Saturday, March 31, 2018

Louis Gunnis


Louis Gunnis was a talented and versatile artist who could turn his hand to a variety of forms, and while he illustrated only a handful of children’s books (he was best-known for his work in comics and story papers) his life is worth recounting, especially in view of his tragic death.

He was born in Margate, Kent, on 25 November 1862 (and not in Clapham, London, in 1864, as most other sources suggest) and christened Louis James Gunnis. His father, James William Gunnis (born in Portsmouth in 1832) was a musician in Queen Victoria’s private band, having entered the royal household in 1856. He had married Ellen Adams, born in Margate in 1838, in 1860, and Louis was the second of their seven children, all born between 1861 and 1878.

At the time of the 1871 census, the family was living at 16 Sharsted Street, Newington, London. Louis was subsequently educated at St. Olave’s School, Southwark, and at the age of 15 was apprenticed to a wood engraver. In 1882, while still living with his parents, at 4 Mervan Road, Brixton, he was awarded a free studentship at the Lambeth School of Art, where he abandoned engraving in favour of drawing, and became a member of the Lambeth Sketching Club.

His career as an illustrator began in the late 1880s, when he started contributing to The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and The Illustrated London News (which published one of his best-known cartoons, featuring a maid scrubbing a cello). Between 1890 and 1900 he worked for several other periodicals, including The Boy’s Own Paper, Young England, Judy, The Ludgate Monthly, The Idler, The Quiver, The English Illustrated Magazine, The Sketch, The Sphere, The Windsor Magazine and The Lady’s Pictorial. He also exhibited several times at the Royal Academy between 1887 and 1897. For much of this time he was renting an attic studio at 6, and then 12, New Court, Carey Street, before moving to 2 Addison Studios, Blythe Road, Hammersmith, in 1900, while still living in Brixton with his parents in Mervan Road.

In 1898, at Fulham Registry Office, he married Dorothea Lottie Bradbury, born in Acton in 1871, the daughter of Henry Bradbury, a dentist, and his wife Charlotte. They moved to 6 Shandon Road, Clapham, and then to 9 Shakespeare Road, Brixton. They went on to have three children: Dorothy Winifred in 1900; Ellen Brenda in 1903, and Alice Irene Phyllis in 1905. Sadly Gunnis’s wife died shortly after Alice’s birth, and she was buried in Norwood Cemetery on 4 December 1905.

Having illustrated a couple of books in the 1890s, in 1905 Gunnis began a long association with the author Alfred Walter Barrett, who wrote under the pseudonym of R. Andom. He illustrated ten of his books, including three of his “Troddles” books. They had presumably met at the offices of the publisher James Henderson, where Barrett was an editor, and Gunnis had been contributing cartoons and comic strips since around 1892. In particular, Gunnis was known for his work for Henderson’s The Boy’s Champion (1901-02), Little Folks (from 1907 onwards), and for the one penny series Bible Stories for Young Readers (from 1907 onwards).

In 1909 Gunnis joined the Hulton Press, and moved to Manchester. In the 1911 census he was recorded as a boarder at a small boarding house at 83 Yarburgh Street, Moss Side, while his daughters were being looked after by Eva Hudson, their guardian, at 1 Brunswick Villas, Herne Bay, Kent.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Gunnis returned to London, where he joined the Amalgamated Press, remaining there for the rest of his life. In an article in The Collector’s Digest in November 1990, Len Hawkey claimed that Gunnis contributed to at least 40 Amalgamated Press story papers – for example The Boy’s Friend, Dreadnought, The Union Jack, Young Britain, The Champion and The Rocket. In the mid-1920s he switched to comics, such as Lot o’ Fun, Chips, Tiger Tim’s Weekly, The Rainbow, Bubbles, Puck, Chuckles, Playbox, The Sunbeam, Playtime and My Favourite.

Other periodicals to which he contributed in the early 1900s included Cassell & Co.’s  Chums and C. Arthur Pearson’s The Royal Magazine. (He had earlier provided illustrations for Cassell & Co.’s World of Adventure series in the 1890s). He also provided illustrations for Darton’s Leading Strings and the Religious Tract Society’s Little Dots.

In 1920 Gunnis moved into 63 Tunley Road, Balham, the home of Alfred Walter Barrett, and stayed there briefly before moving to 71 Huron Road, Balham, in 1922. Four years later, he moved to 7 Ouseley Road, Battersea, and in the early1930s he moved to 214 Elmhurst Mansions, Elmhurst Street, Clapham. By 1935, he had moved to 30 King’s Road, Clapham.

In his Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors (The British Library, 1998) Alan Clark described Gunnis thus: “In appearance he was ramrod straight, with a fierce, bristling moustache; he was said to be gentlemanly with a lively sense of humour.”

He returned to painting in the 1930s, and had a painting accepted by the Royal Academy in 1938, although it was not exhibited. In the 1939 Register he was recorded at 30 King’s Avenue, still working as an artist, and living with a housekeeper, Elizabeth Runnacles (born in 1876).

He died when his house was destroyed by a German bomb early in the Second World War. The tragic nature of his death was revealed in the Probate Register for 1940, which recorded that he was “believed to have been killed through war operations on 14 September 1940 and whose dead body was found on 13 December 1940.” He was buried in Wandsworth Cemetery, his gravestone giving the date of his death as 15 September 1940. He left a small estate, of just £200 (presumably money in his bank account), with probate granted to his unmarried daughter Dorothy. His housekeeper survived the war, and died in Lambeth in 1953.

His third daughter, Alice, married Terry Wakefield, a fellow Amalgamated Press artist, and the son of George William (“Bill”) Wakefield, whom Gunnis had known from his days working for James Henderson, in 1935. She died in Richmond, Surrey, in 1999. Ellen Gunnis married in Barnstaple, Devon, in 1947, and died in 1976, while Dorothy died, unmarried, in Barnstaple in 1984.


Books illustrated by Louis Gunnis
Guy or Trusting as the Days Go By by Lizzie Joyce Tomlinson, Sunday School Union, 1887
The Enemies of Books by William Blade, Elliot Stock, 1896 (with H.E. Butler) (re-issue)
For Cross or Crescent: The Days of Richard the Lion-hearted by Gordon Stables, J.F. Shaw & Co., 1897
Self-Denial by Maria Edgeworth, W. & R. Chambers, 1899(?) (re-issue)
The Burglings of Tutt: Being Some Exploits in the Life of an Expert by R. Andom, Jarrold & Sons, 1905
Lighter Days with Troddles by R. Andom, Cassell & Co., 1907
The Enchanted Ship: A Story of Mystery with a Lot of Imagination by R. Andom, Cassell & Co., 1908
The Genial Rascal by R. Andom, Jarrold & Sons, 1909
The Magic Bowl and the Blue-Stone Ring by R. Andom, Jarrold & Sons, 1909
Our Flat by R. Andom, Cassell & Co., 1910
Neighbours of Mine by R. Andom, Stanley Paul & Co., 1912
Cheerful Craft by R. Andom, Stanley Paul & Co., 1912
Ralph Raymond by Ernest Masefield, Stanley Paul & Co., 1913
Bungay of Bandiloo: An Episode by Curtis Yorke, Jarrold & Sons, 1916(?) (re-issue)
The Same Old Troddles by R. Andom, Jarrold & Sons, 1919
Out and About With Troddles by R. Andom, Holden & Hardingham, 1920
The Luck of St. Boniface by L.C. Douthwaite, Jarrold & Sons, 1925

Friday, March 30, 2018

Comic Cuts - 30 March 2018

Easter has sneaked up upon me after a slightly weird week. I think turning the clocks forward last weekend has thrown out my body clock and it still feels like I'm doing everything an hour earlier than I should. I'm just feeling a little off my game... tired when I shouldn't be, awake when I don't want to be. Life's jet-lag.

On Friday I had to walk down to the Post Office to drop in a book and, as it was sunny and I was feeling cheery because I'd just sold a book, I thought I'd nip into our local second-hand bookshop and potentially blow all the profit I'd just made. As I cast my eyes over the titles of row after row of paperbacks, I also became aware that something odd was going on: there was a guy with a big camera on a gimbal stablizer and another guy with a normal stills camera, both concentrating on a third guy who was pulling books from the shelves and chatting away to camera.

This was Martin Newall, poet (England's most published poet, apparently), songwriter and musician (solo and with The Cleaners from Venus and The Brotherhood of Lizards) and, as I discovered, thoroughly nice bloke. As we were in a book shop, the conversation turned to what we liked. I mentioned SF, he mentioned not being able to get on with Kurt Vonnegut but he loved Theodore Sturgeon, allowing me to trot out the fact that I'd met Theodore Sturgeon.

Talking to the guys with cameras... well, we mostly talked about Netflix original content as a couple of SF movies had come out recently that they thought were underwhelming, including Duncan Jones's Mute and the newly released Annihilation, both of which I've yet to watch. I haven't seen all of the Netflix output, but of the three I watched in the past few months, two were great (Okja, What Happened to Monday) and one was a bit meh (Bright).

I did manage to ask what the filming was for and apparently it's for a project about Martin's music which will be available online later this year, once some filming in the USA is complete. Not knowing anything about Martin's music, I gave some tracks a spin on Spotify and it proved to be quite fun, with a quirky, unexpected side to the lyrics that you might expect from someone who is primarily a poet. You could do worse than give him a try. (­čí¬ Wikipedia)

Tuesday evening we headed into Colchester to see John Robins joke about his break-up with girlfriend Sara Pascoe and the mental breakdown he has been suffering from since. More of a barrel of laughs than you would expect from that description. It's a well-crafted, well-performed show with highs and lows and laugh out loud moments that had the audience in fits.

This was the first time we'd seen Robins live – and I'd definitely see him again – although both Mel and I have seen him on various TV shows (Russell Howard's Good News, Live at the Apollo, etc.) and heard his radio show (with Ellis James on Radio X, formerly XFM). This show was the joint-winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award 2017.

I have to confess that I papped him, although accidentally. Normally I ask if I can take a photo, having checked the lighting (to see if I need a flash or not). In this instance I was letting the camera focus while John was talking to someone ahead of signing their poster and took the picture.

I'd spent a lot of Tuesday listening to the testimony of Christopher Wylie talking about Cambridge Analytica. Capturing data on 50 million Facebook users is only scratching the surface. I'm not prone to believe in conspiracy theories, but there's a James Bond movie in this. I'd meant to dip into the testimony while I was taking a break to watch the news, but the BBC ended their coverage and I had to scurry around trying to find where the live broadcast was on Parliament TV.

As a freelancer, I have to be quite strict with myself over this kind of thing. I need to put in the hours, especially as I'm coming to the end of the new book and I'm easily distracted by moving pictures – anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time will know I love my TV. I caught myself on Wednesday morning tuning in to watch, of all things, Amber Rudd of the Home Office sidestepping questions about whether the government has a policy concerning immigration. I'm not sure it does, and even if the answer is "Yes, it does," how it can possibly work if you don't know how many people are leaving the country.

Anyway, I managed to switch it off before Parliament TV wrecked my schedule again and managed to get some work done. The last few days have been spent rewriting Volume 3 of Forgotten Authors and writing an introduction. I'm pleased to say that the writing is all done, I've run a spellchecker over the whole of the text and I'm in the process of creating the master document that will become the finished book, which will run to approximately 73,000 words.

I've also been putting together a few cover galleries that I'll be running in coming weeks relating to some of the authors that have been included in the Forgotten Authors series. The first will appear on Monday.

In the meantime, here are a few random scans of books I've picked up over the past few weeks. The Fifth Season won the Hugo, and the sequel, The Obelisk Gate, also picked up the same award. I believe the third book in the trilogy, The Stone Sky, is in the running for a Nebula (as were the other two). It's more on the fantasy scale than I usually read, but I've heard so many good things about the series I've got to give it a try. John Scalzi is someone I've already read (the last one was Redshirts) but I'm missing a couple of the 'Old Man's War' series before I get to The End of All Things. I'll get 'em eventually.

A couple of tie-ins... I might even read the Elektra just to see whether the script was better than the film that eventually emerged. And a couple of books I've gathered up for bits of my collection and for cover galleries... Gregory Benford and Jack Higgins. I do try to maintain these old galleries!

Have a happy Easter weekend.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 28 March 2018.

2000AD Prog 2074
Cover: Emily Zeinner
JUDGE DREDD: FIT FOR PURPOSE by Rob Williams (w) Chris Weston (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
JAEGIR: IN THE REALM OF PYRRHUS by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
SINISTER DEXTER: NIGHT CLASS by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) john Charles (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
ANDERSON, PSI DIVISION: UNDERTOW by Emma Beeby (w) David Roach (a) Jose Villarrubia (c) Simon Bowland (l)
STRONTIUM DOG: THE SON by John Wagner (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Alan Dean Foster Cover Gallery


The Tar-Aiym Krang (New York, Ballantine Books, 1972)
New English Library

Bloodhype (New York, Ballantine Books, 1973)
New English Library

Icerigger (New York, Ballantine Books, 1974)
New English Library

Midworld (New York, Ballantine Books, 1975)

Orphan Star (New York, Ballantine Books, 1977)
New English Library

The End of the Matter (New York, Ballantine Books, 1977)
New English Library

Mission to Moulokin (New York, Ballantine Books, 1979)
New English Library

Cachalot (New York, Ballantine Books, 1980)
New English Library 0450-05193-5, (Jul) 1981, 275pp, £1.50. Cover by Colin Andrew
---- [2nd? imp.] (Jul) 1987, 275pp, £2.95.

Nor Crystal Tears (New York, Ballantine Books, 1982)

For Love of Mother-Not (New York, Ballantine Books, 1983)

The Man Who Used the Universe (New York, Warner Books, 1983)

Spellsinger at the Gate (Huntington Woods, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1983; divided into two volumes as Spellsinger, New York, Warner Books, 1983, and The Hour of the Gate, New York, Warner Books, 1984)
(no UK paperback)

Spellsinger (see Spellsinger at the Gate)
Futura 0708-88110-6, (Jun) 1984, 347pp, £2.50. Cover by Tony Roberts
---- [2nd imp.] 1984; [3rd imp.] 1984; [4th imp.] 1986; [5th imp.] 1987
Orbit 1857-23162-7, 1992, 347pp, £4.99. Cover by Tony Roberts
---- [2nd imp.] 1993; [3rd imp.] 1993

The Hour of the Gate (see Spellsinger at the Gate)
Futura  0708-88113-0, 1985, 300pp, £2.50.
---- [2nd imp.] 1985; [3rd imp.] 1986; [4th imp.] 1987; [5th imp.] 1988
Orbit 1857-23144-9, 1991, 300pp, £4.50.
---- [2nd imp.] 1992; [3rd imp.] 1993; [4th imp.] 1993, £4.99; [xth imp.] 1998, £5.99.

Voyage to the City of the Dead (New York, Ballantine Books, 1984)
New English Library

The Day of the Dissonance (Huntington Woods, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1984)
Futura, 1985, 292pp, £2.95
---- [2nd imp.] 1986; [3rd imp.] 1987; [4th imp.] 1988; [5th imp.] 1990, £3.99.
Orbit 1857-23143-0, 1992, 292pp, £4.99.
---- [2nd imp.] 1993; [3rd imp.] 1993; [4th imp.] 1993; [xth imp.] 1998, £5.99.

The Moment of the Magician (Huntington Woods, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1984)
Orbit 0708-88143-2, 1987, 312pp, £2.95.
---- [2nd? imp.] 1988, [8]+312pp, £3.50.
Orbit 1857-23231-3, 1995, 312pp, £4.99.
---- [2nd? imp.] 1999, 312pp, £5.99.

Slipt (New York, Berkley Books, 1984)
(no UK paperback)

The I Inside (New York, Warner Books, 1984)
Orbit 0708-88115-7, (Jan) 1985, 311pp, £2.50.

Sentenced to Prism (New York, Ballantine Books, 1985)
New English Library 0450-42137-6, (Feb) 1988, 273pp, £2.50. Cover by Peter Elson

The Paths of the Perambulator (Huntington Woods, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1985)

The Time of the Transference (Huntinton Woods, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1986)

Into the Out of (New York, Warner Books, 1986)

Glory Lane (New York, Ace Books, 1987)

The Deluge Drivers (New York, Ballantine Books, 1987)
New English Library 0450-426424-4, (Jul) 1988, 311oom £2.95.

Flinx in Flux (New York, Ballantine Books, 1988)
New English Library 0450-51571-0, £3.99. Cover by Chris Achillos

To the Vanishing Point (New York, Warner Books, 1988)
Sphere 0426

Maori (New York, Ace Books/Berkley, 1988)

Quozi (New York, Ace Books, 1989)

Cyber Way (New York, Ace Books, 1990)

Cat-A-Lyst (New York, Ace Books, 1991)
Orbit 1857-23011-6, (May) 1992, 327pp, £4.50.
---- [2nd? imp.] 1994, 327pp, £4.99.

A Call to Arms (New York, Ballantine Books, 1991)

The False Mirror (New York, Ballantine Books, 1992)

Codgerspace (New York, Ace Books, 1992)
Orbit 0857-23035-3, (Apr) 1993, 309pp, £4.99. Cover by Steve Bradbury

The Spoils of War (New York, Ballantine Books, 1993)

Son of Spellsinger (New York, Warner Questar, 1993)

Chorus Skating (New York, Warner Questar, 1994)

Greenthieves (New York, Ace Books, 1994)
Orbit 1857-23216-X, (Dec) 1994, 248pp, £4.99. Cover by Stephen Bradbury
---- [2nd? imp.] 1996, 248pp, £5.99. Cover by Stephen Bradbury

Life Form (New York, Ace Books, 1995)
Orbit 1857-23358-1, (Dec) 1995, 311pp, £5.99. Cover by Linda Messier

Design for Great Day, with Eric Frank Russell (New York, Tor, 1995)
(no UK paperback)

Mid-Flinx (New York, Ballantine Books, 1995)

Montezuma Strip (New York, Warner Aspect, 1995)

The Voyage of the Basset, with James C. Christensen & Renwick St James (New York, The Greenwich Workshop/Artisan, 1996)

Jed the Dead (New York, Ace Books, 1997)
(no UK paperback)

The Howling Stones (New York, Ballantine Books, 1997)

Carnivores of Light and Darkness (New York, Warner Aspect, 1998)

Parallelities (New York, Ballentine Boosk, 1998)
(no UK paperback)

Into the Thinking Kingdoms (New York, Warner Aspect, 1999)

Founding the Commonwealth 1: Phylogenesis (New York, Ballantine Books, 1999)

Founding the Commonwealth 2: Dirge (New York, Ballantine Books, 2000)

A Triumph of Souls (New York, Warner Aspect, 2000)

Reunion (New York, Ballantine Books, 2001)

Kingdoms of Light (New York, Warner Books, 2001)
(no UK paperback)

Interlopers (New York, Ace Books, 2001)
(no UK paperback)

Primal Shadows (New York, Forge, 2001)

Founding the Commonwealth 3: Diuturnity's Dawn (New York, Ballantine Books, 2002)

The Mocking Program (New York, Warner Aspect, 2002)

Drowning World (New York, Ballantine Books, 2003)

Flinx's Folly (New York, Ballantine Books, 2003)

Sliding Scales (New York, Ballantine Books, 2004)

Lost and Found (New York, Ballantine Books, 2004)

The Light-Years Beneath my Feet (New York, Ballantine Books, 2005)

Running from the Deity (New York, Ballantine Books, 2005)

Trouble Magnet (New York, Ballantine Books, 2006)

The Candle of Distant Earth (New York, Ballantine Books, 2006)

Sagramanda (Amherst, NY, Prometheus/Pyr, 2006)
(no UK paperback)

Patrimony (New York, Ballantine Books, 2007)

Quofum (New York, Ballantine Books, 2008)

Flinx Transcendent (New York, Ballantine Books, 2008)

The Human Blend (New York, Ballantine Books, 2010)

Body, Inc. (New York, Ballantine Books, 2012)

The Sum of Her Parts (New York, Ballantine Books, 2012)

Oshenerth (Monument, CO, WordFire Press, Dec 2015)
(no UK paperback)

The Deavys (Open Road Integrated Media, Feb 2016)
(no UK paperback)

Strange Music (New York, Ballantine Books, 2017)

Relic (New York, Del Rey, Aug 2018)


With Friends Like These... (New York, Ballantine Books, 1977)

... Who Needs Enemies? (New York, Ballantine Books, 1984)

The Metrognome and Other Stories (New York, Ballantine Books, 1990)

Mad Amos (New York, Ballantine Books, 1996)

Impossible Places (New York, Ballantine Books, 2002)

Exceptions to Reality (New York, Ballantine Books, 2008)


Star Trek Log One (New York, Ballantine Books, 1974)

Star Trek Log Two (New York, Ballantine Books, 1974)

Star Trek Log Three (New York, Ballantine Books, 1975)

Star Trek Log Four (New York, Ballantine Books, 1975)

Star Trek Log Five (New York, Ballantine Books, 1975)

Star Trek Log Six (New York, Ballantine Books, 1976)

Star Trek Log Seven (New York, Ballantine Books, 1976)

Star Trek Log Eight (New York, Ballantine Books, 1976)

Star Trek Log Nine (New York, Ballantine Books, 1977)

Star Trek Log Ten (New York, Ballantine Books, 1978)

Star Trek (novelisation of movie, New York, Pocket Books, 2009)

Star Trek Into Darkness (novelisation of movie, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2013)
Simon & Schuster 978-1471-12890-5, 2013, 312pp, £7.99. Cover: film poster


Star Wars (as by George Lucas; New York, Ballantine Books, 1976)

Splinter of the Mind's Eye (New York, Ballantine Books, 1978)

Star Wars: The Approaching Storm (New York, Ballantine Books, 2002)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (New York, Del Rey, 2015)


Alien (New York, Warner Books, 1979)
Futura 0708-81678-9, 1979, 253pp, £1.00.
---- [xth imp.p] 1986, 253pp, £2.50.
Warner Books UK 0708-81678-9, 1992, 253pp.
Titan Books 978-1783-29015-4, 282pp, £7.99.

Aliens (New York, Warner Books, 1986)
Futura 0708-83182-6, (Aug) 1986, 247pp, £2.50. Cover: film still
----, 1991, £3.99.
Warner Books UK 0708-83182-6, 1992, 247pp.
Titan Books 978-1783-29017-8, Apr 2014, 319pp, £7.99.

Alien3 (New York, Warner Books, 1992)
Warner Books UK 0708-85240-8, (Jun) 1992, 218pp, £4.50.
Titan Books 978-1783-29019-2, May 2014, 248pp, £7.99.

Alien: Covenant
Titan Books 978-17785-65478-7, May 2017, 352pp, £7.99.

Alien: Covenant – Origins
Titan Books 978-1785-65476-3, Sep 2017.


Dinotopia Lost (Atlanta, Georgia, Turner, 1996)

The Hand of Dinotopia (New York, HarperCollins, 1999)


Transformers: Ghosts of Yesterday (New York, Ballantine Books, 2007)
Titan Books 978-1845-76602-3, Apr 2007, 286pp, £6.99. Cover still (c) Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks LLC

Transformers (novelisation of movie; New York, Ballantine Books, 2007)

Transformers: The Veiled Threat (novelisation of movie; New York, Ballantine Books, 2007)

Transformers: The Revenge of the Fallen (novelisation of movie; New York, Ballantine Books, 2009)


Luana (novelisation of movie; New York, Ballantine Books, 1974)

Dark Star (novelisation of movie; New York, Ballantine Books, 1974)

The Black Hole (novelisation of movie; New York, Ballantine Books, 1979)
New English Library 04569
New English Library 04707

Clash of the Titans (novelisation of movie; New York, Warner Books, 1981)

Outland (novelisation of movie; New York, Warner Books, 1981)
Sphere 0772-13637-4, £1.50.

The Thing (novelisation of movie; New York, Bantam Books, 1982)
Corgi Books

Krull ( novelisation of movie; New York, Warner Books, 1983)
Corgi Books

The Last Starfighter (novelisation of movie; New York, Berkley Books, 1984)

Starman (novelisation of movie; New York, Warner Books, 1984)
Corgi Books

Shadowkeep (tie-in to computer game; New York, Warner Boosk, 1984)

Pale Rider (novelisation of movie; New York, Warner Books, 1985)

Alien Nation (novelisation of movie; New York, Warner Books, 1988)

The Dig (tie-in to computer game; New York, Warner Books, 1996)
Corgi 0552-14490-8, (May) 1996, 334pp, £4.99. Cover by Bill Eaken

The Chronicles of Riddick (novelisation of movie; New York, Ballantine, 2004)

Terminator Salvation (novelisation of movie; London, Titan Books, 2009)
Titan Books, 2009, 281+[36pp], £6.99. Cover still (c) t Asset Acquisition Company LLC

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Comerford Watson

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Comerford Watson was a commercial artist and designer from whom book illustration appears to have been a minor sideline. He was, however, known to Percy F. Westerman collectors as the illustrator of three of his adventure stories in the 1930s.

He was born on 14 May 1885 in Longtown, Cumberland, and baptized, as William Comerford Watson, on 31 May 1885 at Arthuret, Cumberland. His father, James Watson, was a house painter, born in Carlisle in around 1855. By the time of the 1891 census, the family had moved 32 miles south-west to the coastal village of Silloth, and within ten years they had moved again, to 13 River Street, Carlisle. William was recorded as a lithographic artist apprentice, which is presumably how he learnt his craft as an artist and illustrator.

By 1906, Watson had moved to Manchester, where he was admitted as an apprentice designer to the Amalgamated Society of Lithographic Artists, Designers, Engravers and Process Workers. He was excluded from the Society in 1913, presumably because he failed to pay his membership dues. He had, by then, moved to London, where in the 1911 census he was living at 19 Fawcett Street, Kensington, recorded as a lithographic artist boarding with Jane Alice Mason and two other lodgers. (For some reason, the census records his birth place as Canobie, Scotland, which appears to be a complete fiction).

During the First World War he served in the Royal Flying Corps, rising to the rank of Lieutenant and acting as a Balloon Officer. He was Mentioned in Despatches in March 1919, although almost immediately after this was he was demobilised. His home address then was given as 55 Redcliffe Road, Chelsea, although he soon moved back to Fawcett Street, lodging with James and Emily Chapman at 3 Fawcett Street between 1920 and 1924. In 1929, he was living at 4 Langham Mansions, Earls Court Square, Kensington, and he had by then also acquired a studio at New Court, Carey Street, Holborn, which he used for at least ten years between 1929 and 1939. In 1930, he was one of the founder members of the Society of Industrial Artists.

This gives a clue as to the nature of most of Watson’s work, which would have been for companies on, for example, product and graphic design. He had, however, done a small amount of illustrative work prior to this, including contributing to Cassell’s Magazine of Fiction, The New Magazine and Britannia and Eve in the 1920s. His book illustration work appears to have begun in 1931, for Blackie & Son – he went on to illustrate a handful of girls’ school stories, plus a few boys’ adventure stories, most notably three by Percy F. Westerman. More in tune with his main line of work were his illustrations for five science books, written by E.N.C. Andrade and Julian Huxley, published between 1932 and 1935.

In 1938 he married Emily Louise Mason (born in Chelsea on 14 October 1872) at Kensington Register Office. They were living at Flat 16, 294 Old Brompton Road, Kensington, with Watson described in the 1939 Register as an “Artist – advertising and consultant.” He was also listed in that year’s Kelly’s Directory at 16 Redcliffe, Richmond Road, Kensington. What, if anything, he did during the Second World War is not known.

His versatility as an artist came to the fore in the 1950s, when he illustrated a couple of books for younger children, both in different styles. He was also probably the “W.C. Watson” who collaborated with the BBC Children’s Hour presenter Derek McCulloch, alias “Uncle Mac”, on a Ladybird book, In the Train with Uncle Mac, first published in 1955 and frequently reprinted.

When his wife died, on 4 January 1953, he was living at 20 Castlenau Mansions, Barnes, Surrey. The last book with his illustrations appeared four years later. He died, at 4 Old Roar Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, on 24 October 1975, leaving a small estate worth just £869 (about £15,000 in today’s terms).


Books illustrated by Comerford Watson
Cherries in Search of a Captain by Catherine Mary Christian, Blackie & Son, 1931
Catriona Carries On by Doris Alice Pocock, Blackie & Son, 1931
Rosemary at St. Anne’s by Joy Francis, Blackie & Son, 1932
King for a Month by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1933
The Corsair of the Skies by Arthur Guy Vercoe, Blackie & Son, 1934
Sleuths of the Air by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1935
Tireless Wings by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1936
Odds Against by A. Harcourt Burrage, Evans Brothers, 1937
The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman, University of London Press, 1952 (re-issue)
The Purple Muffin Book by Ann Hogarth, Hodder & Stoughton, 1953 (with other artists)
In the Train with Uncle Mac by Derek McCulloch, Wills & Hepworth, 1955
The Palace of the Ants by Courtney Douglas Farmer, Schofield & Sims, 1957

Science books by E.N.Da C. Andrade & Julian Huxley, published by Basil Blackwell:
An Introduction to Science 1932
An Introduction to Science – Book 2: Science and Life, 1933
An Introduction to Science - Book 3: Forces at Work, 1934
Simple Science, 1934
More Simple Science: Earth and Man, 1935

Friday, March 23, 2018

Comic Cuts - 23 March 2018

The last of the essays for volume 3 of Forgotten Authors was finished on Monday evening, and I'm now in the process of re-reading and re-writing the essays that will make up the contents of the book. The first drafts total around 67,000 words and I'm not expecting that to grow by too much.

The rewrites can even bring the word count down in places, removing repetition and unnecessary details. It's not unknown for me to include everything including the kitchen sink, but do we really need to know who manufactured the taps? At the same time, there may be some revision needed for clarity, but it's rare that I need to do wholesale revision, thankfully.

There's still some way to go. I'm still rewriting – I'm about half-way through at the time of writing – after which I'll be able to create a single master document that will become both the print book and e-book versions of the finished volume. Once all the footnotes are sorted out (they become end-notes in the e-book version), I still have to do a bit of design on the print version, compile and index and put together a cover. So, the book is still a couple of weeks away from publication. Early April, I reckon.

Some time after that, the long-time-coming Don Lawrence book will be published by Book Palace as an Illustrators Special. This was finished and ready to go a couple of years ago but the whole thing went belly-up when the pound collapsed following the Brexit vote. Books printed in China (high quality, relatively cheap) suddenly cost 10% more overnight because they are paid for in dollars, not sterling. While the pound has recovered slightly, it's still down on pre-Brexit exchange rates.

So I've had it sitting on my computer for eighteen months and eventually Geoff West suggested putting it out as part of his Illustrators magazine. So that's what we're doing. It's due in Spring... and the Spring Equinox was on Tuesday, so it could be out any time now. More likely in the next month or two.

The book is a bit of a scrapbook gathering up all of Don Lawrence's educational and children's illustrations from Ranger, Bible Story, Look and Learn, Speed & Power and Once Upon a Time. There's some quite scarce material included, including Herod the Great, The Range Rider, Pinocchio, Jason and the Golden Fleece, etc. as well as all of his one-off illustrations. I'll try to confirm the release date and dig out a few examples of what's included for next week.

We went to see Richard Herring on Wednesday. This is one of only a handful of gigs we've been to this year – last month we saw Lucy Porter and Ellie Taylor; this month it's Richard Herring and Jon Robins.

I've seen Herring on his last eight tours and enjoyed most of his output over the same period, which has included hundreds of podcasts (RHLSTP... and I was there for RHEFP, AIOTM and various others). A lot of his output is crowd funded and, via Go Faster Stripe, you can buy books and DVDs that will keep all these various projects going while tours and commercial work (like the delightful Radio 4 comedy Relativity) pays his bills. GFS also have plenty of other worthwhile products from other comedians and they deserve your support.

As for the gig, Herring celebrated turning fifty in the show, comparing his current life with the life of his younger, forty-year-old self when he was a directionless, sexually active and deeply happy man about town; he's swapped that for the life of a married man with a wife, two children and a dog. You can see his progress through the titles of his shows, from the early angry exclamation (Christ on a Bike, Talking Cock) to the far cheerier shows of later years (Happy Now, The Best).

Time, too, for the annual photo.

Adding to the catalogue of people I knew who have recently died, I have to mention John Stewart, who lived locally to us. I first met John at the Wivenhoe Memories Exhibition, which he hosted every year beginning in the 1980s. We first visited the exhibition in 2011 and it was there that I discovered Harry "Iron Mask" Bensley for the first time. John had gathered together a small collection of postcards from Bensley's "Walk Around the World" which I was able to use as illustrations in the Iron Mask book. John also unearthed a photo of Bensley which appeared in the book.

Random scans this week celebrate George H. Teed, who is one of the authors who appears in the new Forgotten Authors volume. He is probably my favourite Sexton Blake author and had an incredible career as a world traveller and author. He set his stories around the globe and when he described something, you could be pretty sure it was something he had seen. 



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