Thursday, December 23, 2021

Comic Cuts — 23 December 2021

I'll keep this short 'n' sweet because you're going to be busy today and tomorrow and the last thing you need is me rabbiting on. So this week I've spent a couple of days wrangling scans of a strip that will be appearing in a Spanish reprint of 'Patty's World'. Patty was hugely successful here in the UK, running for seventeen years in the pages of Princess Tina, Pink & Mates and, finally, in the revival of Girl.

Even then it wasn't finished, and the strip continued in Spain under the name 'Esther'. It was drawn throughout by the wonderful Purita Campos and written (at least at first) by Philip Douglas. It remains one of the highlights of British comics and it is still hugely popular in Spain. Sadly, the lack of collections from Fleetway/IPC/etc. over the years means that it is nowadays a bit of a distant memory as far as fans are concerned (Mel remembers reading the strip when she was a kid in the early Eighties, so in the pages of Girl). It's over thirty years since the strip folded... just think what sort of industry we might have had if we'd developed the same album/collection culture they had in Europe, keeping older strips alive and available for new generations to enjoy.

(Don't take this as a knock against Rebellion, who are doing a good job of bringing back some of the old characters and gathering old strips into nice hardback albums. I just wish their predecessors had gotten around to it forty years ago.)

Talking about work that isn't getting on with the history of Action, I received a couple of books this week that I had a small hand in. One is unusual for me, a collection of poems by David F. Cheshire. I became involved through the book's editor, John Ashbrook, a friend of many years, and David's daughter, Ellen, who wrote some bits 'n' bobs for me when I was editing at Trinity Mirror.

I did some typesetting, but the rest is down to John and the results are a lovely little hardback with a nice expressive dust jacket. I'm not sure if it is generally available — if it is, I'll post a link in a future CC column.

The other book is Hank Janson Under Cover, put together with loving care by Stephen James Walker. My involvement was to scan a bunch of Heade images, which means that the early Janson covers are, for the most part, the best images available. And there are a few scarcities amongst them. I'll do a proper review when I get a chance, but in the meantime, I'll just say that this covers the whole Janson saga, all the way through his Compact days, and also covers foreign reprints from across Europe and Scandinavia, so there is an astonishing array of styles on show, even a couple of Robert Maguires on the US editions. You can buy it here.

Well, that's me done for the year. My plans for January are to get this Action history finished and get the pages designed. I've mentioned in private to a couple of people that the reason BAM! has been delayed so long is that I wasn't happy with the content. I was putting together a magazine aimed at an audience of one — me! And nice tho' it is to wallow in older strips, I wanted something that wasn't over fifty years old and that had a significant impact on British comics. Hence Action, which I have been wanting to write about for years. I'll build the rest of the magazine around that, but it will include a long piece on John M. Burns and various other articles by me and others. I already have parts of issue two and three written, so hopefully, once I can get to grips with doing the layouts and whatnots, I won't get into the same merry-go-round where time just runs away from me. Believe me, I can easily lose a whole day to an unforeseen problem... as has happened today. I meant to have this written and posted this morning, but the day got off to a bad start (Mel slipped in the bathroom and broke a tooth) and that put paid to doing anything before lunch (she's fine: one visit to the emergency dentist later, the tooth is temporarily restored and will be replaced in the new year). That and Wednesday's slight cooking mishap (my latest banana bread turned into a solid brick after I left it in the oven too long) has meant I'm playing catch-up: I haven't reviewed the stuff I wanted to review; haven't caught up with e-mails as I had planned; haven't read the paper or listened to the daily podcasts I usually listen to.

So, a typical day in the Holland & Hyland household. Merry Christmas, everybody. I'll see you on the other side once I've had some festive cheer, fed my family with too much food, settled down with (or passed out because of) a nice drink (I seem to have ended up with a bottle of very strong vodka) and watched a load of TV that has tinsel all over it. Stay safe.

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