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Friday, August 22, 2014

Comic Cuts - 22 August 2014

I'm writing this Thursday morning, feeling a little thick-headed. I think Mel and I are both going down with colds. I managed to get away to bed early last night but woke up just before 3 am. I managed to drift off again but was wide awake at four and decided to watch (of all things) Quatermass II, the old TV series. Brilliant as it is (there's a good Wikipedia entry about it), it was perhaps the wrong choice if I was hoping to doze off: I was immediately caught up in the story and watched a couple of episodes before I tore myself away. I eventually fell asleep again for a couple of weird, dream-filled hours before getting up at seven.

As I'm not sure how I'll be feeling later, I thought I'd write this now: it's not quite nine and I've been back from my morning walk about twenty minutes. At the moment I don't feel too bad—I'm still feeling tired but the second cup of coffee is starting to kick in, and the walk helped iron out a few kinks. Hopefully I've headed the cold off at the pass and I'll be as right as rain by the time you're reading this. [Update, Friday morning: Seems to have worked. I'm feeling OK.]

Anyway, I promised news on the next Bear Alley Books publication and, now I've swapped contracts on it, I'm very pleased to announce that we will be publishing a reprint of "Arena" from The Crunch. The Crunch ran for a year in 1979-80 and, while it didn't find its audience, it had some very memorable stories. (Some of them I might look at for future publication!)

"Arena" was written by Dave Taylor, who began writing for Thomson's weeklies with stories in Bullet. Already a fan of science fiction (he had previously edition the fictionzine Nebula, in 1974-77, he went on to write for Starblazer, Buddy, Spike, Hotspur and Victor, writing, amongst many others, the adventures of Starhawk, Billy the Cat and Alf Tupper, the Tough of the Tracks.

The strip also marked the UK debut of the brilliant Argentinean artist Enrique Alcatena. Influenced by a wide range of South American, American and European artists, Alcatena has emerged as one of the most stylish fantasy artists to have worked in comics.

I'm hopeful that if "Arena" sells well, I can do more reprints of classic Thomson strips. At the moment, I'm looking at a book of around 130 pages. The bulk of the internal artwork is ready to go (I just need to see how it prints up). I'm have a ton of notes for the introduction, which I've started writing. I've had lots of fun researching SF yarns about Roman gladiators, dystopian futures, corporations, future sports and reality TV. The problem now is to try to stick to writing what I need to write and not to try throwing in the kitchen sink.

I'll have more details about the book over the next couple of weeks, and I'm hoping that I'll have the book itself in September.

The only other news I have is that we've had over 80 tomatoes off our two plants... so far. There are dozens more ripening and I'm expecting to be eating many more sandwiches featuring tomatoes over the upcoming weeks... cheese & tomato, ham & tomato, corned beef & tomato... I'm expecting singing to break out in the background. Bloody Vikings.

Today's random scan is a little different. I picked up the debut novel by James S. A. Corey, described on the cover as a "Kickass space opera" by none other than George R. R. Martin. I later discovered that James S. A. Corey is, in fact, two writers: Daniel James Abraham and Ty Corey Franck, the latter being George R. R. Martin's personal assistant. Hmmmmm. That said, the book was well reviewed elsewhere and was nominated for a Hugo, so it'll be worth a read.

What really sold me on it was the cover by Daniel Dociu. He's well worth a Google image search as he's produced hundreds of superb paintings (you might start here, for instance) and designs for video games. I was intrigued to discover that the front and back covers of the Orbit paperback were canibalised from the same painting.

So, first we have the book cover as you would see it if you had plucked it from a shelf. Then the original artwork, and then the front and rear covers overlayed onto the original artwork to show how they all fit together.

Over the weekend I'll have the John D. MacDonald cover gallery that I so thoroughly failed to have ready for last weekend. It takes time to put together a gallery of 55 or so images. I didn't realise I had so many. Next week, another annual with artwork by one of my favourite artists.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Baretta Annual

(* Baretta © Universal City Studios Inc.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Baretta Annual

A one-off annual from Brown Watson, Baretta Annual was based on the American TV series which ran for four seasons in 1975-78. The show starred Robert Blake as Tony Baretta, a plainclothes cop with 53rd precinct in New Jersey. Dressed in a soft cap and t-shirt, Baretta lives with a cockatoo named Fred in a hotel run by Billy Truman, a former colleague of Baretta's late policeman father.

The show ran to 82 episodes and for the life of me I don't recall ever seeing one of them. I went digging around YouTube and found these opening credits, but it's not ringing any bells.

Robert Blake had an interesting career, capped by a trial in 2002 for the murder of his wife, of which he was acquitted, although he was later found to be liable for her wrongful death at a civil court case in 2005. Wikipedia has more details.

The Baretta Annual from Brown Watson was the usual mix of stories, strips and features. This is one I had down as being by Steve Moore, although he later said that he couldn't remember what his contributions were. Like me and the programme, nothing rang any bells.

The artwork is by Ron Tiner (strips), John Bolton and, possibly, John Peter Britton. I'll post examples from all three over the next few days and maybe we can get some confirmation of the latter's contributions (if any). First up, the strip that opened the book, drawn by Ron Tiner...

(* Baretta © Universal City Studios Inc.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Basil F. Deakin

A regular contributor to comics and annuals in the 1950s, Basil Deakin wrote spy and jungle stories for Lion featuring Julo of the Islands (1954) and Max Malone of the Secret Service (1957-60), which for a time co-starred Battler Britton (the character was subsequently taken over by Frank S. Pepper). As well as writing anonymously and as Guy Deakin and Trevor Hugh in the pages of Lion, he also wrote for the Lion Annual as Michael Alan. Full details can be found in Lion King of Picture Story Papers.

As Guy Deakin, he contributed a number of stories to other annuals, including the Daily Mail Boys Annual, Daily Sketch Modern Boys Annual, Super Thriller Annual and Our Own Schoolboys Annual. I believe he also adopted the name Beryl Deakin for a story in Cherry Ames Girls Annual.

In 1960, Deakin published the first of a number of tie-in books. Walt Disney's Zorro Annual contained nine stories by Deakin illustrated by John Challen. Deakin also wrote a collection of stories, True Adventure Stories for Girls, for Paul Hamlyn's Spring Books, and four volumes based on the western series Bonanza for Purnell, illustrated by a number of artists, including R. Walker and Barrie Mitchell.

He also penned three adventure stories for Collins' Spitfire Books range of short novels.

Basil Frederick Deakin was born in Aston, Warwickshire, on 21 August 1906. His birth was registered as Frederick Basil Deakin, named after his father, Frederick Montague Deakin (1878-1973), but I suspect that, like many families, he was known to his family as Basil as 'dad' would have been called Fred or Frederick. It is not uncommon to find people switching their Christian names for this reason.

At the time of the 1911 census, Frederick, his wife Florence Martha Deakin (d.1961), and the family—which included siblings Marjorie Dorothy (1899), Madeline May (1901-1993) and Colin Hugh (1910-2003)—were living at 6 Rowdan Road, Beckenham. Frederick was a municipal official inspector of buildings for Beckenham urban district council. He served during the First World War, giving his address in 1914 as 34 Royston Road, Penge SW. After the Great War, the family moved to 7 Werter Road, Putney SW15.

Basil Deakin married Hilda Rose Gore (1898-1988) in 1926 and had a number of children, including Keith Warwick I. (1927-1994), Trevor Hugh Guy (1929), who seems to have been the source of numerous pen-names, and Michael A. B. (1933). At the time, the family lived at 24 Tangier Road, Richmond [fl. 1929/31) before moving to 16 Copthall Gardens, Twickenham [fl.1934/57].

Basil died in Louth, Lincolnshire, in February 1989, shortly after the death of his wife.


The Menace of Mask. London & Glasgow, Collins (Spitfire Books), 1967.
Secret of Zarb. London & Glasgow, Collins (Spitfire Books), 1967.
The Terror of Tiba. London & Glasgow, Collins (Spitfire Books), 1967. 

Walt Disney’s Zorro Annual. London, Daily Mirror, 1960.
True Adventure Stories for Girls. London, Spring Books, 1961.
Bonanza. Paulton & London, Purnell, 4 vols., 1965-68.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

David Brin Cover Gallery


Sundiver (New York, Bantam Books, 1980)
Bantam Books 0553-17162-3, £1.95.
Orbit 1857-23370-0, 1996, 340pp,  £5.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1996; [3rd imp.] 1996; [4th imp.] 1997; [5th imp.] 1998

Startide Rising (New York, Bantam Books, 1983; revised, West Bloomfield, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1985)
Bantam Books 0553-17170-4, Aug 1985, 462pp, £2.50. Cover by Bruce Pennington?
Bantam Books, 1993
Orbit 1857-23372-7, 1996, 458pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1996; [3rd imp.] 1997; [4th imp.] 1998

The Practice Effect (New York, Bantam Books, 1984)
Bantam Books 0553-17184-4, Feb 1986, 277pp, £1.95
---- [2nd imp.] 1991, 277pp, £3.99.

The Postman (New York, Bantam Spectra, 1985)
Bantam Books 0553-17193-3, 1987, 321pp.
Orbit 1857-23405-7, 1997, 321pp, £5.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1997; [3rd imp.] 1998; [4th imp.] 1998
Orbit 978-0356-50175-8, 2012, 389pp, £8.99. Cover design by Nico Taylor

Heart of the Comet, with Gregory Benford (New York, Bantam Books, 1986)
Orbit 1857-23436-7, 1997, 477pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1998; [3rd imp.] 2002, £7.99

The Uplift War (West Bloomfield, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1987)
Bantam Books 0553-17452-5, 1987, xi+638pp. Cover by Tony Roberts
Orbit 1857-23371-9, 1996, 638pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1996; [3rd imp.] 1997; [4th imp.] 1997; [5th imp.] 1998

Earth (New York, Bantam Spectra, 1990)
Futura 0708-84872-9, 1990, 751pp, £4.99. Cover by Kevin W. Kelley
Orbit 978-0356-50176-5, 2012

Glory Season (London, Orbit, 1993)
Orbit 1857-23202-X, 1994, 608pp.

Brightness Reef (New York, Bantam Books, 1995)
Orbit 1857-23385-9, 1996, 705pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1996; [3rd imp.] 1997; [4th imp.] 1998

Infinity's Shore (New York, Bantam Books, 1996)
Orbit 1857-23565-7, 1998, 670pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino

Heaven's Reach (New York, Bantam Books, 1998)
Orbit 1857-23739-0, 1999, 592pp. Cover by Fred Gambino

Foundation's Triumph (New York, HarperPrism, 1999)
Orbit 1841-49000-8, 2000, 440pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino

Kil'n People (New York, Tor, 2002)
Orbit 1841-49152-7, 2002, 612pp.

Existence (New York, Tor, 2012)
Orbit 978-0356-50173-4, 2012, 659pp, £8.99. Cover design Nico Taylor (LBBG)


The River of Time (Niles, Illinois, Dark Harvest, 1986)
Orbit 1857-23413-8, 1997, 295pp, £5.99. Cover by Fred Gambino

Otherness (London, Orbit, 1994)
Orbit 1857-23310-7, 1994, 387pp. Cover by Fred Gambino?

Tomorrow Happens (Framingham, Massachusetts, NESFA Press, 2003)
(no UK paperback, NESFA edition cover by Jim Burns)

Graphic Novel
The Life Eaters, illus. Scott Hampton (New York, DC Comics/Wildstorm, 2003)

The Transparent Society (New York, Addison-Wesley, 1998)
Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe, with Kevin Lenagh (New York, Bantam Spectra, 2002)
Through Stranger Eyes: Reviews, Introductions, Tributes and Iconoclastic Essays (AnnArbor, Michigan, Nimble Books, 2008)

Others (as editor)
Project Solar Sail, with Arthur C. Clarke (New York, Penguin/Roc, 1990)
King Kong Is Back!: An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape!, with Leah Wilson (Dallas, Texas, BenBella Books, 2005)

Non-fiction (as editor)
Star Wars on Trial: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Debate the Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time, with Matthew Woodring Stover  (Dallas, Texas, BenBella Books/Smart Pop, 2006)