Friday, October 21, 2011

Comic Cuts - 21 October 2011

Another slow week for news from me, unless you want to hear about the Wisteria being cut back. The new house (as it's still called, although we moved in over a year ago) has this massive plant growing up the back which was starting to overshadow the windows and tangle itself around the guttering. As we needed to get some work done on the roof and there was scaffolding already up, it was a good opportunity to take a saw to the damn thing and cut it back. Now we're actually getting the benefit of the October sunshine, although my little office - not in direct sunshine and with no insulation whatsoever - has been freezing.

I did get a chance to read one of the latest DFC Library books, which I've reviewed below. I'd hoped to also have a review of the new Strip comic, but there has been short delay - the comic is being printed in Bosnia and the couriers have failed to meet their delivery date. Print Media also have a couple of books due out shortly which I'll review when copies turn up.

John Adcock, on his Yesterday's Papers blog, has a review of a book that might be of interest to fans of the oldest British comics and story papers. The Curious Cyclists by John Reynolds is the story of two young Nottingham men who decided to take a trip to Gibraltar by bicycle in the waning days of Queen Victoria's reign. It's a true story and the two men were Tom Browne, artist of such early strips as 'Weary Willie and Tired Tim', and Stacey Blake, who wrote popular boys' stories for The Captain, Big Budget, etc. Blake was an inveterate traveller, journeying around Europe, Scandinavia and North Africa by bike or on foot; his trip to Gibraltar was enlivened by having Browne provide illustrations for his journal jottings about their exploits, 42 of which Browne later transferred to slides. These are reproduced in Reynolds' book, which is available from Amazon for as little as £5.

The Guardian carried an obituary this week for John Holmes, an artist best known for his surreal book and record sleeve designs, his most famous image being the cover for Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch, published in 1970. Born in 1935, Holmes studied at the Coopers' Company school in Bow and took on a variety of jobs, including porter at Smithfield market, to support his young family following his National Service with the RAF. He painted abstracts, eventually gaining a place at the London College of Printing in 1965. He subsequently worked as an art director with an advertising company as well as producing numerous covers for Granada, Pan, Ballantine and others, ranging from Vladimir Nabokov's Despair (1969) to Peter Benchley's Jaws (1974); he also illustrated H. P. Lovecraft books for Ballantine and the Horror Stories series for Fontana. Above is one of my favourites, the Futura edition of George Tremlett's The Rolling Stones Story (1974).

This week's random scans have all been supplied by readers. David Ainsworth has sent me over a few in the past ahead of selling off books on Amazon. This week it was the 1961 Four Square edition of The Heart in Exile by Rodney Garland (Adam de Hegedus) with a nice Edward Mortelmans cover. Phil Rushton sent over a filler for my Isaac Asimov cover gallery, the Digit edition of Second Foundation, which was already a pretty sharp copy when it arrived. The same can't be said for the issue of Schoolgirl Picture Library that Roger Green (suitably apologetic) sent over, which took a lot of work and still isn't perfect. But I'd rather have a rough copy that needs some work than no copy at all.

Next week we have a 4-part episode of 'The Man Who Searched for Fear'. Sadly, we're coming to the end of the strip with only one more story after that. I'll have to put my thinking cap on and see what else I can find. Jeremy Briggs will be filling in for me over the weekend with a nice piece on how comics have adapted Ray Harryhausen's movies, while I fiddle around with some of the earlier cover galleries and bring some of them up to scratch. Once I'm done, I'll put up a list of them so that you can find them without having to use Blogger's internal search system, which can often turn up too many results. That should keep me busy in the evenings...

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