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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Scrapbook: Daily Mirror strips (7 April 1992)

A page from my scrapbook, featuring comic strips from the Daily Mirror on 7 April 1992. Who else remembers Tina Turner appearing in the 'Garth' strip?


Friday, May 24, 2019

Comic Cuts - 24 May 2019

This week's trip down memory lane was mostly concerned with music as I had stumbled across a missing batch of 40 issues of Kerrang! magazine from 1983-84. In my school days I had read Sounds, which was home to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWBHM) coverage in the late 1970s, which introduced me and friends at school to Iron Maiden, Saxon, Venom, Tygers of Pan Tang, Diamond Head, etc., etc.

With easy and relatively cheap access to London, we manged to see most of these bands at various venues, from Hammersmith Odean to the Rainbow and Dingwalls to the Electric Ballroom. We were there for Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow infamous gig at Wembley Arena (29 February 1980) when the support act failed to show up and the gig started very late with Samsom filling-in – I think they just happened to be at the gig. This was in the days of Thunderstick, the masked drummer (whose real name was Barry Purkis) and Bruce Bruce, who went on to fame and fortune as Bruce Dickenson in Iron Maiden. I have a feeling it might have been just a trio (guitar, bass, drums) that played that night.

Then Rainbow came on, played six songs over 70 minutes (20+ minutes of which was taken up by guitar, keyboard and drum solos), and disappeared. The safety curtain came down and 17,000 people suddenly realised that the gig was over. No encore for their £4.50 ticket price. The crowd was not happy and the chairs were not nailed down, so they soon started flying towards the curtained-off stage.

Most gigs were quiet by comparison, even Motorhead supported by Girlschool.

On Wednesday and Thursday I spent quite a while ripping old CDs to iTunes so that I could listen to them again. They had been stuck in two large boxes hidden away in a cupboard because I've had nowhere else to keep them. The CD rack in my office is tucked away in an inaccessible corner, so I'll shortly be ripping those, too.

Most of the bands I listened to, I listened to on vinyl, and ten years ago I bought a record player that could be plugged into my computer and recorded all my LPs, then sold them at auction. A couple of months later, the hard drive all the mp3s were on crashed catastrophically and I thought I'd lost the lot. Thankfully, a friend managed to recover the files on the drive. (A second drive had failed within days was lost for good, taking with it all the text and pics. that were used in the Sci-Fi Art book that came out in 2009. Thank Dog it crashed after I'd finished the book and submitted everything!)

I've been watching the new DCU series Doom Patrol. There may be spoilers in the review below, so avoid scrolling past these pics if you want you life to be spoiler free. But do go look at the posters at the end.

After the half-hearted reception given to its debut live-action show, The Titans, I'm pleased to say that the DC Universe now has something worth signing up for. Doom Patrol embraces the weirdness of the original comics, bringing together a group of alienated misfits who had powers but were not superhero material.

The original comic book team of Robotman, Elasti-Woman and Negative Man are the core of the new TV show, with references to other early favourites like Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man thrown in for fans. Crazy Jane (from Grant Morrison's 1989 Doom Patrol revamp) and Cyborg (from Teen Titans, but not see in The Titans) complete the team under Niles Caulder (aka The Chief).

When we are introduced, the team (bar Cyborg) have been living together for years at Doom Manor. The characters' back stories are told in flashbacks over a number of episodes: a Nazi in Paraguay turns Eric Morden (Alan Tudyk) into the meta-human Mr. Nobody; Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan), a narcissistic racing driver, has his brain transferred into a robot body after being involved in a car crash that kills his wife; a self-obsessed actress, Rita Farr (April Bowlby), is exposed to a strange liquid that causes her flesh to melt and stretch; Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer) is a married with kids test pilot, distracted by his fears that his secret gay affair will be discovered, who crashes a plane into a negative energy field and now wears bandages to hide his burnt body; and Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton) is revealed to have been a member of the Bureau of Oddities who is saved by a primitive woman, Slava, whom he falls in love with over a period of years, only leaving her in order to save her.

Caulder's former employers have now become the Bureau of Normalcy and, rather than study and protect meta-humans, they now exploit their potential as weapons. Larry Trainor has been a victim, unwilling to aid the escape of his neighbour in captivity, 722 (who will be revealed to be another Grant Morrison-created character), and, by the present time, he wants nothing more than to leave Doom Manor and the negative energy being inside him behind.

And he, perhaps, is the least flawed of the five. Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) has 64 personalities lurking in The Underground inside her, each of whom can surface to take control of her body; Cliff has a number of issues involving loss, grief and anger that coalesce when he discovers that his daughter, who he believed dead, is alive; and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Joivan Wade) has daddy issues over his controlling father, Silas (Phil Morris), that end violently.

These are not your normal superheroes, and the storylines are not your normal superhero tales. The moment you discover that a donkey is, in fact, a doorway, you know that you're about to head down the rabbit hole... some kind of a hole, anyway. Along the way you'll meet Willoughby Kipling, The Cult of the Unwritten Book, the Decreator, Danny the Street, Admiral Whiskers, The Beard Hunter and the denizens of The Ant Farm.

With engaging characters and the right mixture of weird humour and pathos as we learn more about the characters, Doom Patrol has been a winner right across the board. Going in, I was wondering how the show was going to deal with having two characters with no facial expression (Robotman, Negative Man), as we pick up so many cues from reading people's faces, but that worry was very quickly laid to rest. I'm thirteen episodes in and have only two more to go before the season ends. The good news is that season two has already been confirmed and should be broadcast in 2020.

The producer released a series of posters based on the show's characters, which I'm using as this week's random scans... enjoy!


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

The latest release from Rebellion Publishing for 22 May 2019.

2000AD Prog 2132
Cover: Jon Davis Hunt

JUDGE DREDD: NEW BLOOD by Rory McConville (w) Siku (c) (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SCARLET TRACES: HOME FRONT by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
MAX NORMAL: HOW THE MAX GOT HIS STRIPES by Guy Adams (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)
THARG'S THRILLERS: THE CHIMERA by James Peaty (w) Brian Corcoran (a) Matt Soffe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
KINGMAKER: OUROBOROS by Ian Edginton (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Leslie Cresswell

Leslie Cresswell was known as one of the leading technical illustrators working on The Motor between the 1930s and the 1950s, most notably for his cutaway drawings. Beyond this, little seems to be known about him. It was something of a surprise to discover that he was local to Colchester (indeed, his funeral service took place at Colchester Crematorium on Wednesday, 16 May 1979).

He was born Leslie Harold Cresswell Cresswell in Holborn, London, on 5 May 1896, the son of Harold Cresswell and Eliza Ballinger Cresswell. Harold, born in Louth, Lincolnshire, was an engineer, working as a draughtsman for the Metropolitan Water Board. He Eliza Ballinger Hayward at St James Church, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, on 4 June 1892.

The family lived in Highgate, north London, where Leslie and his younger sister, Catherine Margaret Cresswell Cresswell (born Hornsey, London, on 4 April 1899), went to school.

At the age of 19, Cresswell was attested for service in the Territorial Force on 12 November 1914, in the 9th London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles). He served with the BEF in France between 29 June 1915 and 3 January 1916, before returning to England, suffering from shell shock.

 He was attached to the Command Depot in June 1916 and then to the Record Office in November 1916, at the same time being promoted to Acting Corporal. He was discharged from the army on medical grounds on 26 September 1917, suffering from neurasthenia (described as a weakness of the nerves, and characterised by physical and mental exhaustion). He was permanently excluded from liability to reexamination under Military (Review of Exceptions) ACT 1917.

After the war, Cresswell trained as an artist at Regent Street Polytechnic and subsequently joined Temple Press as a technical artist with The Motor and The Aeroplane magazines. There, his drawings of Grand Prix classics of the 1930s and of Britain's "post-war hope", the BRM V16, earned him a reputation as one of the finest artists working in that field. He exhibited as a Temple Press artist in the wartime exhibition of motoring art at the Rembrandt Rooms, London, on 5 October 1941.

One of his best known images is a cutaway drawing of the Bluebird CN7. Writing in Bluebird CN7: The Inside Story of Donald Campbell's Last Land Speed Record Car (Dorchester, Veloce Publishing, 2010), Donald Stevens relates how Cresswell's drawing came about:
There was obviously a great deal of press interest in the project, but it was agreed that no press should be allowed any information until the official release. However, I decided that, for the sake of accuracy, it would be safe to allow Leslie Cresswell, the cutaway drawing artist for The Motor magazine, to visit Motor Panels to draw the insides of the car before it was skinned. He agreed in writing to keep his drawings and knowledge to himself until the agreed date, and spent three days tucked into a corner of the Motor Panels' workshop before deciding he had sufficient data to finish the task at home. Two days after he left, I was called into Jim Phillip's (Motor Panels' managing director) office, and received a massive blasting because I had allowed 'the press' in. The fact that it enabled an accurate drawing of the car to be done did not occur, or matter, to him. Leslie later sent me the accompanying 'pull' of his drawing, autographed by him and with the words: "It could not have been done without your help."
Assignments for The Motor took him all over Europe and Cresswellwas a familiar figure at the racing circuits.

After retiring from Temple Press, Cresswell continued to work as a freelance, notably for BLMC, until failing eyesight forced him to give up drawing in around 1970.

Cresswell first visited the village of Tolleghunt D'Arcy,  Maldon, in Essex in 1937 and settled there in 1966. He was living at 3 Wheatsheaf Cottage, Kelvedon Road, when he died, at St Mary's Hospital, Colchester, on Saturday, 5 May 1979, on his 83rd birthday. He was survived by his sister, Margaret, who died at Allandale Nursing Home, Burnham on Sea, Somerset, on 10 April 1981.


PUBLICATIONS

Books illustrated by Leslie Cresswell
Aeroplanes and aero-engines in Detail, illus. with others. London, Temple Press, c.1945.
The Grand Prix Car, 1906-1939 by Laurence Pomeroy. Radley, Berks, Motor Racing Publications, 1949; revised, two vols., London, Temple Press, 1954.
Look at Fire Brigades by Kem Bennett. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1963.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Scrapbook: Garbage Scow

A frighteningly prescient comic strip by Bob Aull from the pages of Epic, June 1983.




Friday, May 17, 2019

Comic Cuts - 17 May 2019

My life has turned into one of those sliding tile puzzles. What started out as a need to find some old photocopies so that I could maybe think about writing another book, has, two weeks later, resulted in the living room looking like a paper bomb has gone off. To get to one box, I have to move other stuff out of the way and shift yet another box over there to make room. Over a period of a fortnight, I think all the boxes have been in all the four corners of the room at different times.

Having said that, I'm slowly whittling down the piles. What was a six foot mountain of boxes with a rugged terrain, will eventually be a neatly stacked four foot hill, labelled so I know what's in them. That's the plan... at the moment it still looks like the boxes erupted and piles of lava paper spewed out, creating a slowly cooling lava lake with the occasional kipuka amongst the flow.

One thing I'm pleased with is that I managed to put up another couple of batches of books, magazines and oddments on Ebay. Click the Ebay symbol to the left to go to my sale page... you might find something you want.

My trip to the dentist on Wednesday was another quick in and out job to get a small filling done. I went to visit a friend afterwards and my lip felt like it had inflated to the size of one of those long balloons used to make balloon animals. Thanks to the anaesthetic, I had no sensation in the left side of my mouth, so I didn't notice that I'd had the skin stripped off the inside of my lip. I found out a few hours later when sensation returned... with a vengeance. The inside of my lip still looks like it went a couple of rounds with Tyson Fury.

Sorting through boxes continues to turn up bits of my past that I hadn't thought about for years. I thought you might enjoy these early examples of lists that would eventually turn into the book British Science Fiction Paperbacks and Magazines 1949-1956.

The above is dated 11 June 1981 and was compiled when I was 19.  I read science fiction almost exclusively from the age of 13 and had developed an interest in old 1950s paperback SF and magazines after reading Mike Ashley's History of the Science Fiction Magazine series in SF Monthly and in book form. Two years earlier, in June 1979, I had found addresses for Mike and for Phil Harbottle  and wrote to both. Friendly replies came back and I started working on a school project that started as a history of British SF magazines, became more focused on the ten years after the Second World War, and eventually became all about one magazine that had published one single issue before folding due to poor sales. (This was my proudest school project and the one I regret not having. I do still have one on Winston Churchill and I may still have one on trees. Why these survived and my Outlands project disappeared is still annoying.)

The magazine project led me to visit the Science Fiction Foundation, whose library was then housed in Barking (although my memory says Dagenham) at the North East London Polytechnic. As a member of the British Science Fiction Association, I had the opportunity to visit – two visits, in fact, which were overseen by Malcolm Edwards and David Pringle. My main aim was to look at old pulp mags (Tales of Wonder, Fantasy) and the earlier issues of New Worlds and the like. I also made copious notes from Walter Gillings' 'The Impatient Dreamers' series in Vision of Tomorrow and spent some time nosing around the shelves.

It was there that I first spotted Vargo Statten, a name I knew from Phil Harbottle, who was the world authority on John Russell Fearn, the author behind the Statten pseudonym. Through my membership of the BSFA, and ignoring Malcolm's dire warning that "They'll rot your brain," I borrowed some of the books and some of the non-Fearn books from the same period. Their awfulness was captivating.

I seem to have a fascination for awful books and movies. Not a constant craving to just bury myself in this rot, but as an irregular and occasional treat. Mel and I enjoy Mystery Science Theatre 3000, which has shown some pretty rotten films, and we sometimes dip into the pleasures of a Sharknado or Ice Sharks. I don't read as many bad books as I used to, but there's still some joy to be derived from an old Badger Book or a Digit.

I've found myself taking another look at some of these old books recently to see if I can i.d. a few more of the authors. The second typed checklist – the index – dates from around the same period of 1981/82 when we were still stumbling towards identifying more of the writers.

All these decades later I'm still trying to figure out some of them and the research is ongoing. Only recently I managed to nail down the three authors behind Vektis Brack, although I'm still trying to discover one author who was behind at least three novels for Curtis Warren... still a mystery after forty years!

Today's random scans ties in with this ongoing research. One of the few authors I'm still struggling to find information on is Brian Holloway. He was active at least as early as 1949 and his known work is primarily a series of SF novels in 1952-53, along with a handful of westerns. I was thinking about Holloway recently and wondered what he was doing in 1950/51. Hunting around in my collection, I dug out a couple of novels described by Curtis Warren as "Aero Fiction". There were ten of these novels, all published in 1951, five by Glen Allen, five by Ken Ford. I have one of each and both seem to be by the same author, who may be Brian Holloway.

It would be interesting to see more of these, or get some feedback from someone who has read them. It would be nice to know if any of these are science fiction (near future inventions, fictional countries at war, for example). Anyone?


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Tommy Donbavand (1968-2019)

Tommy Donbavand, a prolific writer of children's books who also wrote comic strips, has died at the age of 51. The announcement was made on his blog on Tuesday, 14 May 2019.

In March 2016, Donbavand was diagnosed with stage four inoperable throat cancer. After intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy, he contracted double pneumonia and sepsis, which hospitalized him for over a month. During this period he lost a lot of weight (13 stone), describing himself as "a badly wrapped skeleton," and suffered with lymphedema, trismus and, after a fall, a broken rib.

His blog Tommy v Cancer was the basis for a book, Tommy v Cancer: One Man's Battle Against the Big C (2017), which charted his fight to become clear of the disease.

In December 2017, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and underwent surgery the following June to have portion of his left lung removed. His response was a second book Tommy v Cancer Round Two: One Man's Battle Against the Big C (Again) (2018). 

In early 2019 he suffered a relapse. His throat cancer returned and he was given months, possibly only weeks, to live. Making the announcement, his friend Barry Hutchison said, "It saddens me enormously to say that Tommy passed away in hospital this morning. My kind, funny, courageous, ridiculous friend is no longer with us. It happened quite suddenly in the end and there was no pain ... Something he'd want me to do is to say a big thank you to everyone who has been reading his blog, offering support, good vibes, prayers and well-wishes. He appreciated it all, and there were times in the last year or so that I think the outpouring of love and support helped carry him through the harder times. He was immensely grateful for it, and everyone who knew and loved him is, too."

Tommy Donbavand's output was prodigious and he jokingly noted that he saw sleep as a waste of good writing time. He said of writing: "The best thing is getting to spend my days making up adventures for my readers! Like most children’s authors, I write the stories I would liked to have read when I was younger – so I quite often find myself getting lost in my characters’ worlds. Plus, on the days I’m not at my desk, I get to visit schools and spread the word about how much fun writing your own stories can be!" In an interview with Matthew Badham, he expanded on his love of the latter: "School visits are very important to me. Writing can be an incredibly solitary endeavour, so the chance to get out and meet the kids who read my books is just fantastic. I make sure I pack every school visit with creative writing workshops and fun author talks, in the hope of promoting the idea of reading and writing for pleasure – something which is becoming harder and harder in this increasingly digital age (I sound so old!)"

He wrote over 100 books for young readers, including the 13-volume 'Scream Street' series which was adapted as a stop-motion animated TV show for CBBC and broadcast worldwide. Donbavand expanded the series by adapting eight episodes of the TV series over a further four books.

His many novels include Zombie!, Wolf and Uniform, the latter the winner of the Hackney Short Novel Award.

He also wrote numerous books for reluctant and struggling readers, such as Home, Ward 13, My Teacher Ate My Brain and Princess Frog-Snogger. The 'Tommy Donbavand's Funny Shorts' series features such rib-tickling adventures as 'My Granny Bit My Bum', 'Dinner Ladies of Doooooom!', and 'There's a Time Portal In My Pants'.

A fan of science fiction and especially of Doctor Who, Tommy was commissioned to write the Doctor Who novel, Shroud of Sorrow (BBC Books, 2013), which was published in 2013 to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the TV show. He also wrote many stories and comic strips for Doctor Who Adventures magazine.


In comics, he wrote the weekly adventures of Bananaman, Calamity Jane, Gnasher and Gnipper and the Bash Street Kids (and, occasionally, Billy Whiz) in The Beano, for whom he also created the characters Holly Wood, who debuted in December 2015, and a revival of Tim Traveller, who debuted in January 2019. He also scripted a monthly science themed comic for Whizz Pop Bang!, the science magazine for young children.

In theatre, his plays were performed to thousands of children on national tours to venues such as The Hackney Empire, Leeds City Varieties, and Nottingham Playhouse.  These productions include Hey Diddle Diddle, Rumplestiltskin, Jack & Jill In The Forgotten Nursery, and Humpty Dumpty And The Incredibly Daring Rescue Of The Alien Princess From Deep Space.  He is also responsible for five episodes of the CBBC TV series, Planet Cook (Platinum Films).

As an actor, Tommy played the Clearlake MC in the West End musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story for over eight years, in addition to roles in the movies Zombie Love Stories (where he battled hordes of Scottish undead) and Going Off Big Time (where he was beaten up on a bouncy castle).  A veteran of pantomime, he has portrayed just about every comic character from Abanazer to an Ugly Sister.

Keen to devise more involved SF and urban fantasy books for older readers, in 2018, Tommy bbegan co-writing the 'Gravity Storm' series adventures for the Kindle under the pen name Tom Dublin. These featured an intergalactic trader, former Special Assault Marine Jack Marbert and and the alien crew of the ICS Fortitude. (The books were set in the Kurtherian Gambit universe created by co-author Michael Anderle.

Born Thomas Christopher Donbavand in Liverpool in 1968, he lived in Lumb, Lancashire, with his wife, Kirsty, two sons, Arran and Sam, and a seemingly endless stream of pets.

(* header illustration by David Sutherland; Tommy v Cancer banner by Nigel Parkinson.)

Commando 5227-5230

Shark-infested seas, French Resistance showdowns, Battle of Britain pilots, and a Commando that’s been thirty years in the making! Brand new issues are out today!

5227: SUNKEN AVENGER

Sharks, aircraft carriers and buoyant aircraft! Jason Cobley’s SUNKEN AVENGER is a race against time for one Avenger crew as their aircraft begins its decent into the depths of the Pacific Ocean. But if that wasn’t bad enough, they’re being held hostage by a Japanese pilot who is also afloat! Will they make it back or will they all be sunk?! 

Story: Jason Cobley
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Ian Kennedy

5228: BEWARE THE WOLF

BEWARE THE WOLF – if you’re a Nazi that is! Working with the French Resistance, ‘Le Loup’ is otherwise known as Captain Mark Miller of the British Commandos. Captured during a raid, Miller is determined to make the Germans regret occupying France! That was until a nasty Nazi named Karl Boorgman vows to “execute one civilian every day until The Wolf gives himself up…” Dramatic stuff and an excellent read by Eric Hebden!

Story: E Hebden
Art: Huescar
Cover: Penalva
Originally Commando No. 681 (1972).


5229: SHADOW IN THE STORM!

SHADOW IN THE STORM! is a Commando of firsts! The first story about the Air Transport Auxiliary’s female pilots during World War Two brought to life by Commando’s first female writer in over 30 years! 

Dianne Garbutt and Jane Feldwick are names most Commando readers will recognise but Georgia Standen Battle is the first female writer to join their ranks since 1984. Georgia Standen Battle is no stranger to the legacy she is to become a part of:

“I was influenced by Feldwick stories, in particular her use of the supernatural or the unexplained. I really wanted to write about the inspirational and often overlooked female pilots in the ATA and their contribution to the war but with an unexpected twist like Feldwick does in her stories.”

All this with an ELECTRIC cover by Keith Burns – this isn’t an issue you’ll want to miss!

Story: Georgia Standen Battle
Art: Morhain & Defeo
Cover: Keith Burns


5230: “SQUADRON – SCRAMBLE!”

You may recognise the Ian Kennedy cover for “SQUADRON – SCRAMBLE!” from a certain art book, on sale now. Indeed, “SQUADRON – SCRAMBLE!” first came to the Commando team’s attention when it was selected to be this very reprint. The team was so enamoured with the cover, they just had to put it in The Art of Ian Kennedy book. Read the issue and you’ll see why!

Story: KP MacKenzie
Art: Jose Maria Jorge
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 2622 (1992).

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Releases from Rebellion Publishing for 15 May 2019.

Judge Dredd Megazine #408
Cover: Cliff Robinson & Dylan Teague (col)

More action and adventure in the future-shocked world of Judge Dredd! Dredd partners up with a paranoid ex-Judge to escape murderous Cursed Earth mutants in "The Crazy"; the fate of Dominion hangs in the balance in "The Torture Garden"; the SJS roll into Badrock in Lawless: "Ashes to Ashes"; there's another trip to the Black Museum as Henry Dubble recounts a cautionary tale of perp-smugglers in "Just Business"; and Psi-Judge Lillian Storm battles a killer in the final part of Storm Warning: Green and Pleasant Land. Plus interviews, features and more - and in the bagged mini-trade, the first half of epic space saga Mind Wars by Alan Hebden and Jesus Redondo, ripped from the pages of Starlord! 

 JUDGE DREDD: THE CRAZY by Kenneth Niemand (w) Nick Dyer (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
LAWLESS: ASHES TO ASHES by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
STORM WARNING: GREEN & PLEASANT LAND by John Reppion, Leah Moore (w) Tom Foster (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Simon Bowland  (l)
TALES FROM THE BLACK MUSEUM: JUST BUSINESS by Rory McConville (w) Neil Googe (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE DARK JUDGES: THE TORTURE GARDEN by John Wagner (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Features: Geoff Senior interview, Abigail Bulmer interview
Bagged reprint: Mind Wars Vol.1

2000AD Prog 2131
Cover: PJ Holden
JUDGE DREDD: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO CHIMPSKY by Kenneth Niemand (w) PJ Holden (c) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SCARLET TRACES: HOME FRONT by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
MAX NORMAL: HOW THE MAX GOT HIS STRIPES by Guy Adams (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)
THARG'S THRILLERS: THE CHIMERA by James Peaty (w) Brian Corcoran (a) Matt Soffe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
KINGMAKER: OUROBOROS by Ian Edginton (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Jordi Longaron (1933-2019)

(c) Norma Editorial
Jordi Longaron, best known for his work on the American daily strip 'Friday Foster', died in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday, 10 May 2019, at the age of 85. He was commonly known by fans as Jorge Longaron.

Jordi Longarón i Llopart was born in Barcelona on 29 November 1933. He rose to fame in the 1950s working for Hazañas Bélicas, a war comic for which he created the iconic war hero used as a logo for the covers in the late 1950s. By then, he had already been working professionally for years, publishing his earliest strips in El Globito in 1948 while still in his early teens. Early work included fairy tales for Cuento de Hadas (1948), 'Arsénico Lupin' in Chispa (1948-49) and 'Chan-Chu-Llo' in Garabatos (1950) and, for Editorial Toray, he contributed to Hazañas del Oeste, El Pequeño Mosquetero, Sioux, Narraciones y aventuras de Davy Crockett and Serenata Extra in the early 1950s before first contributing to Hazañas Belicas in 1956.

Longaron found work in the UK via Selecciones Illustrades, contributing a string of strip stories and illustrations for Valentine (1957-67), Roxy (1961-62), Marilyn (1961-64) and Serenade (1962-63). His work included many strips based on popular songs of the era by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, The Searchers, The Beach Boys, etc., along with a number of serials, amongst them 'That'll Be The Day' (Valentine, 1960), 'Loving You' (Valentine, 1960), 'Where the Boys Are' (Valentine, 1961), 'Follow That Dream' (Valentine, 1962), 'Bon Voyage' (Marilyn, 1962; Serenade & Marilyn, 1962), 'Once in a Lifetime' (Valentine, 1963), 'You Were Made For Me' (Valentine, 1964), 'Sweets For My Sweet' (Valentine, 1964), 'Money' (Valentine, 1964), 'Away With Love!' (Marilyn, 1964) and 'Wedding of the Year' (Marilyn, 1964).

David Roach has called him "absolutely the top romance artist in Britain. In fact, he so dominated the genre that his sleek, pared down style and knack of drawing pretty girls set the style of the genre for over two decades." Having also found work in France, Longaron was almost unknown in his native Catalonia during this period, but his influence on other artists also contributing to British romance titles was immense.

Longaron adopted a grittier style for two dozen covers drawn for Battle and War Picture Library in the UK in 1966-68, and covers for a series of spy novels in France (1967-69). He also contributed to Commando (1968-71), but his contributions to British comics disappeared when he became the artist of 'Friday Foster' for the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate.

The strip was developed in 1968-69 by writer Jim Lawrence who, inspired by model Donyale Luna, wanted to create a sophisticated Afro-American leading lady for his next syndicated strip. Friday Foster was a fashion photographer, which allowed her to get into plenty of situations, both adventurous and romantic, in glamorous locations around the globe. Longaron used the opportunity of a trip to the USA to take reference photos of Harlem (Foster's home in early strips), and even though the strip dealt only lightly with racial politics, it was an issue when it came to syndication.

Longaron had to produce three months' worth of panels in advance of the strip appearing, and delays in the postal delivery of scripts meant that the artist sometimes worked with the assistance of Alfonso Font. Eventually he tired of the strip and left in early 1974, the strip continuing with Gray Morrow until it expired some months later. Longaron's appreciation for, and collaboration with, Jim Lawrence continued when the artist produced covers for the author's Dark Angel novels. A film version of 'Friday Foster' starring Pam Grier appeared in 1975, but had little connection with the comic strip.

Longaron had continued his association with French publishers during  the early 1970s, producing half a dozen book covers a month. He expanded his cover output post-'Friday Foster', his later output including further 41 covers for Commando (1976-88), dwarfed by the more than 200 fantasy and historical covers painted for Mondadori (Italy). Longaron returned to comics only occasionally, drawing the thriller 'Rond de nuit' (1974) by François Truchaud for Pilote and 'Fourre-Tout & Cie', 1978) by Victor Mora, as well as illustrating 'La historia del Oeste' for the magazine Hunter.

He also drew covers for Editorial Genil's Historia del Oeste and for Tormenta sobre España, a series on the Spanish Civil War written by Victor Mora and drawn by various artists. He also drew an adaptation (by Sylvain Ricard) of the Sherlock Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet as Une etude en rouge (1995).

For the past two decades, Longaron had devoted himself to painting, specialising in Catalan landscapes and studies of the American west. His first exhibition was in Madrid in 1975 and his work has been exhibited in the USA since 1995. In 2010 he received the XXXIV Premio de la Historieta Diario de Avisos, and in 2011 he was awarded the Gran Premi del Saló Internacional del Còmic de Barcelona in recognition of his long professional career.

He is survived by two sons, Roger and Marc.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

G W Goss

G. W. GOSS
by
Robert J. Kirkpatrick

G.W. Goss had two careers  –  firstly, as an illustrator, mainly of children’s books, in the UK between 1921 and 1946, and secondly as a commercial artist and portrait painter in Canada in the 1950s and '60s. He was also known for his work providing covers for a number of Tarzan books.

He was born on 10 January 1901 and baptized, as Geoffrey Walter Goss, at the church of St. Mary le Park, Battersea, on 17 March 1901, His father, Walter Goss (born in Chelsea in 1832, the son of Sir John Goss, – the organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the composer of several well-known hymns – died in Wandsworth in 1926) was a former music and singing teacher who had become a pianist – he taught the piano as well as tuning and repairing them. In 1860 he had married Arabella Parkin, with whom he had had four children between 1861 and 1873. Arabella died in 1895, and three years later Walter married Christine Elizabeth Mary Saunders (born in Stepney in 1871, the daughter of Daniel Saunders, a civil servant, died in Southall, Middlesex in 1956), with whom he had a further four children: Juliet Christine (born in Marylebone, London, in 1899), Geoffrey Walter, Barbara Miriam (born in Wandsworth in 1904) and another daughter Cecilia (born in Wandsworth in 1911).

Walter had a rather peripatetic lifestyle, travelling away from London at regular intervals. In 1885 and 1886, whilst living at 91 Islip Street, Kentish Town, he was advertising his visits to St. Albans for the purpose of tuning pianos; in 1890, he was advertising visits to the south coast to tune and repair pianos, and in the 1891 census he was recorded living at Beaconsfield Villas, Steyning, Sussex. (His daughter from his first marriage, Mina, was working as an artist, but nothing is known about her.) By the time of Geoffrey Walter’s birth, Walter had moved back to London, living at 26 Albert Mansions, Albert Bridge Road, Battersea. Ten years later, he had retired, and was living at 58A Dornton Road, Balham. His elder daughter Juliet was a pupil at the Royal Masonic School for Girls in Wandsworth, although Geoffrey Walter appears not have been recorded in that year’s census. However, it is known that at some point he was a pupil at the City of London Freemen’s School in Ferndale Road, Lambeth, where he won several prizes for art.

He left at the age of 16, and began working in the art department of a local factory, while at the same time undertaking evening classes at several London art colleges. In an unpublished autobiography he wrote that he became a full-time freelance artist after answering an advertisement in a local newspaper (probably from James Nisbet & Co.) and was commissioned to produce “six halftone illustrations and one full-colour book jacket.” This would appear to have been for one of two books published by Nisbet in 1921, both girls’ school stories by Dorothea Moore and Christine Chaundler, and he continued to work with Nisbet for the following six years.

He then went on to illustrate children’s books for a variety of other publishers, in particular the Sheldon Press in the early 1930s, when he was working out of a studio at 117 Charlotte Street, Camden. He also contributed to a variety of children’s annuals, including Blackie’s Children’s Annual, Blackie’s Little Ones’ Annual, Nelson’s Jolly Book for Boys, Every Girl’s Story Book (Dean & Sons), Best Book for Girls (Dean & Sons) and The Bairn’s Budget (Blackie & Son).

He also sporadically contributed to a small number of periodicals, including The Captain, Little Folks, Cassell’s Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and, most notably, The Wide World Magazine between 1927 and 1942).

He produced his first Tarzan dustwrapper in 1921 (for the first UK edition of Tarzan the Terrible, published by Methuen & Co.), and later, in the 1930s, he produced three more for Methuen’s reprints, along with a non-Tarzan story by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Girl from Hollywood. He also produced dustwrappers for publishers such as Hutchinson & Co. and Grayson & Grayson n the early 1930s.

He seems to have spent his 20s and 30s living with his parents and, after his father’s death, with his mother. His addresses included 54A Dornton Road, Wandsworth (1923), 2 Veronica Road, Balham (1928), 7 Holders Hill Drive, Barnet (1934). In 1936, he was recorded as having a studio at 11 Great Turnstile, Holborn. In 1938 he married the 18 year-old Patricia Tyson (who had trained as a watercolourist and fashion illustrator) in Hampstead – they moved to 5 Holland Park Mews, Kensington. They went on to have three children: Anna (born in Finsbury, north London, in 1939, died 1942), John Nicholas (born in St. Albans in 1942) and Andrew Charles (born in Hammersmith in 1944). At the time of the 1939 Register, they were living at Cherry Tree Cottage, Lee Common, Amersham, Berkshire.

During the War the family lived in Harpenden, with Geoffrey working at the Vauxhall factory in Luton on designs for the Churchill tanks that were manufactured there. In 1946 they moved to 14 Copthall Gardens, Barnet. It was around this time that he wrote, and illustrated with cartoons, No Kidding, a humorous look at family life sub-titled "Being a Solemn Warning to all Potential Parents, with a short Appendix containing suggestions on how to make the Best of it if the Worst happens", which was published by Hammond, Hammond & Co. in 1947.

In 1944, Goss painted a portrait of Victor Roy Smith, a prominent Canadian actuary and President of the Canadian Art Club, whilst he was on a trip to England. (Unfortunately, Smith died in England shortly after the painting was finished.) This may have prompted Goss to visit Canada – in August 1947 he and his family left for New York en route to Canada, where they settled on Centre Island, a small island off Toronto. In 1951, they moved to 206 Dundas Street, Oakville, Ontario (55 km south-west of Toronto), and subsequently to 328 Trafalgar Road, Oakville. Goss and his wife had one more child, Rosalind Elizabeth, in 1953.

For many years Goss worked as a commercial artist at Brigden’s Ltd., a graphic arts company in Toronto, before setting up his own studio in the late 1950s, and establishing a reputation as a portrait painter. He subsequently moved to Toronto, to 95 Maitland Street, although he remained a member of the Oakville Art Society.

As a commercial artist, Goss (who usually used the name Geoffrey Goss) produced a series of posters for the Canadian Government Travel Bureau, advertising Canada as a holiday destination. He also illustrated a variety of books, including several religious works, novels, and reading books for young children. Some of his books were illustrated using the technique of scratchboard (or scraperboard). He was also a regular contributor to The War Cry, the Canadian Salvation Army magazine, in the early-mid 1960s. All this work emphasized Goss’s versatility as an artist – he was equally at home illustrating school and adventure stories, picture books for young children, comic postcards, and dustwrappers for adult novels.

Goss died in Toronto in 1985. As for his wife, she worked as an art teacher at the National Ballet School in Toronto between 1965 and 1990, after which she trained as a sculptor in Italy. She was still working and exhibiting in Toronto at the age of 98. Two of the family’s children became artists: Rosalind is a painter, who also taught at the National Ballet School; and Andrew is a jewellery designer. John, who died in 1986, was an associate conductor of the National Ballet Orchestra in Toronto.

(With thanks to Andrew Goss)


PUBLICATIONS

Books
No Kidding, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1947

Books illustrated by G.W. Goss
The New Prefect by Dorothea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1921
The Fourth Form Detectives by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co., 1921
Tarzan the Terrible by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Methuen & Co., 1921 (dustwrapper)
A Fourth Form Rebel by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co., 1922
Guide Gilly, Adventurer by Dorothea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1922
Jan of the Fourth by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co., 1923
The Last Lap: A School Story by Walter Rhoades, Oxford University Press, 1923
The Only Day Girl by Dorothea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1923
Judy the Tramp by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co., 1924
Winning Her Colours by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co, 1924
A Young Pretender by Dorothea Moore, Nisbet & Co., 1924
The Girl who Played the Game by May Wynne, Ward, Lock & Co., 1924
The Girl from Hollywood by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Metheun & Co., 1924 (re-issue) (dustwrapper)
Winnie O'Wynn and the Dark Horses by Bertram Atkey, Hutchinson & Co., 1925
The Whip Hand: A School Story by Walter Rhoades, Blackie & Son, 1925
‘Z’ House by Dorothea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1925
Bunty of the Blackbirds by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co., 1925
Dr. Jolliffe's Boys: A Tale of Weston School by Lewis Hough, Blackie & Son, 1925 (re-issue)
The Girl Over the Wall by May Wynne, Religious Tract Society, 1926
Count Blitski’s Daughter by Leland Buxton, Christophers, 1926 (dustwrapper)
The Honour of A Guide by E.M. Channon, James Nisbet & Co., 1926
Brenda of Beech House by Dorthea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1927
Avril’s Ambition by Kathleen M. Willcox, James Nisbet & Co., 1927
Jackson’s Ju-Ju by Arthe E. Southon, Sheldon Press, 1927 (dustwrapper)
The Orator by Edgar Wallace, Hutchinson & Co., 1927 (dustwrapper)
Mystery Island by Charles Gilson, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1928
The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Methuen & Co., 1928 (dustwrapper)
The Queen of the Extinct Volcano by Charles Dudley Lampen, Sheldon Press, 1929 (re-issue)
The Boys of the "Puffin": A Sea Scout Yarn by Percy F. Westerman, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1935
Over the Hills and Far Away by May Wynne. Children's Companion Office, 1925
Dare-All Jack and the Cousins by May Wynne. Religious Tract Society, 1925
The Liberators by K. MacLure, S.P.C.K., 1930
With Mahdi and Khalifa by Alice F. Jackson, Sheldon Press, 1930
The Jing-a-Ring Story Book, Blackie & Son, 1930 (with other artists)
My Book of Plays by various authors, Blackie & Son, 1931 (with Caroline Hall)
Just What I Like! A Book of Sories, Pictures and Poems, Blackie & Son, 1951 (with other artists)
The Enemy in the Midst by K. Maclure, Sheldon Press, 1932
Una Wins Through by Irene Mossop, Frederick Warne & Co., 1932
The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Methuen & Co., 1932 (dustwrapper) (re-issue)
The Sun Will Shine by May Edginton, Odhams Press, 1933 (dustwrapper)
Midbourne School by Edith Miles, Sheldon Press, 1933
Hilary Leads the Way by Irene Mossop, Frederick Warne & Co., 1933
The Full-of-Fun Picture Book, Ward, Lock & Co., 1933 (with other artists)
Tales of a Cub Pack by Margaret Rhodes, Sheldon Press, 1934
At the Window by Stanley Lloyd, Blackie & Son, 1934 (with other artists)
The Boys’ and Girls’ Wonder Book edited by Harry Golding, Ward, Lock & Co., 1934 (with other artists)
Up in the Air. Blackie & Son, 1935
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Methuen & Co., 1935 (dustwrapper) (re-issue)
The Devil of Saxon Wall by Gladys Mitchell, Grayson, 1935 (dustwrapper)
What Katy Did at School by Susan Coolidge, W. Foulsham & Co., 1935 (dustwrapper)
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes,. W.Foulsham & Co., 1935 (re-issue)
All My Own, Blackie & Son, 1936 (with other artists)
The Son of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Methuen & Co., 1936 (dustwrapper) (re-issue)
Peter Simple retold and edited by Constance M. Martin, Philip & Tacey Ltd., 1940
The Adventures of Peter and Tim by T. Barton Brown, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1943
Peter and Tim on the Trail by T. Barton Brown, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1945
Murder in Havana by George Harmon Coxe, Hammond & Co., 1945 (dustwrapper)
The Magic Bicycle by F. R. Evison, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1946
The Far and Near Story Book, Juvenile Productions, (1940s)
Cats and Kittens, Blackie Son, (1940s)
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes, W. Foulsham & Co., 1948 (dustwrapper)
Fishing in a Cinch: With the Inquiring Angler in Ontario and Quebec by David Reddick, McClelland & Stewart, 1950
The Circus Book, Juvenile Productions, 1951(?) (with other artists)
Farmyard Friends: Magic Hidden Colour Painting Book, Juvenile Productions, 1951(?)
Why Am I Here? The Anglican Church of Canada, Totonto, 1951(?)
Sir Christopher Cat by Thomas Payten Gunton, Grant Educational Co., 1952
Lexy O'Connor by Audrey McKim, McClelland & Stewart, 1953
The Barley and the Stream: The Molson Story by Merrill Denison, McClelland & Stewart, 1955
Outdoor Rambles by Stuart L. Thompson, Longmans, Green & Co., 1956
A Carp Water (Wood Pool) and How to Fish It by "B.B.", Putnam, 1958 (re-issue)
Anything Could Happen by Phyllis Brett Young, Longmans, Green & Co., 1961
In the Light of the Cross by Bishop R.S. Dean, The Anglican Church of Canada, 1961
Ma-Kee. The Life and Death of a Muskellunge by David Reddick, McClelland & Stewart, 1962
God is Always With Us by Audrey McKim, United Church Publishing House, Totonto, 1964
On My Way by Harold M. Covell, Ryerson Press, 1966 (with other artists)
See Me Go by Harold M. Covell, Ryerson Press, 1966 (with other artists)
Adventure in Antigua by Ross Darling, The Anglican Church of Canada, Toronto, 1967
The Architecture of Rural Society by Samuel Henry Prince, The Anglican Church of Canada, 1960s

Dates not known:
For Little Folk: Pictures and Verse, Blackie & Son, (?) (with other artists)
Cats and Dogs for Little Folks, Blackie & Son (?) (with other artists)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Comic Cuts - 10 May 2019

After a restful bank holiday weekend, I've spent most of the week continuing to make a bigger mess of the living room in an effort to tidy up the mess that was there previously. I have a small set of hobbies that seem to generate paperwork: research notes; interview notes; jottings made during telephone conversations; photocopies of artwork; photocopies of reference material; and letters. Hundreds of letters. That's how we used to communicate before e-mail.

If I can get all the paperwork in one place, I might eventually have a chance to sort it out. That was one task – to break the paperwork down into various piles relating to comics, to old storypapers, to old paperback, to various authors, to various projects I've been involved in over the years and to various projects I'd like to eventually get to.

Along the way I'm stumbling across a lot of miscellaneous stuff that I've not seen for years, some of which I'm going to share with you.

I've mentioned in the past a few people who were influential in getting me started in the various strands of research that I've done over the years. Bill Lofts was mentioned quite heavily in the introductions to the Forgotten Authors books as it was he who taught me where to look for official information, from birth certificates to company records. Mike Ashley and Phil Harbottle are ultimately responsible for my interest in Fifties SF magazines and paperbacks; while Denis Gifford provided a place for me to publish my earliest efforts writing about British comics.

Denis published the A.C.E. Newsletter, A.C.E. being the Association of Comics Enthusiasts, which I first stumbled across in the early 1980s. I was working at a local hospital and travelling up to London regularly, every Friday on my day off, to visit the British Library. One of the things I was tasked with was looking through loads of Gerald Swan papers in search of stories by John Russell Fearn – Phil Harbottle's favourite author and, through reading Vargo Statten novels, one of the writers who inspired an interest in SF paperbacks that led to me co-authoring two books with Phil.

The research led to my first appearance in print in the pages of Denis' A.C.E. Newsletter in 1982, an article by Phil in part based on the digging I had been doing. I followed up with a couple of articles of my own in 1983.

Denis offered to run an advert in exchange for writing and, as I had recently become interested in researching old War, Battle and Air Ace pocket libraries, I wrote a little note asking if anyone else was interested. I believe this was around February 1985 and someone phoned up while I was on holiday (I went cycling in Holland with a friend who, a few days in, went down with appendicitis...  but that's another story for another day).

I replied when we got back to England and that was how I met John Allen-Clark, who became a dear and close friend. He had grown up reading Eagle and Knockout and had a fairly comprehensive collection, far greater than mine. When I visited him in Maldon I'd spend hours jotting down notes and we'd chat about comics and his other interests, chiefly Biggles although he was also into records and had a huge collection of old singles. John worked for an insurance company, which brought him into contact with hundreds of people.

His friendly demeanour meant that he'd soon be discussing his interests with clients and occasionally that led to him stumbling upon a nice cache of old comics, books or records. He'd buy up what he could and, smartly, got rid of anything that wasn't his core interest. I say smartly because it's not getting rid of anything that has meant I have a scattered collection not much of which is complete. He used the money from auctioning off what he didn't want to get what he did want. Smart man.

The clipping to the right shows John in 1991 and comes from the local Yellow Advertiser. He did eventually own a complete run of Eagle and was responsible for me getting hold of the first seven years or so of Eagles that I still own. Sadly, John suffered from Parkinson's and died on 16 May 2015. Some of you may remember him from Westminster Comic Marts or Eagle Days, so I hope you'll raise a glass in his memory this coming Thursday.

It was John's collection that provided a lot of details for my early indexes, those published back in 1992-97, and he was also very involved in the research for The Comic Book Price Guide for Great Britain that first appeared in 1989.

How I became involved was basically down to lists. I was already becoming known for lists. I'd written a number of publisher indexes covering old 1950s paperback publishers, the first appearing in 1984, and most of my articles were often accompanied by stripographies. I knew Price Guide co-editor Lance Rickman from ACE Comics in Colchester and had written for After Image, which was a glossy fanzine produced by the staff.

But another influence on my compiling lists of comics was a guy called Gary Armitage. Again, he was a contact I made through Denis Gifford's A.C.E. Newsletter. Gary wrote to me in around 1987 and with one of his letters (perhaps the first?) he sent me a list of stories featuring Lion's memorable super-villain, The Spider. When I replied, I sent Gary a list of stories featuring my favourite character, The Steel Claw, from my boyhood favourite comic, Valiant. And that's how those sprawling indexes published in the early Nineties began. The layout that I have used in the new run of indexes published by Bear Alley Books was developed through correspondence with Gary. He compiled the first version of a Lion index that I was later able to greatly expand upon. It was for Gary that I put together the first version of a Valiant index, maybe six years before Valiant: The Complete Index appeared in 1994. (Not my title. The new version, which I hope to get back to at some point, will be far more complete!)

Today's random scans are more odds and ends from my scrapbook of newspaper clippings. This leads off with a 1997 interview with Arthur C. Clarke, a couple of articles about one-time Railway Children. I love that film! It still makes me weepy... and I'm not the only one. I managed to watch Avengers: Endgame without shedding a tear. The last film that had me tearing up was Anvil: The Story of Anvil. I kid you not. It's an emotional roller-coaster. To wrap things up, there's a 1998 article about the all-time most watched shows on TV

All the text should be readable if you click on the pick and either enlarge it or save it to your desktop and then enlarge it.