Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kelman D. Frost

At the tail end of the recent reprint of Wells Fargo and Pony Express published by Book Palace Books, we published short biographical sketches of the author and artist. Don Lawrence shouldn't need any introduction to fans of British comics but the author, Kelman Frost, might not be a name familiar to many.

He was the author of a number of books for children — forty according to one source, although only sixteen are known for sure — but his main output over many years was uncredited. He was one of the haldful of anonymous authors who filled the pages of D. C. Thomson's boys' story papers. Alongside the likes of Gilbert Dalton and Reginald George Thomas, he filled the pages of Adventure, Rover and Wizard with an endless stream of stories and, latterly, comic strips.

Altogether, Frost estimated that he had written almost 70 million words of fiction, refuelling his imagination with trips to Europe and North Africa. It was not unusual for him to have two series of stories — and occasionally as many as four series — running alongside each other in the same paper. At the height of their sales, Frost was reaching as many as five million readers a week through Thomson's titles alone.

Frost wrote some wildly imaginative stories. He penned tales about 'The Electric Shadow' for Adventure, related many of the schoolboy highjinks at 'Red Circle School' in Rover, revealed 'The Truth About Wilson' and reported on the exploits of 'The Wolf of Kabul' for Wizard. Over the years he also wrote stories featuring many other famous Thomson characters: 'Mogyn the Mighty', 'Strang the Terrible', 'Black Bob' and 'The Red Macgregor'.

Frost also turned his pen to writing comic scripts, although his full output is unlikely ever to be known. His earliest known work was the adventures of 'Don Conquest' for Mickey Mouse Weekly, which ran from 1954 to 1957, although it seems likely that his main comic output was probably for The Hotspur, relaunched as a comic (The New Hotspuri) in 1959.

Frost, whose full name was Christopher Kelman Delgity Frost, was born in Plumstead, Kent, in 1899 and died at his hom in Bournemouth in 1972. His writing career spanned some fifty-seven years, having begun as a junior reporter with the North Wilts Herald at the age of 16. His first fiction began appearing soon after, written in the trenches whilst he served with the London Rifle Brigade. From 1922 he was able to write full time and for the next fifty years entertained children the length and breadth of the country with his action-filled stories.

The Wells Fargo/Pony Express is available from Book Palace Books.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Illustrators - Work in Progress

( The following post has been unashamedly cribbed from my Cloud 109 Blog, but just to cut down on incipient RSI, I have cut and pasted it to the Book Palace Blog as it's content would certainly seem to validate this stratagem.)

The perils of blogging, you start out with the best of intentions - a blog posting everyday. After a while you come to the awful realization that you simply cannot post interesting and engaging topics everyday without treating you blog as an unpaid career and forsaking other activities to ensure that you continue to maintain the (hopefully) high standard you have set yourself.

So then comes the facilitators of daily blogging. In the case of blogs such as this one, where the subject matter is trash culture, you can run serialized comic strips, but the problem is that apart from issues of copyright and the nightmare of possible litigation from unexpected sources ( The Curious Case of Walter Potter and the Stuffed Animals that Bite), there is also the fact that there are already a lot of bloggers providing access to  material that would otherwise have faded from the collective consciousness many years ago.

Hence the intermittent postings that have become the norm for this blog.

For which I offer my unreserved apology, especially to Malcolm whose days toiling on the fiery plains of Sewth Efrika are made a mite more tolerable by his  attachment to the cybernetic umbilicus of the UK and the many blogs such as this one, that remind him of the warm beer and mist shrouded cobblestones of dear Old Albion. Ah yes Albion (cue Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band playing Eric Coates In Town Tonight) enlivened by it's stoic populace who no matter how hard times may be are always ready to share a cuppa char and a tin of bully beef. I can almost see a tear gently coursing down Malcolm's chiselled features as he peers at his computer screen.

Of course there is another reason for the sporadic nature of my postings and that is the  new and soon to be launched Illustrators, issue 1 of which will include an interview with Ian Kennedy along with a really superb feature on the life and work of Denis McLoughlin by his friend and biographer David Ashford. Both of these articles I know will be of some consolation to Malcolm as he toils purposefully in the scorched veldt.

We have in truth some really amazing features coming at you over the next few years, with contributions from artists, designers, agents and biographers, who will add so much more enjoyment to the superbly reproduced (and much of it hitherto unseen for decades) artwork that we will be running in each and every issue of Illustrators.

So in the meantime here's some more samples of work in progress just to get your illustration hungry juices flowing.