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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kindle e-books from Bear Alley Books

The following titles are available as Kindle e-books.


Edward D. Wood Jr. is famous as the director of some of the worst movies ever committed to celluloid. But his legacy extends beyond Plan 9 From Outer Space, Glen or Glenda? or Bride of the Monster as Wood was also responsible for some cult-favourite exploitation crime films – Jailbait, The Violent Years – and novels.
     This 3,500-word essay delves into Wood's pornographic novels Black Lace Drag and Let Me Die In Drag in which the author brings his unique perspective to crime fiction and makes his lead player a transvestite hit-man on the run from the syndicate.


Journalist, author and screenwriter, Dail Ambler was the queen of gangster thriller writers in the years after the war. As Danny Spade, Ace Capelli, Johnny Grecco and others, she penned some of the toughest crime novels published in the post-war era. Ambler went on to pen a handful of classic exploitation movies, including Beat Girl (aka Wild For Kicks) and Night After Night After Night. Along the way she became a good friend of Errol Flynn, was involved in Liberace's libel action against the Daily Mirror, and wrote an unproduced Eric Sykes TV show.
     This 7,000-word article offers a fascinating overview of Ambler's diverse career


In 1946, Frank Dubrez Fawcett created the hugely popular byline Ben Sarto, under which name he wrote dozens of spine-thrilling gangster novels and created dozens of memorable characters, not least the beautiful but heartless Mabie Otis.
     The Ben Sarto name was used on 107 novels... who were the mysterious authors behind the byline? This 4,500-word essay explores the background of author Fawcett and others involved in Ben Sarto, whose 5 million plus sales helped fuel the gangster novel boom in Britain's post-war years. 


This is the story of "Griff", whose byline appeared on fifty of the toughest, most brutal books of the gangster boom years just after the Second World War. Violent and sexually charged, they were written by half-a-dozen different authors, including Ernest McKeag, William Newton, Frank Dubrez Fawcett and others.
     Along with fellow authors Peter Cheyney, James Hadley Chase, Hank Janson and Ben Sarto, "Griff" sold millions of thrilling gangster novels until they fell foul of obscenity charges, destruction orders and fines. This 2,500-word essay takes a look at one of the most collectable bylines of the post-war boom.


Edwin Self spent his working career in publishing, turning to the cheap paperback market in the years after the war. In 1954 he was charged with publishing obscene novels along with three authors and the owner of the company who printed the books.
     This previously unpublished article tells the story of the Self's career as a paperback publisher, the court case, and the how he bounced back with a series of novels now much sought by collectors.


This article tells the story of Pete Costello and looks back at the 1954 court case brought against three of his books which resulted in the author being send to prison for six months on obscenity charges. By looking closely at the novel Murder In Mink you can see whether Costello's novels really were the "filthy, disgusting books" they were described as.


In his latest essay, Steve Holland looks at what is often called the very first hard-boiled detective, written by Carroll John Daly for the pages of Black Mask magazine. In introducing the subject, he also explores how authors like Raymond Chandler imagined hard-boiled fiction was reacting to the crime novels of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers when, in fact, hard-boiled yarns emerged at the same time drawing room crime dramas were going through their golden age. 


Zenith of Albino was the creation of George Norman Philips who, as Anthony Skene, was one of the most popular authors writing the adventures of Sexton Blake. The character inspired Michael Moorcock to create his own melancholy character, Elric, and remains the most popular criminal mastermind to face the detective.
     Zenith: Prince of Chaos looks at both the character and the man behind the character, revealing how Philips based his creation on an encounter with a real life albino, his fears about his ability to write and the economic truth that led him to stop.


In 1944, George Orwell penned his infamous attack on Americanized fiction, "Raffles and Miss Blandish". In 1996, Steve Holland argued that the praise Orwell heaped on E. R. Hornung's creation could be applied equally to Richard Allen's million-selling Skinhead hero, Joe Hawkins.
     Would George Orwell approve of Allen's violent, racist skinhead? This short essay suggests an answer. 


"Even if you have never read one of his book’s, there is a good chance that you will have seen one of his films: Humphrey Bogart’s portrayal of Roy Earle in High Sierra and an appearance by a young Marilyn Munroe in The Asphalt Jungle make these two excellent movies television regulars, and what would Christmas be without the annual showing of The Great Escape, co-scripted by Burnett for director John Sturges, who also bought in the author to do an uncredited re-write of Ice Station Zebra. Burnett’s fingerprints were on all of them, yet his novels have slipped out of print and into obscurity, a real loss, as they are archetypal crime noir and Burnett was one of the best talents who lit the cold dark streets of the sleeping city."
     Originally published in the out-of-print Mean Streetmaps collection, Steve Holland's essay on W. R. Burnett has been described as "first rate" by author Mike Ripley.


3,000 word article on the origins of the fictional detective Sexton Blake and his creator, Harry Blyth.

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.

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.

Publication Date
Published on 15 November 2013.

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(* Tell Me Why © Look and Learn Ltd.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Boys' World: Ticket to Adventure!

Boys' World is one of the most fondly remembered of all British comics from the 1960s. An Eagle for the new decade, it featured across its centre pages the mighty 'Wrath of the Gods', an epic tale of deities and demons beautifully drawn by Ron Embleton. Readers thrilled to the adventure of 'The Sea Ape', puzzled over the question 'What Is Exhibit X?' and roared at the sporting antics of 'Billy Binns and his Wonderful Specs'.

Giants of science fiction Mike Moorcock and Harry Harrison were both contributors, Harrison writing one of the text story serials as well as adapting his novel Deathworld as 'The Angry Planet'. Harrison also penned the original Brett Million story 'The Ghost World', one of the finest science fiction strips to appear in British comics and complimented by some outstanding artwork by Frank Bellamy. Moorcock's contributions were more esoteric, ranging from numerous episodes of the feature 'Do You Know Your Name?' to essays on lost cities, submarines and volcanoes. Harrison and Moorcock were also among the many writers who contributed short stories to Boys' World, a list that also includes Barrington J. Bayley, Sydney J. Bounds, Wildred McNeilly, Rex Dolphin, Donne Avenell, Jim Edgar and Tom Tully.

The paper's roster of artists included many of the finest illustrators of the early Sixties, including John M. Burns, Frank Langford, Colin Andrew, Brian Lewis, Frank Humphris, Gerry Embleton, Harry Bishop, James McConnell, Don Lawrence, Roy Cross, Luis Bermejo and Gino D'Antonio.

Boys' World: Ticket to Adventure relates how the paper came into existence at a turbulent time for comics, how its original editor was replaced before the first issue even reached the newsstands and how it eventually folded into the paper it was meant to replace.

Compiled by Steve Holland, the book also includes extensive indexes to the paper's contents as well as those of the Boys' World Annuals; the book also includes title and creators' indexes, outlines of every comic strip storyline the paper ran and a unique look at the payments made for three key issues.

 
 
 
 
Format
Boys' World: Ticket to Adventure is published in A4 perfect-bound format, 208 b/w pages with a cover by Neville Dear and a rear cover featuring the work of Brian Lewis.

Publication Date
Published on 9 September 2013.

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(* Boys' World © IPC Media)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ranger The National Boys' Magazine


Ranger The National Boys' Magazine is the latest in Bear Alley's series of titles covering the history and contents of some of Britain's most fondly remembered comics. Ranger may not have lasted as long as Lion – our previous title – but it was home to some memorable stories and features, including one of comics' finest creations, 'The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire'.

'Trigan Empire' wasn't the only story in Ranger to feature artwork by Don Lawrence. The book's creators' index includes an astonishing array of famous names, including Frank Hampson, Ron Embleton, John Millar Watt, Mike Hubbard, Jesus Blasco, Colin Merrett, Graham Coton, Francis Marshall, Henry Seabright, Will Nickless and Theo Page. With stories by talents as diverse as Captain W. E. Johns and John Creasey, Ranger was able to offer boys' some of the best reading material on offer, including Richard Armstrong's Carnegie Medal-winning novel Sea Change; its photos, cutaway drawings and heavily illustrated features covered everything from duels in the sky to exploding islands, from James Bond's DB6 to the Mariner Mars expedition.

Compiled by Steve Holland and David Slinn, Ranger: The National Boys' Magazine explores the history and background of the magazine, its contents and its lasting legacy. The book also includes an extensive index to the paper's contents, as well as title and creators' indexes.

To give readers a flavour of the contents, the book also includes the full run of the 'Famous Fighting Aces' feature by Colin Merrett as well as two complete comic strips, 'The Adventures of Macbeth' by Ruggero Giovannini and 'Moby Dick' by Franco Caprioli.

Bear Alley Books has previously published King Solomon's Mines and Treasure Island from the pages of Ranger. Now find out the full story behind this classic of British comics.


Format
Ranger: The National Boys' Magazine is published in A4 perfect-bound format, 162 b/w pages with an iconic cover by Ferdinando Tacconi and a rear cover featuring the work of Don Lawrence and Frank Hampson.

Publication Date
Published on 15 April 2013.

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Please contact me via the e-mail address below the top-left photo.

(* Ranger © Look and Learn Ltd.)