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Friday, May 04, 2012

Comic Cuts - 4 May 2012

I've spent a second week working on the 4-book set of Sexton Blake Annual which I should begin releasing next month. The situation is that I'm two down, two to go and will be sorting out some proofs very shortly. Once they're in, I'll try to finalise the release details.

Which leaves me some room for a couple of brief bits of news.

A bit of maintenance: for some reason that remains a mystery, the ability to schedule a post isn't working on the new look blogger interface. Scratch that... I can schedule a post to appear at a certain time but that certain time rolls around and the post doesn't actually appear is what I mean. Hence the patchy appearance of posts. It's not a problem caused by British Summer Time; it is a problem that seems to have its roots in the new interface and I'm not having any joy sending feedback about the problem.

The other thing I'm noticing is how harsh the new blogger interface looks with its stark choice of orange and white as colours; the old interface (above top) has a couple of blue buttons, some fawn surrounding the box in which you write posts, the blogger logo in a deep blue bar at the top of the page with lettering in white and pale blue. It's far more relaxing on the eyes. Also, you have to click on a link to get the posting options — the panel on which I can set the time and date for the post to appear. The new version has an annoying pop-up panel which slides over the text you're writing every time you accidentally pass the mouse over it. Aaaaagh!

There are warning notices telling people that Blogger is determined to migrate everyone to the new style interface despite the fact that the old system is a far nicer writing experience. I've been sending feedback for weeks and, frankly, I've not noticed any improvements.

Now I've got my grumpy old man moaning off my chest... let's take a quick look at something that really has changed for the better. I picked up an issue of Commando last Saturday and couldn't help but notice that it was twice the thickness of recent issues. The paper stock has improved — and its white rather than grey — and there's now a roughly 1mm spine on the book. Where Commando covers used to wrinkle along the glued edge, the thicker cover stock now opens like a normal paperback cover. My cynical side says all changes are made for financial reasons, but this one has given readers a better quality comic for the same price. Cheers, D. C. Thomson!

My letterbox delivered two fabulous magazines this week. First up an old friend, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, which has reached the astonishing volume 7 number 2, which is issue 20 by my counting (ignoring a couple of specials). It's another well put together magazine, with strips, strip notes and features, the latter including a look at Nigel Kneale's Quatermass. The strips this time round include 'Counsel for the Defence' (1961), 'The Oil Rig' (1965), 'Getaway' (1966) and 'The Winds of Mars' (1975), the first three written by Willie Patterson and the first mentioned one of the best of all of Hawke's adventures.

At 96 pages, a three-issue subscription of £22 is well worth the money. Overseas rates are £31 (Europe) and £34 (RoW). Further information from Jeff Hawke Club, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds LS17 7RD, United Kingdom or e-mail william AT

Another old friend, in a new guise, has also arrived. Many years ago, Alan Clarke published a magazine about old British comics called Golden Fun, which I found inspiring back in the 1980s when I was developing an interest in the history of British comics. Unfortunately, just as I began to research in earnest, Golden Fun was coming to an end, although I'm pleased to say that I did manage to contribute one article.

Twenty years later, editor Alan Clark makes a welcome returned with The Sloperian, 40-pages of the kind of thing that British comics' fanzines have lacked since the demise of Golden Fun. Apart from the occasional academic article, very few fanzines dedicate themselves to British comics and comic creators from before the Second World War and many modern fans will be unaware of how British comics developed. That's where a well-illustrated fanzine like The Sloperian — it's title more than hinting at the era it will be covering — fills a gap. With articles on early artists W. G. Baxter, Tom Browne, Charlie Pease, Harry O'Neill and Jack Prout, plus writer Gilbert Dalton, it won't be to everyone's tastes but it is to my tastes, so I have no qualms about recommending it. Currently, it's available via the Buy Me Now option on for £5 including postage.

Random scans: A selection of other books that I've bought in recent weeks. First up is a slim (about 76 pages), landscape hardcover to add to my collection of Len Deighton. Airshipwreck, co-credited to designer Arnold Schwartzman although the text is by Deighton, is one of his meticulously researched non-fiction studies of the downfall of the airship as a means of transport. It covers a lot of background material as well as covering disasters both famous and obscure that led to the demise of airship travel.

Next. I seem to have become a Charlie Brooker stalker, having followed him from one medium to another for years, from comics (Zit), to TV Go Home, to newspapers (he's a fellow Guardian contributor), to television (Nathan Barley, Screenwipe, Dead Set, You Have Been Watching, How TV Ruined Your Life, Black Mirror, etc.) and radio (So Wrong It's Right). And books, as you'll see below.

Next week, a full week of World of Wonder mini-galleries rather than the pair I managed this week, having forgotten all about the upcoming and recent releases columns until Sunday. Oops. Oh, well... at least I know I've got the scanning done.

Kindle Fund News. I haven't forgotten... it's on my mind constantly but slowly getting better... I have now been smoke free for almost a month and I'm just about there. I need to add a power adaptor to the cost but I'm seriously close now!

Kindle Fund: £173.22

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