Work on the next couple of Bear Alley books is progressing slowly. Some days I seem to be working in slow motion—on Wednesday, for instance, I was so wrapped up trying to track down information on a particular artist that I managed a grand total of 280 words of writing. This followed on from Tuesday when my Mum came round for lunch, which—in a nice way—threw the days into chaos, and Monday where I needed to finish off an obituary of Charles Grigg for a newspaper.
In between all the slacking, I did manage to complete a first pass clean-up on most of the artwork for The Man Who Searched For Fear, which is a Bill Lacey collection I'm working on. It's likely to have a couple more strips added to the mix, including "Agent of the Queen", which I loved when it first appeared back in the 1970s. I should have this out next month, bringing the total number of books from Bear Alley Books up to twenty in under three years.
Leading off is an extensive interview with Mick Brownfield, whose work you will know if you've ever picked up a Christmas edition of the Radio Times, with their jolly snowman or Santa illustrations. Brownfield is a master of an amazing range of styles, which led to him becoming one of the go-to guys in advertising and magazine illustration, his covers appearing on Time Out, Sunday Times Magazine and The Guardian. He's brutally honest about the way illustrators have been struggling during the recession, noting that pay rates are the same as thirty years ago and have never kept pace with inflation. This—and I speak from bitter personal experience—is the same boat that freelance writers have found themselves in for as many years.
here or order your copy, and any back issues you're missing, directly from the Book Palace website.
Next issue should be as good as it contains articles on Walter Wyles, Graham Coton, Dave Gaskill and Laurence Fish.
Dandy editor Albert Barnes was so impressed with his work that he assigned Grigg to replace Dudley D. Watkins on Desperate Dan. Although the weekly only contained a handful of Grigg's strips, he was, after 1969, the main artist working on Dan's adventures in annuals and summer specials. His other major strip was Foxy for Topper, the wily fox appearing over 1,200 times in the weekly between 1953 and 1976.
Grigg had a parallel career as 'Chas', artist of over 200 saucy postcards for Bamforth. A fuller appreciation should be appearing in the Daily Telegraph shortly.
A couple of very random scans: every now and then I simply post scans of books I've picked up recently and this is just one such occasion. The first is a thriller by an American screenwriter, Norman Stahl, whose books are unknown to me. However, the blurb made The Assault on Mavis A sound interesting and I gather from further digging around that it's a particularly good thriller. The cover is an early one by Fred Gambino, who is better known (to me, anyway) for his SF covers.