Friday, May 31, 2019

Comic Cuts - 31 May 2019

I've spent another week sorting through boxes, putting all sorts of oddments up on Ebay, and taking plenty of trips down memory lane. There are a bunch of things I'm hoping to turn up during this late Spring Clean, including some books I've not seen since we moved, some A4 photocopies I did many years ago relating to British comics, and a few other things I occasionally wonder about... mostly I wonder where they are and why I haven't seen them for ten years.

One such thing has turned up as of Wednesday, when I opened a box and found it filled with random paperwork, but also a stack of old photographs. Most of them date from the early 1980s, but there are also a few family photos that are older and some that are later. I didn't own a camera for many years, so the photographic record of my past is patchy for most of the nineties and noughties, up to when I got my first digital camera in 2007.

I'll not bore you with endless photos unless they're relevant, but I do want to post something else that I found that will probably be of interest to nobody. A couple of columns back I mentioned that I grew up on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal through the pages of Sounds and Kerrang! magazine. My gigging days were the late 1970s and early 1980s, curtailed somewhat when many of my friends disappeared off to university and then by the patchy living I was making as a writer. Going to see bands was a luxury that fell by the wayside.

One of the best things about Sounds was the occasional 'Rock Family Tree' by Pete Frame. A 'Rock Family Tree' was a history of a band, its predecessors and offshoots, structured like a family tree with tightly written panels of information about what the band did, who was in the band, their recording history, and anything else that could be squeezed in to give the band context.

Apparently, Frame drew his first tree in 1971, charting the musical lineage of Al Cooper, of Blood, Sweat & Tears fame. This was published in ZigZag magazine and he went on to draw trees for Sounds, NME, Melody Maker, Rolling Stone and for various album sleeves and inserts. I have a Dio family tree that must have come with one of Ronnie James Dio's albums (maybe the live album Intermission?) and I've just read a blog post that mentions a UFO family tree in that band's Anthology album.

Inspired by the trees I was seeing in Sounds, I had made my own attempt at a family tree covering some of my own favourite bands: UFO, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, and Rainbow. I included quotes from interviews from Sounds and Kerrang! and painstakingly compiled lists of album catalogue numbers, just as Frame did. I threw in some spelling mistakes and grammatical glitches, which Frame avoided, and – after three days intensive work in March 1981 – stuck together the resulting 16 sheets into one massive poster.

When I found it on Wednesday, the paper had turned yellow and the Sellotape had bled through, turning the poster into a ghastly discoloured grid. That it has survived this long is a miracle... and here it is, scanned, photoshopped, the tape stains reduced, although not entirely removed, shrunk down, but hopefully still readable...

Pete Frame did a family tree for UFO eighteen months later, and it was included in his Rock Family Trees Volume 2. You'll see that he chose a different route, but it covered a lot of the same ground. Who's to say which is the better of the two.

Me. I'm saying that his is better, by far. Makes mine look like it was drawn by an 18-year-old hospital cleaner.

I drew a few more of these family trees over the next year or two, but nothing of the same complexity or size. The UFO "poster" was 100 x 75 cm and the only thing I've done that comes close to that was a family tree that I drew up poster-size for my Mum a couple of Christmases ago. The little family trees I drew for the Iron Mask book also owe a debt to those old Rock Family Trees.

Incidentally, Pete Frame has made over 140 of his trees available as prints. The website allows you to browse by tree, so you can see a lot of examples. The TV show that came out in 1995, with a second series three years later, sometimes turns up on BBC4 and they're worth catching if you spot them in the TV listings.

The photo at the top of the column was taken at Reading Festival on 27 August 1983. The band on stage are Anvil, a Canadian rock band who were the subject of the documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil. I'm not kidding when I say that it was the last movie that made me cry. It's an amazing story of a band that almost made it big. They had one hit album and played a major festival gig in Japan that was probably the highlight of their career. The film follows the band, its members now in regular jobs but still occasionally gigging, and the preparations for a planned European tour. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, but the band try to make another album (their thirteenth) by borrowing money, and then have an opportunity to return to Japan.

It will break your heart and then rebuild it, riff by riff.

Here are the Rock Family Trees family of books.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Commando 5231-5234

75 years.

75 years since brave men stormed the beaches at Normandy, ready to fight tooth and nail to reclaim occupied land.

As part of the D-Day 75 remembrance, Commando is releasing a commemorative set of D-Day themed Commandos. From the sappers at dawn break to the Commandos on the beachhead, brand new issues 5231 – 5234 are out today!

5231: First Men Ashore

First up to commemorate 75 years since D-Day is First Men Ashore. A story that focuses on the little-told heroism of the sappers on that fateful day. Writer Iain McLaughlin was inspired by the true events in the predawn hours of Tuesday 6th June, 1944, where the 32 Armoured Engineer Regiment RE cleared the minefields ahead of the vital D-Day landings. Without those courageous sappers, the beach would have been a catastrophe for the Allied troops who were due to land at 0600 hours. 

Story: Iain McLaughlin
Art: Muller & Klacik
Cover: Neil Roberts

5232: Big Joe

Rough and ready boxer, Big Joe Barton is geared up for D-Day. Wronged by a nasty SS Captain who cheated during their match, Big Joe is determined to get even – and no little thing called D-Day is going to get in the way of his fists! With classic cover by Lopez Epsi, this Commando is a belter!

Story: Fitzsimmons
Art: Cortes
Cover: Lopez Espi
Originally Commando No. 203 (1966).

5233: Dead by Dawn

Kate Dewar is Commando’s second female writer in 30 years and she smashes into comics with a whopper of a story! Dewar’s plot starts on the morning of the D-Day landings but focusses on the events of Battle of Port-en-Bessin on 7th June, 1944, where the brave Royal Marine Commandos took the Nazi stronghold. As Dewar says:

“The issue was inspired by a meeting with Royal Marine Commando re-enactors at Military Odyssey in Kent last year. Researching one of their main tasks, Operation Aubery, I knew it would be the perfect setting for a Commando and a great way to commemorate the 75th D-Day anniversary. It’s also a story about family being more than blood and the bonds between these men, all of whom were volunteers.”

Story: Kate Dewar
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

5234: Marked Man

Inspired by Operation Bodyguard, our protagonist Pete Barton – of no relation to Big Joe – is tasked with a mission no man would want; to plant fake invasion plans on a dead British Commando. Only, when everything goes wrong, he’s pegged as everything from a coward to a spy to an actual German soldier! It doesn’t matter to Pete, what really matters is that those fake plans get into Nazi hands – at any cost necessary!

Story: Bounds
Art: Gallindo
Cover: Gonzalez
Originally Commando No. 570 (1971).

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Today's releases from Rebellion Publishing.

2000AD Prog 2133
Cover: Neil Roberts

JUDGE DREDD: NEW BLOOD by Rory McConville (w) Siku (a) Annie Parkhouse (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)
MAX NORMAL: HOW THE MAX GOT HIS STRIPES by Guy Adams (w) Dan Cornwell (a) Jim Boswell (c) Simon Bowland (l)
SCARLET TRACES: HOME FRONT by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Monday, May 27, 2019

Scrapbook: John Richardson's Pussy Muldoon

More pages from my scrapbook. This is the first episode of 'Pussy Muldoon', a sexy private eye, who starred in the weekly Celebrity magazine drawn by John Richardson in 1986. Some original art boards are up for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery, so you can see there how the strip progressed.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Brian Holloway

Brian Holloway was an author whose known work is a cluster of novels from the years 1952-53, twenty-one known titles under an array of pen-names in a range of genres. His fame, if, given his use of pen-names, he has any, stems from a handful of science fiction novels which have survived sixty-five years to become collectable. His work in other genres (westerns, foreign legion and romance) is all but lost.

Holloway is one of a small number of prolific authors who we still know nothing about. Of all the Curtis Warren SF authors, he is probably the most curious, because his genre-hopping makes him a likely survivor of the post-war decade paperback boom. When the boom collapsed in 1954, only a few authors survived. I can imagine Holloway switching to writing hardback westerns, like his contemporaries Denis Hughes and James Henderson, or children's fiction like John W. Jennison. However, no trace of any further work has been found.

I've traced only one earlier story, 'High Dive for a Stiff' in Police Detective, a faux pulp magazine published by Hamilton & Co. in 1949, which raises the intriguing question, what was Holloway writing between 1949 and 1952. Hamilton & Co. and Curtis Warren were related publishers, sharing a company director named Joseph Pacey, and it is possible that Holloway was writing for Hamiltons, Curtis or Grant Hughes, a third related company, during the interim between known stories.

With this in mind, I was digging through my collection and found a couple of books that might – and I emphasise might – be by Holloway. These were two novels, one each by Glen Allen and Ken Ford, that appeared in Curtis Warren's 'Aero Fiction' series. This was a short-lived experiment that ran for ten titles in 1951, five each under the Allen and Ford bylines. Holloway, who published 18 known novels between March 1952 and March 1953, would have been more than capable of writing all ten.

Unfortunately, I have no further examples of the Allen or Ford novels, so I can't say for certain that they are all by Holloway, or even if any of them are by Holloway – I need a bigger test sample.

What we do know is that Holloway was an uninspired science fiction writer, his early novels set within the solar system (The Moon, Venus, Mercury, Titan, the Asteroid Belt) and mostly involving alien invasions. The aliens need to evacuate their own worlds for various reasons of space, diminishing resources or war, and cast their eyes on Earth.

After writing half a dozen SF novels, Holloway switched to Westerns and Foreign Legion adventures, with a couple of romances thrown in along the way, none of which I have read. He returned briefly to SF in the latter half of 1953 with a trio of yarns in which he strove to write something rather better than his early titles. Beyond Geo (by Arn Romilus) featured a kind of Star Trek-ian space exploration team, with the crew of the Terra I on a mission to visit three very different planets beyond the orbit of Pluto. In The Mortals of Reni (by Von Gruen), a peaceful alien race is plunged into a new Ice Age and a handful of Earthmen who have been ordered to evacuate the planet remain to help them. Finally, in Lost World (by Brian Shaw), a scientiific expedition to Cassio finds the planet no longer exists.

In passing, Holloway tried to explore such themes as war, violence and the ethics of cracking a planet in two. "Basically morals and ethics cannot be allowed to interfere with the progress of science," is the conclusion of a scientist in Lost World. In the earlier Planet Tha (by Neil Charles), an Earthman argues with the ruler of Tha, "So to save fifty million creatures whose evolution is but one stage above that of animals, you will risk the destruction of your own race and your own cultured civilisation ... Is that logical?" The satellite with these creatures is eventually destroyed after the concept of the Seven Cardinal Sins is introduced to the formerly peaceful race.

Lost World was the last of Holloway's known novels, published in July 1953. Curtis Warren kept up a busy schedule, diversifying into adventure and historical novels when hardboiled gangster novels fell foul of the law. In late 1954 they introduced the smaller, numbered Curtis Books series, but it was a last ditch effort, and the company went into liquidation in November 1954. Was Holloway contributing right to the end? Perhaps we will never know.

And what happened to him after the demise of Curtis Warren? Did he continue to write or did the fall of Curtis also mark the demise of Holloway as a writer?

It's a mystery that continues to have me mystified.


Red Storm by Brian Storm
Curtis Warren, Mar 1952.

Trans-Mercurian by King Lang
Curtis Warren, Mar 1952.

Titan’s Moon by Neil Charles
Curtis Warren, Mar 1952.

Planet Tha by Neil Charles
Curtis Warren, Mar 1952.

Destination Alpha by Berl Cameron
Curtis Warren, Apr 1952.

"A" Men by Rand LePage
Curtis Warren, Apr 1952.

North to Danger by Allan Carson
Curtis Warren, Aug 1952.

Mexicani by Bentley Jerrold
Curtis Warren, Aug 1952.

Border Mission by Cal Scott
Curtis Warren, Sep 1952.

The Mohican by Lee Benson
Curtis Warren, Oct 1952.

High Waters by Anna Boron
Curtis Warren, Nov 1952.

Black Sands by Adam Dale
Curtis Warren, Nov 1952.

Desert March by John Karn
Curtis Warren, Nov 1952.

You Can Believe by Freda Ross
Curtis Warren, Nov 1952.

Yankee Riders by Brad Collins
Curtis Warren, Jan 1953.

Lost Battalion by Adam Dale
Curtis Warren, Jan 1953.

Soldiers of the Night by Adam Dale
Curtis Warren, Mar 1953.

Riders of Ghost by John Gordon
Curtis Warren, Mar 1953.

Beyond Geo by Arn Romilus
Curtis Warren, May 1953.

The Mortals of Reni by Von Gruen
Curtis Warren, Jun 1953.

Lost World by Brian Shaw
Curtis Warren, Sep 1953.


Operation Jet by Glen Allen
Curtis Warren, Mar 1951.

Sky Fighters by Ken Ford
Curtis Warren, Mar 1951.

Red Flight by Glen Allen
Curtis Warren, Apr 1951.

Winged Guns by Ken Ford
Curtis Warren, Apr 1951.

Night Raiders by Glen Allen
Curtis Warren, Jul 1951.

Hell Divers by Ken Ford
Curtis Warren, Jul 1951.

Ace Squadron by Glen Allen
Curtis Warren, Oct 1951.

Dawn Patrol by Ken Ford
Curtis Warren, Oct 1951.

Test Flight No.8 by Glen Allen
Curtis Warren, Nov 1951.

Prototype PZ.642 by Ken Ford
Curtis Warren, Nov 1951.

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.


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.


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