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Friday, August 22, 2014

Comic Cuts - 22 August 2014

I'm writing this Thursday morning, feeling a little thick-headed. I think Mel and I are both going down with colds. I managed to get away to bed early last night but woke up just before 3 am. I managed to drift off again but was wide awake at four and decided to watch (of all things) Quatermass II, the old TV series. Brilliant as it is (there's a good Wikipedia entry about it), it was perhaps the wrong choice if I was hoping to doze off: I was immediately caught up in the story and watched a couple of episodes before I tore myself away. I eventually fell asleep again for a couple of weird, dream-filled hours before getting up at seven.

As I'm not sure how I'll be feeling later, I thought I'd write this now: it's not quite nine and I've been back from my morning walk about twenty minutes. At the moment I don't feel too bad—I'm still feeling tired but the second cup of coffee is starting to kick in, and the walk helped iron out a few kinks. Hopefully I've headed the cold off at the pass and I'll be as right as rain by the time you're reading this. [Update, Friday morning: Seems to have worked. I'm feeling OK.]

Anyway, I promised news on the next Bear Alley Books publication and, now I've swapped contracts on it, I'm very pleased to announce that we will be publishing a reprint of "Arena" from The Crunch. The Crunch ran for a year in 1979-80 and, while it didn't find its audience, it had some very memorable stories. (Some of them I might look at for future publication!)

"Arena" was written by Dave Taylor, who began writing for Thomson's weeklies with stories in Bullet. Already a fan of science fiction (he had previously edition the fictionzine Nebula, in 1974-77, he went on to write for Starblazer, Buddy, Spike, Hotspur and Victor, writing, amongst many others, the adventures of Starhawk, Billy the Cat and Alf Tupper, the Tough of the Tracks.

The strip also marked the UK debut of the brilliant Argentinean artist Enrique Alcatena. Influenced by a wide range of South American, American and European artists, Alcatena has emerged as one of the most stylish fantasy artists to have worked in comics.

I'm hopeful that if "Arena" sells well, I can do more reprints of classic Thomson strips. At the moment, I'm looking at a book of around 130 pages. The bulk of the internal artwork is ready to go (I just need to see how it prints up). I'm have a ton of notes for the introduction, which I've started writing. I've had lots of fun researching SF yarns about Roman gladiators, dystopian futures, corporations, future sports and reality TV. The problem now is to try to stick to writing what I need to write and not to try throwing in the kitchen sink.

I'll have more details about the book over the next couple of weeks, and I'm hoping that I'll have the book itself in September.

The only other news I have is that we've had over 80 tomatoes off our two plants... so far. There are dozens more ripening and I'm expecting to be eating many more sandwiches featuring tomatoes over the upcoming weeks... cheese & tomato, ham & tomato, corned beef & tomato... I'm expecting singing to break out in the background. Bloody Vikings.

Today's random scan is a little different. I picked up the debut novel by James S. A. Corey, described on the cover as a "Kickass space opera" by none other than George R. R. Martin. I later discovered that James S. A. Corey is, in fact, two writers: Daniel James Abraham and Ty Corey Franck, the latter being George R. R. Martin's personal assistant. Hmmmmm. That said, the book was well reviewed elsewhere and was nominated for a Hugo, so it'll be worth a read.

What really sold me on it was the cover by Daniel Dociu. He's well worth a Google image search as he's produced hundreds of superb paintings (you might start here, for instance) and designs for video games. I was intrigued to discover that the front and back covers of the Orbit paperback were canibalised from the same painting.

So, first we have the book cover as you would see it if you had plucked it from a shelf. Then the original artwork, and then the front and rear covers overlayed onto the original artwork to show how they all fit together.

Over the weekend I'll have the John D. MacDonald cover gallery that I so thoroughly failed to have ready for last weekend. It takes time to put together a gallery of 55 or so images. I didn't realise I had so many. Next week, another annual with artwork by one of my favourite artists.


john said...

Hi Steve, 'The Arena' reprint is a great choice - it should appeal to the many 2000AD fans out there too.
I read all 54 issues of The Crunch when it came out, and still have my copies from way back then. I thought it was much better than Fleetway's (much shorter-lived) 'Tornado' which debuted around the same time. The other great 'The Crunch' story was 'StarHawk' - which survived the merger into 'Hotspur' and I think even had some Starblazer issues. I also rather enjoyed 'Who Killed Cassidy' - which I didn't know at the time, but was based upon the Kennedy assassination conspiracies as a US cop witnesses a presidential assassination.
It's great that DC Thomson are being amenable to Bear Alley Books - they have such a huge back catalog of fantastic stories.


Hibernia Comics said...

Great news Steve,
I have some issues of The Crunch, a decent comic, so I will look forward to reading to finally reading the complete story when it becomes available.
Cheers! David

LEE said...

Looking forward to this! Never read CRUNCH itself but remember the merger with HOTSPUR in 1980(?)(which had a tv advert if I recall correctly) which I read for a while.

Anonymous said...

Great news - and hopefully this will open the door to more DC Thomson collections!

In terms of 'Crunch' stories, I think 'Hitler Lives' would particularly suit a collected version; and I would love to see a revisionist new take (à la 'Battler Britton') on 'Morgan's Mob', which actually got to grips with the real issues involved in mercenary wars and private military contractors...