Friday, March 11, 2011

Comic Cuts - 11 March 2011

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Click here for ordering information
I'd originally planned this to be a fairly short column but good news has overtaken my plans.The cold mentioned last week fizzled out on Wednesday this week and I've had a couple of delightfully sniffle-free days. Also cleared up by Wednesday was the book reading job I've been doing for the British Library. I've sent in my report and posted a couple of pages of corrections (minor ones, admittedly) to the author. The idea for Thursday was to get back to the normal weekly chores, having used up the leeway I'd built up over the past couple of weeks.

Ten o'clock Thursday morning, the proofs of Hurricane and Champion and Mean Streetmaps finally turned up and all my plans for a hard-slogging day of work went out the window. Try as I might to look at them with a cold, hard eye—they are proofs, after all, created to be looked at critically—I couldn't. You can't criticize your babies. Even the blemishes (I've just spotted a non-indented paragraph) add to their charm.

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm really pleased with both of them.

With the proofs in hand, I'm officially announcing the relaunch of Bear Alley Books and the Bear Alley Books blog has also returned with information about the two books. I'm now taking pre-orders... In fact, I've already had one! I've been working on the site, setting up the PayPal ordering system, for a couple of days and had it set so that only I could see the results. But to test it, I needed to make it public as I'd asked Mel to double-check to make sure all the buttons worked—I'm trying to make the ordering system idiot-proof. So the site went live at 6.30 Thursday evening.

Less than two hours later, I received my first order! (Update: 7:15 am. Another order just flooded in... so it wasn't just a fluke! And another at 8:30. I've got to stop watching now... got to get on with some work.)

I'm working on the proofs now. As soon as they're done, I'll press the 'go' button and the printed copies should arrive within a couple of weeks—oddly enough, about the same time as the Thriller Index and the Wells Fargo & Pony Express books arrive from Hong Kong, so I'm going to have a busy time around the end of March / beginning of April.

I'll probably be tinkering with both the Bear Alley and Bear Alley Books blogs over the next few days, setting up links and whatnot. I'm not planning any major changes to Bear Alley, although you probably won't be able to move for a week or two for links to the ordering pages for the two books as I shuffle a few features between the two sites. It won't last forever—after all, I've got to get the next batch of books written!

The latest news on the OOCL Hamburg, the container ship that is carrying the latest Book Palace Books from our printers in Hong Kong to Felixstowe, is that she docked in Port Klang in Malaysia in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Klang (formerly Port Swettenham) is the largest and busiest port in Malaysia—for more information, take a look at the Wikipedia page. From the entry on Malaysia, we find that Port Klang is the third largest city in the country with a population of over a million. It is named after the Klang River, which runs through the Klang Valley, which is the most populated area of Malaysia, containing the country's capital city, Kuala Lumpur, and various suburban cities such as Subang Jaya—much like London nowadays has 32 boroughs which make up Greater London—with an estimated population of around 6 million.

What I know about Malaysia can probably be summed up in two words: rubber plantations. Back in the days of the British Empire, Malaya (as it was called) was one of the largest exporters of rubber in the world. This is what you get from learning your history by reading old Sexton Blake yarns and watching black & white movies... so I'm actually learning something from my virtual tour of the Far East.

And so to today's random scans... First up a call-back to the E. R. Home-Gall column I wrote a couple of months ago. I used my meagre collection of  Boy's Favourite Library issues to illustrated the piece and mentioned that the series was revived by another company in the early 1950s. Well, below is the first issue of that revived series from Comyns (Publishers) Ltd., plus the rear-page advert for the second issue.

And, just for a change of pace, a gorgeous Brian Lewis cover for a Ken Bulmer Digit Book from 1961. This is from a rather small scan... can anyone supply me with a higher res. scan?

(* Map © Google Maps; Picture of Northport cranes at Port Klang by Hafiz343 is from Wikipedia and used under creative commons license.)


  1. Gosh!

    Who drew that gorgeous blonde leaning against the spine of Mean Streetmaps?

  2. That'll be Heade, aka Cy Webb, aka Reginald Cyril Webb and a bit of photoshopping from me. It's one of my favourite Heade images.



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