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Friday, May 25, 2012

Comic Cuts - 25 May 2012

Few people are keen to admit publicly when things go wrong and I'm no different. Let's just say that I thought I'd tackle this Kindle thing head on and uploaded a book's worth of text. I managed to get it published and then took a look at it and immediately took it down again.

It was a disaster! The problem was the amount of formatting I'd incorporated into the text — from fairly simple things like indented paragraphs to more complex things like footnotes. Easy enough to do in In Design, which I used to create the pages, and quite understandable to Adobe PDF Maker, via which I created the PDF. But not, it seems, to Kindle, which sucked all the formatting out of the pages before adding a few additional problems, including (but not limited to) resizing text and turning chunks of it red.

Back to the drawing board. There are two bits of silver lining to this... firstly I was using text that I hadn't actually intended putting up (not in that format, anyway) so the fact that it didn't go up doesn't matter; and, secondly, I know now that I have to keep the text simple. And that I can do! However, if I do want to make the look a little more designed, I already have a programme on the computer that will help me write html. (I downloaded the mucked up text from Kindle to see what had gone wrong and it was delivered as an html file, so I'm guessing I can revise it and re-upload it at some point.)

I wonder if any other Kindle books have been available for less than thirty seconds?

Things will hopefully go a little smoother when I next give Kindle a try. However, this past week I've been concentrating on print projects, with a one day delay while I put together an obituary for The Guardian. The London Is Stranger Than Fiction volume is coming together. I had a version put together in rough late last year in order to get permission to do it; this week I've redone all the internal pages and compiled the index. With the addition of all the strips from Jackson's London Explorer, the book should run to around 92 pages in a square-bound format that I think is rather nice.

I haven't forgotten about Sexton Blake... the plan is to do the proofs for two Blakes and the Jackson volume in one go to try and keep my costs down.

Rolf Harris has been in the news a few times over the past couple of weeks, first with the announcement that he was to be given an Academy Fellowship at the Bafta TV Awards and again when a painting of his failed to achieve an over-inflated price at auction. As if that wasn't enough, Harris has a retrospective exhibition running at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

So I thought I'd have my own little retrospective here on Bear Alley, having stumbled across the following illustrations in London Mystery Magazine from 1953. The picture below and our column header for this week were drawn when Rolf was just 22 years old and not long after he came to England to study at the City and Guilds Art School, Kennington.

Random scans. This is in part a request and I have to confess — it's that kind of column today — that I can't remember who asked about this series. Back in the early 1930s, a little publisher called Target put out two crime series in an effort to rival Amalgamated Press's Sexton Blake. The C.I.D. (Crime Intrigue Detection) Magazine which featured the adventures of Maxton Hunter by a variety of authors and a series of novels by William J. Elliott starring Royston Frere and Mimi, two character Elliott later revived for further adventures in hardcover when he was writing for Gerald G. Swan. The other series was Target Library and both appeared in 1933.

The covers were by Jack Long who was an editor and artist for Provincial Comics in around 1931. It's worth noting that Elliott's pal Gwyn Evans also wrote for Target Library. My bio. of Evans includes a scan of the cover of the book. How desperate was that for a plug?

To wrap up this week's column here are a couple of other early anonymous detective yarns, the first featuring Norman Steele and his assistant Bullet. Norman Steele also featured in the story No Escape which we featured as a random scan back in March. Both these date from 1933 but Norman Steele dates back to at least as early as 1918 when he featured in the anonymous collection The Grip of Justice: The Exploits of Norman Steele, Detective, also published by Newnes in an earlier version of the Newnes Adventure Library.

Then there's another Newnes detective character, Tubby Haig, who appeared in a series entitled Newnes Bulldog Library, which ran between 1917 and 1922 and was then merged with their Adventure library to form the Bulldog Adventure Library, which ran until 1924. The issue pictured (the only one I have) has a cover by "R.H.B." who is, I believe, R. H. Brock, brother of H. M. Brock.

Next week: If I can get it together over the weekend, we will have a couple of days of World of Wonder followed on Wednesday and Thursday by our regular Recent Releases and Upcoming Releases columns.

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