BEAR ALLEY BOOKS

BEAR ALLEY BOOKS
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Friday, November 05, 2010

Comic Cuts - 5 November 2010

Happy bonfire night.

The big news for me this week is that the printer's proofs for Wells Fargo & Pony Express and The Thriller Index have been air-mailed from Hong Kong and are on their way to me as I write and should hopefully be in my sweaty little paws a few hours after this column appears. And I gather that the proof for Book Palace Books' third title in this batch, Wulf the Briton, will be touching down on Wednesday or thereabouts. So we're almost... almost there. Proofing should be a formality as any corrections needed were done a while back, with PDFs, CDs and notes flying around between me and Stuart, who does all the designs and page make-up. Hopefully this will just be a case of making sure all the pages are in the right order, which I'll do over the weekend.

Apart from that, it hasn't been a very exciting week. I have an article in with Dodgem Logic which may or may not be used in the next issue, a cut-down version of the Sci-Fi Art: A Graphic History under the title Sci-Fi Art: A Pocket History has just been announced by Ilex (I'll post full details when I get them), and... well, that's about it. If you're a regular reader you'll know that when we moved a while back we immediately had a friend move in while his house was being sorted out. Fast forward three months and he's just moved into his new home, so this week I've started to attack the mountain of boxes that has been cluttering up the living room. For a quarter of a year. Not good.

The problem with Box Mountain is that it contains a lot of goodies... also a lot of tat that I can't bring myself to throw away. And a lot of old memories. I found, for instance, a box full of copies of Comic World, the magazine I edited back in the early 1990s and a lot of folders full of odds and ends relating to it. It won't come as any surprise that I'll be putting the scanner to good use and turning Bear Alley into a digital scrapbook over the coming weeks.

So here are a couple of Oddments from Box Mountain... publicity flyers about the publication and promotion of the first edition of The Official Comic Book Price Guide For Great Britain, published way back in March 1989.

The book—or at least the British section, which was my bit of the book—was almost scuppered at the last minute. The book was typeset by Lance Rickman, one of the two editors, and as I didn't have a computer in those days I'd produced a raft of notes, some handwritten, some typed. In those days I lived in a grotty little flat in Chelmsford and worked in London, so one Saturday I travelled over to Lance's house in Colchester and we put the whole section together over a period of about 15 hours solid work. The last thing we did, at around 4 o'clock on Sunday morning, was to print out the whole section so I could proof it the next day.

I caught the first train back to Chelmsford at around 6 a.m. and crawled into bed around 8 o'clock for a couple of hours sleep before heading down to the pub to meet up with friends. The flat didn't have a phone, so everyone used to phone up and leave messages at the pub, which had a very kindly landlord, and where we were years-long regulars. So we got down the pub at noon and there was an urgent message to phone Lance.

10p later, I'd discovered that Lance's computer had suffered a catastrophic crash and all the work we had done the day and night before was lost. The only record of it was the print-out I'd taken home with me. I had to scoot down to the post office Monday, having proofed the whole thing Sunday, and it was back with Lance first thing Tuesday morning, was typed up by Miranda, Lance's then partner, and I believe we still managed to hit the deadline.

The flyer above must be an early version as the signing actually took place on Saturday, 15 April, and as well as Brian, the line-up included Dave Gibbons, Barry Kitson and Simon Bisley. It took place in the bar just around the corner from Forbidden Planet when they were in New Oxford Street and the queue stretched all the way back to FP. It went on for hours as everyone wanted some kind of sketch from the artists, so it was left to me, Duncan and Lance—sitting at the start of the signing line—to entertain everyone as the queue stalled, crept forward and stalled again. A few free drinks helped keep things lively and I got a free Simon Bisley poster from Tom Frame, which I must still have somewhere.

Happy memories.

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