Friday, May 01, 2009

Comic Cuts

A quick update on what I've been up to. April has been a really busy month. I've had to take a break from The Art of Ron Embleton book while I've been waiting for images so I swung straight into another project that I've been desperately wanting to complete for some while; it's something I've been thinking about for over a year and, unfortunately, every tentative step I took to get things rolling seemed to hit a brick wall—I was committed to writing or editing quite a few books last year and finding time to work on other projects hasn't been easy. When I did have the time, the money wasn't coming in and I needed to find work, so I've been in a Catch-22 situation over this for fourteen months.

The long and the short of it is, Bear Alley is about to publish its first book. It's a reprint of an old British comic. The artwork is scanned, the introduction written in rough, a cover is being prepared and I have some quotes in from printers. At the moment it looks like it will be a 300-copy limited edition hardcover which means the unit cost is huge so the eventual selling price will be £15. Which isn't unreasonable for a hardcover, I hope you'll agree. (In fact, it's the same as what Titan charged for the Spider and Steel Claw reprints and they had a much bigger print run.)

The title... well, I'll be announcing that shortly. I'm still trying to figure out how the hell I'm going to sell 300 copies and what I'm going to be living on while all my savings are tied up in piles of books. Roast book... fried book... raw book...

For a break, I've spent a couple of days working on yet another book that we're doing at Book Palace Books. This one reprints the old 'Wells Fargo' strip by Don Lawrence and I've got to confess that it has been a right royal pain in the backside. The strip ran in Swift for some time and was beautifully drawn in line and wash. But fifty years hasn't been kind to copies of Swift: they've yellowed and stained badly and trying to extract the delicate ink washes from the crud is no easy task. But it can be done, as you can see from the above page. It's been shrunk right down and jpegged at a medium resolution and you can still see the ink!

That wasn't the only problem: to get the best results I had to do some very high resolution scans and managed to completely fill my hard drive and spent yesterday afternoon dumping huge numbers of images onto external hard drives just to clear enough space to work on the pages. I can't believe I've got 3 terabytes of hard drive storage space (five external hard drives plus what I've got on my PC) and I'm still finding it hard to store everything and do back-ups.

Reminds me of the day I got my first computer, which had a 30mb hard drive. It was second hand and the guy who sold it to me looked me straight in the eye and said, "It'll take you a lifetime to fill that!" Now I'm dealing with single images ten times that size!

For you followers of "Eagles Over the Western Front", episodes will be running over the weekend and into next week as the latest story reaches its climax. But don't worry, Harry will be back after that for more adventures. And I might slip in a few other strips to keep things lively. We shall just have to wait and see what I can dig out.

(* artwork © Look and Learn Ltd.)


  1. Steve, Best of Luck for your first book out of Bear Alley brand. 300-copy limited edition hardcover, wish I could get one of that, but exoberant shipping costs, makes it a dream for the one sitting in India. May be I will try ordering it through a local dealer, like I did for Seel Claw and Spider.

    You remind me of my old machine, which was of 20 GB Hard Disk, now it is only half of what my Mini Ext-HD stores :). As I am finding it hard to store my archives around 3 External Hard disks, and 2 Internal ones.... without proper and timely DVD archives, it is a hell of a task.

    Well's Fargo, I remember reading some of his stories.

    Again, Best of Luck in your venture, and looking forward for your announcement of the title, and a sneak peek at the cover.


  2. Thanks for the Wells Fargo reprint (slightly before my time) It was only your Power comics index book that alerted me to the fact that Wham's Johnny Straight (this was my time) was a reprint of this - that and another Swift reprint, Maddocks's the Bouncers (which I didn't like, but was short-lived - did they curtail it?) replacing Kelpie.

  3. I should have mentioned that the Wells Fargo book is still quite some time off but it's something that I'm working on.

    Shipping is always a nightmare, Rafiq. Costs have soared and anyone who buys books second hand (as I do) or new (as I sometimes do, but not so often) can't help but notice that postage & packing can now add quite a bit to the expense of buying a book. It's something I need to explore so that anyone ordering books can at least be sure that they're getting the best deal possible.



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