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Friday, January 15, 2016

Comic Cuts - 15 January 2016

Halfway through the month and I still haven't finished Iron Mask. Grrrrrrr! I mentioned last week that I was waiting on a couple of certificates that would, hopefully, resolve some of the mysteries surrounding Harry Bensley's wife. Well, my educated guess at what could have been her death certificate proved to be correct, so I should now know how old she was when she died and, by implication, roughly when she was born. And her marriage certificate should have given me her age on the day of her marriage.

Well, I now have that information to hand, but I still haven't been able to confirm with absolute certainty her date or place of birth and the names of her parents. You see, I think there's a mistake on her marriage certificate and the name given for her father is wrong.

I might know more next week because I've had to spend another tenner getting the certificate from her second marriage to see if all the information matches up. At that point I might be able to pick up her birth certificate... which will take another week or so to turn up.

At the moment it feels like everything is against me getting this damn book out. I've a tight schedule for the next issue of Hotel Business, which will have to be turned around in less time than usual, and I've various other obstacles.

I'm sometimes amazed at how I managed to get books out years ago when I was managing more than one magazine. I'm sure I've slowed down considerably over the years. Or maybe I'm just more obsessive about researching a subject.

I mentioned last week about our local avian celebrities, the two swans and their pal the goose, who have been firm favourites for around five years now. Some years ago the painting below appeared on one of the houses on the quay:

You cannot tell me that the person painting this didn't realise what (s)he was painting. The closeness of the swans, the emotions playing across the face of the goose – surprise, shock, disgust – as he looks up to discover that his friends are engaged in a little swan romance.

Mel and I wish to thank whoever produced what has become our favourite filthy mural. We laugh every time we pass it.

Random scans this week are four titles from around 1940. The first two are Donald Henderson Clarke yarns as published by John Long, the latter two Wells Gardner Darton first editions of two Darcy Glinto tales. The covers are... well, not the finest in the ranks of Good Girl Art, but they have a certain charm. The artists are all but unknown: Campbell, Dolan, S.C. (or maybe G.C.) and anonymous. Campbell and Dolan also painted covers for contemporary paperbacks published by Jarrolds, Stanley Paul and Rich & Cowan – all part of the Hutchinson group.

There are a handful of titles from Wells Gardner Darton that I'd love to see if anyone has scans. They're all from the same period: The Devil Thumbs a Ride by Robert C. Du Soe, They Shoot Horses Don't They by Horace McCoy and How Sleeps the Beast by Don Tracy. Any of those old 1/- WGD titles, in fact. Anyone?

More Ace O'Hara next week and whatever else I can squeeze in.

The photo at the head of today's column was taken just before Christmas. We've had some particularly beautiful sunrises and sunsets recently,  helped along by some fine weather... although the weather is now on the turn. As I write (Thursday evening), gusts of sleety rain are hammering down on the plastic roof of the utility room next to my office. It's chilly here in the office, and "Snow Vogue" is definitely an apt title to end on this week, although the "Snow" referred to isn't the stuff you make snowmen out of!

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