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Friday, October 08, 2010

Comic Cuts - 8 October 2010

A brief note this week as  I wanted to spend some time on the piece below following the death of Josè Maria Jorge, to my mind one of the best artists to have worked for Commando in its entire history. While Commando edges towards its 50th anniversary next year, Josè worked on the title for over 40 of them, producing three or four books a year, never once producing anything but superb artwork. For the last 15 years he also produced covers for all his Commando titles, some dramatic and colourful icing on an already tasty cake.

I've had a frustrating week, although it started well. The Book Fair was quiet—perhaps the rain put people off, although I suspect a lack of money and all this talk of cuts and house prices falling will not have helped. Bizarrely, as we've now moved further away, my trip up to London was actually quicker and cheaper than it has been for years. At the old address we were miles away from the railway station and with no buses scheduled on early Sunday mornings, I always had to take a taxi (at a cost of around £7-8); now I'm within walking distance of a train station, saving me about £15 (the bus service was no better on the return trip). And there was no repair work on the line, which usually means half the journey is actually by coach. So... a pleasant trip up to London but the fair a little disappointing as some folks I had hoped to see didn't manage to get there.

There was one point raised on the day that's worth repeating (as it's rather flattering!): a regular Bear Alley reader was convinced that I must have an astonishing collection of near mint books. The truth is, a lot of the books on my shelves are the lousiest, dog-eared bunch of paperbacks you've ever seen... but I've got a good scanner and don't mind putting in some time with Photoshop to clean up the worst of the damage, do colour correction and present the results as good as I can get them. The pic. at the top of today's column, for instance, took three scans (front, back, spine) which had to be joined together and the joins painted out. All for you, dear reader.... all for you.

The rest of the week has been a series of false starts and interruptions. Hopefully next week will be better. I'll let you know.

The latest issue of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos landed this week, another fabulous issue with 118 pages and three full-length Jeff Hawke adventures, dipping into three different decades from the strip's history: "The Castaway" (1957), "The Wondrous Lamp" (1960-61) and "The Comet's Tale" (1973-74). The middle story contains one of my favourite of all Syd Jordan's panels: H2052. In it, an alien spaceship approaches a vast refrigeration container. A tunnel opens in the side and you realise just how vast the container is. Yet its surface reflects the galaxy around it and it, too, is dwarfed. It's a beautifully simple panel but for some reason it always reminds me that we live in a universe of infinite possibilities.

There's the usual features: Syd's editorial, Duncan Lunan's examinations of each story, Andrew Darlington's peek back at space heroes of old (this issue it's Kemlo). I'm amazed that editor William Rudling has managed to keep the annual subscription for Jeff Hawke's Cosmos at £20 for three issues. Most issues contain three tales and in a year you get nine for roughly the price of a hardback book. That's not only excellent value for money, it's a bloody miracle these days.

Subscriptions cost £20 (or £30 overseas), cheques payable to Jeff Hawke Club, which you should send along with an SAE to The Jeff Hawke CLub, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds LS17 7RD. Further information can be found at the Jeff Hawke website

Today's random scan... or scans. Two covers by the remarkable Reginald Cyril Webb, a.k.a. Heade, from his post-Hank Janson days. The first I picked up at the book fair on Sunday for a quid; the second is a scan sent over by Jamie Sturgeon some while back which I've had sitting on my desktop waiting for the day I could think of an excuse to use it. Well, today's the day.

Next week: who knows. Not me, that's for sure.

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