Friday, December 23, 2022

Comic Cuts — 23 December 2022

Merry Christmas, one and all!

The busy scene above was not the one that greeted me on Wednesday when I went into town to pick up some last-minute bits 'n' bobs for the weekend's festivities. Colchester was pretty dead in terms of footfall and, in bright sunshine, it didn't feel at all Christmassy. Thanks to the warmth, it could have been May rather than December.

I haven't seen the Christmas lights on in Colchester or even in Wivenhoe, although we did see a few lighting up the High Street on Sunday morning. Mind you, nature was putting on a huge display on Sunday, the sky a fiery red as dawn broke over the houses in Valley Road. The photos I took don't really do it justice.

It was still bitterly cold at that point. Cold enough for the stream that runs through the meadow to the lee side of the built-up footpath was frozen. It really didn't feel like anything but winter that day, with a sharp wind coming off the river that chilled us every time I stopped to take a photo.

Thankfully, things warmed up a little over the next couple of days and I have been trying to put together the last bits of my bibliography, including indexing a couple of fanzines I put together back in the 1990s. I've enjoyed wading through this history of my writing career — well, the moments when I wasn't feeling utterly frustrated at my inability to find things... I'm still missing a book and a couple of photocopied pamphlets, but I did find a stack of photocopies that I had been looking for a couple of years ago without success.

All will be revealed when I put the whole lot together for a massive cover gallery in the new year.

I'm almost finished tidying up. This isn't the end game for all the clearing-out that I have been doing for the last three months, just a pause. I still have some boxes of magazines to get rid of, and then I need to sort out a load of boxes that are marked "Miscellaneous paper" and "Miscellaneous comics" into some sort of order so that they can be sensibly stacked — all the comics paperwork together, all the old paperbacks paperwork together — so that when it all moves into the "office" and I move out into the living room, it can be done in way that won't make it all disappear for the next decade. It took me two days to find a box that had clippings of my own articles because I hadn't written anything on it to indicate what was inside. Mind you, the box that had my old fanzine PBO inside had PBO written on the front and I still managed to miss it. I blame two loose issues that I remember putting in another box that I did find on day two... then I had a memory breakthrough and looked up and along the tops of my shelves where the box was sitting in plain sight.

My main task for January will be putting together the artwork for the next batch of books for Dolmen. I have a few partly scanned, but I need to get the rest done, plus the artwork for the volume that has been scanned needs some cleaning. It's going to keep me busy for some while yet.

And at some point I'm hoping to get back to some of my own work... there's the Action volume mostly written, a Valiant Index half-written, the first couple of chapters finished of a history of pirate comics from the post-war decade, a clutch of articles that I'm still hoping to publish as a magazine, and a bunch of other things that I keep promising myself I'll write "when I get a chance". I even have a couple of pieces finished for the next Forgotten Authors volume!

One of the things I was working on earlier this year has made an appearance in the pages of a German magazine, Die Sprechblase [The Speech Bubble] for January 2023. It's an astonishing colour magazine all about comics that has been going for 48 years! The nearest we have is Eagle Times, which is about to enter its 35th year, but I'm afraid there's no comparison. No insult intended as the German mag. is professionally put together rather than the work of a team of enthusiasts. My work fills 14 of the magazine's 100 pages... actually the work of Alberto Giolitti as it was a scan and restoration job of 'Blood on the Prairie' from Ranger that I did six or so months ago.

The editorial team has put together ten pages of features about Giolitti, Paul I. Wellman, Ranger and the historical background of the strip. If only I could read German! It looks fantastic. The strip is known in Germany as it was reprinted in Kobra in 1976, a decade after its original appearance in Ranger. I believe the strip will be completed in the next issue of Die Sprechblase. I need to thank Gerhard Förster for making sure I got a copy. Cheers!

And that's probably it for the year. I might try and post something next week, but if I don't I'll say Happy New Year now and wish everyone all the best for 2023. I hope you have a brilliant year and we can put all the crap that 2022 brought – from pandemic to prices soaring – behind us.

(* The column header is by Richard Hook and is from Look and Learn 519, 25 December 1971 © Look and Learn Ltd.)

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