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Friday, April 08, 2016

Comic Cuts - 8 April 2016

The highlight of the week was seeing comedian Simon Evans performing at the Colchester Arts Centre as part of his "In the Money" tour. The thread that runs through it is how fortunate he was to get a mortgage for a London flat while he was still young and how that helped his journey through to where he is today. It sounds unpromising, but Evans wrings a huge amount of humour out of it, fully appreciated by the thoroughly middle-class audience who knew him from his Radio 4 show, Simon Evans Goes to Market.

After that, the rest of the week has involved plodding through work. We've had a ridiculously tough month on the magazine I work on due to Easter holidays and scheduling conflicts which has caused the paper to be pushed back a week. Normally, I would be between issues, having commissioned material for the next one and waiting for it to come in, which is usually my chance to catch up on e-mails, bits of scanning and whatnot.

No such luck this time round, although I'll be trying to squeeze some spare time out of the schedule next week so I can finish off the Iron Mask book. Please let this be the month it comes out. I described last week some of the technical problems the book has faced and the situation now is that spoiled proofs will be replaced. Great, but it does mean I'm going to have to partly redesign the book to reduce the pagination. I just need to find the time to do it.

Our pussy problems might be over... you can tell just how wildly exciting my life is by the fact that getting a couple of motion activated animal repellers makes the cut in this column. I remember when, back in the old days, I used to do stuff that was worth mentioning...

Anyway, we've installed these solar powered devices to try and cut down on the amount of cat poo we have to clear up. Not our cats, but they gift us copiously with their faeces. Hopefully this will stop now that we've planted these noisy beasts... but the noise is so high pitched that it should only be heard by animals. Although Mel says she can hear them when they activate, I already have an ever-present high-pitched ringing in my ears, thanks to my constant companion, tinnitus.

Today's random scans are a sextet of Corgi covers (found, if memory serves, on eBay). Looking at some modern spy thrillers recently, it's painfully obvious that publishers have become stuck in a rut. There was probably a successful book with a cover with the silhouette of a guy in a hat walking away from the reader. And the next spy thriller had a similar cover, and the one after that, and the one after that. Private Eye has an occasional feature entitled "Bookalikes" which shows books on the same theme with almost identical covers or layouts or even the same picture.

Corgi seemed to prefer characters facing the audience. Three of the five include a strong male figure plus a second image, a vignette of action involving guns. So there were similarities. But the treatment was always very different and the use of a variety of artists, layout and lettering meant that each cover looked distinct and dissimilar to every other cover on the racks.

It's not my intention to knock all modern covers, because there are still some very imaginative, well-painted and well-designed covers to be found, but I do wish some of them would show a little more imagination. Branding only works if it's unique to one set of books... if they all look the same a writer's work is never likely to break out. The SF Masterpieces line works because the brand is there but each cover is distinct.


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