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

Friday, August 03, 2018

Comic Cuts - 3 August 2018

A slightly more focused week, the temperature having dropped considerably. We had our first rain in 40 nights last Friday and Mel and I raced outside like a couple of big kids to stand in the heavy downpour. We jumped at crackling forks of lightning and you could feel the deep bass notes of ground-shaking thunder in your stomach.

My pottering around is starting to pay off: I found a box of reference books that have been lost to sight since we moved eight years ago. All I've got to do now is find some shelf space. I've also returned to a couple of old mysteries and cracked a couple of them.

One relates to my book The Trials of Hank Janson. There were always little mysteries surrounding some of the people involved in HJ. One was Harry Whitby, whom Steve Frances credited with helping to finance his first publishing venture, Pendulum Publications. Why is this important? Because Pendulum published not only the first Hank Janson stories, but also published New Worlds, one of the lynchpins of British science fiction. I hadn't spoken much to Steve about Whitby, and only had a couple of clues.

One was that Whitby had once crash landed a plane and had been referred to in a newspaper article as "The Flying Doctor". Well, I managed to track down the reference to a 1933 copy of the Western Gazette. That seemed to open up the floodgates and I now know that, despite his very English sounding name, Harry was actually born in Poland and was brought to England by his Russian parents as a youngster where his father became a naturalized citizen. Whitby was an inveterate gambler and even wrote a book on the subject based on his experiences playing tables around Europe. That's one little mystery I can tick off as solved.

I've also been looking into some old science fiction novels, trying to nail down some credits. I've managed to resolve one mystery but it has opened up a second and maybe a third. Bugger... The silver lining to this is that I had an excuse to dig around the internet looking at covers painted by the incomparable Ron Turner, including the pair at the head of this column. It was seeing Ron's covers that first got me intrigued by these old Fifties SF paperbacks way, way back in 1979.

In between all of this I've manged to sit down and write up half of another Forgotten Author essay, about a writer I haven't looked at for some years. All of these meanderings into old pulp paperbacks from the 1950s remind me that one day I'll get around to revising The Mushroom Jungle, which will treble in length. The research is done, for the most part, but unfortunately I can't finance the time it will take to write. I need to go back to work and stash away some money so the next time I have a break in employment I can afford to write another book. I'm still tempted by the title Caught in the Act, but that might change.

I'll leave you to work out what significance the choices of this week's random scans have.


  1. you've watched series four of The Flying Doctors?

  2. or, you've watched four series of the Flying Doctors?