Friday, December 16, 2011

Comic Cuts - 16 December 2011

I've little to report after last week's excitement. Back in August I agreed to write a couple of pieces for the upcoming volume of Del Tebeo al Manga, a history of comics published by Panini in Spain, having already contributed to an earlier volume (above). The deadline was four months away so I wasn't in a hurry to get to it... and, suddenly it was December and the deadline was this week. I had to write the pieces to a very specific word count — a letter count, in fact, as there can be problems with translating between languages and, I was told, there wasn't any leeway when it came to space.

Anyone who knows my work will know that I usually tend towards writing more than I need to. You can see this in many articles that appears on Bear Alley because I'm often writing about obscure authors and obscure things that will need explaining to the casual reader, or I'm trying to lay out evidence of why I'm making a certain statement. There's a similar problem when writing for a foreign publication: you can't presume that people will know anything about a particular comic or strip. Mention Roy of the Rovers and you'll probably know who I mean, but to anyone outside the UK you have to explain that the character is footballer Roy Race of Melchester Rovers. This might seem a trifling point, but when you're working to a very tight letter count it can cause problems: "Roy of the Rovers" is 17 characters, including spaces; "footballer Roy Race of Melchester Rovers" is 40, over double the length. When it comes to trimming down an article — say, for instance, the obituaries I write for The Guardian — it's usually those extraneous details that can easily be lost. Unfortunately, they're vital to non-UK readers because otherwise they won't know what the heck you're talking about.

To cut a long story short, that's what I had to do (there's a gag in there somewhere!). It probably took as long figuring out where I could make cuts as it did to write the first draft. But I made it: a flying history of British adventure strips in 18,000 characters (including spaces) and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it look at football comics in 2,200 characters (ditto). Nice to see someone taking an interest in the history of British comics.

Random scans: I was searching around last night for a theme and the first picture I opened up related to Africa. As it was gone midnight and I was sitting in my freezing little office (ex-garage, no insulation at all), it seemed like a nice idea to think of somewhere warm. These aren't exactly typical 'Africa' images, but that's "random" for you: they were the first four books I found set in that continent. Maybe next time I'll try to find covers with a wildlife theme.

Next week: The end of Great Expectations and the beginning of A Leap Into the Future. I'll also have to see if I can find something a bit Christmassy.


  1. Great site! I'm going to be a frequent visitor here.

  2. Great site. Where did that Dumas in Tangier poster come from?

    And do you have any of nazi's in tangier?

    I was born there.


  3. The Dumas is a book cover rather than a poster. No, I don't know of any other titles featuring Tangier.



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