Friday, October 10, 2014

Comic Cuts - 10 October 2014

Reprinted for the first time: a classic story of one man's fight against
government oppression in the gladiatorial arenas of the near future.

I've had something of a miserable week in the grip of post-release blues that seem to afflict me every time a new book comes out. There's a nervousness that takes hold that I find difficult to shake off—once I'm working on the next book, I'm back to my normal, cheery self, but at the moment I'm in that trough of not knowing how well the last book will do once we hit the release date and figuring out whether it's worth committing more time and money to a business that, frankly, is still not paying its way.

Adding to the general ambiance of low-level melancholy has been the news of the death of a family friend after ten days of intensive hospital care. It inevitably brings to the fore thoughts of our own mortality... and just as I'm trying to improve my own health.

And it's autumn. Getting up in the dark, no late evening walks in the sunshine. It's still relatively warm, but even a small downturn in temperature has made it feel chilly and going out now means a couple of extra layers. We've had a couple of heavy rainfalls and on Monday, as I stepped out to take take advantage of a break in the clouds, I was soaked by a car driving through a deep puddle, spraying me with a shower of dirty water from the gutter. It was bad enough for me to need a change of clothes before I attempted my stroll again.

But autumn means a few interesting visitors to the garden, including the return of the squirrels and a grouse (I think... might be a partridge) which turned up on Wednesday. And, overhead, we've had huge flocks of geese honking their way across the skies.

Something else has been turning up around the streets of Wivenhoe... notices saying that there is a plan to replace overhead wires. These first appeared a few week's ago, stating that the work was to be undertaken on the 30th September. Which came and went with no sign of anything happening. Over the past week a confusing number of notices have turned up informing residents that the work is now to be carried out on the 10th October and 13th September (sic, see top photo below); this confusion culminated on Thursday morning in a trio of notices on one pole (lower two photos below) claiming that the work will now be carried out on the 10th, 11th and 15th October. A couple of poles down the road and the work is due on 14th September.

The week had started off so nicely. We had Mel's birthday bash on Saturday night, with friends over and a trip down to the local Indian restaurant, then home for cake. On Sunday we relaxed and visited the pub for lunch where Mel made a new friend. We wandered along the quay to walk off a few calories and continue my recently plotted plan to photograph the six local pubs. Four photographed so far—I could easily have photographed the other two but I forgot. The annoying thing is that the second photo below was taken inside one of the pubs I forgot to photograph outside. D'oh!

The week hasn't been all bad: Sunday turned out to be glorious, as can be seen in the above photo taken across the river towards Rowhedge. And Tuesday and Thursday were both bright and sunny, too. On the upside, I'm pretty sure of what the next couple of Bear Alley titles will be, although it depends on the people holding the copyright agreeing to a reprint and the costs being reasonable. At the moment sales of Arena have been slow and I'm nowhere near paying off the license fee, let alone the printing costs. I know the book will eventually show a profit, but, being a small business, I can't afford to carry too many costs for too long.

Have you noticed that whenever I have to deal with artwork, as I was doing at the tail end of the Arena book and now with the next pair, that Bear Alley's Friday columns become incredibly chatty? These "Comic Cuts" columns are turning into a diary of my ups and downs as I stumble through life. I'm sure they used to focus more on hobby stuff. I suspect that, having now run Bear Alley for over eight years and over 3,200 posts, I'm getting more comfortable with it. Like an old pair of slippers.

Another slight frustration this week was to discover that one of the books I picked up at the weekend was one we already had. Mel and I are fans of The Now Show on Radio 4, and of the individual comedians that make up the Now Show team, having seen pretty much all of them—Steve Punt & Hugh Dennis, Mitch Benn, Marcus Brigstocke—live. So I was pleased to find The Now Show Book and proudly handed it over to Mel. And she said, "I've got a Now Show book upstairs," which she promptly fetched... and that was when we discovered that my new book was simply the older book reprinted without the pictures. In tiny letters on the back it owned up to being a reprint of The Now Show Book of World Records, published in hardback the previous year.

Random scans proper... I thought you might enjoy a little selection of Roger Hall's artwork for Corgi. Hall is still something of a mystery to me. I believe he, like Sam Peffer, began his career in film advertising. He was active with Scion in the early 1950s and moved onto the better markets. A very talented artist of westerns but able to turn his brush to other subjects, working for both Corgi and Arrow in the early 1960s.

Next week. I have a little Malcolm Saville gallery of original Lone Pine adventures, having recently picked up the latest two from Girls Gone By. And my Mum bought back a couple of Elizabeth George novels that I had forgotten to scan (I've been buying her the Inspector Lynley novels); now I have those I think I'll probably post the gallery despite still missing one title. Anything else will depend on what I can crank out on Sunday. Otherwise it might be a case of coming back for a nice long chat next Friday!

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