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Friday, July 25, 2014

Comic Cuts - 25 July 2014

I have been indulging myself with a bit of a break. Mel had the week off, so we've tried to have a relaxing time, watching a bit of extra TV, going for walks and taking a trip down to the quay for lunch mid-week. Much sprawling around doing nothing, too. The main topics of conversation all week have been: should we bother with the washing up...?; should we bother doing the lawn...?; and how gorgeous are Scottie dogs? (This after the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.)

Yes, there was a bit of work in between. My new external hard drive turned up at the tail end of last week and there was a 24-hour period (spread over three days) of copying the contents of one drive onto the new one so that I had a mirror. I feel much happier now that I have everything doubled-up again, although I am painfully aware that I also need to back-up the rest of the files on my computer, not just the ones that I've put in "storage".

And I've been cleaning up artwork for what will hopefully be the next Bear Alley book. It's a comic strip reprint that I'm licensing, so I'm waiting until contracts are signed and money has exchanged hands before I announce it. But I'm on the second pass of the 120 or so pages of artwork and pondering on what I should write in the introduction. That's all I'm saying for the moment.

Available now from Bear Alley Books

Sales of the Countdown to TV Action index have slowed down considerably—perhaps everyone somehow realised I was taking a bit of a break? Seriously, you don't have to worry... just keep ordering. I can cope. For all you chart-watchers, this week's Top Ten all-time bestselling books from Bear Alley looks like this (with last week's position in parenthesis):

1 (1) Lion: King of Picture Story Papers
2 (4) Countdown to TV Action
3 (2) Eagles Over the Western Front volume 1
4 (5) Hurricane & Champion
5 (3) Pages from History: Illustrated by C. L. Doughty
6 (6) Eagles Over the Western Front volume 2
7 (7) Eagles Over the Western Front volume 3
8 (8) Ranger: The National Boys' Magazine
9 (9) London is Stranger Than Fiction
10 (10) Boys' World: Ticket to Adventure

I'm still  sporting the beard I let grow towards the end of the Countdown book—something of a tradition I've had on long projects. Without deadlines, I need something to remind me to finish books off and there's nothing like an itchy new beard to do that. I've kept it fairly well trimmed this time and I'm not planning to shave it off until the next book is complete. Hopefully it will help keep me concentrated. Once my holiday is over.

The photo at the top of the page is the first ripe tomato from this year's crop. It's only when you taste home grown tomatoes that you realise how bland supermarket bought tomatoes taste. After the success we had with cherry tomatoes last year, we're attempting to do the double this year with a more traditional tomato plant as well as the cherry tomato plant. The first of the larger tomatoes is getting riper by the day and we've a very good crop that should keep me in sandwiches for most of the summer. Yum!

This week's random scans are another quartet of titles by Ben Sarto. Some of these are from rather poor originals but I think they've cleaned up OK. The first two are from 1947 and have covers by H. W. Perl, the most prolific cover artist for the cheap-end paperback publishers in the years immediately after the war. Nothing is known about Perl, which is a real shame because, when he put some effort in (presumably when he was better paid!) he was a very capable artist.

The other two are by Len Potts and Ray Theobald. Hot Dames Die Cold was the very last Ben Sarto novel to be published—the 103rd if memory serves. They were a very mixed bunch but certainly the early yarns by Frank Dubrez Fawcett deserve a little attention. If you've never read any of the Ben Sarto novels, my article "I Kill 'em Inch by Inch"—available on Kindle—is a good primer to the kind of thing he wrote.

The above Ray Theobald cover is a handy link to the next cover gallery I'm putting together which also acts as another episode of "mysteries that have me mystified" (a phrase you'll understand only if you have to have been reading this column for some years). There will be other stuff, but I still need to write it... and I really ought to get back to work, so don't expect too much.

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