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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sexton Blake Annual 1942


Created by Harry Blyth, Sexton Blake's first adventure appeared in the pages of The Halfpenny Marvel in 1893. A year later, Blake became the regular star of the weekly storypaper Union Jack and, in 1915, star of the long-running Sexton Blake Library. With appearances across the company's wide-range of titles, Blake eventually solved over 3,800 cases, with 150 million words dedicated to his thrilling adventures.

In 1938, the Amalgamated Press launched a softcover annual featuring one of the most popular characters they published. The Sexton Blake Annual brought together some of the most popular authors of the Blake saga. This volume contains stories by Donald ("Gerald Verner") Stuart, Gwyn Evans, George H. Teed, John Hunter, Anthony Parsons, Rex Hardinge and others.

The Sexton Blake Annual 1942 contains 10 stories and is the perfect starting place for readers who want to thrill to the action and adventure lurking in the pages behind Eric R. Parker's superb cover.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sexton Blake Annual 1941


Created by Harry Blyth, Sexton Blake's first adventure appeared in the pages of The Halfpenny Marvel in 1893. A year later, Blake became the regular star of the weekly storypaper Union Jack and, in 1915, star of the long-running Sexton Blake Library. With appearances across the company's wide-range of titles, Blake eventually solved over 3,800 cases, with 150 million words dedicated to his thrilling adventures.

In 1938, the Amalgamated Press launched a softcover annual featuring one of the most popular characters they published. The Sexton Blake Annual brought together some of the most popular authors of the Blake saga. This volume contains stories by Gwyn Evans, George H. Teed, John Hunter, Anthony Parsons, John W. Wheway and others.

The Sexton Blake Annual 1941 contains 10 stories and is the perfect starting place for readers who want to thrill to the action and adventure lurking in the 160 pages behind Eric R. Parker's superb cover.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not Forgotten 2009-10


With a history that now spans three centuries, it is not surprising that the number of creators who have been involved in British comics now number in their thousands. Some are widely known whilst others have not had the spotlight shine on their careers; many artists from Spain, Italy and South America have also contributed to the rich history of our comic strips.

Not Forgotten 2009-10 records the passing of 35 comic strip and cartoon creators, some well-known, some forgotten, yet others better known for their work in other fields. Peter O'Donnell, Tony Hart, John Ryan, Victor de la Fuente, Pepe Gonzalez and John Hicklenton are just a few of the creators whose careers are recorded.

Author Steve Holland says, "The origins of Not Forgotten are a series of pieces written primarily for The Guardian and my Bear Alley blog in 2009 and 2010. I have written obituaries since the 1990s and invariably I begin with a version longer than what is eventually published. I’ve always thought of these as the “Director’s Cut”, a version that would have been submitted had there been no space restrictions — an increasing problem for daily newspapers where the number of pages dedicated to obituaries has been cut in recent years.

"There have also been occasions when it was not possible to write a piece due to other work or because a person’s death only comes to light months, perhaps years, after the event. In these cases, I have been able to martial what notes I had already gathered and put together a piece as it might have appeared at the time."

The artists and writers covered in this volume include Alan Hemus, Tony Hart, Robert Peacock, Jose 'Pepe' Gonzalez, Jose Casanovas Sr., Ron 'Nobby' Clark, Malcolm Douglas, Bernet Toledano, John Donegan, Adrian Kermode, Giorgio Bellavitis, John Ryan, Francisco Hidalgo, Roy Raymonde, Carlos Roume, Ricardo Garijo, Terry Challis, Xavier Musquera, Francis 'Smilby' Wilford-Smith, Geoffrey Bond, Richard Hook, Ian Scott, Bill Ritchie, Virgilio Muzzi, John Hicklenton, Peter O'Donnell, Roy Mitchell, Victor de la Fuente, Ted Rawlings, Fernando Fernandez, E. C. Tubb, Jose Maria Jorge, Les Gibbard and Paddy Morris.

The essays vary in length. This is not a reflection on the contributions that a particular creator may have made, but on the available information. It is a sad fact that many comic creators in the UK work their entire careers without credit or recognition; little is known about them and the full extent of their work may never be known, thanks to a lack of any kind of record of creators’ contributions. Some creators feel no need to step into the spotlight; others are perhaps unaware that there is any interest in their work. Their contributions are still appreciated.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sexton Blake Annual 1938


Created by Harry Blyth, Sexton Blake's first adventure appeared in the pages of The Halfpenny Marvel in 1893. A year later, Blake became the regular star of the weekly storypaper Union Jack and, in 1915, star of the long-running Sexton Blake Library. With appearances across the company's wide-range of titles, Blake eventually solved over 3,800 cases, with 150 million words dedicated to his thrilling adventures.

In 1938, the Amalgamated Press launched a softcover annual featuring one of the most popular characters they published. The Sexton Blake Annual brought together some of the most popular authors of the Blake saga. Contributors to this volume include Blake regulars Gwyn Evans, G. H. Teed, Rex Hardinge and John G. Brandon and, as a special treat, the book includes a lengthy 3-part story by Barry Perowne (Philip Atkey), one of only five stories in which Blake crossed swords with master criminal Raffles.

The Sexton Blake Annual 1938 contains 11 stories and is the perfect starting place for newcomers to Blake, or oldcomers who want to relive those thrilling detective adventures of yesteryear.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Peter Jackson's London Is Stranger Than Fiction


In 1948, the London Evening News was looking for a cartoon strip about the curiosities of London in the style of ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’. A young artist sent in a few historical drawings with descriptive paragraphs and was invited to call. Asked by the newspaper’s editor whether he knew much about London’s history, 26-year-old Peter Jackson, answered honestly: “Not much!”

But editor Guy Schofield was impressed by the drawings and engaged the artist for a three-week trial run . . . beginning an association with the paper that was to last until the paper folded thirty-one years later.

‘London Is Stranger Than Fiction’ inspired Jackson's life-long fascination with London, its history and its people. The strip revelled in obscure facts about the city, its eccentric inhabitants and forgotten byways. Jackson used his talents as an artist to bring these subjects to life for the entertainment of his readers.

Peter Jackson's London Is Stranger Than Fiction reprints all the strips from two of Jackson's books, London is Stranger Than Fiction and London Explorer, in which Jackson looked at curiosities associated with certain areas of London, from Aldwych to Westminster.

Peter Jackson's London Is Stranger Than Fiction is published in association with Look and Learn, where the Peter Jackson London Collection has recently been completely digitized, with over 20,000 images now available for commercial licensing and print-on-demand. The Collection is also available via The Bridgeman Art Library.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sexton Blake Annual 1940

In 1938, the Amalgamated Press launched a softcover annual featuring one of the most popular characters they published. Created by Harry Blyth, Sexton Blake's first adventure had appeared in the pages of The Halfpenny Marvel in 1893. A year later, Blake became the regular star of the weekly storypaper Union Jack and, in 1915, star of the long-running Sexton Blake Library. With appearances across the company's wide-range of titles, Blake solved over 3,800 cases, with 150 million words dedicated to his thrilling adventures.

The Sexton Blake Annual brought together some of the most popular authors of the Blake saga. The 1940 annual includes stories by Gwyn Evans, George H. Teed, Rex Hardinge and two stories by Anthony Skene, one entitled 'Zenith the Albino' (guess who features in that one!). This volume also reprints of two early stories, "Sexton Blake — Detective" by Blake's creator, Harold Blyth, and "The Man From Scotland Yard" by Michael Storm (Ernest Sempill), which introduced the character of good-cop-turned-bad George Marsden Plummer.

From the stunning cover by Eric R. Parker to the revelations on the final page, this superb collection will take you back to the golden age of crime and action-packed drama as Sexton Blake battles some of his most dangerous foes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Gwyn Evans: The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet

Gwyn Evans was one of the most popular authors to write stories featuring Sexton Blake. From his pen flowed two-dozen novels and seventy novelettes featuring the famous detective, each filled with mystery, humour and off-the-wall ideas. Collectors have long-sought his tales of Blake's battles against the Double Four, Mr. Mist, The League of Robin Hood, Miss Death, the Shadow Club and the Onion Men; his Christmas stories were legendary amongst readers and an Xmas yarn from Evans would be a guarantee of a merry, mysterious tale that would entertain and baffle readers at the same time.

But Evans created no characters more remarkable than himself. As a journalist and author, he had a talent that could — and occasionally did — earn him riches and recognition. But his Bohemian lifestyle, a daily round of visiting pubs and parties, meant that earnings were soon spent, deadlines were missed and his typewriter often pawned in order to buy another beer. He relied on tricks to raise cash, revamped old stories into new ones and was a notorious womaniser. At the same time, while some thought him irresponsible, others saw his other side: a carefree spirit, generous and charitable with whatever money he had. "One of the major tragedies of Bohemia," as one friend recorded.

Gwyn Evans: The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet charts the ups and downs of Evans's career, cut tragically short at the age of 39.

As well as revealing the story of Evans' remarkable life, this volume also includes three short stories—"The Idol of Isis", Evans' first foray into fiction, "Hang It All!", a tale with a twist about how a murderer meets his fate, and "Kensington Cavalcade", a romantic rumination on the naming of a famous London tavern—and two previously unpublished poems.   

The book is illustrated with a superb selection of illustrations and book covers from the golden era of "pulp" crime illustration in the 1920s and 1930s. Artists include Leo Bates, Kenneth Brookes, Scott Calder, Tom Cottrell, F. R. Hibbs, F. E. Hiley, E. F. Hiscocks, Arthur Jones, Warwick W. Lendon, Jack Long, G. P. Micklewright, Eric R. Parker, Frank Pashley, Leonard Potts, J. H. Valda and H. G. Wolfe.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pages From History, Illustrated by C. L. Doughty

The latest publication from Bear Alley Books is our most ambitious yet, a bumper 172 page collection of art and comics by one of Britain's finest historical illustrators. Pages from History contains four classic comic strips, over 100 illustrations and, as a bonus, two episodes of an unpublished strip, all from the masterful pen (and brush) of C. L. Doughty.

Over half the comic strip art and all the illustrations have been scanned from original art boards and, thanks to modern digital printing, these pages have never looked so good. Lettering has been restored and, in the case of one strip, edited pages have also been restored.

The four strips, taken from the pages of Look and Learn, include the often grim tale of "Pott's Progress", the story of Prestor John retold in "The Crusader", the action-packed "A Sword for the Stadtholder" and a story of revenge as Richard Fairfax becomes "The Black Pirate". The book also includes a detailed introduction charting Doughty's career as a comic strip artist and illustrator in the pages of Thriller Picture Library, Sun, Express Weekly, Top Spot, Swift, Lion, Girl, Eagle, Knockout, School Friend, June and other papers. A gallery of over 100 illustrations reveals Doughty's skill as a chronicler of history from portraits of Britain's monarchy to the adventures of explorers, highwaymen and pirates.