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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

What was the first British trade paperback?

So, here's a question I don't know the answer to but I thought it might be interesting to turn it over to the hive mind and see if we can come up with an answer...Which was the first British "trade paperback" to be published? I know this (US) definition is usually applied to volumes that typically reprint 4-6 issues of any given title.

I'm differentiating it from the term 'graphic novel' which I'm taking to mean a title published entirely as one volume. Whatever.

I'll open the bidding with this item, this is an overs-sized (and extremely flimsy) softback reprinting of the (original) Eagle magazine back-page strip The Baden-Powell story. It appeared in 1957 and had originally appeared in Eagle volume 5 number 17 (23/04/54) to volume 5 number 45 (05/11/54), written by Geoffrey Bond (under his Alan Jason pseudonym) and is illustrated by Norman Williams.


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

the Mekon is for sale!

News from Peter Hampson's website (maintained in honour of his artist father, Frank Hampson) is that a number of Mekon sculptures created by the late (fine) artist Pip Warwick have been inherited by ceramicist Catherine Warwick, her website is here.

More details can be found on Peter's website (here), as well as the images there are notes on the extraordinary technical complexity of creating these sculptures (5,000 man-hours; 113 inter-locking parts; £10,000 of [mid-1970s] development money).

Here are some of the amazing images from the site




All images are (c) Peter Hampson are used purely for publicity purposes.

Monday, 26 June 2017

When comic retailers go into publishing...

So, if you run a comic shop it's a pretty safe bet that you love comics, that you see a load of comics fans every day and you (perhaps inevitably) think "...I could produce stuff better than Marvel / DC / Image", so here are some comics where the shop owner thought they could outdo their esteemed rivals...

3 issue mini-series from Krypton Comics (in 2005)...copies of all issues available on Amazon & ebay



and this appears to collect issues 1-3 together...

An AIDS awareness comic from St Albans based Chaos City Comics 

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Girl novels - part 2

This second 'set' of Girl novels are all much longer volumes than these but they are all very similar in design (red spine with the Girl emblem on it).

From 1958...Geoffrey Bond also wrote (Luck of the Legion novels) for Eagle. This tells how an amusing, but trivial, incident with a baker's horse leads Claudia to search for the member of an old circus troupe, long since disbanded. No-one is more surprised than Claudia at the strange people and places to which the long and exciting quest leads her.

From 1960...Peter Ling also wrote a character spin-off novel for Eagle (The three J's and the pride of Northbrook). Angela is on the London-New York-Bermuda flight as the story opens, having been previously warned to be on the constant lookout for gold smugglers. Could the quiet, sinister-looking couple be involved, or perhaps handsome Max, who wants to take her out? The story takes many exciting and unforeseen twists which puts Angela to the test, and lead her into some very unusual situations.

First published in 1958 and then reprinted in 1960 (none of the Eagle spin-off novels were ever re-printed). Susan Marsh, the popular young student nurse has a host of problems when a pretty new Sister comes to ST. Bride's Hospital from London - and not the least of them is what to about Rocky, the amiable young man who is nevertheless a deserter from the Army.

First published in 1961. Image taken from here

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Girl novels - part 1

Once Hulton Press had launched Eagle, and then Girl, they wasted no time cashing in on their new creations. A vast amount of merchandise (much of which was Dan Dare related) was generated by companies who purchased licences from Hulton Press. Some of the other items, such as the annuals an assorted character spin-off novels, were kept 'in house'.

Here are scans of the covers of the first 4 spin-off novels that Hulton produced for Girl, note the distinctive yellow dust wrapper, this still makes the titles stand out on the shelves even today.

Gala Performance is from 1956, Country holiday is from 1957 - both are by George Beardmore.

The  Dutch stamp mystery was first published in 1956 and then reprinted in 1957; the missing scientist was also from 1957. Both titles are written by Valerie Hastings.




Friday, 23 June 2017

A Denis Gifford selection (1)

Denis Gifford wrote many (large) reference books on the history of British comics, and while more modern day comics were not his forte, our knowledge of the history of British comics would be much poorer without his pioneering efforts. Presented here are the 2 editions of both the (small) books ne wrote for Shire Publications. All are still worth searching out...




Thursday, 22 June 2017

What I've bought recently (part 3)

Final (charity shop) purchases...I've heard great stuff about Gary Spencer Millidge's work over the years but never read any of it, so these 2 collected volumes (of 3) have gone straight into my reading pile.

Benjamin Read & Chris Wildgoose have created an amazing world in "Porcelain" - this is the second volume and I picked this up in exactly the same shop where I bought volume 1 a few months ago (this time they had the first volume and this one for sale). More details can be found here.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

What I've bought recently (part 2)

Merrick the sensational elephantman #5, fresh from a successful kickstarter campaign, is now up to issue 5. I only started buying this recently but I'm really looking forward to this British version of Hellboy (at least that's what it looks and feels like to me). The artwork may not be to everyone's taste but this is a series that deserves to be more widely-read...



Fresh from my posting about English-language reprints of Thorgal (before Cinebook arrived on the scene) is the 2nd volume in the series. I didn't even realise there were 3 volumes when I posted and it's always a pleasure to use the blog to discover titles you didn't know about. There's a buy it now on ebay for £8 (plus postage) - I think I bought the cheaper copy that was up there the other day. The 3rd volume appears to be harder to get hold of in the UK, so some more searching required.



Finally, it's this week's copy of the Phoenix...


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

What I've bought recently (part 1)

Off for a few days to watch some cricket, so I thought I'd just post some example of what I've been buying recently...


Jamie Smart's Bunny cs. Monkey is a treat and the Phoenix is a better comic for having him in it. It's also good to see his strips get the collected treatment, although he's so prolific the Phoenix can't keep up with him! Delightful art, silly stories, killer inventions all for 50p from a charity shop, marvellous
Get all your Jamie nonsense here


Next up is an ebay purchase, I've only got one last issue of Red Dagger to collect and about a dozen issue of (its girls companion title) Lucky Charm to collect. It's a hard series to collect as (affordable) copies turn up infrequently. Quite a number of the issues have Ian Kennedy cover, but a great deal of patience is required if you're after the full set.  





Another 50p well spent in a charity shop on Neill Cameron and Kate Brown's tale of surfing, kids and a long buried secret. Neill (more details here) and Kate (more details here) have worked on a number of strips for the Phoenix and Tamsin and the Deep has even gone on to a second volume). For more grown-up children than Jamie Smart's work (see above) but that variety is what makes the Phoenix interesting.


Monday, 19 June 2017

Dark Visions - the Amtrak wars

Continuing on from yesterday's not quite comics post, here's another...

As a sci-fi reading teen I loved Patrick Tilley's epic series The Amtrak Wars, which follows the adventures of Steve Brickman in a post-apocalyptic USA. A book I could never find at the time (probably very early '90s) was 'Dark Visions - an illustrated guide to the Amtrak Wars'. Having picked it for a few quid recently I can find see what I was missing out on.

Published in 1988 it's beautifully illustrated by Fernando Fernandez across 64 pages of an amazingly detailed glossary of the Wars - full of technical illustrations (not be Fernando) and set-piece images (like those shown below), which are by Fernando. In a world where there was no Wikipedia for the Wars this was the next best thing and is well worth searching if you're a fan of the books.

Copies are available on ebay from about £30 upwards (buy it now) or £175 (auction) - good luck with that!





Sunday, 18 June 2017

Casket of Souls

ok, so this isn't a comic but it's my blog, so I'll make an exception if I want to...so I was really into Fighting Fantasy books as a kid and must have picked this up from the library on the strength of Ian Livingstone's name on the cover. I remember I took it on holiday with me one summer holiday and spent so much time poring over the pages trying to work out what the hell was going on (and therefore work out what the hidden message was).
If you've never picked this up I won't give any clues away, suffice to say that there are a dozen pages and a dozen objects, and there's a different object hidden in each image. Sounds easy. Isn't. I'm sure someone has posted the answer somewhere on the internet and it would save me whole lot of bother if I just looked for the answers that way rather than getting sucked in to spending hours (which I know I could do) trying to find the treasures. My favourite 'Fighting Fantasy' type thing - just as good today as it was then. Fantastic illustrations throughout.

Softback and hardback editions were available (hardback is much rarer and commands a premium)


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Frank Hampson's materpiece printed across Europe

The Road of Courage is Frank Hampson's one volume masterpiece. The attention to detail on the artwork is beyond anything you might ever expect to see on a weekly cartoon. Luckily. it's not only popular in the UK (first 2 volumes, below) but overseas as well (last 2 volumes, below).




Friday, 16 June 2017

Raymond Briggs does Father Christmas

To celebrate the news that Raymond Briggs has been made a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list (not to mention the other news this week that 2 of his books are in the Top 15 of a list of 20th century children’s books which are still being read today, in a new poll commissioned by the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals), I thought I should fish out the few bits of Raymond Briggs material I have...


The above 'strip' is taken from issue 3 of Ally Sloper magazine (December 1976) - cover below 

From a talk (by Raymond Briggs & Posy Simmonds) that I went to

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Dan Dare club newsletter #1

From Autumn 1964 I present the very first issue of the Dan Dare club newsletter. It was produced by Eric MacKenzie (aged 15) and Andrew Skilleter (aged 16). Printed on foolscap paper - 2 pages only. Eric had had letter published in Eagle on 13/06/64 and 07/11/64 concerning his interest in Dan Dare and the newsletter.
While not the earliest comics fanzine produced this country I would say it is the earliest fanzine about a particular character.
My question is did Andrew Skilleter produce the illustrations on page 2? Let's hope he reads this and can let us know.



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Swift novels

Swift magazine (the junior companion to the original Eagle magazine) published a number of tie-in books - mainly the 'Swift picture book of..." series. They also published 3 tie-in novels, shown here...

Smiley has an exciting life in the Australian bush with his friend Joey. But until Smiley Roams the Road, he has never seen the sea. When he does visit it, he finds himself in the thick of some of the most exciting adventures he has ever had. In and out of trouble all the time, he rides turtles in the surf, starts a fire, is chased by sharks. And those are just a few of the things he gets up to before he 
sets off on his travels with Old Restless, the tramp, and finishes up finally with a travelling fair. Readers of Swift will know Smiley already, and will enjoy reading this new adventure as much as I did - Marcus Morris.


Here is the first book ever about a character from the pages of Swift - that great favourite, Nicky Nobody. The story tells how Nicky receives a camera as a birthday present. he takes a photograph and, when it is developed, sees something on it which should not be there. Finding the solution to the mystery leads Nicky and his dog chum into an adventure in which the excitement lasts right up to the final page - Marcus Morris


Dixon of Dock Green was just settling down to watch his favourite football team win their first game of the new season at White Hart Lane when word came to him that the team manager's safe had been burgled. Dixon suddenly finds himself involved with a gang of international crooks, and the K plan, a secret football system designed to put nay team into the world-beater class. There is also the kidnap of a famous scientist. This Dixon adventure will thrill everyone who enjoys an exciting story.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Buck Danny - mission 'apocalypse'

Following on from my post the other day about Thorgal before it was published by Cinebook (here) I thought I'd show another volume that had a publishing life before Cinebooks.

The title is "The adventures of Buck Danny - mission 'apocalypse'" and it looks like this...
46 pages (again, just like 'Thorgal - child of the stars'), published in the USA in 1988 by Amusement International Ltd. It's quite a thin volume. As far as I'm aware this is the only (English language) volume of stories that were reprinted before Cinebooks started publishing them.


Plenty of military tech. to feast your eyes on...

Rear cover image of Buck...

Cinebook (here) have, so date, published 7 volume of Buck's adventures. As they say...From the bloody episodes of WWII in the Pacific to the most modern developments in aviation, going from adventure to adventure, the aviator Buck Danny and his colleagues cross a half-century of American and world history. Joining an extraordinarily accurate sense of detail with the inspiration of great epics, Buck Danny’s adventures keep us in suspense and show us the hidden side of global geopolitics. The adventures of Buck Danny are a creation of Georges Troisfontaines, Victor Hubinon and Jean-Michel Charlier. The series was created for the magazine Spirou shortly after World War II, and was first published on January 2, 1947. After Hubinon's death in 1978, the drawing of the series was taken over by Francis Berg├Ęse, who also took over the writing after Charlier passed away 11 years later.