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Friday, January 15, 2010

Comic Cuts - 15 January 2010

A very brief column today as there's little to report. I've had a pretty good (i.e. undisturbed) week working on Wells Fargo and I'm pleased to say that the book will probably be finished this weekend or Monday. The uncertainty is down to the length of the introduction, currently 3,500 words but expanding rapidly as I dig deeper into the history of the company. So far I've had to research the history of the transport infrastructure of the USA and the California Gold Rush, get to grips with the major banks of San Francisco circa 1850/52, the story of various freight and express lines, figure out how many people could sleep in a Concord stagecoach, dig up quotes from Mark Twain and find out about the men behind various express companies. As of this moment (half past midnight) I'm digging around into the history of the Pony Express.

All quite fascinating... to me anyway, as these are things I know almost zero about bar watching classic Western movies, reading the occasional Western novel and dredging up what I can remember from reading Look and Learn when I was a kid. Now I can confidently tell you that today there's around 6.1 million miles of roads in the USA but a century ago there was only 2.2 million miles of which only around of which only around 190,500 miles were surfaced. That's a lot of road building!

I hate to see any research go to waste, so I've no idea how long the introduction will eventually be. I haven't actually mentioned the comic strips yet, although I did squeeze in a bit of research about the guy who wrote them.

Still no regular strip on Bear Alley... I hope to have something sorted out soon. When I'm dealing with strips all day (mostly cleaning up artwork) it's difficult to get up the enthusiasm to do the same when I can grab a couple of hours off work, hence the run of mini-author biographies that has been appearing over the past few days, which I enjoy compiling and which is a break from what I've been doing the rest of the day. When I'm doing book stuff, the blog tends to concentrate on comics for the same reason.

Some good news to end with: the Frank Bellamy's The Story of World War 1 book and the Complete Swift limited edition should be shipping from the printers some time next week. Allowing three weeks to get to the U.K. and a week to shuffle through customs and overland to Crystal Palace, that should mean advance orders being sent out around the third week of February.

(* Today's random scan: the dustjacket illustration for The Speed Omnibus, a 1940 vintage boys' annual. I'm not sure who the artist is. It might be Serge Drigin, as he was a regular contributor to Collins' annuals, but I'm honestly not sure.)

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