Friday, September 18, 2009

Comic Cuts: 18 September 2009

After a few weeks where I've hardly had any news I'm pleased to say that things are moving again on the book front. Above you'll see proofs for the Frank Bellamy's World War 1 and Frank Bellamy's Complete Swift Stories which will be coming out from Book Palace Books in November. I've been talking about these all year and--at last!--we're close to signing them off and getting the printing presses rolling.

Both are going to be limited editions: the World War 1 has a print run of 1,250 but the Complete Swift is going to be limited to 220 copies and a real collectors' item, bound in red leather. If all goes to plan (and if 2009 has taught be anything it is that plans can go awry!) copies of the World War 1 book will be signed by both myself (as editor) and Norman Boyd, who has written the introduction.

Next... I've signed on to do three more war books for Carlton that will be published in the spring of 2010, namely Wings of Death (Air Ace #2), No Surrender (War #4) and Hit the Dirt (Battle #3). These will be slimmer than the previous volumes but will be more wallet-friendly in these days of recession and credit crunch.

As usual I have until yesterday to get them turned around, so next week I'm taking a break from writing reviews. Yes, I'm still churning them out... over 90 so far and still quite a stack to do. If you want some idea of why I've been a bit slack updating the news on Bear Alley, here's a quick list of subjects I've had to tackle this week: psychiatry, appropriate technology, classic Greek history, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 17th century political philosophy, a western, Freud, Jung, Nietzsche, the Holocaust, punk and the Angry Young Men. Throw in a cuddly toy and you'll begin to get some notion of why I've been struggling to get my head around anything else. Trying to condense books that tackle such huge subjects and review them in under 150 words and make sure that review number 90 doesn't read like a retread of reviews 89, 88, 87 or any of the others isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.

But another bit of good news is keeping me cheery. I've got a deal in place to do Eagles Over the Western Front in book form, so I'll begin work on that at the earliest possible moment I get. It will mean re-scanning the whole thing (the scans I've been using here are a rough-and-ready set we had produced for reference and aren't up to scratch as far as printing goes) so it won't be happening instantly but it's a step in the right direction as far as Bear Alley Books goes.

All in all, I have to say it's been a good week as far as news goes. Hope yours was as good.


  1. The Eagles Over the Western Front news is excellent.

    Pleased to see more Air Ace etc. is there a possibility of non-war reprint books or did they not sell very well.

    BTW I note Amazon are still listing the first two Bear Alley Books. Have they actually approached you?

  2. I must admit that I can't wait to stop reviewing and start work on the Eagles collection. It will be such a nice break! The Carlton books, too. No sign of a non-war title as yet, but the titles I mentioned are for release in spring of 2010, so there's a chance that the economy will have recovered and confidence restored enough for more (non-war) titles for the Christmas market this time next year.

    I've never had a deal with Amazon. They simply list all titles registered for ISBN with Nielsen. Unfortunately, to make Amazon work I'd have to charge at least £25 a book because of how high a percentage of the sales/postage price they take. That works out fine for a major publisher with print runs in the thousands, but not for a little publisher thinking of printing 300 copies.

  3. Congrats on all your good news, Steve. The Swift project sounds exciting & intriguing - I remember (just!)the Swift comic & it had some great stories - when it finished I switched to Valiant & my brother took its companion Hurricane.

  4. Great news about Eagles. That's a series that really deserves to find a wider audience.

  5. 't wait to get my hands on the humour comic Bear alley sure work very hard...hope you keep getting good news..

  6. Great news Steve, I've been waiting with baited breath for the Bellamy World War 1 collection and the Swift Bellamy collection sounds like another must have - albeit it's going to require some cash resourcing in the meantime.

    A special plea for the War Picture Library collection:

    WPL No. 67 "Battle Drop" fabulous artwork by Gino D'Antonio and almost every panel in this comic the source of cover paintings and panel swipes for years to come, plus it's a truly cracking story by Carney Allen.

    And the Air Ace collection has to include the superb Ian Kennedy illustrated Air Ace No. 53 "Day of Reckoning". He somewhat paired down his pen-work after this but it is a real tour de force and the writing by whoever the genius responsible was is one of the most arresting and evocative scripts ever.

    There's several other stories that I'd love to see included but these are to my mind essentials.

  7. Good news about "Eagles"!

    Nube question: What exactly is a the World War One book? A proto graphic novel, illustrated history... or what?

  8. Zornhau,

    The WW1 book collects the 26 episodes of a series that appeared in Look and Learn in 1970, written by Mike (Trigan Empire) Butterworth and illustrated each week with a colour spread by Frank Bellamy. It's going to be a gorgeous book: we've cleaned up the art, reset the text, thrown in an unused Bellamy cover image as a bonus and forced Bellamy expert Norman Boyd to write the introduction.

    I'm hoping the book will be out in November... as I'm writing this, I'm waiting for the corrected proofs to be picked up, so we're very close to printing.

  9. Sounds fantastic. Is it best to get it via Amazon?



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