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Friday, July 08, 2011

Comic Cuts - 8 July 2011

A slow news week for me. After last week's computer news I've managed to get the system down to one computer, one keyboard and one mouse. The old computer was switched off and I've no idea whether it will ever switch on again... I've not had the heart to try it.

I've been keeping busy with my work for Look and Learn (extra work has just landed on my desk through which I'm hoping to pay for the new computer), so I've not had a chance to get back to the Mike Western book. However, Bear Alley Books is still going strong and you can now pre-order the final volume of Eagle Over the Western Front. The book will be out shortly. I'm hoping that I can get back to Mike Western: A Life in Comics within the next week or two; a good chunk of the book is already written and I'm reasonably sure that I should be able to get the book out within the next couple of months.

One massive project that I've been contributing the odd bit to over the past few years is the new online version of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. The massively expanded third edition (following earlier book editions in 1979 and 1993) will be appearing on a computer near you later this year. The online version is being released by the newly founded ESF Ltd. in association with Victor Gollancz, the SF and Fantasy imprint of Orion Publishing Group. Thanks to their support, the whole text will be made available for free.

The initial 'beta' release will contain about three-quarters (3 million words and about 12,000 entries) of the projected content and is to be unveiled as part of Gollancz's 50th anniversary as a publisher of science fiction. The text will then be expanded through monthly updates until it is completed by the end of 2012. Thereafter, further monthly updates will keep the texts up-to-date.

The SFE3 now has an official front page, although there's not much to see at the moment beyond the official press release. There is a Facebook page and a Twitter feed for anyone who can't stand to wait for news. If you don't waiting a little longer, there should be a regular newsletter, which you can sign up for on the main page.

My main contribution has been birth dates, death dates, spotting pseudonyms and the like... It's amazing how much erroneous information floats around the internet and in print. I'm a huge fan of reference books and have been involved in dozens of them. I've always been a bit picky about what I get because some reference books are good and some are bad. There are certain resources that I consider safe (e.g. any reference book by Mike Ashley) and others that I use as a starting point but try to double-check information if possible (e.g. Wikipedia). As it is impossible to trawl around the internet trying to correct every error you spot (that way lies madness!), the only thing you can do is to pick a handful of projects and try to make those as accurate as possible. Al Hubin's Crime Fiction bibliography is one that I've worked on for many years; the SFE is another. I've contributed 35,000 words of notes since 2008, some of which I had to write up twice as I stupidly managed to delete all my notes at one point in 2009. This last proves that I'm as fallible as the next man and more than capable of making mistakes. So, when the SFE3 goes live and you think you've spotted a mistake, don't be afraid to contact the editors, John Clute and David Langford, or, if it's a date, drop me a line.

News from the newspapers: the editorial staff of Commando were interviewed in the Daily Record on Wednesday as part of the comic's 50th anniversary and editor Calum Laird shared a scan of the piece, which you can see above.

A news report appeared in the Dundee Courier on Wedneday recording the death of George Martin, a former artist for D. C. Thomson, following a fire at his home on Monday morning. There was some confusion initially as George Martin was the artist of numerous strips for Topper, Dandy and other Thomson comics: he is probably best known for "Send for Kelly" in Topper (1969-90), with episodes reprinted in Champ (1984-85). But the report is NOT about the comic strip artist.

Jeremy Briggs was quickly on the case and contacted Morris Heggie who says: "It is not the cartoonist George Martin that died. The poor artist that perished was a jobbing artist who for a short time was staff in our art department then worked freelance, doing an occasional page for our girls and womens titles." The initial newspaper report includes a note that the late George Martin contributed to People's Friend, My Weekly, Bunty and Judy.

So... the News of the World is coming to the end of its 168-year run. The paper doesn't run any regular comic strips or even (as far as I'm aware) cartoons. I remember they used to run strips in their Sunday supplement in the 1990s and, of course, back in the day, they ran strips like 'Spotlight on Sally' by Arthur Ferrier. The nearest you get to that today is the 'Good Sex Files' photo story. Ah, the loss of innocence.

How long will it be before we see The Sunday Sun? Or maybe it will just be called SUNday. The News of the World was always known as News of the Screws. What will the new paper be known as? The F*ckday Sun probably. Update (9:45 am): I've just read in some of the papers that and were registered as domain names on Tuesday.

Today's random scan... two Pan Books Disney tie-ins from 1966. I was prompted to dig these out by the appearance of a large gallery of Disney tie-ins over on the Tony's Trading  website. Tony has been helping me fill in gaps in my New English Library Disney tie-ins gallery for many months. It's the website's tenth anniversary, so congratulations to Tony. Once you've oggled the Disney gallery, it's well worth taking a look around the rest of the site.

Next week... I haven't forgotten about the second part of the Raymond Chandler cover gallery. There have been too many distractions. This week's 'The Man Who Searched for Fear' has polarized opinion; the best or the worst yet? All I'll say is that I'll hopefully have some more for you next week. I'm also working up a couple of cover galleries that are rather more colourful than the recent Chandler.

(* Daily Courier article © D. C. Thomson; Eagles Over the Western Front © Look and Learn Ltd.; The Good Sex Files © News Group Newspapers.)


ramirez said...

Steve, I believe you also need to insert an option for purchasing all 3 "Eagles" albums together, with the relevant postal fees for shipment to UK and abroad. That 's how I intended to buy them from the beginning. Cheers... :)

Steve said...

Hi Ramirez,

There will be an option to buy all three volumes together posted shortly. Things have been a bit chaotic around here the past couple of weeks and are only just beginning to settle. I should have something sorted out soon.