Friday, March 25, 2011

Comic Cuts - 25 March 2011

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I usually write these columns on a Thursday so that they can be posted early Friday morning. Sometimes that little lag causes some niggling problems and quick rewrites on Friday. Last week was the perfect example. I opened last week's column by saying "There's not much news to report". At that point I wasn't expecting copies of the Hurricane & Champion index to arrive until Saturday, or - more likely - during the following week. They turned up on Friday afternoon, as did another delivery. I'd ordered some stiff-backed envelopes to make sure that the copies people had ordered arrived pristine.

If you scroll down you'll see that I had copies of the index scattered around the house on Friday evening (hence the rather poor pic that appeared Saturday morning) and on Sunday started getting everything organized so that the first copies could be posted on Monday. Opened up the box of envelopes and... discovered that they were the wrong size! My fault: I'd put in the wrong code on the online order form. Aaaaagh!

So I ordered up some more, making sure that I put in the right code this time, and they arrived Tuesday afternoon. The first copies of the book were shipped out on Wednesday. I'm writing this Thursday morning, so I'm still the only person (apart from Mel and a couple of friends) to have seen the book.

Like any new venture there are some start-up nerves. Because I'm producing short print-runs, doing all the work myself and keeping my costs as low as possible, I'm not going to lose my shirt with Bear Alley Books, but it has still cost me over £400 so far. I'm not looking forward to my next credit card bill.

But while I've got the momentum, I've already got the next batch of books underway. I've been planning to do a collection of the old Look and Learn strip "Eagles Over the Western Front" since 2009; long-time readers may remember that I ran the strip here on Bear Alley. The serialisation stalled because I suddenly had access to a pile of original artwork, which I scanned and cleaned up. And then it stalled again, because more artwork turned up. I've only just - this week - managed to get that second batch of artwork on the scanner. So when I've pieced together the scans (the boards were too big for my A3 scanner) and cleaned them up, the collection of Eagles will feature 144 pages taken from Bill Lacey's original artwork. Sorting these out is going to be a mammoth job and I still have to earn a living in the meantime, so it may take a while. But I've started.

The plan is to do the whole strip - which ran to 223 pages in total - in three A4 volumes. I'm going to try to have all three volumes finished before releasing the first one so that there's as little delay between volumes as possible and I can release them, say, one month or six weeks apart (thus spreading the printing costs over more than one credit card bill!). Things might change, but that's the plan as of today.

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I've also heard today (Thursday) that my order of Mean Streetmaps is printed and should be with me in 6-8 days. With any luck that mean I will be shipping out pre-ordered copies by or before Monday, 4 April.

I mentioned last week that the paperback cover section of the Look and Learn picture library was soon to be updated... and that's just what happened on Thursday afternoon. The latest batch of 300 or so covers begins here if you do a search on the site. You can then use the 'next' button to scroll through the pages. If you're a regular reader, you'll recognise quite a few of the pics as having appeared here on Bear Alley in the past, but there are plenty of others that haven't.

This will probably be the last of our shipping reports on OOCL Hamburg, as she is due to dock in the UK within the next day or two. The last reported position I was able to check on was as of Thursday around 9 o'clock. She had passed Gibraltar around mid-day and, last time I looked, was sailing up the coast of Portugal and was about level with Lisbon. Everyone waiting for their copies of the Thriller Libraries index and the Wells Fargo & Pony Express book... the waiting is almost over. A couple of days to get into dock, a couple of days to get through customs, a day or two to get things sorted at the warehouse and copies will begin shipping out.

I've just realised that I'll have had four books out over the course of a fortnight. Way to go, me! Hope you all did some overtime last month and have bulging pay-packets!

Today's random scans celebrate the movies of Elizabeth Taylor, who died on Wednesday. I've also thrown in a bonus Cleopatra cover by Roger Hall. I'm not sure why artist David Tayler, who painted the cover for Pan's movie tie-in edition of Raintree County, made Taylor's dress yellow... but it was definitely white and pink, as can be seen in the pic above.

See you next week. I should have some "DVD extras" for the Hurricane & Champion index, although I also need some help filling in a couple of gaps. And I'm thinking of making Mickey Spillane the next cover gallery star depending on what I can get done Friday evening and over the weekend.

(* Eagles Over the Western Front © Look and Learn Ltd.; map © Google Maps)


  1. Hi Steve

    I received my Hurricane/Champion index Thursday afternoon, had it all read by bedtime the same day. Excellent book, full of information that was new to me.

    I'll be buying the Eagles books, both for the World War I air war subject matter and for Bill Lacey's great art. He's long been one of my favourites, and someone who I think is severely underrated in the ranks of British cartoonists.

    David Simpson

  2. David,

    The first review! Thanks!

    I completely agree about Eagles and Bill Lacey. Long overdue some serious assessment. I suspect Eagles, as it's not that widely known, will be a labour of love rather than a moneyspinner. 223 pages, 3 covers, 3 introductions... good grief!!! What have I talked myself into?

  3. Not one to want to miss out on a pat on the back.....I received my copy on Friday but had to visit the in-laws so missed reading it. It's exactly what I expected from you Steve. I don't really need the index part - never having collected either comic, but I love your authoritative insights to UK comic history. Back then we knew less than our American counterparts - at least they had letter pages! Nicely done Sir. And a persoanl dedication which no doubt will be extrremely valuable after my passing!

    I look forward to more...and just coz TV21 has been written about before, doesn't mean you can't add something, I'm sure.

  4. What you really need is one of the rare unsigned editions like the one I have...



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