Friday, September 09, 2011

Comic Cuts - 9 September 2011

A brief column this week as I'm running on empty and feeling a bit knackered. It could be because I accidentally bought decaffeinated coffee last weekend and haven't had any caffeine for a week; this coincided with a party (adult, down the pub) Saturday night and another (kids, waterfight in a garden) on Sunday. By Monday I felt like I was going down with a cold and suffering aches and a headache (which for me is very unusual), not, I suspect, from the weekend's activity but from caffeine withdrawal. A quick check with Wikipedia tells me that withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, irritability, an inability to concentrate, drowsiness, insomnia and pain in the stomach, upper body, and joints. Well, I can say no to a couple of those: I'm not particularly irritable and I'm not suffering from insomnia; but lack of concentration has been a problem, especially as it has been a more 'bitsy' week than the last few.

Mel says that she wants to buy me an Espresso, just to see what happens.

Aside from the daily metadata chores, I have managed to do a very swift clean-up on a possible Bear Alley Books project which still needs to be signed off by the copyright holder. This meant a couple of late nights Tuesday and Wednesday because I want to print off a dummy to see what it looks like and, for economy reasons, I want to print the dummy when I do a reprint of Eagles Over the Western Front. I'm down to my last few copies of all three volumes of the latter at the moment but, now that all three volumes are out, I can do a combined short print-run, which saves an awful lot on postage. I don't have the economies of scale of most publishers - I'm printing in tens, not thousands - and postage becomes a big factor for small publishers.

This has slowed my progress on the C. L. Doughty volume, but not too badly. I have 17 pages of original artwork processed for one 20-page story and five pages tidied up ready for relettering; the second story I have 11 pages of original artwork out of 20, of which 4 have been processed but not cleaned up - an example of which you can see at the head of this column. (The third story I've not touched yet, but, sadly, we don't have any original artwork for it.) I'm trying to make sure the finished book looks as gorgeous as the original artwork does, so I'm taking my time to get it right and hopefully you can see that in the page above.

It's time for this week's random scans. Oh, before I do that, I should mention that I added a few more scans to the Jack Higgins and Craig Thomas galleries last weekend. So... onto some scans. The first is actually an Italian book that I should definitely be classed in the "promising more than it delivers" catagory. The novel, Sbarco su Marte [Landing on Mars], is a translation of John Wyndham's The Outward Urge, written in collaboration with himself as both John Wyndham and Lucas Parkes are pen-names of John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris. The book might be classified as hard science fiction but the cover would definitely give the reader the wrong impression of its contents.

Next up, one of the best-selling SF novels of the 1980s and 1990s: Carl Sagan was better known for science fact rather than science fiction, but his one novel proved to be highly readable and was the 7th highest selling novel of 1985 in the USA. Here in the UK it went through various editions from Arrow (from 1986), Legend (from 1988) and Orbit (who released the movie tie-in in 1997). Interesting to note that the price of the book soared from £3.50 in 1987 (the first edition shown below) to £5.99 in 1997. Above inflation, I'd guess, which was averaging around 3%-5% at that time (although higher in 1989-90). A pound back in 1997 was probably £1.40 in today's money and, £2.10 for 1987; a quick calculation means that a £3.50 book should have been £5.25. I think paperbacks soared in price in the early 1980s... I'll see if I can gather some evidence of how the price of similar sized paperbacks rose over the years.

Finally, a nice Josh Kirby cover from Four Square in 1961. John Mantley was a Canadian-born screenwriter who lived in the USA for many years, working on many TV series, including The Untouchables, The Outer Limits, Rawhide and How the West Was Won, as well as producing many others, including Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and MacGyver. He was also a novelist, including the SF novel below, involving aliens and ultimate weapons, which was filmed in 1957 with Gene Barry.

Next week... not a clue. At the rate I'm going, you'll know almost as soon as I do.

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