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Friday, June 17, 2011

Comic Cuts - 17 June 2011

The two big events of the week for me occurred on Sunday and Tuesday. Sunday was the latest ABC show which turned out to be an excellent day. Although I had no problems on the trains (which is quite common during the summer), I arrived in London to a steady drizzle of rain. Arrived at the Royal National around 10:30 am damp but in good cheer. This was the first time I had the current four Bear Alley Books titles on show and Geoff West kindly donated some table space.

David Ashford was also on hand to do some signing as we were trying to give the latest Book Palace publications a push; I'm happy to say that everyone was very complimentary regarding the Thriller Libraries and Wells Fargo & Pony Express books.

I managed to sell a few copies of all four Bear Alley titles which was especially pleasing — I'd taken a couple of copies of Mean Streetmaps up to the show expecting to take both of them home again but managed to flog one of them! My little display had quite a few browsers and I sold 11 books in total. This might not sound like a lot but my attitude going in was that anyone attending the show would be looking for old comics or books to fill out their collections rather than new books. To get into double sales figures was a nice surprise and I think I might have sold more if volume 3 of Eagles had been available — which it will be by next time.

Apart from one coffee break I was behind the table most of the day; I managed to do one quick scout around the smaller of the halls where we were and bought some books, which I'll be posting as a gallery shortly. All in all, it was an excellent day. Wish I'd managed to get around the other halls, but you can't have everything.

(Incidentally, the photo above looks a little sparse because I had just started packing away when I realised I hadn't taken any photos and my camera was still in the bag. Hence the quick snapshot, with David Ashford also packing in the background.)

The second bit of news is that on Tuesday I spent a ton of money, just shy of £1,000, and have a new computer on the way. So that's the meagre profits I made from the book fair on Sunday wiped out and a lot more besides. I'm going to have a vast credit card bill next month. The good news is that I've been offered a bit more work which will help pay it off. I don't know how this will impact on Bear Alley and Bear Alley Books, but I'm hoping that I can keep everything running smoothly. I've not missed many days since I decided that I was going to post something on a regular basis and we're coming up for our fifth birthday in August. If I find that I'm stretched too thin, I'll at least try to find a good comic strip for you.

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I'm thinking that the Mike Western book is probably going to be called Mike Western: A Life in Comics. I'm still writing — the last word count clocked in at around 14,000 and I still have some way to go — but I took a break this week to lay out some pages because I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to do the book in the way I wanted. The original A5 version I did ran the two parallel strands that make up the Mike Western Story — Mike's autobiographical piece and my commentary — side by side. It means that the book then becomes a proper chronological survey of Mike's work from beginning to end rather than breaking the book into two uneven halves.

Now that I know that it works, I'm ploughing ahead with the writing. I've till got quite a way to go. Because of the way the comics have surfaced, I've finished the 1950s and have notes on the early sixties; then there's a huge gap before things pick up in the mid-1970s and carry forward to the mid-1980s, then there's another hole that needs to be filled. I've no idea how long it'll take to complete but it should be quite a substantial book by the time it's finished.

I'm out of news, so I'll wrap up with some random scans. These are a couple of books I picked up at the fair, both from the 1940s. The first is a short crime novel by the mysterious Penny Street, who is credited with only three short titles, which makes me suspect she is actually a pen-name. The second book is by the pseudonymous Bree Narran, who wrote some saucy stuff back in the years just after the First World War which were still finding their way into print after the Second World War. Narran is someone I'll have to return to at some point.

Over the weekend I'll have some more TV Express scans. Next week... probably a bit of a mixed bag as I try to catch up on a couple of pieces I keep trying to fit in but never seem to get around to.

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