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Friday, April 04, 2014

Comic Cuts - 4 April 2014

I had a minor celebration on Wednesday—I shouted "Woohoo!" and made myself a cup of coffee—as the Countdown to TV Action introduction roared past 25,000 words. By Thursday, that figure was up to 26,500, of which 16,000 are in the right order. I still have 10,500 words of notes to draw from, up from last week's 7,000.

This is the first week I've managed to hit my target of 1,000 words a day in some time—at a cost of not answering e-mail but in part thanks to having the contents of Bear Alley sorted for the next couple of weeks. We launched the latest Paul Temple strip on Wednesday without much fanfare, and that's a habit I've unhappily gotten into. I managed to miss a couple of other causes for celebration recently, namely the 3,000th Bear Alley blog post and the 3rd birthday of Bear Alley Books. I haven't worked out which was our 3,000th post, but it appeared some time in March, probably around the same time as BAB entered its fourth year on 21 March. Happy Birthday me!

And I've got my own birthday coming up in just over a week . . . so if you're wondering why the latest book is taking so long to write, remember: I'm nearly 52 and not as quick as I was when I was 48, coming up 49, and had this barking mad idea to write, design and publish my own books. Ah, the follies of youth. Oh, to be 49 again.

I'm still hoping that I'll have the Countdown to TV Action book out by the end of the month. To be serious for a moment, the sales figures of Bear Alley Books have been steady. Unfortunately they're steady at a level that won't sustain me for much longer. You know you're not doing so well when HM Revenue & Customs send you sympathy cards. I'm either going to have to have a radical rethink or get a job. I don't foresee an end to Bear Alley or Bear Alley Books, but it may slow things down even further. These books take time: the last three—Lion, Ranger and Boys' World—totalled 131,000 words. Most of them in the right order.

Other people write about comics, too.This week, the latest issues of Spaceship Away and Fumetto dropped through the letterbox, both very welcome in different ways. Spaceship Away has reached its 32nd issue (Spring 2014) and is now in its 11th year of publication. I've missed a few issues, so it's nice to catch up. The contents haven't changed much, with Tim Booth's Dan Dare story 'Parsecular Tales' reaching episode 13—it has been running since issue 22 in 2010—whilst resized reprints of 'Journey Into Space' have been a regular since issue 7. A long-running series of  newly coloured reprints of 'Garth', running since issue 19 (2009), came to an end only last issue, but thankfully the regular covers and other artwork from surviving Hampson studio member Don Harley continues.

This issue contains the usual mix of strips (in full colour), this issue including a reprint of an old Ron Embleton strip—I believe it's an old Bill Merrill yarn from the pages of Spaceman in its fifth or sixth appearance, although its first in colour. Articles by Jeremy Briggs (on Dan Dare's appearances in 2000AD), Andrew Darlington (on one of my favourites, Norman Light) and Anthony Jones & Claire Barnes (on the latter days of Garth) round out an excellent issue.

You can find out more about the magazine, buy back issues and subscribe to the latest issues at the Spaceship Away website.

Meanwhile, the latest issue of Fumetto has winged (wung?) its way from Italy. Issue 89 (March 2014) is 64 pages plus the usual 20 page bound-in supplement (this issue covering Coq Hardi). Now, the whole thing is in Italian, of course, and I can only understand every tenth word, although one advantage I have is that so many Italians have worked for British comics. The cover, by Ivo Milazzo, is of Ken Parker, the famous Italian western hero. There are features inside on the early work of Rinaldo D'ami, cartoons by Sergio Toppi, and an interview with Giorgio Trevisan . . . and that's just the names I recognise. There are a ton of other features and interviews. I can appreciate the illustrations and, when time allows, I'll spend a morning translating some of the text. I wish we had something along the same lines over here as there's a wealth of British comics that deserve the same treatment that Fumetto gives to Italian comics.

Random scans: only one today . . . I picked this up on Saturday. A bit of a surprise as you don't often find old SF novels in the charity shops of Colchester. So I grabbed it and two other late Dumarest titles that were with it, which I might clean up for next week. I think Arrow published 27 of the books but I think I only have 20 of them and probably I've only read the first dozen as a change of job in the early 1980s forced me to cut back on my reading and, when I had the opportunity to pick up the pace, I started reading thrillers and crime novels as well as SF, so a lot of authors fell by the wayside.

Anyway, here's Prison of Night (Arrow, 1980) with a cover by Fred Gambino. He has a book out in a couple of month's time: Dark Shepherd: The Art of Fred Gambino, which I'm looking forward very much to. It's preceded by a book of John Harris artwork, Beyond the Horizon, and precedes Hyperluminal by Jim Burns. So that's three of my favourite cover artists . . . maybe Titan could look at Chris Moore next?

Next week: we continue the latest Paul Temple sage.


Alberto Soares said...

Not to be picky, but the artwork on the "Fumetto" issue is from Millazo's "Ken Parker", not Tex.
But we understand you old people have a slip now an then...

Steve said...


I don't have any problem with people correcting mistakes I've made. It's the only way I'll learn. I'll correct the text, just in case people don't get as far as reading the comments.

jock123 said...

Happy birthday to you and the blog!

I don’t comment very much, but I always find this a great source of info and inspiration, so your efforts are appreciated!

Here’s to the 5th birthday! :-)