Friday, May 17, 2024

Comic Cuts — 17 May 2024

Finally, I've managed to get FORGOTTEN AUTHORS VOLUME 5 finished and published. I was writing the last few essays for this while I was finishing off BEYOND THE VOID: The Remarkable History of Badger Books, thinking that it was something I'd simply dip into and then out of. As it turned out, I had various problems with proofs, as regular readers will remember, and although BEYOND THE VOID was finished in November, I wasn't able to get copies that I was happy with until March.

The idea of doing another FORGOTTEN AUTHORS volume wasn't especially high on my mind, but I had written a lengthy piece about crime writer John G. Brandon in April 2023 and I already had a nice couple of essays on Alfred Duggan and Donald Cresswell, both penned a couple of years ago between projects, added to which I found a long piece about the writers of early books about highwaymen and pirates that I'd written back in the early 2000s for the Bloods & Dimes chat group, but which I don't recall actually posting.

I had a more recent essay to hand that was intended for the Badger book, but at some point I realised that there had to be some limit to that book to make it anywhere near affordable. So Bryan Haven was added to the contents list I was building up. I had put together a biography of James Skipp Borlase for the reprint of On the Queen's Service, but it has sold only a handful of copies, so this volume would make it more accessible and I was able to add a few interesting details that had come to light in the meantime.

The same could be said for the article on T. Lobsang Rampa, which was available on Kindle but not in print. I also took the opportunity to expand it with a great deal more detail about the too-ing and fro-ing that occurred ahead of the publication of The Third Eye.

I still needed three more pieces. One I had already written was pushed back to the next volume as it was similar to one I already planned to include, so I wrote a piece on SF author H. J. Campbell to fill the hole. I had some of his books, but not all, so I bought, I think, all five of his missing novels and read them ahead of writing the piece.

I was a bit shocked to find that there were no female authors included in the book, so I dug out another lost piece written twenty years ago but only published on a CD. It required a thorough overhaul but added some diversity to the contents, as did the last essay I wrote, about Michael Butterworth. I wanted to include a comic strip writer and was originally going to write up someone else, but Butterworth had a notable career as a novelist and I thought that would be fun to explore.

I was originally going to include some pieces on pen-names that still had us all mystified, but in the end I included only one about Anthony Dyllington as I did at least have one or two very speculative ideas about the person behind the name. Shots in the dark, admittedly, but that's often how resolutions to these pen-name mysteries are eventually found.

The previous four volumes are still available. I have considered putting together an omnibus version under the project's original title: FIFTY FORGOTTEN AUTHORS, but with a wordage of around 280,000 it would be an incredibly expensive book to print and the price I'd have to charge might be prohibitive, although I'll continue to explore ways of making that happen one day. For now, you have the original volumes, plus the first of what I might eventually call FIFTY MORE FORGOTTEN AUTHORS, although it may be a while before you see volume six and how busy the desk has become in the meantime.

Back in March I was considering changing the cover style completely, and here's a shot of a potential cover I did at the time...

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