Friday, May 10, 2024

Comic Cuts — 10 May 2024

The big news this week is that I've started on the layouts for my next book – a collection of strips by Jesus Blasco based on novels by Jeffery Farnol and H. Rider Haggard. I'm only two pages in, but I'm happy with it so far.

Most of the week was spent tidying up and shortening all the introductory material. There will be a general introduction plus sketches of Farnol, Haggard and Blasco. Some of these I've written about previously, but a couple are all new. The Farnol was the one that took a lot of research as there seems to be a lot of misinformation – niggling things like when he married, how old his wife was, when his daughter was born – all of which has to be checked and double-checked. I also deliberately wrote a longer essay than I needed to make sure I didn't miss anything important; it'll make the basis of a good 'Forgotten Authors' essay at some point, although I will need to write more about his novels rather than concentrate on his life story.

I'm thinking of spreading them throughout the book, between the three stories, rather than putting them all at the front or back; that said, I'm not entirely wedded to the idea. We'll see what happens as I put the book together.

To get to the design stage, I managed to wrap up a number of other little jobs that needed doing: some re-lettering on one of the strips, straightening and cleaning where necessary, and then cropping and resizing the artwork to leave the correct margin so that the artwork isn't accidentally trimmed off during printing. It all takes time.

So that was the big news. I'm struggling to think of any little news. We voted on Thursday and followed it up with Election Fish 'n' Chips – a custom we started 13 or 14 years ago when it came to vote for the first time after we moved. The Polling Station was half-way down the hill on the High Street, so we would continue the walk down the hill to the local fish 'n' chip shop. Unfortunately, Tollgate Fisheriees closed after an eventful history in June 2022. It was announced that it would become The Fish Hoose, and a company was set up by David Henley to run the business as a fish restaurant, but nothing came of the idea except a sign.

We don't walk past as often, but the sign came down, and you can now see that all the friers and counters have gone, so it's unlikely to ever reopen as a chippie.

We still have one – and an award-winning one at that, also run by David Henley – but it's further to walk... and we're lazy... so it takes a 13/14 year custom to get us to drag ourselves up the road. It's worth the effort, but we probably won't go again until the Election.

Back in 2014, the shop was almost the scene of a murder: a bailiff had tried to evict the man renting the shop, who was a debt to the owner of the shop. When the owner arrived, he was attacked with a large kabab knife and hospitalised with a serious injury where the knife had slashed his arm. The attacker was eventually jailed for grievous bodily harm with intent and assault.

All I'll say is that I'm glad we don't have news like that to cover every week.

The header is a rather interesting SF novel published by Penguin/Roc in 1992 with an introduction by Brian W. Aldiss. The Death Guard originally appeared in 1939 and offered a terrifying glimpse at a future war, with added plant-based humanoids. Recommended by the likes of Karl Edward Wagner and Ramsey Campbell, how could I resist it when I spotted a copy in a charity shop for £1.50. Dog knows when I'll get around to reading it, but I'm happy to have it on my shelves.

The other pics are some of my other recent finds. The Power was the basis for an Amazon Prime TV show in which girls suddenly get the power to electrocute people; the novel tells of a developing matriarchal society but I've yet to see the TV series.

Deluge is an interesting one. Richard Doyle used exactly the same premise in his later novel Flood: London is flooded due to a storm surge in the North Sea... and this was published in 1976, making it an early example of "climate fiction", this one in the guise of a disaster thriller.

Purgatory Mount is described on the back cover as a combination of "wry space opera and a fast-paced thriller". "I like space opera," I thought, "and I like fast-paced thrillers." How could I resist? (I couldn't... that's why the book is now on a shelf here in the house.)

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