Monday, May 31, 2010

The End of George & Lynne

With the recent rush of work and then the news of the house move, I managed to miss the announcement in The Sun on 15 May that their long-running George & Lynne strip was coming to an end. Here's a screen grab of the original story...

The strip had a long and illustrious career in the newspaper. Launched in 1976, the strip was for the most part written and drawn by Conrad Frost and Josep Gual, although the original artist was John M. Burns (1976-82). The daily gag strip featured a young suburban couple and was notable for its unashamed nudity. In recent years the strip has built up an almost cult following, and even spawned its own websites, notably the George and Lynne Explained blog.  George & Lynne continues to appear on The Sun's website.

Replacing George & Lynne is a new strip featuring Wallace & Gromit, and a second new strip was recently added, a 3D CG strip entitled Shadows, the paper's first such strip since the departure of Striker in October 2009.

(* Illustrations © News Group Newspapers.)

Random comic clippings 2: Superman on Trial

Long, long ago... well, 1988 actually... Superman turned 50 years old and BBC Radio 4 celebrated with a fine little radio show entitled Superman on Trial, directed by Dirk Maggs and starring William Hootkins, Shelley Thompson, Vincent Marzello and Stuart Milligan (as Superman). It was a mix of drama and documentary and included interviews with Adam West, Jenette Kahn and Dave Gibbons.

Dave also provided the cover (above) and a two-page strip—not a bad celebration from the Radio Times and hopefully a bit of a blast from the past for those of you with long memories. Amazing to think that in only three more years Superman will be 75!

(Superman © DC Comics.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Random comic clippings

Clearing out corners of my office I keep coming across clippings that I've taken from magazines and newspapers. Here are a couple of oddments: an article from Midweek (6 February 1989) about female heroes of comics and a cover by Danny Hellman from The Guide (the Guardian's Saturday entertainment magazine, 21 June 1997, illustrating an article about the kicking the movie Batman & Robin received when it was tested prior to release.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Woman and Home

Here are a handful of illustrations taken from two issues of Woman and Home that I turned up amongst a pile of other magazines. Many magazines had given up on illustrations by the mid-1970s, favouring photographs. Women's magazines, on the other hand, continued to feature beautifully drawn illustrations for their fiction.

The following selection is from only two issues but there's an astonishing collection of similar illustrations in a book called Lifestyle Illustrations of the 1960s compiled by Rian Hughes which is due out any day now. I had the good fortune to see an early preview of the book—I kept bumping into Rian while he was researching the illustrations and I was working on some of the Carlton collections—and if these pictures intrigue you, the book will blow you away. Hundreds of illustrations from Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Journal, Homes and Gardens, Honey, Petticoat and others. 580 gorgeously illustrated pages, full-colour throughout.

(* Illustrations © IPC Media)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Comic Cuts - 28 May

Only a quick note today as things are already starting to become a little chaotic. I missed my trip up to the London ABC show on Sunday due to pressure of needing to get the process of moving started. Partly it was the need to scan some original artwork boards that I have in the house for future projects so they can be returned to the safe arms of their owner rather than put them at risk in the hands of uncaring removal men.

Most of the artwork is too big to go on the scanner in one go, so it involves two scans then a lot of fiddling around to join the artwork back together again. Eventually I'll get around to putting in titles and doing some relettering (some of the strips don't have any captions) but, first things first, if I can get the art scanned and out of the house that will be one less thing to worry about when we move.

There have been interruptions and disruptions daily. As I write this we have an Estate Agent showing a potential buyer around the house and every five minutes (or so it seems) there's another phone call about someone wanting to see the property, or canceling a visit. One woman has moved her appointment three times... all this and the house only went on the market on Monday.

Somewhere in between work and interruptions I've been trying to sort out my own mess. Anything that can be chucked, I'm chucking. That meant five extra rubbish bags being picked up this morning and seven bags of paper (so far) stacked up for recycling. Every bag the council take (and this is why we pay our council tax) is a bag I no longer have to worry about. My main worry at the moment is having no boxes for packing so there's a tendency to just move things around. If you remember the last...

Interruption! Third person through the house this morning.

... If you remember the last time we had to shift our belongings out of the house back in 2008, the guys doing the removing brought 100 boxes with them and had run out before the packing was finished. That was half the house, so we'll certainly need double that amount. And if it takes three fit blokes a day to pack 100 boxes it's going to take one unfit bloke at minimum six days to pack 200 boxes.

So there will almost certainly be some interruptions to the usual Bear Alley service and definitely some interruptions when it comes to answering questions. Don't let that stop you writing comments... I'm just saying you might not get a reply for a while.

It's not my intention to turn Bear Alley into a diary of despair. I'm actually quite cheerful at the moment, digging through boxes and stumbling across old books and magazines I've not seen for years. There's a few things I'll try to get onto the scanner so you'll have something to look at over the weekend.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kenneth Lovell

I received an enquiry about illustrator Kenneth Lovell whose name I've only encountered once, as the artist of a couple of later books by S. G. Hulme-Beaman. A little bit of further digging has turned up a number of other books, the earliest, published in 1931, credited to Kenneth H. Lovell.

Kenneth H. Lovell, artist, can be found in the London phone book living at 37 Pepys Road, Wimbledon S.W.20 between 1932 and 1952.

A dig around the birth/death index turns up a couple of suspects: Kenneth Harold Lovell, born in Aston, Warwickshire, on 16 November 1914, who died in Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, in 1969; and Kenneth Howard T. Lovell, birth registered in Epsom, Surrey, in 1902, whose death was registered (as Kenneth Lovell) in Westminster, London, in 1965, aged 63. Of the two I think the latter more likely given the London address he lived at for so many years.

If I'm correct about the latter, he appears in the 1911 census as Kenneth Howard (misspelled at Find My Past as Hasand) Lovell, born in Sutton, Surrey, aged 8 and living in Wimbledon Park with his parents Alexander Howard and Helen Kate Lovell and older (11-year-old) sister Margaret Ada Lovell. Dad worked for an electrical engineering firm. He was born in Perth NB [North Britain, i.e. Scotland], and the lack of any sign of a marriage (which would have taken place in around 1898) makes me suspect that they met and married in Scotland. (A quick note of thanks to Jamie Sturgeon for sending me the 1911 census return.)

Illustrated Books
Heroes of the Bad Bush. Stories of West Africa. London, 1931.
Goosie Gander Rhymes. London, Deans (Rag Book 304), c.1940?
The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor by Enid Blyton. London, George Newnes, 1945.
The Adventures of Susan and Peter by Dorothy Mary Sheppard. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1947.
My Pictureland A.B.C.. London, Juvenile Productions, 1950.
Wonderland A-B-C. London, Juvenile Productions, 1950.
The Waterbabies by Charles Kingsley (written within the vocabulary of New Method Reader I by Michael West). London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1957.
Fables and Fairy Tales simplied by Michael West. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1957.
Toytown series (by Betty Hulme-Beaman & S. G. Hulme Beaman)
__5: The Theatre Royal, and, Punch and Judy . London, Oldbourne, 1958.
__6: Toytown Goes West. London, Oldbourne, 1958.
__7: The Encharted Ark. London, Oldbourne, 1958.
__8: The Mayor's Sea Voyage. London, Oldbourne, 1959.
__?10: The Toytown Treasure. London, Oldbourne, 1961.
__11: Mr. Noah's Holiday. London, Oldbourne, 1961.
__14: Mr. Growser Moves House. London, Oldbourne, 1962.
__15: The Extraordinary Affair of Ernest the Policeman. London, Oldbourne, 1962.
__16: Pistols for Two. Oldbourne, 1962.
__17: A Toytown Christmas Party by G. G. Hulme Beaman. London, Oldbourne, 1962.
__19: Dreadful Doings in Ark Street. London, Oldbourne, 1963.
__20: The Arkville Dragon. London, Oldbourne, 1963.
__21: The Showing Up of Larry the Lamb. London, Oldbourne, 1963.
The Man in the Web, and other folk tales by Philip Sherlock (written within the vocabulary of New Method Reader I by Michael West & E. P. Hart). London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1959.

(* My thanks to Felix who pointed out that NB was a frequently used postal address for Scotland; my original assumption was that it implied he was born in New Brunswick, Canada.)

Cliff McCoy & Slicker part 17

(* Artwork © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beatrice Kelston

Miss Beatrice Kelston was the author of half a dozen light, humorous romance novels. Her earliest known book was a collection of verse published in 1906 and in the 1920s and 1930s she wrote a number of plays. It is very likely she was connected to the theatre (her novel Seekers Every One had the theatre and touring as a background).
One reviewer noted that "In Seekers Every One Miss Beatrice Kelston showed what she could do in fiction that may be called 'real' rather than 'realistic,' since 'realistic' has come to mean a mass of preferably squalid detail and the abandoning of all attempt at selection. In the present book [The Blows of Circumstances] there is the same sincerity and quietness of treatment, drama without melodrama, and attractiveness conveyed by making a personality apparent rather than by loading a person with attributes." The reviewer for Punch said of the same book, "Miss Kelston writes extremely well, if a trifle gloomily for my personal taste".

Bertha in the Background was, according to The Argos, "a really entertaining story, combining wit and humour with ingeniousness in working out the story, and with good character drawing. And with it all, there goes a freshness and charm in the telling of the story that engages the reader's affection from the beginning ... Miss Kelston reveals a genius for deliberate farce."

She contributed a poem to The British Girls Annual 1918 and her short stories appeared in Young's Magazine and Detective Story Magazine.

On the phone the other day, a friend of mine mentioned he was looking for information on Miss Kelston, which led to this little post, as I haven't been able to find a single thing about her beyond the above. Kelston is an uncommon surname and I haven't found a single Kelston named Beatrice, which makes me think it was a pen-name. That she is referred to as Miss Kelston is no real indication that she was unmarried as it was common in theatrical and literary circles that all ladies were 'Miss', single or not.

If anyone can solve this little mystery, please get in touch.

A Three-Cornered Duel. London, John Long, 1912.
Seekers Every One. London, John Long, 1913.
The Blows of Circumstances. London, John Long, Dec 1915.
All the Joneses. London, John Long, 1917.
The Edge of To-day. London, John Long, 1918.
Bertha in the Background. London, John Long, 1920.

The Garden of my Heart. London, Elki, Mathews, 1906.

Love in a Mist (performed Eastbourne, Nov 1921)
Harvest (performed Q Theatre, Nov 1926)
Indian Summer (adapted from All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West; performed Croydon Repertory Theatre, Sep 1933)
Hen Rules the Roost.

Cliff McCoy & Slicker part 16

(* Artwork © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Christie Cover Cavalcade: part 8

Yes, it's the return of the Christie Cover Cavalcade with another selection of paperback covers from Agatha Christie's novels. The last one is an absolute classic: Tom Adams's out of perspective plane and giant wasp was the inspiration for the Agatha Christie episode of Doctor Who.

The Hollow (Fontana 70)

They Do It With Mirrors (Fontana 80)

Hickory Dickory Dock (Fontana 237)

Dumb Witness (Fontana 250)

Towards Zero (Fontana 319)

Death in the Clouds (Fontana 1923)

Cliff McCoy & Slicker part 14

(* Artwork © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission.)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sons of the Stars

A while back I ran a series of strips that were reprinted here in the UK from European comics (Hunters Without Guns, for example). We managed to identify them between us and I'm hopeful that we can be as successful this time.

Here are some examples of a series of science fiction strips that were reprinted in 1965-66, beginning with a brief, three-week run of something called "Son of the Stars". At two pages a week, that amounts to only 6 pages total. A couple only ran for a couple weeks (4 pages total) and one an unprecedented five weeks (10 pages).

All the strips have similar layouts and a similar look, which makes me believe they are all from the same source. The mystery is... where and when did they originally appear and who was the artist. If you can help, drop me a line or leave a comment.

Cliff McCoy & Slicker part 13

(* Artwork © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Comic Cuts - 21 May

Some bad news came our way this week: it looks like we are going to be moving soon. We've been given notice that our landlord wants to sell the house we've been in for the past 15 years, so things are likely to be horribly disrupted over the next couple of months. I'm hoping to keep Bear Alley on an even keel but at the moment I haven't a clue where I'm going to be or what kind of internet access I'll have. If things get a bit patchy or I go suddenly quiet, don't panic. We'll be working behind the scenes to get everything sorted and BA will be back. I enjoy writing these columns too much to give up now.

So... we're a little shell-shocked but things will sort themselves out. Work has to continue, so I got the week off to a good start by completing work on the H. Rider Haggard book, making a few corrections that had come to light and giving the introduction a little rewrite. Some of the week was also dedicated to sorting out a huge pile of bound volumes and annuals -- around 200 in total -- that belong to Look and Learn so they can head off to their new home next week.

Last couple of days I've been working on another project that I've been promising myself I'd do at the first opportunity I had; while I'm between projects (I'm still waiting on the second half of Storm volume 12), this was the perfect time... then the bombshell dropped and now I'm not convinced I'm going to get it finished before the chaos hits. We shall just have to wait and see... maybe I'll have more news next week.

Talking of news...

Jon Haward dropped me a note to say that The Tempest, the latest of his books to be published by Classical Comics (reviewed here), won a Bronze Medal and the IPPY Awards. Jon continues, "Just to let you know issue 4 of Wasted is out with my Buddha stuff in it, plus a Robin Hood spoof I drew from an Alan Grant script. I drew it as a tribute in the style of Ken Reid and Robert Nixon." You can see the title panel above.

Any of you with spare cash in your pockets might want to take a look at eBay where Just Imagination Memorabilia of Reading are selling a copy of the debut issue of D. C. Thomson's The Magic Comic from 1939. The starting price is £1,799 for the copy which was previously in a bound volume and has some minor wear and tear. It will be interesting to see how much this one eventually goes for.

It's a bumper time for collectors of Magic as issues 2, 3 and 4 are listed in the latest COMPAL auction. Number 2 is estimated at a far more reasonable £200-250 but I'll bet pounds to pennies it goes for more. They also have a copy of the very first Beano Book with an estimate of £1,500-2,000 and plenty of other goodies.

Less expensive are the 12" Dan Dare figure which are apparently out now from Day2Day Trading. You can see the figure at the top of the column.

Next week we'll have the last few episodes of Cliff McCoy and I should have the regular update of the recent releases and upcoming releases columns plus whatever else I can slip in and almost certainly more news on the Big Move.

Cliff McCoy & Slicker part 12

(* Artwork © Look and Learn Ltd. Reprinted by permission.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rene Bull

The Imaginative Art of René Bull
by Gordon Howsden

Perhaps René Bull's background had something to do with the fact that, in an age that spawned a host of innovative illustrators, he shone both as a cartoonist and as a gifted illustrator. Born in Dublin on 11 December 1872, his father was English and his mother French. The diverse cultures which he inherited and experienced as a youngster must have contributed to his quickwittedness, flair and spirit of adventure.

René seemed destined for a career in engineering and was sent to Paris to further his studies. A relative was on the staff of the team working on the building of the Suez Canal and René had the opportunity to be involved but, fortunately, he had made the acquaintance of the brilliant French cartoonist and draughtsman, Caran D'Ache, and opted to become an artist instead.

Returning to Ireland, Bull had some cartoons published in local journals before heading for London where he was employed drawing strip cartoons for the recently launched magazine, Pick-Me-Up. Other magazines were soon benefitting from his work but the opportunity presented itself in 1896 to join the staff of Black and White as a 'special reporter' travelling to, and reporting back from, the world's trouble spots. René eagerly accepted this challenging task.

Over the next few years René Bull, with his camera and sketch book always to hand, covered the Armenian Massacres, the Greco-Turkish War, skirmishes on the North-West Frontier, the Sudan Campaigns and the Boer War. He was present when Kitchener captured Khartoum to avenge the death of General Gordon and was on the last train that quietly steamed out of Ladysmith through the Boer lines before the siege began.

Frequently under fire and suffering the hardships of life in the front line, Bull's reports were avidly read by an eager public at home. One of his graphic sketches for Black and White was used by Pat Hodgson for the dust wrapper of his book The War Illustrators (Osprey Publishing, 1977). Bull's reports and photographs from Africa were published by Black and White in 1899 and, proving to be an excellent raconteur, he also conducted a series of popular lectures on his return to the UK.

Prior to heading to Africa to cover the Boer War, René Bull had, together with his good friends Cecil Aldin, Dudley Hardy, John Hassall and Lance Thackeray, become a founder member of the London Sketch Club. In his excellent book that traces the history of the Club, David Cuppleditch shows a rare photograph of René Bull in a group scene together with some of his colleagues. Also illustrated is an invitation card designed by Bull in 1903 for one of the Club's regular "smoking" evenings. Both illustrations had previously appeared in David's equally enthralling book, The John Hassall Lifestyle.

After reporting on the Boer War, René Bull concentrated on pursuing his career along more conventional lines and added book illustration and postcard design to his existing contributions to the magazines and periodicals of the day. Another London Sketch Club colleague, Tom Browne, may well have introduced René Bull to Davidson Bros, the postcard publishers, as Bull joined Browne among their roster of comic artists. The series he produced for them included 'Bridge Expressions', ‘Banking Expressions’, ‘Illustrated Limericks’ and a set of humorous cricket scenes. Other designs were published by Faulkner, Landeker & Brown and Charles Voisey.

It is, however, book illustration for which René Bull is best remembered today. His first commissions were relatively modest and included sharing illustrations for La Fontaine's Fables with Carton Moore Park and Uncle Remus with Harry Rountree. Together with several of his London Sketch Club colleagues, Bull also contributed to The Stock Exchange Christmas Annual 1905-6.

However, more substantial work was on the horizon as new editions of The Arabian Nights and the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, published in 1912 and 1913 respectively, allowed him to make full use of both his fertile imagination and his first hand experience of eastern cultures. Also in 1913 his vivid paintings for The Russian Ballet cemented his position as a leading illustrator of the day. Two more books, Carmen and The Old Man of the Mountains were illustrated by Bull, both published in 1916, before the First World War claimed his attention.
During the war Bull served in the RNVR, reaching the rank of lieutenant before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917, where he achieved the rank of major. He was later employed within the Air Ministry. After the war I believe Bull spent some time in America, painting and lecturing, but I have yet to see any examples of his work during this period.

Between the wars, Bull illustrated a handful of titles including a version of Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen and a reprint of the ever-popular Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. He also contributed to various children's annuals published by Blackie. However, his most iconic work was reserved for one of his commercial clients, W A & A C Churchman, who used Bull's designs on two very colourful series of cigarette cards.

The first of these, titled 'Eastern Proverbs', consisted of two sets of 25 standard sized cards with the majority of the sketches also appearing in four series of 12 large sized cards. These were issued between 1931 and 1934 and proved very popular. Then in 1936 Bull was commissioned to prepare designs for a series of 40 cards titled 'Howlers'. of which 16 were chosen for a larger sized version. The texts for this series, supposedly based on schoolboy howlers, were dire but the comic images are admirable.

Apart from his artistic talents, René Bull was a great enthusiast of model railways and was able to construct his own working locomotives . I have found no reports that Bull ever married which might explain why he was able to construct a series of tracks which ran round the dining room of his flat in Baron's Court, London. René Bull died on 13 April 1942.

Books by René Bull
Black and White War Albums - Snapshots by René Bull. London, Black & White Printing & Publishing Co, 1899.
A Day of My Life on Board the Aberdeen Line T.S.S. Themistocles. London, Howard Jones, c.1911.

Books Illustrated by René Bull
Fate's Intruder by F A Savile & A E T Watson. London, William Heinemann, 1905.
La Fontaine's Fables, A Selection translated by Edward Shirley; illus. with Carton Moore Park. London, Thomas Nelson, 1905.
Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris; illus. with Harry Rountree. London, Thomas Nelson & Sons 1906.
The Arabian Nights. London. Constable & Co, 1912.
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám translated by Edward Fitzgerald. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1913.
The Russian Ballet by A E Johnson. London, Constable & Co, 1913.
Carmen by Prosper Merimee, translated by A. E. Johnson. London, Hutchinson & Co, 1916.
The Old Man of the Mountain by Herbert Strang. London, Henry Frowde; Hodder & Stoughton, 1916.
A Garland of Rose's: collected Poems by Rose Fyleman. London, Methuen & Co, 1928.
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. London, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co, 1928.
Selections of Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen. London, William Clowes and Sons, Ltd, 1930.
Two Legs and Four by Anthony Armstrong. London, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1930.
Brer Rabbit Plays by Elizabeth Fleming. London, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1936.

Books, Annuals etc Containing Illustrations by René Bull
The Stock Exchange Christmas Annual 1905-6 by W A Morgan. Enfield, F Wetherman, 1905.
Blackie's Children's Annual (various editions) London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1925-1929.
Zoo Friends. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1939.


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