Thursday, May 31, 2018

Commando 5127-5130

Brand new Commando issues are out today! Evade Blitzkrieging Panzers in Belgium, lead a squad of Polish criminals straight against bloodthirsty Gestapo soldiers, dodge desert dunes in a Citroen P21 Kegresse, and think fast when you find a cobra in your cockpit with our Yank pilot.

5127: Last Boat Home
Stranded east of the border in Blitzkrieged Belgium, Lieutenant Jack Dodds was going to get his men home at any cost — but with no hope of reaching Dunkirk, survival looked slim. However, with home just across the Channel, Jack’s family would face the treacherous, mine-filled waters and Panzer shells that awaited them just to try and bring Jack home!
    A Dunkirk story set outwith Dunkirk, Richard Davis’ latest issue of Commando is a microcosm of the event, centring on family and how the people of Britain did whatever they could to save the ones they loved. Beautifully illustrated by Paolo Ongaro, and with a moody over by Neil Roberts, this Commando will stand out on any shelf.

Story: Richard Davis
Art: Paolo Ongaro
Cover: Neil Roberts

5128: Terror Drop
Parachuting straight into Nazi-occupied Poland, Lieutenant Ron Barclay had read his orders and burned them. This was a top secret mission and even he didn’t know all the details. He had been told only that they were to infiltrate the Gestapo HQ and capture the reviled SS officer, Schafer. But, when they found him, Ron couldn’t believe what he saw…
    Allan’s gritty story starts in a rain of fire and does not relent! Meanwhile, award-winning interior and cover artists Victor de la Fuente and Jordi Bosch Penalva enhance the action with striking artwork.

Story: Allan
Art: V Fuente
Cover: Penalva
Originally Commando No. 433 (December 1969). Reprinted No. 1247 (August 1978).

5129: Desert Deception
Sipping Spatburgunder and listening to classical music on their gramophone in the middle of the North African desert, Swiss cousins Theo and Lena Zug seemed completely out of place in a war zone. But with SPA-Viberti AS.42 Saharianas patrolling the dunes, and Kittyhawks and Macchi C.202s duelling in the skies above, it was difficult to know just who this eccentric pair were and what deceptions they might be hiding.
    Possibly the most ‘Commando’ issue ever, ‘Desert Deception’ features a stunning aerial cover from Ian Kennedy, story by former editor George Low and chunky interior art by Morhain.

Story: George Low
Art: Morhain
Cover: Ian Kennedy

5130: Air Pirates
He glided over the murky jungle, hunting the North Vietnamese troops who lurked beneath the treetops, but Roy Armour had more than Charlie to worry about. With commie spies and drug dealers among the ranks, Roy had to watch his back every second at base — and in the air!
    With an unforgettable cover by Jose Maria Jorge, we see Ian Clark’s steely Roy Armour up-close, fire blistering the Vietnamese jungle behind him — it doesn’t get much more macho than that!

Story: Ian Clark
Art: Jose Maria Jorge
Cover: Jose Maria Jorge
Originally Commando No. 2753 (April 1994).

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 30 May 2018

2000AD Prog 2083
Cover: Neil Googe
JUDGE DREDD: THE PARADIGM SHIFT by Michael Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: HEAVY IS THE HEAD by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: GEEK-CON by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
DURHAM RED: BORN BAD by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

George Soper

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

George Soper was once well-known as a painter and etcher, specializing in horses and country scenes, and chronicling a fast-disappearing rural society, and also as the father of the illustrator Eileen Soper. Yet he was also a prolific illustrator, of periodicals and books, especially children’s adventure, historical and fantasy tales.

He was born on 2 May 1870 and baptized in 27 July 1870 in West Hackney, Middlesex. His father, George Robert Soper (born in St, Pancras, London, 1838) was a manufacturer; his mother, Elizabeth Longman, née Cogan, was a milliner, born in Kingston, Somerset, in 1835. They married in Islington in 1860, with George being the fifth of their seven children, all born between 1861 and 1876. When George was born the family was living in Victoria Road, Hornsey. In the 1881 census they were recorded at 1 Sandford Place, Hackney, with George Robert now working as a horticultural sundriesman.

Details of George Soper¹s education are sketchy. A brief biography at Chris Beetle's Gallery suggests he went to a boarding school in Ramsgate, and it was in Ramsgate that other sources (e.g. the online Wildlife Art Gallery and the Suffolk Artists website) say he studied art. In around 1885 he was apprenticed to George Sydney Waterlow, a member of a large dynasty of printers and stationers, as a lithographer, while living with his parents at 300 Amherst Road, Stoke Newington. On 20 July 1897, after spending two years (1894-96) in the 20th Middlesex (Artists’) Rifle Volunteers, he married Ada Lehany at St. Mary’s, Stoke Newington. Ada, born on Shoreditch on 4 May 1873 in was the daughter of Patrick Lehany, an Irish boot-maker, and his wife Mary. George and Ada moved to “Langford”, 12 Palmers Green Villas, Enfield, where they had their first daughter, Eva Lilian, born on 24 March 1901. They subsequently moved to “Reddaford”, Slades Hill, Enfield, where a second daughter, Eileen Alice, was born on 26 March 1905.

Soper’s career as an illustrator had begun in 1894, with contributions to the boys’ story paper Chums. In November 1896 he contributed to the inaugural number of The Osborne, a monthly periodical published by S.W. Partridge. He went on to contribute to several more periodicals in the following four years, including Golden Sunbeams, The Prize for Girls and Boys, Young England, The Children’s Friend, The Windsor Magazine, and The Captain (for which he worked for around 19 years).

He also began illustrating books in the late 1890s, whilst operating out of a studio in New Court, Carey Street, initially children’s adventure and historical stories, although later on he illustrated several religious works, alongside re-issues of classic novels, for example an edition of Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies for the publishers Headley Brothers in 1908. Other Headley re-issues he illustrated included Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1911), The Arabian Nights (1913), Tales from Shakespeare (1915), and Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1916).

In 1905 Soper began studying etching under Frank Short (later Sir Frank Short). He had already exhibited several paintings at the Royal Academy, from 1890 onwards, and in 1913 his first print was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy. He subsequently spent a further four years (1916-20) studying engraving and printmaking under Short at the Royal College of Art, being elected an Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1918, a full member in 1920, and a Fellow in 1921.

In the meantime he had built a house at 42 Harmer Green Lane, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, which he and his family moved into in 1908. (The house was originally called Hill Lodge, and was re-named as “Wildings” by his daughters after his death). His large garden enabled him to indulge in one of his passions, botany, which found an expression in books he illustrated such as British Wild Flowers: Their Haunts and Associations (1917), and Hardy Perennials and Herbaceous Borders (1938). After his death, his daughter Eileen continued living in the house, with the garden being celebrated in Wildings: The Secret Garden of Eileen Soper, written by Duff Hart-Davis and published in 1991.

In an essay on the website of the art dealers Howgill Tattersall Dr Hilary Taylor  notes that:

By the 1920s, Soper had at his command a wide range of graphic techniques, including wood cuts and wood engravings, etchings and drypoints: some of his most vivid impressions were captured with this latter technique….. Increasingly, Soper dedicated his art to rendering the lives of farmers, sailors, fishermen, smiths, shepherds, foresters, hauliers and manual workers, often revealing the hard work or the solitary life associated with their traditional tasks. Above all, he became passionate about depicting the heavy horses on which so much of this work depended. Time and again, he pictured these horses, in teams or merely on their own, working closely with men - some of whom must have started to become conscious that this way of life was on the wane.
After Eileen Soper’s death in 1990, a large number of watercolours, sketches and drawings of horses, executed by George Soper over a long period, were discovered in her studio. These were brought together and published in George Soper’s Horses: A Celebration of the English Working Horse, in 1991.

In the meantime, George had continued his career as an illustrator. Between 1901 and 1935 he contributed to a further range of periodicals, including The London Magazine, The Sunday Strand, Cassell’s Magazine, Fry’s Magazine, Little Folks, The Strand Magazine, The Red Magazine, The War Budget, The Boy’s Own Paper, The Wide World Magazine, The Studio, The Bystander, The Sphere, Country Life and The Illustrated London News. He was particularly noted for his work with The Boy’s Own Paper, to which he contributed for over ten years, between 1913 and 1924, illustrating, among others, several serials by Charles Gilson.

He also continued illustrating children’s books, again mainly historical and adventure stories, and he also contributed to a number of children’s annuals, such as The British Girl’s Annual, The Empire Annual for Boys and Warne’s Happy Book for Girls.

George Soper died on 13 August 1942, leaving an estate valued at £2,958. His wife died on 9 April 1956, leaving £6,479.

His younger daughter Eileen Soper became a well-known illustrator. Taught by her father, she exhibited her first two etchings at the Royal Academy in 1920, aged only 15. From the early 1940s she was closely associated with Enid Blyton, illustrating around 50 of her books, including all 21 of the “Famous Five” series. She went on to write and illustrate several natural history books, and was a founder member of the Society of Wildlife Artists. She never married, and died in a Hertford nursing home on 18 March 1990, leaving an estate valued at just under £205,000.

Eva Soper, who had been a successful designer with the Royal Worcester company, famous for her bone china birds, died in the same nursing home as Eileen six months later, on 9 September 1990, leaving £628,000.


Books illustrated by George Soper
Bushigrams by Guy Boothby, Ward, Lock & Co., 1897 (with other artists)
A Venturesome Voyage by F. Scarlett Potter, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1898
Phil and I by Paul Blake, T. Nelson & Sons, 1899
One of Buller’s Horse: A Story of the Zulu Campaign by William Johnston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1900
The Three Scouts: A Story of the Boer War by Frederick J. Whishaw, Griffith Farran & Co., 1900
Sons of the Empire by George Griffith and other authors, John F. Shaw & Co., 1903 (with other artists)
Red Jacket: The Last of the Senecas by Edward Sylvester Ellis, Cassell & Co., 1906
Against All Odds, Containing Several Tales of Robin Hood, As Well As Other Stories by various authors, John F. Shaw, 1906(?) (with other artists)
A Voyage Round the World by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1907 (re-issue)
Parables from Fairyland by M. Sunderland MacLaughlin, Headley Brothers, 1907 (with Osman Thomas)
The Apple Lady by Bessie Marchant, Collins, 1908
Adam Argham by Mrs S.R. Graham Clark, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1908
Gerard’s Long Journey by Charles Reade, Hodder & Stoughton, 1908
Noodle, or From Barrack Room to Mission Field by S.E. Burrow, S.W. Partridge, 1908
The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley, Headley Bros., 1908 (re-issue)
By Creek and Jungle by John K. Leys, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1909
The Master of the Rebel First: A Story of a Public School by J. Howard Brown, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1909
From the Tanyard to the White House by Wiliam Thayer, Hodder & Stoughton, 1909
Her Little Kingdom by Laura Anna Barter, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1909
Lost in the Rockies by Edward Sylvester Ellis, Cassell & Co., 1909 (re-issue)
Frank Fairleigh, or Scenes from the Life of a Private Pupil by Frank E. Smedley, Collins, 1909(?) (re-issue)
Stirring Stories of Peace and War, by Sea and Land by James Macaulay, Hodder & Stoughton, 1910
Under the Edge of the Earth: A Story of Three Chums and a Startling Quest by F.H. Bolton, Religious Tract Society, 1910
A Family of Nine! By E.C. Phillips, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1910
“Jimmy” The Tales of a Little Black Bear by May Wynne, S.W. partridge & Co., 1910
Ivanhoe by Walter Scott, Cassell & Co., 1910 (re-issue)
The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales for My Children by Charles Kingsley, Headley Bros., 1910 (re-issue)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Cassell & Co., 1910 (re-issue)
Mount Desolation: An Australian Romance by Carlton Dawe, Cassell & Co., 1910 (re-issue)
The Adventures of Dick Onslow Among the Redskins by W.H.G. Kingston, Collins, 1910(?) (re-issue)
Stories of Hebrew Heroes by Rufus Matthew Jones, Headley Bros., 1911
The Three Homes by Frederick. W. Farrar, Cassell & Co., 1911 (with Stanley L. Wood) (re-issue)
Among the Hills by Reginald Farrer, Headley Bros., 1911 (with Mrs Addington Symonds)
A Book of Bible Stories, T. Nelson & Sons, 1911 (with other artists)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Headley Bros., 1911 (re-issue)
The Colters: An Australian Story for Girls by J.M. Whitfield, Hodder & Stoughton, 1912
Friend or Foe? A Tale of Three Soldiers by Samuel Edwin Burrow, S.W. Patridge & Co., 1912
Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Headley Bros., 1912 (re-issue)
The Arabian Nights, Headley Bros., 1913 (re-issue)
Heart o’ the West: A Story of a Girl’s Adventures in Canada by Olaf Baker, Cassell & Co., 1914
Fifty-two Bible Stories for Children by J.E. Hodder Williams, Hodder & Stoughton, 1914
Red Feather: A Tale of the American Frontier by Edward Sylvester Ellis, Cassell & Co., 1914 (re-issue)
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Cassell & Co., 1914 (re-issue)
Herbert Strang’s Book of Adventure Stories, Hodder & Stoughton, 1914 (with other artists)
Submarine U.93: A Tale of the Great War by Charles Gilson, “The Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1915
Bear Cavern by Edward Sylvester Ellis, Cassell & Co., 1915
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles & Mary Lamb, Headley Bros. 1915 (re-issue)
Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Ernest Beeson, Headley Bros., 1916
An Anzac in the Alps: The Story of an Australian Soldier’s Adventures in the Italian Army by T.C. Bridges, George Newnes Ltd. 1916
The Prisoners’ Friends by Constance Wakeford, Headley Bros., 1917
The Wounded Soldiers’ Friends by Constance Wakeford, Headley Bros., 1917
British Wild Flowers: Their Haunts and Associations by William Graveson, Headley Bros., 1917
Netherdale for Ever! By Theodora Wilson Wilson, Swarthmore Press, 1919
Into the Soundless Deeps: A Tale of Wonder and Invention by F.H. Bolton, “The Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1919
The Illustrated War Record, Headley Bros., 1916-1919
The Fire-Gods: A Tale of the Congo by Charles Gilson, “The Boy’s Own paper” Office, 1920
The Scarlet Hand, Being the Adventures of Travers Humphrey and His Friend Jack Halliday by Charles Gilson, “The Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1920
The Black Brotherhood and Some of its Sisters by R.P. Garrold, Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1920 (re-issue)
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, Whitcombe & Tombs, 1920
The Eighteenth Century 1714-1815 by Charles & Mary Lamb, George Allen & Unwin, 1920(?)
Alan Dale by L.G. Irby, Religious Tract Society, 1921
Etchings and Dry-points with a criticism by A.J. Finberg, H.C. Dickins, 1921
Parson John of the Labrador by Frank Baird, Religious Tract Society, 1924
River and Forest by Edward Sylvester Ellis, Cassell & Co., 1924 (re-issue)
The Ship Beautiful: A Two-Fold Tale by C.R. Allen, Frederick Warne & Co., 1925
When the Earth Swung Over: A Strange Story of the Mysterious White People of the Napo by Alfred Colbeck, “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1926
Captured by Indians: A Tale of the American Frontier by Edward Sylvester Ellis, Cassell & Co., 1926 (re-issue)
John Howard, The Prisoner’s Friend: His Home Life and Work by Lina Orman Cooper, Headley Bros., 1929
Wonder Stories, George G. Harrap & Co., 1934 (with other artists)
Hero Tales by F.H. Pritchard, George G. Harrap & Co., 1935
A Schoolgirl in Switzerland by Katherine Rhodes, George G. Harrap & Co., 1936
Little Gardens: Some Hints for Making and Keeping them Beautiful by Gladys Williams, Frederick Warne & Co., 1938
Hardy Perennials and Herbaceous Borders by Walter Page Wright, Headley Bros., 1938 (with other artists)
The Story of Moses and Ruth, Samuel and Daniel by Amy Steedman, T, Nelson & Sons, 1940(?)(with other artists)
Round the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, E.J. Arnold, 1945 (re-issue)
Bible Stories for Children by Muriel J. Chambers, T. Nelson & Sons, 1949 (with other artists)
George Soper’s Horses: A Celebration of the English Working Horse by Paul Heiney, H.F. & G. Witherby, 1991
Wildings: The Secret Garden of Eileen Soper by Duff Hart-Davis, H.F & G. Witherby, 1991

The Water Babies, The Heroes, Arabian Nights, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Tales from Shakespeare, Tanglewood Tales and Grimm’s Fairy Tales were re-issued by George Allen & Unwin in 1923.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Comic Cuts - 25 May 2018

My apologies but this is going to be a bit short. I had written a piece but Blogger has made it mysteriously disappear, replacing it with a second copy of something else. I have no idea how, or why this has happened.

In the twelve years I have been posting to Blogger, this has only happened twice, although the last one had me tearing my hair out because it was the Michael Moorcock cover gallery that I'd spent ages noting down dates and page numbers, prices and cover artists, on what amounted to quite a few dozens of books, and the whole lot just disappeared. I think I was able to cobble together a rough skeleton and all the images I had uploaded were still there (Blogger uses Picasa as an image host, or did... frankly I'm not sure what it does now) so I was able to reinsert them into a skeletal listing which I've still not had the time to return to.

This time it's a complete mystery. It wasn't just the text that disappeared... even the subject line changed, the labels, the scheduled time for it to post... everything!

The only thing that still exists are the images as they're stored separately.

So this is roughly what I said.

I've finished my Forgotten Authors essay on William Nicholas Willis which clocks in at 32,700 words, the longest of the essays to date. I wondered whether I should make some cuts as there were a lot of complex court case and Royal Commissions covered. I pondered on whether to edit the piece as if I were James Cameron editing a movie. Cameron takes out a whole plot thread rather than trimming and tinkering to remove a bit here, a bit there, ultimately spoiling the pace of the movie. Rather, he'll hack out whole sections but leave the rest of it intact.

In this way he removed 17 or 18 minutes from Aliens and 27 or 28 minutes from The Abyss (I did look up all the times, but I'm really tired and you'll have to do with my faulty memory). Later, these scenes were reinserted into a Director's Cut, which I think most would agree are the better versions of the movie as, in Aliens, we  understand why Newt is so important to Ripley, and in The Abyss we see the consequences of everyone's actions in spectacular style.

This cleverly (you'll have to take my word for it) moved into a review of James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction which I insightfully renamed James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction Movies After Alien. It's nearly all films and recent ones at that with very little mention of the forerunners in print who created the themes and language of the genre. That's what the big picture above is about because the plot of Alien is a dead ringer for A. E. Van Vogt's "Black Destroyer".

I thought George Lucas had it right when he said that he was influenced by everything that came before. Cameron has said that he read a lot of science fiction and you can see bits of Murray Leinster, Poul Anderson, Harlan Ellison and Tom Godwin in his movies. Lucas draws from a number of sources, but Star Wars could still be summarised as "Flash Gordon Meets The Hidden Fortress." That's what the above picture represents: the princess and her two warriors from both Star Wars and Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress.

That was a bit more about editing but I'm going to practice some editing now and cut that out. I spent a very pleasant day in town with my Mum and despite eating a massive fried breakfast at lunchtime and an icecream in the afternoon, I still think we burned off more calories than we consumed. It was a beautiful, sunny day but I think my solar batteries are now starting to drain.

Normal service will be resumed next week.

Comedy Flyers (4)


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 23 May 2018.

2000AD Prog 2082
Cover: Jimmy Broxton
JUDGE DREDD: THE PARADIGM SHIFT by Michael Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: HEAVY IS THE HEAD by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: GEEK-CON by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
DURHAM RED: BORN BAD by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Space Ace volume 10

After a couple of issues running longer stories, the latest issue of Space Ace (#10, released May 2018) returns to its original format as an anthology of shorter yarns, but with the added bonus of an extra four pages to fit them in alongside an article and the usual letters' page.

As with one of his earlier volumes, editor John Lawrence has made some minor alterations which rescue parts of a less-than-stellar story and incorporate it into another tale where the original limited page count squeezed out any tension. I have to say that the join is invisible, thanks in part to John Ridgway's colouring, which blends the whole story together seamlessly. That Space Ace and Sergeant Bill Crag (our heroes) have to actually work to achieve the story's solution rather than to simply stumble into it makes for a far more satisfying narrative. The plot, incidentally, revolves around a stolen space freighter and how the Space Patrol team, abandoned on a battle-damaged space station, find a way to first get themselves to safety before their oxygen runs out, and second to recapture the space freighter.

In 'Space Ace and the Menace from Minos', a recently-joined member of the Intergalactic Federation of Planets is attacked by a neighbour and Space Ace and Bill have to resolve a multitude of problems – from attacking a space ship to shutting down a powerful drill and preventing a submarine attack – before they can save the day.

'Space Ace and the Asteroid' opens with another planet of the Federation going strangely silent. Our heroes find the population unconscious through a nerve agent; the attackers are an alien race looking for a generator that can stimulate growth on the alien's barren homeworld. The earthmen are blasted towards an asteroid moon of the planet, only to discover it is hollow, and home to a race that has been sleeping for 2,000 years.

The final story involves a stranded exploration ship, trapped on a planet whose sun is about to go supernova. The ship has been sabotaged and Space Ace and Bill head off for Mekar to obtain a rescue ship to save Mondar, ruler of Mekar, and his 150 crewmen trapped on Raxor. Unknown to them, their presence is already known to the Mekarons behind the plot.

Editor Lawrence has also penned an interesting history of the Nick Hazard strip, also drawn by Ron Turner, and how his demise led to the publication of Space Ace.

You can get hold of this latest volume for £8.95 (UK) or £12.50 (Europe) and £14.50 (International) including p&p — and that's pretty much at cost, I can assure you — with payments through Paypal via spaceace.54 AT or by cheque or postal order to John Lawrence, 39 Carterweys, Dunstable, Beds. LU5 4RB

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Frank E Wiles

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Frank E. Wiles was a minor illustrator of children’s books, in particular girls’ school stories, although he was perhaps best-known as a painter and for his occasional illustrations in The Strand Magazine between 1912 and 1915 and 1926 to 1931.

Born in Cambridge on 11 September 1881 (and christened Francis Edmund Wiles), he came from an artistic family. His grandfather, John Wiles (1812-1908) was a stonemason who established a company in Cambridge, specializing in gravestones and monuments. His father, Henry Wiles (1838-1930) was a well-known sculptor, who had been educated at the Perse School in Cambridge and who, in 1869, had won a travelling scholarship from the Royal Academy, which he used to study in Rome and Naples. After returning to England he set up a studio in London, where he and his wife Mary Ann (née Harper), whom he had married in Cambridge in 1868, had the first five of their nine children: Clara (1870, Ruth (1872), John (1873), Walter (1875), and Mary (1876). They then returned to Cambridge, and had a further four children: Gilbert (1880, Francis (1881), Bernard (1883), and Rosina (1884).

At the time of the 1881 census the family was living at 11 Brunswick Walk, Cambridge, with Henry working as a sculptor and drawing teacher. (One of his pupils was C.E. Brock, who became a prolific illustrator between 1890 and 1930). Ten years later, the family was at 7 North Terrace, Cambridge, with Henry recorded as a sculptor and a Baptist Minister.

Francis Edmund Wiles studied at the Cambridge School of Art between 1897 and 1903. He was one of the best students of his generation, winning numerous prizes in a variety of artistic disciplines. As a professional artist, much of his early work was portraiture, but by 1905 he was also working as an illustrator, contributing to Cassell’s Magazine, and, later on, to Everybody’s Weekly, Printers’ Pie, Black and White, and, most notably, The Strand Magazine, beginning in 1912. In that year he also exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy of Arts, continuing to do so regularly until 1930. In 1909, he had been one of many artists (who included Lewis Baumer, Walter Crane and Edmund J. Sullivan) who had produced black and white advertisements for Selfridge’s, announcing the opening of its store in Oxford Street. (He later produced advertising posters for companies such as Raleigh (cycles) in the 1920s and Nestlé in the 1930s).

He had also, by this time, illustrated a handful of books, including one of Percy F. Westerman’s historical adventure stories, and two girls’ school stories by Angela Brazil and Olivia Fowell. These, and all his subsequent books, were published by Blackie & Son, and he was not to work for any other book publisher.

By 1911 Wiles had moved to London, living with his brother John (a designer) and his family at 37 Erpington Road, Putney. Om 4 June 1914, having moved to 9 Castlenau Mansions, Barnes, he married Mabel Spencer Troughton (born on 1 February 1883, the daughter of Walter Troughton, a journalist) at Christ Church, Mortlake, Surrey. They went on to gave two children: Janet Rosina, born in 1921, and Richard Francis, born in 1925.

In September 1914, Wiles was asked to illustrate Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Valley of Fear, a nine-part Sherlock Holmes story which ran until May 1915. Wiles went on to produce 31 black and white illustrations for the story, and in doing so depicted Holmes almost as exactly as Doyle had imagined him. The first illustration was a portrait of Holmes, with receding hairline, aquiline nose, jutting chin, and smoking a straight-handled pipe, studying a piece of paper filled with numbers and words. (This appeared first, in black and white, in a pronouncement for the story in the issue before the opening instalment, and was repeated, this time as a full-page colour illustration, alongside the first installment, as well as on the magazine’s cover). When The Strand Magazine folded in 1949, a small colour print of this illustration was found in the magazine’s archives, with a note in Arthur Conan Doyle’s handwriting on the back which read “This comes nearest to my conception of what Holmes really looks like.” (Daily Express, 14 December 1949).

During the First World War Wiles joined the Army Service Corps (later the Royal Army Service Corps), serving with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, and ending up with the rank of Captain.

It is not clear what he did after the War. He sporadically continued to illustrate books for Blackie & Son, with his work appearing not just in novels but also in annuals such as Blackie’s Girls’ Annual, A Real Girl’s Book and The Boys’ Budget. In 1924 he provided illustrations for The London Magazine and Pearson’s Magazine, and in 1926 he returned to illustrating stories in The Strand Magazine.

At the time of the 1939 Register he was living at 72 Stanley Road, Barnes, Surrey, described as an “artist, painter and illustrator”. In the late 1940s he moved to South Africa, where his brother Walter Gilbert Wiles had been working as a professional artist since 1915. He began to work as a portrait painter, and received commissions from the governors and prime ministers of Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. He became a member of the South African Society of Artists, exhibiting in the Society’s annual exhibitions in 1947, 1848, 1949 and 1950. He died in Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape, in 1963.

Of his three brothers, two, Walter and Bernard, became artists. Walter was the most successful – he moved to South Africa with his father in 1902, and worked briefly as a lecturer in art  before taking up art professionally (after a brief dalliance with ostrich farming). He was founder-member of the Eastern Province Society of Arts and Crafts and later the South African Society of Artists, exhibiting widely. He specialized in landscapes and coastal scenes, painted in oils. His last solo exhibition was in 1942, and he died in 1966.

Bernard Harper Wiles became an official war artist during the First World War, and later travelled widely throughout the Middle and Far East, working as an artist, before returning to England and settling in Norfolk, where he became a fruit grower. He died in Norwich in 1966.


Books illustrated by Frank E. Wiles
A New England Maid: A Tale of the American Rebellion by Eliza Francis Pollard, Blackie & Son, 1911
The Quest of the Golden Hope: A Seventeenth Story of Adventure by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1912
Stella Maris by William John Locke, John Lane, 1912
A Fourth Form Friendship by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1912
The Doings of Dorothea: A School Tale by Olivia Fowell, Blackie & Son, 1912
Twin Sisters: An Irish Tale by Rosa Mulholland, Blackie & Son, 1912
Margery Dawe by Katharine Tynan, Blackie & Son, 1916
Mother and Dad and the Rest of Us by Archie Fairfax, Blackie & Son, 1920
The Princess of the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1921
The First Fifth Form by Evelyn Smith, Blackie & Son, 1926
The Small Sixth Form by Evelyn Smith, Blackie & Son, 1927
Milly in the Fifth by Evelyn Smith, Blackie & Son, 1928
St. Catherine’s College by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1929
Ensign Lydia Gaff by Violet M. Methley, Blackie & Son, 1930
The Little Green School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1931
Emma by Jane Austen, Blackie & Son, 1932 (re-issue)
Jean’s Golden Term by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1934

Wiles’s illustrations from The Strand Magazine were also reprinted in several collections of Sherlock Holmes stories.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Comic Cuts - 18 May 2018

I had an e-mail during the week that gave me a bit of a lift: someone from a library in the US asking how they should classify my Forgotten Authors books... as a completed series or one that's ongoing. Well, as I have no plans to stop at three and am a large chunk into volume four, I can happily confirm that it's ongoing.

I'm still... still!... writing about W. N. Willis. Last time I mentioned him I was struggling my way through some of the dozens of court cases he managed to get himself involved in. The big problem I had was that reports of each trial were picked up by a huge number of local papers, but it might take a week or two for the same news to filter through, so every search I did would bring up hundreds of hits, but if you tried to follow the story chronologically, it was often impossible as reports appearing in one area might be one or two weeks behind reports appearing in another.

The solution was to choose a couple of good sources and rely on them for the full story. I've downloaded 434 newspaper clippings at the last count (I've read a lot more than I've downloaded!) and the essay has over 100 footnotes because I'm determined to make sure I get everything straight, first in my head and then on paper. I've had to divide the essay up into chapters, with each chapter containing a number of sub-sections which will hopefully make reading easier and so I can refer back to text. The damn thing is going to look like a Choose-Your-Own Adventure by the time I've finished. The current word count is over 28,000 and I still have blackmail, a stabbing and a malicious prosecution to write up.

We were out on Tuesday to see Tim Key who started his tour this year at Colchester Arts Centre. Megadate. It was superb, from start to finish... indeed, from pre-start because Key prowled around the stage and amongst the audience ahead of the show starting, smiling, winking, indulging in a little conversation. He was off the stage when the show began, the ring of a bicycle bell signalling the show's start. A soundtrack kicked in that was to run the whole length of the show, Key describing to the audience the events of a bizarre blind date in London that took in Madame Tussauds, bowling, the Shard, the Planetarium...

Conversational tones give way to shouting and return again to conversation. He leaves the stage and a brief film plays before Key returns to banter and hector the audience with more of his paranoid yarn. Will she... won't she... return his texts? Will he find his lost credit card? Discovering the answers is pure pleasure. His discipline is astonishing, the narrative intercut as he plucks cards from a pack, each of them a poem that will end up strewn on the floor.

When you say that you've seen a comedian perform... well, this truly is a performance. It might even be art.

American TV networks are in the process of announcing which shows they will be renewing for another season and which shows are coming to an end. The results aren't looking so good for genre shows that I have quite enjoyed.

The big loss might be The Expanse, coming to a close after three seasons, although there's a chance that it might survive as it is independently produced and shown on SyFy. Another broadcaster might pick it up. I've yet to see Season 3, but the first two seasons were a solid attempt at grand scale space opera and had remained faithful to the books.

I'm hoping that someone might step in and save Hap and Leonard, which has been a favourite of mine for three seasons. Come on Netflix / Amazon Prime – if you're going to save just one... no, two shows, make it The Expanse and Hap and Leonard.

Some shows (like The Americans) were due to end, so there was no surprise that they weren't renewed, and a few others have already been announced (Dirk Gently, Dark Matter, The Mist, Jean-Claude Van Johnson).

Other fallers include The Crossing (which I have yet to watch), Designated Survivor (I enjoyed Season 1 but have yet to watch Season 2), Quantico (which was very silly but I quite enjoyed the first season, but have yet to catch up with seasons 2 and 3) and Lucifer (both Mel and I liked the first season, but we came to it quite late and haven't had time to watch the other two). There is a #savelucifer campaign, but I gather that the series wraps up nicely, only to have a huge cliffhanger drop right at the end. Who knows what will happen... after all, Fox cancelled the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine and it was immediately snapped up by NBC.

I've only seen one season of the latter, which I thought was OK. Ditto Veep, which has also just been cancelled. I've only seen one out of seven seasons due to my reliance on box sets turning up in charity shops for a lot of my American TV viewing. For instance, I picked up the first season of Revolution on Saturday, a post-apocalypse actioner produced by J J Abrams' Bad Robot which seems to have been generally positively received. I have a bunch of other post-apocalypse / post-alien invasion shows to work through before I get to this one (Falling Skies, Colony, Defiance), but as it only cost £3 for five discs it was too good to turn down. This is my argument for owning about 200 DVDs that I haven't had a chance to watch.

One cancellation I can understand is Marvel's Inhumans, which we watched without a huge amount of enthusiasm. When your two lead characters have almost unstoppable powers you should write a show that shows them off. Sadly Inhumans chose the "kryptonite" route, making Black Bolt (whose voice can shatter worlds) dumb and giving Medusa (the redhead above who can control and move her hair) a haircut. So with two lead characters neutered of their powers, and a bunch of miserable second-raters in tow, that left a giant CGI dog as the only thing worth watching. Or not watching, which was the option most people chose.

X-Files won't be making another comeback. Probably not a surprise as there were only a handful of good episodes spread over the two seasons of its return and still no resolution to Mulder's quest.

I've also learned that Gotham, one of the best shows on TV of the past few years, is to end after season five. This Batman prequel was always going to have a shelf life as Bruce Wayne actor David Mazouz was 13 when he started and will be 18 when it ends. The show has lived up to its name and not been wholly about Batman. The two main characters are police detective James Gordon and the rise through the criminal ranks of The Penguin from sidekick to crimelord. Other characters weave in and out of their storylines, with not one of them a misstep. We're watching season four at the moment and it is still funny, shocking and surprising.

One I'll be happy to see return is Happy!, which is a blackly humourous, bloodily violent and utterly barking show about an ex-cop looking for the daughter he was previously unaware of before she was kidnapped. I didn't realise that it was based on a graphic novel by Grant Morrison & Darick Robertson, which I'll now have to look out for. That explains why the plot is so off the wall while the violence is sprayed right up the wall. There's a bizarre fantasy twist: the daughter's invisible friend, a flying blue unicorn named Happy, is sent to find her father and lead him back to rescue her. This will not be everyone's cup of tea. Something happens in the first 30 or so seconds... if you don't find it funny, the show's not for you.

No book covers this week, but if you scroll down I've posted a few more comedy flyers that I've picked up over the past couple of years. Things will be back to normal next week, hopefully. Instead, here's a picture of the shortest diversion ever:


Comedy Flyers (3)


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Commando 5123-5126

Brand new Commando issues are published today! Hunt ‘wolf warriors’ with our Convict Commandos, infiltrate a POW camp full of bloodthirsty Nazi fanatics, team up with Italian partisans in the Adriatic, and take out an invading kriegsmarine crew on a remote Scottish island — it’s all in a day’s work for our Commandos!

5123: Convict Commandos: Wolf Warriors
The Convict Commandos are back! Join Guy, Titch, Smiler, Mallory and Jelly for their latest adventure. Tracking down Nazi super soldiers known as the ‘wolf warriors’, Guy and his gang must cross the Lundendorff Bridge and march straight into enemy territory, luring the warriors out by using themselves as bait!
    Alan Hebden’s latest instalment in his fan-favourite Convict Commando series does not disappoint! Flick through the pages of Manuel Benet’s masterful artwork and feel part of the adventure.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

5124: Under the Wire
British Lieutenant Pete Smith had a plan: he would don the stolen uniform of an SS soldier, speak like a Nazi, and infiltrate a German POW camp in an effort to prevent a break out. The only problem was SS Captain Gustav Siegel, who had marked Pete for revenge and happened to be trapped with alongside him behind the barbed wire fence of the camp. Maybe Pete would need help escaping after all…
    Penalva’s bold cover uses thick slabs of colour on a blood-red background, readying any reader to Allan and Alonso’s adrenaline packed issue inside!

Story: Allan
Art: Alonso
Cover: Penalva
Originally Commando No. 460 (February 1970). Reprinted No. 1295 (February 1979).

5125: E-Boat Strike!
After the Allies invaded Italy in 1943, the majestic waters of the Adriatic Sea were some of the most dangerous in the world. Crawling with Italian MAS boats, now faster and deadlier than they when the terrorised the Austro-Hungarian Navy in World War One, the only thing worse in the water was the lethal German E-boats that lurked like vultures, waiting to pick off their prey…
    Jeff Anderson’s debut issue shows off his expert artwork and eye for detail, kicking off an explosive career with Commando. Paired with a story by former editor George Low and seasoned cover artist Janek Matysiak, this issue is an asset to any collection.

Story: George Low
Art: Jeff Anderson
Cover: Janek Matysiak

5126: Home Guard Hero
When a Nazi U-boat invades the small island of Beagsay in Scotland, the townsfolk’s only hope of rescue is in Alec Fraser’s Home Guard squad. After the rest of the platoon leave the island for a training exercise, Alec is left with only the dregs of military support: seventeen year olds Iain Bissett and David Macaskell, and sexagenarian fishermen Jock and Hamish McColl. But when push came to shove they’d show the Nazis that they came to the wrong island!
    If ‘Dad’s Army’ was cranked up to ten, it would be Burden’s ‘Home Guard Hero’. With the stakes higher than ever, the cruelty of the Nazi CO is written all over Gordon C Livingstone’s interior artwork, while Ian Kennedy’s cover centres on our brave Tommy hero defending the island he holds so dear.

Story: Burden
Art: Gordon C Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 2791 (September 1994).

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 16-17 May 2018.

2000AD Prog 2081
Cover: Carlos Ezquerra
JUDGE DREDD: THE CHOSEN ONE by Rory McConville (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SINISTER DEXTER: THE GANGBUSTERS by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: HEAVY IS THE HEAD by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
STRONTIUM DOG: THE SON by John Wagner (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 396
Cover: John Higgins
JUDGE DREDD: THIS CORROSION by Michael Carroll (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE RETURNERS: IRMAZHINA by Si Spencer  (w) Nicolo Assirelli (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
CHOPPER: WANDERING SOUL by David Baillie (w) Brendan McCarthy (a) Len O'Grady, Brendan McCarthy (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
CURSED EARTH KOBURN: THE LAW OF THE CURSED EARTH by Rory McConville (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Simon Bowland (l)
DREDD: THE DEAD WORLD by Arthur Wyatt, Alex De Campi (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Features: Razorjack, Judges: Avalanche, interview with Mark Russell
Bagged reprint: JUDGE DREDD: BLOCK JUDGE by John Wagner (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a)  Annie Parkhouse (l)

Charley's War: The Definitive Collection, Volume 2 by Pat Mills & Joe Colquhoun
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08620-9, 17 May 2018, 320pp, £19.99 / $26.99. Available via Amazon.
Injured in The Battle of the Somme, Charley returns to wartime London and meets a deserter from the French Foreign Legion, Blue, who tells of his brutal experiences of the Battle of Verdun. All too soon Charley returns to the front line at Ypres where the threat from the German army is matched only by the inhumanity of his superiors! In the face of suffering and injustice, seeds of mutiny begin to grow among the ranks… This second volume of Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun’s masterpiece continues to tell the story of an ordinary soldier’s experiences in World War One, including the vibrant re-mastered colour pages from the original comic.

The Ballad of Halo Jones Volume One by Alan Moore & Ian Gibson
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08635-3, 17 May 2018, 68pp, £9.99 / $9.99. Available via Amazon.
The first true feminist character in British comics, Alan Moore and Ian Gibon’s space opera Halo Jones has been lovingly coloured for the very first time in a new three-volume series. With the first volume on sale in May, the expertly remastered artwork has been coloured by breakout talent Barbara Nosenzo for a brand-new prestige format series collecting the utterly compelling and groundbreakingly ambitious classic. Despite inspiring countless readers over almost four decades, this new series aims to introduce Halo to a new generation who will be enthralled by this down-to-earth ‘everywoman’ and the extraordinary tale of her life. Bored, frustrated and unemployed, Halo yearns to escape for a better life away from ‘The Hoop’, the 50th-century housing estate floating off the island of Manhatten. Pledging to escape on a fantastic voyage, she sets in motion unimaginable events that will send shockwaves throughout her life - a spell on a luxury space-liner, a brush with an interstellar war. Halo will face hardship and adventure in the name of freedom in a limitless cosmos. This galaxy-spanning story - comics’ first bona fide feminist space opera - was the first true epic from one of the greatest comic book writers of all time, which can easily sit alongside Watchmen and V for Vendetta.


Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books