Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mick Farren: Cover Gallery

Mick Farren , a leading figure in the UK underground, a musician (with The Deviants), lyricist (for Hawkwind, Motorhead, Pink Fairies, etc.), journalist (with IT, the NME, CityBeat and others) and author, died on 27 July 2013 after collapsing on stage whilst performing with The Deviants at the Borderline Club in London.

He was born Michael Anthony Farren in Cheltenham on 3 September 1943 and came to the public attention as the lead singer with The Deviants (originally The Social Deviants) in the late 1960s. The band recorded Ptooff! (1967), Disposable (1968) and 3 (1969) before disbanding. To fulfill his contract, Farran recorded Mona–The Carnivorous Circus (1970) before concentrating on journalism and writing novels.

Following the publication of The Texts of Festival in 1973, he went on to write two dozen novels. Most were published in the USA and had no separate publication in the UK; in fact, Farran had not had a UK paperback out for twenty years bar an omnibus edition of the DNA Cowboys trilogy (which, by the time the omnibus came out, was actually a quartet). His recording career continued in an intermittent way throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, later albums including Eating Jello with a Heated Fork (199), Barbarian Princes (1999) and Dr. Crow (2002).

Farren's autobiography, Give the Anarchist a Cigarette, was published in 2001. Farren and The Deviants had performed at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival and his appearance at The Atomic Sunshine One Day Festival at the Borderline featured a new line-up of the band.

The Text of Festivals (London, Hart-Davis, MacGibbon, 1973)
Mayflower 583-12301-5, 1975, 205pp, 50p. Cover by Peter Jones

The Tale of Willy's Rat

The Quest of the DNA Cowboys
Mayflower 583-12448-8, 1976, 223pp, 60p. Cover by Peter Jones

Synaptic Manhunt
Mayflower 583-12565-4, 1976, 252pp, 75p. Cover by Peter Jones

The Neural Atrocity
Mayflower 583-12603-0, 1977, 191pp, 60p. Cover by Peter Jones

The Feelies (London, Big O, 1978)

The Song of Phaid the Gambler
New English Library 0450-05343-1, Oct 1981, 537pp, £1.75. Cover by Tim White
----, [Xth ed.] Aug 1987, 537pp, £3.95.

New English Library 0450-05708-9, Nov 1984, 252pp £1.95.
----, [2nd ed.?], Aug 1987.

Corpse (a.k.a. Vikers)
New English Library 0450-05841-7, Aug 1986, 304pp, £2.50.

Their Master's War (New York, Ballantine Del Rey, Jan 1988)
Sphere 0747-40269-8, Dec 1988, 295pp, £3.50.

Exit Funtopia (as The Long Orbit, New York, Ballantine Del Rey, Sep 1988)
Sphere 0747-40140-3, Aug 1989, 264pp, £3.50.

Armageddon Crazy (as The Armageddon Crazy, New York, Ballantine Del Rey, May 1989)
Orbit 0747-40470-4, Apr 1990, 282pp, £3.50.

The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys (New York, Ballantine Del Rey, Sep 1989)
Orbit 0747-40469, Oct 1990, 283pp, £3.50.

Mars - The Red Planet (New York, Ballantine Del Rey, Mar 1990)
(no UK paperback)

Necrom (New York, Ballantine Del Rey, Feb 1991)
(no UK paperback)

The Time of Feasting (New York, Tor, Dec 1996)
(no UK paperback)

Car Warriors: Back From Hell (New York, Tor, Mar 1999)
(no UK paperback)

Jim Morrison's Adventures in the Afterlife (New York, St. Martin's, Nov 1999)
(no UK paperback)

Darklost (New York, Tor, Mar 2000)
(no UK paperback)

More Than Mortal (New York, Tor, Aug 2001)
(no UK paperback)

Underland (New York, Tor, Nov 2002)
(no UK paperback)

Kindling (New York, Tor, Aug 2004)
(no UK paperback)

Conflagration (New York, Tor, Jun 2006)
(no UK paperback)


The DNA Cowboys Trilogy
Do-Not-Press, Aug 2002, 532pp.

Bonus pic... The Tim White cover to The Song of Phaid the Gambler was a sort of wraparound cover but did not wrap around the spine. I've merged the two parts from the front and back, which is why the lettering of the blurb and title looks rather odd.

James Mayo: Cover Gallery

James Mayo was the pen-name of journalist Stephen Coulter, about whom almost nothing appears to be known. Indeed, everything that is known seems to be encapsulated in Donald McCormick's entry for Coulter in Who's Who In Spy Fiction, which reveals that
Coulter was educated in Britain and France, studying in Paris in the early 'thirties. He began his career as a newspaperman in the British home counties where, he says, 'I was expected to do everything from reporting to making up and sometimes had to drive the delivery vans.' He had travelled widely and in 1937 joined Reuters News Agency as one of their Parliamentary staff correspondents. During the war he served in the Royal Navy and was appointed one of General Eisenhower's staff officers at Supreme Headquarters, assigned to special Intelligence work on France and Scandinavia. His work carried him to Paris immediately after the Liberation and for more than twenty years after the war he was staff correspondent for Kemsley Newspapers, including the Sunday Times, in Paris. One of the interesting sidelines on Coulter's career is that, but for his expertise and research, Ian Fleming might never have been able to write the casino scenes in Casino Royale. It was Coulter who provided the background to casino know-how and so saved Fleming from possibly dropping the whole idea. From then on Coulter saw the light and started to write seriously and furiously on his own account.
To this account I can add little. There appears to be some question over his year of birth—nobody has come up with an actual date—with both 1913 and 1914 being offered with almost equal confidence by different sites. McCormick reports 1914 whilst a Pan Books biography says 1913, adding that he was born in London and spent several years studying music and travelling in Europe and the Far East before joining Reuters.

I'm reasonably certain that Stephen Coulter was not his real name, or at the very least not his full name, although his novels were registered for copyright in the USA as Stephen Coulter. I should add that this is not proof in itself: Shamelady by James Mayo was registered for copyright as if James Mayo was a real name.

Coulter's debut novel The Loved Enemy was set in West Africa and was described by Marghanita Laski as being "influenced to a quite fantastic extent by Graham Greene. All the master's tricks are there, the potentially noble men defeated, the loathsome habits of the socially insecure, the unrelieved seediness, the long, long lists of depressing objects ... I don't want to be unjust to Mr. Coulter's very competent first novel, but undoubtedly its greatest value is as a means of learning something about a better writer." (The Observer, 1 June 1952)

Also described as a debut novel was Rebound by James Mayo, published many years later in 1961: "Another highly competent first novel, with no hint of inexperience," was Francis Iles' take on this story of blackmail. But, of course, it was neither Coulter's debut novel, nor even James Mayo's as, in 1952, Mayo had been used as a byline for The Quickness of the Hand, a thriller set in England about a man on the run, who believes that the only way he will prove that he is not a murderer, is to find the real killers.

A later biography of Guy de Maupassant, Damned Shall Be Desire, saw Coulter immerse himself in the period and his subject. "It gives a quite extraordinarily energetic reproduction of a pastily-glittering age, and charts with intelligence and sympathy, as well as minute familiarity, most of the external steps to Maupassant's glory and on to his terrible end." (Anne Duchene, The Manchester Guardian, 28 October 1958) His study of Dostoevsky, The Devil Inside, was written as fiction, which allowed him to elaborate on some of the more lurid moments of his subject's life. "The bedroom conversations ring true; but is it really necessary to describe what happened when the conversation stopped?" asked Richard West (The Guardian, 11 March 1960) as he complained about some of the more purple passages in the book. West's review gave with one hand and took with the other: "The physical Doestoevsky comes to life in all his sullen power; you can almost hear him mumbling. But you still cannot understand what he thinks, which is all that really matters."

"Too fantastic; too disassociated for a crime story; but it's well worth reading for setting and characterisation," was Maurice Richardson's opinion (The Observer, 22 July 1964) of A Season of Nerves, whose plot turns on a French peasant-farmer's ability to hypnotise a young Englishman tutoring in Limoges into becoming a homicidal psychopath.

Coulter's Threshold was serialised in the Sunday Express in 1964. A British nuclear submarine is damaged and becomes stranded on the seabed in Soviet waters and Britain's cabinet ministers have to decide whether to destroy the vessel and surviving crew or risk a diplomatic incident (or worse) with Russia. Offshore was set in a corrupt South American republic where the revolutionary movement in the capital is increasingly, and violently, active, against which backdrop an ambassador is kidnapped. The Soyuz Affair was a spy thriller set in Athens in which a newspaper correspondent discovers that the CIA is responsible for the death of three Russian cosmonauts.

James Mayo became best known in the sixties as the author of the Charles Hood series of novels—Hammerhead, Let Sleeping Girls Lie, Shamelady, Once in a Lifetime (a.k.a. Sergeant Death), The Man Above Suspicion and Asking For It. Hood is an agent for a group of businessmen known as The Circle whose interests often coincided with those of the Foreign Office and British intelligence services, who could call on Hood's aid in a crisis. The novels were violent, sexy and deliberately aimed at the James Bond market.

His novels Hammerhead and Embassy were both filmed, the former with a cast that included Vince Edwards (as Charles Hood), Peter Vaughan, Judy Geeson and Diana Dors, the latter starring Richard Roundtree.

Coulter's last novel, Blood-Tie, appeared from Constable in 1988.



Hammerhead (London, Heinemann, 1964)
Pan Books X461, 1966, 222pp.
---- [2nd imp.] 1966; [3rd imp.] 1966
Pan Books 0331-10461-6 [4th imp.] 1968; [5th imp.] 1968; [6th imp.] 1969
---- [7th imp.] 1971, 222pp, 25p. Cover: photo

Let Sleeping Girls Lie (London, Heinemann, 1965)
Pan Books X602, 1967, 187pp.
---- [2nd imp.] 1968; [3rd imp.] 1969
Pan Books 0331-10692-3 [4th imp.] 1970, 187pp, 25p. Cover: photo

Shamelady (London, Heinemann, 1966)
Pan Books 0330-10603-1, 1968, 188pp.
---- [2nd imp.] 1968
---- [3rd imp.] 1970, 188pp, 25p. Cover: photo

Once in a Lifetime (London, Heinemann, 1968; as Sergeant Death, New York, Morrow, 1968)
Pan Books 0330-02331-4, 1969, 192pp.

The Man Above Suspicion (London, Heinemann, 1969)
Pan Books 0330-02566-X, 1970, 191pp.

Asking For It (London, Heinemann, 1971)
Pan Books 0330-23231-2, 1972, 158pp, 25p. Cover: photo
---- [2nd imp.] * recover?


The Quickness of the Hand (Deutsch, 1952)
Pan Books G203, 1959, 187pp. Cover by Pat Owen
Pan Books [2nd imp.] 1963. Cover as above
Pan Books [3rd imp.] 1971, 188pp, 25p. Cover: photo
---- [4th imp.] 1971.

Rebound (London, Heinemann, 1961)
Pan Books G619, 1963, 155pp.

A Season of Nerves (London, Heinemann, 1962)
Pan Books X337, 1964, 190pp.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

J. H. Batchelor

Born in Essex in 1936, John Henry Batchelor has been one of the leading technical illustrators of hardware for five decades. Growing up in Leigh-on-Sea during the Second World War, he witnessed dogfights between British and German aircraft in the Essex skies and, even at the age of four, put pencil to paper to draw scenes of aerial combat. The Essex coastline was one of the expected invasion points in Hitler's planned attack on a Britain softened up by the Luftwaffe, and Batchelor's early years were spent surrounded by fascinating military hardware, from tanks to machine guns. By the age of seven he could strip and reassemble a .303 Lewis machine gun and draw its constituent parts.

He left home at 16, travelling for two years before performing his National Service with the R.A.F. Batchelor began drawing for the technical publications of Bristol Aircraft Co., Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. and Saunders-Roe Ltd. One of his last jobs for Saunders-Roe was on the plans for a nuclear-powered version of the (ultimately cancelled) ten-engined Princess flying-boat.

In the early 1960s he turned freelance, contributing to Model Maker and Model Cars. Some of his earliest drawings were cutaways for the Eagle comic; in all he produced 44 episodes (making him the joint fourth most prolific contributor). His illustrations also appeared in Boys' World, Lion, Ranger and Tell Me Why. He also worked for the far more prestigious markets, including Time-Life Books, which led to his involvement in one of the most ambitious projects in publishing history: Purnell's History of the Second World War. Launched in 1966 under the overall editorship of Sir Basil Liddell-Hart, this massive partwork—for which Batchelor producing a total of 1,163 illustrations—had sold 10 million copies by 1976. To celebrate this momentous achievement, Batchelor was presented, by Douglas Bader, a solid silver model of a British Saladin armoured car from his grateful publisher.

He continued his association with Purnell as they launched History of the First World War and Encyclopedia of Modern Weapons and Warfare, which added to a total of almost 20 million copies sold. Many of the illustrations were reprinted in book form during the 1970s (the bibliography below is likely to be incomplete) and has also illustrated a wide range of other books—and continues to do so. He has also drawn countless illustrations for the American magazine, Popular Science and has had his paintings exhibited around the world.

Since the mid-1980s, he has also produced artwork for postage stamps via the Crown Agency for 40 countries around the globe, including many for the British Commonwealth. In 2003 he launched his own company, Publishing Solutions, to reprint selections of his work.

On 29 December 2012, Batchelor was awarded the M.B.E. for "services to Illustration" as part of the Queen's New Year Honours list.


Tank. A history of the armoured fighting vehicle, with Kenneth Macksey. London, Macdonald & Co., 1970; revised, Macdonald, 1973.
Fighter. A history of fighter aircraft, with Bryan Cooper. London, Macdonald & Co., 1973.
Rail Gun, text by Ian Hogg. Broadstone, John Batchelor Ltd., 1973; New York, Scribner, 1973.
Fighting Aircraft of World War One and Two, compiled by Susan Joiner. London, Phoebus, 1976.
Fighting Ships of World War One and Two, compiled by Anne Maclean & Suzanne Poole, 1976.
Battleships, 1856-1977, text by Antony Preston. London, Phoebus, 1977.
Fighters, 1914-1945, text by Bill Gunston. London & New York, Hamlyn, 1978.
Air Power. A modern illustrated military history, text by Bill Gunston. London, Phoebus, 1979.
Airborne Warfare, 1918-1945, text by Barry Gregory. London, Phoebus, 1979.
Land Power. A modern illustrated military history. London, Phoebus, 1979.
Illustration in Action, with Geraldine Christy. Poole, Blandford, 1985.
Flight, with Christopher Chant. Limpsfield, Dragon's World, 1990.
Historic Sailing Ships Postcards; 24 full-colour paintings. London, Constable, 1992; New York, Dover, 1992.
North American Lighthouses. Colouring book. London, Constable, 1995; New York, Dover, 1995.
World War II Allied Aircraft Planes [trading cards], text by Philip Smith. London, Constable, 1995; Mineola, N.Y., Dover, 1995.
100 Historic Aircraft in Full Colour. Mineola, N.Y., Dover Publications, 2000.
World War II Warships. Mineola, N.Y., Dover, 2006.
De Havilland Mosquito, text by Malcolm Lowe. Wimborne, Publishing Solutions in association with Minster Press, 2008.
B-17 Flying Fortress, text by Malcolm Lowe. Wimborne, Publishing Solutions in association with Minster Press, 2008.
Fairey Swordfish, text by Malcolm Lowe. Wimborne, Publishing Solutions in association with Minster Press, 2009.

Illustrated books
Aircraft by Kenneth Munson, illus. with others, 1971; adapted for easy reading by Louise M. Moyle, London, Macdonald & Co., 1975.
Ships by Brian Benson, illus. with others. London, Macdonald & Co., 1971; adapted for easy reading by Jim Rogerson, London, Macdonald & Co., 1975.
Arms and Armour by Frederick Wilkinson, illus. with Arthur Gay. London, Hamlyn, 1971.
Armoured Fighting Vehicles by John F. Milsom. London, Hamlyn, 1972.
Artillery by Ian Hogg. London, Macdonald & Co., 1972.
Spotlight on Soldiers by Frederick Wilkinson, illus. with others. Feltham, Hamlyn, 1973.
Richard's Bicycle Book by Richard Ballantine. New York, Ballantine Books, 1972; London, Pan Books, 1975; revised, Pan Books, 1976; new revised ed., Pan Books, 1977.
Sail Racer by Jack Knights. St. Albans, Coles, 1973.
A Historic Artillery by Ian V. Hogg. London, Hamlyn, 1974.
The Story of the Bomber by Bryan Cooper. London, Octopus Books, 1974.
Weapons and Armour by A. J. Barker, illus. with others. London, Hamlyn, 1974.
Armies of the American Revolution by Ian V. Hogg, edited by S. L. Mayer. London, Leo Cooper for Bison Books Ltd., 1975.
German Fighting Vehicles 1939-1945, with Peter Chamberlain & Chris Ellis.London, Phoebus, 1975.
German Tanks 1939-1945, with Chris Ellis & Peter Chamberlain. London, Phoebus, 1975.
Jet Fighters by David A. Anderton, ed. Bernard Fitzsimons. London, Phoebus, 1975.
The Navies of the American Revolution by Antony Preston & David Lyon, ed. S. J. Mayer. London, Leo Cooper for Bison Books Ltd., 1975; Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1975.
Submarines. The history and evolution of underwater fighting vessels by Antony Preston. London, Octopus Books, 1975.
Weapons and Uniforms of the U.S.S.R. by Fred Stevens & Ian V. Hogg. London, Phoebus/BPC Pub., 1975.
German Tanks and Fighting Vehicles of World War II by Chris Ellis & Peter Chamberlain (contains German Fighting Vehicles 1939-1945 and German Tanks 1939-1945). London, Phoebus, 1976)
German & Allied Secret Weapons of World War II by Ian V. Hogg & J. B. King. London, Phoebus, 1976; Seacaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books in association with Phoebus, 1976.
Jet Fighters and Bombers by David A. Anderton, ed. Bernard Fitzsimons. London, Phoebus, 1976.
An Illustrated History of the Navies of World War II by Antony Preston, introduced & edited by S. L. Mayer. London, Hamlyn, 1976.
The Machine Gun, 1976; combined with The Submachine Gun as The Complete Machine Gun by Ian V. Hogg. London, Phoebus, 1979.
Weapons & War Machines by Andrew Kershaw & Ian Close. London, Phoebus, 1976.
Helicopters at War by Bill Gunston. New York & London, Hamlyn, 1977.
Naval Aircraft 1914-1939 by Louis S. Casey. London, Phoebus, 1977.
The Tank Story by Ian Hogg. London, Phoebus, 1977.
Naval Gun by Ian Hogg. Poole, Blandford Press, 1978.
The Complete Handgun: 1300 to the present by Ian V. Hogg. London, Phoebus, 1979.
The Submachine Gun, 1978; combined with The Machine Gun as The Complete Machine Gun by Ian V. Hogg. London, Phoebus, 1979.
Sea Power by Antony Preston & Louis S. Casey. London, Phoebus, 1979.
The Illustrated History of Seaplanes and Flying Boats by Louis S. Casey. London, Hamlyn, 1980.
The Airborne Soldier by John Weeks. Poole, Dorset, Blandford Press, 1982.
The Fighting Ship by Bernard Brett, illus. with Ivan Lapper. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1985.
Fighter by Chris Chant. Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1988.
Handgun by John Walter. Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1988.
Richard's New Bicycle Book by Richard Ballantine, illus. with Peter Williams. London, Pan Books, 1990.
Twentieth Century War Machines: Land by Christopher Chant. London, Chancellor Press, 1999.
A Century of Triumph. The history of aviation by Christopher Chant. New York & London, Free Press, 2002.
Soul of the Sword. An illustrated history of weaponry and warfare from prehistory to the present by Robert L. O'Connell. New York, Free Press, 2002.

(* Some background material has been derived from Batchelor's own website here.) 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Comic Cuts - 26 July 2013

I'm back!

I hope you've all had a good week. I've been on a staycation, doing very much the same kind of thing that I do from one week to the next, except this week I've had Mel to keep me company—she had a week's holiday that needed using up. We've had quite a fun week, going for walks, catching up on some TV and suffering multiple cattacks (n. the act or an instance of attention seeking by a cat) from a neighbour's cat by the name of Scatterpuss. Scatterpuss is a summer cat—we've never seen her during the cold weather—who turns up at all times of the day. I have the back door open and usually the first we know of an imminent cattack is a plaintive meow as Scatterpuss wanders through into the kitchen. Wednesday evening we were watching TV and, having dozed on the floor for a while, she jumped up onto the sofa, rolled over and fell asleep, belly-up, paws occasional twitching as she chased dream birds. Spark out for the next hour.

Now, this is the same cat we'd seen fast asleep in the window of her own home only a half hour earlier. I imagine she was turfed out while her owners had their dinner and decided to trek a whole nine houses down the road to ours just so she could continue her snooze.

The fact that I'm talking about this will tell you that I'm feeling nicely relaxed. I haven't stopped working and I've kept up with my three-miles-a-day walks, the results of which are beginning to show... in both cases. At my last weigh in I'd lost half a stone, although my tummy doesn't seem to have shrunk any. The scales don't lie which means there's 2½ percent less of me than when I started two months ago.

Of greater interest to most of you, the second draft of the Boys' World introduction was finished Tuesday and I have been playing around with layouts for a couple of days. I've a nice opening spread that I'm quite proud of, based around the way the comic itself was laid out in its early days. I've also started laying out the introduction.

Above you'll see the cover I'm planning to use on the book, based on the cover for issue nine. There's a special reason for picking that particular cover, but you'll have to buy the book and read the introduction to find out why.

The back cover is very likely to be an example of a feature called 'Ticket to Adventure', which appeared for a few months on the back cover of Boys' World in colour. At the moment I'm thinking of one that was written by Mike Moorcock and painted by Brian Lewis. But I've yet to make a final decision. For fans of Mike—and of Harry Harrison—this should be a book of special interest. There's solid information in here about their contributions to the magazine, much of it revealed for the first time.

The 'Ticket to Adventure' theme is also reflected in the title of the introduction, which is called 'Ticket to... Adventure!' I thought you might enjoy seeing how the opening two pages of the piece came together...

The whole spread is built up in layers using a number of different elements from the actual comic. The 'Ticket to Adventure' symbol had to be quite extensively cleaned up and was scanned at 1,200 dpi to give me the size of image I wanted— the spread is over 43cm wide and 30cm deep with a roughly ½cm bleed all around to allow the book to be trimmed. The title lettering is 132 pt Impact!

The image of the diver was scanned at 600 dpi in colour; there was a lot of text and two small panels that had to be removed before the image was converted to black & white, brightened up and dropped into place. The blank area at the top of the page was a section of artwork blown up to fit the width of the spread. At that point I dropped in some text to see what it might look like. The results are OK, but I thought the final page needed something down the left hand side to balance the image on the right. Thankfully, the Brian Lewis original provided the perfect elements, although, again, it required a good deal of work to remove extraneous bits of artwork and text. I altered the shape of the text box so we have a single, wide column rather than two slimmer columns. It's a format I used on the C. L. Doughty book and one that I like the look of. Finally I put in a couple of bits of furniture—a logo—at the top which will be repeated throughout the book. Depending on how the next few pages look, I may add something to underline the text box, but we shall just have to wait and see how the design progresses.

If I can keep up the pace over the next couple of weeks, we're looking at publication some time in August. Not the best month to launch a new book but I need to get it out so I can get on with the next one. And the next one will be... it's probably going to be Valiant, but in my relaxed state this week I had an interesting idea for another title that I haven't previously covered. It's fun for me to look into the history of papers that I've never explored before even if Valiant is my all-time favourite.

Today's random scans are recent additions to past cover galleries. Firstly, and quite surprisingly, I found a Colin Forbes novel (Whirlpool) in a local newsagent that I hadn't visited before. We had run out of milk and would normally go to the Co-Op, but they don't open until ten on a Sunday... hence the visit to this newsagents who, it turns out, has a shelf full of second-hand books. I shall be visiting them regularly from hereon!

Next up, a couple of additions to the recent Nebula Awards galleries. The Gene Wolfe... I'm annoyed with myself because I saw three of the 'Book of the New Sun' series on sale recently, including the first in the series. Unfortunately, it had a massive crease down the front cover and, to be honest, I'd overspent on books and DVDs that week, so I didn't pick them up. That was when I decided to do the Nebula galleries and, fortunately, one of them was still there... so I now have part two of the series but not part one.

And, finally, Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312. Set 300 years in the future when it was released... somehow it has less resonance as a title when it's 299 years.

I'm hoping to get back up to speed after my week off and should have material to post for next week. We will certainly have the monthly recent and upcoming releases lists, plus whatever else I can squeeze in.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Girl Quest!

[[UPDATE: 23 July 2012—I now have the information I need. I'm very grateful to readers of Bear Alley for their efforts to hook me up with the relevant issues.]]

OK, folks. I need some help with a little query. I'm trying to track down a short run of Girl comic—the companion paper to Eagle—from the month of January 1964. Do you have them? Do you know anyone who might have them? Drop me a line (my e-mail address is below the photo, top left). Digging out the information I need should be a nice easy task once I've located those issues.

No, I don't need the issue pictured. It's the three issues immediately afterwords (vol. 13: 1-3). Anyone?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Comic Cuts - 19 July 2013

This has been a week where the universe has been beautifully balanced. So...

My plan was to begin doing layouts on the new Boys' World book on Monday. I managed to scan two pictures. But that frustration was balanced out by the arrival of some key information that sent me scurrying around trying to dig out old interviews, trawling books for dates and thoroughly revising my timeline for events that led up to the creation of the paper. Once all this new information was assimilated, I was able to start on the second draft of the introduction with a lot more confidence and one or two gaps I had been forced to leave could now be plugged.

So that's shaping up nicely now and I should have the second draft finished this weekend. Certainly it will be complete enough for me to (finally) start roughly laying out the pages. Oh, joy... I'll be doing huge amounts of scanning during the hottest part of the year. At least I'll be able to listen to the stack of radio shows I've allowed to build up while I've been writing. I can't listen to drama while I'm writing because both rely on the same bit of the brain; I once listened to a whole hour and a half Agatha Christie murder mystery while I was working on something and found, at the end, that I have a clue who the victim had been, let alone the murderer. If I'm writing, I listen to albums I've heard a million times or soundtracks which tinkle away in the background like aural wallpaper. Once I get into the scanning and cleaning up artwork phase I can listen to the latest batch of Martin Beck mysteries, the new Paul Temple series and a few other things I have clogging up my hard drive.

More balance in the Universe: our water bill seemed unexpectedly high considering this was the first we had received since our new boiler was installed and we no longer suffered from the tank overspilling. It could be some seasonal variation or maybe it was measured over a slightly longer period. But while I was scratching my head over that one, the electricity bill arrived and they owed us money! Not only that, but they had enclosed a cheque. We're five quid richer!

I shall celebrate with something greasy and fattening. And for those of you following the occasional mentions of my health, you'll be pleased to hear that at my last weigh-in I'd lost another couple of pounds. According to my Body Mass Index I'm still classified as "Obese Class II (Severely obese)"—one of the reasons I started thinking seriously about my lifestyle and health—but I'm slowly slipping down towards "Obese Class I (Moderately obese)", dropping from 37.59 to 35.88 over the past couple of months. I'm using the NHS healthy weight calculator if you'd like to compare your BMI to mine. Although the tiny weight loss hasn't done much for my oversized tummy, walking three miles a day (up from 2 1/2 a few weeks back) is doing wonders for my bad back.

Today's random scan is from Malcolm Edwards, who was able to briefly visit the auction of Peter Haining's books at Cheffins in Cambridge on 11 July. Haining's books and old pulps appeared to have been gathered up by the armful and dumped into boxes without a great deal of thought to separating out the scarce titles from the more common. A lot of choice items had already been sold earlier this year but the auction still realised a good few thousands of pounds.

Crime and Money was a collection of true stories by R. Thurston Hopkins published by Worlds Work in 1936. 128 pages, priced 1/- and not a common item. This is the first time I've seen it and, after a bit of Photoshop magic, you can now see it, too.

Next week. I'm not sure. I'm thinking of maybe taking a few days off so I can get on with the Boys' World book. Mel has the week off and I suspect that we'll need to spend some time in the garden. If I can squeeze anything in, I will.

What Would YOU Do? There is only one thing the fighter pilot can do. Sweeping down out of his dive he flies alongside the V.1. maintaining the same speed. Then, he gently manoeuvres his wing-tip under the wing of the deadly bomb. With a gentle pull on his stick, he turns his plane away, his wing whipping the V.1. over. Its delicate gyro-compass thrown off-course, the bomb hurtles earthwards, to explode harmlessly in open countryside.

Nebula Award Winners part 5: The 2000s


Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear
HarperCollins 0006-51138-4, 2000, 448pp.


The Quantum Rose by Catherine Asaro
(no UK paperback)


American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Headline Feature 0747-27417-7, 2001, 504pp, £10.00. Cover photo by Photonica
Headline 0747-26374-4, 2002, 632pp.
Headline Review 0755-32281-9, (Sep) 2005. [Author's preferred text]
---- [22nd imp.] nd, 640pp, £7.99. Cover design by gray318
Headline Review 978-0755-33078-2, (Apr) 2006, 640pp
Headline Review 978-0755-38624-6, (Jun) 2011, 672pp *10th anniversary ed.


The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
Orbit 1841-49141-1, 2002, 424pp.


Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
HarperCollins/Voyager 0007-13849-0, 2004, 416pp.


Camouflage by Joe Haldeman
(no UK paperback)


Seeker by Jack McDevitt
(no UK paperback)


The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
Harper Perennial 978-0007-15093-8, 2008, 414+40pp, £7.99. Cover by Richard Bravery
Harper Perennial 978-0007-25740-9, 411pp.

Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin
Orion Children's Books 978-1842-55631-3, 2008, 391pp.


The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Orbit 0346-50053-5, (Dec) 2010. Cover by Raphael Lacoste

Blackout by Connie Willis
Gollancz 978-0575-09926-5, 2011
Gollancz 978-0575-09928-9, 2012

All Clear by Connie Willis
Gollancz 978-0575-09931-9, 2011
Gollancz 978-0575-09932-6, 2012


Among Others by Jo Walton
Corsair 978-1472-10222-5, 2013, £12.99
Corsair 978-1472-10653-7, 2013, £7.99


2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Orbit 978-1841-49998-7, 2013, 561pp, £8.99. Cover design by Kirk Benshoff

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Orbit 978-0356-50240-3, Oct 2013, 432pp, £7.99. Cover by John Harris


Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Fourth Estate 978-0007-55069-2, 2014, 195pp.
Fourth Estate 978-0008-13910-0, 2015, 195pp, £8.99. Cover design by Rodrigo Corral & Tyler Comrie


Uprooted by Naomo Novik
Pan Books 978-1447-29414-6, (May) 2016, 448pp, £7.99.


All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Titan Books 978-1785-65055-0, (Jan) 2016, 432pp, £7.99.


The Stone Sky by N..K. Jemisin
Orbit 978-0356-50868-9, (Aug) 2017, 413pp, £8.99.


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