BEAR ALLEY BOOKS

BEAR ALLEY BOOKS
Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books

Monday, October 31, 2016

Brett Halliday cover gallery

Brett Halliday was the pen-name of Davis Dresser (1904-1977), a prolific writer of western and detective novels under a variety of names. As Halliday he created private eye Michael Shayne who became a star of radio, films and TV, as well as 70 novels. Many of the later novels were ghosted by Robert Terrell, while contributions to Michael Shayne's Mystery Magazine were ghosted by Sam Merwin, W. Ryerson Johnson, Richard Deming, Robert Arthur, Michael Avallone, Dennis Lynds, Edward Y. Breese, Frank Belknap Long, Max Van Derveer, Bill Pronzini, Jeffrey M. Wallman, David Mazroff, Gary Brandner, Clayton Matthews, George Warren, James M. Reasoner, Livia J. Washburn, Hal Blythe, Charles Sweet, Michael Taylor, James Devlin, Tim Rourke and others.

Mum's the Word for Murder, as by Asa Baker. New York, Stokes, 1938;  London, Gollancz, 1939; as by Brett Halliday, New York, Dell, 1953.
Mayflower 5918, 1965, 191pp, 3/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell 5918, 1964)
----, 1969.

Dividend on Death. New York, Holt, 1939; London, Jarrolds, 1941.
Arthur Barker / Dragon Books 27,  1958, 192pp, 2/6.

The Private Practice of Michael Shayne. New York, Holt, 1940; London, Jarrolds, 1941.
Arthur Barker / Dragon Books 22,  1958, 192pp, 2/6.
Mayflower 035-7148-8, 1963, 190pp.

The Uncomplaining Corpses. New York, Holt, 1940; London, Jarrolds, 1942.
Viking Novels 242, (May) 1957, 160pp, 2/-.
Mayflower 9216, 1964, 192pp. 2/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell 9216, 1963)
Mayflower, 1969, 192pp.

Tickets for Death. New York, Holt, 1941; London, Jarrolds, 1942.
(no UK paperback)

Bodies Are Where You Find Them. New York, Holt, 1941; Leicester, Linford, 1993.
(no UK paperback)

The Corpse Came Calling. New York, Dodd Mead, 1942; as The Case of the Walking Corpse, Kingston, New York, Quin, 1943.
Mayflower 1496, 1964, 191pp, 2/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell D401, 1961)
Mayflower 11441-5, 1969, 191pp.

Murder Wears a Mummer's Mask. New York, Dodd Mead, 1943; as In a Deadly Vein, New York, Dell, 1956.
Jarrolds 344, nd (1955?), 160pp, 1/6. 36th thou. Cover by Henry Fox?
Arrow Books, 1964, 192pp.
as In a Deadly Vein, Mayflower 4016, 1964, 192pp.
----, 1969, 192pp.

Blood on the Black Market. New York, Dodd Mead, 1943; revised edition, as Heads You Lose, New York, Dell, 1958.
Arrow Books, 1964, 192pp.
Mayflower 3518, 1965, 2/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell B123, 1958, Syndicate Girl by Frank Kane)

Michael Shayne's Long Chance. New York, Dodd Mead, 1944; London, Jarrolds, 1945.
(no UK paperback)

Murder and the Married Virgin. New York, Dodd Mead, 1944; London, Jarrolds, 1946.
Jarrolds 323, nd (Sep 1953), 1/6. Cover by Henry Fox

Murder Is My Business. New York, Dodd Mead, and London, Jarrolds, 1945.
Jarrolds 324, nd (Oct 1953), 160pp, 1/6. 35th thou. Cover by Henry Fox
Arthur Barker / Dragon Books 10,  (Feb) 1957, 192pp, 2/6.

Marked for Murder. New York, Dodd Mead, 1945; London, Jarrolds, 1950.
Mayflower, 1960.

Dead Man's Diary, and Dinner at Dupre's. New York, Dell, 1945.
(no UK paperback)

Blood on Biscayne Bay. Chicago, Ziff Davis, 1946; London, Jarrolds, 1950.
(no UK paperback)

Counterfeit Wife. Chicago, Ziff Davis, 1947; London, Jarrolds, 1950.
Jarrolds 265, nd (Aug 1952), 176pp, 2/-. 35th thou.

Blood on the Stars. New York, Dodd Mead, 1948; as Murder Is a Habit, London, Jarrolds, 1951.
(no UK paperback)

A Taste for Violence. New York, Dodd Mead, 1949; London, Jarrolds, 1952.
(no UK paperback)

Call for Michael Shayne. New York, Dodd Mead, 1949; London, Jarrolds, 1951.
Viking Novels 214, (Sep) 1956, 192pp, 2/-.
Mayflower 035-0972-8, 1963, 192pp.

Before I Wake, as by Hal Debrett. New York, Dodd Mead, 1949; London, Jarrolds, 1953; as by Brett Halliday, New York, Dell, 1955.
(no UK paperback)

This Is It, Michael Shayne. New York, Dodd Mead, 1950; London, Jarrolds, 1952.
(no UK paperback)

A Taste of Cognac. New York, Dell, 1951.
(no UK paperback)

Framed in Blood. New York, Dodd Mead, 1951; London, Jarrolds, 1953.
(no UK paperback)

When Dorinda Dances. New York, Dodd Mead, 1951; London, Jarrolds, 1953.
Arthur Barker / Dragon Books  16, (Jul) 1957, 192pp, 2/6.
Mayflower 9462, 1964, 2/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell 9462, 1963)
----, 1969, 191pp.

What Really Happened. New York, Dodd Mead, 1952; London, Jarrolds, 1953.
Mayflower 9458, 1964, 2/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell 9458, 1963)

One Night with Nora. New York, Torquil, 1953; as The Lady Came by Night, London, Jarrolds, 1954.
as The Lady Came by Night, Arthur Barker / Dragon Books 32,  2/6.
Mayflower 11310-9, 1968, 191pp.

She Woke to Darkness. New York, Torquil, 1954; London, Jarrolds, 1955.
(no UK paperback)

Death Has Three Lives. New York, Torquil, and London, Jarrolds, 1955.
Badger Books CS5, (Nov) 1959, 157pp, 2/-. Cover by Ron Smethurst
Mayflower Books 1828,  2/6.

Stranger in Town. New York, Torquil, 1955; London, Jarrolds, 1956.
Consul Books 1115, (Feb) 1962, 2/6.

The Blonde Cried Murder. New York, Torquil, 1956; London, Jarrolds, 1957.
Consul Books 1114, (Feb) 1962, 2/6.

Weep for a Blonde. New York, Torquil, 1957; London, Long, 1958.
Consul Books M1039, 1961, 192pp, 2/6.

Shoot the Works. New York, Torquil, 1957; London, Long, 1958.
World Distributors M950, (Aug) 1960, 158pp. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell 7844, 1958)

Murder and the Wanton Bride. New York, Torquil, 1958; London, Long, 1959.
(no UK paperback)

Fit to Kill, ghosted by Robert Terrall. New York: Torquil, 1958.
World Distributors M990, (Nov) 1960, 191pp, 2/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell D314, 1959)

Die Like a Dog. New York: Torquil, 1959; London: John Long, 1961.
Consul Books 1263, (Nov) 1963, 188pp, 2/6.

Target: Mike Shayne, ghosted by Robert Terrall. New York: Torquil, 1959; London: John Long, 1960.
(no UK paperback)

Date with a Dead Man. New York, Torquil, 1959.
(no UK paperback)

Dolls Are Deadly, ghosted by Walter Ryerson Johnson. New York: Torquil, 1960; Leicester, Linford, 1992.
(no UK paperback)

The Homicidal Virgin. New York: Torquil, 1960; London: Mayflower, 1963.
Mayflower Books 3698-8, 1963, 190pp.

Murder Takes No Holiday, ghosted by Robert Terrall. New York: Torquil, 1960.
(no UK paperback)

The Careless Corpse. New York: Torquil, 1961.
(no UK Paperback)

Killer From the Keys. New York: Torquil, 1961; London, Mayflower, 1963.
Mayflower 4476, 1963.

Murder in Haste, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Torquil, 1961; London: Mayflower, 1963.
Mayflower 5970, 1963, 175pp, 2/6. Cover by ? (Dell)

Murder by Proxy. New York: Torquil, 1962; London: Mayflower, 1968.
Mayflower 5949, 1964, 159pp, 2/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell 5949, 1963)
Mayflower 11333-8, 1968, 159pp.

Never Kill a Client. New York: Torquil, 1962; London, Mayflower, 1964.
Mayflower 6300, 1964, 159pp, 2/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell 6300, 1963)

Pay-Off in Blood. New York: Torquil, 1962; London, Mayflower, 1963.
Mayflower 6858, 1963, 160pp, 2/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell 6858, 1963)

Too Friendly, Too Dead. New York: Torquil, 1963; London: Mayflower, 1964.
Mayflower 8949, 1964, 160pp, 2/6. Cover by Robert McGinnis (Dell 8949, 1964)
----, 1968.

Note: no further titles were published as UK paperbacks.
The Body Came Back. New York: Torquil, 1963.
The Corpse That Never Was. New York: Torquil, 1963.
A Redhead for Mike Shayne. New York: Torquil, 1964.
Shoot to Kill. New York: Torquil, 1964; Leicester, Linford, 1992.
Michael Shayne's 50th Case. New York: Torquil, 1964.

Nice Fillies Finish Last, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1965.
The Violent World of Michael Shayne, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1965.
Armed . . . Dangerous, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1966.
Murder Spins the Wheels, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1966.
Mermaid on the Rocks, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1967.
Guilty as Hell, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1967.
Violence Is Golden, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1968.
So Lush, So Deadly, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1968.
Lady, Be Bad, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1969.
Six Seconds to Kill, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1970.
Fourth Down to Death, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1970.
Count Backwards to Zero, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1971.
I Come to Kill You, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1971.
Caught Dead, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1972.
Kill All the Young Girls, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1973.
Blue Murder, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1973.
Last Seen Hitchhiking, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1974.
At the Point of a .38, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1974.
Million Dollar Handle, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1976.
Win Some, Lose Some, ghosted by Robert Terrell. New York, Dell, 1976.


Omnibus

Michael Shayne Takes Over. New York: Holt, 1941; London: Jarrolds, 1944. (contains: Dividend on Death, The Private Practice of Michael Shayne, The Uncomplaining Corpses, and Bodies Are Where You Find Them)
Michael Shayne Investigates. London: Jarrolds, 1943. (contains: Bodies Are Where You Find Them and The Corpse Came Calling)
Michael Shayne Takes a Hand. London: Jarrolds, 1944. (contains: Murder Wears a Mummer's Mask and Blood on the Black Market)
Michael Shayne's Triple Mystery. Chicago: Ziff-Davis, 1948 (contains: Dead Man's Diary, A Taste for Cognac, and Dinner at Dupre's)

Anthologies

Michael Shayne's Torrid Twelve, ed. Leo Margulies. New York, Dell, 1961.
Dangerous Dames, ed. Mike Shayne. New York, Dell, 1965.
(contains: "A Better Mantrap" by Day Keene (Detective Tales, Oct. 1947), "Collector's Item" by Jerome Barry (new), "Hang That Husband High" by Bruno Fischer (Detective Tales, July 1948), "Simone" by Joan Vatsek (Today's Woman, 1949), "The Statement of Jerry Malloy" by Anthony Boucher (new), "She-Wolf" by Rutherford Montgomery (extract from Gray Wolf), "Women Are Poison" by Brett Halliday (Detective Fiction Weekly, 31 October 1936), "Speak To Me of Death" by John West (new), "If I Can Ever Forget" by Frank Gruber (Detective Fiction Weekly, 30 April 1938), "Witness for the Prosecution" by Q. Patrick (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, July 1946), "Rhapsody in Blood" by Harold Q. Masur (Manhunt, Aug. 1953), and "Angelica Is Still Alive" by Walter Snow (new))

Saturday, October 29, 2016

J. Weedon Birch

J. Weedon Birch is a name I have returned to regularly. Although I'd never read a word of his writings he intrigued me not only because he was a prolific writer and publisher but because, despite hours, even days, of digging, I was unable to find a trace of him for many. I'd spent hours — days even — trying to find just the tiniest slither of official documentation of his existence, just as others had before me. It's a good thing I love a mystery. When Bill Lofts & Derek Adley wrote that Birch was "probably one of the most interesting authors in the early days of the century and certainly the most mysterious," they weren't joking.

This particular mystery started fifty or so years ago when various collectors of Old Boys Papers — as children's story papers were known amongst those who collected them — noted that the famous Fat Owl of the Remove in the pages of The Magnet was not the first star of children's fiction to rejoice in the name Billy Bunter. Shortly before Charles Hamilton (using the pen-name Frank Richards) began writing stories featuring Greyfriars School, another author, H. Philpott Wright, was writing a similar school series in the pages of Vanguard Library, a weekly published from 4 May 1907 by a minor publisher, Trapps-Holmes. Hamilton was a regular writer for Trapps-Holmes and it was interest in Hamilton that made Vanguard Library of interest to collectors. In its pages, Hamilton wrote of various schools, including Northcote, Norchester, Larkshall College, St. Kate’s, Redclyffe and various others; towards the end of the original run, between September and November 1909, Hamilton was responsible for the bulk of the contents under various pen-names, including Gillingham Jones, Ridley Redway, Robert Stanley and a number of anonymous yarns. In earlier issues he also wrote as Roland Rodway, Cecil Herbert, Eric Stanhope, Gordon Conway and contrinued his St. Kate’s yarns under the name Frank Drake.

Interest in Hamilton's tales spread to others in the Vanguard Library, especially those of H. Philpott Wright featuring the boys of Blackminster school, and starring Taffy Llewellyn, although most of the attention to the series was because of a boy by the name of Billy Bunter. Whether this inspired Hamilton when he came to name his Greyfriars' characters is unlikely to ever be known for sure; Hamilton later claimed he had used the Bunter name in a rejected story as far back as 1899, and had kept it in mind, to be revived when he started writing the Greyfriars yarns in 1908 (he certainly recycled names endlessly; most of the boys’ names were used time and time again, and even Greyfriars School had been used before in Smiles, another Trapps Holmes paper, in 1907).

Taffy Llewellyn appeared in some 44 stories in Vanguard Library between 1907-09. He then left Blackminster School and teamed up with a detective by the name of Jubal Grail, whose adventures had been appearing concurrently in Vanguard Library credited to one Captain Addison. It seems logical to conclude that Captain Adison and H. Philpott Wright were the same author.

Wright remained something of a mystery in boys' paper collecting until it was realised that photographs that appeared in Diamond Library and True Blue of the authors H. Philpott Wright and J. Weedon Birch were the same photograph. (Unfortunately, I've never seen these photographs, but as the information came from Bill Lofts I believe it to be fact.)

True Blue was another Trapps-Holmes paper whilst Diamond Library was published by Aldine Publishing for which I have only a very partial listing. Birch turns up at least twice with stories entitled 'Marooned at School' (1912) and 'The Demon Bowler' (1913) and it seems likely that Birch, for some reason unknown, switched his allegiance from Trapps-Holmes to Aldine in the summer of 1909. His mantle as the Vanguard Library's most prolific contributor was picked up by Charles Hamilton and Stephen H. Agnew.

Birch's Blood Brothers, a story of the Matabele rebellion, was published in 1912 as the first number of Aldine's World-Wide Library which also included contributions by James Skipp Borlase, William Hamilton Maxwell, James Maclaren Cobban and other adventure story writers before coming to an end in 1913.

Bill Lofts and Derek Adley, in The Men Before Boys' Fiction, recorded (under the entry for H. Philpott Wright) that "Birch was an officer and transport rider to the Chartered Companies of Rhodesia and disappeared from the writing scene before the First World War."

This turned out not to be true: J. Weedon Birch was recorded as a shareholder in Aldine Publishing in 1920, where he was described as a publisher, and, that same year, he co-launched his own publishing company, G. H. Robinson & J. Birch, based in London, which reprinted over a dozen racing titles by Nat Gould and published the Hearth & Home Library (1920-21). Birch was one of his own authors, writing three novels for the firm, At the Kraal of the King (1921), The Lure of the Honey Bird (1921) and The Rhodesian Lily (1922). A later book was The Koodoo Patrol, another African adventure, published by Pilgrim Press (1926).

Birch, again with G. Heath Robinson, also set up Sphinx to publish The All Picture Comic, the first all-pictorial comic published in the UK, although it only lasted for three months in 1921. Sphinx then published the children’s paper Toby from September 1921 which was later sold to Odhams.

G. (for George) Heath Robinson (c.1879- ) was the younger brother of T Heath, Charles and W. Heath Robinson, the famous artists. George was registered in the London phone book in 1921-22 at 21 Mecklenburgh Square, W.C.1, listing himself as a publisher. One might have expected his partner to be fairly close by but, unfortunately, I could find no trace of J. Weedon Birch listed.

In 2008 and 2011, when earlier versions of this column were published, I had found no record for the death of J. Weedon Birch and speculated that he may have been active as late as the mid-1930s, as his story 'Marooned at School' was reprinted in The Popular Book for Boys (London, Shoe Lane Publishing Co., 1935). "This is a mystery I'm sure to return to in the future," I said...

... and it's a mystery that, thanks to the diligent digging of my mate John Herrington, that we can now mark solved. In the original piece, I speculated that the J. of J. Weedon Birch may have stood for Joseph, having tracked down a family where a Mr. Birch had married a Ms. Weedon (you can find the 2011 column here).

Jesse Birch was born in Watford on 22 August 1875 [baptized 26 September 1875], the son of Jesse Birch (c.1847 [bapt. 21 Feb 1847]-1885), a brewer's drayman born in Sarratt, Hertfordshire, and his wife Martha Jane (nee Bradford), who were married around the time of Jesse's birth. Jesse grew up in Watford where his father died when Jesse was only nine or ten. He was educated in Watford including a brief spell in 1888 at the local Victoria Boys' School. At fifteen he was working as a solicitor's clerk and living in lodgings at 85 Sutton Road, Watford.

Martha Jane Birch remarried, to David Rowbotham and continued to live in Watford along with her second son, Harry, who later became a factory hand. Martha died in 1916 and I believe Harry died in 1957.

I've yet to find Jesse on the 1901 census, but on 10 February 1902, at the age of 26, he was married in Watford to Kate Weedon, the daughter of Thomas Weedon. According to records, Jesse was widowed at the time of his marriage, although there is no sign of an earlier marriage.

Jesse was living at 11 Balmoral Road, Watford, by the time the 1911 census was taken, living with Kate and three children: Charles Ronald (1903-1993), Kate Louise (1905- ) and Grace Evelyn (1909- ). Jesse's occupation was described as "Publisher and Sales Manager to a Publishing Company issuing cheap literature"— "cheap" had been crossed through and replaced with "popular".

It is likely that this was Aldine Publishing Co., with whom Birch was involved with as a writer, as we have already seen. He subsequently ran G. H. Robinson & J. Birch and Sphinx, which were publishing in the early 1920s. Birch moved to Clarendon, Parsonage Road, Herne Bay, Kent, and continued to write right up to his death on 21 July 1926.

PUBLICATIONS

Novels by J. Weedon Birch
Blood Brothers. A story of the Matabele rebellion. London, Aldine Publishing Co. (World-Wide Library 1), 1912.
Marooned at School. London, Aldine Publishing Co. (Diamond Library 170), 1912.
The Demon Bowler. London, Aldine Publishing Co. (Diamond Library 202), 1913.
At the Kraal of the King. London, G. H. Robinson & J. Birch, 1921.
The Lure of the Honey Bird. London, G. H. Robinson & J. Birch, 1921.
The Rhodesian Lily. London, G. H. Robinson & J. Birch, 1922.
The Veldt Trail. London, National Sunday School Union, 1925.
The Koodoo Patrol. London, Pilgrim Press, 1926.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Comic Cuts - 28 October 2016

I'm not sure where the week has gone! Last week I seemed to have quite a lot of time to dig around and do research. This week, barely any spare time at all.

We had a late night Friday visiting friends and then spent Saturday pottering around and catching up on some TV. While Mel took a shower-break, I checked my news feed only to find that Steve Dillon had died; later that evening, I put together a relatively brief obituary—much more could be said about the qualities he brought to his artwork and friends have stepped forward to describe his qualities as a person—which I managed to post at one the following morning.

It's a sign of age that I used to consider one or two o'clock in the morning as bed time. Nowadays I'm usually heading up the stairs at eleven. Whenever I look back at the output I managed to achieve in the Nineties, when I was averaging 400,000 words a year, I wonder what happened. Then I remember that I didn't watch much tele, didn't read much and saw three in the morning regularly. I think I've got a far better life/work balance now.

I've spent most of the week trying to get Hotel Business into our design studio. We run about 60 short features / news items per issue, plus another daily piece on the website, which sounds more of a doddle than it actually is. I should be able to do four a day for five weeks (it's 10 issues a year); and they're mostly 300-400 words, so that shouldn't take more than a morning. Where are my free afternoons?

Guess what this week's theme for our random scans is...


Thursday, October 27, 2016

It's Ghastly!

It's Ghastly! is the latest publication from David McDonald's Hibernia and it's a corker if you're a fan of the short-lived eighties comic Scream! A thorough and hugely informative volume, it includes interviews with everyone involved editorially, from group editor Barrie Tomlinson and editor Ian Rimmer to sub-editor Simon Furman (before he made his name on Transformers).

As Hibernia have already published a number of strips from the title—and Rebellion recently reprinted 'Monster'—some of the history of the paper has already been told. Here David delves into the origins of the title and unearths a lot of artwork that remained unpublished, or was published in different forms, when Scream! was suddenly dropped after only 15 issues. Artwork had already been prepared for a number of strips and covers, which means that this volume contains the complete 4-part story that would have continued the adventures of 'The Nightcomers', Rick and Beth Rogan. With only eight pages of the original script still existing, author Simon Furman has rescripted the rest and the 16 pages have been newly lettered.

Elsewhere, lost covers have been mocked up by Mike Carroll and two scripts for unpublished short stories have been reproduced for the first time, one by Kev F. Sutherland, who confesses that he spent many months trying to get a story accepted in the paper, only to have one accepted shortly before the title folded.

Another interesting insight is into a number of stories that were considered for the comic, including a werewolf serial that was conceived following the appearance of a werewolf yarn drawn by the late Steve Dillon and a humour strip intended to be in the vein of 'The Bojeffries Saga' that was rejected by management, who wanted to use a reprint of an existing strip.

For anyone who loves knowing about the nuts and bolts of how a comic came to be, this is a goldmine of information. If you remember Scream! at all, this will be a fantastic trip down an enjoyably creepy memory lane.

It's Ghastly! Hibernia, 27 October 2016, 66pp, £7.50. Available from Hibernia.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 26 October 2016.

2000AD Prog. 2004
In this issue: Judge Dredd: Get Sin by Rob Williams (w), Trevor Hairsine (p), Dylan Teague (i), Annie Parkhouse (l); Savage: The Marze Murderer by Pat Mills (w), Patrick Goddard (a), Annie Parkhouse (l); Hunted by Gordon Rennie (w), PJ Holden (a), Len O'Grady (c), Simon Bowland (l); Counterfeit Girl by Peter Milligan (w), Rufus Dayglo (a), Dom Regan (c), Ellie De Ville (l); Flesh: Gorehead by Pat Mills (w), Clint Langley (a), Ellie De Ville (l).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Steve Dillon (1962-2016)

Steve Dillon, the artist of Vertigo series' Hellblazer and Preacher who since 2000 has worked extensively for Marvel Comics, most notably on Wolverine: Origins and various Punisher titles, has died at the age of 54. His death was confirmed on Saturday, 22 October, by his brother, Glyn, who posted on Twitter (@glyn_dillon) "Sad to confirm the death of Steve, my big brother and my hero. He passed away in the city he loved (NYC). He will be sorely missed. Cheers x." His son, Anthony, has said that Dillon passed away peacefully in his sleep.

Dillon had suffered bouts of illness in recent years but had turned himself around. He was a heavy drinker for many years—my only meetings with him were at the hotel bar during UKCAC, which he treated purely as a social occasion, never attending any of the scheduled programmes—but, according to Rich Johnston (Bleeding Cool), he had lately become teetotal and had slimmed down dramatically. "He still hit the bars, though now with a glass of lemonade, and remained the life and soul. He would always have a kind word to see me – but then that was true of everyone who came up to say hi."

Stephen Lloyd Dillon was born in London on 22 March 1962. His family soon moved to Luton and he attended Icknield High School where his talent for drawing comics led the 15-year-old Dillon to co-produce with school friends Neil Bailey and Paul Mahon a stripzine entitled Ultimate Science Fiction. His professional debut came in 1979 in the pages of Hulk Comic where he drew 19 weekly episodes of 'Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD' from the first issue and contributed a tale of the title character to the second. He was soon contributing to Doctor Who Weekly where he worked regularly with Steve Moore, with whom he created Dalek-killer, Abslom Daak.

His debut in 2000AD was with a 2-part Alan Moore yarn, which led to him working on 'The Mean Arena' (1981) and Judge Dredd, including work on the 'City of the Damned' (1984-85) and 'Oz' (1987) storylines. He drew Garth Ennis's Dredd debut, 'Emerald Isle' (1991), which marked the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration between the two.

A prolific artist throughout the eighties, he also drew 'Laser Eraser and Pressbutton' for Warrior (1982-83), 'Rogue Trooper', 'ABC Warriors', 'Tyranny Rex' and 'The Harlem Heroes' for 2000AD (1984-90), 'Dice Man' for Dice Man (1986) and 'Sharp', 'B-Bob and Lula' and 'Johnny Nemo' for Deadline (1988-89), which he helped co-found. His credits also include illustrating the book How to be a Superhero by Mark Leigh and Mike Lepine (1990) and work for the Comic Relief Comic (1991).

Although he made his US debut with a Doctor Strange story in 1988, he quickly became associated with Vertigo, working with Peter Milligan on Skreemer (1989) and Garth Ennis on Hellblazer (1992-94). When Ennis ended his run on the latter, the two created Preacher (1995-2000), about a troubled small town preacher possessed by a supernatural entity. The series was critically acclaimed but religiously controversial and while the comic sold well for a Vertigo title, the wider audience was only found as issues were collected in book form (nine volumes, 1996-2001; re-released in six volumes 2009-14).

For a decade, various attempts were made to turn the strip first into a movie and then a TV series at HBO. Eventually, in 2013, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin developed the character for a 10-part series for AMC with Ennis and Dillon as executive producers. The show was met with very positive reviews and a second season commissioned.

With Preacher concluded, Ennis and Dillon moved to Marvel to relaunch The Punisher (2001-03) under the 'Marvel Knights' brand and through various mini-series including Punisher Vs. Bullseye (2005-06) and Punisher: War Zone (2009). Ennis relaunched the character in 2004 under the 'Max' brand; after 75 issues the title was relaunched as PunisherMAX (2010-12) with Jason Aaron writing.

After a stint on Thunderbolts (2013), Dillon recently relaunched Punisher once again, with writer Becky Cloonan, and was also working on Scarlet Witch.

Dillon was in New York to attend New York Comic Con and had stayed on for a holiday. Divorced, he is survived by his former wife Marie and three sons.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff

Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff
By Barrie Tomlinson

I finished working on childrenʼs comics in the early 1990ʼs. Thatʼs when titles such as Roy of the Rovers and Eagle were taken away from me and once again produced ʻin-houseʼ.

Most fortunately for me, at about the same time, I was asked by the Daily Mirror to produce a six-days-a-week football strip. I wrote and produced the 'Scorer' story for that newspaper for 22 years, thatʼs over 6,000 episodes.

By the time 'Scorer' finished in 2011, I had moved to Lincolnshire. I was asked to be editor of a village magazine and I was delighted to produce a monthly publication which looked professional and was very successful. After a couple of years working on the magazine, I had a stroke and had to give up editing.

I tell all this to explain how busy I was until quite recently. I had no time to write a book. In the past few years, I have had time and the result is Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff which is now on sale.

My book tells the full story of how I made Roy of the Rovers the most famous footballer in Britain. There are also lots of photographs of Roy with famous people and quotes from the newspaper headlines of the day.

I started as a sub editor on Lion in 1961, then moved to Tiger and eventually became editor of Tiger, which of course starred 'Roy of the Rovers' as its main story. I later became group editor and launched Roy into his own comic in 1976.

In the new book, you can find out who thought of the name ʻRoy of the Roversʼ; why Sir Alf Ramsey didnʼt chose Roy for the 1966 England World Cup squad; what happened when Roy was manager of England; what Parliament didnʼt like about Royʼs new playing strip; the real-life manager who tried to sign Roy and the special Euro 96 stamps which featured Roy but were never issued.

I hope people like the book and finding out how Royʼs life was planned. I am always delighted with the amount of interest that is shown in the work we did on the comics. I still get lots of letters and emails asking about my titles. It is very gratifying that there are websites devoted to some of the comics I worked on. Folk still seem very interested in what we did and the book should provide lots of information for comics fans.

Being on sale at this time, the book will make a great Christmas present for all those people who used to be readers of Tiger and Roy of the Rovers.

Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff! Roy's Unofficial True Story is published by Pitch Publishing, £14.99. Available from Amazon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Comic Cuts - 21 October 2016

I've had another week of reasonably solid work on the new Valiant index, although I've had to put in some hours on Hotel Business as we're at the stage when commissioned features are starting to trickle in, I need to write a couple of columns myself and some people need reminding that the deadline is this Friday... including me, as that's usually when I need to have most of my editorial writing finished.

The cycle on the magazine then kicks into overdrive next week as we start pushing stuff through to our design studio, articles that should have been in on Friday turn up and need a quick turnaround, and new advertorial material trickles in as our ads team tries to flog enough space to pay our wages. This is always the hardest part, as I have to commission on the basis that I'll have to fill every page. Every advertorial means disappointment for some poor soul in PR who has been relying on us for some free promotion and frustration for me as the work I've put in commissioning, chasing up, subbing and submitting has all gone to waste.

To keep myself cheerful, I've started on my second parse of Valiant in order to compile information on where strips were missing from various issues. This was particularly prevalent in the early 1970s where you could have eight, nine or ten humour strips all running at the same time, but which seemed to disappear for an issue or two every few weeks. The colourful chart above covers some of the strips (others, like 'Billy Bunter', 'The Nutts', 'The Crows', etc., were tacked in the first pass) that were appearing in late 1972/early 1973. In the left-hand column you'll also spy some odd notations, which I'm using to identify reprints of the 'Soccer Roundabout' feature, although whether I'll include all of that data in the final book, we'll just have to wait and see. There are limits, even to my obsession. In this instance it's a case of, I've got the issues open anyway, so I may as well try to identify when new material stopped and reprints began, which will probably be mentioned in passing in the introduction. Even the most casual mention of something can take hours or even days of research.

To celebrate the unprofessional idiots I have to work with, today's random scans are on the topic of lateness. We have some nice fifties painted covers beginning with a nice 'Ferrari' cover for a Duke Linton novel written by Steve ("Hank Janson") Frances. I'm not sure who the artists were for the Rex Richards and Bart Carson titles. Johnny Come Lately proves that the artists weren't overdoing things in the, er, chest department as models really do look like that.

And to close we have two SF Masterworks editions of Kate Wilhelm's Hugo Award-winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. Personally, I prefer the first of the two painted by Jon Sullivan. The picture might not say "It's about clones," but that's what the quote from Locus is for. The later version has lots of clones but looks a bit bleak to me.