesting; there's nothing about it that satisfies my inner-lion tamer.
Still, it does mean that I can mop up the recording of the last few vinyl LPs I've got. At the time of writing I've got two singles to re-record (due to jumps) and that'll be the lot: 200 albums, digitally stored on a fraction of a hard-drive rather than in a crate and a couple of boxes. Years ago I told friends that I was having a yard sale... not in the American sense but the literal sense of clearing five yards of shelf space. Sorting through boxes following the big non-move we had a couple of months ago I've begun to realise how many duplicates of old paperbacks I have (hence the number of cover galleries that have been appearing of late) so I suspect that I'll be having another yard (or five) sale some time in 2009.
Went to see Rich Hall last night at the local Arts Centre. Absolutely brilliant, with the set split between stand up and a second half featuring Rich in the guise of Tennessee country & blues singer Otis Lee Crenshaw. This was the last gig of their UK tour and we were treated to a relaxed Rich and a sell-out crowd that got behind him from the beginning. Two encores helped the gig overrun by quite a welcome margin as the band squeezed in a couple of extra songs. Got my copy of London Not Tennessee CD signed. (I've got a copy of the same gig on DVD... which I highly recommend if you've not seen Hall as Crenshaw.)
It's that time of the year again for annuals sales, although information is sparse (unless someone can let me know what the figures are from Nielsen Bookscan). The current Top 10 children's books shown on the Nielsen website include High School Musical Annual 2009 at #4 and Doctor Who. The Official Annual 2009 at number 8, although no actual sales figures. If things go as predicted (well, predicted by me anyway), the top five best-selling annuals for the year will probably be filled out by these two, plus Hannah Montana Annual 2009, In the Night Garden Annual 2009 and The Beano Annual 2009.
There are already a couple of interesting things lined up for 2009. We've still to see much from the deal between Titan Books and Egmont, although when we did the ICA panel, David Leach said he was working on a couple of dozen books and I'm already looking forward to the much-delated The Bumper Book of Battle and Jane: The Misadventures of a Bright Young Thing books.
Reynolds & Hearn, best known for books about Doctor Who, Hammer horror and movie biographies, have announced (admittedly only via registering ISBN numbers) that they're publishing two volumes of reprints from the old TV Century 21 comic. Edited by Chris Bentley, who has done a fair number of Official guides to various Gerry Anderson shows, Gerry Anderson's TV21: Adventure in the 21st Century Volume 1 and Volume 2 are due at the end of March next year. I've a handful of Reynolds & Hearn books on my shelves and they're nicely produced, so I'm confident that these will be well worth picking up.
The New Dan Dare is set to return. Following the collapse of Virgin Comics, rights to the Garth Ennis-penned series have been picked up by Dynamite Entertainment. The collected (and, apparently, corrected) edition of the first series is now due to be published on 15 February.
According to Colin Frewin: "It is exciting news that Dan Dare is joining Dynamite Entertainment alongside fellow classics strips like Battlestar Galactica and Lone Ranger. Dynamite is exactly what Dan Dare needs for global distribution."
Let's hope they do a better job than Virgin whose sales figures for the series were not that impressive. Dynamite have yet to announce when a second series will appear; it was originally announced by Virgin that Gary Erskine would remain on the strip while Garth Ennis would be giving way to a new writer, although it was Ennis's championing of the series to Dynamite Entertainment's president Nicky Barrucci that got Dan Dare the gig with the company.
For fans of the old DD, there's still Spaceship Away, which needs your support if it's to continue. Go visit their website and grab yourself a subscription.
(* Unofficial Dan Dare Christmas card found here. Dan Dare © Dan Dare Corporation Ltd.)