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Friday, May 27, 2016

Comic Cuts - 27 May 2016

Working for home on my own means that I'm a huge consumer of audio. Some people like absolute silence when they're working, and I usually start the day that way. I'm usually in front of the computer by 7.30 am at the latest, occasionally as early as 6.30. I have a morning walk that starts around 8.00 and I'm back in front of the computer from 8.30 until 11.00am, when I take a break.

As I usually tackle a lot of mail in the morning, I tend to keep things fairly quiet so I can concentrate; the bits of your brain that interpret lyrics are also the bits of your brain that you need for writing, so anything spoken word or with lyrics can distract or, as I've found in the past, go through one ear and out the other without making any impact. I once listened to a whole 90 minute Agatha Christie mystery drama and at the end of it I had no idea who had been murdered, let alone who the murderer was.

In the afternoon I'm often revamping press releases, sorting out artwork and putting together material for the Hotel Business website, which requires less intense concentration, so I'll play music or listen to podcasts. I've mentioned the latter relatively recently, so I'll limit myself to mentioning that the second part of the latest epic from The Secret History of Hollywood was released recently—part two of the history of Warner Bros and the gangster cycle of movies starring the likes of James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson. The two episodes so far amount to about 10 1/2 hours of listening, and if you have any interest in old Hollywood, they're well worth it. Check out some of the other episodes about the Universal horror movies, Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes and the life of Alfred Hitchcock... they're all worth listening to.

Easier on the ears, even when I'm trying to concentrate, is music. I've always been a fan of rock at the harder end of the spectrum, but I've mellowed—or "mellotron'd"—over the years and my tastes for extended listening these days are towards the progressive end of rock. (That "mellotron'd" gag is for other prog fans!)

Two of my favourite bands have albums out today. I mentioned a couple of week's ago that I was ridiculously excited that Frost* have a new record coming out. At the time of writing, I'm still waiting for my pre-ordered copy to arrive.

What I forgot to mention was that Big Big Train also have a new album out. Their last, English Electric, was my favourite album from a couple of years ago. For Folklore they've expanded their cast of musicians to include a violin player and additional keyboards. The results are a delight. There's a very good review here, which notes some weaknesses in the album (it's not quite up to the sublime brilliance of The Underfall Yard or English Electric) and, as reviewer Brad Birzer puts it, "Folklore is not the easiest of BBT's releases to grasp, nor is it their best. Regardless, it is incredibly good."

This leaves me in something of a dilemma... to recommend you all rush out and buy Folklore or to say rush out and buy The Underfall Yard and English Electric and then come back to Folklore. I think the latter. It's a progression of the band's sound and you need to know where they came from before leaping in. The Underfall Yard was their sixth album, by which time they'd perfected the Big Big Train sound, but the first with vocalist David Longdon, so it's the perfect place to start – and if you have Spotify, it won't cost you to give the band a try.

If you're feeling adventurous, here's the video for the first track of the new album.


Random scans this week are another brief set of Pan covers by Carl Wilton. I did a bit about Wilton a few months ago and these are a handful of scans I missed posting at the time. They show how varied his work could look within the framework of Pan's favourite brief: "Can we have the big head of a woman. Yes, a woman.... Big. Oh, I dunno... maybe a third of the space under the title. Yes, that big."

 
 
 
 
More from Roger Perry next week plus whatever else I can squeeze in... have a lovely bank holiday on Monday.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Perry's Picture Post part 8

1969

Due to the demise of Century 21 Publishing (Books) in June, I’d been cajoled into having a three week “period of rest” before securing employment with Hamlyn Books. Hamlyn Publishing by this time had moved out of London and was now ensconced in a high-rise office block that had gone under the name of Hamlyn House. Upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised to find that John Kingsford, Brian “Benny” Green and Chris Spencer – all of whom I had once worked alongside at 96 Long Acre – were already in situ and, as old hands, were magnanimous in helping me settle in.

At Hamlyn Books, I had again rather fallen on my feet, although I found the environment I was now in most depressing when compared to my carefree days on Girl and the three years I’d had with Bob Prior and all those others I have spoken of.

There were roughly 40 designers occupying the open-plan 8th floor of Hamlyn House, who were working on a wide range of titles from cooking and gardening to how to care for your pet. There was also a brand new series covering all sorts that went under the heading of Hamlyn All-Colour Paperbacks, plus the odd book thrown in for good measure on how to test your dog’s IQ!

Although I remained at Hamlyn’s for about fifteen months, I never acclimatised to their hierarchical system of Cowboys and Indians, which I did my very best to ignore. The Art Director was Roger Garland who was permanently holed up in his office along with his female assistant. It would not have surprised me had I discovered that she was in possession of leather underwear, ropes, handcuffs, whippy canes and other forms of sexual-inducing torture, and that she had been placed in charge of Hitler’s Nazi Youth Movement. I do know that Garland designed diaries for Letts on a freelance basis, but apart from that, I have no idea what he did with himself all day long (in fact, I’m not altogether sure that I really want to know anyway).

Under him was Studio Manager John Youe. Youe also remained permanently in his office from morn to night, but at least he had an assistant named John Howard who had a commanding position overlooking the department as a whole and who, presumably, passed on any morsel of news worth mentioning to his boss.

I actually got to know John Howard quite well for he and I soon shared driving and cars when going to and from work, until, that is, his carefree driving on a hot sunny evening with the roof folded down had ended up with much of the driver's side of the car sheered off and the two offside wheels becoming virtually square-shaped. It was a bit of a shame really as the spot he’d chosen was right outside “The Pantiles” nightclub and restaurant close to Bagshot on the A30, where war ace Douglas Bader had met waitress and wife-to-be Thelma Edwards. (Reach for the Sky with Kenneth More and Muriel Pavlow is one of my favourite movies!)

We then had the Art Editors, of which there were eight, who spent their days chatting amongst themselves and drinking copious amounts of tea or coffee. Installed on each floor was a tea/coffee/hot chocolate dispensing machine installed by the management and anyone with a thirst could help themselves to a plastic container of free beverage whenever they wanted.

My Art Editor from this little cluster of cowboys was Brian Cullen, a pleasant enough guy in his mid-thirties who popped pain-killing tablets by the box-load for a gammy leg he’d succumbed to several years earlier from a motor-cycling accident. By the odd way he walked and stood, it was clear that the damaged appendage was being held together with metal rods, leather straps and the odd spring or two. I first knew of Brian Cullen when ex-Eagle designer Ron Morley worked alongside him on Fleetway annuals, in the days when George Beal ran the section in offices above Covent Garden Underground Station.

In a side office adjacent to the Art Editors, we had Bill Brott whose job it was to buy all the art that went through Hamlyn Books and who received all the colour-corrected proofs as they came in from the various repro houses. The most endearing thing about Bill was his enormous nose, which dribbled unabated morning, noon and night. It came accompanied by a great deal of sniffing and a quick wiping from a very large white spotted red handkerchief (of which he must have had quite a good supply of).

And finally, tucked into a small corner – which wasn’t really a corner at all for it was actually halfway down the room, wedged between the window and an internal 18”-square supporting structure – were ex-Eagle designer Brian “Benny” Green and his assistant, John Kingsford. Kingsford had been Eagle Art Editor John Jackson’s Number Two all the time I worked on Girl magazine (you may remember that I spoke of John Jackson in Part One).

On the Tuesday – my second day there – Benny came over and asked if I would care to join both him and John Kingsford for lunch . . . particularly as he’d had an idea that he wanted to put past me. Benny was in charge of the Christmas Annuals Section, producing 24 books each year (an average of one book every two weeks), which for all intents and purposes was the same job I had been doing for the previous three years at Century 21 Publishing.

The three of us had gone to a small cafeteria in the nearby precinct during which time Benny had suddenly blurted out: “Hey Rog, how would you fancy having my job?” It was probably something he had been bottling up ever since he told his wife Amanda that I had come onto the Hamlyn scene. I naturally replied that I would be honoured to be given the chance and, going by the smiles all round, it would appear that I had given both Benny and John the answer they had been hoping to hear.

Following on from his days when he worked in the same office as Chief Sub-Editor of Eagle, Dan Lloyd and “Madge” Harman (this can be read in greater detail on “Bear Alley – The Men Behind the Flying Saucer Review” particularly parts 4 and 5 dated Thursday, October 31, 2013 and Saturday, November 2, 2013”), as a sideline, Benny had become the proud owner of an occult bookshop that was situated in Crystal Palace, just a few miles to the south of London. Benny knew that I could do his job standing on my head, and it was pretty clear that he had been keen to move on to pastures new.

During that Tuesday afternoon, Benny had not only given his boss Brian Cullen (and the Studio Manager John Youe) a glowing report of my past capabilities, but had also handed in his notice. Even more surprising was the fact that when he departed at 5 o’clock that same day, due to having been owed a fair amount of holiday time, it was with some sadness that I never saw Benny ever again – too late now as he passed away after having succumbed to an undisclosed short illness in October 2015.

Having been handed Benny’s job on a plate, I decided that it would be prudent if I laid down a few ground rules right from the very start. I’d said to Bill Brott (with Brian Cullen listening in) that at Century 21, I had commissioned all the artwork that had gone through my hands and that incidentals such as colour-correcting proofs had also been within my domain. With nods of agreement all round, they both conceded saying that with something so complex as Christmas annuals, perhaps it would be best if I carried on doing what I obviously knew.

Following his somewhat rapid disappearance from Century 21 Publishing, Bob Prior set up a packaging business along the lines of Leonard Matthews’ Martspress. But the two operations were as different as chalk and cheese. Whereas Matthews’ outfit had had a touch of class about it, the one Bob had run very definitely had been a far, far seedier operation for all sorts of reasons. First of all, due to the break up of his marriage, he spent most nights sleeping under his desk in the office. Secondly, during those times when he needed the assistance of a designer, despite me living in Farnham, Surrey (some 50-odd miles from the centre of London), it was still worth his while to drive out to my house where my wife Jenny had kept a bed constantly made up for any sudden arrival that he might wish to make—this being usually around 9 p.m. or 10 and when I invariably had to remain awake for half the night when all I really wanted to do was to go to bed and sleep!

One of his regular commissions was to produce a four-page tabloid newsletter for the Radio Luxemburg 208 Club. It was what they call a “premium product” meaning that the advertising revenue paid for the typesetting, the newsprint and the printing of it, so it had become a freebie, given away for no charge.

The printer Bob engaged had a small printing press situated about halfway down Ruislip High Street, and Bob had called in on his way to Farnham to iron out any problems that might have arisen. Now it just so happened that rain – strong enough to have closed nearby London Airport – had begun to tip down unmercifully, and a girl wishing to get home had backed her car off Ruislip’s wide paving area and the two vehicles had momentarily “kissed”. Through the torrential downpour, Bob had shrugged his shoulders and indicated to the girl that, with the rain being what it was, it wasn’t worth getting soaked for. So she drove off and Bob made to follow in the same direction. However, after little more than five or ten yards, the off-side headlight on Bob’s rusting mini fell out of its retaining orifice and, due to his car having run over it, the front tire became deflated within milliseconds. So Bob had no option but to get out and get soaked anyway.

In changing the wheel, the nuts had been so rusty that stud No. 2 had simply sheered of . . . and it was then that Bob decided to call out the AA, which he did from the printer’s office. After about two hours, the AA patrol-man finally turned up; took one look at Bob’s front wheel and said:

“I’m not touching that; its more than my job's worth!”

And with that, he got back in his own van and had driven off into the night.

So, with little or no option, Bob had to do the job himself and, fortunately, there had been no more sheering off of any further studs. But it did mean that he didn’t arrive at my house until nearly 11:00pm, which was when I’d had to start working on Bob’s freebie paper . . . and it was far from the type of design-work that gives me any pleasure.

Jenny had already turned in for the night and after fifteen minutes or so, Bob, too, had disappeared . . . into our downstairs toilet-cum-shower-room, where he remained for a good long while. I’d assumed that he was having dietary problems as he really wasn’t eating all that well, but had thought no more about it. It was a good thirty-to-forty minutes before he rejoined me at the dining table. Bob said nothing and I said nothing, and we left it at that.

A couple of years later, he decided to come clean. It would appear that Bob had been so thoroughly knackered that he needed to put his head down somewhere even if it was for only five minutes. He’d lain down on the floor with his head jammed between the toilet bowl and the shower tray and woken with a jolt just seconds before re-joining me. He’d been too embarrassed to tell me what had happened. It was rather silly really, as he could easily have gone to his made-up bed in the spare room . . . I wouldn’t have cared. It wasn't as if he was actually doing anything when he was with me.

(Incidentally, I apologise for the family shot below, but it's the only one I have of the dining table where I worked on Bob’s 208 Club freebie . . . however, may I draw your attention to the two bowls that Rae and Marcus are eating from; they are the bowls from the Candy and Andy set spoken of in Part Five) 


It must have been late October or early November that Bob called through to ask if I could meet him with my cameras at the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. I know that it must have been about then as most of the leaves had already fallen from the trees. He’d come up with the idea of producing photo-strip stories whereby the individual frames were photographed rather than being drawn by an artist. Utilising the services of two “resting” actors (both in their early 20s), ultimately I produced a six-page dummy from the photographs I’d captured of the pair. It was a Boy meets Girl type of situation whereby the couple, having first met on the tree-top walkway (photographed at Battersea Park) had ended up by having a snack at the Serpentine lake-side restaurant.

With the presentation dummy now finished and complete with speech balloons, Bob touted the work around to various publishing houses including Fleetway and D C Thompson’s. And yes, editors were interested and yes, Bob did pick up some commissions, but with the idea now out of the bag (and free for all to use), the floodgates had opened and very quickly, dozens and dozens of teenage magazines had latched onto this idea. Soon after, everyone was doing very much the same thing.

As a sort of post script to all this – particularly having just spoken of The Serpentine – every two or three months, I had a strange individual call in to see me. He was an artist, but he’d supplied me with those very simple line drawings that one tends to see in cheap and cheerful colouring books. When he came – which was usually unannounced – he would hand over fifty or one hundred of these illustrations which I just added to the stockpile.

Mr Mayle was tall and thin; wore a shabby mackintosh both summer and winter, and trousers where the turn-ups were a good two-to-three inches above a pair of navy-blue plimsolls that clearly had seen better days. Much like Bill Brott, Mr Mayle always seemed to have a dew-drop poised upon the end of his nose, ready to drop.

Apparently, he swam the whole year round at the Serpentine alongside a group of his cronies, and he had been saying that, during the winter months, when feet and legs became numb through the intense cold, one had to keep a careful watch out that one hadn’t inadvertently kicked a submerged supermarket trolley, as if one wasn’t careful, you could easily bleed to death without even realising it.

Roger Perry
The Philippines

Coming soon: In Part Nine, one big step for mankind, the Clangers’ and lunchtimes with two-footed and four-footed friends in Richmond Park.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Perry's Picture Post part 7

Ex-Managing Editor Alan Fennell and Ex-Art Editor Dennis Hooper of the now defunct “Century 21” comics section had, oddly enough, accompanied Robert T Prior, Andrew Harrison, Bob Reed, Howard Elson, Linda Wheway and me to the new offices in May’s Court – but, once there, had acted very much like a pair of proverbial spare “wot-nots” at a wedding.

It is almost certain that Fennell and Hooper were fully aware that the book departments’ move to May’s Court was a temporary measure only. In June (or perhaps July) 1968, TV21. Lady Penelope and Candy were handed over to Martspress. Assuming that both Fennell and Hooper had been engaged on contracts with a notice period of twelve months, this would have extended their employment to June of 1969 . . . which was precisely when the book section of Century 21 Publishing was finally disbanded.

I need to say here and now that both Alan Fennell and Dennis Hooper were truly magnificent insofar that they never once interfered with anything that we in the book department were (or were not) doing. Looking back and seeing the picture as a whole, I now believe they found themselves in the position of having to work out their one year’s notice period and—despite the book section having a great many planned titles—having virtually nothing to do. However, they were both experienced script-writers, so perhaps they turned to writing to keep their minds occupied.

There was, however, something else going on that appeared to me to be quite utterly bizarre.

I never knew much – if anything – about the domestic problems experienced by Editor of the Book Department Bob Prior during those difficult years. It was only in 2003, when he and I met for an evening meal in a Notting Hill Gate restaurant, that, with tears in his eyes, he’d related all that had been going on at the south London home he’d vacated; of how his wife’s new boyfriend had been disciplining Bob’s two young children (a girl and a boy roughly 6 and 8) by locking them away in the garden shed for what had seemed like days on end.


Clearly Bob had been looking for a change in his circumstances and, in an effort to alter his image, had bought and worn a number of medallions, chunky gold chains and miniature gold bars (which certainly didn’t come cheap) that he’d strung around his neck and wrists. He grew his hair long in the fashion of Peter Wyngarde, the French-born English actor, best known for playing Jason King. During the time that the book section was housed in May’s Court, Bob had come to work daily wearing a sweeping black cape, secured on the left shoulder by a very large, black, decorative, rose-shaped clasp. To top everything off, he wore an oversized hat in the style of George Melly, a flamboyant Renaissance man, passionate about jazz, film, art and writing, who over-indulged in both sex and drink.

Around about February or March of 1969, a well-dressed, tall-and-thin-streak of an individual carrying an official-looking briefcase entered our office demanding to see Robert T Prior. I was told later that he’d had something to do with accounting although where he’d emanated from was anyone’s guess. By the end of the day, Bob Prior had cleared his desk and had left the building without a goodbye to anyone. The ‘tall streak’ remained sitting in the office Bob had vacated for a further two-to-three weeks and, although I received the odd snippet of information from our Sales Manager (whose name totally slips me), I felt it prudent not to create further waves by asking too many awkward questions.

During the latter half of 1968 and the first few months of 1969, Howard Elson and I spent quite a bit of time together working on Alphabeat. I don’t know whose idea it was, or who chose the title—my guess is that it was Howard, but Bob Reed was also very much into pop and I wouldn’t want to dismiss him as Alphabeat's potential originator. The book was essentially an ABC of Pop, and the idea might have arisen from Howard’s father who owned and ran a public relations business representing a good many stage performers (in the Seventies, Howard joined the business and took it over when his father retired).

For Alphabeat, Howard interviewed the stars we came into contact with while I captured a series of exclusive shots . . . at least, that was the plan, although it hadn’t always panned out that way. Take, for example, the day I went to visit Bee-Gee Maurice Gibb.

Maurice Gibb was living in a Mews house not much more than a stone’s throw away from Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge and Buckingham Palace. On the day I went to see him (for some reason, Howard was not with me), I had rather been expecting to see all three members of the group. However, not only was Maurice alone, but he wasn't in what I would call a particularly good frame of mind. At the time I guessed this was down to a bust-up with Lulu; they were not to be married for another year, so this was probably down to a lovers' tiff. I'd felt it prudent not to ask.

Maurice quickly picked up on my disappointment that Barry and Robin were not also present, and  suggested that we drive over to where Barry was renting a penthouse apartment, just off Ludgate Hill and close to St Paul’s Cathedral.

The drive over in Maurice’s dark bottle-green convertible Rolls Royce with pale cream upholstery was totally uneventful (even though I’d actually had my left arm ready to execute a Queen’s condescending wave of acknowledgment had anyone shouted and screamed on recognising my celebrated chauffeur . . . which nobody had.

Sadly things became infinitely worse when parking the car. Within sight of the Cathedral, we’d turned off Limeburner Lane and had to squeeze into a tiny vacancy in Old Seacoal Lane. While maneuvering the car into its parking spot, Maurice inadvertently graunched the side of the Rolls against a none-too-smooth concrete bollard, making his mood even gloomier.

At the rear entrance to the building, he led me over to a private lift that gave access only to the penthouse suite. He obviously had some sort of key as I don’t remember there having been any incidentals such as ringing bells or buzzers or being asked to identify ourselves.

At the very top of this high-rise office block, had I opened the window and leant out holding onto a long stick, I could have almost touched the spires of St Paul’s Cathedral and, from the kitchen (although I never actually went in there to check it out), one could almost have touched the Lady Justice statue at the top of the Old Bailey . . . or to be precise (and give it its correct title) – the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales.

The suite itself was bright and airy – absorbing all the sunlight that was being thrust upon us that day – and, as it was on two levels, it gave the impression of being quite a substantial place. It was clear that Barry was occupied upstairs, so while Maurice went up, I discreetly waited in the spacious living room and had gazed out over London town in all its finest glory.

Two minutes later, an attractive slim, blonde aged about nineteen, nonchalantly dragging a pristine white bed-robe beside her, descended the wide wooden stairway and disappeared into where I  assumed the kitchen to be. She had been totally and unabashedly naked. But what had been even more fascinating was the way she had skilfully circumnavigated a fresh, oversized dog’s turd – still shimmering in its youthfulness, its wispy column of steam caught by a shaft of sunlight – that had been deposited about a foot away from the bottom-most stair.

Somehow, whatever enthusiasm I’d started out with on that day had finally fizzled out. With the feeling that enough-was-more-than-enough, I picked up the bag containing my cameras and the power-flash I’d taken with me, had gone over to the lift and left the building without saying a further word to anyone. I’d not taken one single shot.

However, on browsing the “net” over the past few days, the actions I took on that fateful day in 1968 is paled into insignificance by the three Bee-Gees who appeared on Clive Anderson’s chat show in 1996 and had stormed off after a barrage of Anderson’s sniping jokes!



Billie Davis, the Caravelles and Long John Baldry were all photographed on the same day and more or less in the same place. As to whose apartment it had been, I really have no idea, but it was sumptuously appointed with over-stuffed, white leather settees, a glass-topped Grecian-style metal table upon which had been placed a chunky white and green onyx chess set, and, on the floor, a white carpet with a pile so thick that had you accidentally dropped a chopstick, it probably would have taken you a week to find it again.

Billie Davis – who had been born Carol Hedges – was the first to appear that afternoon. As the light had been good, I’d placed her outside, sitting on the balcony that over-looked Cromwell Road and the Natural History Museum that lay beyond. Looking at Google Maps 47 years later, I see that the building we had been in is now the “Consulat Général de France à Londres” . . . but it hadn’t been at that time.

Davis was climbing back to popularity after having (a) suffered a broken jaw received when her chauffeur-driven limousine had crashed and she’d had to have her jaw wired up for four months while she recovered, and (b) from some damaging publicity in a less-permissive Britain following an affair she’d had with married guitarist Jet Harris. Upon her arrival, she had been slightly on edge at meeting us, but not nearly on edge as Howard had been in the minutes before she had arrived.

He had been checking his recording apparatus, when he suddenly came over – almost white-faced with horror – saying that there was something wrong with his recording machine. “Every now and then it will utter this awful whining sound for about eight or ten seconds,” he said, “and then it goes back to being normal once again. I just don’t understand it!”

Following a week-long study of road-traffic-systems in the United States, Earnest Marples MP had thrust upon the innocent Briton annual encumbrances called MOTs; they were also being forced to understand the intricacies of double white lines; and to cope with new laws regarding the parking of cars on single and double yellow lines, together with the added accompaniment of the dreaded traffic warden. Also bringing misery into our lives was the breathalyzer test and strange things called Pelican Crossings. Prior to Davis’s arrival and with me looking around for suitable locations to pose our stars in, I’d seen one of these new-fangled crossings situated just yards away from where we were.

“That whining sound you appear to be picking up isn’t coming from that squeaky crossing thing down there is it?”

The look of relief on Howard’s face was clear for all to see.


At the invitation of Howard Elson, some solo artists and groups were asked to come to our offices in May’s Court. Century 21 Publishing had a small room that wasn’t being used for anything else, so it was there that groups such as Blossom Toes and Harmony Grass became immortalised on film. The room was a bit bland, so, having bought half-a-dozen large posters—and with the help of my assistant Andy Harrison—we’d pinned up five on the far wall featuring Julie Christie, Laurel and Hardy, Ursula Andress – the shot where, as Honey Rider, she is seen walking out of the sea in the film Dr No – David Hemmings and John Lennon. This bare empty room – devoid of anything apart from a single chair – was to be my studio.

One day, Gun called in and, having taken a few shots, I decided to have a change of view-point. I lay down on the floor, looking up at the ceiling, and got the three guys to encircle me, place their arms on each others’ shoulders, and look down (requesting at the same time not to spit or dribble!).

Once I felt I’d got enough pictures, I said “Thanks lads,” and they trouped off down the stairs and out of the building. I had two cameras and a power-pack flash unit in one hand, and was relying on my right hand to get me up off the floor. Unfortunately, my right thumb was taking my full weight and didn't like it one little bit. It didn’t break, but the pain of the dislocation was enough to put me out for a few seconds!

The front cover of Alphabeat was designed by me in late 1968 using a picture of Roy Wood of The Move. Bob Reed created the lettering that appears on the left hand lens of his glasses. Thirty-nine years later, in 2007, my attention was brought to a Danish pop band of six singers from Silkeborg, fronted by Stine Bramsen and Anders SG (not to be confused with their guitarist – Anders G), who are signed to Polydor Records.

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But you know folks, it could also be called downright plagiarism.


Going back a few years to 1964 to when my son Marcus was born, W H Smith had a retail outlet that occupied the whole of the ground-level floor-space of Hulton House. In their January sale of 1965, amongst other things, they’d included various items from the Hornby Railways OO-gauge system of which I had bought quite an alarming selection. My wife Jenny thought I was totally mad.

But, three years later, whilst employed at Century 21 Publishing and having visited the film studios at Slough on a number of occasions, not only had I picked up quite a number of tricks of the trade from the on-site set builders, but I was also encouraged to construct the model railway system I’d purchased onto a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of block-board.

In 1968, with Marcus still really far too young to play with the Hornby Double-O set, my recently-created train layout came into its own when being used as a backdrop to the range of Corgi model cars I had been given to photograph. Amazingly, Jenny’s original thoughts on the Hornby Double-O matter had at long, long last begun to mellow.

Roger Perry
The Philippines

Coming soon: In Part Eight, the end of Century 21 Publishing, and I meet up with some old friends at Hamlyn Books.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Illustrators #14

There's a great deal of pleasure to be had in a magazine like Illustrators, not only in articles about artists you know, but also in the discovery of new talents that you've never heard of. Of the five featured artists, I'd heard of one, Joe Jusko, but knew little about his background and was delighted to see plenty of artwork that was new to me.

The first of three lengthy articles features the often surreal art of Tara McPherson, pastel-coloured paintings influenced by Japanese art, often featuring winsome redheads with heart-shaped holes in their bodies. This particular theme developed after McPherson went through a particularly horrible break-up; she discovered she was able to funnel emotion through her work, with the heart-shaped hole encompassing emotions visually. Some of her work could be described as pop surrealist, other work as just plain weird.

 
Joe Jusko, on the other hand, is best known for fantasy art that is based firmly in realism. From his debut in Heavy Metal, Jusko has been a prolific cover artist for nearly forty years. After briefly working as Howard Chaykin's assistant as as a police officer in the South Bronx, Jusko found steady work as an artist. Since then he has drawn just about every muscular character you can imagine—Tarzan, Conan, The Hulk, Wonder Woman, Lara Croft, etc., etc.—along with a nice line in big cats.

Maurice Leloir may be a less familiar name. He was a Frenchman who illustrated many fine historical books, born in Paris in 1853, where he died in 1940. Here, author David Ashford concentrates on his 250 illustrations drawn for the two-volume edition of The Three Musketeers published in 1894 and the 1901 edition of Richelieu.

 
Adam Stower is a children's book writer and illustrator whose work has appeared in educational books, illustrated novels and in magazines, including a regular spot as the cover artist for Money Magazine. He's the author of a number of children's books, including Silly Doggy, Troll and the Oliver and Grumbug.

The tail-end of the magazine includes a brief announcement that Book Palace are currently finishing off the long-awaited The Art of Fortunino Matania—Drawing From History, which I remember being in active preparation back in 2010 (like I can talk—my life is one long trail of half-completed projects!). There's also a handful of reviews and letters wrapping up the issue.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 15 will feature Dave McKean, Andy Thomas, Jonathan Bull and Sam Peffer.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Perry's Picture Post part 6

Trying to do something a little different can occasionally result in major problems. On the changeover from Thunderbirds to Captain Scarlet, it was Bob Prior’s decision to have one half of the annual (i.e. 48 pages of the 96-page book) devoted to Thunderbirds while the remaining 48 pages should be given over to the new-comer who pranced around wearing the scarlet hat.

This raised the question of who should appear first in the book and who should be the runner-up? Well, this was where I came in. My idea was to have Thunderbirds occupying 48 pages of the book, which could then be flipped over and Captain Scarlet would also have 48 pages. Although it was a common format elsewhere in the book industry, there were still a number of wholesalers who returned their consignment of the books to the distributor, complaining that it had been bound incorrectly.

I wasn't the only adventurous designer wishing to break away from the norm.

It was around that time that Harry Fieldhouse of IPC Media launched NOVA. The magazine described itself as being “a new kind of publication for a new kind of woman”, and yet, it had more male readers than female. There was also little doubt that the in-house designers were doing their utmost to push their designs outside the envelope . . . but this ground-breaking trend almost sounded the magazine’s death-knell.

Virtually 100% of magazines display their main title at the top of the front cover. There is good reason for this as with so many periodicals being placed on display, newsagent vendors checkerboard the product they wish to sell in a ‘tiled-roof’ fashion so that although the lower half is hidden, the purchaser can still spot the magazine he or she is seeking. But some bright spark at NOVA broke this tradition and displayed the main heading towards the bottom of the front cover. Consequently, vendors didn’t know what to do – should they display the magazine upside down, or should they just ‘hide’ the magazine’s title – whatever, sales plummeted as customers failed to spot what they were looking for.

Perhaps it had been on the back of the photographic material I had been producing for the Candy and Andy storybooks that prompted Gillian Allan to ask if I would like to supply her with some fashion pictures for Lady Penelope magazine. It was all very simple: she would hand over one or two dresses on a Friday afternoon; over the weekend I would visit one or more of my ‘contacts’; and on the following Monday morning, I would take the exposed rolls of film to the processing laboratory that was housed right next door in the basement of Hulton House. The development of these colour films usually took around two hours (including the drying) and, so, after lunch, I was able to pick the processed films and take them into the Lady Penelope editorial office where Gillian and the designer who put the pages together could choose which ones they wanted.

My favourite ‘model’ at that time was Mandy Walls, a girl of about 15 or 16 who lived not all that far away in nearby Redbourn. She was not necessarily a striking beauty per se, but she had great charm and was so relaxed and natural when it came to posing in front of a camera that she was a sheer joy to work with. Perhaps I should have stuck with her, for I tried out one or two of her chums, and in comparison . . . well, let me just say that it was blooming hard going. It was then that I began to understand the differences between those who had the knack and those who clearly didn’t – something that put me in good stead a number of years later.

I was also pleased to employ another 14-year-old – not because she was a natural poser, but because she was the only daughter of Eric Kincaid. As a point of interest, Eric had married a woman who was a great deal older than himself . . . like six hours! Eric and Lucy Kincaid had been born on exactly the same day, the same month and the same year.

On the day I took the pictures, Eric was telling me that, only the week before, he’d had a VAT inspector come from Customs and Excise to check his books, and the man couldn’t believe that Eric could possibly produce the work he did while cramped in what had once been the kitchen’s walk-in larder! Eric didn’t think to enlighten me on where Lucy had opted to store their groceries now that Eric had moved in.
Not too long after I became part of the Century 21 Publishing team, Bob Prior asked if I would take the following day off and drive up to the Birmingham television studios, as it was from there that the Tingha and Tucker programmes were being recorded and transmitted. Their host was Jean Morton, otherwise known as Auntie Jean, and Bob thought it would be a good idea to have some photographic reference material close to hand.

Although I got to the studios mid-to-late morning, the programme wasn't scheduled for recording until mid-afternoon. There appeared to be no sense of urgency and, alongside Auntie Jean and some of the studio crew who’d hung onto every word she’d uttered, we’d munched through a nondescript light snack supplied by the in-house canteen. The star of the show related stories using the most disgusting collection of verbal filth, which the crew thought was terribly funny . . . whilst my opinion of this aging, scrawny bat had sunk lower and lower by the minute.

Glove puppets only come alive when someone’s hands are placed inside. Ahead of the recording, Tingha and Tucker – who had been lying dormant in a cardboard box – had as much sparkle as a moth-eaten doormat that had lain at the bottom of the dog’s sleeping basket for many a month. As for getting any reference shots, well there just weren’t any.

After lunch, in the hour before the recording began, the studio became more active as cameras were moved to pre-designated spots, marked by two strips of masking tape stuck in an ‘X’ on the floor. Up in the gantries, lights were adjusted and re-positioned; on-site painters touched up the odd place here and there; and Auntie Jean had had her hair washed, styled and was having a thick coating of make-up applied. While all this was going on, I carried out several checks on exposure levels and finding places to capture images without getting in anyone’s way. I thought to myself that, at long last, I could now take all the shots I had driven up from London for. But, no. Once again my plans were thwarted.

In the final seconds before the recording began, the level of studio lighting was cut to about 25% of what it had been. It was probably done to create a ‘soft-focus’ effect on the exceedingly tatty-looking puppets, while at the same time giving Auntie Jean a more youthful appearance by removing facial imperfections like worry-lines and crow’s feet. Naturally I could not use a flash and the ambient level of light was far too low for anything to register on the film without lengthy time exposures . . . so apart from enjoying the delights of the M1 motorway and a monotonous succession of cars’ and lorries’ rear ends, the day had been an utter disaster.

Following the takeover of TV21, Lady Penelope and Candy magazines by Leonard Matthews’ packaging company, Martspress, and, a couple of months later – in August or September of 1968 – the transfer of the book department to rooms in May’s Court, it was pretty surprising that our optimism for the future was as high as it was. We were still putting together new books like there was no tomorrow, and the fact that the Century 21 Production studios in Slough had closed its doors on 24th January 1969 almost passed us by without any of us even realising it.

It would be true to say that my involvement with Candy had taken a back seat. There were other things that kept me off the streets and photographically pretty busy.

For those of you who may not be entirely “in the know” on these things, in order to help keep unit costs down, books at times are often printed alongside one or more others – usually in multiples of two. Because of that, it was not unusual for us to be working on two, three or even four books of a similar type and size so that they could all be printed together. In the case of Alphabeat, there were certainly two other books – All About Cars and Action Girl (there might have been a fourth book, but if there was, I’ve totally forgotten what it might have been).

In regard to one of those books just mentioned – Action Girl – this is one that you might never  have heard of . . . and for good reason.

These books were printed in Rotterdam where my contact was Jacques Post. One week after I officially left Century 21 Publishing and had not yet become ensconced within the high-rise tower block of Hamlyn House), Alan Fennell asked if I might be willing to fly over to Rotterdam and cast an eye over the printer’s proofs prior to the books being printed. This I willingly did—on Wednesday, 11th June 1969, flying back the following day.

Now, before I go on with this particular tale, I need to bring in Howard Elson who had worked on TV21 from the very beginning. When the magazines were passed over to Martspress, Howard was transferred to the book department. I sent Howard a draft of all that I had written and he sent me a couple of additional items that I feel I ought to include:
After I left Century 21, I also made the journey to Holland (three times) to proof read the book. During one visit, Brian Jones of the Stones died and I was able to make a rapid correction to the copy of the Stones piece in the book.

As Brian Jones died on 3rd July, 1969, Howard must have travelled over to Rotterdam two or three weeks after I’d gone there. On Monday, 23rd June, I became employed at Hamlyn Books, based in Feltham, Middlesex, and it was a week or two after that, that Bob Prior called through to give me the devastating news. It would appear that through a documentation muck-up (although I dare say Bob had used far stronger words), the whole consignment of Action Girl books had been pulped and destroyed by customs officials.

I know for a fact that the Dutch printer was also producing hard pornography which, in Holland, was perfectly legal – you only needed to browse around the shops in Amsterdam’s red light district for proof of that. When I was shown around the print works prior to checking out the colour proofs, this pornographic material was being worked upon by technicians at another table. Maybe – just maybe – some “porn” had been included in the container along with our books. This is not a fact I can prove, but let’s call it an educated guess on my part.

Roger Perry
The Philippines

Coming Soon: in Part Seven, producing exclusive pictures for Alphabeat and All About Cars.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Comic Cuts - 20 May 2016

There's no more pitiful sight than me with an adjustable spanner. There's no authority in that image at all. I don't own the adjustable spanner—it owns me. I have no "I can do this" spirit when it comes to repairs and that lack of confidence usually reveals itself when I find myself delaying the inevitable.

We've had a small but persistent leak from the pipe connecting the water supply to the cistern of our downstairs loo. Despite being aware of it, our landlady hadn't done anything about it, so I thought I'd better tackle it myself. Hence the adjustable spanner, borrowed especially for the occasion. I've always shared houses with more practical people who own such things and, whilst I have a toolbox with plenty of smaller spanners, this was something I'd never had to own.

Anyway... armed with an adjustable spanner like some fleshy Bob the Builder and, with my nuts tightened ready to face the challenge (gentlemen will know what I mean), got down to business.

The end result was a more regular drip and a phonecall to our landlady demanding a plumber. Please.

He turned up the next day and spent five hours trying to figure out why, every time he fixed the leak, the drip kept coming back. First everything was taken apart, a perished washer was replaced, and everything was put back together again. Still the steady drip. So everything was taken apart, every joint was sealed, and everything was put back together again. Still the steady drip. Eventually our plumber found a hairline crack in the thread of the plastic pipe in the cistern that connected to the outside pipe. This was contributing most to the leak and, once he'd bought a replacement and sealed everything up again and put everything back together again, it worked. No more leak.

All of which proved one thing. I shouldn't be allowed anywhere near an adjustable spanner. A cautionary tale certainly. I'm not sure if there's a moral . . . maybe something simple like leave it to the experts, or that even experts have their off days.

On a more positive note, I finally have a proof that I'm happy with for Iron Mask. The rather long-winded tale has been told before, so I won't bore you with the tedious tale of how the printers have been mucking about with pagination. What I've ended up with is a 44-page book with 42 pages of text and illustrations, plus two blanks. I'm happy with it and have my initial order on the way. Normally with POD books I never see them... in this case I'll have ten copies to hand which I'll sign should anybody want to order one.

The order page over at Bear Alley Books is now live and waiting for your order.

Random scans this week are a mixed bunch. I managed to find a copy of UFO 2 by Robert Miall last Saturday, a book I've been after for some time as I have had the first volume for many years.I picked up another Miall novelisation last year, The Adventurer, and I already have his Jason King novelisations. I've included only one of the latter below as my copy of the other has a cover so very poor it's beyond repair. Miall—actually John F. Burke under another of his pseudonyms—also wrote a novelisation of The Protectors, which I don't think I have.

Next week we will be continuing our serialisation of Roger Perry's memories of his days taking photos for comics and annuals, and I'll try to squeeze in whatever else I can.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Commando Issues 4915-4918

Commando Issues on sale 19 May 2016.

Commando No 4915 – Nemesis Of The North

Smolenskaya Ostrov, a small island in the Barents Sea, was feared by the Russians, who had given it a much more ominous name — the Island of Death. This inhospitable place was uninhabited, apart from the packs of the ferocious polar bears who roamed its barren wastes.
   Now, “Jelly” Jakes, Titch Mooney and the rest of the Convict Commandos were tasked with preventing the outbreak of a deadly virus — if they could survive long enough to complete their mission.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

Commando No 4916 – Duel To The Death

It was like a duel between two knights of old. Each combatant knew the look and reputation of the other. Only this time, on one side was a giant white Sunderland flying-boat and on the other, a black-hulled German submarine, the U-37. Dick Stapleton and an Aussie crew flew the “Flying Porcupine”; the merciless Nazi, Kapitan von Bloeke, commanded the U-37.
   The North Sea convoy routes just weren’t big enough for both of them…

Introduction

Sanfelix’s stunning cover image perfectly encapsulates a truly thrilling sequence from this book (and it’s on pages 10-13, if you wish to skip ahead). Expertly drawn by veteran interior artist Gordon Livingstone, one of our heroes attempts to extinguish an engine fire on the wing of his Sunderland Flying Boat…while it is still in the air.
   As far as I’m aware, I’ve never seen anything quite as daring as that in many years as a Commando reader and, latterly, as a Commando staffer. Wonderful stuff indeed.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Tyson
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Sanfelix
Duel To The Death, originally Commando No 210 (April 1966)

Commando No 4917 – Death On The Ground

In 1963, in the skies above a group of remote islands in the South Pacific, many military aircraft disappeared without trace — so many, if fact, that the area became known as the “New Guinea Triangle”.
   When R.A.F. Flight Lieutenant Jon Day, and his C.O., Squadron Leader Richard Gibson, became embroiled in the mystery, they discovered that their dangerous foe was on the ground as well as in the air.
   The Englishmen would have to improvise and use their wits to survive — even if that meant using captured weapons to bat away enemy grenades!

Story: Steve Coombs
Art: Morahin
Cover: Janek Matysiak


Commando No 4918 – Eagle In The Sun

In the air war over Russia Anton Pozetski found life dangerous and confusing. It was easy to identify the enemy — they were the Germans and they shot at you. However, it wasn’t so easy to identify your friends. For a start, the Political Commissar and the Squadron Commander were apt to stab you in the back and they regarded the R.A.F. as enemies.
   Life was going to prove even more difficult for Anton when he joined an R.A.F. squadron on active service.

Introduction

All of our artists are very versatile and capable of drawing any subject. However, even after five decades, Ian Kennedy is still usually our first port of call whenever we need an aeronautical cover. So, I imagine that’s what happened back in 1991 when the then-editorial team wanted an illustration featuring a Russian Polikarpov 1-16 using its propeller to shred the tail fin of an enemy Heinkel 111 bomber. Featuring Ian’s usual dynamic style and sense of drama, this is yet another prime example of his legendary work.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Ian Clark
Art: Terry Patrick
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Eagle In The Sun, originally Commando No 2497 (August 1991)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Perry's Picture Post part 5

You will have read in “Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Eight” that along with TV21 and Lady Penelope, the production of Candy comic was now being handled by Martspress from June or July 1968 onwards. A month or so before the changeover, Dennis Hooper passed me a message to say that one of the ITC directors – he didn’t elaborate as to which one but I seem to think that it was destined to become a gift to his over-indulged son or daughter – had requested that the logbook and keys to “Stripey” be handed over, which was a bit of a blow as far as I was concerned for, over the previous year, I’d had the use of it as a second car.

I drove “Stripey” up to London and found a parking spot close to what is now (forty-eight years later) the Barbican Centre. On getting out and making quite sure that the doors and boot were firmly locked, an over-zealous young police constable made a bee-line for me and had demanded to see the log-book . . . the reason having been that at that time, many vehicles were being creatively spray-painted by their artistic owners with the result that the colours on the vehicle no longed tied in with the colours officially entered onto the vehicle’s registration document.

On handing the keys over to Dennis and Alan Fennell, I relayed the tale of what had happened, and as it turned out, the log-book had already been updated when the candy-striping had been carried out at Slough.

So what really did happen to Candy, Andy and the two Bearandas?

As I have said, TV21, Lady Penelope, and Candy comic went to Martspress in June or July, and a month or so later, the book section of Century 21 Publishing vacated the eighth floor of The City Magazines building and transferred to offices in May’s Court. Robert T. Prior, Andy Harrison, Bob Reed, Linda Wheway, Howard Elson and I, together with Alan Fennell, Dennis Hooper and the small Century 21 Publishing sales force, had moved into rooms to the rear of the English National Opera building (the ENO) where we had remained until the following June. We occupied a floor right above the theatre’s dressing rooms, and for much of each day we were entertained by the melodic scales of ascending and descending octaves as offered by the performers prior to them going through their respective paces in front of an appreciative fee-paying audience.


The Candy and Andy dolls, together with the two Bearandas, had remained in my custody. They were carefully put away in the loft-space and no-one ever thought of asking me about them, and to be honest, they were virtually forgotten by me also.

Items such as the orange settee, the pine dining table and chairs, and the two beds were incorporated into my house . . . as were the cups, plates, knives, forks, spoons and anything else of that ilk that had been deemed as being useful. The 2,000-watt and 5,000 watt studio lamps were given to Ken Mills, who had played the role of Sailor Jim (see part four), as he had more need of them than I.

As for items such as the toyshop counter and the shelving behind, these ended up in my garage, where they made good work-surfaces for carrying out various D I Y chores of which I once did a fair amount.

In the early 1990s, I went to live in the Far East, and it was then that my son Marcus asked me what he should do with varying items that I had left behind. It was at his suggestion that Candy, Andy and the two Bearandas be sent off for auction. By now, the rubberised “flesh” had become noticeably perished (the soft wire that ran through the fingers thus allowing items to be held began poking through the rubber) and some of the welded joints on the skeletal armature – particularly on the two bears – were sadly in need of attention. I believe the dolls were eventually bought by someone for an absolute pittance somewhere around 1994.


The range of books that  Century 21 Publishing produced had really been quite extensive – not just in regard to the variety of associated merchandised characters (Tingha and Tucker, Topo Gigio, Candy, Lady Penelope, The Monkees and Captain Scarlet to name but a few), but also the types of publication. This mixed-bag of product included painting books, sticker fun books, shape books, dot-to-dot books, puzzle books, large picture books, Christmas annuals, story and gift-books, paperbacks, board books, and model construction books.

I was fully in control of commissioning all the art that passed through the Century 21 Publishing (Books) section and it was I who designed the covers for all the books that we had produced. Meanwhile, it was down to Editor Bob Prior to (a) thrash out the financial arrangement he made with the Licensing Agents, and (b), to make whatever deals he could (down to the last decimal point of a penny) with the printers both at home and abroad. It was a balancing act between knowing just how many books of a certain type that he felt the Century 21 Publishing sales force could sell when it featured a certain merchandised character and, through ordering the longest possible run, achieve a profitable price per unit. Unfortunately, it was being bandied about by members within the printing industry that if you were able to get an order from Bob Prior, you were virtually made . . . I suggest you read into that whatever you may, but I shall be returning to this conundrum in a future part.

Not included in the list itemised above were the rather more complex doll-dressing books of which Century 21 Publishing (Books) produced a good selection for those individuals who liked getting involved in dressing and undressing girls and boys. I believe the first set of eight books had featured five members of the all-male pop-group Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, and to make up the final three, Bob Prior chose the all-girl pop-group The Paper Dolls comprising of lead singer “Tiger” and her two chums “Spyder” and “Copper” partly because Bob had a fetish for heavy thighs and short skirts, and The Paper Dolls certainly had heavy thighs and short skirts.

With Captain Scarlet now being transmitted over the airwaves, Book Editor Bob Prior made the executive decision to produce yet another series of four titles – three of them having homed in on three of the five “Angles” – Destiny, Harmony and Rhapsody – and to make up the fourth, there was to be a title featuring none other than Captain Scarlet himself. As I had done with the previous doll-dressing books, I again commissioned Belinda Lyon (of the Oxfam Tea-towel fame and whose style was very distinctive) to carry out the work.

Within each book, there were four pages of clothes to cut out (printed in full colour on one side but blank on the reverse); each book had a lengthy story not only relevant to the character but also to the clothes that Belinda had created and lavishly illustrated; and for something to hang the cut-out clothes upon, there was an illustrated figure of the featured character, who just stood there attired in his or her undies. This figurine was printed onto an extended part of the fairly substantial front and back cover but was a gate-fold so it could be tucked back nicely to fit within the confines of the trimmed book. Each model came with a “stand” that slotted into the base so that when the figure was cut out, it would stand up properly in order to receive its allocation of clothes.

I was so fortunate to have as an assistant a tall, lanky mid-twenties lad called Andy (Andrew) Harrison. I don't recall having hired him myself – perhaps Bob Prior (my own immediate boss) had done so. Anyway, Andy was a perfect match for my own occasionally manic behaviour. As an example of his rather more zany actions, with Century 21 now proudly being in possession of a Rank Xerox copying machine, when the coast was clear, he would drop his trousers and briefs and capture a fine scan of his backside while sitting upon the viewing glass. Other rather less rude scans had appeared in a variety of forms in our books whereby he or I would capture our distorted portraits. In need of a fairly nondescript background for puzzles, quiz pages and 'fillers’ of that ilk, it seemed the quickest (and cheapest) way of filling up a page. On another occasion though, it had been Andy who had nearly brought about a whole heap of problems.

A day or two after some artwork had come in, Andy had been left working over lunchtime while I met up with Terry Smith for another session of being encouraged to walk into lampposts and crash into unsuspecting bystanders. Perhaps to shock Linda Wheway, who had now become part of the team, and using Taki-bac balloon-lettering paper, Andy had added a certain gruesome appendage that protruded from beneath the designer striped briefs Belinda had thoughtfully provided. Mind you, Belinda and Andy would have got on well, for she had also been a bit of a wag and would have been one of the first to have laughed her socks off over Andy’s highly detailed indiscretion.

At around 4:00, with everything done, read and corrected, the work had been wrapped up and was awaiting collection by the printer’s courier service in the reception area. In passing, I casually asked Andy if he had remembered to remove the offending object before packaging up the parcel. The sudden look of horror on his face and his speedy exit out to the reception area was all the answer I needed.


The Make-a-Model Cloudbase book was the very last job that Eric Eden created for me. Poor old Eric wasn’t the fastest worker on this planet, but with this final commission he took literally months to get the job done. I even had to drive over to his house – just off the Finchley Road, close to the north London borough of Golders Green – on a couple of occasions so that I might jolly him along a little. A month or two after completion, I learnt that he had become employed down in the dusty depths of the British Museum and working amongst and beside other ancient relics – some alive and some dead. Whether he was ill or not, I cannot say, but when his days had finally ended in October 1983, he was only 58. A question we need to ask ourselves . . . what was it about working on Dan Dare that encouraged so many of those associated with it to die in their late fifties—Frank Bellamy  aged 59, Keith Watson aged 59 . . . and whilst he didn’t work on Dan Dare, Ron Embleton was even younger when he passed away, aged 57.

Roger Perry
The Philippines

Coming soon: In Part Six, appearing on the front cover of Lady Penelope magazine are teenagers Mandy Walls and Eric Kincaid’s daughter.