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Friday, March 15, 2013

Comic Cuts - 15 March 2012


Every now and then the planets align and something surprising happens. The one does not cause the other. It's a coincidence, nothing more. But quite a surprise when it happens, such as when you have five books come out in nine days, just as you are about to celebrate a birthday or two.

Bear Alley Books was launched in March 2011. The official launch date of the first two books was 25 March, although I see from a contemporary blog post that the first copies were posted out on the 21st. These were followed two months later by the first volume of Eagles Over the Western Front. In total, Bear Alley Books has published 16 volumes in two years ... and if you're not  aware of our books, head over to the Bear Alley Books website and take a look.

We've had one title sell out – the print run was tiny! – and a couple of books that have sold reasonably well. None of the books will be troubling the bestsellers charts any time soon and not one of them has achieved a three-figure circulation, although a couple of titles are creeping towards that landmark. Ten of them have sold under 50 copies although two of those have only just come out. Cumulatively, we've sold around 630 books, so that's an average of about 40 per title.

Not bad for a one-man outfit with zero budget, although I have to admit that it would be nice if the effort-in to profit-out ratio was a little better.

I said that this little celebration involved a number of coincidence. Here's one: as well as the second anniversary of Bear Alley Books, it is also the fifth anniversary of the publication of my first endeavor for Book Palace Books. Set up by Geoff West, I was involved in putting together a reprint of Frank Bellamy's Robin Hood strip from the pages of Swift and that book appeared in March 2008. I have done a few other titles for Book Palace and the latest, the fifth in five years, appears this week.

By coincidence, it, too, involves King Solomon's Mines. And by coincidence, it, too, has a strip by Mike Hubbard. The planets have aligned, resulting in Hubbard's versions of King Solomon's Mines and its sequel Allan Quatermain, unseen for nearly fifty years, reappearing on the same day! Both strips are stunning and there are good reasons to pick up both of them. The Bear Alley Books' King Solomon's Mines reprints Hubbard's strip in full colour. The Allan Quatermain strip, 'painted' in line & wash, has been reproduced from the original artwork with the text completely reset and the results are astonishingly good. Just see below if you don't believe me.

The book also includes two reprints from the pages of Look and Learn. Bill Baker began adapting King Solomon's Mines in 1978 but never had the chance to complete it. Did he fall ill? Did he die? To my knowledge he never drew another strip.  It was taken over by C. L. Doughty, who completed it in his usual superb, vigorous style. The third strip in this trio is my favourite: an astonishing adaptation of Montezuma's Daughter by Jesus Blasco. It's truly gorgeous and to give you a taste, I'm going to forego the random scans this week and just let you see some of the artwork. Scroll down. You won't regret it.

Allan Quatermain appeared in Ranger, which is, coincidentally, the index that I'm working on at the moment. I have been roughing out some layouts this week and have about forty-five pages done. I'll have more news on this next week.

To add the the celebrations, the French edition of Eagles Over the Western Front was published by Les Éditions Clair de Lune on 7 March. Les Aigles sur le Front Ouest is to be published in three 96-page hardcover volumes, two of which have just appeared, priced €15.90.

I haven't seen the books themselves, just the announcement of their release, but – hard covers aside – they're similar to the editions I put out two years ago. I think they also include the feature material I wrote for the books.

Over the weekend we have the results of my investigation into the writing career of Anton Lind – don't get too excited because I discovered almost nothing! – and a cover gallery featuring the Jim Stringer novels of Andrew Martin.

(* Artwork © Look and Learn Ltd.)


Anonymous said...

Steve, can't wait to have your books in my hands! Will surely live up to my expectations.
Will have to buy that one from Book Palace, too. If not to see the glorious artwork of Jesus Blasco.
My own copy of "Montezuma's Daughter" I have, published in Portugal in the 70's (or beginning of the 80's ?) is pretty much battered down.

Anyway, I can' wait for these to pop up at my home.


Steve said...

Hi Alberto,

All orders for the latest books have been mailed out, so you should have your copies shortly (I must admit I don't know what the delivery time is to Portugal).

The Montezuma's Daughter strip is beautiful and the reproduction is better than in its original appearance in Look and Learn. I suspect that will be true for all its previous appearances.