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Friday, May 22, 2015

Comic Cuts - 22 May 2015

A chaotic week is coming to an end, although as I write this we're still in the midst of chaos. It's Thursday afternoon and I've just sent the latest correction into the studio for a page about new technology that's supposed to make the lives of hoteliers easier.

The latest correction was a simple typo, but so far today we've had to deal with major revamping of pages as editorial is sold-in as part of an advertising deal. So feature material written, subbed and submitted to the studio with photos, laid out on the page and made to look good... all that work disappears when we get a 250 word puff piece to accompany an advert. Usually the photos are poor or non-existent because all the effort has gone into preparing the ad. and nobody has thought about an editorial feature.

The results read like press releases and there's rarely enough space to run a picture bigger than an inch or two square. But it's paid for, so interesting opinions and views on the industry are turfed out in favour of fluffing the advertisers.

But that's what I'm paid to do, so long may the advertisers need fluffing.

A flashback to Box Mountain, first day of our move back in 2010 

While I've been getting to grips with a new magazine, I've also been sorting through boxes relating to an old one. I've had a few boxes marked "Miscellaneous Paperwork" sitting around in the living room since we moved and I've decided that this is a good opportunity to sort through them. It's a fascinating time capsule of press-releases, photocopies and junk dating back to my days on Comic World. Rather than just dump the lot, which was very tempting, I thought I might create a digital scrapbook, so I've been scanning some of the press releases material and the pictures, with preference given to colour artwork that is unlettered or black & white artwork before it was coloured, because that's when you can really see the artistry of artists.

I've posted a great many scans on Facebook, but I know that many of you aren't regular visitors to FB, so I'll gather up many of the best of the scans and post them here on Bear Alley so they'll be permanently available. I'll also be posting some longer pieces here over the coming weeks, starting this weekend with some really nice Ian Kennedy artwork.

(A brief pause while I try to think of an alternative title for an article submitted under the title "Mirror, Mirror on the wall". As this clashes with another feature entitled "Mirror Mirror", the new article becomes "Integrated Entertainment". Problem solved. Back to Bear Alley)

Some of the material I've been digging out has brought back some very fond memories, like a trip to Shepherds Bush back in 1995 to talk to the cast of Dirk Magg's radio adaptation of Spider-Man; other bits of artwork I've stumbled upon I have no memory of.

Here, for instance, is a 1989 Daily Mirror story about Jonathan Ross buying a copy of Detective Comics #27 for £20,000. The reporter was amazed at the prices back then. In 2010, another copy sold in the USA for over $1 million. It was reports like this that fueled the boom in comics and allowed Comic World to thrive for a few years.

I've had that newspaper clipping for 26 years and now that I've scanned it I can finally get rid of the damned thing. Goodbye forever!

And our random scans this week are definitely random. I suspect I received these when Comic World ran an interview with Brian Bolland in around 1992. I don't think I've ever seen them anywhere else but they're superb examples of not only Bolland's skill as an artist, but also his fine sense of humour and whimsy.

We'll have more of the same next week, as many as I can write up over the weekend.

Our column header, incidentally, is a fantastic cover produced by Bryan Talbot for Comic World. We had no budget and Bryan was good enough to produce a masterpiece for little reward. I think I'm right in saying that this was Bryan's first painting of Batman because I seem to remember having to get permission from DC Comics to do an original Batman cover and it had to be by a DC-approved artist.

So I phoned Patti Jeres and announced that I was commissioning a cover. "And who is the artist?" she asked in a tone that spoke paragraphs. Patti and I got on famously. She was a good friend to Comic World but I'm sure she would have turned me down in a second if the next words out of my mouth hadn't been, "I've asked Bryan Talbot."

"I think we can approve that," she said.

That's the way I remember it. Other people's memories may differ.


  1. Bryan drew Batman on the covers of Vol 1, #11 and Vol 2, #3 of The Super Heroes by London Editions back in the early '80s.

  2. Oops! When I say 'drew', I mean 'painted'.

  3. And there was me thinking this was Bryan's first ever Batman. Funny how memory can play tricks with you. I see that the original art for one of the covers is for sale at a mouth-watering $2,200.