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Friday, March 09, 2018

Comic Cuts - 9 March 2018

I'm hoping to have volume 3 of Forgotten Authors out before my birthday, which is in about a month's time. I mentioned last week that I'd decided to make some last minute alterations to the contents as one of the essays I wanted to include required some explanation about another author, and it makes more sense (well, it does to me) that I write up the other author properly instead of doing a precis that I then need to expand at some point. Hopefully that makes sense.

But nothing about these books is easy, so having decided to do that one extra essay, it also makes sense to write about that author's son. And then there's another guy that ties into all this, so I might as well write him up so he's in the same volume. So it's all change for the contents of volume 3 and I've yet to figure out what's in and what's out because I don't know how long each of the new essays will be. Actually, that's not quite true, because I do have the first one finished and it was 8,300 words or so, pushing the totalizer up to around 168,000 words and we've now hit the four-fifths of the way to my original total of fifty forgotten authors.

Definitely in are Edward Viles and his brother Walter, neither of whom have appeared here on Bear Alley, Frances and Phyllis Campbell, the former of whom I've now managed to track down a date of death for and also additional info. on the fate of Phyllis, then there's Michael Storm (the one I've just finished), Michael Storm (the one I'm starting), George Teed, J. Weedon Birch and Michael Storme (the one I've still to do). Plus as many others as I can squeeze in. There's a little theme to the choices here but you'd have to have been reading Bear Alley for a decade to spot it... a couple of these authors were subjects of "mysteries that had me mystified" features that I've now been able to resolve.

The essay just completed has also had plenty of other people mystified over the years. Way back in 1982, Bill Lofts said "Despite over 30 years of research on and off, the whole question of the mysterious ‘Michael Storm’ is as baffling as ever." Thirty-five years later—and after about 75 years of every Sexton Blake fan scratching their heads wondering who he was—I can finally say we know who he is.

His wife, on the other hand... well, you'll just have to read the book.

I had intended running some shorter pieces, but what I might do is hold them all over for volume 4. There will be a volume 4, by the way, as we won't reach our fifty authors by the time I close the door on number 3. I might make volume four a collection of lots of shorter pieces. Or I might not. There are a few authors I want to tackle in depth. I want to write about William J. Elliott because he, for me, is the ideal "Forgotten Authors" candidate because he did some incredible things and nobody seems to know it. And George Emmett and his brothers. I published a piece on them back in 2002 or so that I started expanding in 2005. I never got around to finishing it (that was the year I started working for Look and Learn) and a lot of fascinating information has come to light about George and his family since then. I suspect that will be a really long one as there's a lot to talk about.

On Monday I heard that long-time fan of British comics Chris Street had died. It took a mo. to recall how I knew him—my memory has always been awful for people and names. It came to me later. Chris was one of the people I corresponded with back in the 1980s when I started seriously pulling together information on comics. He was one of the people who passed on photocopies of strips where the artists had yet to be identified—that's how we used to do it before the internet!—and I think it true to say that without his help (and the help of the other cogs that made up this particular wheel) those early indexes that I compiled or co-compiled wouldn't have been half as good. He certainly helped out with the Thriller Picture Library and Lion indexes, which were the earliest ones worked on, way back in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

I haven't been able to find out any details of his demise, so if anyone has heard anything, please let me know. All I know is that he died last year.

Sorry also to hear of unhappy things happening to my old friends Norman and David. 2017 seems to have had it in for the British comics' researchers community.

Just to add to the woe, Al Tonik, a long-time American pulp fan died on 22 February, aged 92. I didn't know Al personally as he lived America, but I corresponded with him occasionally about American pulps when certain authors were on my radar. Fat packets of photocopies would make their way across the Atlantic in response to a request about (say) Jim Hatfield stories that appeared in Texas Rangers or the Rio Kid. A brief bio appears here.

I think I'm in need of a laugh, so for our random scans this week, scroll down for a further collection of comedy flyers from the last few years.

1 comment:

Norman Boyd said...

William J. Elliott....well, I shall be purchasing that then! Especially as I referenced you in my non-article on Bellamy and Elliott!