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Friday, April 17, 2015

Comic Cuts - 17 April 2015

I promised big news this week, so without further ado... I'm shortly to be starting a new job. I'm going back to full-time work with a local magazine publisher editing a trade magazine and, at least to start with, working in-house.

If you're a regular reader you'll know that things have been tight for some time. Bear Alley and Bear Alley Books was financed by what freelance work I could get and it worked for a couple of years. Bear Alley Books was growing quite nicely, although it never made enough for me to live on. Unfortunately, sales have remained steady at a level that won't pay the rent and looking at the figures for the upcoming co-production of the Don Lawrence Scrapbook makes it clear that, even if we sell out the print run, I'm not going to make enough to cover the cost of living for the period I worked on the book.

I've been topping up my earnings from my savings for the last two years but the relentless arrival of bills (rent, council tax, gas, electricity, water, house insurance, phone, etc., etc.) and the need to replace goods (washing machine, DVD player) as they wear out is starting to have a big impact. Add to this the fact that I haven't paid anything into my pension for over a decade and I'm now in my fifties... well, I knew a decision was going to have to be made soon.

I'm not folding Bear Alley or Bear Alley Books. They will, however, have to take a back seat for a couple of months while I find find my feet and adjust to a full-time job. I have more books planned. They'll just take longer to produce. I've always freelanced a little on top of whatever job I've had (where do you think I built up the small fighting fund that has financed Bear Alley Books?) and I imagine that I'll continue to do so. I still have a number of comics' indexes that I need to revise and reissue and new ones that need to be researched and written.

I've also been doing a lot of research towards revising my old The Mushroom Jungle book. I'd love to do a book gathering together some of the fantastic (and sometimes terrible) cover art of those old paperbacks. Running the regular random scans feature every week has forced me to do the leg-work of research and cleaning-up of covers that kind of project demands.

I regularly change tack every five years, so a new challenge isn't something I'm too worried about. In fact, I'm rather looking forward to a change of scenery and having people around me that I can talk to during the day. I might even be able to fit in a holiday, as I've had only one since I started freelancing back in 1990, and that was when the first Gulf War kicked off (January 1991) while I was in Tenerife.

With all this going on, it has been an interesting week!

For starters, it was my birthday and I was planning to take a day off, only to be called in for an interview. I was planning to meet up with Mum the following day, but she had to cry off due to a cold, so I turned that into my day off. And how have I spent my time off? Trying to sort out my accounts and making sure that I can step back into PAYE without needing to go into emergency tax mode.

At the other end of the fun scale, I've been sorting through a load of old books that I want to get rid of. About 400 of them in 17 boxes that I've had sitting in my office for a couple of years. We've signed up for something called the "Sale Trail". Basically, you can pitch up anywhere in town and for a fiver you can be listed on the trail map. We've booked a table near the council buildings which we hope will have a greater footfall than if we were to set up in our garden. It means we have to lug 17 boxes of books across town, but I have a sack barrow and a desire to flog off some duplicates that have been clogging up my office for too long, which will give me strength.

We shall see how I feel on Saturday morning after lugging box after box down the road. Or, potentially worse, wheeling boxes of unsold books back up the hill on Saturday afternoon.

While I was taking a day off, one of Britain's favourite old comics announced the launch of a new series of military graphic novels. D. C. Thomson's Commando has teamed up with Osprey Publishing, a project that "we've been cooking up for a while," according to Commando editor Calum Laird. Here's the press release:
Osprey Publishing (part of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC) and DC Thomson & Co Ltd have joined forces to create eight new graphic war novels consisting of an original, fictional, comic strip of 84 pages coupled with detailed historical information describing the featured conflict, campaign and combatants.
    These exciting, fictional action narratives take place in times of war and feature soldiers, sailors and airmen, exploring themes of courage and friendship against a backdrop of war and adversity. Each strip will be checked for historically accuracy and feature events and situations true to the experiences of the combatants from the actual conflicts across a range of historical periods.
    This new collaboration brings together the story-telling expertise of Commando and the historical authority of Osprey in a brand new fiction series with supporting material for both adults and children. The books will be on sale globally through the Osprey/Bloomsbury distribution network.
    Richard Sullivan, Managing Director, Osprey Publishing said:
    ‘I am very excited to be working with DC Thomson and Commando. I grew up with their comics and their commitment to telling classic war stories remains undimmed. At Osprey we have a hugely enthusiastic customer base and we believe they will love these modern comics telling the stories of battle and conflict.’
    Tim Collins, Head of Brands, Commando Comics said:
    ‘Commando’s stories of action and adventure have been continuously published for over 50 years and we’re really pleased to combine our fictional expertise with the factual strength of the Osprey collections and the huge distribution both here and across the world that Osprey and Bloomsbury can deliver.’
Osprey have previously dipped their toe into the graphic novel pool with the Graphic History series of 48-pagers back in 2006-07. It will be interesting to see how giving some of Commando's authors and artists a little more space to play in works. And will we be seeing some nice Ian Kennedy covers?

Random scans this week are a selection from the works of Nat Karta, one of the best-selling house pseudonyms of the 1950s. Created by John Watson, who went on to edit books for World Distributors, Karta's early novels sold 40,000 a time. As prosecutions of newsagents made paperback publishers and distributors a little more wary, Watson sold the names to Scion, who needed some established names to replace others they had lost to Milestone.

Muir Watson often used silhouettes on their covers, but these are chiefly painted. I'm afraid the quality isn't as good as I normally like as these are from very small scans. But you can see why I think a book collecting some of these old covers together would be a good idea!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Duane Valentry

Duane Valentry was a name I stumbled across only recently as I was compiling a list of nature stories from the pages of Look and Learn (well, someone's got to do it!). A Google search revealed that Duane Valentry was a prolific writer across at least four decades.

Duane was a Miss Duane Valentry, described in one piece (Hellfire Herald, 20 February 1945) as "late of the Red Cross Club, 'Rajah Dodger Lodge'," which noted that she was "no longer at APO 220. As part of the original four Red Cross girls to come to this Field, Miss Valentry brought her talents as a singer and songwriter to effective use in impromptu entertainments. The men of APO 220 wish Miss Valentry success wherever she may be stationed in the future." APO 220 was the code name for Piardoba Airfield in West Bengal, India.

I haven't discovered much about Velentry's career as a writer. There are a number of songs credited ("No Matter Where I Go" (1945), "Sin City", "Sing Me a Gospel Song Once More", "Lord Take Care of My Friend", "But Where Are the Nine") and her byline appeared in Motoboating (fl.1952), Nature Magazine (fl.1952), Story Parade (fl.1953), The American Mercury (fl.1954-60), Flying (fl.1958), Western Horseman (fl.1960-63), Frontiers (fl.1966), Golden Nugget (fl.1966), Relics (fl.1969-70), Movieland and TV Times (fl.1972-75), Boating (fl.1973) and Harlequin (fl.1976).

Duane Valentry was born in Philadelphia, PA, on 25 June 1909 and lived in New York City shortly after the Second World War and Ventura County, California from at least the 1950s on, although her last residence noted at the time of her death on 10 January 2000 was given as Pasadena, Los Angeles.

Although Duane Valentry is listed in the social security death index under that name, a copyright entry for a 1945 song reveals that Duane Valentry was a pen-name for H. M. Yarnall. I haven't been able to nail down any further information and whether Yarnall was her birth name and I'm struggling to find her in any early 20th century census records under either Yarnall or Valentry.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

F. G. Turnbull

F. G. Turnbull was born in Edinburgh but grew up in rural areas, hence his love and fascination of nature. As a young man he worked in mechanical engineering and successfully patented several pieces of machinery. In later years Turnbull was a partner in a commercial beekeeping enterprise.

He specialised in writing stories about the wild animals of the British Isles. He had a beautiful writing style, often reaching great heights of imagination in his colourful, exciting stories. Some of the best were collected in Kallee and other stories (1947).

He contributed 194 tales to the Evening News between 1934 and 1968. In addition to his Evening News work, Turnbull's stories regularly appeared in magazines such as CornhillZoo, Argosy, The Star and the juvenile periodicals Boy's Own Paper and Look and Learn.

I know nothing about Turnbull himself. I wonder if he was related in any way to Frederick Gower Turnbull, the author of Remember Me to Everybody: Letters from India, 1944-1949 (West Meadow Press, 1997), the husband of Merlyn Ann Hoyle who died in Calcutta, India, on 26 February 1949.


Kallee and other stories, illus. Lunt Roberts. London, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1947.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

John Onslow

I decided to take a little look into the career of John Onslow after discovering that there were three authors of this name listed on the FictionMags Index. The Onslow I was interested in, who contributed a number of short stories to Look and Learn, was listed as simply fl.1968-70. (Of the other two, one (fl.1901-02) was way too old and the other (fl. 1933-37) seems to have only contributed two stories to Black Mask, the U.S. pulp.)

A quick dig around in library records turned up a number of books under the byline John Onslow likely to be by the same author. If I am correct in saying that "our" John Onslow also wrote the earlier Bowler-Hatted Cowboy, it seems that his origins may lie in Canada or he at least spent time in Canada, as the book concerns ranch life in British Columbia. A dealer's description I found described it thus: "Humorous and revealing account of ranch-life in North-West Canada after WWII, contending with wolves, bears, sub-zero temperatures and people with whom he did not see eye to eye."

This led me to Book Guy: A Librarian in the Peace by Howard Overend, in which he briefly reminisces about the book (pp.281-282):
Memories kept coming. I thought of a recently arrived homesteader who ranched in the Upper Cache Creek country for more than a dozen years after the war, John Onslow, whom I knew only through his book Bowler-Hatted Cowboy, which he wrote after returning to England with his wife and two children in 1959. His sister Hope had been one of Monica Storrs' missionary assistants, who spread the Anglican evangelical word in the North Peace region in the 1930s and '40s. Hope had married Robert D. Symons, a rancher, writer and artist who lived in the Upper Cache area, and John Onslow, fresh from army life after the war, had come to settle near them.
    Bowler-Hatted Cowboy caused quite a stir when it came out: it was all the library could do to keep up with demand. I don't think John Onslow's neighbours had any difficulty recognizing themselves and others, despite the fictitious names he gave them, and in Fort St. John—or Riverville, as he called it—there was not a reader who didn't know that the editor character "Ma Callahan" was the one and only Margaret "Ma" Murray of the Alaska Highway News.
    Pseudonyms aside, Onslow's well-told story and the local reaction to it made me curious. One day in September 1963, Wayne Steeves and I delivered books to the lonely little school at Upper Cache Creek and along the way we took a collection to Mrs. Hugh Bovee who had a small community library at a ranch down the road. In answer to our queries, Mrs. Bovee talked a bit about the Onslows and told us how to get to their old ranch house. The trip was an excursion, not only on a rutted lane through some beautiful yellow-tinted polar woods and across a creek, but through a few long years of time.
    hen we came upon it—the cabit of three parts, each with its own steep-pitched roof and built, as additions were needed, in an odd staggered sequence. The centre and rear parts were constructed of well-chinked weathered logs and the front was incongruously faced with white siding. Behind it rose the hill we had driven down, and in front was the ranch yard with fences and barn intact. A small bunkhouse lay toppled in a ravine but otherwise the place looked almost as if the Onslows had moved out a few days before. But we found the house chill and desolate. People had gone; only squirrels and ghosts were left. I remember feeling like an intruder. Outside on the red roof there was a large-painted J/O, the brand of John Onslow, homesteader and self-styled bowler-hatted cowboy who once had lived there and made the place his own. We noticed the mark again on one of the cows in the woods on our way back to the road.
    On the last page of his book, Onslow tells of his strong affection for his horse Paint. In the deserted barn on a straw-strewn floor we had seen a collar, dusty and worn. I wondered if this was all that was left of the experiences they had shared, the many rides along the trail through the woods and across the sunlit hills.
This extract offers quite a few clues. I started with Hope Onslow. As it was an uncommon combination of names, I quickly established that she was born in Leighton, Shropshire, in on 7 February 1907, the daughter of George Arthur Onslow and his wife Charlottle Riou (nee Benson), who were married in London in 1902. The Onslows had eight children: Mary, Robert George, John, Hope, Charles Edward, Kathleen Theodosia, Thomas Philip Riou and Denzil Octavia.

John was born in Leighton, Shropshire, on 6 January 1906 and grew up in and around Leighton and Shrewbury, where George Onslow was a farmer. His mother died in 1932, aged 56, and George remarried a year later to  Maud Elliot Harris.

Onslow would appear to have had a career in the army in the 1930s and was already an army officer by 1938. He eventually retired with the rank of Major.

John travelled to Canada after the war and became a rancher in Fort St. John. He married Susan Towle in Westminster in 1956 and they had five children (three girls, two boys) including Andrew G. (1957), Jane Elizabeth (1958), Simon J. (1960), Sarah M. (1962) and Rachel Evelyn M. (1967). Only Jane was born in Canada. On his return to England, the family settled in Sussex and it was in Chichester that Onslow's death was registered He died on 25 October 1985, aged 79.

Onslow wrote for Wide World and Argosy as well as a dozen short stories on a nature theme for Look & Learn in 1968-69. Two of his novels were aimed at children and concerned wizardry and witches.


Fire in the Desert. Edinburgh & London, Blackwood & Sons, 1964.
The Stumpfs, illus. John Lawrence. London, Jonathan Cape, 1966.
Stumpf and the Cornish Witches. London, Jonathan Cape, 1969.

Bowler-Hatted Cowboy. Edinburgh & London, William Blackwood & Sons, 1962.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Alan C. Jenkins

Alan C. Jenkins was the author of seven stories in Look and Learn in 1967, a minor contribution from a prolific nature writer.

Born Alan Charles Jenkins in Woodford, Essex, on 2 July 1912 (although he later claimed in The Author's and Writer's Who's Who it was 1914), and was educated at King Edward VI School. He served with the R.N.V.R. during the Second World War but was otherwise a writer and editor his whole career.

His earliest known writing was "Tales of Hatchetty Hollow", a 5-part series of children's stories broadcast on the radio in 1934. He contributed heavily to The Boy's Own Paper for over nearly thirty years and was their regular book reviewer in the late 1950s, although he continued to write stories for the paper under the name John Bancroft. He also wrote for adults, his stories appearing in Blackwood's, The Countryman, Lilliput, Argosy, Printers' Pie, Collier's, Saturday Evening Post and to the Central Office of Information.

Jenkins was a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers on the subject of nature and was a member of the Zoological Society, the Fauna Preservation Society, the Mammal Society and The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Jan Morris reviewed his Wildlife in the City (The Times, 4 Dec 1982), which she called "quaint and charming":
This is full of curious knowledge, imparted in a cosy, tea-time tone of voice, and illustrated with photographs often of an engaging irrelevance. We learn about muskrats of New York, badgers of Wimbledon Common, lemmings in Oslo. We are told that 200 fox litters have been recorded in Bristol, and that polar bears frequent Canadian rubbish-dumps these days. Fancy that, we exclaim: and kind Mr Jenkins, reaching for another crumpet, moves in to the rats of Pisa...
Jenkins lived for many years at Pear Trees, Belstone, Okehampton, Devon, where he died in 1996, aged 83. He was survived by his wife, Nancy Letitia Whitaker Bovill (who died in 2011, aged 96), and two step-children from her previous marriage to Lt. R. J. O. O'Neill-Roe, RN, Susan and Siano.

Original colour artwork by Kenneth Lilly 


A Ship for Nelson. London, Lutterworth Press, 1952.
The Reindeer Twins, illus. Ruth Murrell. 1957.
Lasso of the North, illus. Ruth Murrell. 1958.
Ponies for Sale, illus. Will Nickless. 1958.
White Horses and Black Bulls, illus. Victor G. Ambrus. London, Blackie, 1960.
The Twins of Lapland, illus. Christopher Brooker. London, Jonathan Cape, 1960.
Guardian of Honour (as John Bancroft), illus. Grace Huxtable. London, Macmillan, 1961; New York, St. Martin's Press, 1961.
The Ring of Truth (as John Bancroft), illus. Grace Huxtable. London, Macmillan, 1962; New York, St. Martin's Press, 1962.
Kingdom of the Elephants, illus. Victor G. Ambrus. 1963.
Paulo and the Wolf, illus. Margery Gill. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd, 1963.
The Borodin Affair (as John Bancroft). London, Epworth Press, 1966.
Wild Swans at Suvanto, illus. Robert Frankenberg. Norton, 1965; London, Hart Davis, 1966.
Storm Over the Blue Hills, illus. Victor G. Ambrus. London, Oliver & Boyd, 1966.
White Meg's Magic, illus. Peter Warner. London, H. Hamilton, 1967.
The Moon in His Pocket, illus. Barry Wilkinson. London, Oliver & Boyd, 1967 [1968].
The Magic Bullet, illus. Peter Warner. London. H. Hamilton, 1968.
Race for Life, illus. Malcolm Hargreaves. London, Hamilton, 1969.
Ship of Fire, illus. Graham Humphreys. London, Hamilton, 1969.
Ice at Midsummer, illus. Graham Humphreys. London, Hamilton, 1970.
Shadow of the Deer, illus. Peter Warner. London, Chatto, Boyd & Oliver, 1970.
Night of the Lantern, illus. Richard Scollins. London, Hamilton, 1973.
Aslak the hunter, illus. Richard Kennedy. London, Abelard-Schuman/Sadler, 1975.
The Man Who Rode a Tiger. An Indian folk-story, illus. Gareth Floyd. London, Hamilton, 1975.
The Winter-Sleeper, illus. Graham Humphreys. London, Hamilton, 1977.
The Ghost Elephant. An African story, illus. Nelda Prins. Harmondsworth, Puffin, 1981.

Between the Two Twilights. Tales of woodland, moor and stream. London, John Murray, 1937.

Dear Olga. Letters from Russia. London, John Lane, 1947.
Introducing Horses. London, Spring Books, 1959.
Introducing Cats. London, Spring Books, 1959.
Introducing Baby Animals. London, Spring Books, 1960.
Introducing Pets. London, Spring Books, 1960.
The Viscount Concise Dictionary. London, Spring Books, 1960.
Pirates and Highwaymen, illus. Virginia Smith. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd (Signpost Library 1), 1962.
The Good Spelling Dictionary. London, Spring Books, 1964; as The Daily Mirror Pocket Dictionary. London, Daily Mirror, 1967.
Sport, illus. Virginia Smith. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd (Signpost Library 8), 1964.
Animals of History, illus. Romain Simon. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd, 1965.
The Golden Band. Holland's fight against the sea. London, Methuen, 1966; Coward-McCann, c.1966.
The Silver Haul. Trawling and deep-sea fishing. London, Methuen, 1967.
Wild Encounters, illus. Gavin Rowe. London, Chatto, Boyd & Oliver, 1971.
Circuses Through the Ages, illus. Mark Peppe. London, Chatto, Boyd & Oliver, 1972.
Wild Life in Danger. London, Methuen, 1973.
Markets Through the Ages, illus. Michael Jackson. London, Chatto & Windus, 1974.
Searchlight of Archaeology (translated and adapted from Kreuzwortratsel der Geschichte by Werner Illing, Esslingen, J. F. Schreiber, 1973). Glasgow, Blackie, 1975. 
Great Discoveries (translated and adapted from Kreuzwortratsel der Geschichte by Werner Illing, Esslingen, J. F. Schreiber, 1973). Glasgow, Blackie, 1975.
Journeys into the Unknown (translated and adapted from Entdeckungsreisen ins Ungewisse by Werner Illing, Esslingen, J. F. Schreiber, 1973). Glasgow, Blackie, 1975.
The Struggle for the North and South Poles (translated and adapted from Der Kampf um Nordpol und Sudpol by Werner Illing, Esslingen, J. F. Schreiber, 1973). Glasgow, Blackie, 1975.
A Wealth of Trees. Forestry and the use of timber. London, Methuen, 1975.
World of Ghosts, illus. Virginia Smith. London, Chatto & Windus, 1976.
The Naturalists: Pioneers of Natural History. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1978; New York, Mayflower Books, 1978.
Wild Animals. London, Albany Books, 1979.
A Countryman's Year, illus. Peter Barrett. Execer, Webb & Bower, 1980.
Secrets of Nature, illus. Helen Cherry. Sevenoaks, Knight, 1981.
A Village Year. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1981.
Wildlife in the City. Animals, birds, reptiles, insects and plants in an urban landscape. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1982.
Mysteries of Nature. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1983.
The Country Diary Nature Notes, with Edith Holden. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1984.
A. R. Quinton's England. A portrait of rural life at the turn of the century. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1987.

Thin Air. An anthology of ghost stories. London, Blackie, 1966.
Animal Stories. London, Blackie, 1967.
Escape! An anthology of action stories. London, Blackie, 1968.
Spy! An anthology of espionage stories. London, Blackie, 1969.
Mystery. An anthology of baffling stories. London, Blackie, 1970.
Ghosts. An anthology of spectral stories. London, Blackie, 1971.
Eye-Witness. A unique collection of first-hand accounts. London, Blackie, 1972.
Nature Quest. An anothology of wild life stories. London, Blackie, 1972.
Dangers Unlimited. Stories of man against nature. London, Blackie, 1973.
Exploration  Earth. Unforgettable journeys of discovery. London, Blackie, 1973.
Journeys into Danger. The lure of the unknown. London, Blackie, 1973.
The Sporting Life. London, Blackie, 1974.
Treasure! An anthology. Glasgow, Blackie, 1974.
Airborne. Glagow, Blackie, 1975.
Skyriders. Man's conquest of the air. Glasgow, Blackie, 1975.
The Prodigal Earth. The heritage of the land: an anthology. Glasgow, Blackie, 1976.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Edna M. Cass

Credited with half a dozen short stories in Look and Learn in 1967-69 and with a short (20-page) collection of verse. Little else is known about her writing career.

Her full name, as given by the British Library, was Edna May Cass, possibly the Edna May Cass who was born on 4 May 1927, who died in Leeds in 2000. Unfortunately, there's no way to confirm this unless a family member or friend gets in touch.


Poems. Ilfracombe, Arthur H. Stockwell, 1960.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Norah Burke

Norah Burke has been on my radar for many times over the year. I think I first noted her name as a writer for Gerald G. Swan. Some years later, Cliff Lewis mentioned her in connection with his publishing company Curzon, which published romances—some reprinted from serials in women's magazines—under rather more saucy titles for the original paperback market. Ever since her name has popped up in various contexts... as a writer for Look and Learn, for instance, and more recently with a story in The Children's Newspaper. Back in the summer of 2008, I thought it was time to gather together everything I knew.

The post, published on 13 August 2008, has been one of the most viewed on Bear Alley, with over 14,550 visitors to that particular posting, according to Blogger, although the post was already almost two years old before Blogger started counting in July 2010. A few days ago, on 7 April, the post was lifted almost wholesale and posted on Wikipedia. During the day, various revisions added a credit (to someone called Srinidhi) and removed the link to the original post.

I received some very interesting comments about the original post, especially from India where Norah Burke's Jungle Picture was on the grade 10 Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) exams.

According to poet Rupa Abdi, "Norah Burke is the reason why I am a writer today. We had her book as a part of our English Literature curriculm in my Delhi School, in std.9th. I was barely 13 years old then and was fascinated with the world of Norah's words, what a skillful magician of words, who could draw the entire multifaceted canvas of the Indian jungle life with such few, such simple words... I would wonder in awe. In fact that was when I wrote my first short story and poem... my love affair with the world of words never ended since... I am fifty now, and still have my 47-year-old copy of Jungle Picture with me."

Her words were echoed by many others. Chandrika said, "Most of us who did ICSE in India in the late '70s were introduced to this truly illustrious English writer, thanks to some intelligent people on the board who chose the book for our study. Given the tripe that are now chosen for study even in degree courses one is indeed blessed to have read this classic book ... which is a richly descriptive book written in flawless English." Justin Rayne: "I had Jungle Picture for my 8th Std. ICSE class. The impact this collection of stories has had with me, has remained all these years. In fact I'm still looking for a copy (how we foolishly discard such treasures). Her simple yet masterly story-weaving ability had me see 'Gajpati' tied to the tree, and the young lad who carried his brother across the jungle, while he suffered with high fever... absolutely enchanting and riveting!"

Other commentators added their own praise for Norah Burke's work, which seems to have had a lasting impact on many youngsters who have grown to adulthood and passed on their fond memories of her stories to their children.

Norah Aileen Burke was born in Bedford on 2 August 1907, her parents—who had lived in India for many years—returning especially for her birth. The family returned to India when the baby Norah was only two months old, and she spent the next twelve years travelling around the jungle at the foothills of the Himalayas where her father, Redmond St. George Burke, was a forest officer with the Imperial Forest Service. Her mother was Aileen Marion Burke, the daughter of John Mervyn Wrench, the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, and she had two younger brothers, Harry (1909-1942) and Peter (1917- )

Constantly changing camps, carrying their belongings by elephant, made education difficult, but she learned to write at the age of eight, and started writing stories straight away. She also read as much as she could, including bound volumes of Chums and Boy’s Own Paper, and even wrote and edited her own little magazine entitled The Monthly Dorrit.

She returned to England in 1919 to attend a school in Devonshire, and lived her family home at The Auberies, Bulmer, near Sudbury, in Suffolk. Her first novel, Dark Road, was published in 1933, Burke drawing on her own background for the book's settings of Suffolk and India. After a second novel dealing with a European dictator (The Scarlet Vampire), she wrote Merry England, which was set in historical Suffolk.

Her next few novels, romances, appeared from Gerald Swan during the war and post-war years and, according to an article published in The Writer in January 1950, she had by then published 11 novels and her short stories and articles had appeared in more than 100 periodicals, including 20-Story Magazine, The Novel Magazine, and various Gerald Swan publications. Her work was published in France, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Irish Free State, Australia, America, Canada and many of the better British magazines, including Everybody's and Courier. In 1954, she was the winner of the New York Herald Tribune World Short Story Contest.

As well as fiction, Norah Burke was also an enthusiastic travel writer, relating many of her early adventures in autobiographical travel books Jungle Child (1956), Tiger Country (1965) and Eleven Leopards (1965). She also wrote about wildlife in King Todd (1963) and The Midnight Forest (1966) and numerous short stories. She collaborated with her father on his book of big game hunting and camp life in the Indian jungles, Jungle Days (1935).

She married Henry Humphrey R. Methwold Walrond (1904-1987), a lawyer, on 25 July 1931. She lived for many years at Thorne Court., in Cockfield, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. She died in 1976, survived by her husband and two sons, Timothy John Walrond and Humphrey Bill Walrond.


Dark Road. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1933.
Merry England. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1934.
The Scarlet Vampire. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1936.
Dreams Come True. London, Gerald Swan, Feb 1943.
The Awakened Heart. London, Gerald Swan, Mar 1944.
Gold Temple Bells. London, Gerald Swan, Nov 1949.
Hazelwood. London, Hodder & Stoughton, Jul 1953; as The Splendour Falls, New York, Morrow, 1953.
Not as Others. London, [publisher?], 1956. [Listed by Trinity College, Dublin as a printed book]

Novels as Andre Lamour
Harem Captive. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Dec 1946.
Desert Passion. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Nov 1947.
Dusky Bridegroom. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Dec 1947.
No Wedding Ring. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Feb 1948.
Pin-Up for Michael. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Aug 1948.
Take My Love!. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Sep 1948.

Novels as Paul Lestrange
Slave to Passion. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Aug 1948.
Tarnished Angel. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Sep 1948.

Collections Jungle Picture. A picture of the vast forests of India, along with the foot-hills of the Himalayas in short stories. London, Cassell, 1960.

Jungle Days, with R. St. George Burke. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1935.
Jungle Child (autobiography). London, Cassell & Co., Feb 1956; New York, W. W. Norton, 1956; abridged, London, Cassell (Red Lion Readers 2), 1966.
King Todd. The true story of a wild badger, illus. D. J. Watkins-Pitchford. London, Putnam, 1963.
Tiger Country. London, Putnam, 1965.
Eleven Leopards. A journey through the jungles of Ceylon. London, Jarrolds, 1965.
The Midnight Forest. A true story of wild animals. London, Jarrolds, 1966.


Parables of the Gospel [Homiliae], by Saint Gregory, translated by Nora Burke. Dublin, Scepter, 1960.
The Faith Applied [Vivre le christianisme], by Jean Daujat, translated by Norah Burke. Dublin, Scepter, 1963.

(* The Children's Newspaper © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Comic Cuts - 10 April 2015

Last week I mentioned that my "book-in-a-week" project has turned into a "book-in-ten-days-maybe" and that I had already used up six days. My confidence that I would be getting back to work on the book on Friday of last week didn't pan out. I'd forgotten that it was a bank holiday, which meant a change of plans. I suspect that I really only did one full day over the whole weekend, spending the time indulging myself with walks, cheesecake and visits to friends to watch movies. I can heartily recommend all of these activities.

So that's day seven, during which I did a little rewriting and scanned some additional material that I thought I wasn't going to include in the book, but what the heck. It will add another few pages and another few pence to the cost, but this is already a 180+ page, thoroughly self-indulgent project that I'm guaranteed to lose money on... why not go for broke, eh?

The extra pages were finished by Tuesday and I worked on the cover Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. It isn't quite finished but it's starting to look good. Wednesday afternoon I spent on laying out some of the introductory pages, which takes me up to the close of day nine. I'm writing this Thursday morning and I should be getting back to the book tomorrow—Thursday's a bit of a tidy-up day and I need to make some phonecalls, sort out some mail, back-up some of the files on my computer and start work on next week's blog posts.

I shall be on day ten by the time you read this (if you're reading this on Friday, that is) and it will be interesting to see how close I am to finishing as that's two working (five-day) weeks. A burst of speed might be a factor in doing some books I have planned, a subject I'll return to next week when I should have some news about the future of Bear Alley and Bear Alley Books.

Random scans for this week are a group of pamphlet-style magazines from around 1947-48, all published by Brown Watson. The firm went on to become better known as Digit Books, but in its earlier days produced 32-page magazines, making the best of the paper shortage. The first three are from a run of eleven issues of Sparkling Confessions which ran in 1947-48. I believe some of these were complete stories, but most were anonymous collections of two or three stories.

Just to add to the fun, some issues were numbered, some weren't. The first issue shown here was the unnumbered second issue with the lead story "I Plotted in Vain". The series was then numbered until issue eight, with three unnumbered issues following. The wedding cover had the lead story "Sisters Under the Skin", whilst the rose-sniffing lady featured on an issue that led with the story "My Indian Prince".

Spotlight Confessions and Tantalising Tales were both one-shots from 1948, once again filled with anonymous short stories. There's a chance that some of these were written by Eileen Wilmot, who contributed to a similar, contemporary Brown Watson magazine; G. M. Byrne and Ronald Horton also contributed, but to one of the crime titles and neither author has any track record as romance writers.

Next week it's Look and Learn nature author week, pulling together some of the  biographical diggings that I've been doing in my spare time. OK, it wasn't really spare time—I should have been working on other things.

I should explain some of the above pics. There was a local history exhibition on over the weekend and I was wandering around taking photos of some of the exhibits. The top pic (Bile Beans) was a postcard from the 1940s, while the other two were posters from the same era. Bile Beans, incidentally, were laxatives.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Commando issues 4799-4802

Commando issues on sale 9th April 2015.

Commando No 4799 – Eagles Of New Eden
After the tumultuous events of the English Civil War, Sergeant Samuel Carrick and his fellow Roundhead soldiers were victorious but disillusioned. So disillusioned, that they sailed away to start new lives in the far-off Americas.
   The idyllic farming colony they established was christened New Eden. Here they worked hard and lived peacefully off the fruits of their labours.
   This peace was shattered when enemies old and new stood against them. It seemed Samuel and his comrades would have to fight for their lives once more…

With only a few notable exceptions — step forward the Convict Commandos — recurring characters have been rare on the pages of Commando over the last 50-odd years. However we were of the opinion that you, our readers, might like a series which carried the story over more than one issue. With the pen of Ferg Handley recruited to do the writing, we decided that a historical saga spanning many generations would hit the spot.
   Episode Seven sees the stories of three inter-linked families continue in the aftermath of the English Civil War. Although supposedly a time of peace, there were still many factions in society at loggerheads. In order to live the way they desired, many opted for new lives across the Atlantic. As some of our characters found out, this was a hard existence, fraught with danger and disaster. Our story is, of course, fiction but the experiences of our heroes are not far from the truth as encountered by many.
   We hope you enjoy this story and the journey to come.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Ferg Handley
Art; Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

Commando No 4800 – Flying Fools
Flight Lieutenant Roy Ogden was a pilot who fought and flew strictly by the book. He had a neat, tidy squadron that fought neat, tidy air battles and got quite good results…quite good.
   Then a big Texan pilot called Mike McClusky arrived on the scene; a daring, slap-happy flier who roared, “Get in and mix it, boys!” across his radio. Suddenly the results were terrific.
   That was when Roy’s neat, tidy squadron changed into a bunch of… Flying Fools!

As you can imagine, working (ha!) here, we get to read a lot of war stories of all flavours. Despite the numbers of them, only occasionally do you get one that combines all the “classic” elements of a war story. This, however, is one of those. Not wanting to give the game away, I’ll refrain from itemising them, but you’ll know them when you see them. What’s more, with a bit of disbelief suspension, they come together to make a cracking story.
   Backed up by Sostres’ contrast-heavy inside art, the plot the story that waits behind Ken Barr’s cover is well worth the investment of your time.—Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Bounds
Art: Sostres
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No 180 (September 1965), re-issued as No 819 (March 1974).

Commando No 4801 – A Tiger’s Tale
“Tiger!” — a cry that struck fear into many a soldier’s heart during the Second World War. Little wonder when it meant that you were about to encounter 50-odd tons of armoured might, impervious to all but the heaviest weapons and with an 88mm gun whose shells could punch right through another tank from a mile away.
   Tanks, though, don’t operate themselves — they need crewmen. Crewmen like the five here who will tell you… A Tiger’s Tale

Story; George Low
Art: Vicente Alcazar
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Commando No 4802 – School For Spies
High on a rocky crag on the west coast of Scotland stood Whitecrest House, home of the Mackay family of Strathfiddich. Over the centuries its grim, stone walls had looked down on many tales of bravery, mystery and intrigue.
   Now, in the Second World War, it was being put to a peaceful purpose — a boarding school for boys. But what the boys didn’t know was that under their feet, in hidden cellars and dungeons, was another kind of school, where the students had names like Kurt…and Hans…and Ernst…

The Ed and I have often wondered why espionage stories are slightly more difficult to do in Commando’s format, compared to traditional military action —difficult, but not impossible as this book certainly is a success. The main bugbear is that spy tales tend to involve a variety of people standing in shadows, talking to themselves (usually explaining the plot) in lots of “thought balloons”; and then we might have several pages of more explanations, sometimes done in flashback. All of this is fine, of course, but can grate a little over 63 pages.
   However, this yarn is thoroughly entertaining, with lots of incident and interesting characters — ensuring that School For Spies is a class act. Top marks all round!—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: C.G. Walker
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Phillips
Originally Commando No 1058 (August 1976); re-issued as No 2380 (June 1990).

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Upcoming Releases: April 2015

APRIL 2015 

Judge Dredd: Luna 1 by John Wagner, Brian Bolland, Mick McMahon & Ian Gibson.
2000AD Graphic Novels ISBN 978-1781083420, 9 April 2015, 142pp, £6.99.
In 2061, an international lunar treaty divided a million square miles of the moon's surface between Mega-Cities One, Two and Texas City. Every six months one of these cities has to supply a Judge-Marshal to govern it...enter Judge Dredd! An environment every bit as deadly as the streets of the 'Big Meg', Judge-Marshal Dredd has his work cut out for him - especially when war breaks out during the first Lunar Olympics! Written by John Wagner and featuring some beautiful artwork by Brian Bolland, Ian Gibson and Mick McMahon, these early Dredd stories are out of this world!
Order from Amazon.

The Mystery of the Crooked Imp by Conrad Mason & David Whyatt.
David Fickling Books (Phoenix Presents) ISBN 978-1910200421, 64pp, £7.99.
Welcome to Port Fayt! City of fantastical creatures, magic and skulduggery! As the clocks strike midnight, a gang of fairies holds up a stagecoach. Their prize - a baby boy. Only the ragtag band of crimefighters known as the Demon's Watch can rescue the child. But first they must unmask the mysterious criminal behind the kidnapping...Who is the Crooked Imp?
Order from Amazon.

Zenith: Phase Three by Grant Morrison & Steve Yeowell.
2000AD Graphic Novels ISBN 978-1781083215, 9 April 2015, 144pp, £20.00.
The Lloigor have returned and once again threaten to destroy all reality. In order to stop them, Maximan of alternative Earth 23 has assembled an army of superheroes, including Zenith and ex-members of Cloud 9. They are tasked with travelling to 'occupied' earths and destroying them, in the hope of stopping others from falling. Despite the danger Zenith decides to tag along. After all, with his musical career and popularity on the wane, he really has nothing better to do...
Order from Amazon.

Upcoming Releases

A round-up of forthcoming books relating to or reprinting British comics and cartoons, along with some selected original graphic novels.

APRIL 2015
  • Judge Dredd: Luna 1 by John Wagner, Brian Bolland, Mick McMahon & Ian Gibson. 2000AD Graphic Novels ISBN 978-1781083420, 9 April 2015, 142pp, £6.99.
  • The Mystery of the Crooked Imp by Conrad Mason & David Whyatt. David Fickling Books (Phoenix Presents) ISBN 978-1910200421, 64pp, £7.99.
  • Zenith: Phase Three by Grant Morrison & Steve Yeowell. 2000AD Graphic Novels ISBN 978-1781083215, 9 April 2015, 144pp, £20.00.
MAY 2015
  • A.B.C. Warriors: Return to Mars by Pat Mills & Clint Langley. 2000AD Graphic Novels ISBN 978-1781083437, 7 May 2015, 96pp, £14.99.
  • Doctor Who: The Good Soldier by Andrew Cartmel, Paul Cornell, Dan Abnett, John Freeman, Lee Sullivan & Mike Collins. Panini UK ISBN 978-1846536595, 1 May 2015, 176pp, £13.99.
  • Modesty Blaise: The Killing Distance by Peter O'Donnell & Enric Badia Romero. Titan Books ISBN 978-1781167120, 15 May 2015, 104pp, £11.99 [originally announced for 20 March 2015, then 10 April 2015]. 
JUNE 2015
JULY 2015
  • Aquila by Gordon Rennie & Leigh Gallagher. 2000AD Graphic Novels  ISBN 978-1781084076, 12 January 2016, 192pp.
  • Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore by Lance Parkin. Aurum Press ISBN 978-1781312841, 3 March 2016, 432pp, £12.99. [originally announced for 1 May 2014, then 20 November 2014, then 3 September 2015]. Paperback edition. 
  • Gravestown by Roger Gibson & Vince Danks. Titan Books ISBN 978-1782760078, 9 June 2016, 110pp, £14.99. [originally announced for 25 August 2015].
  • Hamlet (Original Text) by John McDonald, David Lorenzo Riveiro & Gary Erskine. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332341, 30 June 2016 [originally announced for 31 July 2012, then early 2013, then 30 September 2014]. Note: Currently not listed on Classical Comics' website.
  • Hamlet (Plain Text) by John McDonald, David Lorenzo Riveiro & Gary Erskine. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332358, 30 June 2016 [originally announced for 31 July 2012, then early 2013, then 30 September 2014]. Note: Currently not listed on Classical Comics' website
  • Hamlet (Quick Text) by John McDonald, David Lorenzo Riveiro & Gary Erskine. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332365, 30 June 2016 [originally announced for 31 July 2012, then early 2013, then 30 September 2014]. Note: Currently not listed on Classical Comics' website
  • Julius Caesar (Original Text) by John McDonald & Sean O'Connor. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332945, 30 June 2016 [originally announced for 31 August 2010, then 31 May 2011, then July 2011, then March 2012, then 31 May 2012, then September 2012, then 31 May 2013, then 31 January 2014]. Note: Currently not listed on Classical Comics' website.
  • Julius Caesar (Plain Text) by John McDonald & Sean O'Connor. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332952, 30 June 2016 [originally announced for 31 August 2010, then 31 May 2011, then July 2011, then March 2012, then 31 May 2012, then September 2012, then 31 May 2013, then 31 January 2014]. Note: Currently not listed on Classical Comics' website.
  • Julius Caesar (Quick Text) by John McDonald & Sean O'Connor. Classical Comics ISBN 978-1906332969, 30 June 2016 [originally announced for 31 August 2010, then 31 May 2011, then July 2011, then March 2012, then 31 May 2012, then September 2012, then 31 May 2013, then 31 January 2014]. Note: Currently not listed on Classical Comics' website.
  • Oor Wullie: How Tae Learn Yer Times Table. B&W Publishing ISBN 978-1910230015, 31 December 2016, 32pp, £5.99. [originally announced for 14 November 2014, then 2 April 2015].
Please note: All dates are subject to change.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Recent Releases: March 2015

MARCH 2015

The Dracula File by Gerry Finley-Day, Simon Furman & Eric Bradbury. Hibernia [no ISBN], March 2015, 86pp, £9.00.
From the pages of Scream! comic Hibernia is proud to present the complete Dracula Files, collecting all the weekly episodes as well as all the episodes from the hard to find Holiday Specials. Also included is two page’s of  unseen Eric Bradbury Dracula art from Scream issue 18, and a cover gallery. Follow KGB officer Colonel Stakis desperate hunt for Count Dracula, who is spreading terror in 1980’s Britain after defecting from Communist Romania.
Order from Hibernia.
Insurrection: Liberty by Dan Abnett & Colin Macneil.
2000AD Graphic Novels ISBN 978-1781083406, 12 March 2015, 96pp, £13.99.
Mega-City colonial space, 2135AD. Mining colony K Alpha 61 renamed itself Liberty after cutting loose from the Big Meg. Furious at this dissent, and in a bid to stop the revolt spreading to other colonies, the SJS launched a blistering attack on Colonial Marshal Kerel Luther's forces. Now the alien Zhind have been defeated, and the SJS are turning on the insurrectionists...
Order from Amazon.

It's Even Bigger on the Inside by Tim Quinn & Dicky Howett.
MIWK Publishing, 6 March 2015, 224pp, £17.99.
For over a decade Tim Quinn & Dicky Howett provided a regular comic strip Doctor Who? For Marvel Comics (now Panini) in Doctor Who Magazine.
    For the first time all their strips are collected here, together with strips from specials, annuals and yearbooks as well as their two previously published books It’s Bigger on the Inside and The Doctor Who Fun Book.
    Each strip has been lovingly restored and where possible scanned from the original artwork to present them, many in full colour, as never before.
Order directly from the publisher.

Kick-Ass 3 by Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.
Titan Books ISBN  978-1783290871, 6 March 2015, 232pp, £18.99.
Mark Millar and John Romita's mega-selling series returns for its final story! Hit-Girl is in jail, leaving Kick-Ass to lead the super hero team Justice Forever. But super heroes have been outlawed, leaving Kick-Ass to dodge both cops and some terrifying new foes! For the first time, Kick-Ass is beginning to have doubts. Is he in too deep to get out? Paperback edition.
Order from Amazon.

Nemo: River of Ghosts by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill.
Knockabout ISBN 978-0861662333, 19 March 2015, 56pp, £9.99.
In a world where all the fictions ever written coalesce into a rich mosaic, it's 1975. Janni Dakkar, pirate queen of Lincoln Island and head of the fabled Nemo family, is eighty years old and beginning to display a tenuous grasp on reality. Pursuing shadows from her past - or her imagination - she embarks on what may be a final voyage down the vastness of the Amazon, a last attempt to put to rest the blood-drenched spectres of old. With allies and adversaries old and new, we accompany an aging predator on her obsessive trek into the cultural landscape of a strange new continent, from the ruined city of Yu-Atlanchi to the fabulous plateau of Maple White Land. As the dark threads in her narrative are drawn into an inescapable web, Captain Nemo leads her hearse-black Nautilus in a desperate raid on horrors believed dead for decades. Through the exotic spectacle of an imagined South America, Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill steer their fifty-year-long Nemo trilogy to its remarkable conclusion, borne upon a River of Ghosts.
Order from Amazon.

Tales of Telguuth: A Tribute to Steve Moore by Steve Moore & Gregg Staples.
2000AD Graphic Novels ISBN 978-1781083413, 12 March 2015, 176pp, £18.99.
In March 2014, British comics lost one of its' most creative and distinct voices in the form of Steve Moore. The father of the 2000AD Future Shock, Steve created many memorable characters including Lazer Erazer and Axel Pressbutton for Warrior, and the psychotic Dalek killer, Abslom Daak for the Doctor Who Magazine. This collection features the highly-regarded fantasy series which Moore developed for 2000AD, along with some of his classic Future Shocks. It will also featur a new introduction from Alan Moore (no relation), for whom Steve Moore was a major influence.
Order from Amazon.