Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 30 August 2017.

2000AD Prog 2046
Cover: Karl Richardson
Judge Dredd: War Bugs by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwall (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Alienist: Inhuman Natures by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beebie (w) Eoin Coveney (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Greysuit: Foul Play by Pat Mills (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
Tharg's 3rillers: Mechastopheles by Gordon Rennie, Lawrence Rennie (w) Karl Richardson (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hope: ... For The Future by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Frank Gillett

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Frank Gillett was a prolific illustrator between the late 1890s and his death in 1927, working for a wide range of periodicals and also illustrating a large number of books for Blackie & Son, most notably around 25 re-issues of G.A. Henty’s boys’ historical and adventure stories.

He was born in Worlingham, Suffolk, in 1874, and christened Edward Frank Gillett. His father, Jesse Gillett (1843-1893, born in Somerset) was the local curate; his mother, Eliza Marten (née Duplock, 1843-1908, born in Petersfield, Hampshire) was the daughter of a bookseller and stationer.

By 1881, Jesse Gillett had become the curate in Aldeby, Norfolk, just north of the border with Suffolk. Edward Frank was subsequently educated at Gresham’s School, Holt, Norfolk, after which, in around 1890, he became a clerk at Lloyd’s, moving to London and, alongside his older brother Frederick (also a Lloyd’s clerk) lodging with Frederick Daniels, a law writer, at 56 Thornton Street, Stockwell.

He began his career as an artist by submitting cartoons to the comic periodical Fun in 1895; within a year, he had become a full-time illustrator (despite apparently having had no formal artistic training), working for The Graphic, and later Black and White, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and The Bystander. In 1901, he was living with his widowed mother at 23 Gayton Road, Hampstead, along with six (of his eight) brothers and sisters, with his brother Frederick still working as a Lloyd’s clerk (he later became a journalist).

On 22 April 1903, at St. Augustine’s church, Highbury, Frank Gillett married Elsie Joanne Bastard, the daughter of a solicitor, born in Norwood, Surrey, in 1870. She died only nine years later, on 4 January 1912, at Brightside, Crouch End Hill, London, although her home address was 6 Aldred Road, West Hampstead. The marriage may well have been a difficult one, as Brightside appears to have been a psychiatric hospital. In the 1911 census, Frank Gillett was recorded as a visitor at Aldeby Hall, Norfolk, staying with Pascoe William Mickelburgh, a farmer. Three years later, in 1914, Frank married Mickelburgh’s daughter, Margaret Helen (born in February 1891), at Loddon, Norfolk.  The couple stayed on at the Aldeby Hall farm, later moving to Beccles, Norfolk.

As an artist, Gillett worked in pen and ink, watercolour and oils. One of his specialities was hunting scenes, but he was also a skillful caricaturist, as his sketches in The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and The Bystander testify. In 1907 he was exhibiting with the Langham Sketching Club, with The Morning Post of 23 February 1907 commenting that “Of the younger members none show greater power and promise than Mr Frank Gillett with his splendid suggestion of momentarily observed movement...” He was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1909, and in the same year he became a founder member of the Pencil Society, exhibiting at its inaugural exhibition at the New Dudley Gallery, Piccadilly. In 1921, he exhibited at the inaugural exhibition of the Society of Graphic Art in Piccadilly, and four years later he was exhibiting with the Pastel Society. His work also appeared at the Fine Art Society, the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, Liverpool’s Walker Art gallery, and the Royal Academy.

As well as The Graphic and The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, he was also a prolific contributor to The Strand Magazine between 1910 and 1926. Amongst the other periodicals he contributed to were The Illustrated London News, Wide World Magazine, The Ludgate Monthly, Cassell’s Magazine, The Red Magazine, The Yellow Magazine, The Royal Magazine, The New Magazine, The Home Magazine, The Windsor Magazine, The Pillar-Box, The Sketch, The Detective Magazine, The Tatler, Sunday at Home, Chums and The Captain.

As an illustrator of books he concentrated almost exclusively on boys’ adventure, historical and school stories. He provided plates for a handful of books by Percy F. Westerman and F.S. Brereton between 1915 and 1920, but more importantly he was commissioned to illustrate a large number of G.A. Henty’s novels, re-issued by Blackie & Son between around 1917 and 1925. In most cases, this was limited to a colour frontispiece, with internal black and white plates supplied by other artists. He also illustrated re-issues of three of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novels in 1920, and between 1922 and 1927 he illustrated several school stories, by Richard Bird, Gilbert Jessop, Alfred Judd and Sydney Horler.

Frank Gillett died on 1 May 1927 at the London Hospital, Stepney, although his home address was Northgate Street, Beccles. He left an estate values at £2,876 (around £160,000 in today’s terms). It is not known where and when his wife died.


Books Illustrated
All published by Blackie & Son unless stated otherwise.
Thorndyke Manor: A Tale of Jacobite Times by Mary C. Rowsell, 1889
Ned Myers, or A Life Before the Mast by J. Fenimore Cooper, 1899
Teresa of Watling Street by Arnold Bennett, Chatto & Windus, 1904
Stories from English History by John Aston, Henry Frowde/Hodder & Stoughton, 1911
The Sword of Freedom: A Tale of the English Revolution by Charles Gilson, Henry Frowde/Hodder & Stoughton, 1912
The Dispatch Riders: The Adventures of Two British Motorcyclists in the Great War by Percy F. Westerman, 1915
Wild Sports of the West by W.H. Maxwell, Gresham Pub. Co., 1915
A Naval Venture: The Story of an Armoured Cruiser by T.T. Jeans, 1916
From the Nile to the Tigris: A Story of Campaigning from Western Egypt to Mesopotamia by F.S. Brereton, 1918
With Allenby in Palestine: A Story of the Latest Crusade by F.S. Brereton, 1919
With the Allies to the Rhine: A Story of the Finish of the War by F.S. Brereton, 1919
The Children’s Year: Talks to the Church’s Children on the Church’s Season by G.R. Oakley, S.P.C.K., 1919
Phyllis in France by May Wynne, 1919
With Beatty off Jutland: A Romance of the Great Sea Fight by Percy F. Westerman, 1920
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R. L. Stevenson, British Books, 1920
The Black Arrow by R.L. Stevenson, British Books, 1920
Treasure Island by R.K. Stevenson, British Books, 1920
The Making of Michael: The Story of a Broken Holiday by L.M. Middleton, 1922
Their London Cousins by L.M. Middleton, 1921
Won by a Try: A Story of Public School Life by Gunby Hadath, Cassell & Co., 1922
The Story of “Les Miserables” by Isabel C. Fortey, 1922
The Third Jump, and Other Stories by Richard Bird, 1923
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1923
Toilers of the Sea by Isabel C. Fortey, 1923
Dawson’s Score, and Other School Stories by Richard Bird, 1924
Cresley of Cressingham by Gilbert Jessop, Cassell & Co., 1924
Trouble at Wyndham by Richard Bird, 1925
Forrester’s Fag by Alfred Judd, 1926
That Fellow Hagan! By Sydney Horler, Cassell & Co., 1927
Trilby by George du Maurier, Collins, 1929

Re-issues of novels by G.A. Henty
All published by Blackie & Son (circa 1915-1925).
The Lion of the North
The Bravest of the Brave
St. George for England
In the Reign of Terror
In the Irish Brigade
Through the Sikh War
A Jacobite Exile
On the Irrawaddy
When London Burned
With Cochrane the Dauntless
In Greek Waters
To Herat and Cabul
The Tiger of Mysore
The Treasure of the Incas
Both Sides the Border
A Knight of the White Cross
The Young Carthaginian
For the Temple
Captain  Bayley’s Heir
The Cat of the Bubastes
By Pike and Dyke
Condemned as a Nihilist
Beric the Briton
In the Heart of the Rockies
With the Allies to Pekin
At Aboukir and Acre
In the Irish Brigade
The Dragon and the Raven
St Bartholomew’s Eve

Friday, August 25, 2017

Comic Cuts - 25 August 2017

You'll see from the totaliser that there hasn't been much movement on the Fifty Forgotten Authors book. But don't worry, I've been working very solidly on it. I'm only adding to the totaliser when essays are complete and the latest one is still only half finished. It's the same piece I was working on last week, which has taken a huge amount of research, which I only finished on Sunday.

As well as over 25,000 words of notes, I also had some 70 additional reviews that I'd managed to track down, and trying to wrangle that lot into something readable takes time. Something like 15,000 words of notes has been turned into 6,500 words of essay so far; if this keeps up, I'll hopefully have a finished piece of around 10,000 words. Much longer than I anticipated but so be it. I'm not too worried as there was another very long piece that I was thinking of maybe including. I'll just have to see how things pan out.

I did make an interesting discovery during the week. Way back in 1882, a reviewer spotted a book under another name that he insisted was by the author I'm writing about. I could find no reference to this anywhere; it has simply been buried in a Victorian newspaper for 135 years until I uncovered it on Tuesday. On Wednesday I'd managed to confirm this anonymous reviewer's suspicions. So that's something you can look forward to discovering...

In celebration, and because I don't have a huge amount to write about, I took the morning off to write about another old author I corresponded with back in the 1990s but who died about ten years ago. So the totaliser bumps up one more place and the word count jumps to nearly 20,000—and it will take a nice little leap when I add author eight to the figure.

I will have some news on another old project shortly, so there is at least something to look forward to in these columns other than my endless rambling about word counts and the handful of pretty pictures, thank goodness. It was starting to look like next week's column was going to be a fruit by fruit guide to the 95 tomatoes we've had off the plants this year.

It's not all work. There's still time for a little entertainment, which has been mostly taken up this last week with The Defenders, the latest Marvel show on Netflix, which has been superb. Good on Netflix for not stretching the story out to thirteen episodes, which I kinda feel happened with Iron Fist. Eight episodes is just right for the story they were telling, and I hope other shows will take note.

I'm also watching The Mist. I'm only four episodes in, so it's creepy and unsettling at the moment rather than jump-out-of-your-skin scary. I'm looking forward to more... and, again, it's only ten episodes. Maybe it's because I grew up on British television where the storylines are usually told in four to six episodes (unless they're an openended soap) and have an ending. I'm definitely more intolerant towards shows that don't reach some sort of conclusion. We watched a Spanish serial (Sé quién eres / I Know Who You Are) recently and, for reasons unknown, BBC4 have brought it to an end on a cliffhanger after only ten episodes. The full season runs to 16 episodes and was broadcast in Spain without a break, according to the show's Wikipedia page. So why break it up?

(Which is not to say that I don't welcome the return of Inspector Montelbano... but with my memory I'll have forgotten as much about the Spanish show as the lawyer accused of murder who was suffering from amnesia.)

Of the shows that are given the full American season treatment—usually 22 to 24 episodes—that I've watched recently I'm starting to find some a bit of a drag. I finished watching Flash season 3 and Supergirl season 2 and I'm seriously wondering whether I'll be back for the next run. I think I've identified the problem: the leads in all these CW shows (and that includes Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow) are meant to be intelligent  young adults: Barry Allen (The Flash) is a forensic scientist working for the police department and is surrounded by police officers and scientists; Kara Danvers (Supergirl) is a reporter for CatCo and surrounded by other reporters and the members of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations. They're not children... but they act like it. Almost every decision they make is made on the emotional level of a 14-year-old, which (I'm guessing) is the age of the audience the show is aimed at. What I've been putting down to bad writing makes far more sense when you think of them not as scientists or reporters but bratty teenagers struggling to control their hormones and their emotions, ill-equipped to face the tasks they've been given due to their super-powers. I'm not sure I can take another season of either without hurling something at the TV.

On the other hand... Gotham season 3. Channel 5 seem to have dropped the ball, but it should be available on Netflix shortly. It is brilliant and that's almost wholly down to the interplay between the villains; previously it was Penguin and Fish Mooney; then Theo & Tabitha Galavan, Butch Gilzean and Barbara Keen; most recently it has been Penguin and The Riddler. It's one of the few shows where 22 episodes doesn't seem too long... or long enough. The good news (for me!) is that it took so long for me to get hold of season 3 that it's only a month before season 4 starts.

More good viewing: we're at last getting to Fargo season 3, which has been sat on the box since before the election, and after that we'll be watching Preacher season 2. It's a couple of years old now, but we've also just started watching Fortitude, set in the chilly climbs of the Arctic Circle. It seemed apt to start it at the same time as sunny Inspector Montalbano. Amazing to think we've had to wait four years for new episodes!

By the way, the images above and to the right are the covers for novels by the fictional science fiction writer Thaddeus Mobley (via here), one of the characters who appears in Fargo season 3.

Random scans... this week it's a batch of recent purchases that haven't been absorbed by other cover galleries. Not yet, anyway. Also, a couple of scans from friends of the blog, which are always welcome (300dpi and saved in a lossless format, if you can manage it, as it makes then easier to clean).

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Commando issues 5047-5050

Brand new Commando issues 5047-5050 are on sale now! With classic and new adventures, our Commandos are certainly kept busy: infiltrating U-Boats in the Atlantic, crash-landing in the North African Desert, unearthing mysterious Viking relics and dodging dud grenades, it’s all just another day’s work…

5047: Home of Heroes: The Battle to Britain
Janek’s life-like cover shows rival ships off the coast of Greenland, the bleak, icy water, just as threatening as the warships battling on them, while Vicente Alcazar’s thick black lines and heavy shading brings a moody darkness to Iain McLaughlin’s original story.
    Set in Autumn, 1941, America had not yet joined in the Second World War, but that didn’t stop people like Charlie Dayton getting involved. Never shying away from a fight, Charlie’s strong views usually turned into something a bit more physical, so when the war in Europe started, Charlie knew he couldn’t stand by and wait for the battle to reach his shores. That was when he hopped aboard an English cargo ship, bound for Britain and the war that awaited him.

Story: Iain McLaughlin
Art: Vicente Alcazar
Cover: Janek Matysiak

5048: Trouble Hunter
When R.A.F. air-gunner Fred Cotton crash-lands in the desert, it’s up to his brother Harry to rescue him. Omre’s story is one of fraternity: both blood brothers and not, as Harry must team up with the stubborn and by the books Sergeant Wilcox on his mission to save Fred.
    With cover and interior artwork by the late Gordon C. Livingstone, you know that you’re in for a treat. The thin line strokes, expert shading and detail that Livingstone is famed for shines through in this issue, most notably during a sandstorm, where Livingstone draws hundreds of wispy lines to show to the harsh winds. Livingstone’s cover, however, is full of strong, contrasting block colours, the blue of Harry’s uniform juxtaposed against the yellow and orange of the desert sky.

Story: Omre
Art: Gordon C. Livingstone
Cover: Gordon C. Livingstone
Originally Commando No 378 (1969) Reprinted No 1111 (1977)

5049: The Blood of the Vikings
Another original tale from Shane Filer, when S.S. Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Heiden finds Viking relics in France, he believes they will make a grand gift for the Fuhrer, but he has no idea what he has uncovered… Set mainly in the 8th-9th century, we follow Frankish orphan Thorvald, raised by the Vikings who raided his village as he re-joins his kin in their fight against the invading Danes.
    With cover and interior art by Carlos Pino, the attention to detail in the armour and weaponry really adds to this issue, making it stand out as a new classic for readers, while his morose coloured cover shows Thorvald as every inch the Viking god he is perceived as.

Story: Shane Filer
Art: Carlos Pino
Cover: Carlos Pino

5050: Grenade!
A prolific Commando writer, Alan Hebden’s titular grenade is the centre of action in this issue, taking on a personality if its own, as the somewhat supernatural weapon favours some, while goes against others, with its own comical sense of poetic justice. 
    Jeff Bevan’s cover shows the eponymous grenade front and centre, a hero in its own right, certainly showing plenty of character throughout, while the muted greens and browns give a classic war look to this issue. Meanwhile, Dennis McLoughlin’s interior artwork is equally attentive, drawing most panels during rain showers in the Italian countryside, with both white and black lines to show the falling droplets.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Dennis McLoughlin
Cover: Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No 2640 (1993)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases 23 August 2017.

2000AD Prog 2045
Cover: Cliff Robinson
Judge Dredd: War Bugs by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwall (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Alienist: Inhuman Natures by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beebie (w) Eoin Coveney (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Greysuit: Foul Play by Pat Mills (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
Hope: ... For The Future by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Tharg's 3rillers: Mechastopheles by Gordon Rennie, Lawrence Rennie (w) Karl Richardson (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

W H C Groome

Robert J Kirkpatrick

W.H.C. Groome was one of the most prolific children’s book illustrators of his era, while also being a highly skilled and respected watercolour artist. Surprisingly, perhaps, he appears to have been entirely self-taught.

He was born on 17 November 1854 at 10 St. Ann’s Place, Westminster, and baptised, as William Henry Charles Groome, on 10 December 1854 at St. Stephen’s Church, Westminster. His family background was fairly humble – his father, William Charles Groome (1823-1900) was a waiter, and the son of a carpenter; his mother, Frances (neé Timpson, 1818-1868) was a cook working in Charing Cross, the daughter of a worker on the Earl of Westmoreland’s estate at Apethorpe, Northamptonshire. They had married in the church of St. Martin’s in the Fields, Westminster, in February 1852. William Henry Charles was the first of three children –  his sister Ann Elizabeth was born in 1857 (died 1946), and his brother Frederick was born in 1860, and died a year later. His mother died in 1868.

By the age of 17, Groome was working as a barrister’s clerk, living with his father at 40 Maiden Lane, Westminster. He married Eliza Horner, born in London at Somers Town on 31 March 1850, and baptised at St. Pancras Church, Camden, on 29 April 1850, the daughter of William, a traveller, and his wife Ann), on 14 August 1878 at St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn. She was a single parent, having had a daughter, Ann Ellen (or Ellen Ann), in September 1868  –  in the baptism register, the name of Ann Ellen’s father has been rubbed out.

At the time of the 1881 census, William and Eliza were living at 9 Hereford Road, Marylebone, with William still working as a barrister’s clerk. His sister Ann, a housemaid and domestic servant, was living with him, along with his wife’s daughter Ellen. William and Eliza had already had the first of their three children, Edith Frances, born in Luddington, Northamptonshire on 22 September 1879 (when the family was visiting relatives);  they went on to have two more, Arthur Francis, born in Bayswater, London, on 11 June 1882, and Leslie, born in Ealing on 12 May 1884.

By then, Groome had already begun making a name for himself as an artist, exhibiting at the 1883 and 1884 exhibitions of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours in Piccadilly. His first book illustrations appear to have been commissioned in around 1888, and by the time of the 1891 census, when he was living at 31 Denmark Road, Ealing (having moved from an earlier address at 2 Arlington Road, Castle Hill Park Ealing) he was describing himself as a “black and white artist and sculptor,” although he did not establish himself as a regular book illustrator until the mid-1890s. He then became particularly associated with the publishers Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., and, in particular, W. & R. Chambers, for whom he illustrated at least 10 boys’ adventure stories by George Manville Fenn. Other publishers he worked for included S.W. Partridge & Co., the Religious Tract Society, and Thomas Nelson & Sons (for whom he illustrated reprints of several books by R.M. Ballantyne). More notably, he was chosen to illustrate eight books by Charles Dickens when they were re-issued in a uniform set by Collins in 1907.

Throughout the 1890s he also provided illustrations for a variety of periodicals, including The Children’s Friend, The Mother’s Companion, The Friendly Visitor (all published by S.W. Partridge & Co.), The Boy’s Own Paper, The Boys’ Sunday Monthly, The Girl’s Own Paper, Sunday at Home (all published by the Religious Tract Society), Chums, Little Folks (both published by Cassell & Co.), Boys (published by Sampson Low, Marston & Co..), and The Illustrated London News.  In 1892, he designed a set of Christmas cards for the art publisher Hildesheimer & Faulkner. He signed his work either “WHC Groome” or simply “WHCG.” His early illustrations were often well-executed but static, whereas later he became adept at capturing moments of action and drama, with lots of movement .

By 1901, and living at 78 Coldershaw Road, Ealing, Groome was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists and had exhibited at the Royal Academy. (In contrast, his two sons, Arthur and Leslie, were both working as railway clerks). By then, having moved to Ealing in 1884, he had immersed himself in local politics, joining the Liberal Party and becoming a long-standing member of the Council (although his first term in office ended because of ill-health). He served on the Baths, Fire Brigade, Works, Highways, General Purposes, Housing and Library Committees. By 1911, he was the Vice-President of the Ealing Liberal and Radical Association.

He remained at Coldershaw Road for the rest of his life. In October 1913, in poor health, he and his wife went to stay at 9 Grafton Street, Brighton, in the hope that the sea air would help him recover, but he died there, of a cerebral haemorrhage, on 14 October. He was buried in the Westminster Cemetery in Hanwell, Ealing  –  his gravestone bears the simple inscription “He did his best.” He left an estate valued at just over £419 (around £40,000 in today’s terms). His wife died in Hendon, Middlesex, on 1 July 1931.


Illustrated Books
When I’m a Man, or Little Saint Christopher by Alice Webber, Griffith, Farran & Co., 1888
The King’s Daughter by “Pansy” (i.e. I.A. Alden), S.W. Partridge & Co., 1888
The King’s Diadem by Annie Gray, Sunday School Union, 1890
The Sound of the Streets by Robert J.L. O’Reilly, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1892
John’s Lily by Eleanor C. Price, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1894
The New Housemaster by Charles Edwardes, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1895
Battles of the Nineteenth Century by Archibald Forbes, etc., Cassell & Co., 1895
Sweetheaet Travellers by S.R. Crockett, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1895
This and That and Other Chat: A Charming Illustrated Alphabet in Rhyme by (anon.), (with other artists), W.B. Conkey Co., 1895
The South Sea Whaler by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1896
The Austin Prize by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1896
The Silver Flagon by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1896
Vince the Rebel, or The Sanctuary in the Bog by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1897
The Fortunes of the Charlton Family by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1898
Nic Revel: A White Slave’s Adventures in Allihator Land by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1898
Billy Binks, Hero by Guy Boothby, W. & R. Chambers, 1898   
Stories for Children in Illustration of the Lord’s Prayer by Mrs Molesworth, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1898
Dash and Daring, Being Stories by G.A. Henty and Others, W. & R. Chambers, 1898
The Girls of St. Wode’s by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1898
Draw Swords! In the Horse Artillery by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1898
Fix Bay’nets! Or The Regiment in the Hills by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1899
Cyril the Foundling: A Tale of the Puritans and Cavaliers by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1899
Ilsa the Windchild by Dora C. Jellett, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1899
Rags and Tatters: A Story for Boys and Girls by Stella Austin, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1899
Sunny Stories of the Sea by (Anon.), Ernest Nister, 1899
In Doors and Out: A Book of Pictures and Stories for Little Folk, Blackie & Son, 1899
Charge! or Briton and Boer By George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1900
Fine Gold, or Ravenswood Courtenay by Emma Marshall, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1900?
Sylvia’s Romance by Marion Andrews, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1900
Some Ups and Downs by Raymond Jacberns, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1900
The Story of Johnny Bertram by D.B. McKean, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1900
Brownie by Amy Le Feuvre, Hodder & Stoughton, 1900
In Lionland: The Story of Livingstone and Stanley by M. Douglas, T. Nelson & Sons, 1900
The Crew of the “Jolly Sandboy” by Julia Hack, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1900
Laura Richmond by Jean Ingelow, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1901
The Gold that Perisheth by David Lyall, Religious Tract Society, 1901
Stumps: A Story for Children by Stella Austin, Wells Gardner, Darton & Col., 1901 (re-issue)
Sunny Days for Boys and Girls  1901(?)
Stan Lynn: A Boy’s Adventures in China by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1902
All Astray: The Travels and Adventures of Two Cherubs by Ascott R. Hope, A. & C. Black, 1902
Great-Grandmother’s Shoes: A Story for Children by Stella Austin, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1902
Pixie O’Shaughnessy by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Religious Tract Society, 1902
Fred Malcolm and His Friends by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1902
Brave and True and Other Stories, Written by G. Manville Fenn etc., Ernest Nister, 1902
Afar in the Forest: A Tale of Adventure in North America by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1903 (re-issue)
A Gay Charmer: A Story for Girls by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1903
The Constable’s Stories by Flora Schmalz, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1903
A Family of Girls by Raymond Jacberns, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1903
Fred Malcolm and His Friends by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1903
Walsh the Wonder-Worker by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1903
Hilda at School by Mary Macleod, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1903
Belle’s Little Evangel by P.A. Blyth, Religious Tract Society, 1903
Black Polyanthus, and Widow Maclean by Jean Ingelow, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co. 1903
More About Pixie by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Religious Tract Society, 1903
“Viva Christina!” The Adventures of a Young Scot with the British Legion by E.E. Cowper, W. & R. Chambers, 1904
The Child of the Lighthouse: A Tale of the Great War by Marion Andrews, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co. 1904
The Gold Snuff-Box by Andrew W. Arnold, W. & R. Chambers, 1904
A Thoughtless Seven by Amy Le Veuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1904
His Little Daughter by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1904
Hazard and Heroism, Being Stories told by G.A. Henty etc., W. & R. Chambers, 1904
Aunt Martha’s Corner Cupboard by Mary & Elizabeth Kirby, T. Nelson & Sons, 1904 (re-issue)
Terraweena: A Story of a Mid-winter Vacation in Australia by A.G. Allanson, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1905
Steady and Strong: Stories told by G.A. Henty etc., W. & R. Chambers, 1905
Draw Swords! In the Horse Artillery by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1905
Shoulder Arms! A Tale of two Soldiers’ Sons by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1905
Angela’s Brother by Eleanore H. Stooke, Religious Tract Society, 1905
Three Little Conspirators by Helen Beaumont, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1905
Rienzi, The Last of the Tribunes by Edward Bulwer Lytton, Collins, 1905
On the Banks of the Amazon by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1905(?)
Old Jack by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1906
The Empire’s Children by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1906
Foray and Fight by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1906
A Sea Queen’s Sailing by Charles W. Whistler, T. Nelson & Sons, 1906
Chrissie’s Confirmation by Evelyn Hunt, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1906
The Dove in the Eagle’s Nest by Charlotte M. Yonge, Collins, 1906(?) (re-issue)
Faith’s Home by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1907
That Imp Marcella by Raymond Jacberns, W. & R. Chambers, 1907
The Fortunes of the Farrells by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Religious Tract Society, 1907
The Mystery of Coxfolly by Phoebe Allen, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1908
Baby Bob by Evleyn Whitaker, W. & R. Chambers, 1908
Dick Cheveley by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1908 (re-issue)
The Good Sword Belgarde, or How De Burgh Held Dover by Albert Charles Curtis,    Hodder & Stoughton, 1908
His First Term: A Story of Slapton School by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1909
A Trip to Mars by Fenton Ash, W. & R. Chambers, 1909
Us, and Our Donkey by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1909
Ballads of Famous Fights Hodder & Stoughton, 1909
In the Land of the Moose, the Bear, and the Beaver by Achilles Daunt, T. Nelson & Sons, 1909(?)
Follow My Leader by Talbot Baines Reed, Cassell & Co. 1910 (re-issue)
A Little Listener by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1910
Heroes of the Polar Seas by John Kennedy MacLean, W. & R. Chambers, 1910
A Schoolgirl’s Battlefield by Raymond Jacberns, W. & R. Chambers, 1910
The Boys’ Holiday Book, Henry Frowde; Hodder & Stoughton, 1910
The Red Book for Boys Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1910
Brother Scouts by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1911
Charlie Wilson’s Prophecy by Alfred J. Glasspool, T. Nelson & Sons, 1911
Blair of Balaclava: A Hero of the Light Brigade by Escott Lynn, W. & R. Chambers, 1911
Teddy and Lily’s Adventures by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1911
Christie’s Old Organ or “Home Sweet Home” by O.F. Walton, Religious Tract Society, 1911 (re-issue)
Talford’s Last Term by Harold Avery, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1912
Little Heroine: The Story of a Lost Medal by Brenda Girvin, W.W. Partridge & Co., 1912
A Cavalier of Fortune by Escott Lynn, W. & R. Chambers, 1912
The Captain of the King’s Guard by E. Hamilton Currey, W. & R. Chambers, 1912
Us, and Our Empire by AmyLe Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1912
A Boy Scout in the Balkans by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1912
Stories of Adventure, by G. Manville Fen etc., Ernest Nister, 1912
Who Conquers? Or A Schoolboy’s Honour by Florence Bone, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
Moll Meredith, Madcap by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1913
A College Girl by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Religious Tract Society, 1913
Laddie’s Choice by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1913
“Toot-Toot” The Story of a Little Girl and Boy Who Were Carried Away in a Magic Motor Car by G.R. Bennett, Schofield & Sims, (?)
Aunt Louisa’s Jumble Picture Book, Frederick Warne & Co., (?)
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes, W. & R. Chambers, (?) (re-issue)
Schoolboy Days by W.H.G. Kingston, Hutchinson & Co., (?) (re-issue of Ernest Bracebridge, or Schoolboy Days)
The Poetical Works of Robert Browning, Collins, (?)

Reprints of novels by Charles Dickens – published by Collins, 1907
Hard Times
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
David Copperfield
Bleak House
The Old Curiosity Shop
Little Dorritt
Dombey and Son
Master Humphrey’s Clock and Pictures from Italy

Reprints of novels by R.M. Ballantyne – published by T. Nelson & Sons
The Young Fur-Traders
The Eagle Cliff
Hudson Bay, or Everyday Life in North America
The Gorilla Hunters: A Tale of the Wilds of Africa
Ungava: A Tale of Esquimaux Land
The Coral Island
The World of Ice
The Dog Crusoe: A Tale of the Western Prairies        

Friday, August 18, 2017

Comic Cuts - 18 August 2017

I've spent the whole week working on a single essay for this new book of Fifty Forgotten Authors  and, at the time of writing, I still haven't finished. It concerns a Victorian novelist who wrote "sensation" novels ranging from crime to pirate and even one science fiction about a Dutch clockmaker and chemist who is revived after 100 years in suspended animation.

While it's interesting to discover the plots of his many novels, trawling through newspapers looking for reviews has taken three days so far (although I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and will hopefully finish the trawl today, Friday) and I have something like 15,000 words of notes which I will need to boil down to only a few thousand words. The longest of the essays so far have been 3,700 and 3,900 words and I don't really want too many beyond that length because 50 essays at 3,500 words will mean the book will clock in at 175,000 words. As I aim for 1,000 words a day and like to have at least one day off a week, we would be looking at 35 weeks and I really can't afford not to earn any money for that length of time.

Last week I mentioned that I had three essays on the go and I managed to finish two of them before I got bogged down with this new one, so the totaliser has risen to 6 completed essays totaling 17,704 words. So the essays are averaging 2,950 words so far, which could mean 150,000 words total. I'm hoping that some of the remaining ~40 essays are going to be really short to bring the average down!

Some of these essays are major expansions of pieces I've written for Bear Alley, whilst some will be from pieces written for other websites, magazines and a few unpublished pieces. I was thinking that I might include Nat Gould, now all but forgotten, but a huge seller in his day. I wrote a piece for the Story Paper Collectors' Digest many years ago that I think deserves a wider audience. I don't like anything to go to waste.

Thinking about Gould gave me an excuse to work up a few covers for this week's random scans. To be perfectly honest, I ran out of time (it's late, I want to go to bed!), so the last one is still a bit of a mess.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 16 August 2017.

Judge Dredd Megazine 387
Cover: Richard Elson
Judge Dredd: Platinum Wednesday by Rory McConville (w) Joel Carpenter (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Anderson PSI Division: NWO by Alan Grant (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Havn by Si Spencer (w) Henry Flint (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Dredd: Furies by Arthur Watt, Alex Di Campi (w) Paul Davidson (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
The Dark Judges: Dominion by John Wagner (w) Nick Percival (a) Len O'Grady (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Interviews: John Stokes, Liam Sharp
Reprint edition: The Lawless Touch (from Tornado) by Kelvin Gosnell, Steve MacManus, R. Tuffnell (w) Barry Mitchell, Mike White, John Cooper, John Richardson, John Higgins (a), Pete Knight (l)

2000AD Prog 2044
Cover: Jimmy Broxton
Judge Dredd: Ouroboros by Michael Carroll (w) Paul Marshal (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
The Alienist: Inhuman Natures by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beebie (w) Eoin Coveney (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Greysuit: Foul Play by Pat Mills (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
Grey Area: Signal Six Twenty-Four by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hope: ... For The Future by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

H L Bacon

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

H.L. Bacon was one of three brothers who were all artists, although he was by far the best-known, in particular for his illustrations for several re-issues of girls’ school stories by Angela Brazil, and for his illustrations for several other boys’ and girls’ novels.

His parents were John Cardinall Bacon (1833–1905), a lithographic artist, born in Wivenhoe, Essex, and Rosa Clementina Gertrude Sarah Wilkins (1840–1912), who had married in Hackney, London, in 1861. He was born on 5 November 1875 in Lambeth, and christened Henry James Lynch Bacon. (Whether there was any family relationship with the Irish artist James Henry Lynch, born in 1803 and died in 1868, is not known). He was the 7th of 10 children  –  at the time of the 1881 census, the family was living in Islington, with his siblings Rosa, Edward and John, aged 17, 16 and 15 respectively, all recorded as art students.

Shortly after the census was taken the family moved to 2 Cathcart Hill, Kentish Town. Ten years later, the family was living at 43 St. Johns Park, Islington  –  John and Edward were still working as artists, with Henry still at school.

In July 1900 Henry was awarded a scholarship, worth £50 a year, for two years, by the British Institution to the Royal College of Art (noted in The Morning post, 27 July 1900). This explains why, in the 1901 census, he was recorded as a “National Art Scholar”, living with his parents at 17 Milton Avenue, Hornsey.

After leaving the Royal Academy, he began a career as a portrait painter and commercial artist. In 1914, in Kensington, he married Margaret Jane Jameson (born in Edinburgh in 1876), who was herself an artist and art teacher, working for the London County Council Arts and Crafts School, and living in Chelsea with her widowed mother. At the time, Henry was listed in the Electoral Register as living at 23 Fitzroy Square, St. Pancras (between 1909 and 1917)  –  however, he appears to have been absent on the night of the 1911 census, with two unrelated households occupying rooms at that address.

In 1918 he was registered at 24 Maitland Park Villas, St. Pancras, which is where he appears to have remained until at least 1939. In that year’s Register (taken as a result of the threat of war) he was listed as an artist, book illustrator and advertising salesman. He died at 28 Church Crescent, Muswell Hill, on 25 April 1948, leaving an estate valued at just over £685 (£21,000 in today’s terms). His wife died in Wandsworth in June 1971.

As an artist and illustrator, he worked for a number of publishers, including S.W. Partridge & Co, Frederick Warne & Co., and Blackie & Son. His earliest known work was published in 1902, in Cassell’s Magazine, with his first book illustrations appearing in 1906. He may well have served in the forces during the First World War, as there appears to have been nothing published by him between 1915 and 1925, although there are no online service records for a Henry James Lynch Bacon (although there are plenty for a Henry or an H. Bacon).  It is known that, in the 1920s, he produced advertising illustrations for Three Nuns tobacco and for Turf cigarettes, and that he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1919, 1920 and 1921. He signed his illustrations “Henry L. Bacon, “H.L. Bacon” or simply “H.L.B.” It is also known that he worked primarily as a portrait artist, so his work as an illustrator was more of a sideline than his bread and butter. Rather strangely, he provided new illustrations for reprints of several Angela Brazil books in the 1930s  –  why this was deemed necessary by the publisher, Blackie & Son, remains a mystery.

* * * * *

Henry’s brother John Henry Frederick Bacon also illustrated children’s books, although he was better-known as a prolific painter  –  of religious works, portraits, hist6orical and family scenes. He was born in Newington, South London, in 1865, and trained at the Westminster School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. In 1883 he began a painting tour of India and Burma, and on his return to England in 1887 he entered the Royal Academy Schools  –  he went on to become a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy, and in 1903 he was elected as an Associate member. In 1894, in Evesham, Worcestershire, he married Mary Elizabeth White (born in Broadway, Worcestershire in 1868), and the couple lived for a while at Pillar House, Harwell, Berkshire (now in Oxfordshire). They went on to have seven children. They later moved to 25 St. John’s Wood Road, St. Marylebone, and then to 11 Queens Gate Terrace, Kensington, where John Henry Frederick died of acute bronchitis on 24 January 1914.

As an illustrator, he contributed to several magazines between the mid-1890s and 1910, including The Girl’s Own Paper, Black and White, The Quiver, The Ludgate Monthly, Cassell’s Magazine/Cassell’s Family Magazine, The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and The Windsor Magazine. Amongst the children’s books he illustrated were Nell’s Schooldays by H.F. Gethen (Blackie & Son, 1898), Mobsley’s Mohicans by Harold Avery (T. Nelson & Sons, 1900); and a reissue of Tom Brown’s Schooldays (Blackie & Son, 1904). He also illustrated, in conjunction with other artists, several books of Shakespeare’s works; re-issues of some of Charles Dickens’s novels; and titles such as A Land of Heroes: Stories from Early Irish History by W. Lorcan O’Byrne (Blackie & Son, 1900), and Pharos, The Egyptian by Guy Boothby.

Amongst his most famous paintings were The Wedding Morning (1892), bought by Lord Leverhulme from the Royal Academy for use as an advert for Sunlight Soap;  The City of London Imperial Volunteers Return to London from South Africa (1902), now hanging in the Guildhall; The Homage-Giving, Westminster Abbey, 9th August 1902 (1903), now in the National Portrait Gallery; and The Coronation of King George V (1911), now in the Royal Collection and hanging in the palace of Westminster.

The third brother, Edward Bacon, born in Lambeth in 1865, was also an artist, recorded as such in the census returns for 1891, 1901 and 1911 (when he was living at 38 Wellesley Road, Chiswick, working as a “fashion artist”). He had married in around 1899, and had three children. However, nothing more seems to be known about him  –  what he illustrated, nor where and when he died.


Books Illustrated
Manisty of the School House by A.L. Haydon, Frederick Warne & Co., 1906
The Ironmaster’s Daughter by Alice M. Diehl, Cassell & Co., 1906
Molly: The Story of a Wayward Girl by Harriet E. Colvile, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1906
A Lost Summer by Theo Douglas, Cassell & Co., 1907
Stories of Old: A Book of Bible Stories by Charles D, Michael, James Clarke & Co., 1907
Playing the Game by Kent Carr, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1908
The Ways of a Girl, or The Story of One Year by M.F. Hutchinson, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1908
Not Out! By Kent Carr, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1909   
Double Bonds by Florinda McCall, Cassell & Co., 1909
Blind Hopes by Helen Wallace, Cassell & Co., 1909
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, S.W. Partridge & Co., c.1909?
A Schoolboy’s Honour, or The Lost Pigeons by Ethel Lindsay, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1910
Tell Me the Old, Old Story by Edith Robarts, Cassell & Co., 1910
Best of Friends by Fox Russell, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1910
For Sunday: Bible Stories for Little Folks by Edith Roberts, Cassell & Co., 1910
The Doings of Dick and Dan by Sir James Yoxall, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1911
Adam Bede by George Eliot, S.W. Partridge & Co., (re-issue)   1911?
Basil Verely: A Study in Charterhouse Life by Archibald Ingram, George Allen & Co., 1912   
St. Winifred's, or The World of School by F.W. Farrar, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1912 (re-issue)
Sunday and Every-Day Reading for the Young by    Wells Gardner, Darton & Co. 1914
The Starling by Norman McLeod, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1915
Julian Home: A Tale of College Life by F.W. Farrar, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1915? (re-issue)
Tomboy Tony by Christine Chaundler, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1924
To Save Her School by Bessie Marchant, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1925
The Luck of Dolorous Tower by E.M. Ward, Frederick Warne, 1926
Sleepy Saunders by Rowland Walker, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1927   
Schooldays at Beverley by Jessie L. Herbertson, Collins, 1927
Peggy Makes Good by Elsie Jeanette Oxenham, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1927
Loyalty Bob, or One of Cromwell’s Kinsmen by Walter Copeland, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1927
Miss Honor’s Form by E.C. Matthews, Blackie & Son, 1928
The Latimer Scholarship by Olivia Fowell, Blackie & Son, 1929
The Skipper of the Team by A.L. Haydon, Frederick Wartne & Co., 1930
A Little Brown Mouse by Madame Albanesi, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1931
The Hon. Master Jinx by Rowland Walker, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1933   
The Island Camp by Margaret Middleton, Blackie & Son, 1935

Undated re-issues of Angela Brazil books (originally illustrated by others)
The Madcap of the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
Loyal to the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
The Nicest Girl in the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
A Fortunate Term by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
A Popular Schoolgirl by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
The Girls of St. Cyprian’s by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
The Youngest Girl in the Fifth by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son

Friday, August 11, 2017

Comic Cuts - 11 August 2017

I've spent the whole week working on two different projects that I'm enjoying putting together. One is a pitch for a book that I'll be happy to talk about if it comes to anything, the other is going to be a collection of author biographies that I'm hoping to get out this side of Christmas. I haven't forgotten the Valiant book—that's still being worked on, too—but I wanted something I could put together relatively quickly. I've written about 12,000 words and completed four pieces, although I have three more in the works, two of which are almost finished that will add another 6,000 or so words to the total. The target is fifty, so I've still a way to go.

So, without any work to talk about, I thought instead I'd give you a rundown of some of the books I've bought over the past few weeks. I trek around Colchester's charity shops each week in search of books and sometimes end up with a rather bizarre collection of titles. Some of the books I've bought I've scanned and the covers have filled holes in existing galleries, whilst others are for future galleries. Then there are the books that don't really fit into any great scheme but I pick them up anyway.

David Downing has written a series of thillers set around Berlin in the 1940s. I saw a stack of these about a year ago in our local Oxfam, perhaps all six novels in the series, but I try to limit myself each week and, that particular week, I'd hit my limit early. They were gone the following week. So this one turned up as part of a three for the price of two offer and, being the first in the series featuring John Russell, I thought I'd give it a shot as it has been quite highly praised for the atmosphere and setting, which is in the dying weeks of peace just before the Second World War.

Fifteen Dogs I picked up because it features dogs and one of them is called Prince, the name of our dog who we grew up with from around the age of seven or eight until he died thirteen or so years later. So I gave this one to my sister as a birthday/moving present, as she celebrated both those events last month.

I've just watched The Handmaid's Tale adaptation and thought it utterly compelling. I've never read the book, so I thought I'd pick up a copy, which I'll get round to reading one day/year/when I'm retired.

Philip Reeve's "Mortal Engines" series is another series I intend reading. It's for children but involves mobile cities that roam the landscape and eat other cities. Who wouldn't want to read books about that? I've had the four books sitting in my "to read" pile for a few years, now, but other books get piled on top. There's no real rhyme or reason to how I pick the next book I read. So a week ago I was reading Ted Chaing's collection Arrival, but was sat at my computer waiting for a file to download the other day and started reading the first book to hand, which happened to be one I've been wanting to read for years: Life During Wartime by Lucius Shepard. So that replaced the book I had planned to read next (Caliban's War by James S. A. Corey), which has probably moved down the list anyway because I've just picked up the second and third novels in Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovaks trilogy, which has pushed Altered Carbon (the first in the series) to the top of my "to read" pile. And lets not forget that I have four or five short story collections on the go, ranging from Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber to The Draco Tavern by Larry Niven, which I dip into depending on what mood I'm in.

Lots of SF at the moment, you'll notice. Should my mood swing back to crime novels, I have plenty of those lined up too, including the Stephen King series about Bill Hodges (Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch), the latest from Robert Harris (Conclave) and a copy of Brian Garfield's Death Wish, picked up on Saturday. I haven't read it for donkey's years and was reminded of it when I saw that they were remaking the movie with Bruce Willis in the Charles Bronson role. As I'm in a confessional mood... when I was 19 I took a girlfriend on our first date to see Death Wish II because she was a Led Zeppelin fan and Jimmy Page did the soundtrack to that film. All I can say is that I didn't know there was going to be an horrific gang rape and the catalogue of violence that followed with shootings and electrocutions... oh, boy! What the hell was I thinking... and more importantly, what was my date thinking? That was only the first in a series of catastrophic decisions that doomed that particular relationship. I'm not sure I can bring myself to read the book now that I've remembered this bit of heartache!

The Shrinking Man... if only that movie had been around at the time. Unfortunately, the one that was around was The Incredible Shrinking Woman, directed by Joel Schumacher no less (he went on to direct some quite respectable films before blowing his career with two terrible Batman movies). The Incredible Shrinking Man I haven't seen for many, many years. I wonder if it's as good as I remember? I've just spotted it on YouTube, although it looks like someone filmed it off the TV, and there's another version that looks better but has intrusive subtitles that I can't turn off.

The last two books I picked up on Sunday at the local railway station, which has a small shelf of titles for people travelling on the trains. I've picked up quite a few books in the past, so I try to keep it stocked up—I've been dropping in copies of Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse novels recently and I think I got the best of the swap with a 1971 short story collection entitled The Homosexual Ghost and Other Stories, which is an anthology of horror stories from the Far East (Thailand, Indonesia, China, Japan, India and Pakistan) ranging from the 10th century to the 1960s; and a nice Barbara Cartland novel. I don't care for Barbara Cartland, but I do like cover artist Francis Marshall, whose work I first became aware of when I was working for Look and Learn; he did some illustrations for Bible Story and also for Ranger. David Roach later pointed out that he was also the regular artist for Pan's and Arrow's paperback editions of Barbara Cartland novels, although this is the first one I've picked up. Not a bad swap for a Morse with an unimaginative photo cover.

There are lots of Cartland paperback covers dotted around the internet. One day I'll gather them all up in a gallery.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Commando 5043-5046

Brand new Commando issues 5043-5046 are out soon! Ready your guns for incoming Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine and Wehrmacht as our Commandos face air, sea and land skirmishes against the Axis forces. From R.N.L.I. volunteers to Eastern street cleaners, our heroes come in all sizes.

5043: Lifeboat Heroes!
Often dubbed ‘Weekend Warriors’, R.N.L.I. volunteers patrolled the dark waters of the Channel, rescuing the men they found from the icy drink, though their heroics were often overlooked and forgotten…
    Keith Page’s instantly recognisable artwork matches and conveys both the humour and earnestness of Colin Watson’s story. This balance is always maintained, as the comically affronted facial expressions of the crew lighten the tone, while the perilous night-time rescue missions are filled with heavy blacks, sustaining a sense of dread throughout these darker moments. And Page’s cover is one such moment, showing the carnage of the Dunkirk evacuation in a stylised spectrum, from yellows and blues, to greens and even purples.

Story: Colin Watson
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

5044: Wings of War
Sanfeliz’s action packed cover perfectly captures these ‘Wings of War’, as a lone Spitfire showers bullets at two attacking Messerschmitts, and mid loop nonetheless!

But these aerobatics are not lost in the issue’s interior as Repetto’s thin line strokes and attention to detail really add to the depth of the art, contouring the landscapes beneath the planes and giving more dimension to the aircraft. Meanwhile, Fitzsimmons pilot officer, Jack Mitchell is all edge, determined to beat his father’s WWI record for shooting down twenty-five Luftstreitkräfte planes, by any means necessary. Looking every inch the R.A.F. hero of Commando, Jack’s actions seem callous and downright deplorable as he shuns his fellow pilots and shoots down planes mercilessly.

Story: Fitzsimmons
Art: Repetto
Cover: Sanfeliz
Originally Commando No. 391 (March 1969) 

5045: The Sniper
An expert marksman, Sergeant David Woking was the guardian angel of his squadron, taking out anything and anyone that threatened his men. But his superiors didn’t think too highly of snipers, or Woking’s rogue manner. Within this issue, Colin Watson takes full advantage of both Woking’s one-man battle and his time with his teammates, working on the individual characters and how these personalities interact. Jaume Forns then adds to these personas through his art, giving the precise, unerring Woking his thin moustache and bright eyes, and the mischievous Roger his freckles, adding to their charm.
    Completing this is David Alexander’s cover art, mixing watercolour, acrylic and ink to create a traditional looking piece with its own quirks. Keeping our eponymous sniper front and centre, as he hides among the undergrowth, Alexander also inserts images of Woking’s targets, highlighting his deadly accuracy.  

Story: Colin Watson
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: David Alexander

5046: Sewer Rat
Finally, looks can be very deceiving in Mike Knowles story of a scruffy Lance-Corporal, dismissed immediately by his superiors for his careless appearance. Yes, Thomas Henshaw may have a bit of stubble and be rather inept at ironing, but his heart was in the right place. So, when his C.O. and crew are taken to a Japanese P.O.W. camp, he takes to the sewers, using the network of tunnels for raids and ambushes on the enemy. These underground systems are perfectly depicted in Keith Shone’s interior art, as he uses thick blocks of black for the background, highlighting the characters in white, as the shadows take over and appearances are rendered meaningless. And emphasising this theme is Alan Burrows cover, as Tom’s expression and figure is overcast in deep purple shadows, giving him a rather Gothic look.

Story: Mike Knowles
Art: Keith Shone
Cover: Alan Burrows
Originally Commando No. 2629 (January 1993)


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