Sunday, March 31, 2013

First Look at Ranger The National Boys' Magazine

Here's a first look at the opening pages for Ranger The National Boys' Magazine, which should be out somewhere around April 15th. The layouts are almost finished and it shouldn't take long to rustle up proofs. So within the week we will start taking pre-publication orders.

I will, of course, let you know as soon as information appears on the Bear Alley Books website.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Commando Cover Artists

This following list covers all issues of Commando. Taken from official listings, many of the names are only indicated by surnames and more research is needed to confirm the full names of these artists.

Gino D'Achille
Alvaro (see Alvaro Pradera)
Amador [Amador Garcia Cabrera or Francisco Mascaros Amador?]
Severino Baraldi
Ken Barr
Benet [Manuel Benet Blanes]
Jeff Bevan
Marco Bianchini [agency biography]
Boada [Sebastian Boada]
Ron Brown
Gennaro Buccheri
Keith Burns
Alan Burrows
Angel Badia Camps
Joaquin Chacopino Fabre
Clave [Florencia Jove Clava?]
Tony Corbett
Correa [Antonio Correa?]
Rafael Cortiella
Mike Cox
Dalger [Alfredo de la María]
Ramon de la Fuente
Dave Dimmock
Mike Dorey
Mark Eastbrook
Lopez Espi
Fernando [Fernando Fernandez??]
Nicholas Forder
Tom Foster
Horace Gaffron
Guillermo Galeote
Garcia [Amador Garcia Cabrera?]
Ricardo Garijo
Phil Gascoine
Roger Hall
Mark Harris
Gerry Haylock
Kev Hopgood
Ibanez [Vicente Ibáñez Sanchís]
Iranzo [Juan Garcia Iranzo?]
Carlo Jacono
Sandy James
Jimeno [Justo Jimeno Bazaga]
Staz Johnson
Jose Maria Jorge
Jack Keay
Cam Kennedy
Ian Kennedy
Gordon Livingstone
Jorge Longaron
L. Castello Lucas
Jordi Macabich
Ian McIntosh
Graham Manley
Janek Matysiak
Alejandro Perez Mesa
Millar [staff pseudonym]
Graeme Miller
Ortega [Juan Manuel Cicuéndez Ortega??]
Keith Page
Terry Patrick
Penalva [Antonio Bosch Penalva??]
F. D. Phillips
F. A. Philpott
Carlos Pino
Porto [Tomás Porto y del Vado??]
Alvaro Pradera

Aldomo Puig
Graeme Neil Reid
John Ridgway
Neil Roberts
Martin Salvador
Sanfeliz [Ricardo Sanféliz Permanyer?]
Sanjulian [Manuel Pérez Clemente Sanjulian]
Segrelles [Eustaquio Segrelles Del Pilar]
Keith Shone
Glenn Steward
Michael Tregenza
Giorgio Tubaro
Vila [Migueloa Vila??]
Villanova [Xavier Gonzalez Vilanova]
Keith C. G. Walker
Colin Watson
Mike White
Alan Willow

Other credits (mostly agencies)
Graphic Lit
The Illustrated
Téméraire [a reprint from #144 (May 1972) of the Franco-Belgian pocket library of that name published by éditions Arédit]
Union Studio

Friday, March 29, 2013

Comic Cuts - 29 March 2013

You will be pleased to hear that the Ranger book is almost finished. I finished off the clean up on 'The Adventures of Macbeth' over the weekend and the introduction is now firmly nailed down at around 15,500 words. There's a couple of minor tweaks required of the index and I have to put together the last few pages but the layouts are almost done and artist credits almost all in place. The final book should be around 160 pages, as are the Sexton Blake annuals I've published in the past. But I should be able to rein the price in a bit as licensing isn't so restrictive on the indexes as it was on those particular books. Expect an announcement within a week.

So... er... that's what I was up to this week.

Oh, yes, I meant to say that the Rolling News column is a  little screwed-up at the moment. Worked fine on Monday, couldn't get it to save anything on Tuesday. All I get is a message saying "Please correct the errors on this form." So I set up a new one with plain text, which works. Try to add a link or make even the simplest correction and it becomes impossible to save the changes. This problem has persisted through Wednesday and Thursday with no sign of Blogger fixing it. We'll just have to see what happens. Update: It turns out that none of my link lists can be altered. According to Blogger, a fix is being tested in draft and should be rolled out across Blogger shortly. This was announced Friday, still no sign of it on Saturday but keep your fingers crossed. That's what I'm doing with mine.

Random scans this week is a science fiction special... although the first title is a contemporary fantasy. Cover art is by Heather Cooper. The Lewis Shiner artwork is by Tony Roberts. Hyper-Drive was a genuine surprise. The cover is by John S. Smith, who also produced covers for Micron around that time but was later a leading artist for Look and Learn. But is the final cover also by Smith? It's a very small scan I picked up from somewhere on the net, so if anyone can supply me with a better scan...

Next week. Hmmmmm... we shall have to wait and see. In other words, I don't know.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Commando 4587-4590

Commando isues on sale 28 March 2013.

Commando No. 4587 – The Battle Of Blood Island

Though it was known as “The Blooded Jewel,” the island of Ula was a peaceful place, its name derived from spectacular sunsets and sunrises not warfare. Sitting in the ocean west of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, the inhabitants were mainly fisher folks whose only enemies were the elements, wind and sea.
   That all changed early in the First World War when a force of German raiders swarmed ashore. Caught up in the action were two schoolboys. Upon them depended the outcome of THE BATTLE OF BLOOD ISLAND.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

Commando No. 4588 – The Sky Pirates

Pilot Officer Mike “Midge” Mercer flew a Vought Corsair fighter for the Fleet Air Arm in the Pacific — fending off hordes of Japanese aircraft as he and his fellow fliers protected the Allied fleet.
   To begin with, it seemed that the Corsairs — nicknamed Pirates — had the edge. But the Japanese had another card to play which posed a deadly question to the FAA pilots. Just how did you beat an enemy willing to sacrifice their own lives…?

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Morahin
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Commando No. 4589 – Sunk Without Trace

When “The Ship without a name” glided into the Mersey Channel that night, the few watchers were seeing her for the first time, but they never forgot her, for “K-1” was like no other ship ever built.
   They never saw her again.
   Her destination — the South Atlantic. Her mission — even the Captain wasn’t sure.
   But one thing was certain. The Germans were waiting for her. Slowly the jaws of the trap closed. The fantastic story of K-1, the ship that was to change the whole course of the war, had begun…


Naval stories are always a difficult trick to pull off in Commando. Our compact page size doesn’t exactly lend itself to the depiction of the epic scale and leisurely pace of most sea battles. Which is why subs and MTBs — and, as here, Q-Ships — are our favourites; for the action is close and fast.
   The team of Blandford, Rigby and James have come up with a story with a hidden mystery, good, effective art, and a menacing cover designed to set up a fast-moving, action-packed story.
   Classic Commando.

Calum Laird, Editor

Story: Blandford
Art: Cecil Rigby
Cover: James
Originally Commando No. 93 (November 1963).

Commando No. 4590 – Warship On Wheels

The two young officers had never seen anything like it. A huge German train bristling with guns and covered with armour plating…it was like a warship on wheels.
   And, as they would discover, when that warship got steam up it was unstoppable — even if another train got in the way!


 This is a shining example of a Commando caper — a fast-moving yarn that literally starts with a bang (in this case a crashing B17 bomber) and never lets up during its 63 pages. The credit is due to writer Alan Hebden who created the many memorable characters here. There are escaping British POWs, surrendering Italian soldiers and an unlikely (and unlikeable) Nazi VIP — all brought to life by interior artist Denis McLoughlin. And there’s an excellent, as always, cover from Jeff Bevan.
   So, all aboard and full steam ahead for a first-class adventure romp!

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Denis McLoughlin
Cover: Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No. 2176 (April 1988), re-issued as No. 3636 (July 2003)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hal Clement: Cover Gallery

(* The following was written for The Guardian back in 2003 but was never used; a shame, but these things happen. I'm breaking my rule of thumb to only post British paperbacks in galleries as so few of Clements' books had UK editions.)

Harry Clement Stubbs, who died on 29 October 2003 at the age of 81, had two careers that entwined and complimented each other. After two years in public schools, he taught high school science for thirty-eight years at Milton Academy in Massachusetts. At the same time, as Hal Clement, he wrote meticulously plausible science-fiction based on the scientific knowledge of the time.

Born in Somerville, Massachusetts, on 30 May 1922, Stubbs’ first brush with science fact and fiction was the Flash Gordon comic strip. As Flash blasted off for Mars the strip gave some facts about the journey which prompted questions from 8-year-old Harry; his father took him to the local library and Harry emerged with a book on astronomy and a novel by Jules Verne.

He studied astronomy at Harvard University, obtaining a BS in 1943, but his math was not strong enough to take it up as a full-time career. He served as a bomber pilot, flying 35 combat missions from England with the 8th U.S. Air Force. He remained in the U.S. Air Force Reserve until 1976, retiring with the rank of Colonel. He used his GI grant to study teacher training at Boston University, receiving his M.Ed in 1947, and later obtained a masters degree in chemistry from Simmons College in 1963.

Stubbs – as Clement – began writing whilst at Harvard, selling his first story, “Proof,” to John W. Campbell’s Astounding Stories at the age of 19. From the start he penned “hard” science-fiction, where a problem was set out scientifically and science was essential to its solution. Clement was as rigorous as any golden age mystery writer in setting out the conceits of each story so that readers had a fair chance of reaching the solution ahead of the characters. Indeed, one of the arguments of that period was that a traditional detective novel was impossible in science-fiction because new technologies would have evolved, an argument Clement answered with Needle, in which an alien police officer arrives on Earth in pursuit of a criminal; the problem is that these aliens live symbiotically within a host and the quarry may have invaded the body of any person on the planet.

In common with many novels where the puzzle is the plot, characterisation tended to fall by the wayside. This was amply made up for by Clement’s creation of extreme environments and the challenges they created. In Iceworld, which concerns the smuggling of the most dangerous narcotic known, nicotine, by sulphur-breathing aliens, the alien planet was Earth; in Close To Critical, the planet Tenebra has a crushing gravity, atmospheric pressure, scorching temperatures and constantly shifting crust, towards which the children of an alien diplomat are drifting; in his last novel, Noise, Kainui is a waterworld peopled by sea-faring colonists living in floating cities surrounded by corrosive salt seas and constantly rocked by seaquakes.

Clement’s most famous work, Mission Of Gravity, was set on Mesklin, whose rapid rotation – a day lasts only 18 minutes – has created a disk-shaped world with 3 times Earth’s gravity at the equator and nearly 700g at the poles. When a research probe sent to the pole fails to relaunch, a group of scientists hire one of the caterpillar-like natives, Captain Barlennan, to save the data it has collected. Barlennan, however, is not only a typical Mesklinite – fifteen inches in length and two inches high – but also a shrewd operator who spends much of his time trying to think of ways to sweeten the deal he has struck. The crafty merchant also appeared in a sequel, Star Light.

Following his retirement in 1987, Clement was able to concentrate more actively on writing and as well as new novels (Still River, Fossil) also participated in the republication of his best work in the three-volume series The Essential Hal Clement. He was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998 and received the Grand Master Award of the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1999. Clement also gave his name to the Hal Clement Award for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction Literature, awarded annually since 1992.

A popular attendee of conventions, sometimes as a fan artist (he painted starscapes under the name George Richard), he died in his sleep only days after his appearance as a guest at MileHighCon at Lakewood, Colorado.

Clement was survived by his wife, Mary Elizabeth (Myers) whom he married in 1952, two sons, George and Richard, and a daughter, Christine.

NOVELS (series: Mesklin; Needle)

Needle (Needle). Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1950; London, Gollancz, 1961; as From Outer Space, New York, Avon, 1957.
Corgi Books YS1383, 1963, 158pp, 3/-. Cover by unknown

Iceworld. New York, Gnome Press, 1953.
(no UK edition)

Mission of Gravity (Mesklin). Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1954; London, Hale, 1955.
Penguin 1978, 1963, 199pp, 3/6. Cover by Yves Tanguy ('The Doubter')
New English Library 0450-02994-8, Jun 1976, 192pp, 60p. Cover by Eddie Jones [introduction by Robert Conquest]
Gollancz VGSF 0575-04022-X, 1987, 203pp. Cover by Tony Roberts
Gollancz 0575-07094-3, 2000, 203pp.
Gollancz [SF Masterworks] 0575-07708-5, 2005, 208pp.

The Ranger Boys in Space (for children). Boston, Page, and London, Harrap, 1956.
(no UK paperback edition)

Cycle of Fire. New York, Ballantine, 1957; London, Gollancz, 1964.
Corgi Books GS7417, 1966, 171pp.

Close to Critical (Mesklin). New York, Ballantine, 1964; London, Gollancz, 1966.
Corgi Books 0552-07915-4, 1968, 158pp, 3/6. Cover by unknown

Star Light (Mesklin). New York, Ballantine, 1971.
(no UK edition)

Ocean on Top. New York, DAW, 1973; London, Sphere, 1976.
Sphere 0722-12444-9, 1976, 159pp, 60p. Cover by David Bergen

Left of Africa (for children). New Orleans, Aurian Society Press, 1976.
(no UK edition)

Through the Eye of a Needle (Needle). New York, Ballantine, 1978.
(no UK edition)

The Nitrogen Fix. New York, Ace, 1980.
(no UK edition)

Still River. New York, Ballantine, Jun 1987; London, Sphere, Nov 1988.
Sphere 0747-49117-9, 1988, 280pp, £3.50.

Fossil: Isaac's Universe. New York, DAW, Nov 1993.
(no UK edition)

Half Life. New York, Tor Books, Sep 1999.
(no UK edition)

Noise. New York, Tor Books, Sep 2003.
(no UK edition)

Planet for Pluunder, with Sam Merwin. Fiction House, Oct 2012.
(no UK edition)


Natives of Space. New York, Ballantine, 1965.
(no UK edition)

Small Changes. Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1969; as Space Lash, New York, Dell, 1969.
(no UK edition)

The Best of Hal Clement, edited by Lester del Rey. New York, Ballantine, 1979.
(no UK edition)

Intuit, introduction by Poul Anderson. Cambridge, Massachusetts, NESFA Press, Sep 1987.
(no UK edition)

The Essential Hal Clement, Volume 1: Trio for Slide Rule and Typewriter (contains Close to Critical, Iceworld, Needle), edited by Anthony R. Lewis. Framington, Massachusetts, NESFA Press, Apr 1999.
(no UK edition)

The Essential Hal Clement, Volume 2: Music of Many Spheres, edited by Mark L. Olson & Anthony R. Lewis, introduction by Ben Bova. Framington, Massachusetts, NESFA Press, Feb 2000.
(no UK edition)

The Essential Hal Clement Volume 3: Variation of a Theme by Sir Isaac Newton (contains Mission of Gravity, Under, Lecture Demonstration, Star Light, Whirligig World (non-fiction)), edited by Mark L. Olson & Anthony R. Lewis, introduction by David Langford. Framinton, Massachusetts, NESFA Press, Sep 2000; as Heavy Planet: The Essential Mesklin Stories, New York, Tor Books, 2002.

Some Notes on Xi Bootis. Chicago, Advent, 1959.

First Flights to the Moon, introduced by Isaac Asimov. Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1970.
The Moon, by George Gamow, introduction by Isaac Asimov. London, Abelard Schuman, 1971.

(* originally published 25 September 2011; updated and expanded 24 March 2013.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Commando Interviews Part 8: Calum Laird

A brief introduction. 

The following interview with Calum Laird, editor of the British comic book Commando, was conducted by Michael Eriksson in January 2011. This was originally published on Mike's late and much lamented website Where Eagles Dare and is one of a number of interviews that will be appearing here with Mike's permission. I have made a number of very minor visual and editorial changes for clarity but I have otherwise made no alterations; Mike is Swedish – his English is near perfect and I'm sure you'll forgive the occasional verbal stumble.

Landmark year is here - Commando turns 50 in 2011 - interview with editor Calum Laird.

Things are going well for Commando and this year will see another opportunity for the classic title to grab some well deserved attention in the media as 50 years has now passed since the first issue (published in July 1961 - as it happens, I was born then so I will join the celebrations myself!). The time has come to dig up some questions for the Commando headquarters to sort out, and as always it is good fun to see what´s going on with these guys. Where Eagles Dare is glad to support this classic title.

Michael Eriksson: 2011 is coming up, marking the 50th anniversary of Commando. You have had some time to think about this so what can we expect from your headquarters in the next 12 months?

Calum Laird: You can expect our usual selection of high-quality action stories. 48 of them will be brand-new and the other 48 specially-chosen tales from right back to the beginnings of Commando. The first 12 stories (the original Dirty Dozen) will be reprinted with the stories reproduced as close to the way they were in 1961. I’ve asked various people connected with Commando to choose some of their favourite yarns and these too will be re-issued. Some of them haven’t seen the light of day for nearly 50 years so I think even long-serving readers will find something new and exciting there. The Raiders will return for a pair of missions which were previously unknown, the Headline heroes will also return for a one-off story. We’ve a new band of characters called the Convict Commandos dreamt up by Alan Hebden. And Mac Macdonald has written a special anniversary story for the middle of the year. We’re working on two exhibitions, one in London, one in Dundee, but as they’ve not been finalised I’d better not say any more about that for now.

The last year has seen a few nice commemorative bulks of issues, “War in the Ardennes”, “VE Day 65” and “VJ Day 65”, and there was also an “Aces High” series. What can you say about these?

I think your question gives a clue to why we did it. At certain points in history, anniversaries capture the minds and hearts of many people and they want to read more about the events of those times. Commando doesn’t pretend to give formal history lessons but we pride ourselves on producing authentic stories which can give a flavour of the times. Partly we want to inform people, partly we want to salute the people involved at the time and partly we want to entertain. As you must have enjoyed the stories (which I’m pleased to hear) I think we got the balance about right.

Ian Clark scripted a rather unique run of issues in the “VE DAY 65” series, in which soldiers from different nations met and talked about their experiences. I felt that Commando did something very special with these issues.

These were master-minded by my predecessor and mentor George Low. They must have been a difficult series to co-ordinate but the idea of the linked stories was an absolute winner and I take my hat off to him for pulling it off. Will I try something similar? Time will tell.

What has happened in the team since our last interview in September 2009?

The basic team of Scott and myself is the same. Older but probably not wiser. In the wider team sadly we’ve lost two artists, Ricardo Garijo and Josè Maria Jorge. Both had drawn for us for years (almost from the start for Josè Maria) and both had become friends as well as colleagues. The loss has been keenly felt. Commando welcomed back Manuel Benet who has drawn for us on and off for many years. We’ve also had scripts from new writers Mac Macdonald, Steve Coombs and Colin Howard which has worked out very well.

Your homepage has been updated recently and seems to be ready for new things, what is going on with that.

After a number of years working in a blog-style, the site has been re-vamped for a fresh look and to provide a platform for our new online services. Already you will be able to buy posters direct from the site. Books will follow. You can sign up for a paper subscription and, early in 2011, we will be offering a digital subscription to Commando. These are exciting developments which we hope will secure the future of the title for many years to come and provide a place where any future Commando products can be showcased. More to the point we hope it will allow us to regularly update our loyal readers on what’s going on in the Commando world. We’re working on a Facebook page for that too.

Also, in the last 12 months, Commando has resurfaced in Norway as Kamp og Kommando, any more countries showing interest?

At least one other Baltic nation has expressed an interest but it’s early days so we don’t know if it will progress any further.

You have also worked with Airfix in at least two campaigns, who contacted who?

About the time I took over, there was a documentary on the TV about the re-birth of Airfix after many troubled years. Watching it, I was struck by the similarity between Airfix and Commando. It only took a phone call to Darrell at Airfix to start the relationship off as he was in complete agreement. I handed things over to our marketing folks and they did the rest. It’s definitely benefitted us as our subscription rate has soared a massive 25% in the last year. I hope it’s helped them too as their products played a large part in my childhood.

I thought it was a brilliant move, how did it work out for you?

I think it’s been a great success and I hope we’ll be able to keep collaborating for years to come.

How has media interest been lately?

We seem to pick up interest from time to time but we are expecting more this year coming, especially around the middle of the year at our 50th birthday.

It has been said that the Commando books that has been released by Carlton sold rather well, any chance of a few more to come?

We’ve put our heads together with Carlton to select another 10 stories to be released as “Rogue Raiders” in May. They’ll also be producing a new three-issue format to be released in July. There will be four books in the range and the titles are not confirmed as yet.

It would be nice if somebody penned a book about Commando, any signals that something like this is going on?

Can’t say anything definite at the moment but it’s not outwith the bounds of possibility...

I guess issue 5000 is going to be the next reason to celebrate after 2011, that has a nice ring to it does it not, 5000!

That’ll be late August 2015 by my reckoning. We’ll definitely have a party for that!

Do you have a current storyline in the works that you can give us a hint about right now? I know ideas pop up in many different ways.

Mac Macdonald created two new characters for his story "Seeing Double" which were very well received. In particular Carlos Pino the artist who gave the characters form. We had intended that the story would be a one-off as there surely couldn't be more than a single story based on lookalikes of Adolf Hitler and General Bernard Montgomery. Yet Mac has come up with one so Carlos will be illustrating it in the next few months and we'll release it later this year. The setting has changed from the North African Desert and the war is over. The pair have gone their separate ways for the time being but danger is not far away and their "identities" are crucial to the tale. One to look out for. Ferg Handley has set off for the Aleutian Islands for his latest story. This remote outpost was the scene of fierce fighting between the Japanese and the Americans during World War 2 and Ferg has used this as a backdrop to his story as tensions between some of the US soldiers threaten to land them in deep trouble.

Any Roman or Viking stories in the pipeline at the moment?

Nothing on the stocks right now but we never know what’s going to pop through the letterbox.

Would you like to add something to this interview?

I'd very much like everybody who reads this to visit our new website and have a good look round. Then please tell me what you think. Comment direct to the site or e-mail me through the contact form. Tell me if there's anything you think we've missed out and how you rate what we have done so far. It's your site, so tell us how to make it suit you better.

Thank you very much.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Comic Cuts - 22 March 2013

Happy birthday Bear Alley Books!

Two years old yesterday. What feels like a lifetime ago, we put out our first book. The official release date was 25th March, but copies started shipping out on Monday the 21st. A bit like the Queen, we have a real birthday and an official birthday, although we don't wait for the warm weather to celebrate the latter.

I mentioned a few statistics last week relating to sales – which are best described as a slow but steady trickle – so I thought I'd do a Top 10 Sellers list for you, complementing the list I produced at the end of last year which covered only 2012.

Our All-Time Top Sellers Top 10 (as of 21 March 2013) looks like this:

1 Pages from History by C. L. Doughty
2 Lion King of Story Papers
3 Eagles Over the Western Front Vol. 1
4 Eagles Over the Western Front Vol. 2
5 Eagles Over the Western Front Vol. 3
6 Hurricane & Champion
7 Sexton Blake Annual 1940
8 London is Stranger Than Fiction
9 Sexton Blake Annual 1938
10 Sexton Blake Annual 1941

The next book should be out early next month if all goes to plan. Life would have been a lot easier if I'd not decided to include a couple of strips in the book and then had a change of heart over which strips to include. I'm glad I did, because it forced me to put out King Solomon's Mines and Treasure Island in colour, which I'm proud even though I'm making virtually nothing out of them. It also meant chosing a couple of replacements. In fact I've picked three: an adaptation of Macbeth with art by Ruggero Giovannini, an adaptation of Moby Dick by Franco Caprioli and a series about flying aces of the two world wars by Colin Merrett. That's about 44 pages of strips.

The problem is that all three need cleaning up. Collectors are used to reading comics that have turned yellow with age. Although we can tune out that yellow tint when we're reading old comics, scanners aren't so forgiving. The yellow really shows up and the end results could potentially look terrible – Bear Alley Books' are printed on higher quality, whiter paper than the original comics; at the same time, if you try to remove the tint by brightening up the page, you lose any quality you have in the ink washes used on some strips.

And that's the problem I'm having with 'The Adventures of Macbeth' . . . I'm having to re-ink the pages to bring them up to scratch. It's dull, laborious work and is taking some time to get right. The results, however, are great...

Mid-week I received a call from The Guardian saying that James Herbert had died. This came as quite a shock as, even at 69, I never thought of him as old. I believe he died quite suddenly, in bed at home. This was at six o'clock, but for various reasons I couldn't begin writing anything until around eleven that night and e-mailed the results over to the office at a quarter-to-five in the morning before crawling into bed. I'm still feeling absolutely knackered. Oh, for the days when I could pull an all-nighter and get up and party the next day.

Anyway, for today's random scans I thought I'd treat you to a few pages from Herbert's little-known graphic novel, The City. Drawn by Ian Miller, I think it was an interesting experiment to take a comic to the huge  audience Herbert had built up for his Rats novels. I don't think there was enough to it to satisfy a comic audience raised on Alan Moore and it lacked the sex and humour that Herbert was known for. There was no real peril to The Traveller, who seemed to have an endless supply of weapons that allowed him to shoot, detonate or burn any creatures that attacked him. That said, I think you'll agree that the artwork looks stunning.

Next week we have the last couple of episodes of our 'Eagles Over the Western Front' serial and our regular recent and upcoming releases columns. Not sure what I'm doing for tomorrow, but Sunday should see a revision of my old Hal Clement cover gallery with some new and one or two improved scans.

(* The City © James Herbert & Ian Miller; The Adventures of Macbeth © Look and Learn Ltd.)


Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books