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Friday, July 27, 2018

Comic Cuts - 27 July 2018

I have had an incredibly lazy week as far as work is concerned. I've spent most of it pottering, doing the kind of piddling little tasks that I've put to one side for "when I get a mo." I've been backing up some files onto external hard drives, which I know I should do more often than I do, but who has the time? I had a pile of annuals and specials that I needed to index, which is a lengthy and, after the first two or three, a pretty tedious job. But it needed doing and, somewhere along the line, the information will appear in a book as if by magic.

I have managed to finalise the line-up of the fourth Forgotten Authors volume, which will contain essays of various lengths on J. Redding Ware, William Nicholas Willis, M. Lehane-Willis, Charles McDonald Lindsay, James Edward Crabtree, Randal Charlton, Eardley Beswick, Olga Katzin, Donald Sinderby, "The Case of the Two Hazel Adairs", Eileen Owbridge, Alan Melvolle, Enid Florence Brockies and Anita Hewett. That will bring up the total number of authors covered across the four volumes to Fifty, which was my original target.

I also have eight essays left-over, so there's a good chance that there will be a volume five at some point.

I received a copy of volume one of the Ken Reid! collection gathering up all the Reid strips published in Wham!, Smash! and Pow! back in the 1960s. You can still subscribe to the Indiegogo fund raiser ahead of the official publication, although copies of individual volumes are being posted out. I have only received an advance copy of the first volume, so I'll wait before reviewing it. My short review: it looks brilliant, it's full of Ken Reid comics and you need to buy it.

As I've just mentioned one kickstartery book, I can't really deny that it's the kind of thing I cover here at Bear Alley. The fact that it was a project to reprint an old British series of comics was the deciding factor. So don't expect me to be covering a ton of Kickstarter projects.

That said... this one intrigued me because of its historical connections to somewhere I used to know quite well. Defiant: The Legend of Brithnoth is about Vikings, a tale of doomed heroism based on an ancient poem. And, as it turns out, a reprint of a British comic, so here's the description:
Historically the a record of the battle only exists as The Battle of Maldon, a 325-line fragment of an Anglo-Saxon ‘heroic poem’ detailing a bloody battle between the English and a Viking fleet at the Essex town of Maldon in the late 10th Century. Despite suffering a heavy defeat against the bloodthirsty Vikings, the English achieved a kind of moral victory because of their valour, determination and brotherhood in the face of certain destruction.
    Using this fragment as a source, creators Andy Winter, Daniel Bell and Aljosa Tomic have produced an astonishing retelling of this battle in full, that centres on Brithnoth, the English leader who was in his sixties at the time of the battle - uncommonly old for someone living at that time.
Originally published by Time Bomb Comics in 2015 as a limited edition (100 copies), the kickstarter is intended to produce a larger print run and add more material to the 80-page full colour story, including an extra complete comic strip and a translation of the original fragment of poem.

You can find more details at the Kickstarter page.

I mentioned knowing Maldon quite well (but not during the age of Vikings, you cheeky sods). It was home to a friend of mine who was in many ways responsible for a lot of the indexing I've done over the years. John Allen Clark was a very good friend with an extensive comic collection, which I raided repeatedly. We met back in the 1980s and used to travel up to the Westminster Comic Marts together; he was my go-to guy when I needed information for the Comic Book Price Guide and his thorough knowledge of Knockout, which was his favourite comic as a kid, earned him a co-author credit on the index produced in 1997. Sadly, like many others who used to gather at Granny Lee's after the Marts, he's not around any more.

Let's move on before this gets too downbeat. Rebellion have announced that they will be releasing a second Scream! and Misty special, which will be in the shops on Halloween (31 October). The new (second) edition will feature Max the computer (The 13th Floor) and Black Max (who both get the collection treatment in October), plus newcomer Decomposition Jones and a tomb-full of other tales.

Random scans... There is now a category of fiction called "Cli-Fi" – climate fiction – which uses our changing climate as part of the plot or as significant background. Only one of the books below treats climate change as anything but a substantial threat: Crichton thought the case wasn't proven. I was a big fan of Crichton's early novels but he seemed to go off the boil towards the end with Prey, State of Fear and Next. His later novels could have made up an issue of Buster from the 1960s featuring pirates (Patch-Eye Hooker), shrinking technology (The Shrinker), climate change (The Drowned World), science, technology and genetic research either going wrong (usually given the spin of alien invasion as in Frozen Summer, The Dome of Doom, The Creeping Peril, Galaxus, etc.) or wielded by some human mastermind (The Toys of Doom).


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