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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hal Andrews

As my Friday night reading has been the delightful X Marks the Spot, I thought I'd see what I could find out about its author.

X Marks the Spot was an anonymously published, 64-page magazine telling the story, in both gory detail and gory pictures, of Chicago's "beer wars". As the introduction says:
It begins with the murder of "Diamond Jim" Colosimo at the dawn of prohibition and it continues on up through the years, death by death, until the killers of Gangland finally graduated from murder to massacre on St Valentine's day, 1929, and more recently hit one below the belt by assassinating Alfred "Jake" Lingle, a newspaper reporter. With the country-wide publication of the massacre photograph, public indifference to Gangland's crimes came to an abrupt end. The work of destroying organized crime in Chicago began determinedly, coldly, sternly. To use a phrase borrowed from Gangland, the exponents of the "gat" and the machine gun are today being "pushed around" by Decency and Integrity, and they must surely fall into the abyss of oblivion.
This remarkable publication was the work of Hal Andrews, who later advertised that copies of the book could be purchased direct from the author for 25 cents and giving his address as 5322 Lakewood Avenue, Chicago. In 1933, Andrews also published a second at-cost publication (10 cents) entitled Now I'll Tell About It (Chicago, Maltese Publications, 1933) in which he revealed his identity and answered "every question you have asked yourself" about his earlier book.

Andrews was born Harold Andrews on 20 May 1896 in Moulton, Iowa, the son of Lemuel Worth Andrews (1870-1941), a bridge constructor, and his wife Della (nee Kinnamon, 1874-1939). Harold had three younger siblings: Claude Richard Andrews (1898- ), Victor E. Andrews (1898- ) and Raymond M. Andrews (1913-1985). The family moved north to Moberly where Lemuel worked as a conductor on the railroad, and then to Des Moines, shortly before the First World War, where Harold was a student at college.

Andrews was a reporter in Chicago in the 1920s and had worked for the City News Bureau and United Press before joining the Herald-Examiner.

The origins of X Marks the Spot were the bloodless, and often bodyless, photographs published in newspapers too squeamish to print the gory images that came to them during this period of gangland killings. To protect the sensitivities of readers, photographers would take pictures of where a body had been, with an X marking the position of the body, as in the above photograph of the grave of Theodore Anton, owner of the hotel where Al Capone made his headquarters.

When it came to the St Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929, editors were faced with some of the most startling photographs of all. Russell Hamm was one of the first photographers on the scene and when his picture were rushed into the newsroom, the editors stood, awestruck and stunned. The picture was just too gruesome for a family newspaper like the Daily News and was put aside.

John "Hack" Miller of the Chicago American and Mike Fish of the Chicago Tribune were also on the scene, standing on the roof of a Ford sedan, taking pictures, and other photographers were on the scene. But, like the Daily News, most newspapers carried banner headlines and, if photos appeared, they were pictures of the victims or the surroundings.

While the Herald-Examiner ran a famous photo of the murder scene with the bodies in view, a retoucher had carefully removed all of the blood from the picture.

What X Marked the Spot promised was unretouched photographs.
The publication of death pictures in newspapers is becoming more common every day. Editors have at last realized the terrific force a death picture can exert, particularly in driving home the lesson that the underworld has present day civilization in its grip. The ultimate good of the death picture far outweighs the shock that it may have on a certain delicate emotional segment of the newspaper readers. A famous New York newspaper editor commenting in Editor & Publisher recently on the publication of the Valentine massacre picture, declared that "it was a more powerful example of the defiance of law and order by the underworld than could be drawn by twenty-five columns of editorials.

Andrews is said to have gone to a number of newspapers that he knew to obtain uncensored photographs.
X Marks the Spot publishes those pictures for the first time. The body of the gangster which was blotted out and an X substituted is restored as the camera saw it.You have read the story in countless volumes, now, for the first time you can see it. You will see Chicago crime "put on the spot."
Although Andrews hoped that his uncensored content would shock the placid population into action to rid Chicago of gangsters, the book was was suppressed in some areas by those who found its content morally objectionable. In New York, John Sumner, the secretary of the Suppression of Vice and Crime, threatened to take action against its distributors if it remained in circulation; in Chicago, gangsters visited newsstands, removing copies and intimidating book sellers.

In response, Andrews penned "Gangsters Grip Chicago!" for Real Detective (September 1932) and followed up with a revelatory article the following month, "Author of 'X Marks the Spot' Tells All". and offered copies of his $1.00 book by post to readers of the magazine for 25 cents.

In the late 1930s, Hal Andrews moved in Gary, Lake Co., Indiana, and became the sub-editor, and later news editor, of the Gary Post-Tribune. He remained with the paper until teh late 1950s when he entered the Veterans hospital at Downey. He remained there for four years before his death, aged 62, on 14 March 1961. He was survived by his wife, Betty, four daughters (Janice, Della, Susan, Carol) a son (Harold Jr.) and two brothers.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Comic Cuts - 9 October 2015

I'm writing this Friday morning, so it's going to be quick. I would normally write the Comic Cuts column on a Thursday, but I was battling for time yesterday as we're in the final phase of the Hotel Business cycle, with all the last-minute material coming in thick and fast and numerous last minute changes needing to be made where I have to replace some text with advertorial material.

To give you an example: one spread this month contains one and three quarter pages plus a quarter page advert; because our boss likes a busy page, we have maybe seven, eight or nine featurettes on that spread. All were completed and sent into our design studios. But everything went on hold as an advertiser paying for a large ad. asked for half a page of editorial space for a feature – a piece of PR puffery that we call an advertorial. Unfortunately, that's what pays our wages, so we're now waiting for them to send in text and pictures that we can shape into a half-page. At least two of the shorter pieces already written will have to be scrapped. And because each section of the magazine will have a new theme next issue, those scrapped items won't fit, so I can't just hold them over and save some writing time next month.

It's my job to write enough material to fill all that space on the assumption that it will be needed but knowing in my heart that a lot will have to be dropped. We've dropped six featurettes so far and this latest sale will add two more to that figure... and we haven't sorted out our two biggest sections yet, which cover about a third of the magazine.

But that wasn't wholly the reason why I didn't get to write this column yesterday. I actually spent most of the evening writing for the Caught in the Act project. This opens with two threads: gangsters and the white slave trade – in fictional form, of course – and the book will explore how the two eventually fueled the post-war paperback boom. I'm researching the gangster side at the moment and was writing about real-life Chicago racketeers and how British newspapers reported on their activities.

That's what I'm doing for fun! Oh, and watching the new Danger Mouse. And The Martian. Both brilliant.

Random scans. It's not often that I stumble across many pre-decimal paperbacks in town, but I managed to find three on my trek around Colchester's charity shops last week. A bit of a mixed bag, but nice to see them... and a Chris Foss thriller cover that I didn't have, which is our header illustration this week. A pretty good haul and quite amazing for Colchester, which is usually a desert as far as older paperbacks is concerned.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Commando issues 4851-4854

Commando issues on sale 8th October 2015.

Commando No 4851 – Eagles Over Flanders
When conscripted in November 1917, young Jack Carrick was willing to serve his country but reluctant to kill. Therefore, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and focussed on saving lives instead of taking them.
   However, Jack’s cowardly N.C.O., Corporal Fred Allingham, was determined to save only one life — his own. As the Great War raged on Allingham saw Jack as a threat to his secret agenda — even more of a threat than the Germans who dealt death in the trenches and from the sky above…

With only a few notable exceptions — step forward the Convict Commandos — recurring characters have been rare on the pages of Commando over the last 50-odd years. However, we were of the opinion that you, our readers, might like a series which carried the story over more than one issue. With the pen of Ferg Handley recruited to do the writing, we decided that a historical saga spanning many generations would hit the spot.
   After the events of the Crimean war in the previous episode, we have now arrived at the harrowing trenches of World War I, where our epic tale of three — entirely fictional — interlinked families takes a darker turn as we explore just what it is like to save lives but also to fight for one’s own survival and the turmoil that this can cause.
   We hope you enjoy this story and the journey to come — which consists of a stunning, two-part conclusion.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

Commando No 4852 – Sky Trap
To the pilots of Jim Ryan’s fighter squadron, Flight Lieutenant John Bright was the bloke who brought them supplies in his Dakota.  He had a cushy number, while they were fighting off swarms of Japanese planes with their out-classed Brewster Buffaloes.
   Then Jim Ryan was posted away. The Squadron was dog-tired and depressed, battling against heavy odds without rest. They desperately needed a real ace as new Squadron Leader.
   Guess who they got? The bloke who flew the Dakota!

Although our hero, Flight Lieutenant John Bright, has to fight a fair amount of bureaucracy here, thankfully there is a bountiful supply of aerial action too. This is perfectly encapsulated by Ken Barr’s dynamic cover battle between a couple of Japanese Zeros and a Brewster Buffalo.
   Not as highly regarded as the Supermarine Spitfire or as famous as a Hawker Hurricane, the American-built Buffalo is seen here as a stubby, rather awkward alternative to the aforementioned, much more appealing aircraft. One thing’s for certain, though, there’s no doubt that Barr and interior artist Auraleon do an amazing job of illustrating them.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Wilkinson
Art: Auraleon
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No 366 (November 1968), re-issued as No 1119 (April 1977)

Commando 4853 – Aegean Attack
In Autumn, 1943, the Royal Navy battled to seize control of the Aegean Islands from the Germans.
   The crew of the “Kestrel”, a sturdy Fairmile B Motor Launch were under constant attack from marauding Luftwaffe aircraft. After a mission went disastrously wrong, the boat fell into enemy hands — but not an enemy they had been expecting. A band of ruthless Greek pirates had commandeered the vessel for their own purposes and now her skipper, Lieutenant Gary Parrish had to fight to reclaim his ship and protect his crew.

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4854 – On The Run!
Five wounded men walk out of an Army hospital and set off to reach their own units under their own steam. Happens all the time? Not likely, mate – especially when these men were deep inside enemy territory – even on the wrong side of the Mediterranean!
   So how could they hope to succeed?

On The Run! features a rag-tag bunch of soldiers — mainly injured medical patients — thrown together in a desperate attempt to escape German clutches during the British evacuation of Greece in early 1941.
   There’s a good mix of characters and plenty of scope for drama as tempers fray they start to clash with each other. Add the threat of a potential traitor in their midst and we have another winning story from veteran Commando author R.A. Montague, ably drawn by Collado.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: R.A. Montague
Art: Collado
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No 1002 (January 1976), re-issued as No 2340 (January 1990)

Monday, October 05, 2015

Henning Mankell: Cover Gallery

(* The news has just reached me that Henning Mankell died this morning at the age of 67. He had been suffering from cancer since 2014. This gallery was originally posted on 14 July 2011.)

Obituaries: The Guardian (5 October 2015), BBC News (5 October 2015), The Independent (5 October 2015), Daily Telegraph (5 October 2015), New York Times (5 October 2015).

Henning Mankell has indirectly been responsible for some of the best television seen in the UK of recent years thanks to BBC Four showing the Swedish TV adaptations of his Kurt Wallander novels starring Rolf Lassgård and the TV series starring Krister Henriksson. However, the first Wallander I actually saw was the BBC production starring Kenneth Branagh which I thought was excellent. All three versions have their merits and I'm not about to chose between them. A fourth season of BBC productions is currently in production.

It's all down to good source material, of course. The novels are superb. The translations were produced out of order: Mankell's novels appeared in 1991-98 and the series concluded (at the time) with a collection of novellas (The Pyramid) in 1999; English translations began in 1997 and The Pyramid did not appear until 2008; a final Wallander novel appeared in Sweden in 2009 which only appeared in March 2011 over here.

The following gallery covers only those novels by Mankell that have been translated. You can find a fuller list of his books over on Wikipedia, which also has some biographical details of his writing career.


Faceless Killers (Mördare utan ansikte, 1991; translated by Steven T. Murray, 1997)
Vintage 978-0099-44522-7, (Sep) 2002, 298pp, £6.99.
Vintage 978-0099-53527-0, (Dec) 2008, 298pp, £7.99.
Vintage 978-0099-53527-0, 2009, 298pp, £7.99.
Vintage 978-0099-54634-4, (Dec) 2009, 298pp, £7.99. TV tie-in.

The Dogs of Riga (Hundarna i Riga, 1992; translated by Laurie Thompson, 2001)
Vintage 978-1860-46959-0, (Sep) 2002, 326pp, £5.99.
Vintage 978-0099-53528-7, (Jan) 2009, 326pp, £7.99.

The White Lioness (Den vita lejoninnan, 1993; translated by Laurie Thompson, 1998)
Vintage 978-0099-46469-3, (Sep) 2003, 565pp, £6.99.
Vintage 978-0099-53532-4, (Jan) 2009, 565pp, £7.99.

The Man Who Smiled (Mannen som log, 1994; translated by Laurie Thompson, 2005)
Vintage 978-0099-45008-9, (Mar) 2006, 438pp, £6.99.
Vintage 978-0099-54018-2, (Feb) 2009, 438pp, £7.99.
Vintage 978-0099-54635-1, (Dec) 2009, 438pp, £7.99.

Sidetracked (Villospår, 1995; translated by Steven T. Murray, 1999)
Vintage 978-0099-44698-9, (Sep) 2002, 524pp, £6.99.
Vintage 978-0099-53503-4, (Oct) 2008, 524pp, £7.99.
Vintage 978-0099-52662-9, (Nov) 2008, 524pp, £7.99. TV tie-in.

The Fifth Woman (Den femte kvinnan, 1996; translated by Steven T. Murray, 2002)
Vintage 978-0099-44521-0, 2004, 583pp, £6.99.
Vintage 978-0099-53529-4, (Jan) 2009, 583pp, £7.99.
Vintage 978-0099-54636-8, (Dec) 2009, 583pp, £7.99. TV tie-in.

One Step Behind (Steget efter, 1997; translated by Ebba Segerberg, 2002)
Vintage 978-0099-44887-7, (Apr) 2003, 538pp, £6.99.
Vintage 978-0099-53504-1, (Oct) 2008, 538pp, £7.99.
Vintage 978-0099-52663-6, (Nov) 2008, 538pp, £6.99. TV tie-in.

Firewall (Brandvägg, 1998; translated by Ebba Segerberg, 2002)
Vintage 978-0099-45905-7, 2004 (Nov 2003), 534pp, £6.99
Vintage 978-0099-53505-8, (Oct) 2008, 534pp. £7.99.
Vintage 978-0099-52659-9, (Nov) 2008, 534pp, £6.99. TV tie-in.

The Pyramid (Pyramiden, 1999; translated by Ebba Segerberg with Laurie Thompson, 2008)
Vintage 978-0099-51297-4, 496pp, £7.99.

The Troubled Man (Den orolige mannen, 2009; translated by Laurie Thompson, 2011)
Harvill Secker 978-1846-55372-1, (Mar) 2011, 365pp, £12.99.
Vintage 978-0099-54840-9, (Feb) 2012, 480pp, £7.99.


Before the Frost (Innan frosten, 2002; translated by Ebba Segerberg, 2005)
Vintage 978-0099-45904-0, (Apr) 2005, 470pp, £6.99.


The Eye of the Leopard (Leopardens öga, 1990; translated by Steven T. Murray, 2008)
Vintage 978-0099-45015-3, (Apr) 2009, 320pp, £7.99.

Chronicler of the Winds (Comédia infantil, 1995; translated by Tiina Nunnally, 2006)
Vintage 978-0099-45547-9, (Apr) 2007, 240pp, £7.99.

Daniel (Vindens son, 2000; translated by Steven T. Murray, 2010)
Vintage 978-0099-48143-0, (Sep) 2011, 352pp, £7.99.

The Return of the Dancing Master (Danslärarens återkomst, 2000; translated by Laurie Thompson, 2004)
Vintage 978-0099-45546-2, (Apr) 2004, 520pp, £6.99.
Vintage 978-0099-54188-2, (May) 2009, 520pp, £7.99.

Depths (Djup, 2004; translated by Laurie Thompson, 2006)
Vintage 978-0099-48865-1, (Oct) 2007, 528pp, £7.99
Vintage 978-0099-54219-3, (Feb) 2010, 528pp, £7.99.

Italian Shoes (Italienska skor, 2006; translated by Laurie Thompson, 2009)
Vintage 978-0099-51298-1, (Apr) 2010, 368pp, £7.99.

Kennedy's Brain (Kennedys hjärna, 2007; translated by Laurie Thompson, 2007)
Vintage 978-0099-50276-0, (Sep) 2008, 464pp, £7.99.
Vintage 978-0099-54204-9, (May) 2009, 464pp, £7.99.

The Man from Beijing (Kinesen, 2007; translated by Laurie Thompson, 2010)
Vintage 978-0099-53204-0, (Feb) 2011, 554pp, £7.99.

The Shadow Girls (Tea-Bag, 2001; translated by Ebba Segerberg, 2012)
Vintage 978-0099-45548-6, 2013

A Treacherous Paradise (Minnet av en Smutsig Ängel, 2011; translated by Laurie Thompson, 2013)
Vintage 978-0099-57217-6, 2014



A Bridge to the Stars (Hunden som sprang mot en stjärna, 1990; translated 2005)
Andersen Press 978-1842-70439-4, (Sep) 2005, 160pp, £5.99.

Shadows in the Twilight (Skuggorna växer i skymninge, 1991; translated 2007)
Andersen Press 978-1842-70620-6, (Mar) 2007, 160pp, £5.99.

When the Snow Fell (Pojken som sov med snö i sin sän, 1996; translated 2007)
Andersen Press 978-1842-70665-7, (Sep) 2007, 224pp, £5.99.

Journey to the End of the World (Resan till världens ände, 1998; translated 2008)
Andersen Press 978-1842-70666-4, (Mar) 2008, 224pp, £5.99.

SOFIA Series

Secrets in the Fire (Eldens hemlighet, 1995; translated by Anne Stuksrud, 2000)
Allen & Unwin 978-1865-08181-6, (May) 2000, 168pp, £4.99.

Playing with Fire (Eldens gåta, 2001; translated by Anna Paterson, 2002)
Allen & Unwin 978-1865-08714-6, (Sep) 2002, 240pp, £5.99.

The Fury in the Fire (Eldens vrede, 2005; translated by Anna Paterson, 2009)
Allen & Unwin 978-1741-75831-3, (Jul) 2009, 180pp, £6.99. Released in Australia.


The Cat Who Liked Rain (translated by Laurie Thompson, 2007)
Andersen Press 978-1842-70843-9, (Aug) 2008, 128pp, £4.99.