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Friday, July 11, 2014

Comic Cuts - 11 July 2014

Available now from Bear Alley Books

A week on from the release of Countdown to TV Action and I've started receiving some very positive comments. It's quite a big book, so I'm expecting comments to keep trickling in over the next few weeks as people grab an hour or two to sit down with it. But it's nice to get some early, upbeat feedback after spending so long putting it together.

A quick word on comments for anyone new to Bear Alley: you have to be signed into Google if you want to write a comment. There's a good reason for this: a blog that has lasted so long (nearly eight years) and posts so frequently (I try to have something new for you every day) attracts a lot of spam. I get a copy of all messages posted to Bear Alley and a couple of years ago, when twenty plus spam messages poured in from the site every time I checked my e-mail, I had to switch the settings.  I still get spam, but the levels are manageable and I don't have to spend too much time each day ferreting them out of the 3,000+ posts here on BA. If you aren't signed up for one or other of Google's many services you can still drop me a line directly.

I'll be announcing the next title from Bear Alley Books shortly. It will be a comic strip and I'm in the process of sorting out a contract for it.

I don't often have things for review, but after last week's haul, I have a couple more items for this week. Dime Novel Round-Up is an American magazine that has been around for decades—it was founded in 1931 and is up to volume 83 number 2. This 744th issue leads with a long article by Bear Alley contributor Robert Kirkpatrick about penny dreadful publisher Edwin J. Brett, one of the founding father's of boys' story papers. As publisher of Boys of England and The Young Men of Great Britain he was responsible for some of the most popular boys' stories of the era.

Brett's background as revealed during his lifetime was of a member of an upper-middle class family who could trace their roots back to—and beyond—the days of William the Conqueror. However, rather than being an officer in the British Army and veteran of the Peninsular War and Waterloo, Brett's father was actually a cart driver, coal merchant and greengrocer in Clerkenwell. Brett began his career in publishing as an engraver and eventually turned to publishing in partnership with printer Joseph Hardiman and writer/editor William Emmett. Their first effort was dragged through the courts, charged with plagiarism. The partnership dissolved and Brett subsequently became involved with the Newsagents' Publishing Company, who published some wild penny dreadfuls, including the notorious The Wild Boys of London.

Striking out on his own following the collapse of the NPC, Brett continued to publish Boys of England and Young Men of Great Britain for decades– the latter running between 1868 and 1889 (1,117 issues) and the former from 1866 to 1899 (1,702 issues). Around these, Brett published countless other shorter-lived magazines and books. He died a very rich man in 1895.

Brett's business was by then on the decline and Kirkpatrick charts the rise and fall of a number of later limited companies set up by Brett's two sons. Personally, I found the whole thing fascinating and I can't wait for part two to appear in the next issue.

Also available now is the latest publication from Hibernia, the second volume of their reprint of The Thirteenth Floor from the pages of Scream! and the revived Eagle way back in 1984. Simon Furman's introduction reveals a little of the history of the strip ahead of sixty or so pages of the strip itself from a period when it was at its best. Fantastic artwork by the late Jose Ortiz and terrific stories from the pens of John Wagner and Alan Grant (hiding behind the pen-name Ian Holland), as funny as they were gruesome... you couldn't ask for better and it's a real pleasure to see these stories again.

For more information on how to get hold of your copy click here. It's very reasonably priced at £7.00 for a 72 page magazine-format booklet.

Random scans: four from Consul Books from the 1960s. I have no idea who the artists for these were, but I like them

Next week... I'm trying to find time to revamp some of the old cover galleries that I put together four or five years ago as the early ones didn't have as much detail—I'm trying to bring them up to scratch. Unfortunately, while I've been thinking about that, I haven't really had a chance to think about anything else, so we shall just have to see what happens after the weekend.


Jim O'Brien said...


I have been meaning to leave my thanks for Countdown..for several days, but have finally been stung into action seeing as others have now beaten me to it! Its a fabulous book and an absolute delight to have. I thought I knew a bit about the comic(s)…but now realise my knowledge was pretty thin at best. Marvellous choice of illustrations throughout (what wouldn't we readers give for colour on this John Burns pages!) and really nicely laid out pages. so - thank you Steve! One of my books of the year!


Jim O'Brien said...