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Friday, April 11, 2014

Comic Cuts - 11 April 2014

The problem with writing a weekly column that is intended to round up some of my personal news is this: I live a life that barely changes from one week to the next. If my life was to be filmed and sped up so you could watch a whole day in a minute, or a week in an hour, I would be a solitary, still figure in the middle of the screen, blurring occasionally as I left my chair before returning a half-second later with a fresh cup of coffee.

I would appear as if by magic. Light would crawl across the wall and crawl away as the sun rolled across the heavens and I would disappear for the night.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not unhappy with this situation. I enjoy piecing together the stories of the old comics I write about, I occasionally get to talk to interesting people and I'm always rooting around after some fact or other, the result of which can vary from disappointing to so fascinating I lose the rest of the day.

So... there isn't much news. Again. What I can tell you is that we're over the 30,000 words line—the latest count was 31,500, with around 21,500 in the correct order. (Just to explain: by this I mean that I have the bulk of the material written up in a fashion I'm happy with plus another 10,000 words of material that I'm still pulling into shape; most of this additional wordage is a precis of each of the storylines of each of the strips which I'm weaving into the introduction; there's also notes to myself about things that I've got to remember to talk about, footnotes, a lengthy precis of the 'Countdown' comic strip that I'm thinking of doing as a section on its own.

There are also notes that probably won't make it into the final draft, such as this paragraph charting the rise of television viewing, which I've decided I didn't need:

The nine-day Apollo/SOYUZ mission in 1975 was broadcast to more than one billion people (a quarter of the world’s population at the time) and the 1978 world cup in Argentina was watched by about a billion people in 42 countries as the host nation beat the Netherlands; a record viewership surpassing the 1976 Olympics. Three billion had access to the Seoul Olympics in 1988, four billion (Sydney Olympics in 2000) and 4.8 billion (London, 2012).

There, that's a cut scene from the book that might be reincorporated if I ever do a Director's Cut.

So let's dive straight into the random scans. I spent Saturday cleaning up a couple of pics for you, including another pair of Fred Gambino's covers for Ted Tubb Dumarest series. The Terra Data was published by Arrow in 1985, five years after it first appeared in the USA, and five years after the UK appearance of  Prison of Night, which was last week's random scan. Nectar of Heaven was another from 1985. Fred Gambino has a book out in a couple of month's time: Dark Shepherd: The Art of Fred Gambino, which should be well-worth looking out for.

I haven't read anything by Dan Simmons for years, so I grabbed up Olympos when I saw it in a charity shop. Unfortunately, it's a sequel and I don't have Ilium. But I love the cover. I couldn't read the signature, but I believe it is the work of Gary Ruddell, who was nominated for a Hugo Award for an earlier cover for a Dan Simmons book.

Finally, a return to the kind of artwork that appeared on paperbacks when I was trawling the shops every week for the latest SF titles—although this one is a non-fiction book on weapons. But who's the artist? I wonder if it's Tony Roberts. Anyone?

Next week: we're continuing the latest adventure of Paul Temple. Hope you're enjoying it.

Paul Temple and Project Deep Plunge part 10

(* © Evening News)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Commando issues 4695-4698

Commando issues on sale 10th April 2014.

Commando No 4695 – ANZAC Cove

On the morning of the 28 June 1914 two pistol shots fired in a Sarajevo street would plunge the world into the most destructive war it had ever known as a spider’s web of alliances set Great Power against Great Power.
   In the far corners of the British Empire, men flocked to the flag, ready to do their bit in the European war. For the blokes of the Australian and NewZealand Army Corps, though, it wasn't France they ended up in, it was a place called Gallipoli and a particular spot always mentioned when tales of bravery are told... ANZAC COVE

Story: George Low
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Commando No 4696 – Sudden Death!

Mountain men — each one of them — a sergeant, a corporal and a private, all trained for war, but each a highly skilled mountaineer in his own right.
   Their difficult and dangerous mission was to find a VIP Brigadier who had been kidnapped by the Germans and hidden high in the Italian mountains before being hustled to Berlin. Within hours the British mountain troops were hot on the trail.
   But when men who climb together fall out, when accidents breed suspicion and distrust, every sheer rock face can spell — sudden death!


If there’s one thing that the 63-page format and our style of story-telling allows, it’s plenty of twists and turns in our plots. This one is about mountaineers, so why is there a floatplane on the cover?
   A cracking cover it is too. Ken Barr’s use of light and shade to lead the eye to the main characters lifts it from good to great. Inside artist Solbes isn’t found wanting either; the faces in here are full of expression, the figures full of energy and movement.
   The explanation for the floatplane? Ah well, you’ll have to read this book to find out. And preferably buy it too!

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Parsons
Art: Solbes
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No 114 (April 1964), re-issued as No 631 (March 1972)

Commando No 4697 – Desert Heroes

Somewhere in the Horn Of Africa, three Italian tanks bore down on a single British two-pounder gun. behind that gun's shield were three soldiers who had only every fired an anti-tank gun in practice...foe an emergency.
   Well, this was that emergency and those men were not going to back down.
   No wonder they called these men... DESERT HEROES

Story: George Low
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4698 – Rescue Mission

Nigel Goodman of the Commandos had a big problem on his hands. In fact he had several problems. They were: three Allied generals, one German general, one Russian paratroop major, one major in the US Rangers. Quite a party! And he had to get them all safely to British lines in Italy.
   Oh, yes, there was one other thing — he had a large chunk of the German army chasing him as well!


One of Commando’s great strengths is the diversity of its story-telling — although, of course, we’re mainly known for tough, sometimes gritty, war tales. On occasion, however, it can be a welcome change of direction when an author – here veteran scribe Alan Hebden — presents a breathless caper story such as this. The pace just never lets up, rather like a speeding train — which, as you’ll soon see, is entirely appropriate. Featuring wonderful art from Gordon Livingstone and a superb cover from Ian Kennedy, this is one to savour.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No 970 (September 1975), re-issued as No 2300 (August 1989)

Paul Temple and Project Deep Plunge part 9

(* © Evening News)