Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TV Tie-in: Little Red Monkey

Little Red Monkey by Eric Maschwitz with Bevis Winter (London, Herbert Jenkins, 1953)
A scientist found murdered in a locked and guarded apartment; a toy monkey clutched in the dead man's hand; a marijuana cigarette beside the body; a newspaper picture of the Man Nobody Knew!
__Such was the grim spectacle that confronted Superintendent Harrington of the Special Branch—such was the prelude to the bizarre and high-pitched drama of counter-espionage in which Colin Currie, ace executive of Underground Operations, played so sensational a part.
__Little Red Monkey, introducing a new type of spy-hunter, 'Never Worry' Currie, is the novelized version of Television's most popular thriller to date. Working in conjunction with Bevis Winter, Maschwitz has translated to this novel all the suspense and tension that were responsible for the immense success of the play. Point is given to the story by the fact that the author, Eric Maschwitz, during the last war was a colonel in Intelligence, serving in both Europe and America.
BBC (6 x 30m episodes, 1953). Starred: Donald Houston (Colin Currie), Arthur Rigby (Superintendent Harrington), Honor Blackman (Jocelyn Cullum), Philip Lennard (Commander Hilliard), Basil Appleby (Williams).

Popular BBC TV series which ran for six 30-minute episodes in early 1953. Donald Houston is probably best remembered nowadays as Taffy Evans in Doctor in the House (the Dirk Bogarde version from 1954), Charles Soames in Room at the Top (1959), First Officer Jonathan Howett in Carry on Jack (1963), Group Captain Don Barrett in 633 Squadron (1964) or Captain James Christiansen in Where Eagles Dare (1968); he was also the lead in the TV comedy Now, Take My Wife (1971) and the SF series Moonbase 3 (1973)—one of those actors whose name you might not immediately know but whose face you recognise from all over. Honor Blackman, on the other hand, probably needs no introduction at all!

The show was subsequently filmed in the USA in 1955 with an American lead, Richard Conte, playing a federal agent (Bill Locklin) who is sent to the UK to help baffled Scotland Yard officers protect a defected Russian nuclear scientist.

About the author
Eric Maschwitz, former B.B.C. executive, is famous for his many musical plays, the latest being Love From Judy. He has written many popular song-lyrics (including These Foolish Things) and the screen version of Good-bye Mr. Chips.

Monday, August 30, 2010

TV tie-ins: Land of the Giants

Where were they? The grass was six feet high—the trees as tall as skyscrapers—insects the size of dogs—and men and women were 70-foot giants!
__Supersonic Flight 703, Los Angeles-London, had made an emergency landing in unknown territory, and the passengers and crew stared in horror at the monstrous world around them.
__When night came and they saw the stars, they knew the worst—for it was not the familiar stars of Earth's sky that shone on them...
__One of the most incredible adventures of all time is under way, as the seven castaways of Flight 703 face the shattering fact that they are prisoners in the Land of the Giants.
I loved Land of the Giants when it was on the TV. It was the last and usually considered the least of the Irwin Allen science fiction stable, the series stranding a small group of travellers on a hostile alien planet after their commercial suborbital flight falls through a spacewarp. The gimmick was that the alien planet was just like Earth, except everything was scaled up by a factor of twelve. To add to the survivor’s problems the local government was vaguely repressive, resembling cold-war America's idea of Eastern Europe; later visits to foreign countries found them ruled by mad dictators in the Ming the Merciless mould.

Technically impressive for the time, although the scripts were largely functional, doing little more than letting the regular characters take it in turns at running away from the big wobbly styrofoam hand. Some of the other special effects were not terribly special, but so what... I still loved it!

ABC (1968-70; 51 x 50m episodes). Creator and Executive Producer: Irwin Allen; Starring: Gary Conway (Steve Burton), Don Marshall (Dan Erikson), Heather Young (Betty Hamilton), Don Matheson (Mark Wilson), Kurt Kasznar (Alexander Fitzhugh), Deanna Lund (Valerie Scott), Stefan Arngrim (Barry Lockridge).

Slingshot for a David by James Bradwell. Manchester, World Distributors 7235-4408-5, 1969.
Trapped on a planet inhabited by giants, Steve Burton and his comrades are suddenly engulfed in a fantastic power struggle between security forces and a benign politician. On Earth the spacemen could easily have handled the assassination attempt but here, where everything assumes gigantic proportions, they were Davids facing a host of Goliaths. Desperate to repair their rocketship yet unable to sit back and let an unknown giant be put to death, the stranded Earth-people battle against impossible odds to safeguard their vessel and defeat a giant killer.
The Mean City by James Bradwell. Manchester, World Distributors 7235-4409-3, 1969.
With their sub-orbital spaceliner still stranded, the crew and passengers of flight 703, ant-sized in comparison with the gargantuan inhabitants of the land of the giants, struggle on with their unavailing quest to discover some means of returning to Earth.
__Their hiding place threatened with floods and ringed by giant insects, tycoon Mark Wilson, with co-pilot Don Erickson and attractive air hostess Betty Hamilton embark on a terrifying journey into the Giant's city on the slim chance of finding a Giant they can trust to help them.
__The adventure of 'the little people' in The Mean City, their betrayal and finally their escape, perched on the buffers of a colossal train, ploughing through murky flood-waters, makes a gripping story to excite and to amuse, all enthusiasts of the popular television series, Land of the Giants.
The Trap by Murray Leinster. Manchester, World Distributors 7235-4410-7, 1969.
It was a toy house, made and painted by a giant adult as if for a giant child. But it had been brought here for a specific, appalling purpose—it was a trap, designed to capture men and women of Earth, somehow displaced into this land of giants. It was baited with the appearance of a home, neat and tidy and quaint, which would rouse the hopes and the curiosity of people who did not belong on this world at all.
__And it had caught Valerie...
__As Steve and Dan struggled to pry open the barred window, they heard a monstrous, rhythmic movement—something came through the trees, huge and horrible...
The Hot Spot by Murray Leinster. Manchester, World Distributors 7235-4411-5, 1969.
The passengers and crew of flight 703 find themselves stranded on an alien planet whose gargantuan inhabitants are hostile towards their presence. Dogged by ill-luck and beset by dangers never before faced by human beings, Steve Burton and his co-pilot Dan Erickson must keep the sub-orbital spaceliner Spindrift intact if they are to have any real chance of returning to earth.
__Their dramatic adventures as they battle to stay alive against tremendous odds make a gripping tale not to be missed by followers of the popular television series Land of the Giants.
Of the four books published by World Distributors in 1969, two were original novels (James Bradwell being the pen-name of British author Arthur Kent) and two reprinted from the US series published by Pyramid Books in 1968-69. The American series ran thus:

Land of the Giants by Murray Leinster. New York, Pyramid X-1846, 1968.
Land of the Giants #2: The Hot Spot by Murray Leinster. New York, Pyramid -1921, 1969.
Land of the Giants #3: Unknown Danger by Murray Leinster. New York, Pyramid, 1969.

One further title, a juvenile, was also published in the USA:

Flight of Fear by Carl Henry Rathden. New York, Whitman, 1969.

The Land of the Giants isn't available on DVD in the UK but there has been a huge box-set of the series produced in the US, which includes the unaired original pilot show. I'm kinda tempted to get it myself... maybe when I win the lottery.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gerald Durrell cover gallery

I probably have my sister to thank for pointing me in the direction of Gerald Durrell's books when we were kids. He had a rather more exotic collection of pets than ours, which ran to dogs, cats, rabbits and the occasional goldfish called Fred.

Durrell was a naturalist and zoologist with a magnificent ability to capture the joy of nature and share his fascination with animals. As someone who grew up in Essex and had, at that time, travelled no further than the coast, bar one school day trip to France, I loved exploring the exotic world of Corfu, the Cameroons, British Guyana and elsewhere—even the more close to home tales of Zoos, whether in Jersey or Whipsnade. The books were totally engaging—and I'm glad to see that many of them are still in print—and made me an early supporter of conservation projects and the WWF. All my original copies of Durrell's disappeared years ago when I began reading science fiction in my teens but I began picking up copies again a couple of years ago and found most of my old favourites pretty quickly.

What prompted me was the broadcast of My Family and Other Animals by the BBC in 2005, which I thoroughly enjoyed. That and reading Douglas Botting's biography of Durrell. If you have kids and you would like them to have an appreciation of the animals around them, you couldn't do better than finding them a copy of My Family and Other Animals or A Zoo in my Luggage.

The Overloaded Ark
Penguin 1228, 1957. Cover: Paxton Chadwick

Three Singles To Adventure
Penguin 2082, 1964. Cover photo: Russ Kinne

The Bafut Beagles
Penguin 1266, 1958, 202pp. Cover: Ralph Thompson
---- [2nd imp.] 1959; [3rd imp.] 1961; [4th imp.] 1961, 2/6; 
---- [5th imp.] 1963, 202pp, Cover: photo by Jane Burton
---- [6th imp.] 1964, 202pp, 3/6.
---- [7th imp.] 1965; [8th imp.] 1967; [9th imp.] 1968; [10th imp.] 1970; [11th imp.] 1971; [12th imp.] 1971; [13th imp.] 1972
Penguin 01266 [14th imp.], 1973. Cover: photo by Jane Burton (as above)

The New Noah
Peacock PK4, 1962. Cover photo: Suschitzky

The Drunken Forest
Penguin 1314, 1958. Cover: Ralph Thompson
----, [2nd imp.] 1960; [3rd imp.] 1961; [4th imp.] 1962
Penguin 1314 [5th imp.], 1963. Cover photo: George Hughes
---- [6th imp.] 1964; [7th imp.] 1966; [8th imp.] 1967; [9th imp.] 1969
Penguin 1314 [13th imp.], 1974. Cover: photo

My Family and Other Animals
Penguin 1399, 1959. Cover: Ralph Thompson
---- [2nd imp.] 1960, 301pp, 3/6.
---- [3rd imp.] 1961, 301pp, 3/6; [4th imp.] 1962; [5th imp.] 1963; [6th imp.] 1963
Penguin 1399 [7th imp.], 1964. Cover photo: Grace Thompson
---- [8th imp.] 1965; [9th imp.] 1966; [10th imp.] 1967; [11th imp.] 1968; [12th imp.] 1969; [13th imp.] 1970; [14th imp.] 1970; [15th imp.] 1971; [16th imp.] 1971; [17th imp.] 1972; [18th imp.] 1973; [19th imp.] 1973; [20th imp.] 1974; [21st imp.] 1974; [22nd imp.] 1975; [23rd imp.] 1975; [24th imp.] 1976; [25th imp.] 1976; [26th imp.] 1977; [27th imp.] 1978; [28th imp.] 1978; [29th imp.] 1979; [30th imp.] 1979; [31st imp.] 1980
---- [32nd imp.] 1980, 301pp, £1.00. Cover by Julia Whatley

Encounters with Animals
Penguin 1890, 1963. Cover photo: John Markham
Penguin 1890 [2nd imp.], 1964. Cover photo: ZFA
Penguin 1890 [5th imp.], 1969. Cover photo: Ida Kar

A Zoo in My Luggage
Penguin 2084, 1964. Cover photo: Hanz Hinz
Penguin 2084 [3rd imp.], 1966. Cover photo: Hanz Hinz

The Whispering Land
Penguin 2083, 1964, 216pp, 3/6. Cover photo: Othmar Danesch
---- [2nd imp.] 1965; [3rd imp.] 1967; [4th imp.] 1967; [5th imp.] 1969; [6th imp.] 1971; [7th imp.] 1971; [8th imp.] 1972; [9th imp.] 1973; [10th imp.] 1974; [11th imp.] 1975; [12th imp.] 1976; [13th imp.] 1977; [14th imp.] 1979; [15th imp.] 1980; [16th imp.] 1982; [17th imp.] 1984
---- [18th imp.] 1986, 216pp, £2.50. Cover by Julia Whatley

Menagerie Manor
Penguin 2522, 1967.
Penguin 2522 [6th imp.], 1974. Cover photo: Bruce Coleman Ltd.

Two in a Bush
Fontana 2168, 1968. [11th imp., 1974]. Cover: photo.
Fontana 634554 [23rd imp.], n.d. Cover: Arthur Robins

Rosy is my Relative (novel)
Fontana 2733, 1969. Cover: photo

Birds Beasts and Relatives
Fontana 2751, 1971. Cover: photo

Fillets of Plaice
Fontana 3094, 1973, 189pp, 30p. Cover: photo

Catch Me a Colobus
Fontana 4462, 1975
---- [2nd imp.] Jul 1976, 221pp, 70p. Cover by Arthur Robbins

Beasts in my Belfry
Fontana 4161, 1976, 189pp, 70p. Cover by Arthur Robbins

The Stationary Ark
Fontana 5000, 1977: Cover: Arthur Robins

Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons
Fontana 5557, 1979, 157pp, 85p. Cover: Arthur Robins

The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium
Fontana 6312, 1981, 193pp, £1.25. Cover by Arthur Robins?


Rosie is my Relative. London, Collins, 1968; New York, Viking, 1968.
The Mockery Bird. London, Collins, 1981; New York, Simon & Schuster, 1982.

Novels for Children
The Donkey Rustlers, illus. Anne Mieke van Ogtrop. London, Collins, 1968.
The Talking Parcel. London, Collins, 1974; New York, Lippincott, 1975.
The Fantastic Flying Journey. London, Conran Octopus, 1987.
The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure, illus. Graham Percy. London, Conran Octopus, 1989.

Short Stories
The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium. London, Collins, 1979; as The Picnic and Other Inimitable Stories, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1980.
Marrying off Mother and other stories. London, HarperCollins, 1991.

The Overloaded Ark, illus. Sabine Baur. London, Faber & Faber, 1953; New York, Viking, 1953.
Three Singles to Adventure. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1954; as Three Tickets to Adventure, New York, Viking, 1955.
The Bafut Beagles, illus. Ralph Thompson. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1954; New York, Viking, 1954.
The New Noah (for children), illus. Ralph Thompson. London, Collins, 1955; New York, Viking, 1964.
The Drunken Forest, illus. Ralph Thompson. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1956; New York, Viking, 1956.
My Family and Other Animals. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1956; New York, Viking, 1957.
Encounters with Animals, illus. Ralph Thompson. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1958; New York, Avon, 1970.
A Zoo in my Luggage, illus. Ralph Thompson. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1960; New York, Viking, 1960.
Look at Zoos, illus. Pat Marriott. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1961.
The Whispering Land, illus. Ralph Thompson. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1961; New York, Viking, 1962.
Island Zoo, photographs by W. Suschitzky. London, Collins, 1961; as Island Zoo: The Animals a Famous Collector Couldn't Part With, New York, Macrae Smith, 1963.
Menagerie Manor, illus. Ralph Thompson. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1964; New York, Viking, 1965.
Two in the Bush, illus. B. L. Driscoll. London, Collins, 1966; New York, Viking, 1966.
Birds, Beasts and Relatives. London, Collins, 1969; New York, Viking, 1969.
Fillets of Plaice. London, Collins, 1971; New York, Viking, 1971.
Catch me a Colobus, illus. Edward Mortelmans. London, Collins, 1972; New York, Viking, 1972.
Beasts in my Belfry, illus. Edward Mortelmans. London, Collins, 1973; as A Bevy of Beasts, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1973.
The Stationary Ark. London, Collins, 1976; New York, Simon & Schuster, 1976.
Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons, illus. Edward Mortelmans. London, Collins, 1977; New York, Simon & Schuster, 1977.
Garden of the Gods. London, Collins, 1978; as Fauna and Family, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1979.
The Amateur Naturalist: A Practical Guide to the Natural World, with Lee Durrell. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1982; New York, Knopf, 1983.
Ark on the Move. London, Collins, 1982; New York, Coward-McCann, 1983.
How to Shoot an Amateur Naturalist. London, Collins, 1984; New York, Little Brown, 1984.
Gerald and Lee Durrell in Russia, London, Macdonald, 1986; New York, Simon & Schuster, 1986.
The Ark's Anniversary. London, Collins, 1990.
Keeper, illus. Keith West (for children). London, Michael O'Mara, 1990.
Toby the Tortoise (for children). London, Michael O'Mara, 1991.
The Aye-Aye and I. London, HarperCollins, 1992; New York, Simon & Schuster, 1994.
The Puppy Books. Scott Ltd., 1993.
The Best of Gerald Durrell, ed. Lee Durrell. London, HarperCollins, 1996.

The Corfu Trilogy (contains: My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts and Relatives, The Garden of the Gods). London, Penguin, 2006.

Others (Edited)
My Favourite Animal Stories. London, Lutterworth, 1962; New York, McGraw, 1962.

On the Track of Unknown Animals by Bernard Heuvelmans; translated by Richard Garnett; illus. Monique Watteau; introduction by Gerald Durrell. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1958; New York, Hill & Wang, 1958.
Beasts in my Bed by Jacquie Durrell; with footnotes by Gerald Durrell. London, Collins, 1967; New York, Atheneum, 1967.
Island Trails by Theodore Stephanides; introduction by Gerald Durrell. London, Macdonald, 1973.
Children's Nature Encyclopaedia, ed. Joyce Pope; foreword by Gerald Durrell. London, Sundial, 1978.
Ourselves and other Animals by Peter Evans; from the TV series with Gerald and Lee Durrell; introduction by Gerald Durrell. London, Century, 1987.
A Jubilee Bibliography 1963-1988: A Systematic and General Subject Index to Articles, Papers and Illustrations, compiled by Christopher M. Perkins; introduction by Gerald Durrell. Jersey, Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, 1988.
Charles Waterton, 1782-1865: Traveller and Conservationist by Julia Blackburn; foreword by Gerald Durrell. London, Bodley Head, 1989.
Best Dog Stories, introduced by Gerald Durrell. London, Michael O'Mara, 1990.
Oliver Goldsmith's History of the Natural World by Oliver Goldsmith; foreword by Gerald Durrell. London, Studio Editions, 1990.
The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the Twentieth Century by Karl Shuker; foreword by Gerald Durrell. London, HarperCollins, 1993.

Himself and Other Animals: A Portrait of Gerald Durrell by David Hughes. London, Hutchinson, 1997.
Gerald Durrell: The Authorised Biography by Douglas Botting. London, HarperCollins, 1999.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

TV Tie-in editions cover gallery 1

As well as the novelisations that we've featured recently, plenty of books have been reissued with tie-in covers when they have been adapted for TV. So here's a small selection that have arrived at the scanner in no particular order...

Aspen by Burt Hirschfeld (London, W. H. Allen, 1975; New York, Bantam, 1976)
Corgi 0-552-10296-2, 1976, 374pp, 85p. The Corgi edition was reprinted at least three times in 1978.
Aspen: the fabulous mountain resort of the wealthy jet-set; a place of breathtaking beauty where the pleasure-seekers of the world flocked like bees to honey—and found everything they dreamed of...
__In that wild and seductive place, men and women came together for every kind of enjoyment,,,
__Aspen: a story as sensual and as jet-propelled as the people it describes...
__Kit Pepe: Many men lusted for her. Two battled for her love—a father and a son.
__Carl Osborne: Came to buy a chunk of paradise and stayed for a hell of sensual indulgence.
__Alex Budde: He fed the cheap thrills and expensive habits of the sinful.
__Tom Keating: The peaceful man armed for bloody war with the land-grabbers.
__Joan Carolinian: Her body was a sex machine; her head was a calculator.
__Jon Osborne: Tennis pro, sex hustler, lost boy. A drug-runner running for his life...

Hirschfeld's novel was turned into a mini-series broadcast in the USA in 1977 and subsequently re-run as The Innocent and the Damned. Adapted by Douglas Heyes, the series starred Sam Elliott, Perry King, Gene Barry, Martine Beswick, Joseph Cotten, Roger Davis, Anthony Franciosa and Jessica Harper. The series was broadcast in the UK on ITV as The Aspen Murder in August 1978.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (London, Chapman & Hall, 1945)
Penguin 0-1400-5915-6, [23rd imp.] 1982, 395pp, £2.95.

The front cover shows Anthony Andrew, Diana Quick and Jeremy Irons; the back cover shows Jeremy Irons, Stephane Audran, Phoebe Nicholls, (and, seated) Diana Quick and Laurence Olivier.

Produced by Granada Television in association with WNET/13 New York and Norddeutscher Rundfunk Hamburg. Adapted by John Mortimer, directed by Charles Sturridge and Michael Lindsay-Hogg and produced by Derek Granger. The series of 11 episodes was originally broadcast between 12 October and 22 December 1981.

The first Penguin edition of the original novel appeared in  1951 and was reprinted in 1952, 1954, 1957 and 1959. A revised edition of the novel was published by Chapman & Hall in 1962 and that, too, went through multiple editions from Penguin: in 1964, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 (twice), 1981 (eight times) and 1982 (at least twice... the pic above is from the 23rd imp. and no doubt the book was reprinted many more times).

About the author

Evelyn Waugh was born in Hampstead in 1903, second son of the late Arthur Waugh, publisher and literary critic, and brother of Alec Waugh, the popular novelist. He was educated at Lancing and Hertford College, Oxford, where he read Modern History. In 1927 he published his first work, a life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and in 1928 his first novel, Decline and Fall, which was soon followed by Vile Bodies (1930), Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938).
__During these years he travelled extensively in most parts of Europe, the Near East, Africa, and tropical America. In 1939 he was commissioned in the Royal Marines and later transferred to the Royal Horse Guards, serving in the Middle East and Yugoslavia. In 1942 he published Put Out More Flags and then in 1945 Brideshead Revisited. When the Going was Good and The Loved One were followed by Helena (1950), his historical novel.
__Men at Arms, which came out in 1952, is the first volume in a trilogy of war memoirs, and won the James Tait Black Prize; the other volumes, Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender, were published in 1955 and 1961.
__Evelyn Waugh was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1930, and his earlier biography of the Elizabethan Jesuit martyr, Edmund Campion, was awarded the Hawthornden Prize in 1936. In 1959 he published the official Life of Ronald Knox.
__He was married and had six children. From 1937 onwards he and his family lived in the West Country. He died in 1966.

The Monocled Mutineer by William Allison & John Fairley (London, Quartet Books, 1978)
Quartet Books 0-73433287-6, 1986, 199+8pp, £2.50.
In 1917, on the eve of Passchendaele, British troops in France erupted in mutiny, an event which today is one of the British Army's most closely guarded secrets. At the centre of the mutiny was Private Percy Toplis. Under sentence of death he escaped to England, where he lived in a multitude of disguises, organizing a unique black market in army stores, even re-enlisting in the army under his own name, apparently with impunity. At last the authorities pounced and for six desperate weeks he was pursued the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, a manhunt which ended bloodily in a police ambush near a country church in June 1920.
The Quartet paperback edition first appeared in 1979 and was reprinted twice (at least) in 1986. The tie-in cover photograph featured Paul McGann, who starred as Toplis in the BBC series originally aired in four episodes in August and September 1986.

TV tie-ins: Reading the Decades

Reading the Decades by John Sutherland (BBC ISBN 0-563-48810-7, 2002)

As we've been talking about TV tie-in books this past week, I thought I'd bring you one that I was actually involved in. Not the book, although I do get an entry in the index and I'm briefly quoted, but the TV show.

Reading the Decades was a BBC2 series, billed as “forty years of books that changed the world,” broadcast in April 2002. Each of the four shows featured segments on different authors popular in the 1950s to the 1980s. The first show, broadcast on April 6th, 2002, featured a five-minute piece on Hank Janson.

Roger Parsons, the producer, had phoned in December 2001 about the possibility of doing an interview, which I agreed to do (slowly achieving my fifteen minutes of fame by increments). On January 23rd Roger and a small crew (one cameraman, one sound technician) arrived at my home. I’d tidied up the living room so there was somewhere neat and tidy to do the filming and, whilst the others set up, decided to show Roger my office—a fatal mistake! Spotting the teetering piles of books he immediately decided that this was where he must film. No argument allowed. So we set up in my office, the camera in one corner shooting across the table that had my printer on it and I was stood in the gap between two shelves with piles of books (especially piled for the occasion) either side of me.

Twenty minutes of interview later, I then spent another twenty minutes opening small plastic bags and slowly pulling out books and holding them before the camera. As it turned out, my hands ended up with more screen time than the rest of me as they revealed glorious Heade covers to the strains of Anne Shelton singing The Hank Janson Blues as the segment opened. Overall, the Janson piece was nicely done and tried to capture some of the atmosphere of HJ with a Fedora-wearing actor in silhouette watching a girl unsnapping her suspender belt and unrolling her stocking as Adam Faith read an extract from Don’t Mourn Me, Toots—one of the Janson novels he remembered reading as a boy (and I believe Roger let him keep the rather battered copy he read from). George Melly complained that he wanted his pornography posh (so he read Henry Miller), Ken Follett thought they were terrific after being recommended Hank at school by a classmate, and Faith admitted that his first sexual experience (with a prostitute in a park at the age of 15) was probably inspired by Hank!

There's a brief P.S. to all this: I was watching a BBC documentary on Spivs a couple of years later and there they were again. My hands opening a plastic sleeve and sliding out a Hank Janson book!

Never did get my repeat fee...

(* Apologies about the quality of the screengrabs. Reading the Decades © BBC.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Comic Cuts - 27 August

I'm planning to keep this short as I'm also running the Upcoming Comics listing this morning. I've spent a couple of very full days this week working on the Thriller Comics Index, proofing the text for the introduction and various lists and touching up some artwork scans of original Cowboy Comics and Thriller Comics covers that we will be including in the book. We managed to locate about 70 covers in all, most of which should be in the book; also a stack of black & white pages which we will also be showing examples of.

That pretty much filled the week, although I also put in a full day typing links for the Illustration Art Gallery blog last weekend, a job that would have been incredibly tedious if it hadn't been for the astonishing array of artwork the links take you to. But hopefully that's 450 links I'll never have to type again.

On Tuesday I spent an hour or so crawling around in the attic of the new house. It's only partly boarded but we managed to squirrel away some of the emptied boxes and trays, which has made a substantial difference to Box Mountain. Once I can get some more boards down, we should start to see the mountains turn into foothills... What's the betting that I'll look back on this in a couple of months time and marvel at my confidence? Or should that be naivete?

In the post: Dodgem Logic #5 with an article on old 1950s paperbacks by yours truly. I've only seen a couple of issues and the range of topics that Dodgem Logic covers is immense. Alan Moore has described it as a fanzine or underground magazine, but it lacks the focus on a topic that I usually associate with fanzines or promoting a lifestyle that Oz or Frendz indulged in. Nor is it a literary magazine, although it has articles on literature, poems and an excerpt from Steve Aylett's Novahead. Rather it's a mash-up of all three, a love letter to anything that interests Alan Moore and the editors, whether that's William Burroughs or how to make a trifle, gorgeously photographed and designed. A literary funderzine, if you like.

If you want a copy it should be available in all good comic stores, or you can head over to the Dodgem Logic website and order it directly from the publisher.

There... told you this was going to be short.

Comic Cuts: Upcoming Releases

A round-up of forthcoming books relating to or reprinting British comics and cartoons, along with some selected original graphic novels.

JULY 2010 [Announced by yet to be released]

AUGUST 2010 [Announced but yet to be released]
  • The Best of Land Battle. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848567313, 27 August 2010 [originally scheduled for 28 May 2010].
  • Century 21 Annual 2011 edited by Chris Bentley. Reynolds & Hearn ISBN 978-1904674047, 31 August 2010.
  • Modesty Blaise: Sweet Caroline by Peter O'Donnell & Neville Colvin. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848566736, 27 August 2010.
  • Rat Pack Vol. 1. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848560352, 27 August 2010 [originally announced for 14 September 2010].
  • Watching the Watchmen by Dave Gibbons & Chip Kidd. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848566828, 31 August 2010. Softcover edition.

  • Charley's War: The Great Mutiny by Pat Mills & Joe Colquhoun. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848567412, 9 November 2010.
  • Dan Dare: Trip to Trouble. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848563667, 30 November 2010 [originally announced for 5 January 2010].
  • Darkie's Mob by John Wagner & Mike Western. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848564428, 4 November 2010 [originally announced for 27 November 2009, then 23 July 2010]. 
  • Durham Red: Island of the Damned by Alan Grant & Carlos Ezquerra. Rebellion ISBN 978-1907519260, 11 November 2010
  • Major Eazy Vol. 1 by Carlos Ezquerra. Titan Books, 26 November 2010.
  • Meltdown Man by Alan Hebden & Massimo Belardinelli. Rebellion ISBN 978-1907519291, 11 November 2010.
  • Modesty Blaise: The Double Agent by Peter O'Donnell & Neville Colvin. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848566743, 30 November 2011.
  • Sweeney Todd (Original Text) by Sean M. Wilson & Declan Shalvey. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332792, 30 November 2010 [originally announced for 30 April 2010].
  • Sweeney Todd (Quick Text) by Sean M. Wilson & Declan Shalvey. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332808, 30 November 2010 [originally announced for 30 April 2010].
LATE 2010
  • Richard III (Original Text, abridged). Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332228, 2010 [originally announced for 1 March 2009, then 1 September 2009, then 14 May 2010].
  • Richard III (Plain Text). Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332235, 2010 [originally announced for 1 March 2009, then 1 September 2009, then 14 May 2010].
  • Richard III (Quick Text). Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332242, 2010 [originally announced for 1 March 2009, then 1 September 2009, then 14 May 2010].
  • Classic Bible Stories. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848568860, 4 January 2011. Softcover edition.
  • David the Shepherd King & Paul the Adventurer by Frank Bellamy. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848567252, 4 January 2011.
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream [Original Text] by John McDonald & Kat Nicholson/Jason Cardy. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332891, 31 January 2011 [originally announced for June 2010].
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream [Plain Text] by John McDonald & Kat Nicholson/Jason Cardy. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332907, 31 January 2011 [originally announced for June 2010]. 
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream [Quick Text] by John McDonald & Kat Nicholson/Jason Cardy. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332914, 31 January 2011 [originally announced for June 2010].
MARCH 2011
  • Wuthering Heights (Original Text) by Sean M. Wilson & John M. Burns. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332877, 31 March 2011 [originally announced for 31 July 2010].
  • Wuthering Heights (Quick Text) by Sean M. Wilson & John M. Burns. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332884, 31 March 2011 [originally announced for 31 July 2010].
APRIL 2011
  • Leviathan by Ian Edington & D'Israeli. Rebellion ISBN 978-1907519192, 14 April 2011 [originally scheduled for 15 June 2010].

MAY 2011
JULY 2011 
  • An Inspector Calls [Original Text] by Jason Cobley & Will Volley. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332327, 11 July 2011.
  • An Inspector Calls [Quick Text] by Jason Cobley & Will Volley. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332334, 11 July 2011.


Please note: All dates are subject to change.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Comic Cuts: Recent Releases

Here's a round up of recently released titles reprinting or relating to British comics. Some title announced for publication in the past few months have been delayed; these titles can be found on the Upcoming Releases listing.

JULY 2010

JUNE 2010

MAY 2010

APRIL 2010

MARCH 2010






Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books