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Friday, January 29, 2021

Comic Cuts - 29 January 2021

We're only a few weeks into the new year and I'm already behind schedule. I was going to get so much done over Christmas and New Year that I'd have half a dozen things to launch by early January. Now, in late January, I've actually managed to get some books out — the long-awaited Bill Kellaway series IS NOW AVAILABLE!

It has been a two year journey to get these four novels by Gwyn Evans back in print, but I must say I'm really pleased with the way they look and feel (the soft, matte finish on the covers is very tactile!). The four cover designs by Martin Baines mean that they will make a really nice set for your shelves. A must for every fan of Sexton Blake, as, I hope, is my biography of Gwyn Evans, The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet, which I have just reissued in a similar US trade paperback format to the novels, with a fabulous new cover. This edition contains the same text (with some minor tweaks) as the A4 edition published back in 2012 (still available here), but without all the illustrations. The idea is to make it available in a slightly cheaper form to make it part of set for people buying the novels.

Apart from a long biographical essay, the book also contains three short stories, two previously unpublished poems, and an as-complete bibliography of Evans' work as I can manage, charting reprints, retitlings, and the de-Blaking of stories.

All five books are available on Amazon: Hercules, Esq., The Homicide Club, Satan Ltd., The Return of “Hercules, Esq.”  and Gwyn Evans: The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet.

They are also available at this page on Lulu Stores, which is where you should probably get them from. There's a disparity in the pricing because Amazon does this weird thing and sets the postage price and that's below what it actually costs to post stuff! They then roll it into the overall costs and claw some of it back when they take a percentage as their fee on the total payment. So for most of my books I actually lose about £1.40 on the postage. By the time you add up all the fees... well, that's why all my books cost a little more to buy through Amazon. However, one recent change about how they pay sellers means that I might be able to revisit prices in the future.

I've taken the opportunity to make some changes to the Bear Alley Books page, which will hopefully make it clearer and easier to navigate. Over the coming week(s) I'm planning to add links to Amazon and Lulu for other books, but the button system currently in use still works.

I'm not planning to change the main Bear Alley blog page, although I might tweak a few things. I set up the blog in the summer of 2006 and settled on a three column format that wasn't one of Blogger's regular templates. Since then, the platform has been through a number of changes, none of which have benefited the user. When it came to revamp the Bear Alley Books page, I found that there were fewer choices of template and when I tried to use a template (designed specifically for Blogger) from a third party, it wouldn't let me upload the xml file. Switching to a two-column format was fiddly and took me all day to get things looking like I wanted. Not finished, but it all works and doesn't have images interfering with the right hand column any more. (To do the same with this blog, I'd have to go through all my posts from 2017 onwards and resize a lot of images... not something I want to waste my life on at this particular moment.)

With all the general upkeep that I have to do to keep Bear Alley going, I've not had much time for other work. There are a couple of small announcements to come regarding a couple of books, but I'll leave that for when I have everything else set up. (It's good news...  in one case a price drop!)

I've had more news to deal with this week than I have in the past month. My mum got her first vaccine jab on Wednesday (good news) and my sister has got herself a new dog (also good news). To balance this up, I heard that my cousin and another (related) cousin's boyfriend both tested positive for Covid. They work together in a school, so anyone telling you that school's are safe environments — not true. They're in the tech department — they are the tech department — and keeping everyone out who needs a computer or laptop fixed so they can do lessons online had been impossible. And so the bug spreads. There's a sinking sense of frustration, waiting for news and hoping that they will soon get the all clear. Pray that it doesn't get any worse is all we can do at the moment... except say John and Carl, I hope you're better soon.

This is the closest the bug has come to us, although a friend has also been "pinged" recently and told to isolate. Previous warning shots across the bow — notably Mel's sister — have thankfully all proven to be false alarms. 

Onwards and upwards, as they say. Hopefully I'll have even more news next week. But for now, I'm just relieved that the various problems that have stalled progress for the past two weeks have been resolved and, at last, I've been able to take a few steps forward.

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