Friday, August 13, 2021

Comic Cuts — 13 August 2021

With Mel on holiday, we've been taking things easy as far as early morning walks go, wandering out of the house at the unprecedented lateness of 8:00 one morning. Normally we would be out of the house by quarter to seven and back by eight. My normal morning routine would see me turn the computer on, check Bear Alley to make sure any scheduled posts have gone up, cross-post them to Twitter and Facebook, check my mail, check the newspaper while my podcast feed is updating, and I'm usually "at work", so to speak, before 9:00.

This week, I've had a couple of days when I have been working by 6:30, but then taking a break to get some exercise, which splits up the morning quite nicely, as we can then fit in a break at 10:30 before lunch at 12:00. Having a regular schedule, I think, helps keep you focused. Knowing that we have a scheduled break means that I'm not slacking off wondering whether to go and make coffee and maybe have a biscuit or bit of cake (yes, there's usually a treat involved!), or sneaking off to lunch early.

Being quite strict has meant I've managed to get quite a lot done. I'm working on a piece about the old Action comic, which was my post-Valiant gateway back into comics after I'd taken 18 months off reading Speed & Power. Mind you, I was also buying Vulcan, and before that I was a fan of Top Secret Picture Library, so I never really got away from comics. But Action convinced me that I should keep reading comics. I remember some of the fuss in the newspapers and it disappearing; I remember it coming back as a sort of botched plastic surgery version of the Action I loved; I remember giving up on it.

So researching it is going to take a few weeks. I'm listening to lots of interviews at the moment, transcribing parts that I think will be useful; I've also recovered a lot of print interviews from various boxes (I'm currently reading a 1988 interview with John Wagner in The Comics Journal), and dug out various notes and correspondence I've had with people involved. To be honest, doing the research is probably my favourite part of writing these histories; that and marshaling all the facts together into some sort of order. The actual writing can be a slog after that. Not nearly as much fun as, say, putting together a timeline of how things played out, which I was doing on Wednesday night.

As well as the interviews, I have a big pile of books that I need to read, or re-read, including biographies by Pat Mills and Steve MacManus, a book by John Sutherland on moral panics, two books about hooliganism, a book about violence in media and everything I can find on the creation of Battle, Action and 2000AD.

That should keep me busy.

We had a nice break on Tuesday when my Mum came over the for the first time in a year. We had the good fortune to have the nicest day in what feels like months. Clear skies, beautiful sunshine... what better way to celebrate than a trip down to the pub for lunch? We couldn't think of any, so that's what we did.

One very noticeable thing was the difference in the tide level in only a few hours; I had taken a couple of photos of the river that morning from the boardwalk to show Mum how low the river was; six hours later, making our way home by a nicely circuitous route that took us back to the boardwalk, I took another photo to show the contrast.

Hopefully, now that things are starting to get even the slightest bit back to normal, it won't be a year until our next get-together.

Now... where am I on the latest transcript?

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