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Friday, June 19, 2015

Comic Cuts - 19 June 2015

I've spent most of the week dealing with questions of space. Not the galaxy-spanning stuff that I like to read about and not even the more practical questions of how to manage my books and shelves. No, this was how many words can you fit onto a page and how far can you cut down an article before it becomes a list.

From one direction I'm told that articles need to be interesting or nobody will read them; from the other the advice is to edit ruthlessly. But at some point you have to stop cutting or every iota of the writer's personality—and what actually makes it interesting to read—has been removed and you are simply regurgitating a handful of facts and puffing the product in as few words as possible. To my mind, that means you risk readers skipping over featurettes without their brains actually engaging with them. Not satisfying for the reader and bugger all use to the advertisers.

I'm still trying to get my head around this as we go into our final week on my second issue. The first issue was very much a case of gathering material and throwing it in—I took over the mag. half-way through the production cycle and had to use what was available to me. The production cycle was moved to make allowances, which has cut deeply into the time I needed to plan this second issue. To give you an idea of how tight things are, the forward planning meeting took place six working days before the editorial deadline!

At least this time I have a better idea of what is required. It's the difference between stumbling around in the dark for issue one and stumbling around in the light for issue two. Hopefully I'll have found my feet by next month.

One minor bit of good news. I checked my weight this morning and I've lost a pound. After three months of my weight bouncing up and down by a couple of pounds depending on what time of day I weighed myself, this is the first sign of it heading downwards again. Bizarrely it is now 24 months since I determined to lose some weight and I've now lost 24 pounds. I had hoped to lose a stone a year, but that hasn't happened. But a pound a month is not bad and it does prove that the low impact exercise I'm doing (trying to protect my back) is actually working.

Our random scans this week are... well, a random selection of Pan non-fiction, for no other reason than I fancied doing some Pan scans. Of all British publishers, I still think Pan had the finest selection of painted covers and I just love how diverse the covers are, no two of them alike. This is the polar opposite of today's books, where a successful title immediately becomes the template for a whole bunch of titles considered similar in theme. This is not to say there were no themes or common motifs in book cover artwork of old, but the approach and the final results were almost always very different. Today, it's all too easy to find the exact same image from an image library such as shutterstock being used or two or three novels.

W. D. Maydwell was a sports crime writer in the 1930s about whom nothing was known. A bit of literary excavation over the past couple of weeks has revealed that Maydwell had a criminal past  of his own. All will be revealed over the weekend. And next week I'll hopefully post some more of the scans from my digging through boxes of old paperwork, including some clippings about the Michael Keaton Batman movie that I've had since the late Eighties.

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