Sunday, October 29, 2017

Harold C Earnshaw

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

The artistic and illustrative work of Harold C. Earnshaw has been overlooked in favour of that of his wife, Mabel Lucie Attwell, who had a long and rewarding career as an illustrator and painter, specializing in cute and comic pictures of young children. Yet Earnshaw’s story is well-worth telling, especially because having established himself as a professional artist, he lost his right arm during the First World War, and quickly taught himself to draw and paint with his left, and was able to maintain his career for a further 20 years.

Earnshaw, the sixth of nine children, was born, on 19 April 1886 in Woodford, Essex, and baptised Harold Cecil Earnshaw on 3 October 1886. His father, Frederick (1842-1919) was a banker’s clerk from Yorkshire; his mother, Sophia (née Peak, 1850-1932), was a former dressmaker, and the daughter of a commercial traveller.

Harold was brought up in Leyton, Essex  –  at the time of the 1891 census the family, of eight children and two servants, was living in Whipps Cross Road. Ten years later, they were at Gresley House, Cambridge Road, Wanstead. Harold subsequently took up at a place at St. Martin’s School of Art, in Long Acre, central London, and lived for a while at 22 Greenhill Park, Harlesden. It was at St. Martin’s that he met fellow art student Mabel Lucie Attwell, born in Mile End, London, on 4 June 1879, the sixth child of Augustus Attwell, a butcher, and his wife Emily. She had previously studied at the Heatherley School of Fine Art, and had already been working professionally since the turn of the century.

They subsequently married on 4 June 1908 at Hendon Registry Office, and moved to a flat in Dulwich, south London. They went on to have three children: Marjorie Jean (born on 13 May 1909), Peter Max (born on 22 July 1911), and Brian Attwell (born on 24 August 1914). By early 1911, the family had moved to “Casita”, Downs Road, Coulsden, Surrey. After Peter’s birth, they moved to “Fairdene” in nearby Fairdene Road.

(For some reason, the family used different names to their given ones:  Harold was known as Pat, Marjorie as Peggy, Peter as Max, and Brian as Bill).

In the meantime, Earnshaw has established himself as a professional artist and illustrator. His earliest recorded work were colour plates in a re-issue of Talbot Baines Reed’s school story The Willoughby Captains, and in another school story, The Pretenders, by Meredith Fletcher, in 1907, both published by Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton. The following year, he joined the London Sketch Club, and began working with the publisher W. & R. Chambers, for whom he illustrated a number of school and historical stories. He also began working with Cassell & Co. providing illustrations for Cassell’s Magazine, although he only appears to have illustrated one book published by the firm, Ralph Simmonds’s For School and Country, published in 1991.

His illustrations soon began appearing in other periodicals, in particular Printers’ Pie and The Pall Mall Magazine, alongside The Boy’s Own Paper, The Red Magazine, The Yellow Magazine, The Graphic and The Bystander.

His style was, for the most part, rather idiosyncratic. He was capable of producing realistic illustrations, but in many of his colour and black & white plates, for boys’ books in particular, the characters looked far younger than they should have. It may well have been that, even before they were married, he had started adopting some of the characteristics found in illustrations by his future wife.

On 23 November 1915 Earnshaw enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment, after having earlier signed up with the Artists’ Rifles, part of the British Army’s volunteer reserve. As a Lance Corporal, he was serving in the Somme when, on 13 February 1917, his right arm was blown off at the elbow by an exploding shell. He was also injured in the back and one of his legs. Repatriated to England, he was treated in hospital in Stockport, where he taught himself to draw with his left hand. In an article by A.B. Cooper in The Captain (July 1918) Earnshaw explained:
I never thought my career as an artist was over. I think if I had lost both hands I should have immediately have started life as a barefoot artist. In fact, the moment I was able to hold a pen I wrote a letter to my wife, and then and in every subsequent letter – and I wrote many scores ¬ I made one or more humorous sketches, illustrating the text with myself, as a rule, the centre of the stage, whether at the base, on shipboard, or in hospital in Blighty, so that by the time my first commission came – a request for a drawing for Printers’ Pie, sent in ignorance of my wound, sent on by my wife more for fun than with any serious thought that I would then and there do the deed – I was quite prepared to face my work as usual.
He was discharged from hospital on 17 July 1917, and less than two weeks later The Graphic published a full-page set of his sketches, “Down but not out: Leaves from a soldier’s hospital sketch-book.” As well as being clever little drawings, they were notable for their humour, an expression of Earnshaw’s optimism and complete lack of self-pity.

At his home, A.B. Cooper revealed that he had “several contraptions from Roehampton, where so many “handy” and “leggy” things are made for men who have lost limbs with the purpose of enabling them to “carry on.” These included a false right hand, a mahl stick holder (to provide support for the painting hand), and a device for holding a snooker cue – he played snooker, and golf, with fellow-artist Harry Rountree.

His work, which had continued to appear in books during the war, carried on as if nothing untoward had happened. He was used by a variety of publishers  –  W. & R. Chambers, Hodder & Stoughton, T. Nelson & Sons, Collins, the Oxford University Press, and C. Arthur Pearson. For a while he worked in collaboration with Elsie J. Oxenham, illustrating six of her books between 1914 and 1920. In the 1930s, he worked almost exclusively for Blackie & Son, largely on picture books for young children, a sharp contrast to his earlier work, when he had illustrated school, historical and adventure stories. He often worked in partnership with his wife, whose influence was clearly reflected in this later work.

He also continued contributing to magazines and periodicals, including The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, The Sketch (both of which published some of his illustrations in the autumn of 1917, following on from his wartime injury), The Sphere, Little Folks, The Tatler, The Illustrated London News and The Sheffield Weekly Telegraph. Between December 1928 and February 1931 his drew a comic strip, “The Pater” for The Daily Mirror. He also exhibited his paintings with the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and at the Chenil Gallery in Chelsea, where he was also a member of the Chelsea Arts Club.

During the 1920s the Earnshaw family lived in Kensington, initially at 9 Roland Gardens then subsequently, from around 1926, at 32 Cranly Gardens. In 1932, Earnshaw sold his house and moved to Manor Farmhouse, West Dean, Sussex. His health began to decline, and his worked tailed off. In February 1935, having moved to Mill Road, Eastbourne, he was arrested for being drunk and incapable  –  he did not deny the charge, but in his defence his doctor told the magistrates (as recorded in The Eastbourne Gazette on 27 February 1935) that as a result of developing fits in around 1931, he was being treated by a drug which made him very easily affected by alcohol. While he admitted having drunk two double whiskeys after going for a walk on the sea front, he had no recollection of being drunk. The court was also told that his wife had been trying to stop him drinking by giving him very little money. He was fined ten shillings.

Earnshaw’s youngest child, Brian, had died in 1934, and in 1935 or 1936 the family moved back to London, to 11 Cambridge Place, Kensington, where Earnshaw died on 17 March 1937. He was buried in All Saints Churchyard, West Dean, alongside Brian  –  his gravestone records that he “died from war wounds”, an indication that despite his productivity he never fully recovered from his injuries.  He left an estate valued at just £154. His widow subsequently moved to Cornwall, firstly, in 1944, to the small fishing village of Polruan, and the, two years later, to 3 St. Fimbarrus Road, Fowey, where she died on 5 November 1964, leaving an estate valued at £8,007.


Books illustrated by Harold C. Earnshaw
The Willoughby Captains by Talbot Baines Reed, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1907 (re-issue)
The Pretenders by Meredith Fletcher, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1907
Rivals and Chums by Kent Carr, W. & R. Chambers, 1908
The Rebel Cadets: A Tale of the ‘Britannia’ by Charles Gleig, W. & R. Chambers, 1908
The Attic Boarders by Raymond Jacberns, W. & R. Chambers, 1909
Aylwyn’s Friends by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1909
Two Schoolgirls of Florence by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1910
The Chesterton Girl Graduates by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1910
For School and Country by Ralph Simmonds, Cassell & Co., 1911
Oscar: The Story of a Skye Terrier’s Adventures by L. Maclean Watt, W. & R. Chambers, 1911
St. Winifred’s, or The World of School by F.W. Farrar, Collins, 1911(?) (re-issue)
A Garland for Girls, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1911
The Girls’ Story Book, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1911
The Red Hussar by Regianld Horsley, W. & R. Chambers, 1912
The Puff-Puff Book, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1912
The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle, T. Nelson & Sons, 1912(?) (re-issue)
Gubbins Minor and Some Other Fellows: A Tale of School Life by Fred Whishaw, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1913 (re-issue)
The Book of Aeroplanes, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1913
The Chummy Book for All Boys and Girls who are Good Chums, T. Nelson & Sons, 1913
Girls of the Hamlet Club by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1914
The Potter’s Thumb by Flora Annie Steel, T. Nelson & Sons, 1914 (re-issue)
The Brown Book for Boys, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1914
The Green Book for Girls, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1914
Children’s Stories from Scott by Doris Ashley, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1914
Princess Mary’s Gift Book, Hodder & Stoughton, 1914
At School with the Roundheads by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1915
Burr Junior: His Struggles and Studies at Old Browne’s School by George Manville Fenn, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1916 (re-issue)
Oliver Hastings, V.C.: A Realistic Story of the Great War by Escott Lynn, W. & C. Chambers, 1916
The Tuck-Shop Girl by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1916
Our Little One’s Second Book, Blackie & Son, 1916
The Girls’ Holiday Book, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1916
Billy the Scout, and His Day of Adventures by Ethel Talbot, T. Nelson & Sons, 1917
The Infants’ Magazine, S.W. Partridge, 1917
Knights of the Air by Escott Lynn, W. & R. Chambers, 1918
Line Up! A Tale of the New House at Farnstead by Harold Avery, Collins, 1918
Will of the Mill by George Manville Fenn, Collins, 1918 (re-issue)
The Cherry Chicks Book, Blackie & Son, 1918
The School of Ups and Downs by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1918
Rare Fun, Blackie & Son, 1918
Dick Whittington, and Red Riding Hood, Blackie & Son, 1918
The Rose Book for Girls, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1918(?)
Tommy of the Tanks by Escott Lynn, W. & R. Chambers, 1919
A Go-Ahead Schoolgirl by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1919
The Shaping of Jephson’s by Kent Carr, W. & R. Chambers, 1919
Puppy-Dog Tales, T. Nelson & Sons, 1919
My Story Book, Blackie & Son, 1919
Cats and Dogs for Little Folk, Blackie & Son, 1919
Pat’s Third Term by Christine Chaundler, O.U.P., 1920
The School Torment by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1920
The Scout’s Book by Bernard Everett (ed.), C. Arthur Pearson, 1920
Blackie’s Easy Story Book, Blackie & Son, 1920
The Happy Xmas Annual, Allied Newspapers, 1920
Home Sunshine, or Family Life by Catherine D. Bell, Collins, 1921 (re-issue)
The Big Row at Ranger’s: A Public School Story by Kent Carr, W. & R. Chambers, 1922
Happy Little Folk, Blackie & Son, 1922
Polly and Peter, Blackie & Son, 1922
The Jolly Party Book, Blackie & Son, 1922
Lots of Fun, Blackie & Son, 1923
The Washable Crayon Book of Trains, Valentine & Sons, 1923
The Fairystory Favourites Washable Crayon Book, Valentine & Sons, 1923
The Willoughby Captains by Talbot Baines Reed, Humphrey Milford/O.U.P., 1924 (re-issue)
The Looking Glass Annual, Middleton Publications, 1924
Martin’s Adventure by Cynthia Asquith, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1925
Stirring Stories for Boys, T. Nelson & Sons, 1925
The Flying Carpet by Cynthia Asquith (ed.), S.W. Partridge & Co., 1926
Smiles and Dimples by R.W. How and others, Blackie & Son, 1926
The Golden Budget of Nursery Stories by Frank Adams, Blackie & Son, 1929
The Victorian Schoolboys’ Story Book (various authors), Myer Emporium Ltd. (Australia), 1930
Come and Play, Blackie & Son, 1932
Country Sunshine, Blackie & Son, 1932
Seaside Fun, Blackie & Son, 1932
Our Great Day, Blackie & Son, 1932
All Smiles, Blackie & Son, 1932
Sunny Sands, Blackie & Son, 1932
Our Merry Games, Blackie & Son, 1932
Off on Holiday, Blackie & Son, 1932
Fine Times! Blackie & Son, 1932
Stories for Children from 8 to 10 Years Old by Amy Steedman, T. Nelson & Sons, 1933
Ivanhoe and Other Stories from Sir Walter Scott, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1933
My Own Big Book, Blackie & Son, 1935
Happy Pictures, Blackie & Son, 1939
My Fine Big Book, Blackie & Son, 1939
As Nice as Nice Can Be, Blackie & Son, 1941
Dick Whittington and his Cat, Blackie & Son, 1941
Romps, Blackie & Son, 1948
Just What I Like! A Book of Stories, Pictures and Poems, Blackie & Son, 1951

Dates uncertain/not known/various
The Jolly Twins, Blackie & Son
At the Zoo, Blackie & Son
The Dingbats ABC: A Colouring Book, A.H. Allen & Co.
My Merry Pictures, Blackie & Son,
The Variety Painting Book, J. & L.R. Ltd., Merit Productions
The Puff Puff Book, Humphrey Milford/O.U.P.
The Favourite Story Book for Boys, T. Nelson & Sons,
The Lost Continent by Cutcliffe Hyne, Hutchinson & Co. (re-issue)
Jolly Book for Boys and Girls, T. Nelson & Sons
Blackie’s Little One’s Annual, Blackie & Son
Blackie’s Girls’ Annual, Blackie & Son
Blackie’s Children’s Annual, Blackie & Son
The Boys’ Treasury
The Jolly Book, T. Nelson & Sons
The Joy Book, Allied Newspapers
Once Upon a Time: Hulton’s Children’s Annual
McIlroy’s Schoolboys’ Annual, William McIlroy

Friday, October 27, 2017

Comic Cuts - 27 October 2017

I noticed this morning that we are exactly six months behind in our listening to No Such Thing as a Fish. We've 26 episodes to catch up on... which led me to quickly tot up the number of other podcasts that I have to get around to and the total was a staggering 162.

The delay listening to No Such Thing as a Fish is simply down to lack of time. We tend to listen to something after Mel has arrived home and we can sit down with our tea and coffee. We can only do this on three weekdays and, at the moment we've been using that time to listen to The Unbelievable Truth (Monday) and The News Quiz (Friday) while Wednesday is usually spent watching the latest episode of Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (RHLSTP, as the cool kids call it), which has just celebrated episode 150, and which has been available on video since episode 17. You can watch them all on YouTube or listen to audio versions at the British Comedy Guide website.

The other podcasts that I desperately need to catch up on are the 2000AD Thrill-Cast  and The Comedian's Comedian. The problem, I'm finding, is that while I'm writing I don't listen to podcasts that require my full attention. I can listen to, say, News Quiz Extra or a music podcast like The European Perspective without too many problems. But if I need to concentrate, I'll put on music (there's a new Big Big Train album out, which is handy) and, occasionally, put on nothing at all.

I've added a few new ones since I last discussed my podcast listening habits. I listen to very few podcasts that you could describe as political; in fact, I can only think of one that I've followed for some while, Andy Parson's Slacktivist Action Group which started back in 2015 and appears about once a month. More recent releases have included Strong & Stable, which has had 10 episodes since May, the best of which is episode eight with some genuine disagreement amongst the guests; and if you're a Guardian reader, you might enjoy Agitpod with Owen Jones and Ellie Mae O'Hagan. News Roast is a mix of comedy and political with Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse chatting over lunch with various people.

Not new – this is just a plug – The Secret History of Hollywood podcast is running new episodes: Shadows: The Val Lewton Story is the compelling story of one of the founders of horror cinema with films like Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie. There have been four episodes so far, each around 1 1/2 hours, and the behind-the-films detail is fascinating.

I promised that I would be able to announce the contents for the first Famous Authors ebook. At the moment it looks like it will contain eleven essays totaling about 53,000: W. Stephens Hayward, Anonyma, Stella M. During, Edric Vredenburg, Morley Adams, Gerald Biss, Alphonse Courlander, Ella M. Scrymsour, Alexander Wilson, E. T. Portwin and Dail Ambler. I have one or two minor tweaks to do and it should be ready shortly. I'm also working at top speed on volume two, which will have another dozen or so essays.

The essay total is currently 22 essays running to 99,596 words. I'm still hitting my 1,000 words a day target, although sometimes that's at the expense of my afternoon walk. I haven't weighed myself for a couple of weeks, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I've put on a couple of pounds. Not the best situation to be in, but I should exercise a bit off next week when my sister makes her second move in a matter of months and the two of us will be humping furniture around again and braving the M25 once more as we head down to Surrey.

Here are some random scans...


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 25 October 2017.

2000AD 2054
In this issue: Tiernen Trevallion
JUDGE DREDD: LORD OF THE FYREFLIES by rory McConville (w) Mick McMahon (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
INDIGO PRIME: A DYING ART by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Simon Bowland (l)
SLÁINE: ARCHON by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
SINISTER DEXTER: AZTEC CAMERADERIE by SDan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ABSALOM: TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS by Gordon Rennie (w) Tiernan Trevallion (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Scream! and Misty Special

The Scream! and Misty Special from Rebellion is an attempt to reignite interest in characters from the bygone days of comics. It isn't the first time a company has looked back at the glory days of British adventure titles and tried to tap into some of its most fondly recalled characters. The Classic Action Holiday Special (1990) and 2000AD Action Special (1992) are the parents of the format, with new tales based on popular strips. The bastard child is DC Comics' Albion (2005-06) which imagines all the old characters are from the same universe and knew each other. That child is now locked in an attic. We don't speak of that child.

Which is ironic, because Rebellion's latest attempts to revive old characters began with Monster from Scream! in which a horribly disfigured Uncle Terry was kept hidden behind the locked door at the top of the stairs.

There is no "Monster" in the pages of Scream! and Misty Special, but the spirit of those old specials haunts the new one. Older readers may pick it up out of nostalgic curiosity, but younger readers may wonder what's going on, because these comics date back to the mid-1980s and there's a good chance that the kids of the original readers have grown up not reading weekly anthology comics. It makes not including a story about the one character who has had a recent outing a little inexplicable.

The strips that do make the cut are a mixed bag. Let's start with the best. "The Return of Black Max: Blood Moon" (Kek-W [Nigel Long] & Simon Coleby) could have been pulled straight from the pages of Misty. Young girl, left to her own devices by absent mum, discovers grandads old Nazi memorabilia. Inexplicably, she begins suffering weird dreams and is then transported to another dimension where she is confronted by a Luger-wielding German airman. But Von Klorr is almost a McGuffin as the horror of the story is in its blood and leathery wings and the final note of utter uncertainty.

"The Return of the Sentinels" (Hannah Berry & Ben Willsher) is another horrifying story of a girl passing into an alternate world and sees a vision of hell that the Sentinels – two large tower blocks that locals avoid – might be a gateway to. That it deals with the current rise is racial and religious tensions makes it by far the most current of the stories here and the brief glimpse we have here will leave you wanting to know more about the rise of a future where ... well it looks like the Isle of Man has turned fascist.

Having favourites amongst the contents doesn't mean that the other strips are in any way not worth the price of entry. There's a very good episode of "The Thirteenth Floor" (Guy Adams, John Stokes, Frazer Irving), which cleverly segues from old-style adventure comics to what could be from a modern 2000AD special. Max, the cutting-edge AI from the original, seems to be having a mid-life crisis but offers up some suitably horrible punishments to some bullies while recruiting a new human helper.

"The Dracula File" (Grainne McEntee & Tristan Jones) is a continuation of the Scream! strip. Dracula, in the guise of Dr Arthur Culerman, is a guest for dinner who plans to turn his hosts into a bite to eat, while "Fate of the Fairy Hunter" (Alec Worley & DaNi [Danai Kilaidoni]) is a brief horror tale of the kind that Misty filled its pages.

I imagine when asked what lessons he could learn from the Titanic, the editor of Scream! and Misty Special suggested fewer lifeboats. Thus we arrive at the only sour note in the magazine, "Death Man: The Gathering" (The Feek [Keith Richardson] & Henry Flint) which learns no lessons from Albion and tries to force disparate characters into a single universe. That disaster was only a decade ago... it was terrible then and, funnily enough, retreading the same ground with a pool of even more obscure characters than Albion was able to draw from is terrible all over again.

I'm not sure whether the Scream! and Misty Special is intended to be an annual Halloween event or just a one-off extended advert for various Rebellion releases – it's no coincidence that The Dracula File has just been released, "The Sentinels" is one of the two stories in the latest Misty Volume 2 release and 2018 will see volumes of The Thirteenth Floor and Black Max. But if they can expand on the promising beginnings of "The Return of Black Max" and "The Return of the Sentinels" I will definitely be back for more, wherever they appear.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

C E Montford

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

C.E. Montford was a commercial artist who also illustrated a small range of comics and children’s books. He was not, it must be said, particularly talented, with his best work being done towards the end of his career, in the form of comic strips.

He was born on 8 September 1891 in Leyton, Essex, and christened Charles Edwin Montford. His father, Charles William Montford (1854-1922) was a hairdresser (as was his grandfather) who had moved from Bow, in East London, shortly before Charles’s birth, living at 357 High Street, Leyton. His mother, Clara, née Oliver, born in Coventry in 1857, was the daughter of a watchmaker. As well as Charles, they had two other children: Clare (born in Bow in 1888, died in Hampstead in 1893), and Doris, born in 1901).

Montford was trained at the Walthamstow School of Art (founded in 1883 by the Walthamstow Literary Institute, and which closed  in 1915). At the time of the 1911 census, when he was still a student there, the family was living at 133 Grange Park Road, Leyton, with Charles William Montford having apparently experienced a downturn in his fortunes and was working as a lavatory attendant.

Montford’s earliest known work was for The Strand Magazine in July 1916, with a series of black and white comic sketches accompanying anecdotes and jokes, centring on religion and the church, sent in by readers. This was followed by a similar set of sketches for a humorous article about life in a chemist’s shop.

In 1925 he illustrated two boys’ school stories for Thomas Nelson & Sons, although there was then a gap of nine years before his next recorded work, when he became briefly closely associated with the publisher Sampson Low, Marston & Co., and illustrated six books, mainly school adventure stories, by G. Gibbard Jackson. He also illustrated four more Sampson Low school stories by Michael Poole, Godfrey Pullen and A. Harcourt Burrage.  All of these were published between 1934 and 1937. Some of his illustrations were signed “C E Montford” and others simply “C E M.”

His work also appeared in the occasional children’s annual and similar large-format books, such as Hullo Boys: The Wireless Uncle’s Annual, The Schoolgirls’ Adventure Book, The Adventure Story Omnibus and Our Boys’ Gift Book.

In the meantime, he had married Josephine May Houchin (born in Shelley, Essex, on 2 May 1895, the daughter of George Houchin, a road labourer, and his wife Jane) on 21 June 1924 at St. James’s Church, Ongar, Essex. They had one child, Malcolm Charles, born on 12 May 1926 in West Ham. However, the marriage was not, initially at least, a happy one, with Josephine seeking a separation within two years. This was, it was argued in court (and reported in The Chelmsford Chronicle on 23 July 1926), a direct result of Montford’s mother living with the couple, who persisted in interfering in their domestic affairs. In addition, Josephine accused her husband of cruelty, citing instances where he had assaulted her, locked her in her room, and had left her at weekends to spend the time in Luton. For his part, Charles denied the allegations of assault, and accused his wife of assaulting him, a claim backed up by his mother. However, the court agreed with his wife, granting a separation order and instructing Charles to pay £2 a week to support his wife and child. Happily, it appears that the couple were subsequently reconciled.

At the time of the court hearing, Charles was apparently living at Woodstock Road, Walthamstow, and his wife at Edinford Bridge Road, Ongar. However, Charles was also recorded as living at Pollards Hill South, Streatham, an address he seems to have maintained from 1924 to 1929, when he moved to 224 Collier Row Lane, Romford, Essex.

It was around this time that he started working for the Amalgamated Press, his earliest work including illustrations for the first five “Valerie Drew” stories in The Schoolgirl’s Weekly in 1933. He followed this later in the 1930s with comic strips for Radio Fun and The Wonder. At this time he was working as a commercial artist out of a studio at 36 & 38 Whitefriars Street, off Fleet Street, London, using the name Chas E. Montford. He went on to draw a comic strip version of Charles Dickens’s 'A Christmas Carol' for The Children’s Newspaper in 1946, and also drew for P.M. Production’s Lucky Dip and Starry Spangles, and some Kit Carson and Buck Jones stories for the Amalgamated Press’s Cowboy Picture Library. He also worked on Film Fun in the 1950s. He only illustrated a handful of books after the Second World War, including re-issues of Charles Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.

His credited work appears to have stopped after 1961, although he may have remained active as a commercial artist. He remained at Collier Row Lane in Romford until his death, which occurred on 17 April 1975. He left an estate valued at £9,244 (£63,000 in today’s terms). His wife died at the same address on 3 December 1978, leaving an estate valued at twice that of her husband’s.


Books illustrated by C.E. Montford
Pepper’s Crack Eleven by Rowland Walker, T. Nelson & Sons, 1925
Carew of the Fourth: A School Adventure Story for Boys by Peter Martin, T. Nelson & Sons, 1925
Stories from the Arabian Nights, The New Century Press, 1934
Schoolboy Speed Kings by G. Gibbard Jackson, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1934
The Air Spies of the North Sea by G. Gibbard Jackson, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1934
Speed Boat Spies by G. Gibbard Jackson, Sampson low, Marston & Co., 1934
Schoolboy Sleuths by G. Gibbard Jackson, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1935
The Flying Smugglers by G. Gibbard Jackson, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1935
Baffling the Air Bandits by G. Gibbard Jackson, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1935
Air Fighters of the Andes by G. Gibbard Jackson, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1936(?)
Detectives at Burnden School by Michael Poole, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1935
Chums of St. Olaf’s and Other Stories, The Epworth Press, 1935
The Flying Five and Other Stories, The Epworth Press, 1936
Clive, Centre-forward by Charles Harold Croft, University of London Press, 1937
The Dawncombe Air Boys by Godfrey F. Pullen, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1937
Rebel of the House by A. Harcourt Burrage, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1937
Well Played Sir! By A, Harcourt Burrage, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1937
Max of the Mountains: A Story of a Journey to Switzerland by F.R. Gillman, University of London Press, 1937
The Roof of the World by Kingsley Foster, University of London Press, 1937
The Young Fur Traders by R.M. Ballantyne, Juvenile Productions Ltd., 1937 (re-issue)
The Silver Snake: A Tale of Adventure by Pat Garner, Richard Lesley & Co., 1946
Dawnay Leaves School by Hylton Cleaver, F. Warne & Co., 1947
The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens, Alexander Hamilton, 1947 (re-issue)
Green Mountain Boy by Leon W. Dean, Hutchinson & Co., 1949
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, P.R. Gawthorn Ltd., 1950(?) (re-issue)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Comic Cuts - 20 October 2017

The day after I said "I've got to pick up the pace" of work, I spent a chunk of the day planning how I'd be avoiding doing any work over the weekend and into the following week. Easy to say you'll do more work, not so easy to put it into practice.

We had a fantastic evening on Saturday in the company of Jeremy Hard. While most comedy involves a comedian standing on front of a microphone, talking, Jeremy Hardy personifies the art of standing in front of a microphone, talking. He moves away from the microphone only twice. There's no toying with the microphone stand, no walking back and forth. With only the occasional hand gesture and a few arm gestures for emphasis, the hour and a half he's on stage is an uninterrupted, unimpeded by distraction, comical – let's not forget that – demolition of the politics of the past 18 or so months. And it's side-achingly funny and just what you need when every day the news chronicles the economic disaster this country is going through and the even worse horrors we're about to face.

Trying to get to sleep after that proved problematic. With an early start due, I woke up at 2:15am and again at 3.00. I  dozed off a couple of times after that, only to be awoken by the alarm clock – the first time I've used one for probably thirty years – at 5:15am. Just enough time for a cup of coffee before being picked up by my sister for our second boot fair of the summer. We arrived at the venue at just after 6.00 and were guided around the field to the opposite side that we were on the last time we did one of these. If you're a regular reader, you might recall that things didn't turn out so well for us on that occasion, with low attendance numbers for a bank holiday and a total sale of £26.50, less the £6 cost of the pitch.

Dawn over Ardleigh Boot Fair.
We were back at Ardleigh on Sunday, but we arrived earlier and were closer to the main car parking area. That and keeping our fingers crossed should help, we thought. Pulling up to where we were to pitch our table, the car came immediately under attack from people walking up the line and knocking on windows: "Got any mobile phones?" "Got any TVs?" "Got any computers?"

We managed to get out of the car and wrestle the table out of the back. The first box on top drew half a dozen people, looking in by torchlight and phonelight, as did every box we put out. These fireflies buzzed around every box as they came out, then flew away towards the next pitch as a new car arrived and a table was unpacked or a blanket thrown down on the damp grass.

To counter the damp, I was reusing the bubble wrap from the last boot fair, so all of my boxes of books were on the ground this time. The two boxes of spare DVDs went on the table, but most of that was for my sister, who is on the move again and wanted to get rid of as much as she could. She made a quick, early sale: a whole £2 before she'd even finished unpacking. The day was off to a flying start.

The moon was high in the sky and it was still before dawn, but the fireflies kept buzzing around looking for bargains. I sold a DVD – that first sale is always a relief  – but I still had time to let my mind wander... maybe there's a film to be made about low status vampires having to go to boot fairs to buy cheap blood.

Even at this time of the morning, it was warm and sultry, the temperature having barely dropped from the previous evening – even Jeremy Hardy had commented on how hot it was at the Arts Centre, which, to be fair, had sold out, so it was packed with 300 or so human-shaped heat generators. The only negative to this heat was condensation... everything that was laid out soon had a light sheen to it. Not good for books, although they were tightly packed into trays, so it only meant giving the spines a wipe down every now and then. All sixteen trays.

The dew was eventually dried out by the sun and we were kept busy all morning as people arrived in waves: the fireflies, the hungry early birds, the breakfast clubbers, the Sunday sleep-ins and, towards the end, the stragglers just out because it was such a nice, sunny day. Plenty of footfall which was good news for both of us. We both did pretty well, Julie taking over £50 (and, as usual, found some loose change on the floor, this time 5p) and my takings just shy of that at £45. That means I've paid off the cost of the table – I still had £15 to go at the beginning of the day – and, after the price of the pitch, I still had £24 clear profit. More importantly, those sale equate to about five feet of shelf space, which will take, oh... at least a few months to fill. OK, maybe just a couple of months.

Arriving back home, after unloading the car, I crashed for a couple of hours, pottered around on the computer for an hour or so, and then we headed out again to see Bladerunner 2049. I've been looking forward to this one since they confirmed it was going ahead a couple of years ago... I mean, how could Bladerunner not be the favourite film of a science fiction/crime-noir fan like me?

It didn't disappoint. We'd watched the 'Final Cut' version of the earlier movie a couple of weeks ago, and the sequel dovetails perfectly. There are shots and music cues in the latter that echo the first film which won't necessarily make sense to people who haven't seen the original. I've seen complaints about the languid pacing, but as someone who remembers from thirty years ago that weren't edited at such a pace where scenes become impossible to follow. (Film critic Mark Kermode mentioned a film school exercise the other week: watch a film and clap when you see an edit point... it's like a slow handclap; now watch a modern film and the number of edits means you're dementedly applauding scenes that you can hardly make sense of.)

Visually the film was stunning, but what probably made me happiest was that it had a plot worthy of the original, one that grew organically out of the first film and developed that already rich storyline. The only complaint I have is that someone had found Nigel Tufnel's sound system and turned it all the way up to 11. Some have complained about the running time, but, to be honest, I didn't find it a problem, which for an old man who suffers occasionally from lower back pain can only mean one thing: I'm getting younger and fitter. Either that or I was so captivated by the film I didn't notice how long I'd been sitting still.

Monday was interrupted by a visit to the dentist for a clean and a mouthful of some staining gel that turned my tongue blue. The usual advice was offered: floss more often. I have never got on with floss, but I quite like those little TePe pokey things with the little brushes although it can be a pain getting the right ones because one size definitely does not fit all – even the hygienist said I needed three different sizes. Try flossing with the wrong size TePe and you end up with a damaged brush that's only fit for the bin. Apparently Poundland do them cheaply (I'm guessing £1) so I'll have to investigate next time I'm in town.

Tuesday was family lunch day. Apart from having Hunter's Chicken and a good laugh, there's not much to say about it. We went for a walk with my sister's mental dogs, which completely failed to tire them out; they were still full of beans when we got back home. One of them is the very definition of "not a lap dog" and he seems to think that putting his back paws smack bang on your privates is endearing. He must do because he does it every time he climbs onto the chair.

More good news is that I had Wednesday and part of Thursday to work on my various essays and I now have 19 of them, out of which I'll select the contents for the first volume of Forgotten Authors. I'm aiming for about 50,000 words, which should make for a reasonable ebook that won't break the bank. I'm now wondering whether I should do a print version of the shorter books, which will put them within more people's price range. The full version of Fifty Forgotten Authors is going to be huge and I'm a bit worried about the price. So having a shorter, cheaper option might work in my favour.

Hopefully I'll have the selection nailed down by next week. Some old essays revamped (mostly beyond recognition), some new ones that you won't have seen before, and one or two stories along the way that I hope will amaze you. Some of these authors had fascinating lives.

Random scans for the week... this week it's running!


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Commando issues 5063-5066

Brand new Commando issues are out today, featuring Motor Boat malaises, Commando bomb disposals, Heinkel hesitations and Ypres revenants all to test the mettle of our men at war!

5063: The Crew
What was better for a crew at war: the men to be specialists or jacks of all trades? That was the question that faced Lieutenant Frank Temple on his new Motor Boat. Surely to be the best at your job was key to success and survival, but, indeed, with so few men aboard if something happened how would they cope without an able replacement? So, when Frank decided to give his new men extra training for the different positions he thought he was doing the right thing, but his crew weren’t very happy…
    With stylish accompanying art from Vicente Alcazar, Ferg Handley’s stiff-upper lip rivalry between Frank and his second in command Steve Hewitt is lovingly brought to life.

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Vicente Alcazar
Cover: Janek Matysiak

5064: Spy Trap
Mission Brief: parachute into Germany to defuse a British bomb buried in the ruined interior of a feared Nazi prison and rescue to the British agent held inside. Time to detonation: twelve hours.
    Commando Lieutenant Phil Searle always stayed cool under pressure, that’s why he was so skilled at defusing enemy bombs and mines. So, naturally, he didn’t flinch when his C.O. volunteered him on a mission to defuse an unexploded bomb in a German prison, or to rescue the British agent held there. But what did throw Phil was his partner on this mission, Helmut Malke, a Jerry with a habit of disappearing right before trouble started…
    With Gentry’s combination of big personalities, ‘Spy Trap’s tension is just as high-octane, with enemies around every corner in Bielsa’s detailed artwork and guns aimed right on our hero in Penalva’s bold cover.

Story: Gentry
Art: Bielsa
Cover: Penalva
Originally Commando No 396 (April 1969) Reprinted No 1147 (1977)

5065: Wings of Woe
Flying from a young age with hopes of becoming a pilot, our hero is instead assigned as a bomb aimer and navigator, but strives to rise in the ranks and take control of his aircraft.  His name is Jurgen Loden and he flies in a Heinkel...
    Desperate to live up to his older brother and idol, a German fighter pilot in the First World War, Jurgen wants nothing more than to defend his country, but when he sees the destruction his bombs inflict he begins to question the Nazi cause.
    A compelling perspective from George Low, with detailed artwork by Rezzonico and a suitably stunning aerial cover from Ian Kennedy, ‘Wings of Woe’ is a stand out issue for any collection.

Story: George Low
Art: Rezzonico
Cover: Ian Kennedy

5066: Dead Men’s Revenge
Lying under rubble from a fallen building, Nick Gray’s life was slowly draining. That’s when he saw them. Hazy wraiths in uniforms from the last great war. They were at Ypres, they told him. Betrayed by their C.O. they were court martialled and executed on the ground Nick’s broken body lies on. “It’s not your time,” they tell him. Nick must complete the task given to him by these revenants if they are ever to be at peace…
    A dark number from Ian Clark, ‘Dead Men’s Revenge’ deals with sacrifice and the young men of World War Two being haunted by the heroics of the past generation which they must live up to. Combine that with artwork and cover by Ibanez and this eerie issue really packs an equally supernatural and poignant punch.

Story: Ian Clark
Art: Ibanez
Cover: Ibanez
Originally Commando No 2647 (March 1993)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 18-19 October 2017.

2000AD 2053
 Cover: Bill Willsher
JUDGE DREDD: ADAPTIVE OPTICS by Arthur Wyatt (w) Simon Roy (a), Annie Parkhouse (l)
GREY AREA: HOMELAND SECURITY by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SLÁINE: ARCHON by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
INDIGO PRIME: A DYING ART by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Simon Bowland (l)
ABSALOM: TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS by Gordon Rennie (w) Tiernan Trevallion (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 389
Cover: Nick Percival
JUDGE DREDD: DEFROSTED by Rory McConville (w) Paul Davidson (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ANDERSON: NWO by Alan Grant (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Boland (l)
DEVLIN WAUGH: BLOOD DEBT by Rory McConville (w) Mike Dowling (a) Simon Bowland (l)
LAWLESS: BREAKING BADROCK by Dan Abnett (w) Len O'Grady (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
DOMINION by John Wagner (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Scream! & Misty Special
Cover: Henry Flint
THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR by Guy Adams (w) John Stokes, Frazer Irving (a) Simon Bowland (l)
THE DRACULA FILE by Grainne McEntee (w) Tristan Jones (a) SG (l)
DEATH-MAN: THE GATHERING by Feek (w) Henry Flint (a) SG (l)
BLACK MAX by Kek-W (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Jim Campbell (l)
RETURN OF THE SENTINELS by Hannah Berry (w) Ben Willsher (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
FATE OF THE FAIRY HUNTER by Alec Worley (w) DaNi (a) Maz Smith (l)
Pin-ups by Warwick Fraser-Coombe and Mike Hoffman

The Dracula File by Gerry Finley-Day, Simon Furman & Eric Bradbury
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08599-8, 19 October 2017, 101pp, £15.99 / $19.99. Available via Amazon.
Fleeing vampire hunters from behind the iron Curtain, Count Dracula returns to Great Britain with an unquenchable thirst for blood! Unable to accept that the supernatural defector has slipped through his fingers, Rumanian KGB officer Stakis decides to defy his disbelieving superiors and destroy the unholy horror that has plagued the world for centuries. Will 1980s London become the Count’s permanent, new feeding ground? Written by 2000 AD stalwart Gerry Finley-Day and featuring Eric Bradbury’s nightmarish vision of horror’s greatest icon, The Dracula File is a book that you can really sink your teeth into!

Scarlet Traces Volume Two by Ian Edginton & D'Israeli
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08561-5, 19 October 2017, 226pp, £17.99 / $23.99. Available via Amazon.
The brand new series of Scarlet Traces continues the story of HG Wells' classic SF The War Of The Worlds, taking the story back to Mars... Thanks to the technology left behind by the Martians and salvaged by the survivors, the British Empire has become a dominating world power once again, and has taken the fight back to the Martians! But an aging Robert Autumn knows there is more to this war than the propganda suggests. He sends journalist Charlotte Hemmingway undercover to Mars in order to discover the truth. What she discovers there is truly earth-shattering...This volume contains the very latest series of Scarlet Traces, which has never been collected before.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Dracula File (Rebellion)

Fondly remembered, Scream!! is one of those comics that never lived up to its potential, even in the fifteen issues it was allowed. Looking back on it, you wonder how anyone could have been satisfied with the results. On one side you had editors who were in direct touch with their audience who should have been trusted to know where to draw the line; on the other side the controlling group who worried about complaints from parents and the tabloids which would spook newsagents and damage sales.

In the case of Scream!!, by the time the latter had gutted the paper put together by the former, you had a tepid, middle-of-the-road action comic with only a few chills left in it.

This is not to say that everything about it was forgettable. Some very good writers and artists put their talents to work and, within the restrictions placed on them, came up with some compelling and interesting takes on some horror staples. Rebellion have already reprinted Monster from its pages, and for their second bite of Scream!! they have chosen The Dracula File.

Author Gerry Finley-Day brought the classic vampire character right up to date (1984), beginning with a defection from East Germany, a curiously ageless patient, a fire in a military hospital ahead of the patient from behind the Iron Curtain being relocated to the UK by British Intelligence... and all this in the first episode! As with any British comic—where moving the plot along trumps coincidence at every turn—the pretending-to-be-unconscious defector is a vampire and MI5 are taking him to precisely where he wants to go, a creepy mansion in the English countryside.

The only people to realise that a vampire is loose in England are the Russians, led by KGB officer Colonel Stakis, a Roumanian. Stakis's obsession with monitoring the situation leads to him attacking a Commissar and his commanding general when they try to stop his unofficial investigation. The disgraced officer then makes his way to the UK in search of Dracula.

The second half of the story was written by Simon Furman, nowadays better known for his work on Transformers and as the creator of Death's Head but then a newcomer to comics. Furman treated the scripts with a little more humour as Stakis searches London for his prey and Dracula preys on Londoners. It's a shame that the story ended rather suddenly with Scream!!'s demise, although David McDonald has made an interesting case a few years ago that the story from Scream!! Holiday Special 1986 is one of three of the stories completed but unpublished.

The volume includes all four Holiday Special stories (drawn by Bradbury, Geoff Senior and Keith Page), a cover gallery and a feature by David McDonald about Fleetway Publications' troubled relationship with horror comics over the years. McDonald reprinted the same stories in The Dracula File from Hibernia in 2015, but in limited numbers. Hopefully the new volume, with its larger pages showing off Eric Bradbury's amazing artwork to even better effect, will reach Scream!!'s old fans and a new audience alike this Halloween.

The Dracula Files. Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08599-8, 19 October 2017, 101pp, £15.99 / $19.99. Available via Amazon.


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