BEAR ALLEY BOOKS

BEAR ALLEY BOOKS
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Comic Cuts - 26 May 2017

For someone who lives a relatively quiet life stuck at home either in front of the computer or the TV, this has been an exciting week. On Sunday we headed into town to see comedian Susan Calman, who you probably know from The News Quiz or her solo show Susan Calman is Convicted on Radio 4, lathough she pops up on TV with surprising regularity, appearing regularly on CBBC and hosting an afternoon quiz show called The Boss, which despite her every effort is just terrible.

We last saw her on her Lady Like tour, way back on 24 October 2014. Looking back at the Friday column after the gig, I see that it wasn't even mentioned, the column dominated by the demise of our washing machine and the need to generate a few book sales so we could afford a new one. I think I had reached a point where I knew I was going to have to sort out a paying job at some point and lack of funds was weighing on me.

Fast forward two-and-a-half years and I was pretty much in the same boat until a fortnight ago. I've just started work on a new project for my old boss at Look and Learn. I don't want to say much as it's not my project and not up to me to reveal all but it basically revolves around the idea of producing an illustrated dictionary for modern day social media consumption.

I've only been working on it for a few days, but I have to admit that I'm rather enjoying it. Mind you I'm only a couple of hundred entries in. Let's see how I feel once we pass the couple of thousand mark.

This doesn't mean the Valiant book is on hold. I should be able to do the two together, although I did take a couple of days off (Thursday through Sunday of last week) to write a three-parter that will be starting here at Bear Alley tomorrow, all about a writer named Brian Stuart... only he wasn't named Brian Stuart originally. I thought I'd be able to tackle him fairly quickly, but every time I thought I'd found everything, something else would turn up which shed new light on him.

But you can start reading all about him tomorrow. My point is that the article was utterly consuming as far as time was concerned, so I put in a couple of days on another side project that I've been doing, which is to index old annuals... and if you've listed the contents of an annual you'll know that it, too, is surprisingly time consuming. Especially if, like me, you spend a couple of hours trying to figure out where all of the strips and features were reprinted from (as was the case with many annuals from the 1970s); that can be made doubly hard if the strips were originally Italian.

I managed to catch up a bit, completing the original run of Eagle Annual from 1952 to 1975, and mailed off the results to fellow collectors who are also involved in this madness. Wednesday involved the first trip to the dentist in quite some while, and, bar a trip to a hygienist in June, that should be it for another six months. All I can say is, kids, don't take up smoking. I did, and although I gave up a few years ago, I'm still paying the price of a thirty-a-day, thirty-five year habit.

Monday night we were out on the town again, this time to a book launch. Or books, plural, launch as it was for the latest novels by James Garbutt and Henry Sutton. Both are better known as James Henry, although they only collaborated on one novel under that name, the first of a series of prequels based on R.D. Wingfield's Jack Frost character (famously played by David Jason in the long-running TV series). James then took over the name and has subsequently written three more Frost novels—the latest one released this month—and a stand-alone featuring another policeman which was set around the local Colchester area (Blackwater, just out in paperback).

Meanwhile, Henry has just published his tenth novel and, looking to start a new series, has written it under the name Harry Brett. I'm not revealing any deep, dark secret... he's plugging the book on his website.

The two make an excellent double act and the chat was full of anecdotes and insights into their writing processes and how those different processes caused problems when they came to collaborate. It was a highly entertaining hour and I got the latest Frost signed for my Mum as she's enjoyed the previous three and it was her birthday this week. I haven't seen her to pass it on, yet, so it'll be a nice surprise [I can say that because she doesn't have a computer and isn't reading this!]

Following on from last week's cover scans, here are a few more books by comedians.


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