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Saturday, December 09, 2017

R. Noel Pocock

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

While T. M. R. Whitwell was well-known for illustrating some of P. G. Wodehouse’s early novels, he was not the first Wodehouse illustrator. That honour belonged to R. Noel Pocock, who illustrated Wodehouse’s first two books in 1902 and 1903, and who then re-invented himself as a comic artist and an illustrator of fairy stories.

Pocock was born on 16 June 1878 at West View House, New End, Hampstead, and christened Ralph Noel Pocock. His father was Noel Lewis Pocock (1848-1907), a solicitor; his mother was Alice Jane née Topham (1851-1937), the daughter of Francis William Topham (1808-1877), an artist who was particularly noted for his watercolours and occasional engravings, and who presumably sparked Pocock’s interest in art. They had three other children: Guy Noel (1880-1955 – he became a schoolmaster and writer), Philip Noel (1882-1914 – he also became a schoolmaster), and Doris Alice (1890-1974 – she became a prolific author of girls’ stories).

Shortly after the birth of Guy Noel, the family moved to 4 Oakfield Villa, London Road, Reigate, although by the time of Doris Alice’s birth they were back in London, at 4 Highgate Rise, Kentish Town. It is not known where Pocock was educated (other than having private tutors until he was around 13), although it was probably at Highgate School, where his brother Guy was a pupil. What is known is that he hated his time at school – writing shortly before he died he decried the “brutality and stupidity” of the public school system and revealed:
For me, school was compulsion, dreariness, an education in evasion of boring and useless tasks, by a set of men so uninspiring as to be fit for nothing better than cricket-avengers…..School did all it could to make me hate academic learning and standardized games, and long to get out of that time-wasting, penal institution, and learn something about the world I had been born into.
Reproduced in In Memory of Ralph Noel Pocock, edited by D.K. Will, privately published, 1959. This is mainly a collection of Pocock’s “reflections” on life, faith, psychology and education, and a small selection of letters, and is disappointingly short on biographical detail).

His writings were later to heavily influence Kurt Hahn, who founded Gordonstoun School in 1934, and Pocock’s legacy lived on in the shape of the school’s Pocock Workshops, where pupils learn carpentry, metal-work and pottery.

After leaving school he studied briefly at the Royal College of Art in Kensington, leaving after a year or so to visit Sweden. On his return to London, he moved into a studio in Hampstead, and later travelled again, mainly to eastern Europe.

There is no trace of Ralph N. Pocock in the 1901 census, although it is apparent that he was working as a black and white artist (and author) at this time. He was contributing to The Public School Magazine and Granta, and within a few years he had contributed to several other periodicals, including Sandow’s Magazine, The Royal Magazine and Pearson’s Magazine (for which he illustrated two P. G. Wodehouse stories in 1909).

His first book work appeared in 1902, when he provided 10 black and white plates for P. G. Wodehouse’s school story (and first novel) The Pothunters, which had earlier been serialized in The Public School Magazine. In the following year he provided 8 black and white plates for Wodehouse’s A Prefect’s Uncle, and he also contributed plates to Wodehouse’s Tales of St. Austin’s, alongside T. M. R. Whitwell and E. F. Skinner. (Given his hatred of public schools, it seems rather surprising that he was happy to illustrate public school stories).

His illustrations for The Pothunters were, it must be admitted, of a very low quality, with some of the pupils looking far too old. By the time he illustrated A Prefect’s Uncle, his style had improved. The frontispiece in particular reflected the humour of the story, and it was this perhaps led Pocock to change direction – in 1906, he began producing full-page comic drawings for The Sketch, and a year later he also began doing the same for The Bystander. He also changed his professional name from R. Noel Pocock to Noel Pocock. His work also went on to appear in Black and White and The Tatler, and in 1908 he helped design a poster for that year’s London Olympics.

In 1910 he produced 24 colour plates for an edition of Robinson Crusoe, published by Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton. The following year, he returned to comedy with a series of pictures for two books of comic verse by A. E. Johnson – The Navy’s Toast and Below Zero: A Travesty of Winter Sport. In its issue of 30 November 1911, The Scotsman described the latter as “an amusing album of grotesque coloured pictures ... These clever comical compositions poke fun at all sorts of winter sports – tobogganing, ski-ing, curling, skating, sledging, and so on; and are accompanied by appropriate bits of parody in verse by Mr A. E. Johnson, clever and funny, like the pictures.”

At the time of the 1911 census Pocock was living in Woodville Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, with his widowed mother and sister Doris. In 1913, he changed his style again, when he produced 22 colour plates for an edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, published by Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton. Jeffrey A. Menges, in Once Upon a Time…: A Treasury of Classic Fairy Tale Illustrations, published in 2008, noted that Pocock’s work “displays the influence of the American illustrator Maxfield Parrish. Centred heavily on the figure, Pocock’s work reveals a realistic treatment, despite the exaggerated emotions and expression, small touches of pattern and colour also pull in the viewer’s attention. The simple settings of Pocock’s illustrations are enhanced by a canny use of lighting to add dimension in darkly wooded areas.”

As if to demonstrate his versatility, he also produced in 1913 a number of illustrations for Alice in Holidayland, a parody originally published for the North-Eastern Railway Company, in which Alice goes on holiday to the Yorkshire coast. His illustrations, along with those of fellow-artist F. H. Mason, were themselves clever parodies of John Tenniel’s original drawings.

In June 1914 the publishing and printing company Lawrence & Jellicoe, of Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, advertised a new catalogue of sporting prints, with Pocock one of the featured artists. After the outbreak of the war Pocock joined the 4th Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He served for a time in India, reaching the rank of Captain. At some point during the war he was also, according to In Memory of Ralph Noel Pocock, attached to a special branch of the Intelligence Service because of his knowledge of the politics of the Balkans. He also spent two years on the General Staff in Simla, as a psychological adviser to the Indian Government.

It is not known what he did after the war, other than illustrating an almanac for the cigarette manufacturers Abdulla & Co. in 1920, and an edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for T. Nelson & Sons in the same year. He also produced a small number of highly-regarded colour pastel drawings.

On 19 June 1923, when he was living at 3 Golf Links Avenue, Hindhead, Surrey, he married Doris Katharine George, the daughter of Herbert Tidmarsh George (1863-1957), a landscape artist, at the parish church in Hindhead. (They had met for the first time when Pocock was visiting Switzerland). Afterwards they travelled to Austria before settling in Bealieu, between Nice and Monte Carlo. In the mid-1930s, they returned to England, settling first in Sussex, and then, in 1939, to The Malt House, Clun, Shropshire. By then, Pocock was no longer working, and Katherine was recorded as a nursing sister.

After the Second World War, during which he undertook local ARP duties, he moved to Beach Farm, Linley, Bishops Castle, Shropshire. His last few years were beset by ill-health (a legacy of several bouts of malaria he had contracted in his early life), and he spent most of the last 18 months of his life confined to bed. He died on 21 June 1949, leaving an estate valued at £7,377 (around £70,000 in today’s terms).

His brother Guy Noel, who was educated at Highgate School in London and St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he obtained a BA in 1904, taught at Cheltenham College and the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and later worked for the BBC. He published a number of books – novels (he was also a published poet), essays, anthologies, and books on writing and teaching English. He died in 1955.


Books illustrated by R. Noel Pocock
The Pothunters by P.G. Wodehouse, A. & C. Black, 1903 
A Prefect’s Uncle by P.G. Wodehouse, A. & C. Black, 1903 
Tales of St. Austin’s by P.G. Wodehouse, A. & C. Black, 1903
The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1910 (re-issue)    
The Navy’s Toast by A.E. Johnson, Hodder & Stoughton, 1911  
Below Zero: A Travesty of Winter Sport by A.E. Johnson, Hodder & Stoughton   
Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacon & Wilhelm Grimm, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1913      
Alice in Holidayland by F.W. Martindale, North-Eastern Railway Company, 1913
Bulgaria by Frank Fox, A. & C. Black, 1915 (32 col. Plates by Jan V. Mrkvitchka & Noel Pocock)
The “Abdulla” Almanac 1920, Abdulla & Co., 1920
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, T. Nelson & Sons, 1920

Friday, December 08, 2017

Comic Cuts - 8 December 2017

About 20 weeks ago, at the tail end of July, I conceived the idea of updating a bunch of old Bear Alley essays and putting together a book under the title Fifty Forgotten Authors. Don't laugh, but I thought that this was something that I could probably have done in time for Christmas. Of course, everything takes double the time you expect, and in this case probably a lot longer.

Trying to bring these older pieces up to scratch has been thoroughly enjoyable; I've kept up a reasonable pace and most of them are unrecognisable compared to the originals, some of them expanded by many thousands of words. By October it was obvious the book was going to be huge and I needed to scale back. Hence Forgotten Authors Volume 1 contains probably about a quarter of the contents of the Fifty Forgotten Authors book. But that's still 66,000 words, making it a substantial book in its own rights.

The first volume is now almost ready. Although I spent last Friday and most of Sunday doing the research for one of the authors that will be included (I hope) in volume 2, I've spent the rest of the week working on two versions of the text: an e-book version and a print version. There are no substantial differences between the two, but it's necessary to treat them differently. For instance, the e-book version will have endnotes while the print version will have footnotes. I prefer footnotes, so you can see immediately the source of some quote or piece of information, rather than having to dig around at the back of a book. E-books don't have a foot to each page, so all the notes are at the end, but hyperlinked to and from the main text, so you can zip down to read the note and then zip back to the point in the text you just left.

The first computer I can remember seeing was the giant computer in Billion Dollar Brain. As a child of the Sixties, the only computing class we had at school involved carefully colouring in lozenge-shaped ellipses on a card with a 2B pencil which was then sent off so that, a week later, we could get back a print-out of our names from Honeywell, so I've had to teach myself some rudimentary stuff about html and the like. When I put together The Men Behind the Flying Saucer Review, for instance, I struggled with footnotes and the e-book version looked a mess, so I had to rewrite the text to work footnotes into the text where I could, including lengthy web addresses.

I've now solved the problem... kind of. In my usual, stumbling fashion, I managed to figure out how to place the footnote numbering in line with the text, rather than as a superscript (which is how it appears as I'm writing these essays and how the footnotes will appear in the print version). I had to go through each and every footnote (all 158 of them) and convert them manually. There was one footnote that refused to convert, which I eventually solved by revising the master text, saving this new draft as html, cutting and pasting the new version over the old version, then figuring out how to rename the links... to tell you the truth, I'm not 100% sure what I did, but it seems to have solved the problem and the link now works perfectly.

The print version will have an index, so I spent Tuesday and Wednesday compiling that and by the end of play on Wednesday I had a final version of both an html file for the e-book and a pdf of the print book.

These will be heading off to Amazon later today. I'm writing this Thursday morning while I'm waiting on another printer entirely to fix a problem with one of my old books. POD printers update their software every now and then and it can cause problems with older files. The latest printed copy of one of my books had a couple of illustrations missing (probably due to the layering I'd designed into the pages); so I'm writing this while a proof of an updated version of the book is slowly downloading to my computer. Who says that men can't multi-task!

Once that's sorted, I can start uploading the new book(s). It might take 24-48 hours for them to go live, at which point I'll publish a set of links from the main Bear Alley Books page that will enable everyone to order copies.

It's now some hours later and the e-book has now been uploaded to the Kindle store, which is saying it could take up to 72 hours to process. I've also uploaded the book to Createspace and that, too, should be available within 72 hours. (I seem to recall, having done this once before, that it's actually quite a bit quicker.) Links to follow.

Long-time readers might recall I was putting together a scrapbook of artwork by Don Lawrence, gathering together artwork he had drawn for papers like Bible Story, Once Upon a Time, Look and Learn and Speed & Power. The guts of the book were designed back in 2016 and to the right is the image I intended using as the cover. Well, the collapse of the pound following Brexit put the kibosh on the book... colour printing abroad is paid for in dollars, and the pound dropped by about 13% in value against the dollar in a matter of days. It has since "recovered" to stand 11% lower against the dollar and 15% against the Euro than it was 18 months ago: the pound was worth $1.49 and €1.30 to the pound on 23 June 2016, today those figures are $1.34 and €1.13.

To cut a long story short, the book will now be appearing as a special edition of Illustrators, published by Book Palace Books as a co-production with Bear Alley Books. There will be a few changes, no doubt, but I'm hopeful that the book will come out as the 160-page full-colour collection I originally envisaged.

The last time I spoke to Book Palace head honcho Geoff West he told me that he already has a few plans afoot for other special editions. The next regular issue (#21) will feature Rodney Matthews and J. Allen St. John, amongst others, and then there will be a war special featuring artwork by some of the leading Italian artists – De Gaspari, Biffignandi, Caroselli, Dell'orco, etc. – who worked for the UK through Studio D'Ami. Both of these have "Winter 2017" dates and I'm pretty sure Geoff said they were already at the printers. Hopefully we'll see the Don book by Summer 2018.

Today's random scans are a selection of titles by Dail Ambler under her own name and her most famous pen-name. She used plenty of other names during her days as a "fiction factory" in the early Fifties... but you're going to have to get the Forgotten Authors book to find out more about this very interesting lady. Meanwhile, I hope the following give you some ideas about the sort of books she wrote...


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 6 December 2017.

2000AD Prog 2060
Cover: Simon Davis
JUDGE DREDD: BLACK SNOW by Michael Carroll (w) PJ Holden (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SLÁINE: ARCHON by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
THARG'S 3RILLERS: THE HOUSE OF GILDED PEAK by Eddie Robson (w) Steven Austin (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ABSALOM: TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS by Gordon Rennie (w) Tiernan Trevallion (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Saturday, December 02, 2017

T. M. R. Whitwell

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

The name of T. M. R. Whitwell was once very familiar to readers and collectors of boys’ school stories, and also to readers of the boys’ magazine The Captain, for which Whitwell illustrated numerous school stories, in particular the early school stories written by P. G. Wodehouse, some of which were subsequently used when the stories were issued in hardback

Whitwell was born on 11 July 1868 at 136 Victoria Park Road, Hackney, north London, and christened Thomas Montague Radcliff Whitwell. His father, Thomas L. Whitwell (born in Stepney in around 1837), was, at that time, a law student (he later became a solicitor’s clerk), who had married Eliza Birt, the daughter of a financial agent, in Bethnal Green in 1865. This was Thomas senior’s second marriage, his first wife, Marian Birt, whom he had married in Bethnal Green in 1860 and with whom he had two children, William Clarence Birt Whitwell (born in 1861), and Edith Marian Whitwell (born in 1863), having died in 1864. A third child, Ruth Eliza, was born in 1867. At the time of the 1871 census, the family was living at Montague House, Clarendon Street, Walthamstow (with T.M.R. Whitwell recorded as simply “Montague”).

It is not known where Whitwell was educated, or where he received his art training (if, indeed, he received any). There is no trace of him in the 1881 census. However, he was working as a professional artist at the time of the 1891 census, where he was recorded as one of 10 boarders at the Swan Hotel, Doddinghurst, Essex. In 1892, he was recorded as a correspondent for the magazine Cycling, with his earliest known work, The Cycling Album: Being a Selection of Sketches from “Cycling”, appearing in 1893. (He was, at around this time, a member of the Hainault Cycling Club along with his brother, who was at that time a solicitor’s clerk, and later a member of the Essex Wheelers Cycling Club). Two years later, he provided almost 100 illustrations for Industrial Explorings in and around London, written by R. Andom (i.e. Alfred Walter Barrett, who had published the comic novel We Three and Troddles the previous year). The book was a humorous look at “workaday” London, taking in “such industrial concerns as piano manufactories, rope works, gasworks, paper works, and wire works, in the chatty and lively descriptions of which the author is materially helped by the effective drawings of his co-explorer, Mr T.M.R. Whitwell.” (The Daily Telegraph).

On the 30 April 1896, Whitwell, who was then living at 15 Parma Crescent, Clapham Junction, married Sarah Jane Hanson Southan at the Holy Trinity Church, Hastings. Born in Wellington, Shropshire, in 1875, she was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Southan – Thomas, a civil engineer, had died in 1889, and Elizabeth was running the Washington Hotel in Hastings. The couple subsequently moved to 50 Lancaster Road, Stroud Green, in north London. (The marriage certificate recorded Thomas’s father’s profession as “solicitor”, as did his brother William’s marriage certificate in 1898, suggesting that he had moved upwards from being a solicitor’s clerk).

Three years later, Whitwell began his long career as an illustrator of boys’ school stories. He illustrated a short school story by R.S. Warren Bell in the very first issue of The Captain, published by George Newnes, in April 1899, and he went on to contribute illustrations throughout the magazine’s complete run until the last issue in 1924, illustrating 31 serials and numerous short stories. Many of the serials were subsequently issued as hardback novels with Whitwell’s illustrations, although most were issued by publishers other than Newnes. His best-known work was associated with P. G. Wodehouse – he illustrated his school story serials The Gold Bat (1903-04), The Head of Kay’s (1904-05), The White Feather (1905-06), and Jackson Junior and The Lost Lambs (1907 and 1908, re-issued in hardback as Mike). These were followed by The New Fold (1908-09, re-issued in hardback as Psmith in the City) and Psmith, Journalist (1909-10). Some of his original Captain illustrations were subsequently used in the early hardback editions of these stories published by A. & C. Black. He was also one of the illustrators of Wodehouse’s short story collection Tales of St. Austin’s, published in 1903.

In 1916, Whitwell began providing illustrations for Cassell & Co.’s story paper Chums, and in 1919 he began a six-year association with The Boy’s Own Paper, published by the Religious Tract Society, again with some of the serials he illustrated being subsequently published in hardback. He also provided illustrations for a handful of novels, all school stories, published by James Nisbet & Co., Blackie & Son and the Oxford University Press. His only illustrative ventures outside the field of school fiction, apart from the two Psmith books mentioned above, were for an adventure story by Argyll Saxby (in 1900), and another R. Andom book, On Tour with Troddles, in 1909.

In the meantime, Whitwell’s marriage had floundered within only three or four years. In the 1901 census he was recorded as a boarder at 7 Acris Road, Wandsworth, with Arthur Trespass, a saddler’s manager, and his family, and his wife was back at the Washington Hotel in Hastings with her mother. (In 1902, Whitwell was listed in The Post Office Directory as an artist at 12 New Court, Carey Street, Holborn, presumably a studio address.  He was still there in 1916).

In June 1910 Sarah Whitwell petitioned for her conjugal rights, claiming that her husband had refused to “live and cohabit” with her – she was living at the Washington Hotel and he was living at “Lyndale”, Cambridge Road, Wanstead, Essex. Her petition was upheld and in October 1910 Whitwell was given 14 days to return to her. However, he failed to do so, and so at the end of November 1910 Sarah filed for divorce, on the grounds that, firstly, her husband had failed to comply with the earlier order, and, secondly, that he had committed adultery with an Olive Henderson – they had been living together as husband and wife at 98 Mantilla Road, Tooting Bec Common, Surrey, since 3 November 1910. The marriage was subsequently formally dissolved in September 1911.

Shortly before this, the 1911 census had recorded Whitwell living at 6 Tabley Road, Holloway, north London, with a son, Thomas Montague Radcliff, born in Islington on 10 January 1911, and Olivia Henderson (rather than “Olive”), described as a housekeeper. Sarah Whitwell was, at that time, the manageress of the Washington Hotel. Thomas and Olivia (actually Olivia Philippa Henderson, born in Poplar, London, 1869, the daughter of Charles Henderson, a coach painter) subsequently married in Islington in the summer of the following year.

Whitwell died, of cardiac failure associated with a chest tumour, on 16 February 1928 in the General Hospital in Northampton, without leaving a will. His home at that time had been in Great Linford, Buckinghamshire. His first wife died in Hastings in 1939, and his second wife died in Tonbridge, Kent, in June 1955. His son, who had married Winifred Biggin in Croydon in 1935, was recorded in 1939 as a poultry farmer, market gardener and part-time solicitor’s clerk – he died in Shaftesbury, Dorset, in 1983.

Whitwell’s brother William became a solicitor’s clerk (1891 census, when he was living with his aunt, Emma Whitwell, in the City of London, along with his father), before becoming an author and journalist (1901 and 1911 census records). However, the only piece of writing that has been traced attributed to him is an article, “Round Rochester in Dickens Land”, in the magazine Cycling in August 1905.

Whitwell was a particularly distinctive artist, and his illustrations are almost all instantly recognizable. However, his work has not been universally liked – writing in 1966, Richard J. Voorhees (in his biography of P. G. Wodehouse, published in New York) commented:
... the illustrations [in Wodehouse’s school novels] are atrocious. Once they must have attracted readers; today they could only repel or amuse. Whether black and white or in color, they make the schoolboys look at least thirty years old; one character, who wears glasses, looks fifty. Not only fashions in drawing, but also fashions in dress give the boys a formal appearance in the least formal circumstances. When they are cheering on a runner as he lunges toward the finish line, when they are painting a statue in the park with tar, even when they are smashing windows, their high collars and tight jackets suggest not so much a scene of vigor or violence as a posed picture of a school group.
This was, it must be said, rather harsh. Whitwell was responding to the texts he was illustrating, and he did so with a certain degree of style and authenticity, in a style that was frequently different to most of his contemporaries. His pencil drawings in particular were often meticulous in their detail, and very delicately drawn. He was clearly well-regarded by the publishers who used him – he illustrated around 40 public school novels  –  and also, presumably, by the authors whose work he illustrated. Perhaps one measure of the esteem in which he was held was the generous number of plates which appeared in some of the books he illustrated – Tales of Greyhouse, for example, written by R.S. Warren Bell, had 16 black and white plates, and three other of Bell’s books had 12 plates. P. G. Wodehouse’s Mike contained 12 plates, and The Gold Bat and The Head of Kay’s 8. This compared with an average of 4-6 plates in most other books.

Yet despite his output, and his association with P. G. Wodehouse, he has been ignored by all the standard reference books. Why this was the case is a mystery.


Books illustrated by T.M.R. Whitwell
The Cycling Album: Being a Selection of Sketches from “Cycling” Dangerfield Print Co., 1893
Industrial Explorings in and around London by Robert Andom, James Clarke & Co., 1895   
The Tiger-Man of Burma and Other Adventure Yarns by Argyll Saxby, “The Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1900
Tales of Greyhouse by R.S. Warren Bell, George Newnes, 1901
Acton's Feud: A Public School Story by Frederick Swainson, George Newnes Ltd., 1901       
Tales of St. Austin's by P.G. Wodehouse, A. & C. Black, 1903       
The Gold Bat by P.G. Wodehouse, A. & C. Black, 1904           
The Head of Kay's by P.G. Wodehouse, A. & C. Black, 1905       
Green at Greyhouse by R.S. Warren Bell, Chapman & Hall, 1908
Mike: A Public School Story by P.G. Wodehouse, A. & C. Black, 1909
For the Sake of His Chum by Walter C. Rhoades, Blackie & Son, 1909 (dustwrapper)
On Tour with Troddles by R. Andom, Cassell & Co., 1909
Psmith in the City by P.G. Wodehouse, A. & C. Black, 1910
Black Evans: A School Story by R.S. Warren Bell, A. & C. Black, 1912
One of the Awkward Squad by Tom Bevan, James Nisbet & Co., 1912       
The Feats of Foozle by Gunby Hadath, A. & C. Black, 1913       
Dormitory Eight by R.S. Warren Bell, A. & C. Black, 1914       
Rob Wylie of Jordon's: A Story of Public School Life by F. Cowley Whitehouse, Blackie & Son, 1914   
The Skipper of the XI by John Barnett, Blackie & Son, 1915       
The Secret Seven by R.S. Warren Bell, A. & C. Black, 1915       
Sheepy Wilson: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, James Nisbet & Co., 1915
Psmith, Journalist by P.G. Wodehouse, A. & C. Black, 1915
Greyhouse Days by R.S. Warren Bell, George Newnes, 1918
The Three Prefects by R.S. Warren Bell, A. & C. Black, 1918       
Joe Doughty by M.M. Guy, A. & C. Black, 1918           
The Adventures of Two Runaways by Ascott R. Hope, A. & C. Black, 1918 (re-issue of All Astray: The Travels and Adventures of Two Cherubs, 1902)   
The New House Mystery and Other tales of School and Country Life by Ashmore Russan, “The Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1918   
The McKickshaws at School by Ascott R. Hope, Ascott R., A. & C. Black, 1919 (re-issue of Half-Text History: Chronicles of School Life, 1897)
Forge of Foxenby by R.A.H. Goodyear, Blackie & Son, 1920
The Boys of Sancotes: Some Yarns of School Life by Harold Murray, “The Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1920       
Schoolboy Pluck by Harold Avery, Nisbet & Co., 1921
The Sporting House: A School Story by Richard Bird, Humphrey Milford Oxford University Press, 1921
The Boys of Castle Cliff School by R.A.H. Goodyear, Blackie & Son, 1921
Pickles of the Lower Fifth by Rowland Walker, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1921   
The Prefects' Patrol by Harold Avery, James Nisbet & Co., 1922
The Shadow on the School by Frank Elias, Frank, “The Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1922
The Four Schools by R.A.H. Goodyear, Blackie & Son, 1922       
The Greenway Heathens: A Public School Story by R.A.H. Goodyear, Nisbet & Co., 1922   
A Fifth Form Mystery by Harold Avery, “The Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1923
Tom at Tollbar House by R.A.H. Goodyear, Blackie & Son, 1923
The Two Captains of Tuxford: A Story of Public School Life by Frank Elias, “The Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1924   
His Serene Highness: A Public School Story by A.L. Haydon, Robert South Ltd., 1925       
On the Ball: A Football Story by Sydney Horler, Blackie & Son, 1926   
According to Brown Minor, or The Feats of Foozle by Gunby Hadath, Hodder & Stoughton, 1924 (re-issue of The Feats of Foozle)       
The Moreleigh Mascot by Richard Bird, Blackie & Son, 1927   
One of the Best by R.A.H. Goodyear, Nisbet & Co., 1930 (re-issue of The Greenway Heathens)   
Every Inch a Briton by Meredith Fletcher, Blackie & Son, 1933 (re-issue)
Tales of Wrykyn and Elsewhere by P.G. Wodehouse, Porpose Books, 1997

Friday, December 01, 2017

Comic Cuts - 1 December 2017

Just over three weeks until Christmas and I think I'm reasonably well organised as far as pressies and cards are concerned. I've still got to write in the cards and wrap the pressies, but the hard part – the bit where you have to make decisions – is over with. Actually there's one pressie that I'm still waiting on delivery for and another that requires a bit of extra work, but I'm this (I'm holding my finger and thumb about half a centimeter apart) close to finishing.

By rights, I should have had a nice, easy week. That's not what happened. It started out OK. I was posting out some drafts of the Forgotten Authors essays to some folks and getting some very nice feedback, which pepped me up for the weekend.

On Monday I planned to plough through a couple of shorter pieces that will probably not appear until volume 3, but they were amongst the ones that wouldn't require a huge amount of work to bring up to scratch and I wanted to sort out my laptop. If you were here last week, I mentioned that my computer had picked up a virus; thankfully it was isolated and removed pretty quickly, but it did give me pause for thought that my laptop – which is ancient and still runs Windows XP – could probably do with a check as the original antivirus software had run out years ago, and Windows no longer supported Windows XP and wasn't updating  their anti-virus software.

So I picked what looked like a popular choice, Avast, and downloaded it. A terrible mistake. Everything slowed to a snail's pace and attempts to run the programme froze the screen. I had to pull the plug a few times just to get the computer to turn off, risking greater damage to the hard drive than the bugs did. I cleared off just about every file I had on the machine, thinking it may just need some extra space in order to operate. Thankfully, I only use the laptop to watch DVDs in bed and access newspapers online, so dumping old files wasn't a hardship. I cleared half the 56gb drive. Tried to use some of the administrative tools to further clean-up/check the hard drive but Avast wasn't having any of it and froze me out again.

According to them, you have to download a programme to remove the original programme! Which I tried to do, but it wouldn't download. Eventually I used Window's own programme for removing the errant programme. Unfortunately, it has also removed something of use at the same time, as my laptop no longer recognises the external DVD player and I can no longer play DVDs. It does recognise the small stick drive that I bought recently, so I can at least transfer some odds and ends back onto laptop. And the internet still works, which is also useful.

I'm planning to ask a friend for some technical advice on whether I should jettison Windows XP in favour of one of the operating systems available for free. As I said, it only needs to power a DVD drive and allow me to read the internet, so I'm hopeful I can get the machine back up to speed with a more up-to-date operating system that can cope with the latest anti-virus software without crashing the machine.

Tuesday was rather more pleasantly interrupted by my Mum coming over and Wednesday by a trip to the dentist for a check-up (I'm pleased to report that I passed with colours... not flying colours, but definitely not stalling and falling out of the sky colours) and I don't have to go back for another six months. I'm writing this Thursday lunchtime while I'm waiting for someone to come round and redo the felt on the shed roof and fix our shower door... jobs which he'd already been paid for (by our landlady, not by me) two months ago.

Despite the disruption I've still managed to add a couple of essays to the total, so we've reached 27 out of 50 and 109,305 words. I've also finished the cover to the first e-book, which is our column header. I should have that book finished next week, if all goes to plan and I'm already well under way with the second volume which I think is only two essays shy of being finished. Plus a bit of tidying up. And then some rewriting, designing and proofing. Oh, and a cover. So that'll be ready early next year.

Random scans. East meets west...


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Commando issues 5075-5078

Commando issues on sale 30 November 2017.

Brand new Commando issues on sale now! From the cobbled streets of old Bohemia to the perilous waters surrounding the Lesser Antilles, our Commandos can battle it out in every setting! Expect deadly French corvettes, Cossack train chases, and Nordic shipwrecks…

5075: Reclaim the Phantom
Racing through the Caribbean waters of the Lesser Antilles, Captain John Valetine was ordered to warn a British flotilla set to ambush French corvettes that they had underestimated the number of enemy vessels awaiting them. If Valentine’s 74 gunner, ‘The Phantom’, doesn’t reach the British in time then Napoleon’s forces will destroy the flotilla. But the French are the least of Valentine’s concerns as a familiar face from his past spreads poisonous words among the crew – could there be talk of mutiny?
    Vincente Alcazar’s stunning artwork and attention to period detail bring Dominic Teague’s Peninsular War adventure to life, the thin line strokes of the ship’s rigging and scale of these stunning, yet mammoth vessels is a real joy to see.

Story: Dominic Teague
Art: Vicente Alcazar
Cover: Janek Matysiak

5076: Fly Fast – Hit Hard
After witnessing Flying Officer Nick Nichols shoot down one of his own men over the Libyan desert, veteran pilot Eric Wallace had him marked – but he was never able to confront Nichols on his devilish deed. After crash landing, Nick was taken to hospital then sent to England to lead a Mosquito squadron. Little did either of them know that their paths would cross once more… and that Nick would reveal his own truth regarding the murder of their fellow pilot…
    With striking interior art by Amador bringing McOwan’s aerial adventure to life, Sanfeliz’s dazzling cover sets the precedence for this action heavy issue, showing a desert Hurricane pulling up post dive, leaving nothing but carnage in its wake.

Story: McOwan
Art: Amador
Cover: Sanfeliz
Originally Commando No. 408 (June 1969) Reprinted No. 1171 (November 1977)

5077: Long Way from Home
When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on the 28th of July, 1914, it was only a matter of time before the rest of Europe was dragged into the Great War. But Dominik Zatopek didn’t care. He may have lived in Prague, but growing up poor he had turned to petty crime and considered himself an anarchist with no ties to any country. However, fate would have a hand to play, as Domink was thrown from side to side, never committing allegiance to any cause - that is, until he saw the passion of the Czech Legion and the notion of home suddenly because something tangible... maybe there could be a place for Domink after all?
    An insight into the plight of the Czechs and Slovaks who fought in the First World War, Shane Filer’s ‘Long Way from Home’ is a tale of camaraderie that knows no national boundaries as men fight together for a common goal. Originally from Prague, Filer’s love for the city clearly shines through in Keith Page’s artwork – featuring the narrow streets and national landmarks we’ve come to associate with the city.

Story: Shane Filer
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

5078: Viking Breed
Determined to go to sea and become a world renowned skipper, Norwegian Olaf Peterson was denied this wish after his father drowned at sea. But Olaf would never give up, even when his first boat, The Fulmar’s crew did everything in their power to make him suffer at sea – that is, until Germany invaded Norway. Then, torn from within, many Norwegians sailed to Britain to do their part for the Allies – Olaf, a stowaway was one of them – but there were some who found allegiance with the other side…
    Illustrated by Australian cartoonist Peter Foster, Ian Clark’s roguish seadogs are charmingly rendered, while the harsh black and hazy lines of the sea and mist add suspense and violence to this nautical adventure.

Story: Ian Clark
Art: Peter Foster
Cover: Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No. 2639 (February 1993)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 29-30 November 2017.

2000AD Prog 2059
Cover: Tiernen Trevallion
JUDGE DREDD: BLACK SNOW by Michael Carroll (w) PJ Holden (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SLÁINE: ARCHON by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
SINISTER DEXTER: BILLI NO MATES by  Dan Abnett (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
THARG'S 3RILLERS: THE HOUSE OF GILDED PEAK by Eddie Robson (w) Steven Austin (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ABSALOM: TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS by Gordon Rennie (w) Tiernan Trevallion (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

The Dark Judges: The Fall of Deadworld Book 1 by Kek-W & Dave Kendall
Rebellion 978- 1781-08603-2, 30 November 2017, 166pp, £18.99 / $24.99. Available via Amazon.
Deadworld was once a planet similar to Earth, until Judge Death and his brothers Fear, Fire and Mortis deemed that as only the living could break the law, life itself should be a crime. As the Dark Judges set out to bring extinction to this parallel world, Judge Fairfax and a family of farmers attempt to escape the chaos. Is it possible for the living to evade to cold, icy grasp of Death? This chilling collection also features the Dreams of Deadworld strips, giving an extraordinary insight into the undead psyches of the internationally famous super-fiends. The never-before-collected Fall of Deadworld story-line, shining new light on internationally-beloved villains, The Dark Judges. Includes the untold origins of The Dark Judges, including Judge Dredd arch-nemesis Judge Death.

Faceache by Ken Reid
Rebellion 978-1781-08601-8, 30 November 2017, 118pp, £14.99 / $22.99. Available via Amazon.
Hilarious face-changing adventures by one of the greats of British comics! Ken Reid is consistently name-checked by the greats of comics - from Alan Moore to Kevin O'Neill, John Wagner to Pat Mills - for his unique art that is matched only by his enduring sense of humor. In a hardcover edition befitting his status as one of the all-too-forgotten greats of British comics, we present his timeless Faceache - the humorous adventures of Ricky Rubberneck, the boy with a "bendable bonce" whose skin stretches like rubber. At will, he could scrunge his face into anything, whether it's mimicking others or turning into grotesque creatures, but always coming a cropper! This is the first collection of this long lost classic from the hugely popular and long-running Buster comic.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Arthur H Buckland

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Arthur H. Buckland (sometimes referred to as A.H. Buckland) was another artist who was both a highly-regarded painter of landscapes, portraits and genre pictures and an illustrator, particularly noted for his black and white plates for a number of new editions of classic novels.

He was born on 22 June 1870 in Taunton, Somerset, and christened Arthur Herbert Buckland. His father, Joseph (1844-1895) was an ironmonger; his mother, Helen (née Hadduck, 1837-1908) was the daughter of a grocer. Arthur was the second of four children  –  two of his brothers, Charles (born in 1868) and Frank (born in 1874) followed their father in the family business.  The third brother, John (born in 1871) joined the Post Office. The family lived for many years at 4 East Street, Taunton.

Arthur received his artistic training at the Taunton School of Art, receiving a silver medal in 1888 for being the year’s best student. After leaving Taunton in around 1890, he spent three years or so at the Academie Julian in Paris (a private art school founded in 1867). He returned to England, and then, in June 1897, he travelled to America, where he married Louisa Almira Abrey (born on 9 June 1873 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of a merchant), at the Church of the Transfiguration in Manhattan, New York, on 10 September 1897. Arthur then brought his wife to England, settling at 3 St. John’s Wood Studios, Hampstead, re-marrying Louisa at the Marylebone Registry Office on 14 January 1898. They subsequently moved to 86 Adelaide Road, Hampstead, where, in 1901, Buckland was sufficiently well-off to be able afford a domestic servant, a cook and a housemaid.

In the meantime, Buckland had begun his career as a professional artist. He exhibited with Royal Society of British Artists in 1894, and in 1895 he began a long association as an illustrator with The Pall Mall Magazine (an offshoot of The Pall Mall Gazette, which had been launched in 1893). Two years later, he exhibited at the Royal Academy, and went on to exhibit at the Fine Art Society, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.

In 1897 he began a long association with the publisher Methuen & Co., for example illustrating most of its “Little Blue Books for Children” series (such as The Beechnut Book by Jacob Abbott, A School Year by Netta Syrett, and The Lost Ball by Thomas Cobb). In 1900, he also began working with Collins, for whom he illustrated re-issues of novels by authors such as Charles Dickens and the Brontë sisters. He also illustrated a few books for Blackie & Son, including two school stories by Angela Brazil and Lilian F. Wevill, and Blackie’s Children’s Annual.

In 1901 he began another long relationship with The Illustrated London News, which published his work until at least 1926. Other magazines and periodicals to which he contributed were Cassell’s Magazine, The Sphere, Pearson’s Magazine, The Graphic, The Sketch, The Windsor Magazine, The Art Journal, The Artist, The Christian Realm and The Bystander.

On 6 November 1906 he filed for a divorce on the grounds that his wife was incapable of consummating their marriage. By then, the couple had separated, with Buckland remaining at 86 Adelaide Road and his wife living at 23 Milford Road, Leytonstone. The marriage was formally ended on 18 November 1907.

Buckland subsequently appears to have suffered a slight downturn in his fortunes, as he appears in the 1911 census living in a boarding house at 13 Lady Somerset Road, St. Pancras. He was still working as an artist, although while his last credited book illustrations appeared in 1912, he continued to supply illustrations for magazines.

In 1912 he married Marian Ethel Richardson (born in 1875 in Crewe, Cheshire, the daughter of a commercial clerk, and who had once worked as an artist’s model), in Barnet, where the couple lived for over 25 years. They had one child, Audrey Helen, born on 22 November 1914.

It is not known what, if anything, Buckland did during the First World War. His name does not seem to appear in any newspaper advertisements for magazines or periodicals until 1926, for work in The Illustrated London News and The Sketch. In 1939, he moved back to Taunton, where he lived for a while Marian and his brother Joseph (then retired) and his wife in Ashbury South Road. He was still working as an artist, with his daughter working as a masseuse. Within a year or two he had moved to Lyme Regis, where he lived at Pyne House, Broad Street; 5 Cobb Terrace; and finally at “Kincora”, West Hill, where he died on 22 December 1948, leaving an estate valued at £7,633 (around £280,000 in today’s terms). His wife died at the same address six years later, leaving an estate worth just £341.


Books illustrated by A.H. Buckland
The Channings by Mrs Henry Wood, Richard Bentley, 1897 (re-issue)
The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. by W.M. Thackeray, Methuen & Co., 1899 (re-issue)
Mrs Halliburton’s Troubles by Mrs Henry Wood, Collins, 1900 (re-issue)
The Channings by Mrs Henry Wood, Collins, 1900 (re-issue)
A Gallant Quaker by Margaret H. Robertson, Methuen & Co., 1900
The Air-Gun, or How the Mastermans and Dobson Major Nearly Lost Their Holiday by T. Hilbert, Methuen & Co., 1901
The Beechnut Book by Jacob Abbott, Methuen & Co., 1901
The Castaways of Meadow Bank by Thomas Cobb, Methuen & Co., 1901
The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit, T. Fisher Unwin, 1901
Jair the Apostate by A.G. Hales, Methuen & Co., 1902
The Inca’s Treasure by Ernest Glanville, Methuen & Co., 1902 (re-issue)
A School Year by Netta Syrett, Methuen & Co., 1902
The Treasure of Princegate Priory by Thomas Cobb, Methuen & Co., 1902
The Peeles at the Capital by Roger Ashton, Methuen & Co., 1902
The Lost Ball by Thomas Cobb, Methuen & Co., 1903
Mrs Barberry’s General Shop by Roger Aswhton, Methuen & Co., 1903
The Quest of the Luck by Lewis Ramsden, Collins, 1904
The Virgin and the Scales by Constance Cotterell, Methuen & Co., 1905
The Castle of the Shadows by Mrs C.N. Williamson, Methuen & Co., 1905
The Dryad by Justin Huntly M’Carthy, Methuen & Co., 1905
The Weans at Rowallan by Miss K. Fitzpatrick, Methuen & Co., 1905
The Valley of the Shadow by William Le Queux, Methuen & Co., 1905
Mr Galer’s Business by William Pett Ridge, Methuen & Co., 1905 (re-issue)
The Fortunes of Philippa by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1906
Little Susy Stories by E. Prentiss, Collins, 1906
The Lost Explorers: A Story of the Trackless Desert by Alexander Macdonald, Blackie & Son, 1907
Betty’s First Term by Lilian F. Wevill, Blackie & Son, 1907
The Botor Chaperon by C.N. & A.M. Williamson, Methuen & Co., 1907
Tales of Two People by Anthony Hope, Methuen & Co., 1907 (re-issue)
Flower o’ the Orange, and Other Stories by Agnes and Egerton Castle, Methuen & Co., 1908
Anne’s Terrible Good Nature, and Other Stories for Children by E.V. Lucas, Chatto & Windus, 1908
The Great Miss Driver by Anthony Hope, Methuen & Co., 1908
The Scarlet Runner by C.N. & A.M. Williamson, Methuen & Co., 1908
The Emperor of the Air by George Glendon, Methuen & Co., 1910
Cross and Dagger: The Crusade of the Children, 1212 by W. Scott Durrant, Methuen & Co., 1910
The Master Girl by Ashton Hilliers, Methuen & Co., 1910
The Golden Silence by C.N. & A.M. Williamson, Methuen & Co., 1911
Fire in Stubble by Baroness Orczy, Methuen & Co., 1912
Nicolette: A Tale of Old Provence by Baroness Orczy, Methuen & Co., 1912
The Guests of Hercules by C.N. & A.M. Williamson, Methuen & Co., 1912

Re-issues of famous novels, all published by Collins – dates not known
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot
Waverley, or ‘Tis Sixty Years Since by Walter Scott
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Vilette by Charlotte Brontë
Reprinted Pieces by Charles Dickens
Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens
Stepping Heavenward by Mrs Prentiss
Old Jack by W.H.G. Kingston

Friday, November 24, 2017

Comic Cuts - 24 November 2017

I'm back on track with the Fifty Forgotten Authors book, with another essay in the bag. Not the one I intended to write, but another interesting one, nonetheless, which was prompted by a question from someone who stumbled onto Bear Alley in search of some information. His enquiry sent me on  a day-long dig for information, at which point I thought I had enough to make an interesting essay on the author. Next week I'll try to get back to the piece I was actually planning to work on, which I started writing three weeks ago!

The new essay brings our total to 24 essays and 104,096 words. The cover for the first ebook is nearly done, but I'll wait until next week to post it here.

I was doing the research with a certain amount of trepidation. Odd as it may sound, doing research can take you into one or two dark corners of the internet and I've always been a big fan of No Script, which blocks a lot of unwanted javascript and flash. On a practical level, it also saves me a lot of hanging around waiting for my elderly computer to catch up, as I'm not wasting bandwidth on pop-up windows, promos and auto-playing videos, or putting my computer at risk from malware disguised as advertising.

Firefox, my favoured browser, had a major update last Tuesday and it knocked out the version of No Script I used. So I cautiously kept going while we were waiting for the guy who created No Script (yes, it's just one guy) to catch up, which he promised to do by Sunday. To cut a long story short, I picked up a bit of a bug.

Thankfully, it was easily isolated and removed by Windows Defender. However, just to be on the safe side, I ran a full scan on the computer that took almost 24 hours to run and discovered that there were a couple of other low-level bugs on the system. Again, they were isolated and removed. But it just goes to show that, whether you're being careful or not, it's easy to pick these things up without knowing it and I don't think it's out of place to be reminded every now and then to do a full scan on your computer; you can leave it running in the background while you work and even let it run overnight. And if you're using Firefox, Seamonkey or other mozilla-based browsers, go and grab the new version of No Script that is now available.

With Mel away for the weekend at a show, I had the house to myself, so I thought I'd watch a show that I know she wouldn't be particularly interested in. I've been a big fan of the Marvel Universe shows on Netflix since the start of Daredevil back in 2015, and followed them through Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders... and now The Punisher. Thirteen episodes dropped on the Friday Mel was leaving for Reading and I had my evening all planned out.

The plan was to sit in front of the TV and not move until I'd watched a bunch of episodes. And then do the same Saturday evening, and then do the same Sunday.

I've never been one to binge watch shows before, although I did used to watch 24 at a rate of knots, and often the only way to break the cycle was when I needed to put in the next DVD. Working from home can sometimes work against you and I suspect 24 was responsible for me seeing 3 o'clock and 4 o'clock in the morning more often than deadlines ever did. I'm not so keen on those kind of late nights these days and tend to wander off to bed around eleven or twelve.

So... The Punisher. The first episode seemed disconnected from the rest of the series, with Frank Castle spending the bulk of the show knocking down walls on a building site. I was waiting on a work-related accident that would send Frank to Casualty, the British TV series that show-runner Steve Lightfoot used to write for.

Once we got into the meat of the series with episode two, I was gripped and the show didn't let go. Yes, it's violent, and, yes, Castle is a "judge, jury and executioner"-character that a peace-loving lefty like me should despise. I'd argue that (a) Frank Castle is a damaged, mentally unstable psychopath, and his actions are seen to have consequences that no sane human being would risk; and (b) it's a TV series based on a comic and not to be confused with real life. If you can read Judge Dredd and still not kill anyone, you should be able to cope with The Punisher.

Relentless killing machines is a trope that seems to be popular at the moment, with films like John Wick and Atomic Blonde appearing in the wake of movies that had almost comic levels of violence (Crank, Smoking Aces). If you were to ask me why I think these films are appearing now, I'd say that there are a lot of angry people out there who feel they have no control over what's happening to them—prices rising, debt rising, interest rates rising, the pound at a historic low, the economy tanking, idiots in charge who couldn't negotiate their way out of a wet paper bag, idiots in positions of power who, if they were in any other job, would have been fired and escorted out of the building. All these things slowly erode your confidence and when that happens, the man shouting "We're gonna take back control" the loudest can seem like an option. So the guy is a snake-oil salesman, but he's saying what you want to hear and he even has a couple of ideas about who it is you're taking back control from.

Frank Castle is an extreme character who looks like he's in control, but actually isn't. He's so driven that he actually doesn't have control over his actions because he acts and reacts in anger. It's only because of his special forces training and years of weapons practice, that he can act on his revenge fantasies and not get killed. Otherwise he'd just be a teething baby with a Kalashnikov.

I really enjoyed the show and managed to finish all thirteen episodes by the wee hours of Sunday morning. It won't be for everyone, but that's TV for you. I've seen people complain that it's slow, but it's in those slower moments that you get to explore the characters. Also, each episode is around 55 minutes, whereas on network TV in the USA, an hour-long show is often under 40 minutes, so watching it, sans advertising, as you would on a DVD, can make these Netflix shows feel a lot longer. Not a problem if you're used to hour-long shows on the BBC, where not every second of the show has to drive the plot forward.

Random scans... well, they have to be on the subject of revenge.