Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Thriller Libraries Index Story

The Thriller Libraries Index Story
By Steve Holland 

Original hand-lettered cover art for volume 1 of the first (1991) edition by Ali Cottee, based on James E. McConnell's cover for TPL 22
With the publication of The Thriller Libraries Index only a few weeks away, I thought I'd take this opportunity - as Christmas is always a time for casting backward looks into the past - to reveal a little about the history of the book. So imagine a slightly wavy effect, getting stronger and stronger and...

We're back in 1983!

An exciting year for me: I had my first article published that year and completed my first book (although the latter took some years to appear); I was also rediscovering my love for comics via the Association of Comics Enthusiasts (A.C.E.) which was run by Denis Gifford. I had discovered this wonderful club back in the late 1970s when helping Phil Harbottle and his search for stories by British science fiction writer John Russell Fearn. Phil was based in Newcastle and I was based in Chelmsford and had far easier access to the British Library. There were certain magazines that Phil believed Fearn had contributed to and I was able to rediscover some of Fearn's more obscure stories amongst the dustier tomes held by the library, some of which probably hadn't been looked at since they were deposited back in the 1940s. Phil compiled a listing of Fearn's contributions for various Gerald G. Swan magazines for Denis in 1979 and I was given a co-credit, the first time I saw my name in print.

Original hand-lettered title page of the same volume. You can see how much Tippex it took to clean up the photocopied panel of artwork.
Back to 1983. Because I was now a bone fide contributor to the A.C.E. newsletter thanks to my articles "The Paperback Connection: Comics Artists and Publishers" and "Gerald G. Swan: A Brief Guide to his Publications" (exciting stuff!), Denis said I could have a free advert in the newsletter. As I didn't have anything to sell, I thought I'd ask whether anyone had any old pocket libraries as I was interested in compiling a list of them.

The little box ad was published in January 1984 and I got one response from a chap called John Allen-Clarke who phoned the number I'd given only to discover that I was out of the country - my first ever holiday abroad, cycling in Holland with a mate of mine who ended up in hospital with appendicitis! But that's another story.

The contact with John led to starting up many of the indexes that were published in the 1990s as I scoured his collection for information. In the 1980s I also contacted like-minded collectors who were interested in gathering info. or were willing to share information they had already put together, which led to some of the earliest comprehensive listings of British comics; I think we were beaten to the punch by Ray Moore's The Beano Diaries, which came out in 1990, and some fairly solid listings had appeared in various magazines over the years. But I like to think we - because I was rarely compiling these things on my own - did a good and comprehensive job on some of the best titles that appeared in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

Original copyright page
Bryan Whitworth was publishing a fanzine called The Illustrated Comics Journal, which I became involved with around 1990 and it was to Bryan that I mentioned that I had a number of lists that the merry band of indexers had been compiling over the previous couple of years. Bryan was interested in publishing them and I was interested in getting the information out to the wider world, so it seemed a match made in heaven.

Over the winter months of 1990/91 - 20 years ago - we put the finishing touches to the first of these indexes cover the first 150 issues of The Thriller Library. Looking back at it now, the resulting volume looks a bit amateurish. Although the text was laid out on a computer - which I supplied on a 3 1/4 inch floppy disc (remember those?) - the end product was still a photocopied booklet, so while we were able to reproduce every cover, they were photocopied in b/w and reduced in size to create master pages which were themselves photocopied to create the finished booklets. The picture reproduction was awful!

As each copy was individually hand-made by Bryan, the various indexes produced worked out very expensive. Yet they sold reasonably well - for what they were - and over the years I've been asked whether I have copies for sale. I think the authors - I usually worked in tandem with David Ashford and Ray Moore - only ever got one or two copies apiece.

Twenty years on I'm very happy to say that we're only weeks away from seeing printed copies of the new Thriller Libraries Index. Not only does it radically update the original Thriller Index but it also includes revisions for the Super Detective Library and Cowboy Comics volumes that followed Thriller in 1992 and 1993 respectively. Twenty years on we know a lot more about the artists and even the authors of these old libraries and the complexities of their publication. For the first time the history of these libraries can be found and followed in a single volume, from their origins in comic books designed for the Australian market all the way through to the spin-off annuals and books.

What I'm particularly proud of is that we've managed to gather together the widest possible selection of original artwork, as well as complete sets of cover images for everything indexed. That's over 1,000 images in total, with much of the original artwork reproduced one cover to the page. The book is full colour throughout and I'm confident our printers in Hong Kong will make it one of the best-looking books we've produced.

I'm looking forward to having copies of the book finally in my hands. I hope you are, too.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


We're getting closer and closer to publication. I'm pleased to say that proofs for all three of the upcoming Book Palace Books' releases have arrived, been checked, corrections made and proofs returned. Peter Richardson has covered the arrival of the proofs for Wulf the Briton with great excitement over on his blog, saying: "To say this book has been a labor of love would be something of an understatement, but when Book Palace Books received a ginormous box of the printer's proofs to this volume the excitement was palpable. The book is costly but the results I think will justify the price, which even for the signed and lettered ultra-deluxe edition is still less expensive than buying a piece of Wulf artwork (if you can find one) or attempting to buy the complete run of Express Weeklys showcasing Ron Embleton's amazing artistry on this strip."

As Peter has stated, the scanning and retouching of the artwork for this volume has been painstaking and Peter has rescanned and reworked a number of pages that he was less than happy with to make sure the final volume will be as perfect as humanly possible. He's not the only one to do this... we did a run-off of the Wells Fargo pages a month or so ago and decided some of the pages were looking a little washed out in comparison with other pages due to the way we had to do the scanning (the strip started as straight line work and subsequently switched to line and wash). The problem was quickly sorted out, as were a few last minute corrections to the Thriller Index. I've also seen a print out of Wells Fargo on the paper the printer in Hong Kong was able to source and it looks fantastic.

Which means that the books have now been cleared for publication. As printing and shipping will take around six weeks it looks like the books will be appearing mid or late January, which should give you a chance to let the turkey sandwiches and mince pies settle before you try lifting that massive leatherbound copy of Wulf.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wulf the Briton

The final details of the Book Palace Books reprint of Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton have been finalised and we're pleased to announce a special offer on the book: anyone pre-ordering the hardcover or leatherbound slipcase edition can, for a limited time only, get a substantial discount.

Here are the details...

At last, all of Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton stories from Express Weekly and the Annuals in large format, gloriously reproduced in colour to the highest standard.

Wulf the Briton was without doubt Ron Embleton's comic masterpiece after he took over the strip - which was a single page cover feature on Express Weekly - in 1957.

The workload that Embleton undertook with Wulf was formidable. In comparison to Frank Hampson, who had a studio and assistants to help meet the weekly Dan Dare deadlines, Embleton just had himself to draw, letter and paint the feature. However Embleton was unfazed by such considerations and within a few months he was also writing the strip and steering it in a much more historically credible direction, as well as adding an extra page to the strip!

Ron Embelton's Wulf the Briton

Available December 2010
Artist: Ron Embleton
Author: Ron Embleton 
Publisher: Book Palace Books
Publication Date: December 2010
First Edition.
Pages: 352 pages
Size: 11" x 14" (270mm x 360mm)
Format: Hard Cover. 400 numbered copies worldwide
Illustrations: Full Colour
ISBN: 9781907081132
Price RRP £125

Special PRE-Publication Price £95  ALL PRE PAID ORDERS SAVE £30.
For a limited period we are offering a SPECIAL discounted price of £95 per book. Only ONE copy per customer.

Ron Embelton's Wulf the Briton
DELUXE LEATHERBOUND AND LEATHER SLIPCASED EDITION LIMITED TO 100 COPIES with an extra 24 pages showing original Wulf art.

Artist: Ron Embleton
Author: Ron Embleton
Publisher: Book Palace Books
Publication Date: December 2010
First Edition.
Pages: 376 pages
Size: 11" x 14" (270mm x 360mm)
Format: Leatherbound book and Leather slipcase. 100 Numbered copies worldwide
Illustrations: Full Colour
ISBN: 9781907081149
Price RRP £325

Special PRE-Publication Price £250  ALL PRE PAID ORDERS SAVE £75.
For a limited period we are offering a SPECIAL discounted price of £250 per book. Only ONE copy per customer.
Deluxe Leatherbound in leather slipcase edition limited to just 100 NUMBERED copies with an extra 24 pages showing original Wulf art.

Ron Embelton's Wulf the Briton
DELUXE LEATHERBOUND AND SLIPCASED EDITION LIMITED TO 26 LETTERED COPIES with an extra 24 pages showing original Wulf art plus original art reproduction of the famous battle scene, scanned from the original art

Artist: Ron Embleton
Author: Ron Embleton
Publisher: Book Palace Books
Publication Date: December 2010
First Edition.
Pages: 376 pages
Size: 11" x 14" (270mm x 360mm)
Format: Leatherbound book and Leather slipcase. 26 Lettered copies worldwide
Illustrations: Full Colour
ISBN: 9781907081156

Note only a fraction of these 26 copies are available to the public. Only ONE copy per customer.
Deluxe Leatherbound in leather slipcase edition limited to only 26 LETTERED copies with an extra 24 pages showing original Wulf art and a reproduction of the original art for the famous battle scene, scanned from the original art.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Don Lawrence Westerns

You'll find full publishing info. for the latest book from Book Palace. The Don Lawrence Westerns contains the complete run of two classic Don Lawrence strips never previously reprinted in English, and only partly reprinted elsewhere in the world. And all customers who pre-order the book will receive a free, numbered, limited edition colour print by Lawrence.

Here are the details...

The Don Lawrence Westerns
Limited edition
Artist: Don Lawrence
Author: Kelman D. Frost
Publisher: Book Palace Books
Publication Date: December 2010
Pages: 208 pages
Size: 220mm x 297mm
Format: Hard cover
Illustrations: B&W
ISBN: 9781907081064
Price RRP £25

Wells Fargo and Pony Express—all the exploits of the men driving and protecting the mail stages and their passengers. Wyatt Earp rode shotgun for Wells Fargo in Arizona, Wild Bill Hickok was a coach driver for the Pony Express and even Apache leader Cochise worked as a woodcutter for the Overland Mail.

This is a limited edition hard cover strictly limited to 700 copies worldwide.

For a limited period for ALL pre paid orders we are giving away a FREE numbered limited edition full colour print of a western bar scene by Don Lawrence (illustrated above). This is a numbered high quality print of just 150 copies. These are available while stocks last.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Thriller Index

Full publication information for volume 2 of the Fleetway Picture Library Index are now in.

The book is in a similar size and format to the previous War Libraries volume but—and it's a BIG but—the Thriller Libraries will be bigger, at 284 pages, and is printed in full colour throughout.

Here are the full details...

The Fleetway Picture Library Index Volume 2
The Thriller Libraires
Artist: Various
Author: Compiled by David Ashford and Steve Holland
Publisher: Book Palace Books
Publication Date: December 2010
Pages: 284 pages
Size: 185mm x 250mm
Format: Flexi Cover
Illustrations: Full Colour
ISBN: 978-1-907081-05-7
Price RRP £30

This eagerly waited book is the second in a series of 3 volumes chronicling the full credits of all Fleetway Picture Libraries and contains a complete index of artists and writers for Thriller Picture Library, Cowboy Picture Library and Super Detective Library.

Every issue is covered as well as the Robin Hood, Kit Carson and Buck Jones Annuals, as well as full credits for all Australian editions and many other associated comics. Packed with colour illustrations of every cover as well as reproductions of cover and interior original art, by Sep. E. Scott, John Millar Watt, Patrick Nicolle, Alex Raymond, Ron Turner, Derek Eyles, Cecil Doughty, H. M. Brock, Eric Parker, Carlos Roume, Arturo del Castillo, Jesus Blasco, Ferdinando Tacconi, and many more.

Included in this volume is an unprecedented number of reproductions of original cover art and interior art pages, never before seen.

Years of research have gone into producing this definitive, luxurious guide to these legendary British comics. A TRUE collector's treasure.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More on Wulf the Briton

Here's a treat for everyone waiting on Book Palace's Wulf the Briton reprint: above is the cover for the limited leather-bound edition.

Peter Richardson, the man behind all the hard work on the book, has been keeping fans updated on his Cloud 109 blog where he announced on Sunday that he had finally finished work on the book and had mailed off all the designs to Book Palace.

To reiterate some of Peter's comments, the final book will be printed at the same size as the original Express Weekly pages, approximately 36 x 26 cm. The book will run to 352 pages, including the complete run of Ron Embleton's strip covering the period May 1957 to September 1960 in the weekly and all four Wulf 8-pagers from the Express Annual. Peter has written an introduction, an afterword and commentaries to each story and the book will include additionally a foreword by Dave Gibbons and a reminiscence by Alan Vince.

As well as the regular edition there will be a limited (to 126 copies) leather-bound, gold-embossed edition in a slipcase which will feature 16 additional pages containing samples of 8 original pieces of Embeton's artwork; for each page there is also a detail printed at the same size as the original artwork.

Peter has presented a few spreads from his introduction at the link above, but to give you a sample, here's one of the best pages ever to appear in any comic, anywhere.

(* Wulf the Briton © Express Newspapers.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wulf update

Book Palace Books have just announced that the much-anticipated Wulf the Briton reprint will be available as a deluxe leather bound edition in a leather slipcase, limited to 126 copies as well as a deluxe hardcover.

See the Book Palace What's New page for the latest titles available.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wulf, Wells Fargo and the Thriller Libraries Index:
News from Book Palace Books

If things are going well, book publishing can be as graceful as a swan—serene on the surface and going like the clappers below the surface.

While there hasn't been much in the way of news from Book Palace Books over the past couple of months, we have been working steadily towards getting our next batch of titles finished and off to the printers. Followers of the Bear Alley blog will have had some advance warning of various books that are in the works. Two of the books I've been working on are now almost completed: Wells Fargo and The Thriller Libraries Index.

Wells Fargo collects together the complete run of two lost Don Lawrence strips: "Wells Fargo" and "Pony Express", originally published in 1958-61. When "Wells Fargo" began, Lawrence had been learning his trade drawing Marvelman and a variety of Western strips for Mick Anglo's Gower Studios. Quitting in 1957, Lawrence quickly found work elsewhere, with Odhams' Zip and Amalgamated Press's Sun. He spent almost two years drawing Western strips almost exclusively before finding a new niche drawing historical adventure strips "Olac the Gladiator" (for Tiger) and "Karl the Viking" (for Lion).

Lawrence was growing as an artist during the run of "Wells Fargo", honing the talent that would eventually earn him the chance to paint "The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire".

As well as Lawrence's fabulous artwork, the book also includes a detailed history of Wells Fargo and the Pony Express. The exploits of the men driving and protecting the mail stages and their passengers are an integral part of Western lore, as famous as many of the names that created the legends of the Wild West—Wyatt Earp rode shotgun for Wells Fargo in Arizona, Wild Bill Hickok was a coach driver for the Pony Express and even Apache leader Cochise worked as a woodcutter for the Overland Mail.

When it came to adventure, stories of cowboys and indians were hard to beat and the WIld West was the last wild frontier. Lawrence and scriptwriter Kelman D. Frost created two of the most entertaining comic strips of the era, capturing the excitement and exhilaration of the Wild West.

Second on the list of upcoming books is the long-awaited Thriller Libraries Index, companion of the War Libraries Index. The latest volume gathers together information  on some of the most collectable comics ever published in the UK, Thriller Comics, Cowboy Comics and Super Detective Library. Over the past few years we have been working like crazy to identify artists and writers on these popular titles, thoroughly overhauling the original lists that appeared almost twenty years ago.

The exciting news as far as we're concerned is that the book will be published in full colour throughout and will feature every cover for all three series. The book also includes checklists of the almost impossible to find Australian comic books that pre-dated the pocket libraries here in the UK and a range of spin-off annuals and books, including the Robin Hood, Kit Carson's Cowboy Annual, Buck Jones Annual and the two hardcover Battler Britton collections.

We have also gathered together the largest collection of original artwork illustrations which will also feature in the book. This is one book that both David and I are going to be very proud to have our names on!

And finally, for this round of titles, there's Wulf the Briton. This must be one of the most eagerly awaited books of the year. Gathering together the complete strip as drawn by Ron Embleton, the 300+ pages of astonishing action will be printed at the original size of Express Weekly, offering the best reproduction possible for this classic series.

The book will be available in hardcover and in a very limited edition leather bound edition. Both will feature an introduction by Peter Richardson and a foreword by Dave Gibbons.

News of this epic adventure's reappearance has already generated a lot of excitement. Peter has been keeping readers up-to-date on his progress via his Cloud 109 blog and we've just heard that our printers have tracked down the ivory paper we want for the book to make the strips look the best they can possibly be.

All three books are due for publication at the end of the year, so start saving your pennies.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Palace Books

Welcome to the new Book Palace Books blog!

Some of you will already know The Book Palace, which has been dealing in comics, books and original artwork for the past thirty years. Book Palace Books was launched in 2005 to publish The Modesty Blaise Companion, a comprehensive compendium of information on Peter O'Donnell's famous strip. In 2007, publisher Geoff West and designer Stuart Williams were joined by editor Steve Holland to republish some of the finest but forgotten strips from British comics. Beginning with Frank Bellamy's Robin Hood and Frank Bellamy's King Arthur, Book Palace Books set a high standard for quality, which they have continued with the recent publication of Frank Bellamy's Complete Swift Stories and Frank Bellamy's Story of World War 1, the latter available in both softcover and signed, limited edition hardcover.

Book Palace Books also took over the publication of the third volume of Robert E. Howard's Complete Conan of Cimmeria (available in a leatherbound, signed, limited edition, a signed, limited edition hardcover in slipcase and a signed, limited edition hardcover in slipcase with additional preliminary drawings).

We are currently working on our next group of titles, which will include the long-lost Wells Fargo and Pony Express strips by Don Lawrence, a collection of classic adaptations of H. Rider Haggard and the long-awaited Thriller Libraries Index, a companion to the War Libraries Index published in 2008.

Here at the Book Palace Books blog we'll keep you up to date with all the latest news and also cover some of the artists and artwork that is on offer through Book Palace and the Illustration Art Gallery.