Friday, January 21, 2011

Comic Cuts - 21 January 2011

How can we be three-quarters of the way through January already? It seems like only the other day that we were putting up the Christmas decorations! Life tends to speed up the older you get but there seem to be less hours in the day to cram everything I want to do into.

I've had a gratifyingly busy week, which means that the rent is paid and I can go out Saturday night with a clear conscience (it's a birthday party). My week's work for Look and Learn and the Illustration Art Gallery is done... a piece for The Guardian on Joe Gores should appear shortly and I've put together another article for Dodgem Logic and scanned 120 book covers, should they need them. I actually scanned over 160 covers in total this week, all of which I'll get around to posting at some point.

And I've also been busy with my other project, which is actually more than one project. One part of this is a lot of work on my old comic indexes, revamping and revising them with the notion of getting them all back into print. I've done a couple of books through Book Palace Books covering a lot of the pocket libraries, but I'm planning to some others in a more affordable A4 magazine format. As I have to keep stopping to earn a living, I'm not sure when the first one will be complete as each will hopefully be accompanied by a comprehensive introduction, but I'm well on my way on one volume and have started working on a second. Price is still to be determined and whilst they won't be dirt cheap, they will be a lot cheaper than you see the old editions selling for.

I received a copy of Shaqui Le Vesconte's Look-In Calendar this week, a neat little spin-off to promote his  launching of a new site dedicated to Look-In. Each month is accompanied by a large illustration of lost Look-In art, ranging from strips dropped during industrial action to try-outs for strips later assigned to other artists and a couple of proposed strips that were never picked up. Fascinating stuff for the collector and a neat and practical calendar to boot. This month is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Look-In and Lew Stringer has posted a column looking back at the very first issue which is well worth a look.

Next week we'll continue Paul Temple - hope you're enjoying it... speaking personally, I love these old newspaper strips and wish there were more of the older strips in print as. With the exception of James Bond and Modesty Blaise (from Titan) and Jeff Hawke (via Jeff Hawke's Cosmos), are there decent runs of any other adventure strip available? A few years ago, Penguin India announced that they were planning to publish the complete run of Garth but I suspect the costs of cleaning up strips in the Mirror archive probably made the volumes too expensive to produce; Jane, another Mirror strip, has had a patchy career in book form; and there have been a couple of American reprints of Danielle and Axa. But that's about it.

The number of reprints of British comics is even more sparse. Just to take one little area that I was involved in, the Carlton pocket library volumes (Death or Glory, Unleash Hell and 11 others you can find listed over to your left if you scroll down) reprinted the equivalent of 125 issues from various old IPC-owned titles... but that's a tiny fraction of the 5,450 pocket libraries they own. I did some statistics for an article a couple of years ago and discovered that there were something like 28,000 pocket libraries published in the UK of which half were original stories. It rather puts 125 reprints in perspective.

So enjoy Paul Temple while you can because it's highly unlikely you'll ever see the strip in book form.

And so to today's random scans... two covers painted by John L. Baker. I did a small gallery of Baker's Agatha Christie covers just over a year ago and I've stumbled across quite a few more covers he did for Fontana in the intervening twelve months. These are just a couple, one out column header and one below. Enjoy... and I'll be back next week.

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