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Friday, April 29, 2016

Comic Cuts - 29 April 2016

I faced the tail-end of last week with some trepidation as we had a funeral to attend. Suzanne, who died of cancer, was the wife of our good friend, Larry, whom I've known since the mid-Eighties. He was one of the small group who used to share rooms at UKCAC who knew each other through Ace Comics in Colchester.

Anyone who attended any of the late night drinking sessions at ... I can't remember the name of the hotel round the corner from the Royal National but it is now (I believe) the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury. Prior to that (pre-2001) it was the Posthouse Premier Bloomsbury but my Google-fu has let me down as badly as my memory. But my point is that it was the hotel where we used to drink until the wee hours of the morning and anyone who attended those lengthy lock-ins where we managed more than once to drink the bar dry will have met Larry.

Anyway, the funeral service reflected Suzanne's lively personality and we headed inevitably to the pub afterwards for some restrained drinking and to say some fond farewells.

On a cheerier note, we went to see Mark Watson. It just happened to be on the day Prince died and the day after Victoria Wood died, so there was a slight pall over the audience as we all tried to come to terms with having a laugh on what could have been a sad occasion. Watson appeared after the interval, joking that no celebrities had died in the 20 minutes he had been off-stage, at which point someone piped up with the news that they had just heard that Percy Sledge, of "When a Man Loves a Woman"-fame, had died (it was a week earlier, but news can sometimes travel slowly).

I felt a little sorry for Guy Hamilton, who directed a number of excellent movies, whose death was overshadowed and barely noticed. Apart from the Bond movies (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun), he did the superb Len Deighton adaptation Funeral in Berlin and the magnificent Battle of Britain. He'd started out in the 1940s working with Carol Reid on The Third Man and The Fallen Idol and in his late career was offered both Superman and Batman movies. I watched Funeral in Berlin again last night and it's still one of my favourite spy movies.

I had a belated birthday meal out with friends at the weekend. It was a delight to see everyone. We went to an all you could eat Chinese buffet and I was utterly stuffed by the time we left. In one sense that's not so good as I've put on some weight over the winter months... and it's still quite wintery, so although I'm being good about going for a short walk a couple of times a day, I've not been doing much in the garden or any other form of exercise. I think I'm going to have to spend most of the summer exercising if I really enjoy indulging myself every now and then. I'll also have to make sure that "now" and "then" are further apart.

I managed a little light exercise today shifting some old slates and tiles. As previously mentioned here, we're about to have some major surgery done to some of the trees in the garden and the surgeons are due Friday morning (I'm writing this Thursday evening). They'll be cutting down two Cuppressus Leylandii trees (as I've now learned they're called), and reducing by about 35% four other trees—two Yews, one Elderberry and one Sycamore.

The workmen are planning to bring in a MEWP, which stands for Mobile Elevated Work Platform. Should be fun given the steep angle of the drive. I suspect I'll have plenty of photos for you next week. For now, here's a look at the trees at the front of the house and the Leylanii down the side of my office.

Today's random scans are a small handful of Pinnacle Books' editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian novels from the 1950s. The first cover on show here is a reprint of the original dust jacket artwork by Frank Schoonover dating from 1917. The rest are, I think, by James McConnell, although they're not all signed. Most of the Pinnacle Books covers were by other hands, and most depicted Tarzan in a variety of different ways. If I get a chance, I'll clean up a few for next week.

Next week: our Ace O'Hara story comes to an end.Will they survive the explosion and the boiling water? Eek!

Ace O'Hara ep.152

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Michael Codd Mayfair illustrations 3

Way back in 2008, I ran two galleries of illustrations by Mike Codd taken from the pages of Mayfair, copies of which I had picked up on behalf of a friend. (Honest... that really was the case.)

Anyway, Henny Groenewoud stumbled upon the previous galleries and sent me a selection of additional pics. I've managed to photoshop the scans together into spreads, so I'm pleased to present part 3 of this occasional series.

(* illustrations probably © Fisk Publishing Co., Ltd.)

Ace O'Hara ep.146

Friday, April 22, 2016

Comic Cuts - 22 April 2016

As previously mentioned, it was my birthday last week so I kicked back for a few days, working on a couple of little pieces that I wanted to write. One is about the late Scott Goodall, who I occasionally  corresponded with over the years. He was a highly prolific writer for British comics and wrote a huge number of adventure strips for the boys and humour papers published by Fleetway. I'm still trying to confirm some of them through the people who worked with him, so I'm not sure when I'll have a finished draft.

I also spent some time catching up on e-mail messages at home and sorting out a lengthy piece on British writers who penned original material for the Scandinavian market. I also have a couple of little cover galleries lined up to appear over the next few weeks.

After three days ignoring them, I came back to Hotel Business and over 180 unanswered e-mails, which I trudged through over the next couple of days. At about 9:15 am on Wednesday I found myself in the astonishing position of having answered all of them and all my home e-mails.

I've put the time to good use and cleaned up some nice artwork that has been sent my way by Henny Groenewoud. Our random scans below are a handful of covers for later Corgi titles by J. T. Edson, with covers almost certainly by Mike Codd. On Satuday, we'll also be running a little gallery of some images from the pages of Mayfair by Mike, continuing a little series that I began back in 2008!

It's time to bid farewell to our motion activated anti-cat repellers... after 9 or 10 days in the garden, one of them stopped working and failed utterly to power-up even when I put it in direct sunlight—it being a solar-powered device. But it was as dead as the dodo. The seller accepted returns, but as they were bought as a pair, we have had to return both. And, rather more frustratingly, we could only return them rather than replace them. As they seemed to be working, I ordered replacements... unfortunately, missing out on the original offer price, so the replacements are going to cost £5 more than the originals. Hopefully the new ones will survive longer.

The idea was to stop a pair of neighbouring kittens (nicknamed the shittens) doing their business on the lawn. It seems to have worked. But now we have another mystery.

We recently had a new fence put up because some creature—possibly a fox but more likely a badger—was digging up the lawn. I watched, yesterday, as one of the kitty cats crawled under the fence. Now, I can't see the cat digging a little tunnel—they're large enough to jump over the fence. So I presume it's using a tunnel that some other creature has dug. I'm guessing a hedgehog, but I really have no idea.

We've let the foliage around the pond grow out while we've had frogs spawning. It was meant to protect the frogs a bit—last year we had a magpie scooping out the frog spawn with a stone, which proves their smart birds. The kittys are intrigued, as you can see from the photo at the column top.

Next week: we're on the run-up to the climax of Ace O'Hara. I'm not quite sure what to do next. I may have another full Ace story, but I may also have access to another old, lost strip. I shall have to figure out whether I have a full tale or not for either character.

Ace O'Hara ep.145