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Friday, October 28, 2016

Comic Cuts - 28 October 2016

I'm not sure where the week has gone! Last week I seemed to have quite a lot of time to dig around and do research. This week, barely any spare time at all.

We had a late night Friday visiting friends and then spent Saturday pottering around and catching up on some TV. While Mel took a shower-break, I checked my news feed only to find that Steve Dillon had died; later that evening, I put together a relatively brief obituary—much more could be said about the qualities he brought to his artwork and friends have stepped forward to describe his qualities as a person—which I managed to post at one the following morning.

It's a sign of age that I used to consider one or two o'clock in the morning as bed time. Nowadays I'm usually heading up the stairs at eleven. Whenever I look back at the output I managed to achieve in the Nineties, when I was averaging 400,000 words a year, I wonder what happened. Then I remember that I didn't watch much tele, didn't read much and saw three in the morning regularly. I think I've got a far better life/work balance now.

I've spent most of the week trying to get Hotel Business into our design studio. We run about 60 short features / news items per issue, plus another daily piece on the website, which sounds more of a doddle than it actually is. I should be able to do four a day for five weeks (it's 10 issues a year); and they're mostly 300-400 words, so that shouldn't take more than a morning. Where are my free afternoons?

Guess what this week's theme for our random scans is...

Thursday, October 27, 2016

It's Ghastly!

It's Ghastly! is the latest publication from David McDonald's Hibernia and it's a corker if you're a fan of the short-lived eighties comic Scream! A thorough and hugely informative volume, it includes interviews with everyone involved editorially, from group editor Barrie Tomlinson and editor Ian Rimmer to sub-editor Simon Furman (before he made his name on Transformers).

As Hibernia have already published a number of strips from the title—and Rebellion recently reprinted 'Monster'—some of the history of the paper has already been told. Here David delves into the origins of the title and unearths a lot of artwork that remained unpublished, or was published in different forms, when Scream! was suddenly dropped after only 15 issues. Artwork had already been prepared for a number of strips and covers, which means that this volume contains the complete 4-part story that would have continued the adventures of 'The Nightcomers', Rick and Beth Rogan. With only eight pages of the original script still existing, author Simon Furman has rescripted the rest and the 16 pages have been newly lettered.

Elsewhere, lost covers have been mocked up by Mike Carroll and two scripts for unpublished short stories have been reproduced for the first time, one by Kev F. Sutherland, who confesses that he spent many months trying to get a story accepted in the paper, only to have one accepted shortly before the title folded.

Another interesting insight is into a number of stories that were considered for the comic, including a werewolf serial that was conceived following the appearance of a werewolf yarn drawn by the late Steve Dillon and a humour strip intended to be in the vein of 'The Bojeffries Saga' that was rejected by management, who wanted to use a reprint of an existing strip.

For anyone who loves knowing about the nuts and bolts of how a comic came to be, this is a goldmine of information. If you remember Scream! at all, this will be a fantastic trip down an enjoyably creepy memory lane.

It's Ghastly! Hibernia, 27 October 2016, 66pp, £7.50. Available from Hibernia.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 26 October 2016.

2000AD Prog. 2004
In this issue: Judge Dredd: Get Sin by Rob Williams (w), Trevor Hairsine (p), Dylan Teague (i), Annie Parkhouse (l); Savage: The Marze Murderer by Pat Mills (w), Patrick Goddard (a), Annie Parkhouse (l); Hunted by Gordon Rennie (w), PJ Holden (a), Len O'Grady (c), Simon Bowland (l); Counterfeit Girl by Peter Milligan (w), Rufus Dayglo (a), Dom Regan (c), Ellie De Ville (l); Flesh: Gorehead by Pat Mills (w), Clint Langley (a), Ellie De Ville (l).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Steve Dillon (1962-2016)

Steve Dillon, the artist of Vertigo series' Hellblazer and Preacher who since 2000 has worked extensively for Marvel Comics, most notably on Wolverine: Origins and various Punisher titles, has died at the age of 54. His death was confirmed on Saturday, 22 October, by his brother, Glyn, who posted on Twitter (@glyn_dillon) "Sad to confirm the death of Steve, my big brother and my hero. He passed away in the city he loved (NYC). He will be sorely missed. Cheers x." His son, Anthony, has said that Dillon passed away peacefully in his sleep.

Dillon had suffered bouts of illness in recent years but had turned himself around. He was a heavy drinker for many years—my only meetings with him were at the hotel bar during UKCAC, which he treated purely as a social occasion, never attending any of the scheduled programmes—but, according to Rich Johnston (Bleeding Cool), he had lately become teetotal and had slimmed down dramatically. "He still hit the bars, though now with a glass of lemonade, and remained the life and soul. He would always have a kind word to see me – but then that was true of everyone who came up to say hi."

Stephen Lloyd Dillon was born in London on 22 March 1962. His family soon moved to Luton and he attended Icknield High School where his talent for drawing comics led the 15-year-old Dillon to co-produce with school friends Neil Bailey and Paul Mahon a stripzine entitled Ultimate Science Fiction. His professional debut came in 1979 in the pages of Hulk Comic where he drew 19 weekly episodes of 'Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD' from the first issue and contributed a tale of the title character to the second. He was soon contributing to Doctor Who Weekly where he worked regularly with Steve Moore, with whom he created Dalek-killer, Abslom Daak.

His debut in 2000AD was with a 2-part Alan Moore yarn, which led to him working on 'The Mean Arena' (1981) and Judge Dredd, including work on the 'City of the Damned' (1984-85) and 'Oz' (1987) storylines. He drew Garth Ennis's Dredd debut, 'Emerald Isle' (1991), which marked the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration between the two.

A prolific artist throughout the eighties, he also drew 'Laser Eraser and Pressbutton' for Warrior (1982-83), 'Rogue Trooper', 'ABC Warriors', 'Tyranny Rex' and 'The Harlem Heroes' for 2000AD (1984-90), 'Dice Man' for Dice Man (1986) and 'Sharp', 'B-Bob and Lula' and 'Johnny Nemo' for Deadline (1988-89), which he helped co-found. His credits also include illustrating the book How to be a Superhero by Mark Leigh and Mike Lepine (1990) and work for the Comic Relief Comic (1991).

Although he made his US debut with a Doctor Strange story in 1988, he quickly became associated with Vertigo, working with Peter Milligan on Skreemer (1989) and Garth Ennis on Hellblazer (1992-94). When Ennis ended his run on the latter, the two created Preacher (1995-2000), about a troubled small town preacher possessed by a supernatural entity. The series was critically acclaimed but religiously controversial and while the comic sold well for a Vertigo title, the wider audience was only found as issues were collected in book form (nine volumes, 1996-2001; re-released in six volumes 2009-14).

For a decade, various attempts were made to turn the strip first into a movie and then a TV series at HBO. Eventually, in 2013, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin developed the character for a 10-part series for AMC with Ennis and Dillon as executive producers. The show was met with very positive reviews and a second season commissioned.

With Preacher concluded, Ennis and Dillon moved to Marvel to relaunch The Punisher (2001-03) under the 'Marvel Knights' brand and through various mini-series including Punisher Vs. Bullseye (2005-06) and Punisher: War Zone (2009). Ennis relaunched the character in 2004 under the 'Max' brand; after 75 issues the title was relaunched as PunisherMAX (2010-12) with Jason Aaron writing.

After a stint on Thunderbolts (2013), Dillon recently relaunched Punisher once again, with writer Becky Cloonan, and was also working on Scarlet Witch.

Dillon was in New York to attend New York Comic Con and had stayed on for a holiday. Divorced, he is survived by his former wife Marie and three sons.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff

Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff
By Barrie Tomlinson

I finished working on childrenʼs comics in the early 1990ʼs. Thatʼs when titles such as Roy of the Rovers and Eagle were taken away from me and once again produced ʻin-houseʼ.

Most fortunately for me, at about the same time, I was asked by the Daily Mirror to produce a six-days-a-week football strip. I wrote and produced the 'Scorer' story for that newspaper for 22 years, thatʼs over 6,000 episodes.

By the time 'Scorer' finished in 2011, I had moved to Lincolnshire. I was asked to be editor of a village magazine and I was delighted to produce a monthly publication which looked professional and was very successful. After a couple of years working on the magazine, I had a stroke and had to give up editing.

I tell all this to explain how busy I was until quite recently. I had no time to write a book. In the past few years, I have had time and the result is Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff which is now on sale.

My book tells the full story of how I made Roy of the Rovers the most famous footballer in Britain. There are also lots of photographs of Roy with famous people and quotes from the newspaper headlines of the day.

I started as a sub editor on Lion in 1961, then moved to Tiger and eventually became editor of Tiger, which of course starred 'Roy of the Rovers' as its main story. I later became group editor and launched Roy into his own comic in 1976.

In the new book, you can find out who thought of the name ʻRoy of the Roversʼ; why Sir Alf Ramsey didnʼt chose Roy for the 1966 England World Cup squad; what happened when Roy was manager of England; what Parliament didnʼt like about Royʼs new playing strip; the real-life manager who tried to sign Roy and the special Euro 96 stamps which featured Roy but were never issued.

I hope people like the book and finding out how Royʼs life was planned. I am always delighted with the amount of interest that is shown in the work we did on the comics. I still get lots of letters and emails asking about my titles. It is very gratifying that there are websites devoted to some of the comics I worked on. Folk still seem very interested in what we did and the book should provide lots of information for comics fans.

Being on sale at this time, the book will make a great Christmas present for all those people who used to be readers of Tiger and Roy of the Rovers.

Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff! Roy's Unofficial True Story is published by Pitch Publishing, £14.99. Available from Amazon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Comic Cuts - 21 October 2016

I've had another week of reasonably solid work on the new Valiant index, although I've had to put in some hours on Hotel Business as we're at the stage when commissioned features are starting to trickle in, I need to write a couple of columns myself and some people need reminding that the deadline is this Friday... including me, as that's usually when I need to have most of my editorial writing finished.

The cycle on the magazine then kicks into overdrive next week as we start pushing stuff through to our design studio, articles that should have been in on Friday turn up and need a quick turnaround, and new advertorial material trickles in as our ads team tries to flog enough space to pay our wages. This is always the hardest part, as I have to commission on the basis that I'll have to fill every page. Every advertorial means disappointment for some poor soul in PR who has been relying on us for some free promotion and frustration for me as the work I've put in commissioning, chasing up, subbing and submitting has all gone to waste.

To keep myself cheerful, I've started on my second parse of Valiant in order to compile information on where strips were missing from various issues. This was particularly prevalent in the early 1970s where you could have eight, nine or ten humour strips all running at the same time, but which seemed to disappear for an issue or two every few weeks. The colourful chart above covers some of the strips (others, like 'Billy Bunter', 'The Nutts', 'The Crows', etc., were tacked in the first pass) that were appearing in late 1972/early 1973. In the left-hand column you'll also spy some odd notations, which I'm using to identify reprints of the 'Soccer Roundabout' feature, although whether I'll include all of that data in the final book, we'll just have to wait and see. There are limits, even to my obsession. In this instance it's a case of, I've got the issues open anyway, so I may as well try to identify when new material stopped and reprints began, which will probably be mentioned in passing in the introduction. Even the most casual mention of something can take hours or even days of research.

To celebrate the unprofessional idiots I have to work with, today's random scans are on the topic of lateness. We have some nice fifties painted covers beginning with a nice 'Ferrari' cover for a Duke Linton novel written by Steve ("Hank Janson") Frances. I'm not sure who the artists were for the Rex Richards and Bart Carson titles. Johnny Come Lately proves that the artists weren't overdoing things in the, er, chest department as models really do look like that.

And to close we have two SF Masterworks editions of Kate Wilhelm's Hugo Award-winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. Personally, I prefer the first of the two painted by Jon Sullivan. The picture might not say "It's about clones," but that's what the quote from Locus is for. The later version has lots of clones but looks a bit bleak to me.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Commando issues 4959-4962

Commando issues on sale 20th October 2016.

Commando - 4959 - Home Front Terror
Wounded on a daring operation in Occupied Norway, Commando Sergeant Jeff Tain was sent home to England to recuperate.
    Jeff’s younger brother, Dave, was a police constable, investigating a black market racket when dead bodies unexpectedly started showing up.
    The siblings were convinced that something more sinister was going on… an assassination plot involving German spies!

Story: George Low
Art: Morahin
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando - 4960 - Blood Of Heroes
Sergeant Butch Walker was a veteran with 30 years of fighting service in the British Army - and now they said he was too old to fight.
    Boy soldier Jimmy Walker, Butch’s nephew, had barely one year of square-bashing to his credit. They said he was too young to fight.
    But no matter how hard they tried, nobody could keep those two away from the front line for long. For in the veins of both ran the blood of heroes.

The impressive art of Vicente Segrelles appeared in fifteen Commando books, beginning with “Desert Fury” (No 232) and ending with “Silence The Guns!” (No 1454). All were published between 1966 and 1980.
    A Spaniard, his interior work had a dramatic, fluid style with plenty of thick, black inks. Señor Segrelles also handled some Commando covers - although not on this occasion, that equally impressive piece of art was done by the mysterious ‘James’.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Eric Hebden
Art: Segrelles
Cover: James
Blood Of Heroes, originally Commando No 259 (May 1967), re-issued as No 915 (March 1975)

Commando - 4961 - The Stone Forest
Clarke Johnson was a reconnaissance pilot during America’s clash with Mexico in the early 20th Century. His aircraft grounded, Clarke found himself in an uneasy alliance with an Apache-born former U.S. Cavalryman and together they were fighting Pancho Villa’s Mexican revolutionaries.
Things looked bleak - as bleak as the eerie burial site that hid a treasure that men were willing to kill for. They would have to fight to survive and uncover the secret of… The Stone Forest!

Story: Steve Coombs
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

Commando - 4962 - Raid By Night!
Tactics had changed, machines had improved, but Group Captain Roland Bird knew from his Great War experiences that efficiency came with practice and attention to detail. His new command could expect a hard taskmaster, especially the crew of Wellington S-Sugar, who had crashed his car at their first meeting.

Regular Commando readers know that Ian Kennedy is renowned for his legendary aircraft covers - although, of course, he can draw anything and everything. Ian himself has a passion for aeronautical illustration that has become his trademark and he has drawn over 1000 Commando covers.
His painting here is of a slightly more esoteric plane than we’re used to - a Handley Page 400, which was flown by pilots in the newly-formed Royal Air Force, as well as the Royal Naval Air Service late in World War I. The image may not be of something as immediately recognisable as a Wellington or a Lancaster but we still have that sense of drama and dynamism inherent in this amazing artist’s work.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Ian Clark
Art: Terry Patrick
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Raid By Night!, originally Commando No 2461 (April 1991)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases 17 October (Megazine) and 19 October (2000AD).

Judge Dredd Megazine 377

In this issue: Judge Dredd: Monkey Business by Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a) Richard Elson (c) Annie Parkhouse (l); Blunt by TC Eglington (w) Boo Cook (a) Simon Bowland (l); Angelic: Home is The Hunter by Gordon Rennie (w) Lee Carter (a) Simon Bowland (l); Anderson: The Deep End by Alec Worley (w) Paul Davidson (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l). Features: interviews with Ulises Farinas, Dan McDaid, Tom Foster. Bagged reprint: Sinister Dexter: Places To Go, People To Do.

2000AD Prog 2003

In this issue: Judge Dredd: Get Sin by Rob Williams, Trevor Hairsine, Dylan Teague, Annie Parkhouse; Savage: The Marze Murderer by Pat Mills, Patrick Goddard, Annie Parkhouse; Hunted by Gordon Rennie, PJ Holden, Len O'Grady, Simon Bowland; Counterfeit Girl by Peter Milligan, Rufus Dayglo, Dom Regan, Ellie De Ville; Flesh: Gorehead by Pat Mills, Clint Langley, Ellie De Ville.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tatty-Mane King of the Jungle

The funny animal strip was no stranger to Valiant by 1966. The paper had, after all, been running ''The Crows' since its first issue. Most of the humour strips in Valiant were by recognisable names (the mighty Roy Wilson even had a strip in early issues), but one or two names have eluded me.

Who, for instance, was the artist for 'Tatty-Mane King of the Jungle', which ran for almost two years in Valiant in 1966-68. It could be one of the Spanish artists who began filling the pages of British comics with slickly drawn humour strips in around 1960, most notably Angel Nadal who drew 'The Nutts' for Valiant for almost a decade and Martz Schmidt who, I believe, drew a couple of early Valiant strips.

Here are a few early strips featuring Tatty... hopefully someone will be able to identify the artist.

(* 'Tatty-Mane' © Time Inc. (UK).)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Anthony Dyllington

A mystery that has me mystified.
Mrs. Dicker, more familiarly known as Constance MacEwen, has already earned for herself the reputation of being a clever and accomplished writer of fiction. Her latest story is one of history and mystery, of love and legerdemain, with enough of the marvellous an uncanny to satisfy the most greedy craving for the sensational.
    Residing in the Isle of Wight and familiar with its characteristics and associations, the author has gathered together some of the old time legends and traditions, and interwoven them with local incidents that occurred during the closing years of the troubled reign of Charles I., and with their aid has constructed a story in which a number of persons of more than local fame are the chief actors.
    Those acquainted with the island will remember the long line of chalk downs that stretches away in an easterly direction from Carisbrook to Brading, and thence to Culver Cliff, at the northern extremity of Sandown Bay. On the southern slope of these downs, overlooking the straggling village of Newchurch, on the opposite bank of the Yar, may still be seen the fragmentary remains of Knighton House, for many generations the manorial residence of the Dyllingtons.
    Judith Dyllington, the only child and heir of Sir Tristram Dyllington, is the "Cavalier's Ladye," and the heroine of the story. She is left an orphan while a child, and on attaining womanhood becomes affianced to her cousin, Sir Anthony Dyllington, a soldier in the Royalist army. While walking together in the woods of Knighton the pair are spirited away by Colonel Despard, the notorious chief of the Blackgang pirates, who goes treasure-seeing and does all sorts of terrible things, and they are immured for a time in the cavernous recesses of the rock which in these days bears the name of Blackgang Chine. Here dwells a certain Pausanias, a mystic and magician, and the gorgeous splendour of the subterranean chambers in which he dwells, and where Despart stores his treasures, exceeds anything related in the "Arabian Nights" or in the more modern creations of Mr. Rider Haggard.
    After a brief detention the lady is released, but her lover is carried away by Despart on his piratical expeditions overseas, and in his absence Judith betakes herself to Carisbrook, and places her wealth and her services at the disposal of King Charles, who is at the time in the custody there of Colonel Hammond. She then becomes the bearer of communications to Cromwell, and has an interview with the Lord General at his house in London.
    Despard, who turns out to be a base-born son of Sir Tristram, and consequently the half-brother of Judith, is eventually captured, and while a prisoner in the Marshalsea awaiting execution effects his escape by the help of her he had so deeply wronged, but to whom he had revealed his parentage.
    Contemporaneously Sir Anthony Dyllington, after experiencing many hair-breadth escapes, appears upon the scene, when, in the orthodox fashion, the story ends with a marriage, Judith Dyllington becoming the "Cavalier's Ladye."
    There is a marked individuality in the book, and though there is not much of plot, the dialogue is skilfully and sometimes epigrammatically expressed and well sustained, and some of the characters are cleverly drawn. Particularly is this the case in the wily and calculating Colonel Hammond and the stern cold-blooded and imperturbable Puritan—his wife, and also in the delineation of some of the members of the Protector's family, showing that the author has clearly grasped the characteristics of the times of which she writes.
    There are some anachronisms in the book which ought to be avoided in any subsequent edition. Though Mistress Dyllington's talk might have the "true Aristotolian flavour," it is doubtful if either Cavaliers or Roundheads understood the meaning of "animal magnetism" and kindred scientific phrases, and the terms "Whig" and "Tory" were not employed until many years after the death of teh "Martyr King." But apart from these slight defects the work is clever and vivacious.
(The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 11 January 1890)

I've quoted in full the above review of A Cavalier's Ladye: a Romance of the Isle of Wight by Constance MacEwen (Mrs. A. C. Dicker) (Manchester and London, John Heywood, 1890) because the novel contains the only instance I can find of the family name Dyllington.

That there was some link between the above novel and the author Anthony Dyllington can be seen in the title of Dyllington's first book: The Green Domino: a Romance of the Isle of Wight (London, John Long, 1908; New York, J. Lane Company, 1909), which was positively reviewed by the Dundee Advertiser as "At once a clever and an entertaining novel by an author who possesses that wonderful power of arresting the attention of the reader at the first page and holding it to the close."

The Graphic (19 December 1908) was rather less complimentary, calling it "Featherweight comedy of the most feathery variety . . . Coincidences are stretched all but to breaking point; all-important wills lurk for years modestly in work-baskets, revealing themselves only at the moment of moments; charming widows, clothed always in white, love and hate with the most enchantingly convenient celerity and utterly un-itinerant musicians prove, one and all, as was only to be expected, the most perfect gentlemen."

However, it was not all bad news: "Yet one's credulity is never too terribly strained; it is all quite interesting, if slight; there is a delightful duchess taken from real life, and the style is good as well as musical."

The Yorkshire Post (23 December 1908) thought the novel "witty and well-written" and that it should "secure for the author a recognised place amongst very acceptable writers of pleasant light fiction," whilst The Manchester Courier (4 December 1908) called it "An amusing book for idle moments."
The "Green Domino" is in love with his cousin, Lady Hawke, who, though she has never seen him, is prejudiced against him and will not receive him. In company with his friend Stafford, a famous author, he visits Lady Hawke's domain in the Isle of Wight disguised as a seaside entertainer. His voice appeals to the lady, and the singer arouses her curiosity, and before long the intriguers make the acquaintance of her great friend, the Duchess of Hampshire. Finally they gain a footing in the house and after that all goes well.
    Lady Hawke is charming and her Grace of Hampshire is a Duchess of hardly more conventional type than Alice's duchess, though much more amiable. The conversation between the two men is humorous enough, but the sprightly persiflage is perhaps too long sustained. On the whole, "The Green Domino" makes very good reading.
Dyllington's next, The Unseen Thing (London, T. Werner Laurie, 1909; Boston, J. W. Luce, 1910, available at dropped  humour in favour of psychology:
Interest in Mr Dyllington's story is mainly psychological. Adopting a plot in one particularly striking similar to "Jane Eyre," Mr Dyllington shows how horror of "the unseen thing" had been transmitted at birth from father to son in a way which rendered the son abnormally sensitive to all physical ugliness. This son is the central figure in the story. He does not know until the story is well developed what is the nature of the "skeleton in the family cupboard;" but nevertheless, though unconsciously, its existence has by force of heredity imparted to his mind a character which affects his whole life. To look upon a maimed or deformed creature is to him agony. He cannot, in the face of physical ugliness, conceal his repugnance. He flies from the "evil thing."
    This morbid state of the mind is very skilfully depicted by Mr Dyllington, who works his story out to a healthier and saner conclusion by bringing the afflicted man eventually to realise that there is no physical ugliness so comparably vile as moral ugliness, and that it is he himself, and not the poor creature whom he has been regarding with horror, who ought to be avoided.
    There is plenty of incident in the story for those who might be wearied by the psychological aspect of the tale, and, though morbid in parts and bordering on the gruesome, it is in fact a wholesome and interesting piece of work. (The Scotsman, 16 August 1909)
In Pretty Barbara (London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1910), Dyllington returned to lighter subject, a Ruritanian romance, which the Sheffield Daily Telegraph (24 February 1910) thought "Not very original, but exciting, pleasantly told, and containing no wasted words, which last is certainly commendable." Again, most reviews had positive things to say about the writing ("Eminently written and extremely well told," said The Globe; "Written with much effect," The Times agreed).

The setting was Kronenburg, somewhere east of Vienna, described as "the most beautiful city in the most beautiful country in the world."
Mr Anthony Dyllington's latest novel has for title "Pretty Barbara," and the interesting lady is none other than the Countess von Stein, wife of the Prime Minister of Joachim II. Her husband's ancestors had shed their blood on many a field for the Joachim's race, and yet he repays unswerving devotion by entering upon a liaison with the Count's wife. Though that involves his name being bandered about the beer halls of Kronenburg, the capital, the Count will not be turned aside in his loyalty towards his Sovereign, but he shrinks as he thinks of the time when his only son, Otto, will get to know of his mother's dishonour.
    A tragedy, due to circumstances which have a singular similarity to the King's conduct, sets the capital aflame and the Socialist journals are shooting meaning arrows at the Palace. One of the editors insults Otto in a restaurant, and the spirited youngster rushes to the King's apartment and breaks his sword in his presence, refusing longer to serve such a master. The Count, driven to despair, has resolved to allow Joachim to become the victim of an Anarchist plot, of which he is apprised, but in the time of crises his loyalty reasserts itself, and he interposes his body between that of his Sovereign and the assassin's bullet.
    Otto has meantime broken with father and mother and marries the daughter of one of the greatest enemies of the house. The story is a thrilling one, and the plot is woven by a master hand. (Dundee Courier, 23 February 1910)
Dyllington then disappeared for some years before the publication of The Stranger in the House (London, T. Werner Laurie, 1913), this time a horror story of demonic possession.
The "house" here referred to is the "house of life;" and the story is a very creepy tale of demonical possession. Viva Quarrendene is terribly injured in a motor accident on her wedding-day. A famous surgeon is called in. He thinks it useless to operate, since nothing short of a "miracle" could save her life. Her husband, Sir William Quarrendene, not believing in anything which cannot be discerned by the senses, instructs the great doctor to try every chance, and then sets his will to keep Viva alive. A terrible storm rages outside, and it seems as if all the powers of evil were suddenly let loose. All psychic persons feel these curious conditions, and Viva's old nurse implores Sir William to "let the child go." But he refuses to relax his efforts; his bride must live at any cost.
    In the morning the surgeon announces that a "miracle," or something like it, has been worked, and that his patient will recover, though, he adds, "There was a moment when I thought that she had passed away." She did pass, and it was "a stranger" who entered "the house" at that moment when the real tenant left. This "stranger" is altogether evil, one of those gruesome presences of which occultists darkly hint—a creature who madly desires to exercise those crude and evil passions which can only be exercised in a human body. She was one of those "Spirits, beautiful and awful, shut out from a world to which they are yet bound by a hundred strands of earthly passions and desires. Longing to return, seeking eternally for some way of approach to the life that they have lost . . . Gazing with eager eyes upon the warmth and sweetness of the world as a traveller on a winter's night will look longingly through the windows of a room in which a fire is burning and friends are sitting round teh cheerful hearth . . . Seeking, seeking always for some way to escape from the bleak outer spaces."
    The author has imagination enough to follow the incarnated evil spirit under these conditions, and to picture the wreck and ruin that it causes, the shock and horror of Viva's husband and friends, the tragic death of the old nurse. "But it is not Viva really. Viva has been dead a whole year." It is the unfortunate husband, now fully convinced of the reality of much that he can neither hear, see, or touch, who succeeds in ridding the world of this terrible incubus and restoring his life and home to normal conditions. "The material things of life would never enchain him again. A window had been opened to him, and opened by a terrible had: But it had brought him light." (Otaga Daily Times, 16 April 1913)
The only other appearance by Dyllington I have been able to find is a brief mention in The Evening News for Plymouth on Monday, 4 December 1916, in which the editor summarised comments received after the local Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce made some comments about reducing the number of dogs in the area in the face of wartime food shortages.
Anthony Dyllington thinks that Sir John Brickwood's statements are so astonishing that one can only suppose some wag has been imposing upon his credulity. If Sir John knew the lady who gave her dog a shilling's worth of meat per day and would send it to the R.S.P.C.A., he would be doing a real kindness—to the dog.
So who was Anthony Dyllington? There are very few clues. The name, I am convinced, was derived from the novel by Constance MacEwen, who was probably best known for her literary response to Jerome K. Jerome, Three Women in One Boat (London, F. V. White & Co., 1891). Constance Ellen MacEwen, born in Bath in 1850, was married in 1885 to Alfred Cecil Dicker (1852-1938). They had two daughters and lived in Newchurch on the Isle of Wight for some time, later moving to Winchester where Constance died in 1897.

Given the mysterious Anthony Dyllington's debut novel being set on the Isle of Wight, and the Portsmouth connection of his last known correspondence, it is interesting to speculate that the author behind the pen-name may have been one of Constance MacEwen's daughters: Joan Geraldine Alice Le Dykere Dicker, born 31 August 1886 and baptised on 6 October, or Portia Winifred Beatrice Maude Dicker, born 31 December 1889, baptized on 11 March 1890.

Census records show that Joan and Portia were living with their parents in Newhaven in 1891. Their father remarried—to Mary Anne Dunkin—on 11 February 1900, and a son, Cecil Campbell Benedict de Winton Dicker, was born about a year later; he was 3 months old when the 1901 census took place in April 1901, at which time the family were living in Winchester. Another son, Alfred Christopher Dicker, was born on 19 May 1903. (He died in Gloucestershire in 1991.)

In 1911, Portia Dicker, aged 21, was still living with her father, who was now at Lowick Rectory, Thrapston, Northamptonshire. She later lived in Devon and in Somerset, where she died in 1970.

In 1919, in Thrapston, elder sister Joan married Robert Oakeley, a clerk in Holy Orders; they later lived in Brackley, Northamtonshire, and in Wellington, Somerset, where Joan died on 31 January 1973.

Both sisters appear to have lived on private means, but it is interesting to speculate that one or the other may have been the mercurial Anthony Dyllington, whose novels ranged from light historical romance to horror.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Comic Cuts - 14 October 2016

After what feels like an eternity, I've finally managed to put some time into what I hope will be the next Bear Alley book. I've spent time over the past couple of months updating my old Valiant index; I've been revamping the actual index since the beginning of August, ironing out a lot of minor errors, adding a ton of reprint info. and trying to figure out what I'm missing and need to get hold of.

I think I'm missing a few of the spin-off annuals—Conquest of the Air 1970 and Valiant Book of Sports 1972, 1973 and 1974 (see above)—so if you have any of them, perhaps you could get in touch. I may need an assist with some of the summer specials, too, but I've yet to dig out the ones I have, so that can wait for another day.

I've made some surprising finds, including one episode of 'The Crows' which was published four times. I was expecting to find that Captain Hurricane had been heavily reprinted towards the end, but the reprints started a lot later—five years later!—than I expected. I'm not going to be able to source every reprint as there was a lot of crossover with Buster, which I've not been a huge collector of, although I have identified a handful of the 'Lazy Sprockett' / 'Hymer Loafer' reprints from around 1960. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who can confirm when artists changed on the strip.

There are a couple of strips where I don't have the artist named, but I'll also come to that, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

Although I've managed to spend most of the week on this, don't imagine that it's going to be finished any time soon. There's still a huge amount of work to do and some of the information (on annuals, for instance) is still on hand-scribbled notes that I made back in the 1980s before I had a computer. I still have to do a second parse of quite a few of the strips to see where they were dropped from an issue, and that's before we get to writing the introduction, sourcing and scanning loads of pictures and laying out the book.

I managed one book in 2016, and that was a 42-pager! Let's hope I can wrangle this next monster-sized one for next year.

Random scans: I picked up one of the Arne Dahl books on Saturday, doubling my collection of Dahl titles. I loved the TV series based on these books, part of the Intercrime series about an elite police unit brought together to solve particularly tricky cases. There was one rather curious character on the TV show, a janitor who was always there to comfort or offer friendly advise. We rather liked him and it's a shame that he doesn't appear in the books—or so I'm told. The covers aren't up to much, sticking to the mysterious silhouette against a desaturated background (usually involving a road or trees or both), which is becoming a rather annoying cliche for crime novels.

But Nordic Noir made me think of The Girl in the Spider's Web, which I'm reading at the moment. It's a continuation of Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander novels by another hand, in this case David Lagercrantz. And all I can say at the moment, as I'm only a quarter of the way through the book, is that, while it's a slow moving, I'm thoroughly enjoying revisiting Mikael Blomkvist, Erica Berger, Salander, Plague and other characters from the original Millennium trilogy.

Finally, a couple of other "Girl in" titles that make me regret that most novels nowadays have forsaken painted covers. Here are Pino Del'Orco and Derek Stowe showing you how it should be done. THe simple of subject of a seated man and woman are given vastly different treatments.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for October 12th.

2000AD Prog 2002

 In this issue: Judge Dredd: Get Sin by Rob Williams, Trevor Hairsine, Barry Kitson, Dylan Teague, Annie Parkhouse; Savage: The Marze Murderer by Pat Mills, Patrick Goddard, Annie Parkhouse; Hunted by Gordon Rennie, PJ Holden, Len O'Grady, Simon Bowland; Counterfeit Girl by Peter Milligan, Rufus Dayglo, Dom Regan, Ellie De Ville; Flesh: Gorehead by Pat Mills, Clint Langley, Ellie De Ville