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Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Complete Captain Future

One of the stars of the 1950s pirate era of comic publishing, Norman Light's 'Captain Future' was the star of the comic Spaceman, which Light published in 1953-54. One of the most successful titles from the minor publishers of the era, it ran for 15 issues before disappearing. But 'Captain Future' lived on, briefly, in reprints, after the rights to the strips were picked up by former Hank Janson publisher Reg Carter.

Now, over sixty years after their original appearance, Bear Alley Books had gathered this action-packed series of pulp sf strips together for the first time. In a packed 200-page volume, all of Captain Future's comic strips are reprinted and, as a bonus back-up, we include three short stories by Tom Wade (a prolific writer for the infamous John Spencer quartet of sf magazines under multiple pseudonyms) featuring the Space Patrol. The Buccaneers of Space are introduced in a revealing special feature about the history of the Spaceman comic, its lead characters and the creative force behind them: Norman Light.

From the foreword:
My fascination with the science fiction of the Fifties began in around 1978, inspired by a school project that I was planning to do about sf magazines. Key to this project was Mike Ashley’s History of the Science Fiction Magazine and trips made to the Science Fiction Foundation, then a smallish room at Northeast London Polytechnic in Dagenham where I spent two very long days cribbing notes from Walter Gillings’ ‘The Impatient Dreamers’ and reading copies of Tales of Wonder, Fantasy and the early New Worlds—the first pulp magazines I had ever seen.
    In this shelf-packed Wonderland, I also found copies of Futuristic Science Stories, Worlds of Fantasy, Tales of Tomorrow and Wonders of the Spaceways, four tawdry, paperback-sized compilations which laughingly called themselves science fiction magazines. They had been damningly described in Ashley’s third volume as part of an unwelcome phenomena  that sprang up in the early Fifties: cheaply printed, low quality SF written by authors with no background in the field...
    It was during my trip to Dagenham that I first caught sight of these lurid magazines and their gaudy companions, novels by Vargo Statten, Volsted Gridban, Vektis Brack, Bengo Mistral and a dozen other guttural-sounding science fictional pseudonyms. I had heard that the Vargo Statten novels were not so bad and, being a member of the British Science Fiction Association, I was able to borrow titles from the Foundation’s library.
    Despite the warning of librarian Malcolm Edwards that “They’ll rot your brain,” I rather enjoyed the lively, no-nonsense pulp action of Vargo Statten and began reading others of that ilk, only to find that most of these cheap publishers had no quality threshold at all. But I was drawn to them by their vibrant, colourful covers, and amongst the stand-out talent was Norman Light, second only to Ron Turner when it came to depicting thrilling space battles or alien invasions.
    Light’s action-packed artwork became the focus of my first published article, which drew parallels between the paperback publishers and the ‘pirate’ comic strip publishers of the era. Norman Light was a key figure in the piece because he was not only an artist but also a publisher.
    Thirty-three years later I’m still a fan of Light’s artistry. Not for its quality—there were better artist/writers on a technical level and Light’s figurework tended to be what Denis Gifford described as “asymmetric”—but for its enthusiasm, vivacity and the artist’s obvious passion for good old pulp-style action.
    Here, then, are the complete adventures of Captain Future and the Space Patrol crewmen known as the Buccaneers of Space, one of Light’s finest creations. I hope you enjoy their outlandish adventures as much as I did when I first discovered them.
If you like your spaceships to soar, your galaxies to collide and your BEMs to be bestial, this is the thrill-filled collection for you.

 
 
Format
The Complete Captain Future is published in A4 perfect-bound format, 200 b/w pages with a colour cover.
ISBN: 978-1907-08178-1

Publication Date
Published on 8 May 2015.

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(* Norman Light's Captain Future © GT Ltd.; this collection © 2015 Bear Alley Books)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Frontline UK

The year is 1976 and Britain has been crushed under the heel of the invading forces of the Yellow Moon. But there is resistance to the invaders. Scattered throughout the country are men fighting back, men like Sergeant Sam Strong and the crew of his Scorpion tank.

Sergeant Strong and his crew are taking part in a military exercise when aircraft fly overhead, swinging around to make a dummy run on the tanks... but this is no dummy run! Air bases and other military installations across the country are under attack and invading forces are taking beaches around the coast.

How a lone Scorpion tank and its three-man crew—Strong, Bunny and Tanner—evade capture and then take the battle to the enemy makes for a thrilling adventure of British pluck in the face of a powerful enemy. Before 2000AD launched its own "Invasion" ten months later, there was "Frontline UK".

Featuring superb artwork by Ian Kennedy and Clemente Rezzonico, Frontline UK collects together for the first time the full story of the Yellow Moon invasion from the pages of D. C. Thomson's all-action comic, Bullet.

As well as the complete story, a trio of features in Frontline UK introduce the author and artists of the strip while the introduction reveals the origins of the story in the pages of a 1950s Wizard serial and how that story had previously been interpreted as a comic strip.

 
 
Format
Frontline UK is published in A4 perfect-bound format, 128 b/w pages with a colour cover.
ISBN: 9781907081767

Publication Date
Published on 8 December 2014.

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(* "Frontline UK" © D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.; this collection © 2014 Bear Alley Books)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Arena

Welcome to the greatest, most exciting sport ever! The ultimate conflict—to the death! Men locked in mortal combat employing strength and cunning and the most ingenious weapons the 21st century can devise. This is the story of one man's struggle against the system and his desperate battle for survival in the—
ARENA
Collected for the first time, "Arena" is set in the dark future of a 21st century in which corporations are all-powerful, protected by heavily militarized police forces and a legal system that removes dissenting voices by sentencing men to fight violent gladiatorial battles broadcast to the masses as entertainment from the Arena

Journalist Mark Sabor is sent to the Arena after criticizing the government. Even as he trains to fight, forces are at work to make sure he will never survive. Pitted against merciless opponents whose sole objective is to kill the newcomer any way they can, Sabor must use his wits and strength to survive.

But for Sabor the battle isn't just about surviving. It's about fighting back!

Trained in every form of weapon, the Arena warriors make a formidable army. Sabor becomes part of the resistance, searching for the truth about who controls the government and, through them, mankind's fate. And when he discovers the truth, it will be a bigger shock than he could ever have imagined.

From the pages of The Crunch, "Arena" marked the British debut of Argentina's master of the fantastic, Enrique Alcatena, who turned Dave H. Taylor's gripping scripts into a super-stylish science fiction epic. Although his artwork appeared anonymously, Alcatena built up a strong fan base in the UK in the pages of Starblazer, Warlord and Victor. Meanwhile, author Dave H. Taylor was also responsible for scripting many of D. C. Thomson's most popular characters, amongst them Alf Tupper the Tough of the Tracks, Billy the Cat and Starhawk. Together they created a memorable dystopian tale that still has the power to thrill.

 
 
Format
Arena is published in A4 perfect-bound format, 140 b/w pages with a colour cover by Enrique Alcatena and Martin Baines.
ISBN: 9781907081750

Publication Date
Published on 6 October 2014.

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(* "Arena" © D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.; this collection © 2014 Bear Alley Books)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Countdown to TV Action


AVAILABLE NOW!

The latest comic index from Bear Alley Books covers the history and content of Countdown and TV Action, the Gerry Anderson-themed comic from Polystyle launched in the early 1970s. With the demise of TV Century 21, Polystyle stepped in to launch a comic based around the upcoming UFO TV series. Edited by Dennis Hooper, Countdown brought together some of the industry's best talents—amongst them Harry Lindfield, Gerry Haylock, John M. Burns—to create a comic that is remembered to this day.

As well as UFO, Countdown's early issues included many of Gerry Anderson's famous creations in its line-up: Thunderbirds, Lady Penelope, Captain Scarlet, Stingray, Joe 90, Fireball XL5, Zero X and The Secret Service. From its companion TV Comic—the two titles were edited out of the same Edgware Road offices—came Doctor Who, to star in some of the very best comic strip adventures of his career.

Over its run—during which the title morphed from Countdown to TV Action—the paper also featured the adventures of The Persuaders, Hawaii Five-O, Cannon and Alias Smith & Jones, plus the long-running science fiction epic, Countdown, created by editor Hooper. With artists like Keith Watson, Brian Lewis, Frank Langford and Don Harley working on strips, the paper was always a visual feast.

With behind-the-scenes stories from some of the original editorial staff, this volume includes a detailed index to the stories and strips that appeared over the paper's 132-week run and various spin-off publications, identifying artists and writers where possible.

Countdown to TV Action is the fifth volume of comics' history published by Bear Alley Books, following the publication of Hurricane & Champion, Lion King of Picture Story Papers, Ranger: The National Boys' Magazine and Boys' World: Ticket to Adventure.

 
 
 
 
 
Format
Countdown to TV Action is published in A4 perfect-bound format, 202 b/w pages with a colour cover featuring the work of Gerry Haylock, John M. Burns and Gordon King.
ISBN: 9781907081743

Publication Date
Published on 4 July 2014.

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(* Countdown to TV Action © 2014 Bear Alley Books)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Man Who Searched For Fear

The Man Who Searched For Fear gathers together three adventure strips drawn by one of Britain's comic strip masters: Bill Lacey. Lacey's first strips appeared in 1951, although the best of his early work appeared in the pages of Super Detective Library, where he was the original artist for Rick Random and Blackshirt. Lacey's work appeared in dozens of comics in the 1950s and 1960s, including Mickey Mouse Weekly, Cowboy Picture Library, Knockout, Express Weekly, Thriller Picture Library, Princess, Film Fun, Valiant, Buster, Tiger and Lion; during this time his strips ranged from adaptations of western novels such as 'The Covered Wagon' to weird fantasy classics like 'Mytek the Mighty'. In the 1970s he drew extensively for Look and Learn and for a number of D. C. Thomson's boys' papers, Bullet, Crunch and Buddy.

The Man Who Searched For Fear is Bill Lacey at his best. The opening series in this new collection relates how Hugo Masterman, a delicate, unhappy child, who dreamed of travelling the world, lived to see his dream turn into a nightmare. In darkest Africa, with his companions dead through injury or illness, Masterman discovers the legendary graveyard of the elephants. Mauled by a lion, he survives by dragging himself back to civilisation on paralysed limbs. His discovery makes him immensely rich, but the tortures he has faced leave him unable to know fear.

Hidden away in Castle Doomcrest on a remote Scottish isle, Masterman offers a prize to any man who can bring fear into his life. His visitors relate bizarre adventures in the hope of earning Masterman's reward: how a man escapes a shark attack and becomes a god to a lost island civilisation; how an assassin plans to destroy an emperor by crashing his imperial train; how a man survives being left without supplies on an Alpine mountain . . . these are just a few of the tales that Masterman hears in his search to stir his emotions.

Adding to the excitement are two bonus stories. "Agent of the Queen" stars Agent Smith of Britain's nascent Secret Service. When Queen Victoria's life is threatened with assassination at the Great Exhibition of 1851, Agent Smith teams up with Captain Jack Stalwart to thwart the threat; and, in a second adventure, they team up again to discover how Russians are smuggling arms into India.

Finally, Lacey's adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" is another—but very different—Victorian adventure as young Pip finds himself in the hands of people who may or may not have his best interests at heart: the convict Magwitch, the odd Uncle Pumblechook, the bizarre Miss Havisham, the beautiful Estella, the lawyer Mr. Jaggers, his rival Bentley Drummle . . . against all odds will Pip still achieve his goal to become a gentleman.

 
 
 
Format
The Man Who Searched For Fear is published in A4 perfect-bound format, 148 black & white pages with a cover by Bill Lacey.
ISBN: 9781907081736

Publication Date
Published on 31 January 2014.

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(* artwork © Look and Learn Ltd.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Worlds of Adventure by Gino D'Antonio

GINO D'ANTONIO IN FULL COLOUR

"Superb production and a treasured addition to the groaning bookshelf!"—Dave Gibbons

Worlds of Adventure gathers together four never previously reprinted, full-colour strips illustrated by Gino D'Antonio.

In the late 1960s, while he was writing the epic Storia del West in his native Italy, D'Antonio was collaborating with Mike Butterworth to adapt some of literature's most famous adventure stories: 'The Wanderings of Ulysses', 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea', 'Quo Vadis' and 'A Tale of Two Cities'. These tales span history from Greek myth and the gladiatorial circus's of Rome to the French Revolution and an innovatory French tale describing the adventures of Nemo, a 19th century Ulysses wandering the oceans in the wake of the Industrial Revolution.

D'Antonio was a popular artist in England, although his name was known only to the editorial staff and agents through whom he worked. He had been drawing for British comics for over a decade, his first illustrations appearing in 1955 followed by his first strips in 1956. D'Antonio worked for some of Britain's finest comics, including Eagle, Express Weekly and Boys' World, although he will always be remembered for his war comics, drawn for War, Battle, War at Sea and Front Line in 1958-68. Thanks to their constant recycling, they influenced a hugely diverse range of artist, including Dave Gibbons, Mick McMahon and Rufus Dayglo.
"The only artist whose work I copied and traced on a regular basis when I was growing up was the Italian master Gino D’Antonio"—Mike McMahon.
Format
Worlds of Adventure is published in A4 perfect-bound format, 90 full colour pages with a cover by Gino D'Antonio.
ISBN: 9781907081729

Publication Date
Published on 15 November 2013.

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(* Tell Me Why © Look and Learn Ltd.)