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Monday, April 6, 2020

Rocket: The First Space-Age Weekly


Although the “space-age” truly began in the autumn of 1957 when Sputnik beep-beeped around the globe for three weeks, the race to create a rocket that could propel a satellite into low Earth orbit had been underway for over a decade. Advances made during the Second World War led to the development of the rocket propulsion systems that would launch cosmonauts and astronauts into space in the early 1960s. Rocket was, some might say, ahead of its time. With its features on missiles and descriptions of three-stage rocketry, it mapped out a blueprint of how we might break the bonds of gravity and seek adventures beyond the stratosphere. Colourful comic strips gave its readers glimpses of the kinds of world that could be discovered in our solar system and in other galaxies—but it lasted a mere 32 weeks and was long gone by the time ham radio operators tuned in to hear the Russian satellite’s signal as it orbited 15 times a day, or citizens heard recordings of it on their regular news broadcasts.

These were the days when Dan Dare of Eagle and Captain Condor of Lion commanded a readership of over a million children between them, and dozens of other comics—and adult newspapers—had space heroes whose names still echo down the years: Jeff Hawke, Rick Random, JetAce Logan, Don Conquest, Space Kingley and Jet Morgan to name but a few. Capt. W. E. Johns and Patrick Moore were penning intergalactic adventures and Journey Into Space was the last evening radio show to attract a bigger audience than the television shows it was broadcast against.

With science fiction proving so popular, the question has to be asked: Why was Rocket such a failure? Hopefully Rocket: The First Space-Age Weekly will answer that question, looking at the strips and features that made up Rocket’s contents, the creators behind them, and revealing how the weekly paper was doomed from almost the moment the first issue hit the newsstands.

 
 
 

Hurricane and Champion: The Companion Papers to Valiant


Hurricane and Champion: The Companion Papers to Valiant

Bear Alley Books is proud to announce a new edition of Hurricane and Champion: The Companion Papers to Valiant. This updated index details the histories of both papers and reveals—some for the first time—the names of many of the creators behind the classic comic strips that filled their pages. It now includes information on the twelve associated annuals.

Heavily illustrated throughout, the new edition of Hurricane and Champion also includes an expanded creators' indexes covering both papers and annuals, and a new full-colour cover by Jordi Penalva.

In his introduction, Steve Holland describes how Hurricane (1964-65) went through four phases during its lifetime and reveals the many problems faced by Champion (1966) during its brief 15-issue run.


Reviews of the first edition:
  • "It's no easy feat to produce these accounts and Steve deserves praise for his hard work. The many changes of ownership that befell the Amalgamated Press titles, many finally coming to rest at Egmont (who now own almost every character first published by Fleetway Editions after 1st January 1970), means any documentation listing contributors and sales figures is scant ... Steve has nevertheless assembled a fascinating account of both titles."—John Freeman, Down the Tubes.
  • "Steve's feature article in this Hurricane and Champion book takes up 25 of its 48 pages and it, like the rest of the book, is heavily illustrated. The book is well worth the money."—Jeremy Briggs, Down the Tubes
  • "I can appreciate Hurricane and Champion far more now from a mature perspective, and even though I only have a couple of issues in my collection I found Steve's history of those comics a fascinating read. If I enjoyed it I'm sure that actual fans of those titles will be over the moon with this book."—Lew Stringer, Blimey!.

The Complete Eagles Over the Western Front

Eagles Over the Western Front
The complete story in one volume

Bear Alley Books is proud to announce the release of a collected volume containing all 116 episodes of Eagles Over the Western Front, the classic story of aerial warfare set during the days of the R.F.C. Created by Mike Butterworth and Bill Lacey and serialised in the pages of Look and Learn in 1971-73, Eagles was previously available in three volumes.

Bill Lacey's stunning artwork—with two-thirds of the story scanned from surviving original art boards—captures every terrifying moment as Harry Hawkes, the hero of Eagles Over the Western Front, joins the only recently founded Royal Flying Corps and, with only a few weeks training, is sent to France to fly scouting and observation missions over the enemy lines at Ypres.

By the time Harry arrives on the front, the British B.E.2c scouting planes have become "Fokker fodder" thanks to the German development of an interrupter gear that synchronized machine guns with the aircraft's propeller, which allows German pilots to fly their planes straight towards their target, firing through the propeller arc.

Harry eventually joins a squadron flying the Airco DH.2 in the era of aerial dogfights and faces some of his most challenging months as German ace Max Immelmann scores victory after victory against British pilots on his way to earning Germany's highest honour, the Pour le Mérite—the 'Blue Max'.

Author Mike Butterworth is better known for writing 'The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire', but his career began many years before as a scriptwriter and editor for the Amalgamated Press's Sun, where penned dozens of stories featuring historical characters (Billy the Kid, Dick Turpin, Robin Hood) as well as creating 'Max Bravo, the Happy Hussar' and 'Battler Britton'.  For Comet he wrote authentic historical dramas as well as creating the science fiction adventurer 'Jet-Ace Logan'. Editorially he created the innovative Playhour Pictures, Valentine and the teenage magazine Honey. A prolific novelist, he wrote crime thrillers, bodice-rippers and historicals under a variety of pen-names.

Bill 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.

Reviews
"While you would expect a comic strip about a fighter pilot to involve our hero jumping in his plane and flying off to shoot down many of the enemy before returning safely home, in Eagles, especially in the early stories, the reason for our hero not to make it back to base is more often because of mechanical failure of the aircraft he is flying rather than any enemy action against him. As for shooting down the enemy, it is a plot point in at least two of the stories in Volume 1 that Harry has not actually shot down a single German plane despite be considered a good pilot. It all makes for an ongoing story that is interesting in its non-conformity to the expected rules of an aviation comic strip and it certainly makes the reader think about the frailty of the planes that RFC pilots were flying back then without the safety of parachutes...
    __"Eagles Over The Western Front ... makes for an interesting and sometimes thoughtful read without missing out on the excitement or entertainment that one would expect of a good comic strip of its era. With more than half of all the pages in this book and its two sequels being scanned from the original art boards, the artwork quality is as good as it can possibly get and shows that Bear Alley Books can give well established companies, that are also reprinting similar B&W British comic strips from the era, a run for their money."—Jeremy Briggs, Down the Tubes

    Thursday, September 12, 2019

    And The Wheels Went Round by John Chisnall & Anthony Davis

    “On the last lap Bill takes a chance. With Rogliardo edging alongside as they enter the ultra-fast Malmédy bend, Beevers leaves his braking late to keep his opponent at bay but drifts slightly off-line and gets onto the marbles. The bike spins out of control allowing the Frenchman to sneak through to bag second place. Worse, the centrifugal force of the gyrating outfit throws Bill off leaving John heading for potential disaster with a trackside post looming up...”

    And the Wheels Went Round is a book of anecdotes and reminiscences about riding in the TT and throughout continental Europe where John Chisnall had the hair-raising job of dangling over the side of a bike doing 100 mph.

    Monday, December 3, 2018

    Forgotten Authors Volume 4

    More essays about long-forgotten authors whose work once entertained millions.

    J Redding Ware
    Creator of one of the first female detectives, a popular playwright, philologist and writer connected with cheap and popular literature who took umbrage at being described as an author of ‘mischievous literature.’

    William Nicholas Willis
    Controversial politician, horse dealer and land owner who kept the Australian courts busy before moving to the UK to write and publish books about slave trafficking, prostitution and sex education.

    M. Lehane Willis
    The mysterious author who, as Bree Narran, wrote candid novels and freely translated the works of Guy de Maupassant and Paul de Kock, but whose career ended in criminality.

    Charles McDonald Lindsay
    A former soldier, Lindsay wrote a book warning of what might happen if Germany invaded Britain and another about a man accused of murdering his business partner’s wife, and what happens when he meets the same man’s second wife.

    James Edward Crabtree
    Writer and journalist who penned the adventures of Gripton Court for boys in the early years of the 20th century.

    Randal Charlton
    A charismatic dandy married to a popular actress, Charlton was a Liberal journalist with a promising career and a couple of well-liked novels under his belt. But debts started to pile up…

    Eardley Beswick
    His first novels was acclaimed by Compton Mackenzie as “the most irresistibly absorbing novel,” but Beswick’s seemingly promising career as an author lasted only a matter of years before he left it behind.

    Olga Katzin
    Described as a “Russian writer and actress”, Olga was, in fact, born in London. An actress who ran the Katzin-Miller Repertory Company, who was also an accomplished playwright and poet.

    Donald Sinderby (Donald Ryder Stephens)
    Author of novels based on his experiences in India, including Mother-in-Law India, published in 1930 and set twenty years in the future when inter-caste conflict ravage the country after the end of the Raj.

    The case of the two Hazel Adairs
    Not to be confused—as this author did in the past—are Hazel Iris Addis, née Wilson, and Hazel Joyce Marriott, formerly Mackenzie, formerly Hamblin, née Willett, who both enjoyed careers under the name Hazel Adair.

    Eileen Owbridge
    For some years Owbridge ran a village bookshop, learning precisely what the romance-reading public wanted and turning that knowledge into sixty novels for Mills & Boon.

    Alan Melville (W. Allan Caverhill)
    Crime writer, well-reviewed by Dorothy L. Sayers and Sydney Horler, who turned to writing plays and revues, as well as becoming a popular broadcaster on, and writer for, TV and radio.

    Enid Florence Brockies
    Author—as Countess Helene Magriska—of romantic novels that found a steady readership in the 1930s and 1940s but whose career was cut short by her early death.

    Anita Hewett
    A teacher and radio producer, Hewett was also a writer of children’s short stories for radio and in print. Her animal tales were very popular and her book Mrs Mopple’s Washing Line was adapted on TV several times.

    Friday, August 24, 2018

    Iron Mask:Harry Bensley's "Walking Round the World" Hoax

    On 1 January 1908, in London's Trafalgar Square, a man in an old-fashioned iron helmet began an adventure that was to take him to 172 towns and cities in the United Kingdom before heading overseas to visit another 118 cities in Canada, USA, South America, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Japan, China, India, Egypt and seven European countries.

    Although independently wealthy, the man in the iron mask was allowed to finance his trip only through the sale of postcards and pamphlets relating to his journey from a pram that he was to push for the duration of the journey and at no point was he allowed to reveal his identity. The final challenge was that, despite keeping his face hidden, he had to find a wife.

    This astonishing journey was the result of a $100,000 (£21,000) bet between the Earl of Lonsdale and steel and banking magnate J. P. Morgan and the daring masked man had almost completed the round the world trip six years later and was on the point of collecting what would today be the equivalent of £2,250,000 when the bet was cancelled.

    This is the story of that journey.

    This is also the story of how Harry Bensley, released from jail for fraud and bigamy, dreamed up an astonishing hoax. Disguised behind his iron mask, Bensley trekked south from London, along the southern counties and into the west country, visiting towns, attracting crowds and selling his postcards. He claimed to have met and married a woman, although she was already known to him. He was even tried in a court of law without once giving his real name.

    Iron Mask is the story of that journey, too!

    This book takes a look behind the legend of the "Walking Round the World" hoax, revealing the impoverished origins of Bensley and his family and documenting a criminal path that was the lead to his most audacious deception.


    REVIEWS

    Amazon - 5 stars
    The story sounds like an implausible Hollywood film but it was true! Who was the Man in the Iron Mask (no, not the French novel by Dumas!)? He set off from Trafalgar Square to push a pram around the world in January 1908 to win a £20,000 bet! he seems to have been a lovable rogue and this was not the first time he had hoodwinked people! I won't say more so I don't spoil the story as it's wilder than even this!
        Steve Holland has preserved a wonderful British eccentric's story for us all to enjoy. Give it as a Birthday or Christmas present to anyone who's curious about people in any way!


    Saturday, April 7, 2018

    Forgotten Authors Volume 3

    More essays about long-forgotten authors whose work once entertained millions.

    Mysteries of the House of Harrison & Viles
    The story of Edward Harrison, publisher of the first ‘penny dreadful’ for boys and the first upmarket magazine for women, and his partner Edward Viles, the author of Black Bess, at 2¼ million words the longest-running penny dreadful of them all.

    Walter Viles
    The tragic career of the prolific, popular, inebriated brother of Edward Viles.

    Dempster Heming
    The first in a pair of essays about the younger brothers of Bracebridge Hemyng who were also writers. After years in Myanmar and India, Dempster Heming created the Munchausen-esque Colonel Bowlong for a series of tall tales.

    Philip Heming
    Following in his brother’s footsteps, Philip Heming struggled as a writer and, later, as editor of the infamous London Life, was prosecuted for publishing indecent material.

    Mrs. Frances Campbell
    A successful Edwardian journalist and novelist before she lost her husband to suicide and become involved in some curious work on behalf of W. T. Stead.

    Phyllis Campbell and the Angels of Mons
    The daughter of Mrs. Frances Campbell whose article in Occult Review and subsequent book about her time on the Front during the Great War helped spread the myth of the Angels of Mons.

    W. Keppel Honnywill
    Author of The Master Sinner who leapt to his death in the heart of London.

    J. Weedon Birch
    Author of stories about a schoolboy named Billy Bunter before Frank Richards created Greyfriars School.

    Michael Storm (A. Ernest Hinshelwood)
    The most enigmatic of all Sexton Blake authors—and one of the best—who died tragically young and left behind a legacy of mystery that baffled fans and collectors for decades.

    Michael Storm (Charles Ignatius Sempill)
    The mystery of ‘Michael Storm’ continued… who was the author—seemingly related to the mysterious long-dead writer of Sexton Blake—who resurrected his most famous pen-name?

    George Hamilton Teed
    To many he was Sexton Blake’s finest author, but George Hamilton Teed began his career in dead man’s shoes… as the ghost of Michael Storm.

    Michael Storme (George H. A. Dawson)
    Author of Unlucky Virgin, Kiss The Corpse Goodbye and Hot Dames on Cold Slabs accused by an M.P. of writing pornography.

    Friday, February 2, 2018

    Forgotten Authors Volume 2

    More essays about authors whose work entertained millions but who are now almost wholly forgotten.
    Amazon review of Volume 1:
    An excellent book on thirteen forgotten British authors. It covers authors who wrote in the Victorian to the post World War II eras. Some of the authors featured are Morley Adams, Dail Ambler, Gerald Biss, Stella M. During, and Alexander Wilson. Recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of books, book publishing, obscure authors or even researching family history. Looking forward to Volume 2
    Bracebridge Hemyng: The rise and fall of the Heming family was mirrored by the career of the most famous of the writing dynasty that emerged from it—the creator of Jack Harkaway, enticed to America with the promise of $10,000 a year but who returned with nothing to show for his success.

    Philip Richards: Who was the author behind the continuation of Bracebridge Hemyng’s most famous creation, Jack Harkaway?

    Frank Barrett (Frank Davis): Writer of novels that ranged from crime, historical to romance and science fiction, earning their author comparison (although not always favourably) to Wilkie Collins and Robert Louis Stevenson.

    Ernest Protheroe: A former teacher and incredibly prolific writer for boys and girls under a variety of names who was probably more successful with his non-fiction than his novels.

    Charles Granville (Charles Hosken): Publisher, editor, novelist, poet, businessman, bankrupt, bigamist, thief… the extraordinary life of Charles Hosken, who wrote crusading novels as he defrauded all around him.

    Louise Heilgers: Her literary gifts were highly praised, but her writing career was overshadowed by tragedy, a succession of failed businesses and a headline-grabbing escape abroad with her “husband”…

    C. E. Vulliamy: Historian, biographer and satirist, a writer of memoirs of imaginary Victorians who also penned crime novels under his own name and as Anthony Rolls.

    Evelyn Winch: Author of the popular but now forgotten The Girl in the Flat, Winch was queen of the “thriller-romance” in the 1930s before her life ended in tragedy.

    Frederick Foden: Author who churned out 75 violent and sexually-charged tough-guy gangster yarns in four years, while he himself was a bachelor who lived with his mother.

    David Roberts: Writer behind the weekly adventures of world travelling Gulliver guinea-pig and fairy tale heroine Princess Marigold, Roberts helped entertain and shape the minds of millions of youngsters as both a scriptwriter and creator of children’s magazines.

    Friday, December 8, 2017

    Forgotten Authors Volume 1

    A collection of essays about authors whose work entertained millions but who are now almost wholly forgotten.
    This is utterly fascinating:  what a terrific accomplishment!  It has held and engaged me.  Authors who are only names have been documented and recorded, from the pathetic to the successful, and everywhere in between.  This is incredible research, and I cannot begin to thank you enough for sharing it.  I’m dipping into it with absolutely enormous pleasure.—Richard Bleiler
    W. Stephens Hayward: Gambler and alcoholic who wasted a fortune worth half a million in only a few years, but could count Robert Louis Stephenson amongst the fans of his novels.

    Anonyma: The anonymous best-seller whose novels “No respectable bookseller would like his daughter to read  …  and no man who values his repute should suffer them to disgrace his shop.”

    Stella M. During: Popular romance writer whose pedigree proved quite a challenge.

    Edric Vredenburg: Thriller writer who turned to writing and editing books for the very young and who, as ‘Father Tuck’, was as familiar as Santa Claus on Christmas Day.

    Morley Adams: Creator of puzzles, word games and number games in print and for the radio that entertained millions of readers and listeners over the decades.

    Gerald Biss: Author of popular feuilletons, whose The Dupe anticipated the infamous murder of Emma Levin in Monte Carlo.

    W. Holt-White: Writer of sensational novels said to make “the older school of ‘thriller’ authors look like tame and unimaginative bores.”

    Alphonse Courlander: Novelist and journalist whose Mightier Than the Sword was based on his own experiences of Fleet Street, but who was overwhelmed by the horrors of war.

    Ella M. Scrymsour: Actress and playwright who is today remembered for her novel The Perfect World and as the creator of Sheila Crerar, psychic detective.

    Alexander Wilson: Spy novelist who faked being a spy and had four families he successfully kept secret from each other.

    Guy Ramsey: The journalist who broke the story of Rudolf Hess’s imprisonment in wartime Britain.

    E. T. Portwin: Writer of romances for teenagers and stories for children who eventually sold his magazine publishing and printing empire for £8 million.

    Dail Ambler: Screenwriter of  Beat Girl who spent her early career as a “fiction factory” churning out a novel a week.

    Thursday, July 27, 2017

    The Men Behind Flying Saucer Review

    From 1955 until the present day, the Flying Saucer Review has been key to chronicling the appearance of Unidentified Flying Objects and the latest theories of why they have been appearing in our skies. A dedicated group of enthusiasts - amongst them an accountant, a publisher's editor, a test pilot, a novelist and a member of the House of Lords - were amongst those who helped put together this remarkable magazine. Who they were and how they came to work together makes for a fascinating tale, some of it as curious as the phenomena the magazine studied.

    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.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    King Solomon's Mines

    On the opposite side of the chamber were some wooden boxes. "There are the diamonds," I cried. Sir Henry held the light over the top box, which had been rendered rotten by time. Smashing my hand through the wood, I drew it out full, not of diamonds, but of gold pieces.
    Welcome to H. Rider Haggard's classic novel adapted in full colour by Mike Hubbard, originally serialised in the pages of Ranger and reprinted for the first time! This was a daring attempt to publish the novel in its original language, using Haggard's own words, although abridged, making it one of the most faithful of all adaptations.

    Treasure Island

    We had not built a fire the first night we had stayed there, and it seemed strange that there should be one burning tonight. It was at this moment that a shrill voice broke forth out of the darkness. "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!" and so forth, without pause. Silver's parrot, Captain Flint! I turned to flee, and ran straight into the arms of Long John Silver!
    Here for the first time since it was serialised in the pages of Ranger is one of the finest adaptations of the classic Treasure Island, beautifully painted by John Millar Watt and retold in Robert Louis Stevenson's original language – making it one of the most faithful adaptations and well as one of the most visually stunning.

    Treasure Island & King Solomon's Mines

    You can order both Treasure Island and King Solomon's Mines together and save on postage & packing.

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    Lion King of Picture Story Papers

    Lion King of Picture Story Papers

    Bear Alley Books proudly presents the second index in our new series charting the history of British comics. Lion King of Picture Story Papers is a massive, 262-page volume covering the story of one of the most popular titles released in the post-Second World War "silver age" of British comics. Launched in 1952, Lion was Amalgamated Press's answer to Eagle, featuring its own space hero, Captain Condor on its cover.

    This was one of the company's first adventure story comics and its twenty-two-year history is the story of British adventure strips in the 1950s and 1960s. Over the years Lion starred some of the most popular characters in British comics, including Robot Archie, Paddy Payne, Karl the Viking, Zip Nolan, The Spider, The Spellbinder, Black Max and Adam Eterno. 290 authors and artists are identified in the index which also covers the Lion Annual, Lion Holiday Special and Lion and Valiant Special Extra.

    Heavily illustrated throughout, Lion King of Picture Story Papers includes a lengthy historical introduction, an index to the weekly comic covering comics, text stories and features, contents listings for all 35 Lion Annuals and spin-off annuals, all 17 Lion Holiday Specials and Lion and Valiant Special Extras and includes a title index and creator's index.

    Author Steve Holland began writing about British comics over thirty years ago, writing or co-writing a series of indexes between 1990-97. These are now being re-released by Bear Alley Books, thoroughly revised and expanded with a vast amount of new information discovered in the past two decades, alongside a number of previously unpublished indexes. The War Libraries and The Thriller Libraries are already available from Book Palace Books; Hurricane & Champion was published in 2011 by Bear Alley Books.

    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, 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.

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Mean Streetmaps

    Mean Streetmaps
    SOLD OUT!

    Bear Alley Books is proud to announce the publication of Mean Streetmaps, a collection of essays on crime noir ranging from the origins of hard-boiled writing in the pages of Black Mask, the novels of James M. Cain, W. R. Burnett and Mickey Spillane—and of their British copyists Ben Sarto, 'Griff' and Dail Ambler—to the movies of Joe Eszterhas and David Fincher. This eclectic collection also includes essays on the crime novels and movies of Hollywood's worst director, Edward D. Wood, Len Deighton's Harry Palmer novels, Sexton Blake's infamous nemesis, Zenith the Albino, and a new take on George Orwell's classic essay 'Raffles and Miss Blandish'.

    Contents

    Some Rats Have Two Legs [Griff] (available on Kindle)
    "Let Me Die in Drag" [Edward D. Wood's crime films and novels]
    You the Jury: Joe Eszterhas
    Raffles and Richard Allen [George Orwell vs. Skinhead] (available on Kindle)
    The Lady Holds a Gun [Dail Ambler] (a much expanded version is now available in Forgotten Authors Volume 1)
    Deadline for Crime [Duncan Webb fights the prostitute rackets]
    In Self Defence [Pete Costello obscenity case] (available on Kindle)
    Restless Predators [British gangsters]
    Mean Streetmaps (available on Kindle as Hard-Boiled: Black Mask, Carroll John Daly and the Origins of Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction)
    Waiting for Darkness [W. R. Burnett] (available on Kindle)
    You the Jury: Mickey Spillane
    Twisted Hopes and Crooked Dreams [James M. Cain's Double Indemnity]
    White Hunter, Black Heart (expanded version available on Kindle as Zenith: Prince of Chaos)
    "Ferociously Cool" [Len Deighton's Harry Palmer]
    You the Jury: David Fincher
    "I Kill 'Em Inch by Inch!" [Ben Sarto] (available on Kindle)

    Reviews
    "Given his personal sphere of interest, he is, as to be expected, always interesting and highly informative on the pulp underbrush of crime fiction as cultivated by such names as ‘Griff’, Ben Sarto and Dail Ambler – and if those names mean nothing to you, don’t worry about it; you are not alone. Expanding into more classical noir crime fiction, Holland also pens very decent essays on James M. Cain, Caroll John Daly and Black Mask magazine and first rate ones on W. R. Burnett and Mickey Spillane – of whom you certainly should have heard."—Mike Ripley, Getting Away With Murder, June 2011.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Frontline UK - OUT OF PRINT

    OUT OF PRINT!
    Sorry, this book is no longer available.

    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.

    Arena - OUT OF PRINT

    OUT OF PRINT!
    Sorry, this book is no longer available.
    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.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Bear Alley Books: Corrections and Additions

    When we publish an index, that isn't the end of the story. I have been researching British comics since the 1980s and the field is so vast that it's a rare week when nothing new is discovered. Ongoing research means that published indexes can sometimes require updating and may contain the occasional error. Hence this page, which I will use for corrections and additions and – hopefully – catch any mistakes before the wrong information becomes too widespread.

    COUNTDOWN TO TV ACTION

    p.99 Caption should indicate that Brian Lewis is top left and Jon Davis is top right rather than vice versa.
    p.110 For clarity, Channel should be Channel TV.
    p.186 An additional annual, The Persuaders, should have been included as it was published by Purnell & Sons for Polystyle in August 1972. A contents listing will be forthcoming when I can track down a copy.

    HURRICANE & CHAMPION (1st edition)

    p.32 Rob o' the Wood. Artwork for story 11 is by Martin Salvador, not Guido Buzzelli. Although Buzzelli did contribute to Thriller Picture Library's Robin Hood issues, none of his stories were reprinted in Hurricane, so his name should also be removed from the creators index on page 44.
    p.41 Whacker. The queried source story was not 'La Bulle de Silence' (Spirou 1433-1458) but the earlier 'La Maison d'en face' (1297-1318, 1963). (Thanks to MCT16 for the update.)

    LION: KING OF PICTURE STORY PAPERS

    p.15 Art: Dudley Wynne.
    p.44 There is no reference to the source of quotes from Chris Lowder as there are for others who are quoted in the introduction. These are from correspondence c.1994.
    p.71 The strip is Carson's Cubs.
    p.79 The strip is Gargan.
    p.85 The strip is The Fugitive From Planet Scror.
    p.113 The story numbering for Captain Condor should be continuous and not jump from 26 to 38, caused by the removal of text stories to the text section.
    p.128 The strip on the far left is Jungle Jef.
    p.129 Gary Keane's last episode of Paddy Payne was the issue 367, dated 28-02-59, and Joe Colquhoun took over the following week with issue 368, dated 07-03-59.
    p.130 The strip is Billy the Kid.
    p.139 The strip on the far right is Jimmi from Jupiter.
    p.141 Artwork for Highway Danger is by Bert Vandeput.
    p.144 The strip is Quest of the Firebird.
    p.151 The strip is Andy's Army.
    p.168 The illustration is of Dan Dexter.
    p.170 The illustrations are of (top) Captain Condor and Tuff Dawson, (bottom) Bill Duggan.
    p.176 Mr. Smith of MI51/2 (C10). David Slinn suggests that the art is possibly by Rex Moreton. "There was a chap who worked in the style of Mr, Smith called Rex Moreton, but it is difficult to be sure whether this is him or not." Moreton can also be added to the creators' index.
    p.177 Mild Bill Hiccup (C18). Scripts by Ron Clark; the latter needs to be added to the creators' index. The artwork has been teh subject of some discussion with some believing it to be by Chiqui (Jose de la Fuente) and some believing it is Juan Rafart. I believe the latter is more likely as De la Fuente was, at that time, drawing war stories for the UK. Rafart needs to be credited as the artist on page 178.
    p.194 The compiler of the Airfix Modellers Club was Kelvin Gosnell, whose name should be added to the creators' index.
    p.249 The strip on the far right is Drive For Your Life

    NOT FORGOTTEN 2009-10

    p.25 Giorgio Bellavitis made his first contributions to Albo Uragano, which is misspelled.

    RANGER: THE NATIONAL BOYS' MAGAZINE

    p.131 For clarity it should be noted that the artist for Looking Into Things episode 8 is unknown.
    p.133 Caption should say "far right" rather than "opposite".

    Friday, December 31, 2010

    Kindle e-books from Bear Alley Books

    The following titles are available as Kindle e-books.

    T. Lobsang Rampa: Lama From Devon
    T Lobsang Rampa became a best-seller with the publication of The Third Eye. Despite its publisher receiving warnings ahead of publication that it was a fake, Secker & Warburg went ahead and sold 300,000 copies in eighteen months. Rampa, the self-proclaimed Tibetan Lama, eventually made headlines in the Daily Mail: "Third Eye Lama Exposed As Fake". In truth he was born Cyril Hoskin and had changed his name to Carl Kuan Suo shortly after the Second World War. This 5,800-word essay takes a look at the history of the remarkable Rampa and his many books. 
    Available from: Amazon.co.uk [UK] / Amazon.com [US].


    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.


    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.