Saturday, May 30, 2015
Leslie Charteris was the author of The Saint and one would expect that his CV was thoroughly researched and widely known. Not so. I was surprised to discover whilst reading The Saint and Leslie Charteris by W. O. G. Lofts & Derek Adley, that Charteris's earliest stories had yet to be discovered. The Lofts & Adley book I read many years ago, but it would seem that
Charteris was born May 12, 1907, at Straits Settlements, Singapore, the son of Dr Suat-Chuan Yin, a wealthy Chinese surgeon, businessman and civic leader who claimed he was a direct descendent of the emperors of China in the Shang dynasty, and an English mother, Lydia Florence Yin (née Bowyer). He was christened Leslie Charles Yin, but later changed this name legally by deed-poll to Leslie Charles Charteris in 1926; when he became a naturalised American citizen in 1946 he officially became Leslie Charteris. He chose Charteris after Colonel Francis Charteris, a founder-member of the Hellfire Club.
By the time he was twelve he had travelled around the world three times with his parents, and had learned Chinese and Malay from servants before he could speak English. The Yin family lived in England for some time where Leslie and his younger brother Roy were taught by a tutor, Emily Fleming who returned with them to Singapore in 1914.
Around that time, aged 7, he began writing and at 10 years old was given his first typewriter and was “writing and editing a one-man magazine to which my relatives had to subscribe under discrete blackmail.” He sold his first poem to The Straits Times, where it appeared when Yin was only nine years old. Another poem, "The Battle of the Figures", appeared in the February 1919 issue of Boy's Own Paper under the byline Leslie C. Bowyer-Yin when he was only 11.
Mrs. Yin split from her husband and came to England with her two sons in 1919 where Leslie attended Falconbury School near Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, and Rossall School in Fleetwood on the Lancashire coast.
As a child, Charteris's favourite reading was Chums. To quote Lofts & Adley:
His biggest treat at Christmas was the red-bound annual volume of Chums, which contained the whole of the year's issue of the magazine. The greatest joy was that he could read the serials stright through and did not have to wait in suspense for next week's thrilling instalment.Lofts & Adley also revealed:
His first successful magazine sale, at the age of sixteen, was a story set in the Pacific, concerning a pearl, which is now unfortunately not traceable. This was written while he was still at school and the resulting cheque from a publisher, for a few guineas, convinced him more than ever that writing was easy...Bill Lofts & Derek Adley compiled an extensive bibliography of Charteris's work for their book, which they introduced by reiterating that:
Another story, probably his second effort, was published in Hutchinson's Sovereign Magazine in January 1925 featuring a detective, and was entitled "One Crowded Hour". It was written under the nom de plume of 'Leslie C. Bowyer'—the latter being his mother's maiden name.
Leslie Charteris wrote his first story in 1924 whilst still attending school at Rossall. This story, despite exhaustive research, has never been traced, but it probably appeared in one of the Hutchinson group of magazines, the majority of which are unfortunately missing from the files of the British Museum. This story concerned a pearl and was set in the Pacific.Here Bill, Derek and I part company, because I think Charteris sold his first story to his favourite story paper, Chums. This is, of course, pure speculation, but my money is that Charteris's first sale appeared under the title "Pearls of Price" under the nom de plume Saville Hall in Chums 1720 (30 August 1925). There's no direct evidence, but I do have the following circumstantial evidence: it is from the right period and it concerns pearls and is set in the Pacific. Also, it is in the author's favourite boyhood paper. Although the evidence is slim, it is still a pretty good fit.
Friday, May 29, 2015
What a fantastic film. It's a glorious, brain-fryingly trashy movie, loud and visually arresting. Well-worth immersing yourself in it for two hours for a full-on experience. I loved it.
For most of the rest of the week I've been trying to finish off the Harry Bensley story and tidy up. Bensley, some of you might recall, was the other man in the iron mask, a conman who walked around the South Coast claiming that he was undertaking a bet to walk around the world. Well, I've greatly expanded my original article, which I ran here some months ago, and I'm just waiting on one last bit of information before I put the whole thing together as a little booklet. I'm not expecting to sell many, but the text will also be available on Kindle for anyone interested.
The tidying up has taken a couple of interesting turns. My first thoughts were that I probably had half a dozen boxes which were full of old paperwork. So far I've found sixteen and the far end of the lounge looks like a bomb has hit it, reminiscent of when we moved in—as you'll see from the photo above. Worse than that, I had a visitor from the past today (Thursday) who brought around some old magazines, so overall I've gained more junk today than I've disposed of.
Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine novels were set.
Graham was only briefly visiting Colchester and it was great fun to catch up. I never got to ask him about an old board I found with an early design for Comic Collector magazine, but now I have his e-mail address, I'll try to get his comments.
I've stumbled across a pile of over fifty film promo posters from around 2001. We were going to the cinema quite a lot back them and these were giveaways. They seem to have disappeared in recent years, which is a shame because they were nice.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
But it was not to be. It was announced in early 1986 that Hobbyte, a Hungarian programming team based in Budapest, was coding Judge Death for Piranha. Judge Death was first previewed in Crash and Sinclair User in November 1987, where it was given a mid-November release date. According to Tamas Revbiro, quoted in a Crash news item:
It's very near to the kind of science fiction very popular in Hungary. It's a crooked kind of science fiction with lots of violence and bloodshed. And the technological gadgets are already well-known through other authors so it's not totally new.Crash announced that it would be carrying a 16-page supplement with their Christmas 1986 number (issue 48) as well as a full review of the game.
Unfortunately, it did not. According to a review of the game:
The main problem with the game was that they apparently used Koala Pad to design all the backgrounds, and unfortunately the C64 did not have the power to shift them around effectively. Pirahna were actually quite miffed with the conversion.
A new programmer, SIR, was drafted in and has subsequently said:
As for Judge Death, well the game was developed in Hungary, but I remember the producers in London weren’t very pleased with the game. The original design for the game – done by a guy called Kevin Williams – was pretty good, but they hadn’t done a good job in coding it.Piranha had already announced that they were working on another 2000AD-related game featuring Halo Jones and were considering an Ace Trucking Co. game, too. It was not to be: Piranha went out of business before the Judge Death game could be released; Halo Jones never saw the light of day.
The publisher wasn’t very happy with the game or the graphics, and I was drafted in to help to try to get the game up to an acceptable standard.
I remember visiting the publisher to discuss with them what we could do.
To start with the graphics weren’t very good, and too clean – there was no detail. So I added all the graffiti and background objects you see in the game. I didn’t have much time so i couldn’t do a lot. I did do some very nice C64 Dark Judges sprites, but unfortunately they didn’t end up in the game.
Judge Death did, in a way, appear. Piranha may have gone but the game elements were taken over by Novatrade, who removed any mention of Judge Death, Judge Anderson and Mega-City and released the game as Horror City in 1989. There's a review of Horror City here with screen grabs, and it is unmistakably the same game. The character Sinclair is clearly Judge Anderson. Graffiti scrawled on the walls of Horror City that reads "Sump Stinks!". "Get Ugly", "Chopp" will only mean anything if you remember Otto Sump or Chopper from Mega-City.
At some point Novotrade took the work that had been done on Judge Death, scraped away the top layer of 2000AD while still leaving the background details that clearly mark Horror City out as Mega-City One and released it under a new name. They probably shouldn't have bothered.
Monday, May 25, 2015
About a month before, as I was editor of Comic World I received a packet of promo material from Fleetway Editions, probably put together by editor Steve McManus or John Tomlinson, who was working at Fleetway as an editorial assistant around that time. Whoever it was, the photocopies were all a bit wonky, guys.
Editors did not receive a huge amount of press material; I used to do a monthly summary of Judge Dredd Megazine based on a phone call to David Bishop, for instance, or if there was to be a relaunch or promoted issue, I'd head up to Fleetway with my trusty dictaphone.
But for some reason, I have a set of press releases from Prog 889 which I thought I'd share with you. Starting with the cover, which is an interesting study. The photocopy reveals a number of differences between the promo version and the final artwork that graced the cover. The printed image appeared squashed to make room for the lettering, but there are other, subtler differences. Dredd is holding his Lawgiver at a different angle, for instance, and the Eagle's "wing" on Dredd's shoulder has only five feathers rather than the published six (thanks to Chris Mitchell, who pointed this out when I posted the image of Facebook a few days ago).
Because this was a relaunch issue, the number of pages was increased to 44 rather than the usual 36 and there was a cover-mounted free gift of £17 worth of discount coupons for videos and games at HMV, although this had to be weighed against a 5p price increase to 75p.
(* artwork © Rebellion.)
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Here's Wired's coverage along with a couple of examples of Daniel Mackie's illustrations.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
The following year's catalogue wasn't nearly as exciting. The cover art—which you'll find below the Kennedy artwork—was by Leonard. Leonard who?