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Friday, June 02, 2017

Comic Cuts - 2 June 2017

I have been concentrating on earning a little money too keep the roof over my head for the past week, so I have little to report by way of news on the Valiant index. In fact, it has been a fairly quiet week one way or another.

We spent some time in the garden over the bank holiday, so the lawn (which is more moss than grass) looks acceptable and the pond is again free of weeds. We tend to let the weeds grow at this time of year because they offer the frogs some protection from local cats, although with the quality of cat we seem to have in the area, I'm not sure the frogs need worry. One neighbourhood cat will stalk them but grow bored after only a few minutes and give up, instead finding a spot on the lawn where she will settle down to snooze for much of the day. I've never known cats to spend so much time sleeping on open, unprotected ground.

We have a couple of tomato plants and one cucumber plant but it will be some time before they begin producing anything. We only have two tomato plants this year (one black cherry, one Marmande), unlike last year where we also had a hanging basket, so I imagine we'll see rather less than the 110 tomatoes we grew last year. Our best year was 2015 when we had a bumper crop of 350 tomatoes from four plants.

I photographed the plants when they arrived two weeks ago and they've shot up thanks to the perfect mix of rain and sun we've been having.

These were taken with Mel's old camera, as I spent a couple of weeks trying to find a replacement locally for my old, broken camera. Unfortunately, the only ones I could find that were better were far more expensive. I just need something cheap that will take reasonable pictures and that is small enough for me to carry around in my pocket... and that was exactly what I had with my old Sony Cybershot, which is so small that I often forget that I have it on me. And I like to have it on me because I see like to snap photos of odd things that I spot on our walks, like this bit of wood...

...who may or may not be Groot.

One good bit of news. Although we've had two increases in postage costs this year, I've managed to absorb them as far as Bear Alley Books is concerned, so postage costs have remained the same. Because this is a one-man operation, I don't have the economies of scale of a larger company with a high turnover. What that means in practical terms is that buying packaging material so that books arrive safely costs a hell of a lot more for me than it does for Amazon. The packaging I was using proved hugely expensive: each sheet cost £1.40 and it wasn't possible to fold the sheet so that the book was snug. That meant that it couldn't be sent large letter rate but had to be sent as a small parcel, which cost £2.90 2nd class. So p&p for the UK was costing me £4.39... and I'm only charging £3.99.

Recycling kept loses down to a reasonable level, but I was about to run out of the book wrap style packaging and faced with the prospect of a hefty bill. The good news is that I've found a supply of rigid cardboard envelopes of the kind Amazon uses which should reduce my costs considerably. Postage will still be horribly expensive, but at least I can freeze postage and packing prices until next April.

Random scans. All Digit books but with no specific theme... over the years I've gathered up multiple copies of some covers, especially if I have a reasonably good copy that has some minor damage which I can repair using Photoshop and a slightly lower quality scan that is otherwise undamaged. This is true of Teenage Jungle below, where the higher resolution scan had been damaged by a sticker being removed at some point. A second copy, resized, meant I could clone the latter and paint over the damaged area of the former. The results are certainly good enough for the size I run images here on Bear Alley.

The first image—or two images—below are different editions of the same book. Maybe the leggy version was considered too sexually explicit... or maybe the lady in bed was considered too demure... I've never been able to figure out which came first. The others reprint American covers from Avon (art by Gilbert Fullington), Ace (Paul Rader) and Gold Medal (James Meese) respectively.

(* The header photo is of the building works opposite West Quay. I feel sorry for all the folks who bought houses—very expensive houses—on the river with a gorgeous view across fields and woodlands, only to have the whole area redeveloped.)

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