BEAR ALLEY BOOKS

BEAR ALLEY BOOKS
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Friday, February 19, 2021

Comic Cuts - 19 February 2021


We're at the tail end of a rather chaotic week. It has also been something of a sad week with news of three deaths relating to comics. I will get to writing about Gerald Lip and Bill Titcombe at some stage, but Thursday I spent writing a piece about Si Spencer which should be appearing shortly. Since it is now getting rather late in the evening, I may keep this relatively short.

We got through our snow days without any mishaps and life has settled back into its regular furrows. Those few days when life came to a standstill have actually made a difference. We're taking our morning walks in daylight and at least starting our evening walk before twilight really falls. It makes a huge difference to how you feel — work isn't taking up every hour of daylight now and although we're not exactly chock full of Vitamin D, just the fact that we're stepping out of the house in the day and not at night lifts the spirit no end.

Our walks are starting to repopulate and we're starting to see some of our old dog-walking friends again who have been coming out a little later. We have a growing population of pandemic pooches to make a fuss of and with the weather warming, we're seeing more cats out for an early (or maybe a really late) stroll. We have some surprisingly friendly cats in the area... or maybe they're just so used to seeing us wandering along at the same time every morning they've grown used to us and figured out we're not a threat. And we might have food. You never know.

I realised quite suddenly that we were in the middle of February and I had a pile of borrowed comics that I promised I'd get back to the owner in March. I was hit with a sudden panic because I still have a lot of work to do. I mentioned last week that I was working on an article related to the comics, which I've now half finished. I spent Sunday through Tuesday indexing volumes that had 400 and 500 pages of comic strips, mostly by the same small group of artists. After a while I had my eye in and was able to glance at a page and identify the artist, which is quite a handy trick when you have 3,000 or so pages to look through.


I had to take a break — even I start to get bored after three days solid — and thought I'd write up some notes on the work of one of the artists. I realised I knew nothing about his background, but also found a note in my files that there was an article about said artist in an old fanzine. I used that to dig out some additional info. in family history records and was feeling quite pleased with myself when I stumbled across a rather darker side to the artist.

Further digging turned up a raft of information about how this artist fleeced a number of poets, lyric writers and perhaps even cartoonists in the  1930s, a very different side to the character sketched in the biographical sketch I had found. So there's another article in the works under the title The Two Sides of Glyn Protheroe, which I'm hoping to finish off tomorrow. Then it's back to The Curious Worlds of William Ward, which I'm aiming to finish for the first issue of BAM! (Remember that? Don't worry, I haven't forgotten!) Ward is the artist of our two illustrations today.

I have been catching up on money matters. I'm still broke, but got a surprise payment of £4 from Public Lending Rights. Bizarrely, it all related to one title in my back catalogue — Aces High, the old Air Ace collection from Carlton. I was wondering what on earth could have happened as I wasn't expecting a dime this year, what with libraries being closed. My usual payment barely registers, at £1 or £2 a year, and all I can think is that someone borrowed a copy of the book at the beginning of lockdown last March and it has been automatically renewed while their local library has been shut!

Sales of the four Gwyn Evans books have been slow but steady. I was pleased to see that sales haven't been limited to just the first book in the series, Hercules Esq., which I had kind of expected at this stage. But, no, some of the others have sold, too. As has my biography of Gwyn, The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet. We've had one very good review appear on Goodreads (thanks, Norman!), which notes the first book's passing resemblance to John Buchan's The 39 Steps. I haven't read the latter for forty plus years, so it never occurred to me.

If you haven't given them a try yet, please take a look at the Bear Alley Books site and see if they're something you might fancy picking up. Scroll down the page, in fact, and see if there's anything else that takes your fancy.

That's my lot. Time to crawl off to bed.

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