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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.)


  1. The death of James Herbert was certainly a shock. Unlike some horror writers such as Shaun Hutson, Herbert seemed to change his style over the years and some of his later books such as Magic Cottage had a lyrical quality. However, his final book 'Ash' was extremely poor although Amazon reviewers have been totally divided as it has an average of 3* with about 180 giving it a 1* and about the same number giving it a

  2. Congrats on a significant milestone! Here's to many, many more years of great production!