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Friday, June 30, 2017

Comic Cuts - 30 June 2017

Taking a brief break, I was out with family on Friday and out in the garden on Monday. We had lunch in the pub with my sister's dogs staring intently at every bite; later in the week we had fish & chips. Add the pleasantly warm weather – better than last week's thirty plus temperatures – and this is the closest I've come to a holiday in years.

Feeling nicely revived, I spent a couple of days on the Valiant index reading 'The Astounding Adventures of Jason Hyde', the text story that ran in the paper in 1965-68. I'd been looking forward to it, as this is the first time I've had a chance to read all the stories, in order, all the way through. About 300,000 words of insanely inventive science fiction written by someone who actually knew how to write science fiction. Crazy doesn't begin to describe it! They're old-fashioned, pulpy fun, filled with weird characters and wild action.

Being a long-time fan of Paddington Bear, the loss of Michael Bond, at the age of 91, was particularly heartbreaking. I still have quite a few of his Paddington books, picked up a few years ago when the urge to re-read them became overwhelming.

I wrote – or, rather, co-wrote – an article about Paddington for a magazine twenty years ago which I posted here on Bear Alley in 2008... so if you want to find out more about Paddington just follow this link.

Bond, of course, wrote a great deal more than Paddington. His books included the adventures of the Thursday, a mouse, and guinea pig Olga da Polga (both for children) and the crime-solver and gastronome Monsieur Pamplemousse (for adults). He wrote a Paddington comic strip for the London Evening News in 1976-78, drawn by Ivor Wood, who was responsible for 'The Herbs' and its spin-off 'The Adventures of Parsley'. I'm not sure whether Bond had any involvement scripting the comic strip versions that appeared in Playland in the late Sixties and early Seventies, but the strips predated the characters' appearance on TV so it seems likely.

Ivor Wood was responsible for turning Paddington into a TV star in a series narrated by Michael Hordern, which used a "real" Paddington Bear against hand-drawn, two-dimensional backgrounds, muted in colour. An example of Wood's cartoon version of Paddington can be seen over to the right.

Paddington comic strips also appeared in Blue Peter Annual for many years, drawn by Harry Hargreaves. Both The Herbs and Parsley had their own annuals which may have also had some contributions by Bond.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Commando 5031-5034


Brand new Commando issues 5031-5034 are coming soon, with four action packed stories of bravery and duty as our heroes must against the Nazis in the heat of the Second World War!

5031: Race – Or Die!

Set on the sleepy Isle of Man, or not as sleepy as it may seem, a long way from the main battles of the Second World War, conflict still managed to find its way to this secluded island. Nazi spies, secret codes, U-Boats and one thrilling motorbike chase… Colin Watson’s original story has it all!
    Rodriguez and Morhain team up again to deliver another beautifully illustrated issue of Commando. With dark, black waters surrounding the island, you can really feel the isolation of the characters. But, as Janek’s cover shows, this is not always a good thing as the stakes are raised to a one-on-one motorbike chase - the island blurred beside the motorbikes, which kick up dust behind them on the quiet country land.

Story: Colin Watson
Art: Rodriguez & Morhain
Cover: Janek Matysiak

5032: The Deadly Game

Lopez Espi’s cover truly captures the hot headed red-head, Corporal Kit Hughes. With hair to match his temper, the Dunkirk evacuee was not one to be trifled with as “the flame haired giant strode the plains of Crete like one of the ancient Gods of mythology.” But these plains in R. Fuente’s interior artwork are not quite the green and gold Mediterranean of the cover, but hard rocky outcrops and dry, bare trees: a hard land which mirrors the fighting that takes place there. 
    But now, Kit won’t retreat again in Gentry’s very Commando story of friendship, bravery, duty and revenge. Having evacuated once before, Kit and his best pal Private Len Small have no intentions of leaving Crete, especially when they find out that Nazi Major Mauch, a brutal figure from their past, is leading a base there…

Story: Gentry
Art: R. Fuente
Cover: Lopez Espi
Originally Commando No 369

5033: Forgotten Fighters

In the Second World War, Japan actually invaded American soil. It happened in 1942, and the soil in question was the island of Attu, off the coast of Alaska. The battle, the only to take place on American territory, lasted nineteen days and is the subject which inspired writer Richard Davis.
    Interior artists Rezzonico and Morhain take full advantage of the island’s mist and rain, contrasting the clear visibility of the soldiers training in America to the harsh conditions of Attu and how unprepared our heroes were for this war. However, no matter the bleak look of the island’s interior, David Alexander’s traditional art cover captures the serene isolation of the island, untouched and mystical, concealing the violence that would take place there.

Story: Richard Davis
Art: Rezzonico & Morhain
Cover: David Alexander

5034: Escape to Battle

An unconventional hero for Commando, Mike Azonette is a petty thief, growing up in the streets of New York under Don Capardi. But after getting caught robbing the Don’s nephew, Giovanni Castovanni, Mike must go on the run, and what better place to hide than in the armed forces? Little does Mike know that he’s about to be drafted to North Africa now that the U.S. has joined Europe in the Second World War…
    With the shadowy face of Giovanni looming in the background, always hanging over Mike’s head, watching, the sense of dread in ‘Escape to Battle’ is felt right through from Ian Kennedy’s remarkable cover. Meanwhile, Welsh illustrator Keith Shone’s illustrations really stand out as he often bleeds images between panels, with characters, objects and explosions breaking free of their frames.

Story: Ian Clark
Art: Keith Shone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No 2581



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rebelion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 28 June 2017.

2000AD Prog 2037
Cover: Mark Harrison
Judge Dredd: Parental Guidance by Rory McConville (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Brink: Skeleton Life by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Defoe: Diehards by Pat Mills (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Grey Area: Batch Recall by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hunted: Furies by Gordon Rennie (w) PJ Holden (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Richard Cowper cover gallery

Pen-name of John Middleton Murry

NOVELS AS COLIN MURRY

The Golden Valley (London, Hutchinson, 1953)
(no UK paperback)

Recollections of a Ghost (London, Hutchinson, 1960)
(no UK paperback)

A Path to the Sea (London, Hutchinson, 1961)
(no UK paperback)

Private View (London, Dobson, 1972)
(no UK paperback)

NOVELS AS RICHARD COWPER

Breakthrough (London, Dobson,1967)
Pan/Ballantine 0345-01653-x, (Jan) 1972, 218pp, 30p. Cover by Steele Savage

Phoenix (London, Dobson, 1968)
Pan/Ballantine 0345-01856-7, 1972, 186pp.

Domino (London, Dobson, 1971)
(no UK paperback)

Kuldesak (London, Gollancz, 1972)
Quartet Books 0704-31075-9, (Dec) 1973, 186pp, 50p. Cover by Jim Burns
Orbit 0704-31075-9, 1976, 186pp, 60p. Cover by Chris Achilleos

Clone (London, Gollancz, 1972)
Quartet Books 0704-31116-x, 1974, 168pp, 40p. Cover by Jim Burns
Pan Books 0330-26179-7, (Jun) 1981, 167pp, £1.25. Cover by Ian Pollock
VGSF/Gollancz 0575-04694-5, (Mar) 1990, 189pp, £3.50. Cover by John Higgins

Time Out of Mind (London, Gollancz, 1973)
Quartet Books/Orbit 0704-31242-5, 1976, 134pp, 60p. Cover by Chris Achilleos

The Twilight of Briareus (London, Gollancz, 1974)
Quartet Books/Orbit 0704-31248-4, 1976, 254pp, 70p. Cover by Chris Achilleos
Pan Books 0330-26022-7, (May) 1980, 235pp, £1.25. Cover by Geoff Taylor
VGSF/Gollancz 0575-04693-7, (Sep) 1990, 255pp, £3.99. Cover by John Higgins

Worlds Apart (London, Gollancz, 1974)
(no UK paperback)

Profundis (London, Gollancz, 1979)
Pan Books 0330-26178-9, (Oct) 1980, 158pp, £1.25. Cover by Ian Pollock

The Road to Corlay (London, Gollancz, 1978)
Pan Books 0330-25697-1, (May) 1979, 156pp, 80p.
Orbit/Futura 0708-88195-5, (Apr) 1986, 202pp, £2.25. Cover by Mick Van Houten

A Dream of Kinship (London, Gollancz, 1981)
Orbit/Futura 0708-88200-5, (Jun) 1986, 239pp, £2.50. Cover by Mick Van Houten

A Tapestry of Time (London, Gollancz, 1982)
Orbit/Futura 0708-88199-8, (Aug) 1986, 186pp, £2.50. Cover by Mick Van Houten

Shades of Darkness (Kerosina Books, 1986)
(no UK paperback)

COLLECTIONS AS RICHARD COWPER

The Custodians and Other Stories (London, Gollancz, 1976)
Pan Books 0330-25364-6, 1978, 144pp, 60p. Cover by Geoff Taylor

The Web of the Magi (London, Gollancz, 1980)
(no UK paperback)

Out There Where the Big Ships Go (New York, Pocket Books, 1980)
(no UK paperback)

The Tihonian Factor (London, Gollancz, 1984)
(no UK paperback)

The Magic Spectacles and Other Tales (Kerosina Books, 1986)
(no UK paperback)

NON-FICTION AS COLIN MIDDLETON MURRAY

One Hand Clapping: A Memoir of Childhood (London, Gollancz, 1975; as I at the Keyhole, New York, Stein and Day, 1975)
(no UK paperback)

Shadows on the Grass (London, Gollancz, 1977)
(no UK paperback)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Comic Cuts - 23 June 2017

I'm pleased to say that my erratic internet connection has been working well all week. Now, excuse me while I go and find some wood to touch. It's a pointless superstition but one I've never been able to wean myself off. Why would "touching wood" cause Fate to respond to someone making a confident statement by sending them bad luck?

Elsewhere in the world, the phrase "knock on wood" seems to be more common, and it would appear that the phrase dates back to the age of Pagans who believed fairies, sprites, dryads and other mystical creatures lived in the trees. So you would knock or touch the tree if you wanted good luck.

Since most of the shelves surrounding me are laminated chipboard, but some of the old magazines I own are made from wood pulp, would I be better off touching them? How much more luck do you get from a pulp magazine rather than a newspaper? And by the time the wood has been cut, pulped, soaked and reconstituted as paper, sliced into sheets and rebound as books, how many of them contain a whole fairy? How much luck is there in half a sprite or random bits of dryad?

These are the sort of questions we need Q.I. for.

After mentioning the death of Alan Austin last week. I heard of two more deaths relating to British comics on Monday: Carlos Prunes, a Spanish artist who worked over here for twenty-odd years, and Gordon Livingstone, one of the main figures who shaped Commando, drawing 372 issues, roughly two-thirds of which have been reprinted. That means Livingstone was responsible for an eighth of Commando's total run of just over 5,000 issues.

I managed to write up a piece for Prunes (scroll down for which) and we will be running an obituary for Gordon shortly.

I haven't had a chance to get back to the Valiant index for a couple of weeks, so I'm hoping to maybe spend a couple of days on it next week. I mentioned a book that someone had said they were putting out some years ago and said that the author should get their finger out... only to realise that it has been a couple of years since I managed to get one of these indexes out, so I'm not exactly in a position to cast aspersions.

We have the first tomatoes on our tomato plants. Judging by the number of flowers, we should have a reasonable crop. And on that good news....

Random scans: I have some "Red" themed covers left over from last week:


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Carlos Prunes (1937-2017)

Spanish artist Carles Prunés Álvarez, who signed his work Carlos Prunes, died on 18 June 2017, aged 79. A prolific artist in the UK for twenty years, his work was little known as it appeared exclusively in romance and girls’ comics. His work appeared most regularly in Valentine, the teenage romance comic where strips were based around the titles of the popular hits of the day; Prunes produced over 100 stories for that paper alone between December 1957 and March 1966.

At the same time he also contributed to other teenage girls’ titles, including Roxy, Marilyn and Serenade. When these titles began to wane in popularity in the mid-1960s, Prunes – through his agents Selecciones Illustrades – began contributing to D.C. Thomson’s girls’ comics, Mandy and, most notably, Diana, where he drew ‘Princess Cookie’ (1969), ‘Little Yoo in The Castle of Secrets’ (1970), ‘The Pendant of Peril’ (1974) and various complete stories. He occasionally appeared Fleetway’s girls’ titles, including Tammy (‘Dog Paddle Doris’, 1972) and June & School Friend (‘Which One’s the Spy?’, 1972-73).

Prunes was notably the first Spanish artist to contribute to the Warren magazines. Eighteen months ahead of the arrival of a number of Josep Toutain’s best artists, Prunes had contacted Warren independently and contributed “To Be or Not to Be a Witch” to Creepy 30 in 1969, although it proved to be his only contribution, Prunes turning down offers of more work in order to concentrate on illustration.

Born in Barcelona on 7 December 1937, Prunes studies at the Escuela de Artes y Oficios at the Llotja de Mar palace where he earned the title of Professor of painting and drawing. At the age of 19 he became one of the earliest artists to find work via Josep Toutain’s Selecciones Illustrades agency in the UK.

While still working for the UK, he also contributed war, crime and spy stories to various Spanish comics published by Toray, including Rosas Blancas (1959), Susana (1959), Brigada Secreta (1966), Hazanas Belicas (1966-71), ‘El Cid’ to Novelas Graficas Clasicas (1966), ‘Noel Bertrand’ in Huron (1967-69), ‘Ali Bey’ and ‘El Gran Capitan’ to Hombres Famosos (1969), Aventuras (1969) and Relator de Guerra (1970).

Prunes’ other major market was Germany where he contributed to various titles published by Bastei, including horror and sword & sorcery comics Geister Geschichten, Gespenster Geschichten and Spuk Geschichten.

During the 1970s, he began concentrating of cover art (e.g. El Mundo Futuro) and illustrations for children’s books, although he continued to contribute comic strips, including Cowboy (1976), Servicio Federal (1980) and La Historieta (1980) for Ediciones Ursus and a biography of Miguel Ángel for Comic Biografías (1983). In 1992 he drew the story of Los Espanoles en la Florida, part of the "Stories of the New World" series produced by Planeta-DeAgostini for the Quinto Centenario State Society.

Increasingly, he dedicated himself to painting and retired from drawing comics. An exhibition of his paintings took place at the Centre Cívic del Parc – Sandaru in Barcelona in February 2017.

(* Photo from Memories Illustradas, via Tebeosfera)

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 21 June 2017.

2000AD Prog 2036
Cover: Chris Weston
Judge Dredd: The Fields by Rob Williams (w) Chris Weston (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Brink: Skeleton Life by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Defoe: Diehards by Pat Mills (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Grey Area: Back in Black by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hunted: Furies by Gordon Rennie (w) PJ Holden (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 385
Cover: Phil Winslade
Judge Dredd: The Third Person by Michael Carroll Carl Critchlow (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Tales from the Black Museum: Bite Sized by Rory McConville (w) Andrew Currie (a) Annie Parkhouse
Havn by Si Spencer (w) Henry Flint (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Anderson, Psi Division: Dragon Blood by Alan Grant (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Lawless: Long-Range War by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Features:
New Books: Skizz, One-eyed Jack, Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
Obituary: Edmund Bagwell
Bagged reprint: Necrophim: Civil Warlord by Tony Lee (w) Lee Carter (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Monday, June 19, 2017

M. John Harrison cover gallery

NOVELS

The Committed Men (London, Hutchinson, 1971; revised, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1971)
Panther Books 0586-03775-6, 1973, 137pp, 35p. Cover by Bob Haberfield
VGSF/Gollancz [VGSF Classics 32] 0575-04220-6, (Apr) 1989, 223pp, £3.50. Cover by Peter Elson

The Pastel City (London, New English Library, 1971; New York, Avon, 1971)
New English Library 0450-00764-2, (Sep) 1971, 144pp, 30p. Cover by Bruce Pennington
---- [?2nd imp.] (Jan) 1974, 144pp, 30p. Cover by Bruce Pennington
Sphere 0722-14441-5, (Sep) 1978, 142pp, 85p. Cover by Angus McKie
Unwin Paperbacks 0048-23333-1, (Apr) 1987, 142pp, £2.50. Cover by Kevin Tweddell

The Centauri Device (Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1974; London, Panther, 1975)
Panther Books 0586-04207-5, (Apr) 1975, 204pp, 50p. Cover by Peter Jones
Unwin Paperbacks 0048-23364-1, (Sep) 1986, 212pp, £2.95. Cover by Fred Gambino
Millennium [SF Masterworks 31] 1857-98997-x, (Jul) 2000, 205pp, £6.99. Cover by Chris Moore
---- [?2nd imp.] 2004
Gollancz 978-0575-08257-1, (Apr) 2009, 199pp, £7.99. Cover by Sanda Zahirovic

A Storm of Wings (Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1980; London, Sphere, 1980)
Sphere 0722-14442-3, (Dec) 1980, 185pp, £1.35. Cover by Chris Achilleos
Unwin 0048-23334-x, 1987, 189pp, £2.95.

In Viriconium (London, Gollancz, 1982; as The Floating Gods, New York, Timescape/Pocket Books, 1983)
Unwin Paperbacks 0048-23247-5, 1984, 126pp, £2.25. Cover by Linda Garland

Climbers (London, Gollancz, 1989)
Paladin 0586-09065-7, (Jul) 1991, 221pp, £4.99. Cover by John Harris
Flamingo 0586-09065-7, (Aug) 1993, 221pp, £5.99. Cover by Carol Fulton
Gollancz 978-0575-09217-4, (May) 2013, 234pp, £8.99. Cover by Sam Green

The Course of the Heart (London, Gollancz, 1992; San Francisco, CA, Night Shade Books, 2004)
Flamingo 0006-54602-1, 1993, 216pp, £5.99. Cover photo by Carol Fulton

Signs of Life (London, Gollancz, 1997)
Flamingo 0006-54604-8, (Apr) 1998, 253pp, £6.99. Cover by Dave McKean

Light (London, Gollancz, 2002)
Gollancz/Orion 0575-07026-9, 2002, 320pp, £10.99. Cover by Chris Moore
Gollancz 0575-07403-5, (Sep) 2003, 320pp, £6.99. Cover by Chris Moore
Gollancz/Orion 0575-07503-5, (Nov) 2007, 320pp, £7.99. Cover by Chris Moore
Gollancz 978-0575-07403-3, 2013, 320+16pp, £8.99. Cover by Sam Green

Nova Swing (London, Gollancz, 2006)
Gollancz/Orion 0575-07028-5, (Nov) 2006, 247pp, £9.99. Cover by Dominic Harman
Gollancz 0575-07969-x, (Nov) 2007, 247pp, £7.99. Cover by Dominic Harman

Empty Space (London, Gollancz, 2012)
Gollanc 978-0575-09631-8, (Jul) 2012, 302pp, £12.99. Cover by Sam Green
Gollancz 978-0575-09632-5, (Apr) 2013, 302pp, £8.99. Cover by Sam Green

NOVELS AS GABRIEL KING [with Jane Johnson]

The Wild Road (London, Century, 1997)
Arrow Books 0099-24252-4, (Nov) 1997, 463pp, £5.99.

The Golden Cat (London, Century, 1998)
Arrow Books 0099-24422-5, 1999, 350pp, £5.99.

The Knot Garden (London, Century, 2000)
Arrow Books 0099-29700-0, (Nov) 2001, 495pp, £5.99.

Nonesuch (London, Century, 2001)
Arrow Books 0099-29710-8, (Jun) 2002, 435pp, £6.99.

COLLECTIONS

The Machine in Shaft Ten and Other Stories (London, Panther, 1975)
Panther Books 0585-04191-5, (Jul) 1975, 174pp, 50p. Cover by Chris Foss

Viriconium Nights (London, Gollancz, 1982; New York, Ace Books, 1984; revised, London, Gollancz, 1985)
Unwin Paperbacks 0048-23330-7, (Aug) 1986, 158pp, £2.95. Cover by Linda Garland

The Ice Monkey (London, Gollancz, 1983)
Unwin Paperbacks 0048-23347-1, (Apr) 1988, 144pp, £2.95. Cover by Ian Miller
Flamingo 0006-54578-5, (Aug) 1993, 144pp, £5.99. Cover by Carol Fulton

Travel Arrangements (London, Gollancz, 2000)
Gollancz/Orion 0575-06832-9, (May) 2000, 262pp, £9.99.
Flamingo 0006-54603-x, (Nov) 2001, 262pp, £6.99.

OMNIBUS

Viriconium (contains In Viriconium and Viriconium Nights) (London, Unwin, 1988)
Unwin 0044-40245-7, 1988, xii+276pp, £3.95. Cover by Ian Miller

Things That Never Happen (contains The Ice Monkey and Travel Arrangements) (San Francisco, CA, Night Shade Books, 2003; abridged, London, Gollancz, 2004)
Gollancz 0575-07593-7, 2004, 436pp, £8.99. Cover by Stanley Spencer

Anima (contains Signs of Life and The Course of the Heart) (London, Orion, 2005)
Gollancz/Orion 0575-07594-5, 473pp, £8.99. Cover by Blacksheep

Viriconium (contains The Pastel City, Viriconium Nights, A Storm of Wings, In Viriconium)
Millennium/Orion [Fantasy Masterworks 7] 1857-98885-3, (Jul) 2000, 563pp, £7.99. Cover by Albert Godwin

GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Luck in the Head, illustrated by Ian Miller (London, VG Graphics, 1991)
Gollancz 0575-05037-3, 1991, 80pp, £8.99. Cover by Ian Miller

OTHERS

Fawcett on Rock by Ron Fawcett and John Beatty, with Mike Harrison [ghostwritten autobiography) (London, Unwin Hyman, 1987)
(no UK paperback)

Parietal Games: Critical Writings By and On M John Harrison, edited by Mark Bould and Michelle Reid (London, The Science Fiction Foundation, 2005)
SF Foundation 0803-00705-3, (Aug) 2005, 357pp. Cover by Colin Odell