Friday, April 26, 2024

Comic Cuts — 26 April 2024

I have been slacking on the Bear Alley Books front for a few weeks following the release of BEYOND THE VOID: THE REMARKABLE HISTORY OF BADGER BOOKS, which is selling reasonably well. It's the eternal frustration of all small publishers that they can never get reviewed in any major media: I've sent books to newspapers and magazines in the past and its like throwing books into a black hole.

Privately and in person—at the recent Paperback & Pulp Book Fair, for instance—I hear from people who enjoy my books; I even get repeat customers. But that doesn't translate into reviews. No wonder a lot of self-published authors can be tempted into paying dodgy operations to post positive reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and elsewhere.

Bear Alley Books doesn't earn me a living. If I could get more books out I might get closer to it being a full-time job, but I also have to pay the rent. And that means taking on other jobs (a recent short run of writing for The Guardian, for instance), which pushes back book projects that I'd be happy to be working on. For a change of pace, I managed to write something for what will hopefully be the follow-up to the above mentioned Badger book; but now I'm back to work.

At the Book Fair I had a chat with someone about doing a new comic strip reprint and I'm pleased to say that it is now in the works—a collection of three historical strips by Jesus Blasco from the pages of Look and Learn. I have been wanting to reprint two of them for donkey's years, but had to wait until the original books they were based came out of copyright. That happened on January 1st last year, so I'm already a year late getting this together. (See my comment above about Bear Alley Books not earning me a living!)

It will take me a couple of weeks to put the whole thing together. I need to re-letter some of the artwork and there are introductions to be written, but it's in active production—I did a whole lot of scanning this week and reminded myself how tedious it is cleaning up artwork, however much you love the artist.

I've also committed myself to writing the introduction to another comic strip reprint. Not sure I should say what it is as I don't think it has been announced yet. But it's amazing!

The rest of my life is pretty dull by comparison. The brighter weather (I won't say warmer, 'cos it hasn't been) has meant I've had a chance to attack the garden; I'm on phase two of my efforts to re-seed areas of the lawn that were left to their own devices by a previous tenant and which, frankly, I didn't do anything about for some years when maybe I should. We try to be bee-friendly, so leaving weeds to grow at the far end of the back garden we thought was a positive thing. Unfortunately, it allowed a plant called green alkanet to run riot. Yes, the bees love it's tiny blue flowers, but it has these large spreading leaves that mean nothing else survives where it has taken root.

I started uprooting this menace last year and put grass seed down in a number of areas, and I'm pleased to say that it has worked, to a degree. Back of a fag-packet maths tells me I've reclaimed about twelve square feet of lawn, so this year I'm starting earlier (although delayed by the constant rain we've been having), and taking on the bottom end of the garden, which is stonier ground surrounding a pond, partly covered in ivy. The plan is to dig out the alkanet, clear a lot of the stones, strip away the ivy and put down a mix of grass seeds and wild flowers.

Let's hope that the garden doesn't suffer the same fate as one or two of my Bear Alley Books' projects, which are years late. I don't want to be discussing alkanet in the year 2030. Back to my re-lettering!

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