Friday, December 16, 2016
Comic Cuts - 16 December 2016
I seem to sped most of my day reading press releases. It's very different to my days on Comic World. Putting aside the idea that it was so long ago we didn't have e-mail (!), on Comic World I was able to build up a small team of reliable writers, whose names you would see in issue after issue. The unreliable ones were quickly dropped. It's the system I prefer and the one I used on all other magazines I've been involved with... until now.
As there's no budget, we rely on agencies for written material and instead of five or six articles of between 1,600 and 3,200 words by five or six authors, I'm dealing with 50 or 60 150-300 word pieces by 50 or 60 agencies. As themes change in each issue, and agency staff changes almost as quickly, I'm rarely dealing with the same people from one issue to the next. Building a relationship is impossible and every newcomer seems to have their own way of getting things wrong. Actually that's a bit of an exaggeration because they all make one mistake in common: I always ask for high res. pictures to use as illustrations, and they're either missing or what they've sent is way too small. We're a glossy broadsheet paper: your Google mail profile picture is waaaaay too small... and, no, we can't just "grab something off the website" because even if you don't mind illustrating your bylined article with shitty product shots, I do mind having them in a paper that has my name on it as editor.
(But you don't say that, of course. You try to explain the meaning of "pixel resolution" and "dots per inch" and why something that looks good on an HD TV – which is essentially what your computer screen is – won't look so good when it's blown up to four or five times the original size and printed on paper.)
Wednesday was interrupted by the arrival of a police officer who was going door-to-door asking about a shooting incident in nearby Stanley Road. I'd walked past a police van and noticed the crime-scene tape that had been used to close down the road. Apparently, police had responded to a neighbour's call that a house was being broken into. When they arrived a few minutes later, the would-be thief fired a gun at them and escaped while they were calling for back-up. This occurred at around 9.30pm on Tuesday night.
As you'd expect, most of the stories about the incident quote people talking about how quiet the town is, although we've had a drug-related stabbing and the guy who ran the local fish & chip shop is now serving time for almost dismembering his landlord. And some ducks have gone missing recently. This place is a hot-bed of crime!
I was saddened to hear that Patricia Robins had died. Better known as Claire Lorrimer, she was a very prolific author, although she did not write 160 novels as was claimed by the Daily Mail. I think the claim stems from a Press Association obituary which mistook Patricia's output for that of her mum, Denise Robins. An online biography reads: "Born Patricia Robins, 1st Feb 1921, she was the second of three daughters of Denise Robins, the bestselling novelist also known as ‘the Queen of Romance’, author of 160 novels." Daughter Patricia was said to have just completed her 80th novel. Still a lot, but only half the output of her mother.
Patricia once commented on a piece I'd written here on Bear Alley! Back in 2007 I wrote a column about her grandmother, Kathleen Groom, who wrote under a variety of names. Patricia commented via one of her nieces.
On the same day we learned that E. R. Braithwaite, author of To Sir With Love died, aged 104. Patricia was 95, so it gives us all hope: some writers live to a ripe old age and don't just wither away over their keyboards. Patricia was still actively writing, having continued to write following a fall which hospitalised her earlier this year. Her first book was written when she was 12, which means her writing career lasted 83 years!
In honour of Patricia and E. R. Braithwaite, here are a few random scans.