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Friday, February 25, 2011

Comic Cuts - 25 February 2011

As well as the usual weekly chores, I've been hard at work on the Hurricane/Champion index and I'm just waiting on a printed proof before we go to press. A second book is almost completed, too, which I'll discuss next week—it's a bit of a vanity publication but something I'm quite proud of. I'm trying now to sort out what to work on next. I want to update some of the older indexes but it's nice to work on something new, as I have with Hurricane/Champion. We shall see.

The above cover is another teaser, I'm afraid. Until I see the proof I don't want to show off the index cover, just in case I have to tinker with it. But it's a good excuse to show off another of the original Hurricane covers as they really were unique in British comics.

At the moment I've an outside job on, acting as a reader for a book for the British Library. It's a big book (the MS is 450 pages, single-spaced) and densely packed with information. I can't say anything more than it's subject is the history of story papers dating back to the 18th century, but also covering more modern papers in later chapters. I've been able to crack on with it these past couple of days thanks to some weird timeshifting.For someone whose sleeping patterns are odd at the best of times, this week has been crazy. For reasons unknown I woke up at 4 o'clock on Wednesday morning, dozed off around 4.30 in the afternoon and slept solidly for five hours. This meant I was wide awake until around five the following morning, was back up at eight feeling quite lively and spent Thursday trying to be as relaxed as possible.

Admittedly I'd had a few very late nights—later than normal—since last weekend, putting the finishing touches to the Hurricane/Champion index, but I shouldn't be feeling this jetlagged. Hopefully I'll swing things back to "normal" over the weekend. I do like my nap in the afternoons!

Some genuine comics news occurred this week when the Daily Mirror announced last Friday that they were to began reprinting classic 'Garth' strips. After years out of the spotlight, 'Garth' is now appearing in two publications in colour: Monday's issue of the Mirror began reprinting 'The Angels of Hell's Gap', a 1975 story by James Edgar, newly coloured by Martin Baines; and Spaceship Away! continues to reprint 'The Bubble Man', another 1975 strip (also by Edgar), coloured by John Ridgway. The reproduction in the latter is far better than in the Mirror—and this is no slight intended on Martin's work—where the colours look a bit wishy-washy. Martin has said that he is trying to echo the colour palette Frank Bellamy used on strips like 'Fraser of Africa' and it's a notion I wholeheartedly support.

Martin had previously worked for the Mirror as a colourist on episodes of 'Scorer', the long-running football strip which came to an end on Saturday, 19 February. The latter, written by Barrie Tomlinson and his son James, was launched way back in 1989, originally with Barry Mitchell and John Gillatt doing the artwork. Latterly, the strip has been drawn by David Sque and coloured by David Pugh. A short interview with Martin appears over on Lew Stringer's Blimey! blog.

This wasn't the only change. From Monday they also began publishing 'Simon's Cat' by artist and animator Simon Tofield. Tofield's cat became an internet sensation when 'Cat-man-do' appeared on YouTube in 2007. The cat films have subsequently clocked up 116 million views and inspired two books (Simon's Cat and Simon's Cat: Beyond the Fence). Tofield has signed a three-year worldwide syndication deal with the Mirror group.

And so to today's random scans...

David Bateson is a bit of a mystery author. All I know is that he was a former teacher born in 1921 and wrote 10 novels in 1951-60, five of them featuring a private eye named Larry Vernon. The last two were set in Australia... perhaps Bateson also headed to Oz and continued writing. Two children's books appeared under the same byline in 1964 and 1973... the same David Bateson? The latter was entitled The Boy with the Golden Surfboard which also hints at an Australian connection.

Back in around 1959, Pedigree Books published a couple of Bateson's novels in paperback with superb covers. I've no idea who the artists was but they definitely deserve an airing.

(* Garth, Scorer, Simon's Cat © Mirror Group; Little Boy Blue pic © Look and Learn Ltd.)

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