Saturday, April 30, 2011


So... we watched Doctor Who and while waiting for Confidential to start I wandered off to make a cup of coffee and have half a cigarette, which I had in the office. It couldn't have been more than three minutes. Wandered back into the kitchen to face this...

Obviously I can't remember why I'm posting this.

Phyllis Matthewman

Yesterday's mention of  Jacqueline Yorke prompted a note from Jamie Sturgeon saying that Yorke was the pen-name of Phyllis Matthewman.

There are a few odds and ends about Phyllis online but she has a decent entry in The Encyclopaedia of Girls' School Stories which reveals that she was born Phyllis Barton in Leeds on 19 January 1896, the elder daughter of Thomas Barton, an insurance manager, and his wife Ada Mary Pollard. She was educated at Leeds High School but had no higher education following her father's early death.

In 1930 she married Sydney Matthewman, an author and journalist whose father ran the Swan Press in Leeds. They moved to London, then Hindhead, Surrey. Sydney had a breakdown and Phyllis took a post as the secretary to an elderly lady and began writing. Sydney helped with the plotting and placing the stories through his publishing contacts. Sydney set up an agency with Eleanor Brent-Dyer as one of his clients. Brent-Dyer had been an acquaintance many years before through one of Phyllis's aunts; in 1964, when the Matthewmans moved to Albury Edge, Merstham, Surrey, and then moved with them when they moved to Redhill, Surrey, Brent-Dyer shared their house until her death in September 1969. Sydney died a year later. Phyllis died in Redhill on 6 July 1979.


Novels (series: Daneswood; Kirkwood Priory; Mr. Jones)
Chloe Takes Control (Danewood). London, Girl's Own Paper Office, 1940.
The Queerness of Rusty (Daneswood). London & Redhill,  Lutterworth Press, 1941.
Jill on the Land. London & Redhill, Lutterworth Press, 1942.
Josie Moves Up (Daneswood). London & Redhill, Lutterworth Press, 1943.
Set to Partners. London, Mills & Boon, 1944.
Timber Girl. London & Redhill, Lutterworth Press, 1944.
A New Role for Natasha (Danewood). London & Redhill, Lutterworth Press, 1945.
Clubs Are Trumps. London & Redhill, Lutterworth Press, 1946.
Justice for Jacqueline (Danewood). London & Redhill, Lutterworth Press, 1946.
Utility Wedding. London, Mills & Boon, 1946.
Because of Vivian (Kirkdale Priory). London & Redhill, Lutterworth Press, 1947.
Stable Companions. London, Mills & Boon, 1947.
Pat at the Helm (Danewood). London, C. & J. Temple, 1948.
How Could You, Jennifer?. London, Mills & Boon, 1948.
Thanks to Mr. Jones (Mr. Jones), illus. John Harris. London, C. & J. Temple, 1948. 
Peter - New Girl (Mr. Jones), illus. John Harris. London, C. & J. Temple, 1948.
The Intrusion of Nicola (Daneswood). London & Redhill, Lutterworth Press, 1948.
River of Enchantment. London, Mills & Boon, 1948.
Colour of Romance. London, Mills & Boon, 1949.
Mr. Jones Tips the Scales (Mr. Jones). London, Latimer House, 1950.
Peter Plays Sleuth (Mr. Jones). London, Latimer House, 1950.
The Veil Between. London, Mills & Boon, 1950.
The Turbulence of Tony (Kirkwood Priory). London, Latimer House, 1951.
The Coming of Lys (Kirkwood Priory). London, Latimer House, 1951.
The Amateur Prefects (Kirkwood Priory). London, Latimer House, 1951. 
The Imprudence of Pru. London, Mills & Boon, 1951.
Winged Cupid. London, Mills & Boon, 1951.
Clutch of Circumstance. London, Mills & Boon, 1952.
Castle to Let. London, Mills & Boon, 1953.
Welcome Enemy. London, Mills & Boon, 1953.
Amanda at the Manor. London, Oliphants, 1954.
Luck for Lindy. London, Mills & Boon, 1954.
River Holiday. London & Edinburgh, Oliphants, 1954.
The School in the Forest (Forest School). London & Edinburgh, Oliphants, 1954.
Sir, She Said. London, Mills & Boon, 1954.
The Beckoning House. London, Mills & Boon, 1955.
Beginners, Please. London, Mills & Boon, 1955.
Linda at the Forest School (Forest School). London & Edinburgh, Oliphants, 1955.
Fetters of a Dream. London, Mills & Boon, 1956.
Middles of the Forest School (Forest School). London & Edinburgh, Oliphants, 1956.
Romance Goes Tenting. London, Mills & Boon, 1956.
Daughter of Neptune. London, Mills & Boon, 1957.
Safari with Wings. London, Mills & Boon, 1957.
Cupid in Mayfair. London, Mills & Boon, 1958.
Wife on Approval. London, Mills & Boon, 1958.
Food of Love. London, Mills & Boon, 1959.
Ace of Hearts. London, Mills & Boon, 1960.
Call Me Cousin. London, Mills & Boon, 1960.
Cupid Under Capricorn. London, Mills & Boon, 1961.
Maiden's Castle. London, Mills & Boon, 1962.
The Mystery of Snake Island, illus. Joan Milroy. London, University of London Press (Dolphin Books H14), 1962.
Voyage into Happiness. London, Mills & Boon, 1962.
Ward of Court. London, Mills & Boon, 1963.
A Brother for Jane. London, Mills & Boon, 1964.
Make Up Your Mind, Nurse. London, Mills & Boon, 1964; Toronto, Harlequin, 1964.
The Wonderful Year. London, Mills & Boon, 1964.
Bolt of Cupid. London, Mills & Boon, 1965.
The Heart is Highland. London, Mills & Boon, 1965.
No Magic Carpet. Leeds, E. J. Arnold, 1966.
Tread Warily. London, Mills & Boon, 1966.
Magic of the Moon. London, Mills & Boon, 1967.
Cue for Cupid. London, Mills & Boon, 1968.
A Rose Distilled. London, Mills & Boon, 1968.
Imitation Marriage. Toronto, Harlequin, 1968; London, Mills & Boon, 1969. (reprint? 1952)
It Began in Elm Ward. London, Mills & Boon, 1970.
Two for Tea. London, Mills & Boon, 1970.
It Began with Planchette. London, Mills & Boon, 1972.
The Time for Loving. London, Mills & Boon, 1972.

John Williams. London & Edinburgh, Oliphants, 1954.
William Chalmers Burns. London & Edinburgh, Oliphants, 1954.
Irene Petrie. London & Edinburgh, Oliphants, 1955.
James B. McCullagh. London & Edinburgh, Oliphants, 1957.
Robert Morrison. London & Edinburgh, Oliphants, 1957.
Sir Malcolm Sargent. London, Cassell, 1959.

Novels as Kathryn Surrey
Bees at Marlings. London, C. & J. Temple, 1945.
Maids a-Waiting. London, Comyns, 1948.

Non-fiction as Kathryn Surrey
Sir Alexander Fleming. London, Cassell, 1959.

Novels as Jacqueline Yorke
Brides of the Devil. London, Comyns, 1946.
Instruction for Adventure. London, Comyns, 1948.

(* My thanks to Bryan Hall for correcting a couple of points in the original post. For additional information about Bryan's association with Phyllis, Sidney and Elinor, see Bryan's website.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Comic Cuts - 29 April 2011

Click here to Order
The big news here at Bear Alley is that the first volume of Eagles Over the Western Front should be in hand some time next week—it all depends on how badly the two sets of bank holidays in a row are slowing down postal deliveries. The proof copy came through pretty quickly, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the main bulk of the order will turn up promptly.

The bank holidays are causing a bit of a pile up with my work schedule as I actually managed to take a couple of days off last weekend: went to a barbecue on Friday and did the usual shopping thing on Saturday, although at a more relaxed pace. Sunday I put in some work on what I'm hoping to be the Bear Alley Books project that will follow the three volumes of Eagles—under wraps for the moment while I work out the practicalities of getting it done, although I won't be keeping it a secret until the last minute... you'll know soon enough. Monday... oh, boy. I had to put some time into cutting the lawn, pulling some weeds and doing a bit of digging. I dislike gardening at the best of times but we'd let the lawn grow a bit wild and the lawnmower was complaining every few seconds. Thankfully we only have two small bits of lawn, both at the front and back of the house, although the front is on a steep slope. I was still aching on Wednesday. Damn lawn keeps growing despite threats to replace it with gravel. I might try pleading with it... or maybe get my Mum to write a note. Anything to get out of gardening.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday... it was back to blogging for rent money and making sure that the Illustration Art Gallery and Look and Learn blogs (the latter now styling itself as an 'Article Library' no less) have plenty of bits 'n' bobs for people to read and lots of marvelous pictures to, er, marvel at.

And that brings us up to date. What I haven't had time to do is set up the links and whatnots so that you can pre-order volume two of Eagles. Mind you, I've yet to write up any press material... and I still haven't written up the Nielsen forms in for volume 1. I blame it on the lawn. It's the lawn's fault. Don't blame me.

Last Friday and Saturday I ran a little strip called "Destroy the Guns" by Hugo Pratt and asked whether it was a reprint. Well, I had a couple of comments and I've had some off-blog correspondence and the conclusion is this: the strip originally appeared in the Argentinean publication Ernie Pike #4 in 1960, so it is definitely a translation. It has also been slightly adapted. I haven't been able to track down a copy of the story as it originally appeared, but the opening page contains some non-Pratt panels.

The strip was probably reformatted for its appearance in Hurricane Annual 1965 and needed a few extra frames to fill the eight pages. The four vignettes were probably taken from Thriller Picture Library or one of the war picture libraries. The bottom left frame of the opening panel may be Leone Cimpellin from a 'Spy 13' story. The other three panels may be by Luis Arcas.

My thanks to the original comment posters and Davids Roach and Slinn for their input.

Today's random scans: sometimes a coincidence is just too good to pass up. A few days ago, Morgan Wallace sent over a scan of a book called Brides of the Devil by Jacqueline Yorke, a scarce little paperback published by Dennis Yates in 1949 under their Panther Books imprint. The imprint, used a couple of years before Hamilton & Co. began their own Panther Books line, adorned only two books as far as I'm aware. And, here's the coincidence, a day or two later, David Ainsworth got in touch with a scan of the other Panther book. This one is called Charlie Finds a Corpse by Ralph Denton. Denton seems to have written just the one book, but Yorke had a second, Instruction for Adventure, published by Comyns in 1948. Comyns had previously published Brides of the Devil, a short novel about witchcraft in post-war Britain, in 1946.

Charlie Finds a Corpse has the artist's signature scrawled up the left hand side... Leo Newman? Google isn't much help, but, digging around, I did find a British Railways pamphlet called Food Hygiene for the shipping and continental catering services issued by the Southern Region Medical Department ppossibly in the 1960s that was illustrated by Leo Newman. Same guy? And who knew that the Southern Region of British Rail not only had a medical department but they were publishing memos for staff as colour pamphlets?

Have a happy bank holiday and see you next week...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bill Lacey's Everybody's Illustrations

Following on from yesterday's 'Sinister Island' treat, here are some illustrations produced by Bill Lacey for the magazine Everybody's in 1959.

I've had these hanging around for ages just waiting for the right moment. My thanks to Norman Boyd of the Frank Bellamy Checklist blog for the original photos, which I've had a fiddle around with as the pages photographed had turned a nasty, smoky yellow.

(Illustrations © IPC Media.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bill Lacey's Sinister Island

Click here to order Eagles Over the Western Front
I'm pleased to say that the proofs for Eagles Over the Western Front arrived on Saturday and, depending on how the post office are coping with deliveries over the bank holidays, the first volume should appear on time next week. (Sorry about the quality of the photos!)

It struck me that when I was writing the little bit of promo for Eagles I made very little of the talent that created the strip. Mike Butterworth and Bill Lacey get a nice big credit on the cover and volumes 2 and 3 will contain introductions which cover their careers, but I thought I'd post a couple of pages to celebrate their work that I'd spotted when I was digging around for information. First up, some pages from 'Sinister Island' from Lion in 1965. It's one of those creepy semi-horror serials that British comics did so well in the 1960s; this one appeared a few years before I got into comics and my collection of Lions from that era isn't complete, so I've never been able to read the whole strip from start to finish. Curses! You'll understand why I'd like to from the examples below. I'll post some more soon.

(Sinister Island © IPC Media; Eagles Over the Western Front © Look and Learn Ltd.)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jon Peaty: A Reminiscence

A little over four years ago, I posted a brief piece about Jon Peaty, an artist whose work appeared in a single Swift Annual. This was, to my knowledge at the time, his only contribution connected to comics. At the time I was unable to locate any information at all about his career, although a later internet posting mentioned him (reproduced in the original post) and there was a little activity in the comments which added some details.

I have recently heard from R. D. Farley, who knew Peaty in the 1950s and 1960s and at one stage worked in the same studio. I'm pleased to present here a little reminiscence from Bob about Jon which adds considerably to what we know about him. The illustration at the top of our column is one of Jon Peaty's hand-drawn Christmas cards to Bob.
I first met Jon when I joined an art studio called 'Pointel Design Company' in Villier's Street, on the first floor of a building opposite the side steps to Charing Cross Station. It was run by Bill Stammers (Design and Illustration) and George Penney (Still life, Fruit and Veg etc).  Jon was a freelance with desk space. Usually this meant a peppercorn rent with the studio having first call on your time for which you invoiced them.

In those days most ads and posters were very labour intensive.  We lesser mortals put in the backgrounds, buildings, interiors and artifacts.  Jon would then come along and paint in the figures with his usual clean and crisp technique.  Sometimes he would work on a separate art board which was then cut, stripped and pasted down, (with Cow Gum).

After a while the studio moved to Kennington Cross, on the first floor of a building occupied by a firm called Puddifoot, Bowers and Simonette who were wood, ivory and carvers.  The last time I was there the site seemed to have been covered by a building called 'Winnie Mandela House'.  I worked next to Jon and at this time he had begun to forge an association with an American group called 'Bailey Souster'(spelling?) who were keen to produce American style comics in the UK.  Jon was an ideal artist for this purpose. He would lightly block-in the subject matter in position on the frames in pencil.  Then, working with incredible speed would draw in the pics using the tip of a No.3 long haired sable.  He was very accurate and I never saw him go back over his work although, he was human and must have done sometimes!  He was, at this time, I am certain, drawing 'Marvelman'.  In a recent article in the 'Magazine and Book Collector' Marvelman is dealt with at length but no mention of Jon?.  Both Jon and I at this time worked on countless butter labels.  Butter had, would you believe it, just come off ration.  Spicers were producing greaseproof wrappers with small producer's logos on them, under the blanket of 'Cow & Gate'  We drew buttercups, happy cows, farmers wives, haystacks, stiles, milkmaids you name it!

Around this time Pointel started to break up.  I went up to a studio in the West End, while George Penney set up on his own in Moorgate (later to New Bridge Street) Jon I think went with him for a while.  We all kept in touch and worked on projects together.  I introduced Jon to The Bugle Press (New Street Square, long gone) for whom he did cartoons in various trade magazines.  Both Jon and I worked for George Penney, who was now prospering, on advertising samples for 'Inveresk Paper Mills' and 'Spicers'.  All manner of subject matter, wild life, cartoons, still life etc etc.  Somewhere I have a little drawing of a Scotsman done by Jon at this time,  If I can find it I will email it to you.
We met regularly and at one time I had lunch with him and two Americans presumably Mr Bailey and Mr Souster.  George Penney from time to time booked the 'Cricketers' on the green at Morden? for a good thrash for all his friends, and Jon introduced me to his wife, I seem to remember him bringing his little girl, Lorna I think.   About this time I set up my own studio in Bow Lane in the City.  Jon, in partnership with someone I forget who, set up a studio at the end of Bow Lane next to the main entrance to Mansion House Underground.

At this time he was almost specialising in 'Mobiles' which were fast becoming a craze.  They were everywhere, toy shops, art galleries, corn flake packets and so on.  Each mobile was drawn out on a single board and when reproduced was partially punched through and the string, in position, threaded through punched holes. You just popped it through the card and hung it up, Jon must have done hundreds.

One day he came up to my studio and showed me some wild life paintings, drawn for reproduction.  Lots of different kinds of animals in one forest clearing, that sort of thing.  This was about the time of the 'World of Wonder' and 'Knowledge' and many other magazines.  Which they were for I have no idea.

I think he gave up commuting around this time and I assume worked from home.  He told me he was going over to pure art and see how it worked out.

Probably the last time I saw Jon he came into my studio and said he had found a really good money spinner.  He was giving lessons and demonstrations to American service wives at one of the air bases.

He was quite a bit older than me and had served in the war,  I guess commissioned.  But there is something which has puzzled for years.  Jon was never shy about showing his portfolio.  In it he had a number of drawings of the 'Two Types' quite definitely drawn by him.  In case you have not come across them,  they were popular cartoon characters during the war, one army and one airforce with appropriate moustaches.  They were drawn I think by Jon the newspaper cartoonist.  What part, I wonder, did Jon Peaty play in their creation?  Any ideas?

Some further research reveals that Jon Peaty was the son of Welsh-born Archibald Frederick Ernest Peaty and his wife Eleanor Mary Evans, who married in Glamorgan in 1912. John Archibald 'Jon' Peaty was born in Cardiff, Glamorgan, on 7 March 1914, the eldest of three children. Peaty grew up in Cardiff, although his parents moved at some point to The Barn, 7 Fulford Road, Scarborough, where Archie Peaty died in 1963.

Jon Peaty, meanwhile, had moved to Hove, Sussex, where he married Mary J. Fellingham in 1942. His address in 1950/52 was 2 Chapel Mews, Hove, and he continued to live on the south coast until at least 1973, his address for most of those years [1958/73] being 82 Downland Avenue, Southwick.

Bob's reminiscence mentions the possibility that he drew 'Marvelman', although I think this unlikely... instead, I offer you another possibility: 'Masterman'. And the Americans that Bob met were not Bailey and Souster but Kenneth King and Malcolm Ganteaume, although the King-Ganteaume agency did also supply strips to a number of Len Miller's comics. He may also have been, contemporarily, working for Bailey-Soustar on comics published by Sports Cartoons / Man's World. If this is the case, Peaty would have been in good company as these two agencies had such talents as Joe Colquhoun, Jim Holdaway, Syd Jordan and Philip Mendoza on their books.

Peaty also drew the feature on Louis Braile in Girl Annual 9 (1960), so he potentially had comic connections throughout the 1950s.

The artist of 'The Two Types' was William John Philpin Jones (1911-1992), also born in Wales. As 'Jon' he created the hugely popular 'Types' - two eccentrically-dressed, elegantly moustached officers with the  Desert Rats battling through Africa and Italy during World War II - in 1943 for the Eighth Army News, eventually drawing some 300 cartoons featuring the characters until 1946. I wonder whether Jon Peaty, like the other 'Jon', had anything to do with the wartime British Newspaper Unit?

John Archibald Peaty died in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, on 26 January 1991, survived by his wife and three children, Lorna, Susan and David.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Destroy the Guns part 1

A bit of a treat for fans of Hugo Pratt. I stumbled across this in Hurricane Annual 1965, published in the late summer of 1964. But is it an original UK strip or a reprint? Whatever, it's a fine example of Pratt's war art that probably hasn't been seen in nearly 50 years.

Part 2 tomorrow.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Comic Cuts - 21 April 2011

Click here to pre-order Eagles Over the Western Front
I don't want this to sound creepy, but I like to keep an eye on you all and your visiting habits to Bear Alley, which is why I know quite a few of you sneak a look at the latest postings while you're at work. Good for you. I'm writing this at work—instead of work, in fact—so I heartily approve. I do have the advantage that, working from home, I can keep going long after clocking off time.

So... um... it's Wednesday morning and I managed to blow all my news by posting about it on Monday. After a madcap morning finishing off the last pages of the first two volumes of Eagles Over the Western Front, I started uploading the finished PDF files to the company that prints the books. While they crawled across the internet, I managed to finish the layouts for volume 3 and sent that over on Monday evening. Yesterday it was back to work on the writing jobs that actually pay the rent, which I'll also be working on today and tomorrow. Friday I'm planning to take off... actually Mel and I will probably be heading off to a barbecue, but I already have a treat lined up for the blog for Friday and Saturday, so my weekend visitors have something to look at. I'm loath to call it a lost Hugo Pratt comic strip, but it's certainly forgotten by all but a few hardcore fans.

While I'm waiting for the proofs to turn up, I'm mulling over what to do next for Bear Alley Books. I have a couple of ideas, some of them suicidal projects that will sell about five copies—I may leave them for later in the year once I've got a few more books under my belt. But I reserve the right to put out a few things that I want to see in print, Mean Streetmaps was very much that kind of project. Mind you, I wouldn't call the Hurricane & Champion index a very high profile launch project as both papers are incredibly hard to find these days and there are many, many comics which collectors are more interested in. I'll get around to those eventually, but I thought (and you may or may not agree with me) it was logical to have a 'soft' launch with some titles that I could easily handle just in case there were problems that needed to be ironed out, whether it was with my ability to deliver, the printers ability to deliver or the ordering system.

Thankfully everything has gone very smoothly... well, apart from me ordering the wrong sort of envelopes but that was a minor inconvenience that was quickly resolved.

With the release of Eagles in a couple of week's time, I'm hoping that I can spread the word about Bear Alley Books a little further, so if you have a blog and you want some publicity material, pics or information, let me know. I'd like to make these books a big success and not just because Bear Alley Books is running at a loss (but down to about £110 since last week and creeping slowly but steadily towards zero!). I was anticipating a slow start because the first two books are shouldering all the weight of set up costs. Once I get a few more books out that weight will be spread a little.

Having obsessed over Eagles for the past few weeks, I've rather forgotten about the Hurricane & Champion index, which has been selling slowly but fairly steadily. This is good for a couple of reasons. Forgetting the financial aspect for a moment, the trickle of orders has meant that I've been getting a bit more exercise than normal. It's about a twenty minute round walk to the post office from here and, when the weather's nice, it's a much welcome break. I'm not exactly shedding the pounds but walking is good for my back, which I've had problems with since I was in my early twenties. So when you order a copy of Hurricane & Champion or Mean Streetmaps, give yourself a pat on the back and think of me getting some healthy exercise for the first time in years.

Click the links to order Hurricane & Champion or Mean Streetmaps
Not sure what's going to be happening next week. Hopefully I'll have a chance to run another story featuring 'The Man Who Searched for Fear', and I'll be posting the regular monthly round-ups of recent releases and upcoming releases. I'll see what else I can squeeze in.

Today's random scans are a couple of recent purchases. The first is an old Streamline paperback from 1960 with a nice cover by Ed Blandford. The book, by a former Foreign Editor of the Sunday Express Ian Colvin, concerns the mystery surrounding the death of Leslie Howard, a popular film star, and asks the question: Was Howard a war-time secret agent?

Howard died when his plane, a civil airliner, was shot down over the Bay of Biscay in June 1943. There are two main theories as to the reason for this tragedy: one is that the Germans believed that Winston Churchill was flying home on that flight; the other is that Howard himself was the target of the enemy that day. A third theory, not really explored in Colvin's book, is that it was a mistake and German pilots had not been informed that a civilian aircraft was flying from Lisbon to the UK that day.

Our second scan is a cover missing from the Christopher Priest cover gallery I put together eighteen or so months ago.

See you next week.

Champion Annual 1968

Champion Annual 1968 (Fleetway Publications, 1967, 160pp, 9/6. Cover by Alessandro Biffignandi)
* [Misc. Material] * Britain's Champions * ia
* [Misc. Material] * Contents * ms
4 * [Comic Strip] * The Phantom Viking * cs
10 * [Misc. Material] * Just Joking * jo
12 * Anon. * Jet Jordan * ss
17 * Anon. * Courage of a Champion * ss
20 * [Comic Strip] * Jinks * cs; art by Andre Franquin
21 * Anon. * Inky Moore - News Hound * ss; illus. Selby Donnison
25 * [Comic Strip] * Von Stern's Evil Plan * cs [Return of the Stormtroopers]; art by Bill Lacey
33 * Anon. * The Wild West - Then and Now * ar; illus. photos
37 * [Comic Strip] * The Black Pirate * cs; art by C. L. Doughty; rpts Knockout, 26-11-60—04-03-61
49 * [Comic Strip] * Lofty Lightyear * cs; art by John Mortimer
52 * Anon. * Hovercraft * ar; illus. photos
57 * [Comic Strip] * Battler Britton * cs
65 * Anon. * Mike Mooney—Space Detective * ss
69 * [Comic Strip] * The Captive of Coruna * cs
76 * Anon. [Bayley, Barrington J.] * Bartok and His Brothers * ss; illus. Eric Bradbury
81 * [Comic Strip] * Spider Webb * cs; art by Robert Forrest
89 * [Misc. Material] * Just for Fun! * jo
91 * Anon. * South Seas Mystery * ss; illus. Geoff Campion
97 * [Comic Strip] * The Dare-Devil Brands * cs
102 * [Comic Strip] * Cosmic Nick * cs
104 * [Comic Strip] * The Phantom Viking * cs
124 * Anon. * It's Plane Sailing! * ar; illus. photos
129 * [Comic Strip] * School for Spacemen * cs; illus. Selby Donnison
137 * Anon. * Jungle Battle * ss
143 * [Comic Strip] * Lofty Lightyear * cs; art by John Mortimer
145 * Anon. * Toughest Troops in the World * ar
149 * [Comic Strip] * The Outlaw Boy Who Won an Empire! * cs; art by Franco Caprioli
153 * Anon. * Hunters Without Guns * ss
159 * [Comic Strip] * Jinks * cs; art by Andre Franquin

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Champion Annual 1967

Continuing our 'DVD Extras' features for the folks who have bought the Hurricane & Champion index. (If you want to know more about characters like Jet Jordan, Spider Webb and Cosmic and learn precisely what those stormtroopers were menacing and where those pesky Mermods were returning from, you'll just have to pick up the book.)

Champion Annual 1967 (Fleetway Publications, 1966, 160pp, 9/6. Cover by Wilf Hardy)
* [Misc. Material] * Scramble! * ia; illus. Graham Coton
* [Misc. Material] * Contents * ms
4 * [Comic Strip] * The Phantom Viking * cs; art by Eric Dadswell
9 * Anon. [Bayley, Barrington J.] * Bartok and His Brothers * ss; illus. Eric Bradbury
16 * [Comic Strip] * Lofty Lightyear * cs; art John Mortimer
18 * [Comic Strip] * D-Day Mission * cs; rpts (Franco-Belgian)
24 * [Misc. Material] * Crooked Laughs * jo; illus. Leslie Harding
26 * [Comic Strip] * Safari Jones * cs
30 * Anon. * Police Dog Bruce * ss; illus. David Slinn
34 * [Comic Strip] * Spider Webb * cs; art by Robert MacGilivray
42 * Anon. * Jet Jordan * ss; illus. George Heath
48 * [Comic Strip] * Last of the Mermods * cs [When the Sky Turned Green]; art by Bruno Maraffa
58 * Anon. * Hunters Without Guns * ss; illus. George Heath
64 * [Comic Strip] * Spaceway Robbery * cs [School for Spacemen]; art by George Heath
72 * [Comic Strip] * Jinks * cs; art: Andre Franquin
73 * [Comic Strip] * In Search of Speed * cs; art by Graham Coton
81 * Anon. * Sports Cars.. Six of the Best! * ia; illus. John Batchelor
84 * [Comic Strip] * Menace of the Stormtroopers * cs; art by Josep Marti
94 * Anon. * Journey to the Bat Planet * ss; illus. Selby Donnison
101 * [Comic Strip] * Black Dragon's Perilous Quest * cs; art Robert Forrest
111 * [Misc. Material] * Know About Animals? * qz
113 * [Comic Strip] * Jinks * cs; art Andre Franquin
114 * [Comic Strip] * Battle Below Zero * cs; art by Jaimie Brocal Remohi?
118 * [Comic Strip] * Cosmic Nick * cs
120 * [Comic Strip] * Terror Beneath the Waves * cs; rpts (Franco-Belgian)
128 * [Comic Strip] * Jinks * cs; art Andre Franquin
129 * Anon. * The Phantom Viking in The Racket Buster * ss; illus. Graham Coton/Eric Dadswell
135 * [Misc. Material] * Little Shockers! * jo; illus. Leslie Harding
137 * Anon. * Mansion of Doom * ss; illus. Selby Donnison
144 * [Comic Strip] * Escort * cs; art Gino D'Antonio; reprints War at Sea 4, 03-62

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eagles news

For those of you following the progress of the Eagles Over the Western Front books, here's a brief update. I managed to complete volumes 1 and 2 over the weekend and I should have volume 3 finished this morning. All three will be heading off to the printers today and I should have a printed proof in my hands a few days later. With luck and a good tail wind, volume 1 will be printed the following week.

(UPDATE: I just made it: after spending hours uploading via what might just as well be a piece of wet string, I managed to get my proof order in at 11:41 this evening!)

Now, we have two bank holidays and a royal wedding interfering with post and deliveries over the next few weeks, but I'm confident that we are on schedule and I'll be able to ship out pre-ordered copies the first week of May. My thanks to everyone who has already ordered copies... I'll see if I can rustle up something to show my appreciation.

(* Eagles Over the Western Front © Look and Learn Ltd.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pre-order Eagles Over the Western Front volume 1

I'm now taking pre-orders for volume 1 of Eagles Over the Western Front. Visit the Bear Alley Books site for details.

Here's a first look at a couple of pages from the first volume.

(* Eagles Over the Western Front © Look and Learn Ltd.)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Fangs of Suet Pudding

The Fangs of Suet Pudding by Adams Farr (Gerald G. Swan, 1944)
In the heart of France, May 1940...Loreley Vance is suddenly awakened from her sleep by the enrtry into her room of, so she thought, a burglar. It may be that because he happened to be English, handsome, young and appealing, that she allowed him to hide under her bed, but whatever the reason it began the series of strange and startling events that brought her into the orbit of "Suet Pudding Face" Carl Vispoering, the master Nazi Spy, whose tentacles had spread over a small band of English folk who dared to oppose his machinations. (Publisher's description)

... But Suet Pudding's fat, sunken-eyed egotism was not yet satisfied. If he had a whip I knew he would have cracked it. Instead he clicked his heels smartly to attention. And, for the first time that night, I smelt the stench of crushed violets...
I found the above pic and description of an old Gerald G. Swan hardback novel here following an enquiry from Al Hubin asking if anyone knew anything about the author. Well, the short answer in "No." The longer answer follows...

The family name Adams Farr seems to exist around the Southwark/Spitalfields area. George Adams Farr married Anne Hawkings on 10 November 1827 at St. Saviour, Southwark. George was the father of George Adams Farr who was born on 17 May 1828 but died aged 7 weeks and was buried at Southwark on 3 August 1828. A number of children appear to have subsequently survived, including

Laura Ann Farr (baptized 18 November 1829 at Spitalfields, Christ Church, Stepney)
__married William Palin Clirehugh, 14 June 1856
Maria Louisa Farr (baptized 10 September 1834 at Spitalfields, Christ Church, Stepney)
__married August Trangott Katsch, 29 Aug. 1863
Caroline Sarah Farr (baptized 10 September 1834 at Spitalfields, Christ Church, Stepney)
Georgiana Adams Farr (born c.1835; died 1838, aged 3)
George Thomas Farr (baptized 5 January 1840 at All Saints, Stepney)
__married Alice Hester Smith, 20 July 1865
Arthur Edmund Farr (born 1839; baptized 5 January 1840 at All Saints, Stepney; died 1849)
Emma Eliza Adams Farr (no baptism record found)
__married Sydney Seamer, 25 Sept. 1867

George senior (c.1804-3 November 1867) was an attorney's clerk and later solicitor. His son, born circa 1836/37, married in 1865 and had four children before his early death on 3 July 1877, aged 40.

George John Adams Farr (b. 16 April 1866; d. 1912, aged 44)
__married (Partridge or Radwell) 1901
Alice Mary Adams Farr (baptized 26 Feb.1868)
__married (Hart or Barnett) 1898
Arthur Edward Adams Farr (b. 4 January 1870; d. 1949, aged 79)
__married Adele Franklin Newman, 10 Sept. 1898
Annie Constance Adams Farr (b. August 1875)
__married Stephen Cardwell, 1900

Both George and Arthur, were listed as clerks in the 1901 census. Arthur had two daughters, Phyllis Adele Farr (b.1899) and Muriel Kathleen (b. 1901). Unfortunately, I don't have access to the 1911 census, although I can see that Arthur was resident in Croydon. I also know he had at least two other children, Sybil Enid Farr (b.1903) and Gwenyth Mary Farr (b. 1905).

And that's where I get stuck... did George John Adams Farr have any children? Did Arthur Edward Adams Farr have more children? Or was Arthur himself the author? He'd have been in his seventies, which makes it seem unlikely for a first time novelist, but you never know.

Now, there seems to be a second thread of people named Adams Farr...

Edgar Williams Adams Farr (a mercantile clerk) and his wife Elizabeth Farr (nee Biggenden), who had married in 1865, lived in South Hornsey / Lower Sydenham and had at least the following children:

Ethel Farr (baptized 13 May 1868)
Edgar Williams Adams Farr (b. 1870; died 1943, aged 73)
__married Emily Jane Savill, 26 December 1895
Horace John Adams Farr (b. Sydenham, 1872; baptized 29 May 1872; died 1944, aged 72)
__married (Winifred Harriet Lyttel or Beatrice Mary Wood) in Epsom, 1899
Stanley Adams Farr (b. Lewisham, 1874; died 1968, aged 94, worked on the stock exchange)
__married Mabel Kathleen Wood in Croydon in 1906.
 Constance Farr (b. Tottenham, c.1883)

So we have three or more potentials here: Edgar would at first appear unlikely (he died 1943, the book came out in 1944) but Swan is known to have held onto manuscripts for years; then there are brothers Horace and Stanley, but both around the age of 70 at the time.

Which makes me wonder whether the Adams Farr name was carried on to their children, as all three were married, and whether one of those children is the author of The Fangs of Suet Pudding.

We may be at a slight dead end at the moment, but these things have a way of resolving themselves.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Comic Cuts - 15 April 2011

I've been getting a lot of feedback on the various books that I've been involved in that have come out over the past couple of weeks and I've spent much of the week basking in the praise.We've had a lot of astonishingly good comments regarding the latest batch of books from Book Palace Books... I'm even getting some good vibes for Wulf the Briton, which I had nothing to do with bar cheering it on from the wings.

None of the books are going to be bestsellers. Over the weekend I had to write a piece on the late Craig Thomas and his novel Firefox had a first paperback printing of 250,000 and it went through 33 printings in the next 17 years in the UK alone. The highest print run of any of my books in the past five years has been 3,000 and there are still plenty of copies left according to the publisher!

What prompted this line of thought was a little thing on Amazon called 'Author Central', which allows you to track sales of books—not by physical numbers but by the sales position on Amazon's overall chart of the 5,032,000 or so books they list. I thought I'd share with you the sales chart for the book that's currently my "best-seller", Aces High, which came out from Prion in 2009 and still seems to selling the occasional copy. At the time of writing, the book is #40,129 in the Amazon chart and its chart position has been doing this over the past couple of months...

I've no idea what sort of sale you need to get into the top 50,000 but I somehow don't think it's that many. One or two copies can probably make the difference of 150,000 places.

Talking of Amazon, you may have noticed that Hurricane & Champion and Mean Streetmaps are both now listed at You may also have noticed a couple of other things: Amazon claim that they're temporarily out of stock, although they've never had any stock; nor are they likely to ever have any stock, because they demand such a discount that it would actually cost me money to sell them books.

However, as a seller on Amazon I can offer books... but only by slapping a few quid extra on the price. Again, this is down to Amazon's excessive charges and their policy on postage. Just to take the latter as a for instance, they fix the postage price at £2.80 but then they take back 49p in administration charges. Seriously, I'm not kidding! So the vendor (me in this case) only receives £2.31. Well, that doesn't actually cover the cost of posting out a copy of Mean Streetmaps. So Amazon suggests you increase the price of the book to take that loss into account... and that means the fee Amazon charges (based on the sale price) also goes up. So you have to increase the price again to take into account the increased fee! It's a vicious circle that means that Amazon, who offer free delivery, will usually be able to offer the book cheaper than anyone else.

But that's why the prices on Amazon are far higher than would be charged for anyone ordering books direct from the Bear Alley Books site. I'm not actually expecting anyone to order through Amazon, but the books are now listed and available, just in case, and I can cross that task off the list of jobs to do.

At the top of the page you'll see the front cover for Eagles Over the Western Front Volume 2 and, above, is the front for the third and final volume. Both based on artwork by Wilf Hardy, who produced some stunning images of aerial combat over the years for Look and Learn. Both covers have elements that wrap around, but I want to save a little something for when we launch the titles over on Bear Alley Books.

The current situation is that I have volume 1 finished and it's out being proofed, after which I'll get a printed proof. Any corrections that need doing will be done promptly and the finished book—80 pages b/w—will be out at the end of the month, or beginning of next month. I'm working towards an "official" release date of 2nd May.

Volume 2 is almost finished. All the artwork is done, the introduction written and in place and I'm just finishing off the design of the pages; there will also be a couple of pages taking a look at the original artwork which I have yet to put together. This volume will be out in time for the ABC Show in mid-June.

Volume 3 is in the pipeline. Again, all the artwork is done and the introduction written. I still have to do all the layouts of the artwork pages, but I've got this down to a reasonably fine art, so it shouldn't take too long. So we will have all three volumes out before the end of July.

The reason I'm doing this is to make sure that there are no surprises and no delays to the books coming out on time. As I mentioned last week, they will be released with a four to six week gap between volumes for the practical reason that it will spread the cost of printing over more than one credit card bill and, hopefully, give me a chance to recoup some of my costs before the next bill arrives. Currently, Bear Alley Books is running at a loss of about £125, which isn't much and is probably about where I expected to be after the first two books—it's still less than a month since the first book came out, after all. Rome wasn't built in a day and my little publishing empire is going to take a while, too.

I've had some great books through the post these past couple of weeks, with the arrival of Wulf and the two Book Palace books I did. But a couple of other things have also turned up to keep me distracted from doing the work I'm supposed to be doing. About 17 months ago I put together some articles for the Spanish arm of Panini Comics as they have been publishing a remarkable series of books about the history of comics. All in Spanish, of course, although I was able to write in English and had my contributions translated. The whole project is being coordinated by Antoni Guiral who, along with editor Juanjo Sarto, is piecing the whole project together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Del Tebeo al Manga: Una Historia de los Comics will run to 12 volumes, of which the first seven are now available.

My contribution to volume seven amounted to around 21 pages out of 208, and concentrated on the history of British pocket libraries and their creators, along with a couple of pieces about British artists. I only wish I could read the other 187 pages.

Then there was Diario de Guerra: Alberto Breccia, which collects some of Breccia's work for British pocket libraries, namely one Super Detective Library and three from Thriller Picture Library. I didn't contribute to any of the (brief) text introduction but I did do the scanning for one of the stories. I did quite a bit of scanning a couple of years ago - some for Panini and Planeta DeAgostini in Spain and for a company in Norway as well as a couple of bits for Carlton which we ended up not using. The whole things seems to have dried up now.

Also in the post this week was the latest issue of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, which contains another three Jeff Hawke yarns, 'Cataclysm' (1968), written by Willie Patterson, 'The Bees of Daedalus' (1971), with art assistance from Nick Faure, 'Overland' (1966-67), also written by Patterson. There's the usual bonus material by Duncan Lunan and Andrew Darlington. This 88-page issue brings volume 6 to a conclusion and editor William Rudling is promising that volume 7 will include some of Sydney Jordan's Lance McLane strips. The Royal Mail's recent postage rise (mentioned last week) means that the next set of three volumes will cost £22 in the UK. You can find a list of the majority of the back issues here. More details about the Jeff Hawke Club can be found here, but I'd suggest you contact the editor (william at to get up to date info. about subscription costs in Europe and the rest of the world.

And finally... today's random scans. Actually, these pics are updates for some of the cover galleries that have run in recent weeks, namely the Jonathan Latimer and W. R. Burnett galleries. These turned up when I was looking for more Craig Thomas books, which just goes to prove that if you want to find something, look for something else.

See you next week.


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