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Friday, March 13, 2015

Comic Cuts - 13 March 2015

Break out the bunting and pop those poppers: the long-promised Don Lawrence Scrapbook is almost finished. I managed to complete the revised layouts on Wednesday and I'm working my way through the 160 pages tidying up anything that needs a tidy and double-checking my spelling.

There's still some way to go with this as I'm doing the book as a co-production with Geoff West of The Book Palace, publisher of Illustrators magazine and a number of books that I've been involved with. Geoff's involvement means that we will be able to get the book printed in full colour in China, which will bring the price down significantly. If I were to print the book here in the UK in my usual print run numbers, the price would be £40. I'm hoping we can knock a tenner off that price.

It means a bit more of a wait because proofs now have to come from China rather than Sussex. Ditto the finished books. But the end results will be worth the wait.

I started working on this book before Christmas and it has taken an extraordinary amount of time to pull together. Admittedly there was a break over Christmas and New Year and a second, smaller break as I wrestled with the idea of printing abroad and then scrapped all of the work I had been doing to redo the book at a new size... but still. Twelve to fourteen weeks feels like a long time for an art book when my target is six books a year. There hasn't been a single 84-week year in my lifetime, so I need to pick up the pace.

One massive distraction is that I've developed tinnitus in my right ear. It's a constant, high pitched ringing. Imagine someone running a wet finger around the rim of a wine glass. Take the hum that creates and pitch up upwards. That's what I'm hearing every moment I'm not asleep. And you can't block out the noise because it's inside your head.

How this developed is a mystery. If you remember back to this time last month, I was complaining about a tooth ache which might have been an infection of the gum. Well, I think that's where it started. I took a trip down to the doctors on Tuesday and he suggested it might be an infection of the Eustachian tube. So I'm on a course of strong anti-inflammatory drugs and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will resolve the problem. The noise isn't painful but it's constant and the idea of it being there for the rest of my life (and I'm hoping to have a long, long life) is rather depressing.

So, to take my mind off of the problem (true tinnitus is incurable, so they teach distraction techniques), here's a short film of Denis Gifford.  Denis had one of the most comprehensive collections of comics in the world, astonishing in size and breadth. It was rumoured amongst those who knew him that he used to keep comics in his oven and in the fridge.

The following was filmed by Thames News on 1st October 1985 but was not transmitted (if I'm reading the note "NOT TX'D" correctly). "I've got so many comics it's menacing my lifestyle. I can hardly move," says Denis. I'm looking along the narrow corridors of my office and piles of books and comics on the floor, on the tops of shelves, on every flat surface, and I'm feeling a bit menaced myself. Unbelievable to think that Denis is 57 (rather than 56) in this clip. I knew him at this time and he seemed so old to me when I was in my early twenties. Now I'm in my early fifties and it doesn't feel that old at all.

Our random scans this week are some additions to the recent Oliver Brabbins gallery. My thanks to Phil Richards for the scans. I've tinkered with both the checklist and the gallery to incorporate a number of updates and I'll add a couple of additional books beyond these four to the gallery if I get a chance. You can find all the recent Oliver Brabbins material by following this link.

I haven't worked out precisely when, but upcoming over the next week should be a piece on penny dreadful publisher Charles Fox, another article from Jeremy Briggs and a big update to one of the very first cover galleries I produced on the works of A. E. Van Vogt.

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