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Friday, April 03, 2015

Comic Cuts - 3 April 2015

My "book-in-a-week" project has returned to the front burner, although I cannot see how I'm going to manage this in only seven working days. I've already used six and even pulling an all-nighter isn't going to see the book complete.

The idea, for those of you wondering what the heck I'm talking about, was to do a palette cleanser book after the months I'd spent on Don Lawrence Scrapbook. The idea was to do a book from a standing start in seven working days. Well, I had to bring the project to a pause last week as I had another job that needed doing. That took a week from last Tuesday with Thursday and Saturday off—there was a lot of research and reading required—so I've only just got back to the book.

I spent five days scanning, cleaning and prepping the week before last; on Wednesday I designed the little logos needed for the header and footer, another little logo for the title page and gave the introduction a read-through and set up a new 180-page document on In Design. Thursday is always given over to Bear Alley—I've spent the day researching material for next week and cleaning up some artwork that I'll need for random scans below and for posts I have in the pipeline. Mel is chatting to a friend from the USA, so I'm using the time before dinner to write this. I'll finish off after we've eaten and watched a bit of tele. As you can see, I live a wild and exciting life.

By the time you get around to reading this on Friday, I should be back on the book. I can use an automated programme to resize the artwork and then I have to manually drag the images onto the page in In Design. That will take a while but will hopefully leave me a bit of time to start laying out the introduction and the title, half-title and copyright pages. That, unfortunately, will bring me to the end of day seven, so it looks like I'll need a day eight (finishing off the insides of the book, proofing, doing any tidying up required), a day nine (cover, back cover) and maybe even a day ten (uploading the file to the printer so I can get a proof copy, setting up a payment page on the Bear Alley Books website). So that's ten working days or two weeks, rather than one week. But still quick.

Clearly, nobody else would be mad enough to try reprinting old British comic strips... except Hibernia Comics, of course, who have recently released a couple of titles based on Scream!! and now have grasped the title by the neck and put together a collection of that paper's lead strip. "The Dracula File" was one of the key strips in Scream!!, drawn in all its creepy glory by Eric Bradbury, one of my favourite artists.

Author Gerry Finley-Day brought the character right up to date (1984), beginning with a defection from East Germany, a curiously ageless patient, a fire in a military hospital ahead of the patient from behind the Iron Curtain being relocated to the UK by British Intelligence... and all this in the first episode! As with any British comic—where moving the plot along trumps coincidence at every turn—the pretending-to-be-unconscious defector is a vampire and MI5 are taking him to precisely where he wants to go, a creepy mansion in the English countryside.

The only people to realise that a vampire is loose in England are the Russians, led by KGB officer Colonel Stakis, a Roumanian. Stakis's obsession with monitoring the situation leads to him attacking a Commissar and his commanding general when they try to stop his unofficial investigation. The disgraced officer then makes his way to the UK in search of Dracula.

The second half of the story was written by Simon Furman, nowadays better known for his work on Transformers and as the creator of Death's Head but then a newcomer to comics. Furman treated the scripts with a little more humour as Stakis searches London for his prey and Dracula preys on Londoners. It's a shame that the story ended rather suddenly when Scream!! closed down after 15 issues, but editor David McDonald makes an interesting case for a holiday special yarn being one of three stories completed but not published; two pages of unseen Eric Bradbury artwork from episode 18 add weight to the argument.

Hibernia's titles are available via Comicsy, where you can purchase The Dracula File for £9.00.

Random scans. Three more from Oliver Brabbins, two of them from Paget Publications and the last a previously unlisted Hamilton title. All three have also been added to the Oliver Brabbins cover gallery that I set up some weeks ago.

Over the next week we should have our upcoming releases listing, and I have biographical sketches of a couple of authors who wrote nature stories for Look and Learn ready to go when I can find a space. The weekend I'm giving over once again to Jeremy Briggs and a piece about the character "Sammy and his Speed Sub" from the pages of Swift. So, lots to look forward to.

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