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Friday, August 31, 2012

Comic Cuts - 31 August 2012

I've spent the whole of this week working on the next Sexton Blake Annual. Not the one that's just about to come out – that's the 1938 Annual, which you can see above – but the 1941 Annual, which will be released in October. With luck I'll have it finished Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, although I won't be doing anything with it until I have a second project completed as I want to do two sets of proofs in one go as it helps lower the postage costs. These books don't make huge amounts of money – not enough to live on, that's for sure, but if I can keep my costs as close to zero as possible and they won't cost me the shirt off my back, I should be able to keep going.

Zero costs also means no publicity budget, so it's nice to get as positive a review as London Is Stranger Than Fiction did from author Christopher Fowler on his blog. The review ends "The original books have been highly collectable for many years now, but finally they’ve been republished in a single volume from Bear Alley Books here for the ridiculously reasonable price of £14.99. Do yourself a favour. Find out where you can see 11 clocks by standing in one position on a London street – they’re great reads."

I couldn't agree more.

And if you don't yet have a copy, check out this link and take a look.

Once I've finished with the 1941 Sexton Blake Annual, I may move straight onto the 1942 Annual just to get it out of the way, although I'm not planning to release that one until the end of November.

I've also got to get back to the Mike Western book... I'm determined that it'll be out this year!

Just to step back to the 1938 Sexton Blake Annual for a second, I'm waiting on a final proof from the printers before I press the green button, but I'm not anticipating problems and copies should start going out next week.

Talking about delays... Print Media Publications have stated that they are planning to make alternative arrangements when it comes to distributing the relaunched Strip Magazine.

We've been assured of an update from the couriers again this week: what we have been told previously, as I've said before, has been at odds with the reality of a continued lack of delivery.
__Unfortunately, as I have also stated before, what we have been told has not proven definitive enough to inform subscribers and Diamond of a confirm
ed release date we can guarantee - that remains in the hands of the couriers.
__We're painfully aware that unless delivery issues are resolved this impacts on our news stand plans, so we're lining up an alternative that will kick in when Volume Two goes into production.
__I realize this whole matter is deeply frustrating for our readership, subscribers, the many creators involved -- and it is definitely very frustrating for us.
Issue 5 still hasn't a release date as far as the print edition is concerned, but it is available digitally on the iPad. See the Strip Magazine blog for more information.

Mind you, all this talk of issue 5 reminds me that issue 4 hasn't made it as far as Ace Comics in Colchester. Did the print edition actually appear?

Random scans: I finally got around to watching John Carter [of Mars], based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoon series. And it wasn't as bad as I'd feared. Not good by a long stretch – I didn't care much for John Carter or what happened to him, nor the two combatant races. So it was an emotionally empty film full of spectacle – no surprises there as this is the way films are these days ... just watch Battleship or This Means War for examples of films where you couldn't give a toss for the central characters. And the latter is supposed to be a romantic comedy!

What saved John Carter was the fact that my introduction to science fiction was through pulp SF – both Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov (two of the earliest SF authors I read) were high on ideas and poor on characterisation. Ditto many of the hard-SF authors I liked (Larry Niven, Hal Clement) whose aliens were more interesting than their human contacts. So watching John Carter was just like stepping back to when I was twelve or thirteen when my experience of SF was stories of spectacle... films have finally caught up with the books covers I was seeing in the 1970s. I tend to think along the lines that movie SF is to science fiction what pulp SF is to modern SF.

Anyway, it's an excuse to run Bruce Pennington's wonderful cover for A Princess of Mars. And that made me think of the old Pinnacle cover for Thuvia Maid of Mars, which is just terrific.

Rounding out this week's selection are Joe Haldeman's Marsbound (just to keep up the theme of Mars) and a stray Harry Harrison I turned up since I posted the Harry Harrison cover gallery the other day.

Coming Soon. We have another Commando interview rescued from the late Where Eagles Dare website appearing tomorrow, this one an interview from 2004 with Commando regular Ferg Handley. And for Sunday we have a Gregory Kern (F.A.T.E.) cover gallery. Beyond that, I'm not sure. Depends what I get up to on Sunday.


  1. Hi Steve

    I can verify, because I have a copy, that Strip Magazine #4 did appear

    David Simpson

  2. Cheers, David. I will have to chase up Ace to see if they can get hold of a copy.

  3. I would of thought that if they printed Strip in the UK that their distribution problems may be solved. As that's the excuse for every issue being late so far- problems getting the comic from Bosnia (I think) to the UK. It's a shame and must be very frustrating to everyone involved.

  4. But that's the problem, Reuben: Print Media is a printing company in Bosnia. They print the magazines they publish, so they're unlikely to offload the work to another printer.

    If the carrier problems can be fixed there's no reason why you can't print abroad. Most publishers do because of the high cost of printing in the UK - the print unions were very strong in the 1950s and 1960s; they, along with the oil crisis in the early 1970s, killed the relatively cheap comics of my youth. They're still expensive compared to printers abroad, even if you add shipping costs.

    But even if the carrier can get the comics to the UK there does seem to be a more local distribution problem; issue 4 hasn't appeared in Colchester at all and I order my copy through out local comic shop. That problem also needs to be resolved.