Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ace O'Hara ep.32

Commando issues 4875-4878

Commando issues on sale 31 December 2015.

Commando No 4875 – Deadly Pursuit
Cut off from their unit, Second-Lieutenant Bob Holbeck and Private Vic Jolly were trying to get out of battle-ravaged Malaya for the relative safety of Sumatra.
   Hooking up with a rag-tag group of survivors, they commandeered a Model T Ford pick-up truck and fled.
   In a retreat already fraught with danger, they would also have to escape from the clutches of the Kempeitai — the feared Japanese secret police, and they were hot on their tail.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Morahin
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Commando No 4876 – Night Prowl
Jim Fraser was a born Commando. Tough, dependable, daring. But there came a day when they stripped him of his Commando shoulder flashes and his beloved green beret. They took away his tommy gun and gave him a shovel.
   Almost before he knew it he was transferred to the pick and shovel brigade, the Pioneer Corps. Rough treatment for a fellow who had made just one mistake.
   You can’t win battles leaning on a shovel, but Jim soon had those pioneers chucking away their shovels and desperate to get at Nazi throats.

Ken Barr’s fantastically moody cover really sets the scene for this gritty tale of a Commando who is thrown out of his unit and forced to join the Pioneers because of one unfortunate mistake.
   Our hero, Jim Fraser, has undoubtedly been wronged, and the story of how he strives to overcome injustice and hostility is well-written and, in turn, well-illustrated, with dynamic line work by Bielsa.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Magee
Art: Bielsa
Cover: Ken Barr
Night Prowl, originally Commando No 188 (November 1965)

Commando No 4877 – Tunnels Of Death
When he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam war, young Joe Wright was nicknamed “Stumpy” because of his small stature. However, his lack of height unexpectedly became an asset.
   Recruited to join the ranks of Rat 6 – the elite “Tunnel Rats” who fought the Vietcong enemy in a labyrinth of claustrophobic caverns, Joe soon discovered that lethal danger lurked beneath the surface as well as above it.

Story: Richard Davis
Art: Olivera
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4878 – Polish Pilot
Rounding off this year’s complement of Silver Collection issues is this curio from November 1990. Obviously, the clue is in the title as to what this story is all about. Our eponymous hero, Lieutenant Karl Latek, is an endearing, if slightly eccentric figure — but he is a man who will never give up. His determination to keep fighting the enemy, no matter the cost to his own personal safety, makes his apparent recklessness all the more interesting.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Allan Chalmers
Art: Terry Patrick
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Polish Pilot, originally Commando No 2383 (November 1990)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ace O'Hara ep.21

Carl Wilton

Carl Cyril Wilton was a prolific cover artist for Pan Books from 1951, his earliest covers including O. Henry’s The Four Million, the anonymously edited Tales of the Supernatural and Agatha Christie’s Cards on the Table, the first of many crime novels Wilton was to illustrate. His Pan work encompassed novels by Georges Simenon, Rex Stout, Anthony Gilbert, Eric Linklater, M. G. Eberhart, Leslie Charteris, Nigel Balchin, Philip Woodruff, Patrick Quentin and Ronald Knox, although he also illustrated works by C. S. Lewis, Noel Coward and Walter de la Mare amongst others.

Wilton was also responsible for many of Great Pan’s classic war covers, including Paul Brickhill’s The Dam Busters, Guy Gibson’s Enemy Coast Ahead and Russell Braddon’s The Naked Island.

His last Pan covers appeared in 1957, after which he seems to have disappeared entirely from the paperback cover market. He had contemporaneously worked as a dust-jacket artist (e.g. The Bend in the Road by Margaret Ferguson, London, Cassell, 1954), but, beyond a handful of dustjackets, little is known about his activities for the next twenty years until his death in Hampstead, London, in 1Q 1977, aged 71.

Almost no biographical information on Wilton is known. He was born on 17 February 1906 and he was already an active commercial artist in the 1930s, presumably in advertising or illustration. He was to be found living at 8A Wentworth Studios, SW3 in 1936-37 and was living in a flat at 20 Roland Gardens, Kensington, in 1939.

He was active as an artist in the 1930s (e.g. the dustjacket for Steel Saraband by Roger Dataller, London, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1938) and continued to work post-Pan. An original watercolour for the dustjacket of Donald Moore's Far Eastern Journal (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1960), has been offered for sale.

Carl C Wilton could be found living with Kathleen M. Wilton at 13 Sloane Court, Chelsea S.W.3. in 1952/53.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Carl Wilton checklist

Pan Books
16 Henry, O. * The Four Million * [?3rd imp.] 1951.
22 Anonymous [Ed.] * Tales of the Supernatural * [?2nd imp] 1951.
26 Simenon, Georges * The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By (L’homme qui regardait passer les trains) Translated by Stuart Gilbert * [?2nd imp] 1952.
170 Gilbert, Anthony * The Body on the Beam * (Apr 1952).
176 Christie, Agatha * Cards on the Table * (Jul 1951).
192 Stout, Rex * Too Many Crooks * (Nov 1951).
202 Linklater, Eric * Ripeness is All * (May 1952).
205 Eberhart, M. G. * The Glass Slipper * (May) 1952.
206 Mason, Richard * The Wind Cannot Read * (May 1952)
208 Charteris, Leslie * The Saint in London (The Misfortunes of Mr. Teal) * (Jul 1952).
214 Balchin, Nigel * Mine Own Executioner * (Sep 1952).
217 Woodruff, Philip * The Wild Sweet Witch * (Sep 1952).
221 Quentin, Patrick * Puzzle for Fools * (Oct 1952).
223 Knox, Ronald A. * Still Dead * (Nov 1952).
227 Grey, Zane * The Heritage of the Desert * (Jan 1953).
230 Moore, John * Portrait of Elmbury * (Apr 1953).
233 Thouless, Robert H. * Straight and Crooked Thinking * (Feb 1953).
243 Lister, Stephen * Savoy Grill at One! * (Jun 1953).
246 Sharp, Margery * The Stone of Chastity * (Jun 1953).
253 Lewis, C.S. * Voyage to Venus (Perelandra) * (Aug 1953).
----, 2nd imp., 1955; 3rd imp., 1956.
257 Coward, Noel * Star Quality * (Sep 1953).
258 Smith, Shelley * The Woman in the Sea * (Sep 1953).
263 Dickson, Carter * My Late Wives * (Nov 1953).
270 De la Mare, Walter * The Return * 1954.
278 Crofts, Freeman Wills * Silence for the Murderer * [?2nd imp.] (Mar 1954).
287 Heyer, Georgette * Duplicate Death * (May 1954).
292 Brickhill, Paul * Escape – Or Die, introduction by H. E. Bates * (Jun) 1954, 190pp, 2/-, [Wilton].
----, 2nd imp., 1954; 3rd imp., 1954; 4th imp., 1954; 5th imp., 1955; 6th imp., 1955; 7th imp., 1956; 8th imp., 1957. *as 1st. Note: 8th imp. is given as 6th printing, 1957.
306 Mars, Alastair * Unbroken * (Oct) 1954.
----, 2nd imp., 1955; 3rd imp., 1955. *as 1st.
319 White, Jon Manchip * Mask of Dust * (Jan 1955).
328 Thomas, W. B. * Dare to be Free * (Mar) 1955.
---, 2nd imp., 1955; 3rd imp., 1955. *as 1st.
329 Neave, Airey * They Have Their Exits * (Apr 1955).
350 FitzGerald, Kevin * A Throne of Bayonets * (Sep 1955).
354 Innes, Hammond * Maddon’s Rock * (Jan 1956).
359 James, M. R. * More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary * (Oct 1955).
374 Murray, Nora * I Spied for Stalin * (May 1956),.
399 White, James Dillon * Genevieve * (Jan 1957),.
414 McCormac, Charles * You’ll Die in Singapore * (May 1957).
GP16 Hyde, Douglas * I Believed. The autobiography of a former British Communist * (Apr 1953).
GP18 Hastings, Sir Patrick * Cases in Court * (May 1953).
GP23 Brickhill, Paul * The Dam Busters * (Apr 1954).
----, 2nd imp., 1954; 3rd imp., 1954; 4th imp., 1954; 5th imp., 1954; 6th imp., 1954; 7th imp., 1955; 8th imp., 1955; 9th imp., 1955; 10th imp., 1955; 11th imp., 1956; 12th imp., 1956; Note: 13th imp., 1961, Cover by Pat Owen.
GP28 Gibson, Guy * Enemy Coast Ahead * (Jan 1955).
GP29 Braddon, Russell * The Naked Island * (Feb 1955).
----, 2nd imp., (Jul 1955). *as 1st.
GP30 Olsen, Oluf Reed * Two Eggs on my Plate * (Jun 1955).
GP33 Pape, Richard * Boldness Be My Friend * (Oct 1955).
GP46 Romilly, Giles and Michael Alexander * The Privileged Nighmare * (Aug) 1956.
X1 McLean, Fitzroy * Eastern Approaches * (Apr 1956).
X8 Farson, Negley * The Way of a Transgressor * (Feb 1957).

Ace O'Hara ep.20

Friday, December 18, 2015

Comic Cuts - 18 December 2015

Wow! I can't believe we're so close to Christmas. It really has snuck up on me. We had a chaotic start to the week finishing off Hotel Business magazine which, despite having already been delayed by a fortnight, went right to the wire. We had a 24-page supplement with this issue which I finished writing at 4 o'clock on Tuesday. We signed off the proofs at 5:45pm and the files were sent to the printers shortly after.

Wednesday was a bit of a write-off as I pottered about trying to catch up with over 250 e-mails that had built up unanswered. It's now Thursday evening and I'm down to 121 at home and 103 at work... a net gain of about 26, although you have to add the 90 or so mails I get each day, so I've actually ploughed my way through around 200 e-mails in order to achieve that tiny increment of 26!

No wonder I'm knackered!

I should have a little announcement shortly – nothing major, just a new e-book that I started ages ago but had to put aside. I've finally hustled it into shape and I'm giving it a final read-through before it goes out.

I had hoped to post a little something on Carl Wilton last weekend but ran out of time. I'll post the piece this weekend; to keep you going, here are another handful of Carl's covers for Pan...

I'm going to be busy over the next few days, so the Carl Wilton piece will probably be my final post for the year, although I'll keep Ace O'Hara going over the holidays for anyone who has the urge to keep up with the story in between mince pies and Christmas specials on the TV.

I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope you have a great time over the next couple of weekends.

Ace O'Hara ep.19

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ace O'Hara ep.18

Commando issues 4871-4874

Commando issues on sale 17 December 2015.

Commando No 4871 – Hard Trouble
Imagine going up against squadrons of virtually indestructible German tanks — made of incredibly strong armour that can withstand blasts from the most powerful explosive shells.
   The Convict Commandos were tasked with preventing this nightmare scenario. Aided by Doctor Jane Mallory of the Office of Scientific Investigation, their latest mission was to sabotage an underground military complex in Northern Czechoslovakia where the steel was being manufactured in secret.
   They really were in the heat of the battle this time…

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

Commando No 4872 – Achtung – Submarine!
The submarine Arrowhead had taken a pounding. Leaking and helpless, the vessel couldn’t even submerge into the safety of the depths.
   Many a crew would have abandoned ship, but not Bob Mitchell and his men. They ran her into an enemy harbour to carry on the fight from there.
   The sub was dead in the water but her crew weren’t — and they would never surrender.

With this fortnight’s Gold and Silver classics, I thought it might be in interesting to compare the work of the same artist but 25 years apart — and so veteran artist C.T. Rigby is in the spotlight.
   This curio from fifty years ago sees a plucky Royal Navy submarine crew take over a small Italian village in a desperate bid to hold off their German enemies. Rigby skilfully illustrates the claustrophobic sub interiors and sea action, as well as skirmishes on land and an aerial attack.
   To see more of Rigby’s fantastic, bold art, please see our current Silver title, “Men Of Steel”, (No 4874)—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Skentleberry
Art: C.T. Rigby
Cover: Ken Barr
Achtung – Submarine! Originally Commando No 182 (September 1965)

Commando No 4873 – The Nightmare Fort
Commander Ben Carter, RN, was on a secret mission for the Admiralty. He and his Motor Torpedo Boat crew were to rescue a secret agent — codenamed “Grey Falcon” — from the clutches of the Nazis on the French coast.
   When they were ambushed, Ben started to wonder if he had a traitor in his midst.
   Adrift in a lifeboat, Ben and the survivors unexpectedly chanced upon an imposing, Napoleonic sea fort and the mystery of what happened to their mission suddenly deepened…

Story: Dominic Teague
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

Commando No 4874 – Men Of Steel
Three blades of steel, tempered and honed to razor-sharpness — Bob Lee had his dagger, and there was a Gurkha kukri and a Japanese Samurai sword…in the hands of men they did not belong to.
   Any of these blades could kill at a stroke — but a greater danger lay in the equally deadly weapons carried by a gang of avenging Malayan bandits.
   These ‘Men Of Steel’ were a foe you would meet only in your worst nightmare…

With this fortnight’s Silver and Gold classics, I thought it might be in interesting to compare the work of the same artist but 25 years apart — and so veteran artist C.T. Rigby is in the spotlight.
   This taut tale from 1990 is excellently drawn by Rigby, who is capable of moody, moonlight atmospherics in the night scenes, as well as no-nonsense action amongst the dense foliage of the jungle.
   To see more of Rigby’s fantastic, bold art, but in a tough, sea story — please see our current Gold title, “Achtung – Submarine!”, (No 4872)—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: C.G. Walker
Art: C.T. Rigby
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Men Of Steel, originally Commando No 2382 (June 1990)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Comic Cuts - 11 December 2015

A short post this week due to deadlines on Hotel Business. I haven't had much free time this week due to the magazine being pushed back in the schedule to avoid a bottleneck in the production of other magazines at our studio. Unfortunately, it also means I'm at the busiest point of production on this issue just as I need to be commissioning features for the next, which I'm trying to pull ahead on so I don't have to work over Christmas and New Year.

Next week is also going to be a bugger, so don't expect too much of me.

I did get a chance to clean up a few Carl Wilton covers for this week's random scans and I should have a little piece gathering up what few facts I know about Wilton up over the weekend. And maybe a little cover gallery if I get a chance. Fingers crossed.


Ace O'Hara ep.12

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Ace O'Hara ep.6

Illustrators #12

The latest issue of Illustrators has landed – with its always satisfying thunk! – on my doormat and it's a very welcome arrival. Editor Peter Richardson always packs a lot into its 96 pages and this issue is no different, with four lengthy articles, all illustrated to stunning effect.

Android Jones and Denis Zilber were names unfamiliar to me, but their work is fascinating. Both have lengthy appreciations which put their artwork in context. Jones' career spans George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic and Nintendo before he founded Massive Black, to bring together talented creators, and, widely used by the film and gaming industries to find artists. Nowadays he can be found performing live with a variety of collaborators. You can see the creation of a number of his paintings at Vimeo.

Burning Embrace video at Vimeo
Denis Zilber also works with digital art but has a rather more zany outlook, working in cartoons, book illustration, advertising and animation design. Zilber, via interviewer Diego Cordoba, talks readers through his colourful, madcap imagination.

I'm more at home with Howard Chaykin, having followed his work during my Comic World days... in fact, I'm pretty sure I interviewed him around the time of Power and Glory. He's better known for American Flagg! and Black Kiss (more notorious than popular, as author Thomas Kintner notes), although I think I first got into Chaykin through either his Shadow or Blackhawk mini-series in the 1980s. The article covers a whole heap of other Chaykin goodies.

An appreciation of the illustrations of Sidney Sime by Cleaver Patterson sheds light on this forgotten artist whose pen and ink artwork graced many magazines in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, although Sime hoped that his success would come from painting. For a while he was editor (and owner) of The Idler.

Much of Sime's work was fantastic or macabre and it was here that he excelled, working with the likes of Lord Dunsany to create beautiful, grotesque images. After the Great War, Sime, now over fifty, began to find commissions less regular and his interests more abstract.

A brief interview with Ron Murphy rounds out the issue.

For more information about Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website where you can also find details of their online editions. Issue 13 should include features on Mitch O'Connell, Jeff Miracola, Brooke Boynton Hughes and Sep Scott.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Comic Cuts - 4 December 2015

Went to see Mitch Benn on Sunday. Storm Clodagh had caused the heavens to open and rain was hammering down as we drove to the venue. We arrived to find our friend John, who always turns up early, at the front of a small queue huddling in the doorway of the Colchester Arts Centre. "Doors open" time came and went, the queue grew longer and wetter. Someone ran out to say "He's only just turned up, so we'll let you in as soon as he's done his sound check."

Much muttering about the fact that we'd be happy to hear the sound check as long as it meant we could get out of the rain. The photo above doesn't do the saturation levels any justice.

We went from streaming to gently steaming by the time Mitch came on. This is his Don't Believe A Word tour where he's discussing his personal beliefs and what he finds frustrating in the beliefs of others. So he dips into astrology, homeopathy and religion and tries to disentangle some of the facts from the often fact-free zone that often surrounds these topics. It isn't just a swipe at them: it's well thought out and well argued and handled with a lot more politeness than these kinds of topic usually engender. The songs are sharp, satirical, technically excellent (he's a good musician), catchy and musically varied from Rock to Rumba.

I think the show would make an excellent DVD. Go Faster Stripe have recently released stand up shows by Susan Calman and Miles Jupp as downloads so we know it can be done... why not Mitch Benn? Somebody make this happen!

Continuing the saga of my incredibly dull life, we seem to be in the process of technological revolution here at chez Holland. Following the purchase of a new razor (exciting stuff!) we've lashed out on a hand-held water vac in the hope that we can make some impact on the condensation problem this house has. The porch has suffered from mold ever since we moved in despite attempts to curb the problem—although I now believe I know what the problem is. The bathroom and bedrooms have suffered from condensation on the windows and that has led to a minor but annoying mold problem in the bathroom. Hopefully removing some of the wet from the environment will reduce the mold problem... and give us an excuse to clean the windows more often.

I'm also about to enter the 20th century and become the possessor of a mobile telephone. It's for work. I can't say I'm too happy with the idea—I like the fact that I can be incommunicado for a couple of hours if I want—but I also know it will be useful for work and handy for Mel. As work is paying for it, it's not a top of the range smartphone; in fact, it's just about the cheapest model on the market. The one slightly annoying aspect is that it won't replace my camera, so I'll have to carry both around with me. (Update: In fact, it's an even older, cheaper version of the one I asked for!)

Unfortunately, I spent too much time researching the quality of the camera and then sidelined myself into looking at the quality of my camera and found it wanting. So I bought myself a new camera. I'm still waiting for it to arrive, but if the weather's nice over the weekend I'll give it a test run and post some results next week. Mind you, by the time I've shrunk the picture down so that it's a reasonable size to post in a blog, you're probably not going to notice the difference!

Commando releases fall foul of Facebook security
For those of you who get their notification of new posts to Bear Alley from Facebook, you'll have noticed that I had some problems earlier in the week. I used a service called Networkedblogs to notify Facebook every time a new post was added. Unfortunately, they seem to have switched to a new system called Symphony and from Tuesday my updates were blocked by Facebook. When I tried to send the notifications manually, I received the following: "This message contains content that has been blocked by our security systems".

At first I thought it was something Facebook had done, so I only resolved the problem this morning (Thursday); I managed to post a notification that was previously blocked, so hopefully that's the problem fixed. I'll know more tomorrow morning, although that will be after this blog is posted. (Update: Yes, it works.)

I only have three people following the feed on Networkedblogs, but I thought I should mention the problem. I'll leave the feed up for now, but I might eventually close it down.

Random scans this week are a small selection from the career of Carl Wilton, who was one of Pan's most prolific cover artists for a while. Energetic and versatile, Wilton produced covers for every genre, although nowadays is probably best known among collectors for his covers for Agatha Christie and Leslie Charteris.

Next week, we'll be continuing with the adventures of Ace O'Hara. Plus whatever else I can find the time for. I'm very tempted to see what I can find out about Carl Wilton!


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