Friday, December 31, 2010

Comic Cuts - 31 December 2010

So that's it for 2010. Hope you've all had a fantastic time over the Christmas holidays and you're looking forward to tonight's celebrations. I'd like to beg your indulgence and take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to Bear Alley over the past year, not only the people who have written columns but also everyone who has sent in comments, corrections and additions to the text and scans to fill out the galleries. Thanks, too, to everyone ordering through the Amazon links as it helps finance Bear Alley.

500 posts this year... I'm as surprised as anyone as it has been a thoroughly disrupted year; packing for the house move in July and sorting ourselves out after dominated our lives for eight months. I'd be lying if I said we were now completely sorted, but after a mad dash on the run up to Christmas I can say that we're a little more comfortable and hopefully will now begin to settle into village life. To everyone who sent in messages of support during the move, I can only offer my heartfelt thanks and say that your well wishes helped us get through all the disruption. Anyone who sent in enquiries and never got an answer, my apologies. A lot of e-mails went astray while we moved and, what with one thing and another, a lot of mail that did come in never got a reply.

A quick look at the stats shows that Bear Alley had over 219,000 unique visitors this year, who loaded 365,500 pages. That's a scarily big audience for what is, after all, quite a specialised set of interests that I cover here. A snapshot of the keywords that have brought people to the blog today include Jose Maria Jorge, Matania, Doc E E Smith, Clarke's Commandos, Juan Gonzalez Alacreu, Erotic Comics, Oliver Frey, Harry Rountree, George and Lynne, J. D. Salinger covers, Princess Tina Magazine, Fantasy Fanzine Index Holland (blimey! I'd forgotten about that!), Wildlife artist Harry Pettit, Anton Lock, Ed Valigursky, Paul Brickhill, Ladybird Robert Ayton, Geoff Squire, Clint Eastwood, Dashiell Hammett covers, Alistair MacLean covers, Pierre Probst, Roland Davies, Georgette Heyer detective novels, Racey Helps woodland card game, Hulme Beaman... and a whole lot of others. Most of the traffic comes from Google with a tiny fraction from Bing and Yahoo. Bear Alley does pretty well on Google, although I guess that's the result of covering things nobody else seems to be covering. I must admit that one of the reasons for starting up Bear Alley was for that very reason; that's why you won't find a whole lot about American comics or British small press comics as there are some damn fine news sites that cover those areas far better than I ever could.

Next year Bear Alley will have a couple of things to celebrate: at the rate I'm posting we should reach post 2,000 in the next few months, possibly around the end of February, and in August its our fifth birthday. I'll have to see what I can come up with some sort of online party. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

OK, I've rambled on long enough. Again, I'm going to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helps bring you Bear Alley every day and I hope you get as much fun out of it as I do putting it all together.

Happy New Year to you all.

And here's today's random scan...

(* Harold Hare © Look and Learn Ltd.; Mother Tells You How © IPC Media.)

Gulliver Guinea-Pig's Happy Christmas part 1

(* Gulliver Guinea-Pig © Bill Melendez Productions.)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gulliver Guinea-Pig Shop Early for Christmas

(* Gulliver Guinea-Pig © Bill Melendez Productions.)

Recent Releases: December 2010


Captain Britain Vol. 5: End Game by Alan Moore, Jamie Delano & Alan Davis.
Panini UK ISBN 978-1846534591, 6 December 2010, 256pp, £15.99.
Captain Britain returns once more, as he battles the terror of the ultimate superhero slayer, the Fury, as well as the Crazy Gang and Gatecrasher and her Technet. The Lion of London also contends with the machinations of the vile Vixen and a final showdown with Slaymaster! Plus, his adventures transport him to an alternative universe where he encounters a dark, twisted version of himself.
Chopper: Surf's Up by John Wagner, Garth Ennis, Colin McNeil, John Higgins et al.
Rebellion ISBN 978-1907519277, December 2010, 240pp, £14.99.
Chopper has come a long way from being a wall-scrawling juve in Mega-City One. Having mastered the art of Sky Surfing, Chopper became a hero of the people by winning Supersurf 7 and escaping the Judges to compete in Supersurf 10. But a narrow defeat to Jug McKenzie and a close encounter with Judge Dredd sent Chopper out into the Radback. Now he’s back and intent on re-claiming his title and keeping his freedom.
    Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot.
    Jonathan Cape ISBN 978-0224090001, 2 December 2010. 104pp, £16.99.
    The Badger is back! Set three weeks after the finale of Grandville, Grandville Mon Amour pits Detective Inspector Archie LeBrockof Scotland Yard against an old adversary and ruthless urban guerrilla, Edward “Mad Dog” Mastock - a psychotic serial killer whose shocking escape from his execution by guillotine at the Tower of London begins this fast-paced, Hitchcockian steampunk thriller.
    __LeBrock, still racked by remorse for his failure to prevent the death of 'the Divine Sarah' and working outside the law after resigning his post following a blazing row with his superior officer, embarks on a quest to redeem himself by tracking down Mastock and bringing to an end his horrific murder spree. Aided by his adjunct and old friend, Detective Roderick Ratzi, he follows the trail of carnage to Paris. Otherwise known as Grandville, it’s the largest city in a world dominated by France, a city used to violence following the years of terrorist bombings by the extreme fanatic wing of the British resistance during the occupation, the notorious Angry Brigade, of which Mastock was the sadistic leading light. With his customary tenacity, LeBrock stalks his prey through a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, an underclass of humans and automaton robots where advanced steam technology powers everything from hansom cabs to iron flying machines. It’s a trail that leads to the demimonde of Parisian prostitution and an atrocity perpetrated twenty-three years ago.
    __With a range of new and fascinating characters and a mix of Holmesian deduction, knowing humour and edge of the seat action, Grandville Mon Amour continues the vein of high-octane adventure begun in the first volume. Can even LeBrock escape the past or do heroes have feet of clay? Follow the badger!
    Leviathan by Ian Edginton & D'Israeli.
    Rebellion ISBN 978-1907519192, December 2010, 112pp, £13.99.
    In 1928, the Leviathan, the largest cruise liner,the world had ever seen, was launched, bound for,New York, with a crew and pas- senger complement,totalling nearly 30,000 people. It was never seen,again. Twenty years later, one of the remaining,passengers, Detective Sergeant Lament, begins to,investigate the mystery at the liner's heart. What,he discovers will change his world forever and might just bring the Leviathan home...

    Wednesday, December 29, 2010

    Edward R. Home-Gall

    Edward R. Home-Gall was the son of writer William Benjamin Home-Gall, also a writer. William, born in Hong Kong in 1861, had a problematic schooling and travelled widely in America before returning to the UK where he worked as a coachman and an unsuccessful farmer. He was more successful as an author, publishing his first novel in 1892 and, by the late 1890s, had established himself as a popular writer for boys.

    William (known as Willie) married Anna Louisa Amy Drelincourt on 14 September 1889 at St. Mary Abbots, Kensington; however, the marriage appears to have lasted only briefly and William is known to have been staying at a London club in 1890 and was living with his aunt, Elizabeth J, Mallows, at the time of the 1891 census. Anna, born in Dublin, Ireland, in c.1845 and 15 or so years Willie's senior, was boarding in Fulham with her son at that time. In fact, her name was not Drelincourt at all: she was born Anna Louisa Amy Meekins and, in 1864, married Drelincourt Campbell Gilchrist Odlum; at the time of the 1871 census, aged 25, she was living in Kensington with her husband, then a 27-year-old physician, and their son, Drelincourt William De Montmerency Odlum (1865-1939), who went on to become an actor.

    The Home-Gall family circa 1904 standing outside Panmure, Edward in front of gate.
    In the next few years William had two children with Edith Emma Bolingbroke (b. Yarmouth, Norfolk, 1867; d. Staines, Middx., 1945): Willie Bolinbroke Home-Gall (1894-1982) and Edward Reginald Home-Gall, born in Hampton-on-Thames in 1897 and baptized at Hampton St. Mary, Richmond upon Thames, on 2 May 1897. William did not marry Edith until 1898 (at St. Giles, London).

    Edward joined the Amalgamated Press in 1914 as an office-boy. His first story appeared in the semi-religious weekly The Sunday Circle and his second, a football yarn, in the Boys’ Realm, then under the editorship of John Nix Pentelow. Although under age, he managed to join a Territorial Unit and enlisted in the Isle of White Rifles, taking part in the landing in Gallipoli, although was later invalided home with enteric. He made a full recovery and returned to fight in Messines where, as a Second Lieutenant with the Royal Fusiliers, he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in January 1918. He relinquished his commission on October 29, 1920, with the rank of Lieutenant.

    At the age of 21 he returned to the A.P. who had kept his office job open (the wage was 12/6 a week). He submitted an idea for a new title, The Football Favourite, which was accepted and ran for over eighteen years, achieving a good circulation. Home-Gall contributed many stories to the paper, one of the most popular being his series 'The Terrible Twins' in which a rich and poor football fan changed places. When this series finished, Home-Gall left Fleetway House to go freelance, struggling for the first six months when his earnings averaged 16/- a week.

    Home-Gall wrote hundreds of stories for the Thomson papers—Rover, Wizard, Adventure—and also the later stories of Harry Lovell & Co. for H. A. Hinton’s School and Sport after Charles Hamilton refused to write any more due to non-payment (Home-Gall was also never paid).

    His fortunes turned in 1923 when he sold a serial to R. T. Eves’ young paper, Champion. For the next thirty years he wrote three 5,000-7,000 word stories a week for Champion and Triumph plus stories for the annuals and elsewhere. He was the creator of the detective Colwyn Dane, and was especially noted for his speedway yarns, claiming that he wrote the first speedway story ever published in Britain. One reader in Australia, bored with his job as a car attendant on the railways, wrote to him asking how he could become a speedway rider and followed Home-Gall’s advice… Bluey Wilkinson was later recognised as one of the greatest riders ever known to the sport.

    Something of a sportsman himself, Home-Gall played for the Answers golf team (led by A. Hindle) in the London Press Golfing Society’s Foursome tournament.

    Home-Gall was one of the most prolific writers of boys’ stories of all time, producing some 35 million words for various boys’ papers. Shortly after the Second World War, he set up his own company, Panmure Press, to produce his own work in a series entitled Boys' Favourite Library, which was later revived in the early 1950s from another company. During the 1950s, Home-Gall regularly scripted for the comics Lion and Tiger, although his most regular character was the text series 'The Amazing Adventures of Mr X' (as by Edwin Dale). He also penned two novels for Mark Goulden (an imprint of W. H. Allen) about superhero The Human Bat, which are probably the two most sought-after of all his books.

    Home-Gall lived at Panmure, 2 Nightingale Road, Hampton-on-Thames, Middlesex, for many years and later moved to the South of France where he continued to write, penning the Shirley Flight, Air Hostess novels for World Distributors under the name Judith Dale. He appears to have retired in the early 1960s, around the time that the Shirley Flight books began appearing in France under Home-Gall's own name. Two additional Shirley Flight stories appeared in France in 1969 and 1972.

    Home-Gall, who was a bachelor, died in France in November 1974, aged 78.


    The Lone Mountie. London, Amalgamated Press, 1940.
    The Haunted Ice-Rink, An Ice-hockey Mystery Thriller. London, New Arts, Nov 1946.
    The Football Commandos. London, New Arts, Dec 1946.
    The Outlaw Mountie and Red Fang, the Wonder Husky. Hampton, Panmure, Aug 1947.
    Fighting Rebels of the Desert. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure (BFL 1), May 1948.
    Hooded Terror of the Speedway. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure (BFL 2), 1948.
    Beau Rapier, the Desert Dick Turpin. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure (BFL 3), Sep 1948.
    The Railway Rovers. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure (BFL 4), Nov 1948.
    Victor Gaunt—Master Spy. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure, Nov 1948.
    The Boxing Cyclones. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure Publications (BFL 5), Jan 1949.
    Appointment With Death. Hampton, Panmure Publications, Mar 1949.
    Victor Gaunt In China. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure Publications, 1949.
    The Speed Ace Gang-Buster. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure Publications (BFL 6), 1949.
    The Jungle Speedsters. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure Publications (BFL 7), Aug 1949.
    Ace Carew—Airman Speed King (Carew). London, W.H.Allen, Nov 1949.
    Mystery Goal-Getter of the Rovers. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure Publications (BFL 8), Nov 1949.
    The Phantom Ice Demon. Hampton, Middlesex, Panmure Publications (BFL 9), Dec 1949.
    Lightning the One-Ton Wonder. Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 10), Feb 1950.
    The Football Speedsters. Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 11), Mar 1950.
    The Human Bat. London. Mark Goulden (Fantasy Library 1), Apr 1950.
    The Century-Hitter From Nowhere. Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 12), Apr 1950.
    King of the Cycling Sabres. Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 13), May 1950.
    The Speed-Ace Frogman. Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 14), Jun 1950.
    Trailed By Snakeman. Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 15), Jul 1950.
    The Masked Record-Breaker. Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 16), Aug 1950.
    The Human Bat v. The Robot Gangster. London, Mark Goulden (Fantasy Library 2), Sep 1950
    The Hooded Terror Tong. Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 17), Sep 1950.
    The Secret Centre-Half. Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 18), Oct 1950.
    A Prince of the Willow. London, Hennel Locke, Oct 1950.
    The Redskin Ice-Ace of the "Outlaws". Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 19), Nov 1950.
    Black Hand. Hampton, Panmure Publications (BFL 20), Dec 1950.
    The Roving Rovers. London, Hennel Locke, Jan 1952
    The Convict Speed Devil. London, Comyns (BFL 3), Oct 1953.
    The Lumber Camp Killers. London, Comyns (BFL 5), 1953.
    The Yellow Peril Island. London, Comyns (BFL 6), 1954.
    Thugs of the High Seas. London, Comyns (BFL 7), 1954.

    Novels as Edwin Dale
    Dare-Devils of the Dirt Track. London, Amalgamated Press, 1929
    Speedsters of the Dirt Track. London, Amalgamated Press, 1931
    Stars of the Speedway. London, Amalgamated Press, 1931
    From Bush to Speedway. London, Amalgamated Press, 1932
    The 40 m.p.h. Footer Stars. London, Amalgamated Press, 1932
    Bronco Dawson, The Cowboy Speed King. London, Amalgamated Press, 1932
    Stunters of the Speedway. London, Amalgamated Press, 1933
    Dare-Devils of the Q Patrol!. London, Amalgamated Press, 1933
    The Speedway Circus Star. London, Amalgamated Press, 1933
    The Flying Speedster. London, Amalgamated Press, 1934
    Mad to be a Speed Star. London, Amalgamated Press, 1934
    Speed King of Monk’s Mechanical Circus. London, Amalgamated Press, 1934
    Gaunt of the Khyber Pass. London, Amalgamated Press, 1934
    Lone-Hand Lawrence, the Aussie Speedster. London, Amalgamated Press, 1935
    The Heavyweight Mountie. London, Amalgamated Press, 1935
    Riders of the Phantom Speedster. London, Amalgamated Press, 1935
    The Arctic Castaways. London, Amalgamated Press, 1935
    Broadside Boyd. London, Amalgamated Press, 1935
    Cyclone Zip, the Aussie Speedster. London, Amalgamated Press, 1936
    The Speedway Roughriders. London, Amalgamated Press, 1936
    Speedway Menace. London, Amalgamated Press, 1936
    Skipper of the River Rebels. London, Amalgamated Press, 1936
    King Flame. London, Amalgamated Press, 1937
    The Ice-Rink Speedsters. London, Amalgamated Press, 1937
    The Country of No Escape. London, Amalgamated Press, 1937
    The Rebel Speed Star. London, Amalgamated Press, 1937
    Ice-Rink Regan’s Timber Wolves. London, Amalgamated Press, 1938
    The Ice-Rink Avenger. London, Amalgamated Press, 1938
    The Speedster from Devil’s Island. London, Amalgamated Press, 1938
    The Challenge of the Red Domino. London, Amalgamated Press, 1938
    The Ice Aces of Haunted Valley. London, Amalgamated Press, 1938
    Ice-King Kerry. London, Amalgamated Press, 1938
    The Hunchback of Stenmoor Stadium. London, Amalgamated Press, 1939
    Don Sabre, the Desert Robin Hood. London, Amalgamated Press, 1939
    Gaunt of the White Tong. London, Amalgamated Press, 1939
    The Scapegrace Centre-Forward. London, Amalgamated Press, 1939
    The Secret of Puck-Chaser Steele. London, Amalgamated Press, 1939

    Novels as Judith Dale (series; Shirley Flight in all)
    Note, volumes 9 and 10 (Hawaiian Mystery and in Spain) were by Trudi Arlen.
    1 Shirley Flight, Air Hostess. London, World Distributors, 1958; as Shirley, hôtesse de l'air by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Valdi Tealdi, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 59), 1962
    2 Shirley Flight, Air Hostess, and the Diamond Smugglers. London, World Distributors, 1958; as Shirley et l'affaire du diamant by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Valdi Tealdi, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 65), 1962.
    3 Shirley Flight, Air Hostess, Desert Adventure. London, World Distributors, 1958.
    4 Shirley Flight, Air Hostess, in Hollywood. London, World Distributors, 1958; as Shirley à Hollywood by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Vanni Tealdi. Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 164), 1970.
    5 Shirley Flight—Air Hostess and the Flying Doctor. London, World Distributors, 1959; as Shirley et les écumeurs de la prairie by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Daniel Dupuy, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 168), 1971.
    6 Shirley Flight—Air Hostess in The Great Bullion Mystery. London, World Distributors, 1959; as Shirley et le mystère des lingots d'or by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Valdi Tealdi, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 124), 1967.
    7 Shirley Flight—Air Hostess in Congo Rescue. London, World Distributors, 1959; as Shirley chez les Pygmées by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Daniel Dupuy, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale), 1964.
    8 Shirley Flight—Air Hostess and the Rajah’s Daughter. London, World Distributors, 1959; as Shirley et la fille du rajah by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Vanni Tealdi. Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 83), 1963.
    11, Shirley Flight—Air Hostess in Pacific Castaways. London, World Distributors, 1960; as Shirley et les naufragés du Pacifique by Edward Home-Gall, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale), 1973.
    12, Shirley Flight—Air Hostess in Fjord Adventure. London, World Distributors, 1960; as Shirley dans les fjords norvégiens by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Valdi Tealdi, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 78), 1963.
    13 Shirley Flight—Air Hostess in Flying Jet. London, World Distributors, 1961; as Shirley et le mannequin Carol by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Daniel Dupuy, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 100), 1965.
    14 Shirley Flight—Air Hostess in Storm Warning. London, World Distributors, 1961; as Shirley dans la tempête by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Vanni Tealdi, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 135), 1968.
    15 Shirley Flight—Air Hostess, and the Chinese Puzzle. London, World Distributors, 1961; as Shirley et le rébus chinois by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Vanni Tealdi. Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 72), 1963.
    16 Shirley Flight—Air Hostess in Canadian Capers. London, World Distributors, 1961; as Shirley au Canada by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Vanni Tealdi, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 112), 1966.
    Shirley et la mystérieuse Mona [Shirley’s Troublesome Trainee] by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Valdi Tealdi, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 150), 1969.
    Shirley et la reine du fandango by Edward Home-Gall, illus. Daniel Dupuy, Paris, Editions G.P. (Spirale 180), 1972.

    Novels as Rupert Hall
    Mascot Ted. London, Amalgamated Press, 1926.
    Hated by the Team!. London, Amalgamated Press (Champion Library 4), Mar 1929.
    The Pro from Nowhere. London, Amalgamated Press (Champion Library 9), Jun 1929.
    Stick it, Cowboy Ken!. London, Amalgamated Press, 1929..
    Play Up, the Linnets!. London, Amalgamated Press, 1929.
    The Lad with the Lightning Left. London, Amalgamated Press, 1929.
    Boy Riders of the Stockyard. London, Amalgamated Press, 1930.
    War Hawks o’ Flanders. London, Amalgamated Press, 1930.
    No Team Like the Trojans!. London, Amalgamated Press, 1931.
    True to his Colours. London, Amalgamated Press, 1931.
    The Youngest Pro in the Country!. London, Amalgamated Press, 1931.
    The Kid They Couldn’t Tame. London, Amalgamated Press, 1932.
    To Victory with the Tanks!. London, Amalgamated Press, 1933.
    Wanderers of the Wild. London, Amalgamated Press, 1933.
    The Mystery Man of the Legion. London, Amalgamated Press, 1933.
    The Masked Footballer. London, Amalgamated Press, 1934.
    The Holdfast Hikers of the Amazon. London, Amalgamated Press, 1934.
    The Phantom Avenger. London, Amalgamated Press, 1934.
    Rough Diamond Rudd of the Fighting Fusiliers!. London, Amalgamated Press, 1934.
    The Millionaire Footballer. London, Amalgamated Press, 1935.
    Air-Crazy Atkins. London, Amalgamated Press, 1935.
    Doomed to Devil Island!. London, Amalgamated Press, 1935.
    The Hobo Footballers. London, Amalgamated Press, 1935.
    The Hobo Cup-Fighters. London, Amalgamated Press, 1936.
    Gaunt, Flying Spy. London, Amalgamated Press, 1936.
    The Big-Hit Blacksmith. London, Amalgamated Press, 1936.
    Castaways of Conspiracy Island. London, Amalgamated Press, 1936.
    The Caravan Rovers. London, Amalgamated Press, 1937.
    Racer Dan of the Whirlwind Wheelers. London, Amalgamated Press, 1938.
    Flip’s Flying Flea. London, Amalgamated Press (Champion Library 230), Aug 1938.
    Unlucky Mike. London & New York, Warne & Co., 1939.
    The Mystery Six-Hitter from India. London, Amalgamated Press, 1940.
    Giraffe Jones The Hairpin Half-Back. London, Amalgamated Press (Champion Library 266), Feb 1940.

    (* With thanks to John Sheaf for the photograph.)

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    Eagle: The Space Age Comic - Review

    Eagle: The Space Age Comic

    Steve Winders reviews the Radio Four programme about the famous Eagle comic, broadcast on December 23rd.

    The problem for an enthusiast in reviewing new works about Eagle is that they rarely contain any new information. This is especially true of radio and television programmes and is to be expected. After all Eagle began sixty years ago and in its original incarnation ended forty one years ago. All the key information which programmes are obliged to feature is well known. Consequently many new works now seem tedious to fans who have heard it all before, where a casual listener who recalls the comic fondly from his childhood may find it riveting.

    Historians encounter this problem all the time and of course Eagle is now history. They endeavour to make their work interesting by including eye witness accounts of events and by drawing their own conclusions from the information to try to provide new insights into historical figures and events. On radio and television these are most successful when they can interview living witnesses and of course as a children's comic Eagle still has many living witnesses of its influence if not of its production. Eagle: The Space Age Comic was well served by the comments and recollections of Sally Morris, the daughter of Eagle's creator Marcus Morris, who is also co-author of his excellent biography Living With Eagles, the author and fan Philip Pullman and the long time fan and Eagle exhibition organiser David Britton. The programme was presented by another fan, Sir Tim Rice, who was also able to contribute his own recollections and enthusiasm. Unlike some previous programmes it used only contributors who knew a lot about Eagle and why it was successful. Philip Pullman, for example conveyed most effectively the joy of the physical engagement that a weekly comic delivered through your letter box brought.

    Eagle: The Space Age Comic avoided the feared boredom by skilful editing. Individual contributions were broken up into short segments, so no one featured for too long at any one time. Their comments were clear and incisive and conveyed effectively the story of Eagle, its quality and the enthusiasm it generated. Although most of its main contributors are now dead there were nevertheless short well chosen extracts from past interviews with Marcus Morris and Frank Hampson, the creator of Eagle's leading strip 'Dan Dare'. The hugely popular and well illustrated 'Dan Dare' strip was instrumental in Eagle's success and along with the story of how the comic was created was prominently featured in the programme.

    Several short extracts from 'Dan Dare' adventures were slipped in between the contributor's comments and the programme took the unusual step of having them read by a young boy. While the boy needed more help with what must have been a most unfamiliar text – he referred to Sir Hubert Guest as Sir Herbert on all three occasions that he mentioned his name and mispronounced the name of Dan's famous arch enemy the Mekon – this idea was a more successful approach than that adopted by several previous radio programmes of having professional actors performing extracts very badly.

    The programme also mentioned the famous cutaway drawings that adorned the top of centre pages of Eagle and Sally Morris commented on the interest shown in them by the Ministry of Defence, who were concerned that Eagle's technical artist Leslie Ashwell-Wood might innocently correctly guess some secret aspect of a new aircraft or ship and give away too much information to rival foreign powers. Unfortunately other strips in Eagle were mentioned only briefly if at all, although Frank Bellamy's excellent work on 'Heros the Spartan' was singled out for particular praise. The new Eagle of 1982–1994 was dismissed with the phrase “...but things weren't the same,” which seems unfair, given its comparatively successful run at a time when interest in children's comics had declined significantly. However the programme was really devoted to the original and to its lead strip 'Dan Dare' and to try to fit too much into its half an hour running time would have damaged the message.
    Mercifully the programme did not try to emulate the historians and provide any new insights into the story of Eagle. It told the familiar story in an interesting and lively manner, punctuating comments and extracts with suitable music and sparing use of sound effects. It delivered the simple message that Eagle was a comic of the highest quality which presented a positive and exciting world.

    Eagle: The Space Age Comic is still available on the BBC iPlayer until Thursday 30 December.

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    The Snowman

    Continuing the Christmas theme into Bank Holiday Monday, here's an interview with Raymond Briggs that appeared way back in 1999.

    (* Mail on Sunday © Associated Newspapers.)

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    Christmas at Dingley Dell

    Here's another short Christmas-themed strip from The Children's Newspaper, adapting a scene from Dickens' Pickwick Papers.

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

    Saturday, December 25, 2010

    A Christmas Carol

    The tradition of the children's newspaper is one that seems to have disappeared and with it the children's newspaper strip. A shame as there have been some wonderful spin-offs from newspapers in the past: Junior Mirror, Junior Sketch and, best of all, Junior Express, which developed into Express Weekly, all appeared in the mid-1950s, and many papers in the 1920s and 1930s had childrens' sections with puzzles, stories and strips.

    The Children's Newspaper also ran strips, many of them little features on famous people and sports men and women. Many others adapted famous novels in newspaper strip format. The very first one, published in 1946, adapted Charles Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol, drawn by C. E. Montford, and, as it's Christmas, I thought I'd give the strip its first airing in over 60 years. Merry Christmas to you all and have a wonderful day.

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

    Robinson Crusoe part 12

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

    Friday, December 24, 2010

    Comic Cuts - 24 December 2010

    I've spent the whole week in one of three states: in front of the computer, clearing up the living room or asleep. I've left the house twice, once to do some shopping and once to clear the drive of snow but despite the rushing around I'm feeling completely relaxed and looking forward to a few days off.

    I'm pleased to say that what was Box Mountain has become Box Pile now. For newcomers, we moved house a few months ago and I've been trying to sort out the collected ephemera of thirty-five years; before that, Mum had a marvelous system which involved giving things away or putting them out for the dustman, a habit I never picked up. I had some serious misgivings about moving to a smaller house and trying to cram everything in but it actually seems to be working. The unpacking has taken months (for reasons explained in past columns); during the early days it was really just a case of wrangling shelves into place and throwing books onto them and it was only a few weeks ago that I really started to get to grips where everything was going to fit. A bit like a house-sized 3-D jigsaw puzzle.

    Box Mountain
    So now I'm left with the Box Pile which still needs some work before the day is out but is now down to a size where we can actually see the mantelpiece. Incidentally, its a blank wall behind the boxes as the mantelpiece is purely decorative.

    Box Pile
    And that's how things are going to stay until I can afford some more proper magazine boxes. There's also the back end of the lounge which was also piled high. Here's what it looked like a few weeks ago:

    And here's where we're at as of last night.

    Still some improvements to be made so we can get the table in (at the moment it's in the kitchen) but it's starting to look less like a lock-up and more like a home. Once I get things a little more sorted I'll post some shelf porn for those of you who like that sort of thing. (No, it's not rude... it's basically offering people a chance to take a nose at your shelves. Here, for instance, is Neil Gaiman's shelf porn. Oh, to have fitted shelves! But as we've always rented it's something we've never had. Nice to see he has to double stack everything, too!)

    I'm going to wrap this up as time is creeping on and I still have things to do. It's the wee hours of Christmas Eve and I still have a couple of things to wrap... I don't usually leave these things to the last minute, honest!

    Today's random scan is a bit of a cheat: it's the latest issue of Dodgem Logic (issue 7), which arrived in the post yesterday. My little contribution to this issue is a look at the books of T. Lobsang Rampa, Tibetan lama, a.k.a. Cyril Hoskin, former surgical goods salesman. There's some better and funnier articles as well (and I'm glad I wasn't the only one to ignore the brief to write something Christmassy). The thing I originally planned to post I'll post during the week.

    (* Dodgem Logic © Mad Love Publishing. Cover by Kevin O'Neill.)

    Norman Gnome Gets Rich part 7

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

    Robinson Crusoe part 11

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


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