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Friday, March 10, 2017

Comic Cuts - 10 March 2017

After a couple of weeks where my work rate has been rather patchy, I can finally say that I've had a pretty good few days and actually made some progress with the Valiant index. After a frustrating dental appointment last week (involving some costly exploratory work through which we discovered that a previous dentist had screwed up a filling) I was looking forward to a lazy weekend, the highlight of which would be a trip to see Richard Herring at the Colchester Arts Centre.

This is a "best of..." show featuring routines from some of Herring's previous 12 shows, although not always the longer ones which are often the most memorable—although he did threaten the audience with a 40-minute Yoghurt routine at one point. the elements from his older shows were woven together seamlessly, and where they weren't seamless a gag could be made of grinding gears and motoring through.

I'm a fan—I think all freelancers, especially the broke ones like myself, owe him a debt for his countless free podcasts and vodcasts—so don't expect objective criticism, but I seriously believe that you won't be disappointed if you catch him on tour and there are plenty of other ways to support the free stuff by buying a badge for £1 or one of his DVDs for not that many more pounds. (He also sells DVDs after his shows, so you can save on postage... it's like getting a couple of quid off your ticket!)

I took my annual photographs while Herring was signing, which I've been doing for the past few years. One of them even made it into the charity tour brochure he produces each year. Snatching a photograph while people are busily signing books isn't the best way to get a good photograph so I was quite chuffed when one turned out quite well a couple of years ago. Now I'm even more chuffed that it has been published... possibly my first published photograph? With certain conditions attached... I've published some myself in various books; even the Iron Mask book cover was a photograph of a postcard; and I seem to remember running around town one day looking for examples of cracked paintwork to accompany an article I wrote for a magazine called Period Homes (I filled-in as sub-editor for two months while the real sub recovered from a skiing accident)... but this might be the first time someone who wasn't me picked one of my pictures for publication.

The bulk of the weekend was taken up digging through episodes of 'The Leopard from Lime Street', Buster's long-running superhero yarn about a young lad, scratched by a leopard receiving radioactive treatment, who develops the strength and agility of a big cat. He spends the next 470 or so episodes sleeping for up to 24 hours a day, leaving chewed up mice and voles on the doorstep of his Aunt and Uncle's house and being easily distracted by wool, laser pointers and courgettes.

Actually, it was a lot of fun. I've now read quite a few episodes, although there were some substantial gaps where I had no issues, and there were at least six artists involved over the years. But an interesting and fun strip that I hope will do well when Rebellion reprint it in the summer.

On Monday I took the decision that I really needed to get some writing done on the Valiant index, so I spent the whole of Monday through Wednesday on it, cranking out about 5,000 words but more importantly working out the structure to the early section of the book. With the last index, Countdown to TV Action, I described more of the actual storylines than I had in any earlier book and I thought it worked very well. So I'm doing the same with Valiant... only Countdown/TV Action ran for 132 issues and Valiant ran for over 700. Some strips lasted for over a decade and it's not my intention to info-dump every storyline in one huge block. So I'm having to find ways to weave the storylines of various strips in and out of the text as I write the introduction, so I can be writing about (say) Kraken and his time machine and then switch seamlessly to discussing Kelly's Eye and from there to The Man Called 39.

It will be some time before you find out how successful I've been... I'm still writing about strips from 1963. Only another 13 years to go!

You'll be pleased to hear that someone (thanks, Bill!) has sent me all the missing summer specials that I needed to complete that part of the index. I still have some of the spin-off annuals missing, but I'll list those at a later date. However much I love listing things, it can get a little dull... reading the comics is far more fun.

I should really save this week's random scans theme until I finish the book, but hopefully I'll find some others before I complete it.


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