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Friday, May 08, 2015

Comic Cuts - 8 May 2015


The 20% off offer on the Complete Captain Future collection ends today, so if you want to grab the book while it has a £4 discount, do it now. I'm pleased to say that the book has sold a little better than I anticipated. I thought this one was going to be a very tough sell: a long-forgotten character by an almost unheard of creator... if I sold a dozen copies I'd have been happy. As it is, we've sold nearly four times that number, which I'm very pleased with.

It has become the bestselling book of the year so far. I haven't done this for some while, so here's the Top Ten Bear Alley Books bestsellers... and we're talking tens of copies, and single figures for anything below number five. Why do you think I've had to go back to work?

1  The Complete Captain Future
2  Countdown to TV Action
3  Frontline UK
4  Arena
5  Lion King of Picture Story Papers
6=  Eagles Over the Western Front vol.3
6=  Boys' World Ticket to Adventure
8  Sexton Blake Annual 1938
9=  Eagles Over the Western Front vol.1
9=  Eagles Over the Western Front vol.2

You can find all these books at the Bear Alley Books website.

Illustrators #10 (April 2015) leads with a lengthy look at the career of William Stout, dinosaur artist extraordinaire. A fan of weird creatures and monsters from an early age, and with his imagination fired by movies, he attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles where he was encouraged to take on commercial assignments rather than do homework. By his second year, Stout was supporting himself through his art. Magazine covers, advertising and a period assisting Russ Manning on 'Tarzan' and Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on 'Little Annie Fannie' followed.

During the mid-Seventies, Stout was producing movie posters for Hollywood and covers for bootleg LPs before switching to working inside the movies, his art department credits including Conan, First Blood, Return of the Living Dead and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

His interest in dinosaurs developed into a book, The Dinosaurs, and even film scripts; more books, travelling exhibitions, murals, museum work and an enormous amount of commercial work, from trading cards to designing theme parks have followed. The feature dips into many aspects of Stout's work and is illustrated with a wide selection of his output over the years.

Pat Nicolle's work as a comic artist will be well known to some, but Norman Wright's article on the famous historical illustrator offers a wealth of information on his early career, with the bonus that much of the later artwork on display is from the original art boards.

Jennifer Gori's feature on Cynthia Sheppard is a complete change of pace, the artwork lushly seductive, dark and fantastic compared to Nicolle's precise penmanship. Her brooding Gothic figurework made her a perfect fit for Wizards of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering. In recent years she has been painting book covers, including titles by Elizabeth Bear and A. M. Dellamonica.

An interview with Mumbai computer artist Amit Tayal and a brief look at the work of Taiwanese painter Wu Chen round out the issue nicely.

Illustrators is always a magazine to look foward to, and issue 11 promises to be another fine mix of art and cartoon with features on Donato Giancola, Tomer Hanuka, Mike Terry and James McConnell.

For more information and back issues, visit the Illustrators website.

Today's random scans are a handful of books by Gil Brewer. Brewer is an interesting study - I've written about him before, so no need to go into biographical details here. But a couple of covers show some interesting variations. The first pair are the Gold Medal original (1951) and the New Fiction Press British reprint (1952), which to my eye look identical bar the obvious banner and movement of some elements to make this "An original American novel - not a reprint"—quite how a book printed and published in the UK that has clearly had a prior US edition can claim that it is not a reprint I'll never know. The cover was by Dom Lupo and it was later used as the template by Barye Phillips for his cover of Brewer's Little Tramp (1957).

The second pairing is more interesting: again, it is a Gold Medal original (1952) but this time an Alexander Moring reprint (1956) for which the cover has been repainted; as well as the obvious difference in colour there are subtle differences in the actual picture, although it has been skilfully copied from Barye Phillips' original.

Satan Is A Woman (1951) has another Barye Phillips cover which has been rather more obviously repainted for the New Fiction Press edition (1952). The cover for our final title, So Rich, So Dead (1951) was also repainted, originally for the New Fiction Press (1952)—the rather poor final image with the 'Hank Janson' banner—and also used on the subsequent Moring reprint (1956).

I haven't had much of a chance to think about what might be appearing here on Bear Alley over the next week. I have another piece by Jeremy Briggs and a couple of biographical sketches of artists in hand. I'll just have to see what I can manage at the weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Captain Future arrived today. So different from some of the other strips you've reprinted. More energy, perhaps, than skill. The punk rock of british comics.

    Really enjoying it.