Friday, January 13, 2017

Comic Cuts - 13 January 2017

The cold I picked up at new year has been shared around quite a few folks who were at the same party. It flourished over Wednesday through Sunday and then started to recede. It's Thursday night now, and I think I can safely say it has now gone. Aside from the blocked up nose, the worst aspect was waking up at two and four in the morning. Exhausted, I flaked out on Sunday and didn't wake up until 10 in the morning. For someone who is usually up before 7, that's late. I haven't slept in that late since my twenties, and back then it was alcohol-fuelled hangovers I woke up to, not sinus headaches. Happy days...!

In need of some cheering up during the week, I received a real treat as The Art of Reginald Heade arrived. I immediately took a four hour lunchbreak to read it and I can heartily recommend it. It's a beautiful book. I'll review it properly first chance I get. In the meantime, here's the cover. You can buy the book directly from Telos. While you're there, you can pick up a copy of The Trials of Hank Janson dirt cheap... it has some bits about Heade not included in Stephen Walker's book.

I've also blew some of my Christmas money on a couple of books: The Avengers Steed and Mrs Peel The Comic Strips, published by Big Finish to tie in with their Avengers audio dramas. And the very last Lone Pine novel by Malcolm Saville, reprinted by Girls Gone By, which now completes the set.

The Avengers Steed and Mrs Peel The Comic Strips contains eight strips reprinted from Diana, the DC Thomson girls' comic from the 1960s which is famous – amongst the small number of people who have copies in their collections, that is – for some beautifully-painted colour strips with artwork by the likes of John Burns. The Avengers appeared in 1966-67 in a series of 3- and 4-part stories with art by Emilio Frejo and Juan Gonzalez Alacreu, two superb Spanish artists of the Valencian school. Both artists knew how to capture a likeness, so Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg are instantly recognisable throughout.

If I have any complaints its simply that the pages have been reduced in size for the reprint, which made the panels difficult to read without the aid of a magnifying glass – maybe not a problem for people with 20/20 vision but I don't suppose I'm the only person wanting to read this that getting not only a bit long in the tooth, but a bit short sighted, too. I've only read a couple of the stories so far, and they're slight, being so short, but enjoyable. You can order the book from Amazon.

Peter Weston died on 5 January, aged 73, after battling cancer for three years. Weston was a long-time SF fan, editing some of the most fondly remembered fanzines published in the UK during the 1960s, Zenith and Speculation, and co-founding the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. He was Chairman of Seacon '79, the World SF Convention – my first convention. Outside of SF, Weston was the owner of a car-parts manufacturing company which, from 1984, made the rockets handed out at the Hugo Awards. After a break of many years he penned an entertaining autobiography of his life in fandom, With Stars in My Eyes (2004) and subsequently launched Prolapse (later Relapse), which included contributions about the history of British SF fandom from many Big Name Fans.

My first encounter with his work was the anthology series Andromeda, which was published by Futura (Orbit) in 1976-78, which are our random scans for the week. The first two volumes are almost still in as good condition as they were when I bought them in 1976 and 1977. I never did see the third volume in the local shops, although eventually I managed to pick up a copy at a sale when Chelmsford Library was selling off some of its damaged stock. The sticky plastic that they covered their paperbacks with was badly damaged, so I removed it entirely... taking some of the cover with it. I've cleaned it up the best I can but it isn't perfect. I'm not sure who painted the first one, but the second is Bob Layzell and the third is Gino D'Achille. The last image is a dustjacket that was dummied up in the style of an old pulp magazine for copies of Weston's autobiography, which was originally issued without a d/j.


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