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Friday, July 07, 2017

Comic Cuts - 7 July 2017

Another week of pleasing progress on the Valiant index. I've written up notes on the various industrial problems faced by comics in 1970 and the merger with Smash! in 1971, which means I've spent some time re-reading Janus Stark. And a week where you can spend some time re-reading Janus Stark is a good week!

I had a bit of a mad dash to make sure that I posted here at Bear Alley as usual – I try to do one of these rambly things every Friday and also post something on Saturday and Monday, plus some release info. for some comics on Wednesday and alternate Thursdays. But because I was going out on Saturday and was hoping for Sunday that didn't involve sitting at the computer, there was a mad dash on Friday to piece together the Vernor Vinge cover gallery.

Saturday was spent celebrating Canada Day with a Canadian friend and her family and friends; it's the first time I've been out of Essex for some while as we headed off to Suffolk with a SatNav that insisted we were in Stowmarket and spent most of the journey trying to get us to make a U-turn on the busy, fast-moving A14 motorway. After a while, I began to wonder whether this was the voice that murderers think they hear inside their heads, persistent, insistent, repeating the same deadly mantra over and over until you've been driven mad by it and will turn in the face of 70-mile-an-hour traffic just to shut the voice up.

Despite the SatNav trying to murder us, we got to our destination in one piece and much fun and barbecued food was had by all over the course of the next ten or so hours. All I can say is, Thank you Annie, Canada and Paul (I think that's the correct order): the Caesar cocktail is disgusting (Clamato! Seriously?) but more than made up for by bacon and maple syrup crisps.

I've just received a copy of The Leopard from Lime St., the Rebellion reprint of the old Buster strip, which includes an introduction I wrote a couple of months ago. Here's a taster:
Billy Farmer is, after all, an unlikely hero. The 13-year-old may have been a year or two older than Buster’s readers (the paper was aimed at 7- to 12-year-olds), but he was being bullied at school and was a bit of a swot, unlikely to inspire aspirations in Buster’s readership. However, this was precisely the same kind of un-heroic hero that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko had created a decade earlier for Marvel Comics. Shy, smart and the butt of the bullies jokes, Billy Farmer was the secondary modern Spider-Man, a vulnerable schoolboy whose problems made him both familiar and appealing.
    These early tales of “The Leopard From Lime Street” were written to entertain Buster’s 175,000 readers every week, author Tully keeping the storylines compelling and comical. Forty years on, they are no less entertaining, thanks to the un-heroic hero at their centre: a decent young boy who accidentally gains his powers and tries to do the right thing with them, by his family, by his school and by the townsfolk in Selbridge, even when faced with the terrifying headlines—“Leopard Danger to Society”, “Brutal Attack By Leopard Man”—of the local paper. As Billy proves, it takes more than putting on a costume to be a hero.
The book has a couple of little previews of upcoming titles, including Marney the Fox, with a lovely new cover by John Stokes (September), The Dracula File (October), with a cover by the mighty Chris Weston, a second collection from the pages of Misty (November) featuring 'The Sentinels' and 'End of the Line', and a gathering of the first 100 scrunges of Ken Reid's Faceache (November).

Random scans... I have a few more comedy tie-ins left over from the scans I used in a couple of columns in May. I wonder if anyone else has spotted Sid's Snake being used by Dave Gorman? And Robert Newman is better known as Rob Newman

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