BEAR ALLEY BOOKS

BEAR ALLEY BOOKS
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Friday, August 21, 2020

Comic Cuts - 21 August 2020

Some highs and lows this week. I thought I would put together a video for last week, thinking that I could show off the proof copies of the two volumes of Longbow during the record. Which I did... unfortunately, at the same time as the telephone rang. A spam caller warning me about something or other. I couldn't hear what because I was too busy slamming down the phone.

When I came to edit the video together, I hadn't retaken that little section of video, so it ended up on the (digital) cutting room floor, and I had to insert a little bit into the middle of the video to show off the covers. Hey, ho. If I was professional, I'd have a script, a shot list... a plan!

It took until two in the morning to post the video and I crawled off to bed still full of adrenaline, watching a video until I dozed off about an hour later. Up again slightly later than usual at six-thirty ready for our walk. I think we got back about eight and I turned on the computer and a couple of messages telling me that the buttons set up for payment for the books were not working. After some fruitless efforts to re-do the buttons, I had to admit defeat and put up a notice saying that advance orders were on hold.

I cannot describe how frustrating this was. I wasn't doing anything different to how I had set these things up for the past decade. The problem, as far as I can see, is Google trying to make things impossible for third-party links. They're redesigning the Blogger interface and have been moving things around willy-nilly. Things that used to be easy -- such as uploading multiple pictures -- aren't so easy any more. I spend more time nowadays trying to disentangle the HTML code to make things look the way I want to. Even getting something as simple as a single line gap between this paragraph and the next can't be done by simple hitting the return key. I now have to hit shift+return.

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John Freeman gets my no-prize award for the first review of the Longbow books: "Offering intense, fast-paced action adventure throughout, this strip is surely classic British weekly comics at its best"-- Down the Tubes.

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What this meant, in practical terms last Friday, was that any attempt to cut and paste in new buttons generated by PayPal only resulted in being taken to a screen that said "This page does not exist". Let me reassure you that all the old buttons are still working fine. I did find a note in the depths of Blogger help that mentioned that old code works fine until you try to make changes. Then the new code kicks in and things stop working. Cutting and pasting old code into new posts doesn't work (I've tried it).

After spending all of Friday fretting and waiting for PayPal and Blogger to get back to me about this, I had to bite the bullet and posted alternative arrangements on Saturday morning. Thankfully, orders started to come in almost immediately and there has been a steady trickle of pre-orders over the past week. I'm waiting on a couple of boxes of books to arrive at Chez Bear Alley and hopefully orders will pick up once the books are actually in and working folk get paid at the end of the month.

That was the week's low point. I spent a large chunk of the weekend scanning and indexing old 1940s comics from obscure little publishers that will become illustrations for a series of articles I'm planning to run through the pages of BAM! The history of the pirate publishers who thrived in the post-war decade is an under-explored area of British comics' history that I want to put under the microscope. There are a lot -- a LOT -- of these little comics and they had some fascinating people behind them and drawing for them.

I'm not sure when that series will run, although issue four looks likely at the moment. Mind you, plans change from one minute to the next. Issue one is starting to take shape, and I have one interview sorted and a second interview under way. There will be a long article on the history of British pocket libraries with some astonishing statistics, some shorter articles, including one on how Frank Bellamy found himself in trouble with Eagle, and we will be running a science fiction strip that has never previously been reprinted (I'm taking a break from writing about it in order to write this!) and some rarely seen work from a well-known artist.

I spent yesterday (Wednesday) playing around with some layouts on a couple of shorter articles to see what the magazine might look like. I've still got some 'furniture' to put in (logos, page numbers) but I'm happy with the results. There's still a long way to go, but getting those first few articles together has really lifted my spirits. Every low is followed by a high.

I'm still on the lookout for contributions, reviews and suggestions. All ideas will be treated sympathetically and nothing dismissed out of hand.

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