Friday, March 23, 2012

Comic Cuts - 23 March 2012

Last week I said I'd tell you whether my plans for the weekend held together and, true to my word, the news is that they went well. With Mel out of the house at a convention and no more bags to fill before the next "green waste" collection, I had no distractions. So, Saturday evening I finalised the text and started doing layouts on Sunday. Continued doing layouts Monday and Tuesday so that by the time I shut down at 2:30 am on Wednesday morning I had 67 pages done; then there was a pause on layouts as I still have to finish the last bits of the bibliography but, chances are, I'll be able to get back onto the layouts this weekend.

Why the sudden urgency. Well, two reasons. First, I felt that I was losing the momentum that I'd built up doing the Pages from History book; I had hoped to get another book out in March and chose the Gwyn Evans biography because a lot of the text was already written. Despite that, it still seemed to be taking forever, tying up loose ends in the text and cleaning up illustrations from old pulp magazines that were yellow with age, and the only solution to the problem was to turn into a hermit for a few days.

Secondly, it's my birthday next month and I want to get another book under my belt before I hit the big five-o. Or should that be "five-oh my aching back"? Fifty! On the upside, I'm not as yellow or ragged as some of the magazines I've been scanning these last few days; on the downside, I'm going to have to start thinking about what I want to be when I grow up. My dreams of being an astronaut are slipping away, unless they've designed a spacesuit for the gentleman of more generous proportions. And those doors between space capsules will have to be widened.

How can I celebrate this momentous occasion? Well, I was thinking that, as the book is my birthday present to myself, I'll put out the first fifty copies at a knockdown price. I've still to work out the details but I'll make this as cheap as I reasonably can. I might know a little more by this time next week. In the meantime, even if you're unaware of Gwyn Evans — and I promise you his is an interesting story — or his work, I can promise you a stunning array of illustrations.

Random scans. I'm always pleased to receive scans of old paperback covers. I can't always promise that they'll be used, but I do try to clean them up and run them here. This week we have three scans from David Ainsworth, who adds the following notes (and I've added a little bit, too): (1) Patrick O'Hara, The Red Sailor, Panther Books 1816, 1965 [this edition being a 1966 reprint]. Originally published by Neville Spearman, 1963. Of Royal Navy lower deck interest; (2) Roderick Milton, Tell Them in Sparta, New English Library/Four Square Books 1093, 1964. Originally published by Methuen, 1962; (3) Douglas Baber, My Death is a Mockery, World Distributors S254, 1957, cover by R. W. Smethurst. Originally published by Heinemann, 1952. Baber had been a POW, wrote quite a few novels but died young. This one, about a fisherman-turned-smuggler, was filmed in 1952 starring Donald Houston, Kathleen Byron and Bill Kerr (later of Hancock's Half Hour fame).

To these I've added one from Morgan Wallace: Eugene Ascher, To Kill a Corpse, World Distributors M839, 1959, cover by Edgar Hodges, which was originally published in the 1940s as There Were No Asper Ladies.

I prefer these older painted covers to photo covers, but I'm not going to refuse anything... so if you want to send any covers my way, 300dpi scan, save as a jpeg at the highest setting, and e-mail it to my address. Condition not important, which is why I ask for 300dpi minimum as it gives me something to work with.

Next week: Hopefully we'll have the next batch from our trek through the pages of World of Wonder, although that depends on whether I have the time for the scanning and clean-up operation that involves. If not, I've another strip up my sleeve. The weekend's line-up takes in the tragic story of actress/novelist/horse racer Eleanor Souray and a cover gallery. It's not just the book keeping me up late!

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