I've just heard the news that fans at this year's big Dutch comics convention, De Stripdagen 2009, held on 26 and 27 September at Houten, voted the Karl the Viking box-set the winner in the best production category. Rob van Bavel says that the DLC team celebrated with a bottle of champagne, which makes me wish I was actually in Holland rather than just named Holland. I will uphold British traditions by having a celebratory cup of tea rather than my usual coffee and offer a "Jolly well done" to the team at DLC who did all the hard work to my contributions look great. It is a truly handsome set of books and well deserving of the award.
That's probably the most exciting bit of news this week. I've been full tilt on the Essential Cult Books reviews and now have only a handful to go of the 140 I'm doing, so I've only done about 25% of the book. Pity the poor lass who had to do the other 75% as we're both agreed that this hasn't been an easy project... I can only comfort myself with the knowledge that I've only suffered a third of what she has (not, I hasten to add, that I wish ill on her).
Next up for me will be to get Eagles Over the Western Front done. I've scanned almost half the episodes but only one page of the original artwork, so there's a long way to go before I'm done with this. I'm rather enjoying reading books about the wartime exploits of the R.F.C. ahead of writing the introduction. I'll also be putting together a piece on artist Bill Lacey, either for the book, if space allows, or for here.
A couple of items from elsewhere...
Long-time Bear Alley supporter Jeremy Briggs pointed me towards these Look and Learn-style RAF recruiting posters. The top one, the goalkeeper, reminds me of an old Roy of the Rovers annual cover and the second could be any one of a number of Wilf Hardy helicopter rescue illustrations. The one above is actually unlike the poster, but it's one of my favourites.
Peter Richardson is shamelessly plugging his efforts to produce a graphic novel based on a story by David Orme. The two have collaborated previously, notably on the 'Boffin Boy' series of books published by Ransom Publishing. The two have since been working on a trilogy of graphic novels called Cloud 109. Peter has some (rather low-res) images up at his website but higher quality images are appearing at his Cloud 109 blog. Normally I don't run blatant promos for anyone but myself, but we comics researchers have to stick together and Peter needs encouragement (and cash) to get himself focused on his Commando index.
And here's another question about the strip that everybody loves... "Num Num and His Funny Family". I've had enquiries about this one ever since I started blogging and I finally tracked it down back in 2007. I've had dozens of people writing in ever since saying that they remember Num Num, Drag-a-Chair Cat and all the other members of Num Num's family.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I had a query from someone by the name of Vidya Heble, who has been looking out for a children's magazine that used to be handed out on BOAC/British Airways flights, which had "The Magic Roundabout" on the cover and "Num Num" on the centre spread. "I seem to remember first seeing "Toad of Toad Hall" here, too," says Vidya. "My older cousin was an inflight crew member on BOAC and had brought me some back issues. This would have been in the late 1970s, I'd guess. Unfortunately they have been lost in the jetsam of life and I am now 43 and horribly nostalgic."
So... does anyone remember a BOAC giveaway comic? Or is Vidya perhaps remembering back issues of Playhour, as that certainly featured both Num Num in the centre and had "The Magic Roundabout" on the cover in the 1970s.
A final plug from another Bear Alley supporter: Francois San Millan has a website where he's posted some very handy bibliographies of some of his favourite artists, including a few who contributed to UK comics, including Victor de la Fuente and Joao Mottini, amongst others. Not sure why, but I can't access the site using Internet Explorer... but Firefox works fine.
And a final final bit of comics' history. Back in the 1960s, the British fighting ace Battler Britton became hugely popular in Portugal where, due to fervent nationalism he was renamed Major Jaime Eduardo de Cook e Alvega. Major Alvega continued to appear in print until 1987 only to return in a very different format in 1998-99: as the star of a Portuguese TV series starring Ricardo Carriço. The series was produced using innovative mix of live action and animation. It ran to two 13-part series, neither of which were ever broadcast in the UK. Now, thanks to YouTube, you can take a look for yourself. I've embedded one episode below but you can find quite a few others by doing a search for Major Alvega. My thanks to Michael Moynihan for pointing these out.
That's it from me. I have some more reviews waiting to be written. "Fighting Flynn" will be continuing over the weekend and I'll have a couple of additional items to post, so there should be a few pieces lined up for when you get back into work on Monday.