Friday, September 16, 2011

Comic Cuts - 16 September 2011

Another brief column this week. The daily grind of writing metadata for an enormous set of images doesn't leave much time for anything else. Individually, the pictures can be quite interesting - anything from a fire at the Alhambra Theatre to a portrait of Daniel Lambert, who weighed 50 stone (700 pounds) and whose stomach was nine feet four inches round. However, a relentless diet of them isn't the best way to work: the enthusiasm of the first hour or two soon evaporates; by hours three and four you're struggling against the desire to read e-mails or surf the web; by hours five and six even hoovering the living room or mowing the lawn sounds like more fun; by the end of the day, you're more likely to be mowing carpets and hoovering the lawn.

For a little light relief, I managed to finish a dummy for a book on Tuesday evening and ordered up restocks of Eagles Over the Western Front, which should arrive in a few days time. Although it's more expensive to do short print runs, it does mean that my financial exposure isn't life-theatening as I only ever have a couple of hundred quid's worth of unsold stock at any one time. Ambitious print runs have probably been the death of most small publishers because the economies of scale can look so attractive. It's easy to get sucked in by the idea of printing thousands of books to drive the unit costs down; less easy to then shift those cheaply printed copies when everyone is tightening their belts. That's why most small presses last for one or two books. Bear Alley now has five books under its belt, I'm rather pleased to say, and there are more on the way. It's not a money-spinner but we're in profit to the tune a a few hundreds of pounds, which will pay for the printing of the next couple of books without my having to dip into my savings, which have financed the operation so far. Is there such a thing as a smug emoticon? That's what you'd see here if there was!

New stocks of the Eagles books should arrive next week and you can order all three books now and save yourself a little postage and packing.

I've also been working on more pages for the planned collection of stories by C. L. Doughty; our column header is the latest page off the production line, although I've still got to sort out the title lettering. But the pages look spectacular.

Random scans: three from Carlo Jacono, the Italian master of giallo art- what might be called noir or hardboiled art elsewhere. The term comes from the colour (yellow) that was traditionally used on pulp books in Italy. I first came across his work on the covers of Fleetway's Super Libraries - a series of extra-length pocket libraries published in 1967-68. Jacono was the main artist of the run of Steel Claw stories in the Stupendous Series...

Not that he was limited to Fleetway - he also painted covers for Commando for many years. He's still hugely popular in Italy even a decade after his death... there's a website dedicated to his work and plenty of images can be found around the internet. However, here are a trio of covers that probably won't have turned up as they were for Badger Books back in 1960.

The third cover is something of an oddity as it is a reworking of an Ace Double (D-130) cover for Philip K. Dick's Solar Lottery, published in 1955. I haven't a clue why Badger would have asked him to repaint the Ace and not produce an original cover image.

Jacono did a couple of other covers which I'll try to dig out in time for next week. Talking of which, I'm pleased to welcome back Jeremy Briggs, who will be providing a two-parter that will run over the weekend, during which time Paul Temple will be taking a short break. Don't panic, he'll be back on Monday and run through the week and I'll be back next Friday unless I can squeeze in another cover gallery mid-week.


  1. Excellent! - I've been wondering who that distinctive signature belonged to for years!

    On the reworked Ace cover, surely it's more likely to have been a straightforward swipe that the publishers knew nothing about? Jacono certainly wouldn't be the first artist to look to another country for inspiration when deadlines loomed!

  2. I liked your seamless 'link' with the word diet appearing a line after the mention of Daniel Lambert - whose picture used to appear regularly in the Guinness Book of Records - now renamed Guinness World Records.
    When Paul Temple has 'retired' any chance of running Rip Kirby, Carol Day, Axa or Mytek the Mighty?

  3. Phil,

    You're probably right - the simplest answer is usually the right answer.

  4. Mike,

    All reprints depend on the kindness of the copyright holders. We shall have to see what happens.



Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books