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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releses for 31 May 2017.

2000AD Prog 2033
Cover: Paul Davidson
Judge Dredd: Hoverods by TC Eglington (w) Brendan McCarthy (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Defoe: Diehards by Pat Mills (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Brink: Skeleton Life by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Scarlet Traces: Cold War - Book 2 by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Brian Worthington-Stuart part 3

Books continued to appear from the pseudonymous pens of Brian Stuart and Peter Meredith during this period. When appearing at Ipswich Bankruptcy Court in April 1950, Stuart noted that Floodwater was about to appear and that one of his books, Invitation to a Ball, was "being considered by Hollywood."

Five books appeared while Stuart was incarcerated, although it is almost certain that they had already been completed before he was jailed. The reviews were as generous as before, as the following pair of reviews for The Serpent's Fang by Brian Stuart (1951) and Oasis by Peter Meredith (1952) show:
We have met Colonel Adrian Forester and his old friend, Colonel Grenier, before, and we are as well acquainted with Lieut.-Col Etienne Pomviens and Chief Det.-Inspector Ian Fleming, known to the underworld as "Never-let-go" Fleming.
    Again we meet them in another of their exciting and highly-dangerous jobs, all starting with Adrian Forester being sent to Grenier's flat to sort out his possessions, supposing him to have met a worthy but decidedly unpleasant death. With the discovery of a Moroccan in the flat, found to be murdered, Forester is immediately involved in a Moroccan anti-European plot.
    The story is actually placed in London, but Brian Stuart, having first-hand knowledge of Arab North Africa, has managed to give his tale a strong and authentic Eastern flavour, and the action, with its danger and excitement, owes nothing to the English background; thus proving the author's literary ability. (Buxton Advertiser, 31 August 1951)

Few things are as unpredictable as a mixed group of human beings faced with a major crisis. So often the most unexpected people show the greatest tact, or courage or endurance.
    This was evident in war-time experiences.
    Such a mixed collection of people Peter Meredith chooses as the characters for his adventure novel Oasis.
    An aeroplane containing a beautiful glamour girl, a young R.A.F. officer, a society girl, retired major, priest, and ex-batman, crashes in the African desert.
    The party are stranded until offered hospitality by a tribe of Arabs.
    Describing their trials at the hands of unfriendly tribesmen and the conditions of the African climate, the author gives a realistic account of desert travel.
    He brings out well the capacity of each person to contribute to the situation what he has learned from his particular way of life.
    The major offers his training in leadership, the batman a store of practical knowledge.
    Trouble also points the moral. The society girl is less snobbish after her experience. The glamour girl finds a way other than drugs to combat her problems.
    The story pictures vividly the beauty of primitive Arab tribal life along with the extreme cruelty of some of their customs. (Aberdeen Evening Express, 15 February 1952)
Stuart must have immediately returned to writing upon his release as a stream of new novels began to appear in 1953. They continued to garner very good reviews from newspapers, these three being typical:
Beth Takes Charge
A Queen's Messenger betraying his Diplomatic Bag... A Mayfair night club in direct contact with the worst thieves' kitchen known to Scotland Yard... The arrival in London of a notorious Communist agitator... Two ex-convicts out for diabolical revenge... Would these things have come to light before irreparable havoc had been wrought in Whitehall, if the Honourable Elspeth Lardner's anger and curiosity had not been aroused by a clumsy attempt to blacken the character of her old friend, Judy Ackland? Beth consults her friend Major Roger Kavanagh and Superintendent "Never-Let-Go" Fleming. But when Judy Ackland's body comes ashore off Chelsea Pier, "Beth Takes Charge." (Berwickshire News, 19 January 1954)

Diamond Cut Diamond
Captain Derek Villiers is a distinguished officer of the Dragoon Guards, temporarily denigrated for diplomatic reasons, who joins the Foreign Legion in order to carry out a special secret mission. His path is beset with danger, difficulty and unknown under-currents, through which his own quickness of wit and judgment are his only guides. His adventures make an exciting story, with all the necessary ingredients for keeping the reader in a state of eager expectancy—espionage and counter-espionage, skirmishes with Arabs, political intrigues in a cosmopolitan setting, and so forth—written in a virile manner by Brian Stuart, who excels in this type of fiction. (Berwickshire News, 10 May 1955)

The Case is Altered
The implications of Alastair Lardner's engagement to Poppy Finkel are bewildering and possibly sinister, for Poppy, a notorious Nazi spy, is even now working for a Nazi underground movement. Major Robin ("Knock-out") Kavanagh's proposal that Alastair, a Colonel in the Scots Guards, should be posted abroad, while Poppy and her supposed father are tracked down, is vetoed by the Prime Minister, who orders that under no circumstances is Lardner to leave the country. This surely can only mean that Lardner is suspected of being in league with Poppy and her confederates, which unpleasant thought Robin eventually steels himself to believe. Then action has to be taken, but the results are very different from those Robin had anticipated. The book is "To the Memory of Arthur Richard Pollard, Captain, The Devon Regiment, Who rests at Mareth." (Berwickshire News, 8 November 1955)
It is possible that Worthington-Stuart was writing under other names during this period, although I have been able to find only one. Many years ago, I jotted down notes from the collection of Panther Books held by the British Library, including the following for Francis Martin, author of two Foreign Legion stories in 1954, which advertised Martin as being "ex-Sergeant No.25293 2me Regiment Etrangere, 1930-34; Captain in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers; attd. G.H.Q. Forces Francais Libres; Beirut and Aleppo 1941-43."

The outline of Martin's career given above matches precisely that of Worthington-Stuart. Whether he contributed further books to Panther or any other paperback line is unknown. He did, however, begin writing non-fiction around that period. As well as his first book (Adventure in Algiers), Worthington Stuart (as Brian Stuart) had penned two other books about his days in North Africa, Far to Go (1947) and Desert Adventure (1954), also contributing at least one extensive article to Wide World Magazine in 1954 on the same subject.

With his desert adventures perhaps exhausted, he turned to his ancestors. Through his mother's he was related to the Bell family of Cookstown, Ireland, and in late 1955, A Family History Part 1 appeared, concentrating on the life and career of Harry Bell, who served in the Crimea. The book was warmly welcomed by The Sphere:
Why did Harry Bell, of Belmont, nephew of Lieut.-General Sir Orwell Bell and scion of a noble family, ride one night into Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, and, to the subsequent horror of his friends and relations, enlist as a soldier? The aggravating part of Brian Stuart's enthralling biography ... is that the answer to this question, known in Harry's day only to Lord Magherafelt, is not vouchsafed to the reader. It is reserved for Volume Two in this vivid family history, and we are told in a neat little postscript, boxed on the final page, that it was left to Harry's grandson to stumble upon the truth eighty years after the hero's death. Secret or no secret, this is a book of absorbing interest.
    When Harry Bell joined up with the rag, tag and bobtail of the Northern Irish counties he made his mark at once. Wise company commanders, who came to possess this treasure of a common soldier, with his knowledge of Latin, Greek, and half a dozen modern languages, soon had him in the orderly room ploughing through the welter of paper that was apparently just as fantastic a feature of the army of Crimean days as it is to-day. But Harry was not only a desk-bound soldier. He got shipped to the Crimea by a hideous mistake, one of a fatigue party which was embarked in error, and right through the war it was his fate to see our men battling not only against the Russians but against the chaotic inefficiency of that mad campaign, Harry was at the Alma, sitting on the grass all day with a field-glass and waiting for the order to advance while comrades fell in rows at the very cannon's mouth. Harry was in the Indian Mutiny, and wherever he went he sorted things out. Of his personal courage in the field there is ample testimony. It was at times a reckless courage no doubt linked with the secret that dogged his days.
    Not only is the book remarkable for its pictures of military life. It contains also the charming portrait of a happily married man; for Ann Bell was a truly wonderful woman, a grand lady, with no airs and graces, and shared with her husband the possession of a large-hearted humanity and an infinite compassion. (The Sphere, 12 November 1955)
The publisher was Richard Bell, possibly a company set up by the author or a relative. The family history was one of the company's first two books, preceded by Lumberjack, reprinting a 1934 novel by the American children's novelist Stephen Warren Meader. Richard Bell published only two translations of French books the following year (L'Art de maigrir by Albert Antoine became Slimming the French Way and La Vie privee des poissons by Maurice Constantin-Weyer became The Private Life of Fishes) and ceased publishing in 1961 after another four books. Worthington-Stuart's book was certainly in odd company.

His next publisher, G. Bell & Sons, was rather more established, having been founded by George Bell (1814-1890) in 1839. The chairman in the 1950s was Colonel Arthur H. Bell, grandson of the company's founder. While it would appear that they were not related, a case of nominative determinism seems to have applied, making G. Bell the perfect publisher for a book about Brian Stuart's grandfather, Sir George Bell. Soldier's Glory was a revision of Bell's own writing, but skilfully edited by Brian Stuart, according to The Sphere:
General Sir George Bell, who served through the Peninsular and Crimean Wars, saw garrison duty in Canada in the 1830s and, on retirement, published his Rough Notes of an Old Soldier. From it the best passages have now been arranged and edited by his kinsman, Mr. Brian Stuart, to form a magnificent story of courage, Soldier's Glory. George Bell was sixteen and still at public school when he was gazetted as ensign in one of George III's regiments and left his native Ireland for a brief sojourn at a depot in Yorkshire before embarking for Portugal, where, in spite of behaving "like a very imprudent young spoon," he soon gave a good account of himself, and went through campaign after campaign not only with a brave heart but, just as valuable from the reader's point of view, with a widely observant eye and a very lively pen. Wonderful reading, through all its 300-odd pages. (The Sphere, 5 May 1956)
This may have been Worthington-Stuart's last book.

Capt. B. A. Worthington-Stuart was still listed in the telephone book as living at 51 Albemarle Road, Beckenham, Kent, in 1947-58 but in truth Brian and Fanny Worthington-Stuart had moved to Denmark briefly in 1955; when Mrs. Worthington-Stuart's mother died in July 1955, she came into an income of between £800-900 a year from a trust fund set up by her late father (who had died in 1944). Difficulties arose getting the money over to Denmark and they decided to return to England. They arrived in England in November, staying in a hotel in Cheltenham before they were able to move to the Old Rectory in Upper Scudamore, Warminster, Wiltshire, in December. Two further children were born in the mid-1950s, David James B. Worthington-Stuart in 1955 and John Christopher B. Worthington-Stuart in 1956, bringing the total to eight.

Brian Arthur Worthington Stuart was brought up on nine charges before a special Court at The Town Hall, Warminster, on 18 September 1956. The charges related to obtaining credit during November and December 1955 without disclosing that he was an undischarged bankrupt. During the case it was revealed that Worthington-Stuart had claimed to some vendors that he required credit because although money was expected by his wife there was some difficulty getting the money out of Denmark. Worthington-Stuart had been first questioned in January and a summons served in June.

The defendant was committed for trial at Marlborough Sessions on 26 September on eight of the nine charges, but the case was postponed on the grounds that there had been insufficient time to prepare the defence. The trial took place on 31 October, with Stuart pleading "Not Guilty" to the charges. Mr. P. Malcolm Wright, for the defence, claimed that Worthington-Stuart had gone on a "spending spree" on arriving at Warminster, and that the credit was raised by his wife, and all the creditors were eventually paid in full.. The jury took twenty-five minutes to find Worthington-Stuart not guilty of the eight charges.

What happened to Brian Worthington-Stuart after that is sketchy at best. It would seem that the Old Rectory at Upper Scudamore was sold in 1958 and the family moved on. It is known that Brian changed his family name by deed poll and became Brian Arthur Martin-Stuart and it was under that name that his death in the Mendip area of Somerset in 1981 is registered.

PUBLICATIONS

Novels as Peter Meredith
Invitation to a Ball. London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Mar 1949.
Floodwater. London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Apr 1950.
Checkmate. London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Oct 1950.
The Crocodile Man. London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Jun 1951.
Oasis. London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, 1951 [Jan 1952].
The City of Shadows. London & New York, Frederick Warne & Co., Jan 1952.
Sands of the Desert. London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Oct 1953.
The Denzil Emeralds. London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Mar 1954.

Novels as Brian Stuart (series: Knock-Out Kavanagh; Col. Adrian Forester & Col. Grenier)
The Affair at Sidi Brahim (Kavanagh). London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Jun 1948.
Knock-Out Kavanagh (Kavanagh). London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, 1948 [Jan 1949].
The Silver Phantom Murder (Kavanagh). London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Apr 1950.
Mysterious Monsieur Moray (Forester & Grenier). London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Sep 1950. 
The Serpent's Fang (Forester & Grenier). London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Jul 1951.
Beth Takes Charge (Kavanagh). London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Jan 1954.
Diamond Cut Diamond. London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Apr 1955.
The Case is Altered. London & Melbourne, Ward Lock, Oct 1955.

Novels as Francis Martin
Ace in the Hole. London, Panther Books, Mar 1954.
Blood on the Sand. London, Panther Books, Jul 1954.

Non-fiction as Brian Stuart
Adventure in Algeria. London, Herbert Jenkins, Sep 1936.
Far to Go. London, W. P. Nimmo, Hay and Mitchell, Nov 1947.
Desert Adventure. G. Bell & Sons, Oct 1954.
A Family History: Part 1. Harry Bell. London, Richard Bell, Nov 1955.
Soldier's Glory, ed. Brian Stuart. G. Bell & Sons, Apr 1956.

Non-fiction as Brian Worthington-Stuart
Collecting and Breeding Butterflies and Moths, with a foreword by G. D. Hale Carpenter. London, Frederick Warne & Co., 1951.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Brian Worthington-Stuart part 2

On 6 April 1937, Brian Arthur Lewis Stuart (as he was now styling himself) married Fanny Elizabeth ("Betty") Worthington, daughter of Hugh Worthington, a retired cotton merchant, and his wife, Alice, at Lambeth, London. Fanny had been born in Macclesfield, Cheshire, on 2 August 1915. An announcement in The Times noted that he was late of The Border Regiment—which was untrue.

Following the success of his first book and his appearances on radio and in print, Brian A. Stuart (as he was credited) penned Knock-Out Kavanagh, a serial thriller in four rounds, starring Wilfred Pickles, Ursula Gilhespie, Fred Fairclough, G. H. Dayne, Donald Avison and Norman Partridge. The producer was Cecil McGivern. The serial was broadcast on 23 August to 13 September 1937 by the BBC's Northern service. Other stories appearing around the same time included "What Crocodile?" (Regional Programme, 1 April 1937) and "None So Blind" (Regional Programme, 28 August 1937)

Stuart and his wife had their first child, a daughter named Angela Windsor Patricia Stuart, in March 1938. As wartime approached, Stuart, then living at Vauxhall Bridge Road, Westminster, became an ARP Warden while his wife and daughter moved into the home of her family in Ruthin, north Wales, where a second daughter, Elizabeth S. J. Stuart, was born in 1940.

Stuart later claimed that he was with an AA battery in London before being attached to Intelligence and serving in Syria and Palestine. He obtained a commission in 1940 in The Royal Welch Fusiliers and was discharged in 1944 with the rank of captain on medical grounds due to a serious spinal injury.

Of these claims, I have been able to establish that Cadet Brian Arthur Lewis Stuart (28394) was serving with the Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1941.

After being discharged, Stuart penned "The Crocodile" for Mystery Playhouse (Light Programme),  broadcast on 21 August 1946, and on 18 October 1946 he gave a talk as Brian Worthington-Stuart on the BBC Home Service on the subject of "Desert Wanderers". He was regularly broadcast on the Children's Hour (Home Service), appearances including "Across the Strange Sahara" (4 eps., 16 October-6 November 1945), "A Walk in Jerusalem" (3 February 1946), "Some Dogs and a Couple of Cats" (26 February 1946), "A Walk in Damascus" (3 March 1946), "Belinda and the Bedouins" (2 eps., 19 July-26 July 1946), "A Visit to Nazareth" (1 December 1946), "A Visit to Bethlehem" (5 January 1947), "A Visit to Marrakesh" (5 February 1947) and "Timbuctoo" (12 February 1947). He also contributed a couple of stories to The World and His Wife (Light Programme): "A Day After Snipe" (13 May 1946) and "Among the Bedouins" (20 May 1946)

Brian Arthur Lewis Stuart, then living at "Penmillard", Hayes Lane, Beckenham, Kent, changed his name by deed poll to Brian Arthur Worthington-Stuart as of 30 April 1946. Following the birth of Arthur Peter H. Stuart in 1946, his next two children reflected his change of name: Rhoda Mary C. Worthington-Stuart, born in 1947, and Derek R. Worthington-Stuart, born in 1948.

Worthington-Stuart's first two novels appeared from Ward, Lock & Co. in 1948. The Affair at Sidi Brahim and Knock-out Kavanagh both appeared under the name Brian Stuart and both featured the character he had created for radio, Major Roger "Knock-out" Kavanagh. The first was reviewed as "an attractively written and lively yarn. While basically it may be said to be another story of the Foreign Legion, it is modernised by being set against a pre-1939 background of apprehension of war and the activities of the now notorious fifth column. Needless to say, all goes well for the chief character, the ex-Indian Army officer, who joins the Legion and, as a British secret agent, rounds up the gang of Hitlerites and criminals." (Daily Mail (Hull), 19 June 1948)

Soon after, Worthington-Stuart launched a second pen-name with Invitation to a Ball by Peter Meredith (1949). C.E.L. of the Western Morning Post (11 April 1949) said that the book did "not stint the condiments—a wife hard-pressed by debts and blackmailers, a husband in pursuit caught up in the Foreign Legion and war. With such garnishing the tale could not fail to thrill." In the Yorkshire Evening Post (29 April 1949), the reviewer describes the book as "a chaser indeed. Andrew gives his erring wife chance after chance, but in vain. She runs off. He pursues her over the Continent, gets caught up in the first Great War, and joins the Foreign Legion! After he has been presumed dead really striking events occur."

Meredith's next novel, Floodwater (1950) was also well-received:
Nothing is more likely to lure a black sheep back to the fold than a tasty morsel from a substantial will. In Floodwater, Peter Meredith gives the not unfamiliar theme a new twist, and works it up into an engrossing story. The setting is a successful farm in Africa, where peace and prosperity prevail until the black sheep arrives and is allowed to stay. Drama and intrigue culminate in a suitably startling climax. (Daily Mail (Hull), 12 May 1950)

The black sheep of a family, who is long believed dead, turns up in a happy prosperous farmstead in Africa and takes his place in the family circle on the basis of the old argument that blood is thicker than water. In this case the argument is disproved after a welter of thrilling adventure and just the right amount of romance. Mystic mumbo-jumbo from an old witch-doctor forms an intriguing background to this powerful novel. (Western Daily Press, 26 August 1950)
Peter Meredith's next novel, Checkmate appeared later that same year:
Checkmate has nothing to do with a quiet game of chess, its keynote is crime! Peter Meredith's new thriller presents an uncomfortable situation which could happen to anyone, even more so when father and daughter suddenly meet in a room with a dead body in it, and suspect each other of murder. The solicitor father and his daughter Diana are well-drawn characters and the novel situations make the book very readable. (Daily Mail (Hull), 17 November 1950)
Meanwhile, Brian Stuart's next two books had also appeared:
Whatever other criticism they make, readers of The Silver Phantom Murder by Brian Stuart cannot complain for lack of excitement or gruesome detail. Within the first 10 pages we have a body on our hands which, before being stabbed in the back, had had his eyes burnt out with molten sealing wax. So much for detail.
    This is an up-to-the-minute thriller complete with M.I.5 and, of course, the atom. Bill Roydon, a secret service man, is the murder victim, and his old friend, Knockout Kavanagh, joins with Scotland Yard in tracking down the killer. It is a hard and long chase which brings us up against a diabolical political organisation, but it is nevertheless a successful one. (Daily Mail (Hull), 26 May 1950)
In Mysterious Monsieur Moray, the heroes, Colonel Forester and Colonel Grenier, discover a Nazi plot to start another war.

On a completely different tack, Brian Worthington-Stuart, F.R.E.S., was credited as the author of Collecting and Breeding Butterflies and Moths (1951), reviewed in the October-December 1951 issue of The Naturalist thus:
This latest addition to the Wayside and Woodland series should find its way into the hands of all lepidopterists. The author first deals systematically with the various aspects of collecting, setting and arranging specimens, and then with the more fascinating (though more arduous) problem of breeding. The hints and suggestions are obviously the result of experience and are worth careful consideration, but as the author points out collectors who have achieved success using other methods will doubtless remain faithful to them. That does not detract in any way from the value of the advice given; there must be some fundamentals on which the newcomer can build experience.
    As regards the various methods described, the reviewer has only one criticism and that is the absence of any reference to chloroform vapour as a killing agent. It is his opinion that it is one of the most reliable, safe to handle and cheap substances available and does not cause brittleness in the specimens. The novice should not be dismayed by the rather formidable list of apparatus suggested at various stages. It is possible to start in quite a modest way and the various accessories will gradually accumulate.
    The book is readable and the diagrams well chosen but occasionally one gets a rather uncomfortable impression from the author’s style that he is inclined to credit his readers with a shortage of common sense — and that is irritating! These are minor points, however, and the book should be a great help to those interested in the subject and in particular to those who have just begun to explore the possibilities of the lepidoptera.
By the time the book saw print, Brian Worthington Stuart was in jail.

The London Gazette for 17 January 1950 records that Brian Worthington Stuart, The Rectory, Blo Norton, near Diss, Norfolk, author, lately residing at 51 Albemarle Road, Beckenham, Kent, was receiving orders under the Bankruptcy Acts, 1914 and 1926. Another notice gave his name as Brian Arthur Worthington-Stuart and noted that he had also previously resided at Penmillard, Hayes Lane, Beckenham, Kent.

But the case took a curious twist and the 48-year-old author found himself at Ipswich Bankruptcy Court on Friday, 21 April 1950 where he declared his debts as £3,125 7s 9d. and his assets as 3s 3d. Stuart had made his own petition for bankruptcy on 11 January.

His income was derived from writing novels and from a disability pension of about £85 4s. a year. Asked by Mr. K. E. Fisk, the Official Receiver, "You have known for some considerable time that you could not pay your debts in full if asked?" Stuart responded "I have known since the summer of 1948." "And you went on contracting nearly all the debts in your statement of affairs?" "Yes," Stuart said.

Stuart was brought before a special Court at East Harling on 23 August to answer nine charges of issuing cheques with no means to meet them and obtaining credit while an undischarged bankrupt. Stuart angrily stated: "I consider the whole of this enquiry stinks of vindictive persecution. I gave a complete explanation during the public examination to which I have nothing to add."

Stuart had left a trail of bounced cheques beginning in July 1949, shortly before moving to Norfolk in August. In one instance, he owed Messrs. Leeson and Sons, a chemists in Bury St. Edmund's, £1 4s 7d. and had obtained £15 in notes from them by writing a cheque for £16 4s 7d. He immediately used the £15 to file his own petition for bankruptcy.

He was committed to appear at the Norfolk Assizes in October. Unable to produce a surety, he was remanded in custody. Bail was set at £50 plus one surety of a similar sum.

The trial took place on 16 October 1950 when it was revealed that Stuart's problems had grown since his bank returned a number of cheques; Stuart had opened accounts with other banks—nine in all—drawing cheques on them, although overdrawn.

In his defence, Mr. F. T. Alpe  revealed that Stuart was suffering from family troubles, his spinal injury and the drugs he had taken. "He has not spent this money on betting or drinking. It has all gone into keeping the family," observed Mr. Alpe.

"These were deliberate, wicked frauds which have involved innocent people in losses which they could ill afford," said Mr. Justice Hilbery, He sentenced Stuart to three years imprisonment on each of the eight charges of obtaining money and goods by false pretences, and to one year on each of the charges of obtaining credit while an undischarged bankrupt and one under the Debtors Act of obtaining credit by false pretences. The sentences were to run concurrent. "I cannot remember a more systematic and deliberate fraud," said the Judge during sentencing, adding that his only doubt was whether he ought not to impose a more severe punishment.

(* In part 3: Brian Worthington-Stuart's writing career continues, before suddenly coming to an end. Plus, another court case and another change of name.)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Brian Worthington-Stuart part 1

There are some authors who are just made for Bear Alley. Brian Stuart is definitely one. Beyond a list of 16 novels under two pseudonyms that appears in Al Hubin’s Crime Fiction Bibliography, no broader bibliography has appeared anywhere. The only available biographical information easily available is the brief note (also written for Hubin's Bibliography): "Birth name uncertain; was known as Brian Arthur Lewis Stuart when he changed his name to Brian Worthington-Stuart, and later changed it again to Brian Martin-Stuart."

I had put together a few notes some time ago after discovering a court case, but it seemed that each time I thought I had discovered all I could, something else would turn up. I have no doubts that there is more of Brian Stuart's story still  to be told and I would love to hear more. For the moment, this is as full a picture of Stuart's jigsaw life as I have been able to put together.

Brian Stuart's name first began to appear in the 1930s. An author and journalist, Stuart was described as having joined the Foreign Legion and was later to become the first Englishman to be offered a commission. He made a lone trek across the Sahara, made money dowsing for water in the desert, was offered a wife as part payment for his services, encountered thieves and murderers, and had his life saved by sorcery.

Of an early radio broadcast M.C. of the Manchester Guardian (8 November 1934) said: "Mr. Stuart is a wanderer by temperament, and he started his wanderings one day when he had become bored with his position as a clerk in the Bank of England. He has served in the Foreign Legion, and has worked and wandered in India, Canada, and other countries. The talk was most entertaining and amusing, for he seems to have a natural gift for telling stories of his travels, and his manner is rather laconic and dry, so that he makes an effect of humorous understatement."

His novels, written under the names Brian Stuart and Peter Meredith, were well reviewed and appeared popular. As Stuart he had created the character "Knock Out" Kavanagh's whose "gentian blue eyes no longer humorous or twinkling behind the quite unnecessary monocle" take on a steely glint at the first sign of danger. Stuart's favourite characters seemed to be former army officers with experience in the Middle East or India. Stuart built up a small group who appeared in a number of his books, including Chief Detective Inspector Ian Fleming, known as "Never-Let-Go" Fleming, and Colonel Adrian Forester and his friend, Colonel Grenier.

Stuart's writing career had started in the 1930s but came to an abrupt end in the mid-1950s, after which no trace of any further work has been found. Whether he continued to ply his trade as an author and journalist I have yet to discover. On the other hand, his origins and pre-writing career can now be revealed.

Stuart was born Arthur Lewis Martin in Stroud Green, London, on  6 March 1902. He was the son of Arthur William Martin, born in Battersea in c.1872, and his wife Louisa Mary Bell, born in Fermoy, Cork, on 31 December 1871. Married on 15 December 1896 at Crouch End, London, Mr. Martin was a staff engineer (1st class) with the General Post Office. His wife (who had worked as a telegraphist for the G.P.O.) was related to Sir George Bell (1794-1877), an Irish-born soldier who had served in the Peninsular and Crimean Wars during a long and distinguished career which he brought to wide attention in a two-volume autobiography, Rough Notes by an Old Soldier (1867).

Arthur Lewis Martin's upbringing remains a bit of a mystery. At the time of the 1911 census, when he was aged 9, he and his parents were visitors at the home of Charles Emil Ramspott at Mooredale, Epsom Downs, Surrey.

What we know of Arthur Martin's early career is from later newspaper reports which reveal that he joined the Bank of England as a clerk in 1920, leaving in 1926 to travel to India as a clerk to a firm of stockbrokers, which subsequently went broke; he then went to Canada, also with stockbrokers, before returning to England.

In January 1930, some local newspapers carried a report that one Arthur Lewis de Vere Martin Bell, an accountant, was arrested on Wednesday the 22nd at Lapford Rectory, in Lapford, a small village in Devon. Sergeant Squire and Constable White brought Bell before the Bench at nearby Northtawton on Thursday and he was remanded pending the arrival of an escort.

Bell had been arrested on a warrant issued by the Metropolitan Police for the alleged obtaining of goods by means of a worthless cheque. Bell was remanded in custody by Mr. Gill at Westminster Police Court on the 25th of obtaining a gun and case, and a cigarette case and matchbox, valued at £24 6s 6d. by false pretences from the Army and Navy Stores in Victoria Street, S.W.

Detective Smith told the magistrate that a quantity of property was brought to London with Bell—including an Oxford M.A. hood, a cheque book, a passport in the name of Arthur Lewis Martin, an order book on the Army and Navy stores, and clothing—and a further charge was to be preferred. Smith said that Bell had stated: "I wish to clear the matter up now. I did obtain the gun, the cigarette case and matchbox from the Stores. I pawned them the same day in the Strand, but I have lost the tickets."

That this was Arthur Lewis Martin cannot be doubted. The name De Vere Bell was probably concocted from his similarly named uncle, Warwick De Vere Bell, born in Devonport, Devon, in 1866, a civil servant and son of Harry Humphrey Bell, Martin's grandfather.

Mention of Martin's passport makes me wonder if any of the following is related to our author: in 1929, one Arthur Martin, a 27-year-old accountant giving his address as c/o Holt & Co., 3 Whitehall Place, London, travelled to Canada aboard the Ausonia, arriving in Montreal on 29 October 1929; similarly, a 27-year-old clerk with the address 134 Regent Street, SW, left London on 9 May 1930, bound for New York aboard the American Farmer; and, later, on 10 January 1934, aged 32, accountant Arthur Martin (now of 254 Upland Road, E.Dulwich  SE22) again travelled to Canada via New York from Southampton aboard the White Star's Olympic. While speculative, hopefully connecting these trips is an educated guess. Martin claimed in court that he worked for a stockbroker in Canada around this time.

Martin had been a member of the Territorial Army Reserve since the early 1920s; late of the Inns of Court O.T.C., he was made a 2nd Lieutenant of the 17th Battalion (4th London Regiment)  on 28th March 1924. He was later made a Lieutenant on 17 December 1932

It was said that it was through his connection with the 4th London Regiment that he became attached to the French Foreign Legion. He was said to be in the Consul's office in Oran, on the coast of north-west Algeria, the setting for his book Adventure in Algeria (1936).

The book was generally well-received, a typical review appearing in The Observer (10 January 1937):
Here is one of the freshest and most winning books of travel offered for a long time. Mr. Stuart writes with such a perfect unconsciousness of his public and such a disregard for all the mannerisms that are supposed to be “literary,” that a schoolboy’s letter could not be more frank, intimate, or revealing. He never tells a story or exhibits a humorous situation that does not at once yield its full value.
    Part of his tale is occupied with a journey on foot well into the interior of French Africa. It is plentifully studded with odd and picturesque experiences, and in the course of it he drank out of a tea-cup once given to his Arab host by General Gordon, and had Miss Amy Johnson swoop down upon him from the skies in the course of her homeward flight from the Cape. But the pages that arrest attention most sharply are those describing his service in the Foreign Legion and stripping from that corps many popular and invidious legends.
    Bad characters would find it very difficult to get in, and piety is not unknown in its ranks. “In the company in which I finished up my service, a Russian corporal-farrier held a Bible class for anyone who cared to attend.” As for “brutality,” the author declares that “Field Punishment No.1” of the British Army in the Great War was far and away more severe than anything the Legion knows, and the only complaint he makes of its regime is that the food on active service is not what it should be. The “horrors” that invest popular conception of the Legion are the creation, Mr. Brian Stuart maintains, of “deserters and similar cowards.” It will be interesting to see whether his vindication goes unchallenged.
Some reviewers felt that "a little inconsistency here and there, however, shakes one's confidence in his own story." (Western Morning News, 7 October 1936) He related how he had joined in 1931 and found the Legion very welcoming. "The barracks at Ain Sefra were absolutely the last word in cleanliness and comfort," he revealed. The food was delicious.

Although marked out for rapid promotion and the unusual honour of a commission even before he had begun training, "Stuart" did not stay long in the Legion. He was rejected on account of bad eyesight after about six months. Thereupon he sought adventure by himself in the desert and the second and larger part of the book described his experiences.

Arthur Lewis Martin returned to England in 1933 and, using the pen-name Brian Stuart, began writing about his experiences, with articles such as "Foot-Loose in the Sahara" for Blackwoods and "Across the Sahara on Foot", for Pearson's Magazine in 1934. That same year he began broadcasting on the BBC, with "Legend of the Foreign Legion" broadcast on 7 September 1934, followed by two contributions to the "Rolling Stone" series:  "Banks, Barracks, and Bivouacs", broadcast on 7 November 1934, and "Footloose in the Sahara", broadcast on 12 December 1934. These and other articles for the likes of Windsor, which became the basis for Adventure in Algeria. While establishing himself as a writer, he was also spent some time between 1933 and 1935 selling vacuum cleaners in London.

It was during this period, shortly after his return to England, that Martin became embroiled in another court case. On 9 May 1934, the Highgate Sessions heard the case of Mrs. Doris Blodwin Hudgell, who was applying for a separation order against her husband, Frederick Louis Hudgell. The case was complicated by her husband's cross petition asking for custody of their daughter. The couple had married in April 1929 and daughter Barbara was born in 1931. Mr. Hudgell worked as a motor-fitter for the L.N.E.R., earning £2 18s. a week.

Mrs. Hudgell revealed that Mr. Hudgell had been "difficult to manage" on New Year's Eve and had smashed a panel of a kitchen cupboard, knocked her against the fireplace and nearly broke her back. On April 24 he had flown out of bed in a mad rage, ripped her pyjama coat from her, picked her up bodily and kicked her in the stomach several times. He left her the following day.

Mrs. Hudgell also alleged that her husband had been carrying on with another woman, and came home in the early hours of the morning. In the course of the previous three months he had assaulted her several times.

She had scrubbed floors to help pay off her husband's debts and, earlier in the year (1934), she had taken in a lodger at her husband's request. The lodger was Arthur Lewis Martin.

Martin, then living at the London Central Y.M.C.A., gave evidence that he had met Mrs. Hudgell at a Lyons Corner House and later responded to an invitation to tea with Mr. and Mrs. Hudgell. Later, arrangements were made for him to lodge at their home at 11 Woodside Grove, North Finchley. He was there for three weeks but left, he said, because he could not stand the way Hudgell treated his wife, and he did not think she should be left alone in the house with him. "Hudgell treated her abominably," he said. "I have seen him hit her frequently and squeeze her in the throat until she went red in the face. I have seen her knocked against the kitchen wall, and he pretended to cut her throat with a razor." Hudgell would threaten to injure her and then commit suicide. On one occasion, Martin had come into the kitchen and found Hudgell there with a girl on his knee.

The magistrate eventually decided that the case should have been settled by voluntary separation and that the summons for cruelty had not been established and was therefore dismissed. However, the two were back before the magistrates on 6 June 1934, with Mrs. Hudgell claiming desertion and alleged wilful neglect of their daughter; she also asked for custody of the child. The case was again adjourned as Mr. Lincoln (appearing for Mr. Hudgell) had not passed on material relating to an allegation of misconduct by Mrs. Hudgell. When the case resumed two weeks later, Mr. Ricketts (for Mrs. Hudgell) said that the promised material had only been handed over the weekend before the case was to be heard and it appeared that the husband was "trying to starve his wife into submission." The case was again adjourned.

Eventually, on 4 July, the case was heard. Mrs. Hudgell strenuously denied having had an affair with a man named Hopton in 1932. Nor had she misconducted herself with the lodger, Arthur Lewis Martin.

Giving evidence, Mr. Hudgell said that after he had been living with them for some time, Martin had told him that he liked his wife and wanted to marry her. Martin, said Hudgell, suggested that he (Hudgell) should go away with another woman and commit adultery with her so that his wife could get a divorce. Martin had appeared at the May hearing during which he had said, "I am not going to pretend I am not in love with Mrs. Hudgell, partly in sympathy owing to the treatment she got from her husband. The fact that she is married I cannot help. Nor can I help the fact she is not in love with me."

The case was eventually found in Mrs. Hudgell's favour and she was given custody of the child.

(* In Part 2: Arthur Lewis Martin becomes Brian Arthur Lewis Stuart and begins writing novels... and ends up in jail.)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Comic Cuts - 26 May 2017

For someone who lives a relatively quiet life stuck at home either in front of the computer or the TV, this has been an exciting week. On Sunday we headed into town to see comedian Susan Calman, who you probably know from The News Quiz or her solo show Susan Calman is Convicted on Radio 4, lathough she pops up on TV with surprising regularity, appearing regularly on CBBC and hosting an afternoon quiz show called The Boss, which despite her every effort is just terrible.

We last saw her on her Lady Like tour, way back on 24 October 2014. Looking back at the Friday column after the gig, I see that it wasn't even mentioned, the column dominated by the demise of our washing machine and the need to generate a few book sales so we could afford a new one. I think I had reached a point where I knew I was going to have to sort out a paying job at some point and lack of funds was weighing on me.

Fast forward two-and-a-half years and I was pretty much in the same boat until a fortnight ago. I've just started work on a new project for my old boss at Look and Learn. I don't want to say much as it's not my project and not up to me to reveal all but it basically revolves around the idea of producing an illustrated dictionary for modern day social media consumption.

I've only been working on it for a few days, but I have to admit that I'm rather enjoying it. Mind you I'm only a couple of hundred entries in. Let's see how I feel once we pass the couple of thousand mark.

This doesn't mean the Valiant book is on hold. I should be able to do the two together, although I did take a couple of days off (Thursday through Sunday of last week) to write a three-parter that will be starting here at Bear Alley tomorrow, all about a writer named Brian Stuart... only he wasn't named Brian Stuart originally. I thought I'd be able to tackle him fairly quickly, but every time I thought I'd found everything, something else would turn up which shed new light on him.

But you can start reading all about him tomorrow. My point is that the article was utterly consuming as far as time was concerned, so I put in a couple of days on another side project that I've been doing, which is to index old annuals... and if you've listed the contents of an annual you'll know that it, too, is surprisingly time consuming. Especially if, like me, you spend a couple of hours trying to figure out where all of the strips and features were reprinted from (as was the case with many annuals from the 1970s); that can be made doubly hard if the strips were originally Italian.

I managed to catch up a bit, completing the original run of Eagle Annual from 1952 to 1975, and mailed off the results to fellow collectors who are also involved in this madness. Wednesday involved the first trip to the dentist in quite some while, and, bar a trip to a hygienist in June, that should be it for another six months. All I can say is, kids, don't take up smoking. I did, and although I gave up a few years ago, I'm still paying the price of a thirty-a-day, thirty-five year habit.

Monday night we were out on the town again, this time to a book launch. Or books, plural, launch as it was for the latest novels by James Garbutt and Henry Sutton. Both are better known as James Henry, although they only collaborated on one novel under that name, the first of a series of prequels based on R.D. Wingfield's Jack Frost character (famously played by David Jason in the long-running TV series). James then took over the name and has subsequently written three more Frost novels—the latest one released this month—and a stand-alone featuring another policeman which was set around the local Colchester area (Blackwater, just out in paperback).

Meanwhile, Henry has just published his tenth novel and, looking to start a new series, has written it under the name Harry Brett. I'm not revealing any deep, dark secret... he's plugging the book on his website.

The two make an excellent double act and the chat was full of anecdotes and insights into their writing processes and how those different processes caused problems when they came to collaborate. It was a highly entertaining hour and I got the latest Frost signed for my Mum as she's enjoyed the previous three and it was her birthday this week. I haven't seen her to pass it on, yet, so it'll be a nice surprise [I can say that because she doesn't have a computer and isn't reading this!]

Following on from last week's cover scans, here are a few more books by comedians.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Search/Destroy: A Strontium Dog Fan Film now online

The Strontium Dog fan movie Search/Destroy has been released and is available online:




In the far future strontium-90 fallout has created a race of mutants, outcasts from society, despised by the ‘norms’ and given only the dirtiest job - bounty hunting. Johnny Alpha is one such mutant, working for the Search/Destroy (Strontium Dog) Agency, hunting down criminals for the Galactic Crime Commission, aided by his trusty Viking sidekick, Wulf Sternhammer.

Search/Destroy: A Strontium Dog Fan Film, is an unofficial, not for profit project, based on the work of John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Alan Grant. The short film is produced by the team behind the Judge Dredd based fan film - Judge Minty, and follows Johnny and Wulf as they investigate a spate of Strontium Dog disappearances.

Featuring Matthew Simpson as Johnny Alpha and Kevin Horsham as Wulf Sternhammer, preview screenings and production images have received positive reactions from co-creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. The film received its premiere at 2000 AD’s 40 Years of Thrill-Power Festival, on February the 11th 2017 and is now available to view online for free.

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases 24 May 2017

2000AD Prog 2032
Cover: D'Israeli
Judge Dredd: Sons of Booth by TC Eglington (w) Nick Dyer (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Defoe: Diehards by Pat Mills (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Brink: Skeleton Life by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Scarlet Traces: Cold War - Book 2 by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Illustrators #18 (Spring 2017)

Mort Drucker, who leads off the latest issue of Illustrators, is famous for his caricatures of movies, TV shows, stars and celebrities. To anyone who has ever stumbled across MAD Magazine his work is instantly recognisable. His strength is that he not only produces spot on caricatures but that he places them in richly detailed and realistic settings. This maybe reflects his earliest artistic experiences drawing backgrounds for 'Debby Dean, Career Girl' for six months in 1947.

The 18-year-old had no formal art training but soon found himself working on the staff at National (later DC Comics) before going freelance in the 1950s, which led him to work as a cover artist (notably for Time), poster artist and illustrator for books, magazines, comics and advertising for the next six decades. Answering an advert in 1956 led him to MAD Magazine and launched a 55-year relationship which saw him parody everything from Saturday Night Fever to Star Trek.

Not so well known is Ernest Garcia Cabral, a Mexican cartoonist who trained in Paris and learned to tango in Buenos Aires. He brought Art Nouveau and Art Deco painting to South America, acted in movies and was one of the leading newspaper and magazine illustrators of the 1920s to the '60s.

 
This is followed by my favourite piece in this issue: a look at the origins and art of Puffin Books. The famous imprint was launched by Penguin Books-creator Allen Lane in 1939 at the suggestion of Country Life editor Noel Carrington when they met over lunch a year earlier. With Puffin Picture Books a success, 1940 saw the arrival of Puffin Story Books, but the line only became a phenomenon with the arrival of Kaye Webb, who grew the publishing line from 150 titles to 1,200 in her 20 years in charge.

Somewhat cheekily, this issue includes an interview with Illustrators editor, Peter Richardson, himself an illustrator, while the issue is wrapped up with a brief piece on Katyuli Lloyd, who found early success with her illustrations for Virginia Woolf's Flush: A Biography, which earned her a number of award nominations and commissions from The Folio Society. The issue closes with a short appreciation of John Watkiss.

 
For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 19 will feature James (Dinotopia) Gurney, Erik Kriek, J.O.B. and Philip Mendoza.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Comic Cuts - 19 May 2017

After my production slowdown of last week, I've managed to pick up the pace somewhat, with some actual, honest-to-god paying work being squeezed in alongside my various projects.

Chief amongst the latter, of course, is the Valiant index, for which I've still got to think of a title. At the last count my notes for the introduction ran to 37,000 words, which is way beyond what I was anticipating. Admittedly Valiant ran to many more issues than some of the titles I've tackled over the past few years (Ranger, Boys' World, Countdown), but I was expecting the text to run to around 40,000 total, not with five years history still to cover. It does at least explain why it is taking me so long to put together.

I had hoped to have the book out in time for the arrival of One-Eyed Jack, the Rebellion reprint, but I'm definitely going to miss that deadline by a mile. Could I have the book out in time for the release of The Leopard From Lime Street, which follows on the 12th of July? I very much doubt it, as the longer text also means more pages to design, more words to proof, etc. But hopefully by July I'll be getting close.

Rebellion, incidentally, have released a new cover image and also announced a 200-copy limited edition hardcover which will include a numbered bookplate and art print. You can pre-order the books via Rebellion's new Treasury of British Comics website.

There are a number of other British comics reprints on the horizon and not limited to the titles announced by Rebellion back in March. Titan are also publishing a new Dan Dare volume, continuing the series of earlier titles, in October. I'm not sure what the precise contents will be but the volume seems to pick up from the last (Trip to Trouble, published in 2010) in the middle of Eagle volume 11 (1960), so I'm guessing it might include "Mission of the Earthmen" and "The Solid Space Mystery", the latter reintroducing Dan's nemesis, The Mekon.

At the moment, the promo cover has a slight error, giving the title as "Mission of the Earthman" (singular) rather than the "Earthmen" (plural) of the original Eagle strip. An easy mistake to make, but it will hopefully be fixed before the book goes to print. At the moment, the book is due out on 24 October 2017.

The Amazon entry for the book unhelpfully lists the authors as Frank Hampson and Frank Bellamy, neither of which had anything to do with the strips at that point. Don Harley and Bruce Cornwell were the chief artists for the next couple of years, with Eric Eden writing scripts.

A month before that, on 12 September, we should be getting Hook Jaw: The Complete Original Collection, which is described as running to 160 pages... so it will certainly be more complete than the previous Hook Jaw collection from Spitfire Books, which ran to only 96 pages. I'm not sure if the book will include any strips from annuals or holiday specials, of which there were quite a few.

Rebellion have Marney the Fox out in September, too, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that these titles will all do well and we'll start seeing a few more reprints of old British comics on the horizon.

Random scans. I picked up a couple of books by comedians recently, then realised I had a few others from months gone by already scanned, so to lighten your day...

 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Commando 5019-5022

Commando issues on sale 18 May 2017.

Offering four singular World War Two adventures, issues 5019 – 5022 of Commando delve into the comic’s classic roots, while delivering distinctive twists on archetypal tales. From battle torn French villages to the choppy waves of the English Channel, our heroes come in Matilda tanks, Henschel 126s, and Air Sea Rescue motor launches...and sometimes they fight on both sides…

5019: Tank Commander
Two tanks take centre stage in Janek’s stunningly realistic cover, as one Matilda’s gun barrel fires, the explosion mirrored where the shell hits the rival Panzer. However, this diminution of the war, focusing on only one squadron’s battle, acts as a microcosm, offering more attention to the characters, but keeping the stakes as high as ever.
    Handley’s story focuses on Lieutenant Mark Watmore, stranded in the French Hamlet, Saint-Nadine, and tasked with covering the allies retreat to Dunkirk. But when a lone Matilda tank crawls into the quiet Hamlet, crewed by its squad’s lone survivor, Sergeant Jack Taylor, who warns Watmore of approaching Jerries, they have only one choice: to train Watmore’s men in the tank and use it to defend their position!
    Filled with Vila’s strong-jawed Tommies, and stunning attention to uniform and vehicles, “Tank Commander” is a great addition to any collection.

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak |

5020: Sea Ace
Brunt’s timeless story from 1968 is a Commando classic of friends turned rivals, allowing a varied view on war, duty, revenge and morality. In it, Norman Scott, an Air Sea Rescue pacifist wants only to save lives instead of taking them. Norman had witnessed loss and suffering on both sides from WWI, but Hugh Webster, a friend from his past, is blinded by revenge for his father’s mental degradation as a result of shell-shock from the trenches. Webster wants the Germans to pay – no matter the cost - and he won’t let Norman get in his way…
    Emphasising this rivalry, Gordon C. Livingstone’s cover highlights the dynamic binary of the characters by dissecting the page with the wing of Focke-Wulf 190, separating the red from yellow in the sky.

Story: Brunt
Art: Gordon C. Livingstone
Cover: Gordon C. Livingstone
Originally Commando No. 346 (July 1968) reprinted No. 1071 (October 1976)

5021: Caught in Crossfire
Rodriguez and Morahin’s cinematic artwork takes the reader from the dark, clammy interiors of the Burmese jungle to the perilous, icy heights of the Swiss Alps, the artists’ sense of scale adding to the tension of George Low’s gripping story of cat-and-mouse. It is this scene above Alps that David Alexander’s moody cover takes inspiration from, as we see a Henschel 126 strafing in the wind, tailed by two aircraft on either side, as lightning strikes against the snow-capped peaks behind them!
    Belonging to one of the “the evilest alliances ever formed”, Captain Isamu Nagata, an intelligence officer of the Imperial Japanese Army no longer believes in the war. But after accidentally shooting a German looter, Nagata is forced on the run, taking him across borders and against enemy and ally alike. For him surrender is no option...

Story: George Low
Art: Rodriguez & Morahin
Cover: David Alexander

5022: Trouble Trooper
Alan Burrows’s cover is pure Commando grit, creating a thrilling pairing with C. G. Walker’s story of one of Commando’s most “likable rogues”, Trooper Bill Bourne. Notorious for going A.W.O.L., despite his best intentions, Bourne is no stranger to trouble, or breaking the rules… But when war breaks out, Bourne must learn to obey orders and stick with his team.
    Charmingly drawn with thick, curly hair and a cheeky grin, Keith Shone’s illustrations of Bourne really capture the charismatic vagabond, while robbers in fedoras and trench coats, along with bleeding gutters between the panels add to the lure of his artwork and fully compliment Walker’s exhilarating story.

Story: C. G. Walker
Art: Keith Shone
Cover: Alan Burrows
Originally Commando No. 2594 (August 1992)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 17 May 2017.

2000AD Prog 2031
Cover: Cliff Robinson/Dylan Teague
Judge Dredd: Sons of Booth by TC Eglington (w) Nick Dyer (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Defoe: Diehards by Pat Mills (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Brink: Skeleton Life by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Scarlet Traces: Cold War - Book 2 by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 384
Cover: Cliff Robinson
Judge Dredd: Gecko by TC Eglington (w) Karl Richardson (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Anderson, Psi Division: Dragon Blood by Alan Grant (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Havn by Si Spencer (w) Henry Flint (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Simon Bowland (l)
Lawless: Long-Range War by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Features: Interrogation - Chris Lowder, Interrogation - Rory McConville, New Books: Summer Magic, New Comics: Beast Wagon
Bagged reprint: Necrophim: Hell's Prodigal by Tony Lee (w) Lee Carter (a) Annie Parkhouse, Ellie De Ville (l)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Edmund Bagwell (1966-2017)

Edmund Bagwell, best know for his work on 2000AD's 'Cradlegrave' and 'Indigo Prime', died on Tuesday, 14 May, at the age of 50. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Born Edmund Richard Bagwell in Preston in 1966, Bagwell studied at Leeds Polytechnic where he was a contemporary of Duncan Fegrado. Two years his junior, Bagwell would later say that it was thanks to Fegrado’s encouragement and support that he found work in comics.

His earliest regular contributions appeared in Deadline in 1988 when he wrote and drew ‘Syd Serene’ as Anonyman. Using the pen-name E. C. Perriman, he contributed ‘A Single English Rose’ to Blaam! (1988-89) and further stories (as Edmund Perryman and Anonyman) to Crisis, The Revolver Horror Special and Speakeasy. After an early contribution to the Judge Dredd Mega-Special (1992) as Edmund Kitsune, Bagwell found work with Marvel UK, drawing ‘Motormouth & Killpower’ for Overkill (1992) and Black Axe (1993). During these few years he worked with Nick Abadzis, D’Israeli, Peter Hogan, Warren Ellis, Graham Marks and Simon Jowett amongst others.

Primarily he worked in animation and computer graphics, living for some time in Angouleme, France, before moving to Seoul in South Korea with his wife Hae Sook to be closer to family. He returned to comics in 2005, contributing to Liam Sharp’s Event Horizon anthology. “Edmund lived with me and Christina in Richmond, just outside London, back in the Marvel UK days,” recalled Sharp. “He also contributed to Mam Tor, drawing ‘Chase Variant’ and illustrating my prose story ‘Jed Lightsear’.”

Sharp remembers him as “Just a brilliant, under-appreciated talent with a unique voice.”

After producing a handful of ‘Tharg’s Future Shocks’, Bagwell returned to mainstream comics with ‘Cradlegrave’ (2009), a horror story set in a sink estate that Ramsey Campbell described as “a fine rich achievement in modern supernatural terror,” whilst also praising the artwork, the story “well served by artist Edmund Bagwell, with his keen eye for the telling detail and his economical, often cinematic, way of conveying it. The Cradlegrave estate seems permanently steeped in dusk – in a light that can’t be bothered to raise itself. You can almost smell the rot in the streets laden with heat and rubbish.”

Bagwell took over ‘Indigo Prime’ for two series (2011), which allowed him to “access his inner Jack Kirby.” “I think you can see his influence in my designs for the series,” he told Matthew Badham in 2012. “Quite a lot of the machinery and vehicles are a bit Kirby-esque, plus I have used a fair amount of ‘Kirby Krackle’ for some sequences.” Chris Weston, the strip’s original artist, has said, “Edmund rebooted one of my old strips … and I’d always tell him that he did a better job than I did, whenever I saw him (a compliment he’d stubbornly refuse to accept, bless him).”

His most recent 2000AD work was ‘The Ten-Seconders’ (2013), written by Rob Williams, who wrote the storyline with Bagwell in mind. “I knew it was going to be big Kirby-esque gods, and when I saw his work on ‘Indigo Prime’, I thought he’d be perfect,” Williams told Mark Kardwell in 2013. Kardwell described the arrival of Bagwell on the strip thus: “It’s great to see Bagwell bring some much-needed clarity to ‘The Ten-Seconders’ after the murkiness of his predecessors; it’s like a new day has dawned on these characters. Unfortunately, it’s a new dawn that’s bringing with it an invasion of gigantic humanoid aliens. Bagwell tends to restrict his most Kirby-influenced drawing to the pieces he produces for his own amusement at his blog, otherwise it affects his published work in more subtle ways – some Kirby krackle in the skies, the occasional squared-off fingertip, a shared sense of cosmic scale, Again, Bagwell is bringing modernity to the strip, too.”

Bagwell was only occasionally active on social media: he ran a blog, Four Colours Good, in 2010-14, and was active on Twitter for some years (@BagG_E).

David Leach recalled on Facebook, “I first met him back in the glory days of Marvel UK and always enjoyed his company. He had an exceedingly dry sense of humour and a style of drawing I found utterly intoxicating.”

His family have asked that donations be made to Pancreatic Cancer UK in Edmund's memory.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Needles Battery, Isle of Wight

The Needles Battery is a tourist attraction on the Isle of Wight that was visited recently by friends who, knowing that I was a fan of Geoff Campion, picked up a set of postcards based on friezes he had drawn for the National Trust.

 
 
 
 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Eileen Owbridge

Mrs. Eileen Owbridge, of Three Ways, Whepstead, Bury St Edmunds, who writes under the pseudonym of "Jane Arbor," has had her first novel accepted by the publishers she first approached. "This Second Spring" is the title of her light romantic story, set in India, and is expected to be published early in 1948." (Suffolk and Essex Free Press, 9 October 1947)

Thus began the career of novelist Eileen Owbridge, whose novels from Mills and Boon were best-sellers. They found a wide audience and proved popular with reviewers who took to her vivid characters. Reviewing two of her early novels, XYZ of the Bury Free Press, described one as "an appealing story of a young and attractive war widow, who gives up a profitable London job to live in a small Suffolk village, where she eventually finds a new romance" (14 May 1948) and the next in even more glowing terms:
In this, her third novel, Mrs. Eileen Owbridge, of Three-ways, Whepstead, has written what is likely to become another best seller. She has the rare knack of being able to tell a story in such a way that one can believe that it might well have happened; her characters are beautifully drawn, her situations invested with a great sense of reality. In other words, Mrs. Owbridge is a writer who will make a big name for herself in the literary world. (6 May 1949)
Her next novel, Strange Loyalties, was serialised in at least one Scottish evening newspaper under the title "If Anyone Should Tell" (1950) as was the later "Blind To Her Love" (1953).

Eileen Owbridge subsequently disappeared into the treadmill of Mills & Boon, eventually penning sixty novels for the company between 1948 and 1984. For some years, Mrs. Owbridge ran a bookshop at Whepstead, a village of around 400 people south of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, from which experience she learned exactly what romance readers were looking for in their books. Although she described herself modestly as an “acceptable storyteller”, Arlene Moore (in 20th Century Romance & Historical Writers) says of her “[she was] a storyteller of great originality and sensitivity; she tangles her skein of characters and backgrounds into a many-hued tapestry of love and happiness.”

Most of Owbridge’s early novels fall into the hospital romance category, although many are set in more exotic locations – Morocco, Venice, the Greek Islands, Amsterdam, the Pacific Islands, etc. – which she researched heavily in order to write about them with effortless authenticity. Her heroines are usually well educated and employed in responsible jobs, although they inevitably fall in love with someone (a dedicated, brilliant surgeon, a nobleman) who cannot return their love. Invariably, love wins the day.

Owbridge was born Eileen Norah Murphy in Yeovil, Somerset, on 8 September 1903, the daughter of Irishman Patrick Murphy, an officer with Customs & Excise, and his wife Rose Emma (née Mothersole). She and her sister, Kathleen Ellen Murphy, were both born in Yeovil, but were living in 81 Fox Oak Street, Cradley Heath, Staffordshire, in 1911.

By 1939, she worked as a retail stationer, living at 29 Bell Street, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, and had adopted the surname Owbridge, which became her legal name by deed poll on 15 January 1946.

The Whepstead address often given in early newspaper reports about the West Suffolk author was that of Major Walter Wills Owbridge, born in Kensington, London, on 23 January 1895. During the war, whilst serving in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, he married Loula Wilna Miller, an American born in Arkasas on 25 August 1891, who had previously married Jim Walter in April 1905. Her marriage to Owbridge took place in London in early 1917 and a son, Giles William Gidley Owbridge, was born in 1920. Both Walter and Loula were supposedly living together at Hunton Mill, Epping, Essex, in 1939 where Laula was a restaurant proprietor.

Laula Owbridge died in Cambridge in 1963. While probate records list her as a married woman, she leaves her effects to a waiter named William Sole.

It seems likely that Walter and Laula Owbridge separated before the war, but were never officially divorced, hence Eileen Murphy changing her name by deed poll in 1946. Walter died at Dene Cottage, Route Orange, St. Brelade, Jersey, on 12 June 1966. His son, Giles, died in South Africa.

Eileen Owbridge retired from writing in 1984. She died  in Worthing, West Sussex, on 4 February 1994, leaving over £360,000.

Publications

Novels as Jane Arbor
This Second Spring. London, Mills & Boon, 1948.
Each Song Twice Over. London, Mills & Boon, 1948.
Ladder of Understanding. London, Mills & Boon, 1949.
Strange Loyalties. London, Mills & Boon, 1949; as Doctor’s Love, Harlequin, 1962.
By Yet Another Door. London, Mills & Boon, 1950; Toronto, Harlequin, 1980.
No Lease for Love. London, Mills & Boon, 1950; as My Surgeon Neighbour, Harlequin, 1964.
The Heart Expects Adventure. London, Mills & Boon, 1951.
Eternal Circle. London, Mills & Boon, 1952; Toronto, Harlequin, 1958; as Nurse Atholl Returns, Harlequin, 1960.
Memory Serves My Love. London, Mills & Boon, 1952.
Flower of the Nettle. London, Mills & Boon, 1953.
Such Frail Armour. London, Mills & Boon, 1953; Toronto, Harlequin, 1959.
Jess Mawney, Queen’s Nurse. London, Mills & Boon, 1954; as Queen’s Nurse, Toronto, Harlequin, 1960.
Folly of the Heart. London, Mills & Boon, 1954 [1955]; as Nurse Harlowe, Toronto, Harlequin, 1959.
Dear Intruder. London, Mills & Boon, 1955; Winnipeg, Harlequin, 1965.
City Nurse. London, Mills & Boon, 1956; as Nurse Greve, Winnipeg, Harlequin, 1958.
Towards the Dawn. London, Mills & Boon, 1956; Toronto, Harlequin, 1959.
Yesterday’s Magic. London, Mills & Boon, 1957; Winnipeg, Harlequin, 1967.
Far Sanctuary. London, Mills & Boon, 1958; Toronto, Harlequin, 1960.
Consulting Surgeon. Toronto, Harlequin, 1959.
No Silver Spoon. London, Mills & Boon, 1959; Toronto, Harlequin, 1964.
Nurse in Love. Toronto, Harlequin, 1959.
Sandflower. London, Mills & Boon, 1959; Winnipeg, Harlequin, 1961.
A Girl Named Smith. London, Mills & Boon, 1960; Toronto, Harlequin, 1966.
Nurse in Waiting. London, Mills & Boon, 1962; Winnipeg, Harlequin, 1962.
Nurse of all Work. London, Mills & Boon, 1962; Toronto, Harlequin, 1962.
Desert Nurse. London, Mills & Boon, 1963; Toronto, Harlequin, 1964.
Jasmine Harvest. London, Mills & Boon, 1963; Toronto, Harlequin, 1963.
Lake of Shadows. London, Mills & Boon, 1964; Toronto, Harlequin, 1965.
Kingfisher Tide. London, Mills & Boon, 1965; Toronto, Harlequin, 1965.
High Master of Clere. London, Mills & Boon, 1966; Toronto, Harlequin, 1966.
Summer Every Day. London, Mills & Boon, 1966; Toronto, Harlequin, 1967.
Golden Apple Island. London, Mills & Boon, 1967; Toronto, Harlequin, 1968.
Stranger’s Trespass. London, Mills & Boon, 1968; Toronto, Harlequin, 1969.
The Cypress Garden. London, Mills & Boon, 1969; Toronto, Harlequin, 1969.
The Feathered Shaft. London, Mills & Boon, 1970; Toronto, Harlequin, 1970.
Walk into the Wind. London, Mills & Boon, 1970; Toronto, Harlequin, 1970.
The Other Miss Donne. London, Mills & Boon, 1971; Toronto, Harlequin, 1971.
The Linden Leaf. London, Mills & Boon, 1971; Toronto, Harlequin, 1971.
The Flower on the Rock. London, Mills & Boon, 1972; Toronto, Harlequin, 1973.
Wildfire Quest. London, Mills & Boon, 1972; Toronto, Harlequin, 1972.
Roman Summer. London, Mills & Boon, 1973; Toronto, Harlequin, 1973.
The Velvet Spur. London, Mills & Boon, 1974; Toronto, Harlequin, 1974.
Meet the Sun Halfway. London, Mills & Boon, 1974; Toronto, Harlequin, 1974.
The Wide Fields of Home. London, Mills & Boon, 1975; Toronto, Harlequin, 1975.
Tree of Paradise. London, Mills & Boon, 1976; Toronto, Harlequin, 1977.
Smoke Into Flame. Toronto, Harlequin, 1976.
A Growing Moon. London, Mills & Boon, 1977; Toronto, Harlequin, 1977.
Flash of Emerald. London, Mills & Boon, 1977.
Two Pins in a Fountain. London, Mills & Boon, 1977; Toronto, Harlequin, 1977.
Late Rapture. London, Mills & Boon, 1978; Toronto, Harlequin, 1979.
Return to Silbersee. London, Mills & Boon, 1978; Toronto, Harlequin, 1979.
Pact with Desire. London, Mills & Boon, 1979; Toronto, Harlequin, 1979.
The Devil Drives. London, Mills & Boon, 1979; Toronto, Harlequin, 1980.
One Brief Sweet Hour. London, Mills & Boon, 1980; Toronto, Harlequin, 1981.
Where the Wolf Leads. London, Mills & Boon, 1980; Toronto, Harlequin, 1981.
Invisible Wife. London, Mills & Boon, 1981; Toronto, Harlequin, 1982.
Handmaid to Midas. London, Mills & Boon, 1982; Toronto, Harlequin, 1983.
The Price of Paradise. London, Mills & Boon, 1982; Toronto, Harlequin, 1982.
House of Discord. London, Mills & Boon, 1983; Toronto, Harlequin, 1987.
Lost Yesterday. London, Mills & Boon, 1984.

Omnibus
3 Great Novels. Toronto, Harlequin Books, 1975.