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Friday, February 01, 2013

Comic Cuts - 1 February 2013

Where the hell did January go? A twelfth of the way through the year already. I swear the weeks rush past me faster and faster the older I get.

I must say that I'm very pleased with the way sales of the Lion King of Picture Story Papers are going. I had wanted to get a book out – other than the Sexton Blake Annual – for the Christmas market. As I'm still waiting on artwork for the Mike Western book and it makes sense to do the Valiant at the same time, I fast-tracked another project. Unfortunately, starting on Lion in November left me with a choice: do you want to do this right or do it so it's out in time for Christmas? I chose the former.

But that meant releasing it in January when everyone is broke. Of the two options, January release was the best. The C. L. Doughty book was released February last year and did pretty well in sales ahead of release. I'm pleased to say that Lion just crept past Pages From History and outsold the latter by two copies! This makes it my fastest selling book ahead of launch, although Pages From History has had a year to pull ahead by some distance. Not into three figures yet, but it might be the first. Only six of our fourteen books have sold over 50 copies; three have sold under 20 copies, which is disappointing but so be it. The beauty of the set-up at Bear Alley Books means that I don't have money tied up in stock.

Due to a problem that occurred to someone else thirty-five years ago (it's a long story!), I'm thinking of switching around the order of the next two books in the hope that I can get the next one finished this month. This will be about Ranger, original home of 'The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire', and I'm hoping to have a couple of complete comic strips included alongside the index. It's a fascinating paper and I'm looking forward to getting some work done on it next week.

Random scans. I haven't posted anything by Robert Osborne for some time, so here are a couple of covers from him. Not his best, but colourful. There's something weirdly flat about the soldier's naked torso in the top picture and no thought to musculature ... it looks like there's an alien creature rummaging around in his tummy. And why has a smiling geisha popped in to watch him being lashed? The picture, I suspect, underwent some last minute alterations.

And then we go from bare chested to barefoot. See, these scans aren't so random after all!

I'm unsure what we will be seeing next week. I should have a piece on Bleep & Booster posted over the weekend and I'm hoping to have an interesting newspaper strip up and running shortly. Not Paul Temple but another detective entirely. I have some work to do on this, so whether it will start next week or will have to wait until later in the month depends on what happens on Sunday.


Mikeodee said...

Looking forward to Ranger, Steve. Still have all the originals from when I was a kid if you need anything.

Steve said...

Cheers for the offer. I have a near-complete run (two issues missing) but some of them are a bit tatty. Always useful to know there are copies out there.

Mike W said...

Look forward to Ranger & Valiant books - two of my all-time favourite comics although Ranger only lasted 40 issues of course and was more the quality of the original Eagle.

Mikeodee said...

Ranger was an all-time favourite of mine too - as well as Trigan Empire I also liked Jason January Space Cadet, especially the first story when HMS Victory was stolen from Portmsouth dockyard...quite impressive to a 5 year old living in Portsmouth! I'd love that page of art - was it Geoff Campion?

Steve said...

Yes, Jason January was Geoff Campion. Victory (and Lord Nelson) was a favourite character of the writer.

Peter Gray said...

so glad sales are going well for Lion...hope its really helping your finances..

Looking forward to Valiant and Mike western the most...

So glad you are doing this...

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
I've read and devoured my copy of "Lion, King of Story Papers" and look forward to the Valiant book when it is done too.
I've seen occasional issues of Lion here in New Zealand,(it had already merged into Valiant by the time I really started noticing comics). Now I know which issues among hundreds will have a story I like I can buy back copies with confidence :-) - although they don't often pop up on NZ's auction site.
I'd be interested in buying the Ranger index, mostly if there are going to be strips collected in it, since it is a title I've never ever seen. That said, reading about the origins of The Trigan Empire will be interesting. I assume the strips won't be the H Rider Haggard stories, due to the upcoming Book Palace book?

Anyhow, thanks again for the Lion book, best of wishes for the future health of Bear Alley Books.

John Morrison

Steve said...

Hi John,

Glad you liked the Lion.

The Haggard book includes 'Allan Quatermain' from Ranger, with 'King Solomon's Mines' and 'Montezuma's Daughter' from Look and Learn.

My thoughts at the moment are to definitely reprint the Ranger version of 'King Solomon's Mines' so that they are both available. I would have to do it in black & white, but it would still look fantastic (it is Mike Hubbard artwork, after all!).

There's also John Millar Watt's 'Treasure Island' and Ruggero Giovannini's 'The Adventures of Macbeth' and one or two others to ponder over. I don't want to make the book too big or expensive, but gathering a couple of these strips up into one book is a golden opportunity I don't want to miss.