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Friday, September 16, 2016

Comic Cuts - 16 September 2016

My Dad, now long departed, always said that I was easily distracted and this week I've proved him right more than once. Last Friday I discovered a snippet about an author I've long been interested in, Dail Ambler; the snippet was that she was co-director of a company way back in the 1940s, before her writing career took off.

That set me off on a fruitless search for more information that took up the whole morning. I ordered some birth and marriage certificates to resolve a couple of points at a cost of almost £30 and stopped for lunch. I'd get on with work in the afternoon.

But there was a couple of things bugging me, so eventually I managed to drag myself away from the mysteries of Dail at around 4 o'clock, having by then realised that I'd wasted £20 or that £30 because any information they'd contain I already knew, and had subsequently discovered that it related to someone else entirely!

I've managed to distract myself pretty much every day this week, which means I've completely failed to capitalise on the (thanks to circumstances beyond our control) extra week we've been given for Hotel Business. Catching up with all the e-mail has been my excuse for not actually writing much; and even the writing I managed didn't all stand up to a cold, hard look: one news piece that I spent Tuesday afternoon writing I threw away on Wednesday because it was more speculation and surmise than news. It happens.

This morning, when I was supposed to be writing up news, I instead began dipping into a newly arrived copy of Prince of Tricksters, Matt Houlbrook's biography of Netley Lucas which I'm finding absolutely fascinating. I knew a bit about Lucas, having written about him some years ago; he had briefly written text stories for comics back in the 1930s, which is where I'd first stumbled across mention of him. I managed to track down one of his autobiographies, which was revealing, although not as revealing as Matt's book is.

I'm half-way through another book, but my inability to not be distracted means that I've just spent the last hour reading bits of the new book. Lucas ran a couple of companies after the collapse of his publishing venture A. E. Marriott; further back, he'd ran into trouble with his ghostwriter when he claimed he'd written his first autobiography; jumping ahead again, could his successful Crooks Confessions have been ghosted by Harold Castle?; back again to details of his father's career as an actor and his curious death in the Seine... perhaps you can see how easily distracting the narrative of Lucas's life can be.

Anyway, I've put the book down now and hopefully the next time I pick it up, it'll be to read properly. In the meantime, if my little article intrigues you, go pick up a copy of Matt's book.

No time for cleaning up any artwork this evening... it's close to midnight and I try to make that my limit these days. I used to have the energy to keep going until two or three in the morning, but no more. But it's a good excuse to mention the fact that I try to keep all my old cover galleries updated whenever I find new covers, so recently I've added covers to Colin Forbes, Philip Jose Farmer, Gavin Lyall and Elizabeth George. Lovely covers by Gino d'Achille, Tim White, Chris Foss and disappointing Photoshop! (Too harsh? Just look at how good those painted covers are!)



  1. "... had subsequently discovered that it related to someone else entirely!"

    Wait, there are two Dail Amblers? It's hard enough when people have common names! Good luck with your quest.

  2. Not quite... but there were two Betty Williams's with the initials B. M. L. Williams born only four years apart. What are the chances of them sharing the same three initials? (26 cubed?)

    "Our" Betty, of course, later adopted the name Dail Ambler and died in 1974. The other married a chap called Miller and died only a few years ago.