Saturday, December 31, 2011

Treats for 2012

Well, the cat has been well and truly let out of the bag. Book Palace Books are to publish Heros the Spartan in 2012. The book will collect together all of the Frank Bellamy episodes of the strip in a deluxe hardback... and if you've seen the Book Palace's Wulf the Briton you'll have some clue as to what we mean by deluxe.

Price and publication date are still to be worked out — the pages have to be carefully restored and every effort is being put into tracking down as much of Bellamy's original artwork as possible. We will, of course, keep you up to date with any news as it arrives.

In the meantime, let's not forget that we have a few other projects up our collective sleeves, not least of which is Illustrators magazine, which should debut in the Spring of 2012. Each issue will be a gorgeous collection of some of the best artwork you'll ever see, with extensive features on the likes of Fortunino Matania, John Millar Watt, Chris Foss, Giorgio De Garpari, Denis McLoughlin and Ian Kennedy, to name just a tiny handful.

And then there are books. David Ashford was kept busy in 2011 penning The Art Noir of Denis McLoughlin, which will be the ultimate collection of McLoughlin's gorgeous covers for T. V. Boardman. And my own humble contribution to these upcoming treats is Adventure Stories of H. Rider Haggard, a collection of three strips by Jesus Blasco, Mike Hubbard and C. L. Doughty.

Something, we hope, for everyone.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

There Came...

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Once Mighty Empire

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Conspired Against...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Coming In 2012

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.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sep E. Scott - reused covers part 2

Continuing our look at the reprinted Robin Hood cover art by Sep E. Scott. The original Thriller versions of these images can be found in our index, The Thriller Libraries.

Buster Adventure Library 22 (reprints TPL 222)

Buster Adventure Library 24 (reprints TPL 202)

Buster Adventure Library 26 (reprints TPL 186)

Buster Adventure Library 28 (reprints Robin Hood Annual 1958)

Buster Adventure Library 32 (reprints TPL 182)

Buster Adventure Library 36 (reprints TPL 170)

(* My thanks to Roger Green for providing the original scans.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Before and After - The Gentle Art of Restoration Revisited

Just to shed a few tantalizing extra shafts of light on both Illustrators and The Art Of Denis McLoughlin, I must make mention of the amazing work of Mark Terry of Facsimile Dustjackets. Mark who has a real passion for his art and the knowledge and understanding of the medium within which he works has brought his skills to bear on restoring many of the fabulous 'noire' covers that will be illustrating both the feature on Denis McLoughlin in our debut issue of Illustrators and the forthcoming Art of Denis McLoughlin, which will be coming your way from Book Palace Books in 2012.

Here as a taster are a couple of before and afters, from some of those incredibly rare early TV Boardman, McLoughlin designed covers.

For more of Mark's work and information on some truly exquisite reproduction dust jackets I would strongly recommend a visit to his site where you can access some truly iconic cover images, one of the coolest time capsules on the web.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Illustrators Unveiled!

OK the time has come - the time to stop dickering around and to come straight out with it, there is a new publication due to be launched by Book Palace Books next year and it's dedicated to a subject dear to many of us - illustration.

Illustrators for that is the name of our new journal is dedicated to spreading the word about some of the most iconic images ever to see print. In the pages of Illustrators you will read about some of the most inspired artists to commit their art to print. These are the people who with brush, pen and pencil were capable of transporting their audiences to the farthest reach of their imaginations. The audiences that many of these artists were catering for were international, their work was collected and admired by readers the length and breadth of Europe and the US. But with the passing of years and the ascendancy of new media, much of this brilliant and inspirational work is falling from the collective conscious.

Illustrators will remedy that by presenting you with a publication that four times a year will guide you through the stories behind these artists, the publishers that commissioned them, the agents that promoted them, the friends and partners that posed for them and the crazy stuff such as the artist who created his incredible covers in an unfurnished bedsit with a parrot for company. All this and more will be revealed in each edition of Illustrators. These features written by some of the most eminent enthusiasts of this oft neglected art form will provide a contextualization to the truly fabulous artwork which we will be presenting you with in each and every issue of Illustrators. Wherever possible we will be bringing you scans of some of the most incredible examples of original artwork by the artists concerned. Early issues of Illustrators will be bringing you the art of Fortunino Matania, Reginald Heade, Chris Foss, John Millar Watt, Luis Garcia, Jordi Penalva, Giorgio De Gaspari and Graham Coton, as well as artists who although equally brilliant are in many ways unknown and unsung. With contributions from writers and artists such as David Roach, David Ashford, Steve Holland, Rian Hughes and Norman Wright as well as access to many of the artists and/ or their agents and their families we aim to provide the most authoritative insight into the stories behind the UK and Europe's most inspired and inspirational artists. Our first issue debuts with a feature on Denis McLoughlin and an interview with the legendary Ian Kennedy looking back on his sixty two years in the business.

We'll keep you posted as we get nearer to publication date but in the meantime here's a taste of things to come (Please note these illustrations are for display purposes only and may be subject to change upon publication):

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sep E. Scott - reused covers

Sep E. Scott was one of the finest artists used by Thriller Picture Library and it is no surprise that his work - much of it on the Robin Hood series - was reprinted. We published a complete run of Thriller covers in The Thriller Libraries index, so we have some reprints from Buster Adventure Library here for you delectation and delight.

Buster Adventure Library 4 (reprints TPL 198)

Buster Adventure Library 10 (reprints TPL 77)

Buster Adventure Library 12 (reprints Robin Hood Annual 1958)

Buster Adventure Library 14 (reprints TPL 236)

Buster Adventure Library 18 (reprints TPL 106)

Buster Adventure Library 20 (reprints TPL 166)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cowboy cover reprints

In The Thriller Libraries we were able to index the mysterious and very scarce Australian cowboy comics for the very first time. These comic book titles were published by the Amalgamated Press, written, drawn and edited in the UK for exclusive printing in Australia in an attempt to recapture some of the market the A.P. had lost during and immediately after the war. Many of the stories were subsequently reprinted in Cowboy Comics, the first British comic pocket library.

A great many covers were also reused by Cowboy Comics but with variations. Take, for instance, Kit Carson issue 17, published in April 1951; the same cover was used on Cowboy Comics issue 30 in June 1951 but with coloured in an entirely different way to take advantage - I believe - of the better printing process used on the British Cowboy Comics.

The cover artist was Geoff Campion, who would have supplied a black & white image in the first instance; the colour separations were handled by someone else, probably Kay Ivens who was, at one time, Edward Holmes' secretary - Holmes being the editor of both the Australian A.P. comics and Cowboy Comics. Kay Ivens later left comics to become a nurse, but what happened to her after that is unknown.

Geoff Campion, a master of dynamic action scenes, clearly thought he'd captured a moment in this scene and reused roughly the same image for a Billy the Kid cover story in Sun in 1952.

(* Artwork © IPC Media)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Thriller Libraries: corrections and additions

In a book the size of The Thriller Libraries, a number of errors are almost certain to creep in and, the moment you complete the book, new information is bound to come to light. I'm pleased to say that the number of errors spotted has been minimal, but it is worth setting up a column so that when anything turns up, there will be somewhere to post the information.

p.21. The picture labelled Cowboy Picture Library 346 is, in fact, Western Library 59 (see image at the top of this column). The artist is James E. McConnell.

p.25. The caption "Cecil Doughty's bright and dynamic original painting of Dick Turpin for the cover of Thriller Picture Library 223" should read "Stephen Chapman's bright and dynamic...". Chapman is correctly credited with the cover on p.175.

p.118. The artist credit for Cowboy Picture Library 387 should be Jorge Moliterni rather than Jorge Macabich. This alteration should also be noted in the artist's index on pages 272 and 273.

p.245. The scriptwriting credits for issues 137 and 139 have been mixed up. 137 is by Harry Harrison and 139 is by Conrad Frost/Barry Coker.

p.275. Unknown Artist [B] has been identified as Emilio Frejo. Frejo is, therefore, the artist of issues 455 (p.124) and 467 (p.125) of Cowboy Picture Library.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thriller Index bonus

Above is an original painting that we didn't have room for in The Thriller Index. The artist is Giorgio De Gaspari, one of the regular cover artists on Cowboy Picture Library between September 1958 and May 1960. Infamously, De Gaspari was asked to produce a Kit Carson cover featuring Kit by a rock in the desert with a sandy background. Rather than paint one in, De Gaspari sent his wife to the seaside by taxi to collect buckets of sand; this involved a major round-trip as Milan, where he was based, was nowhere near the ocean.

When the artwork arrived, the editors marvelled at the artist's genius... then peeled off the real sand that he had glued to the page as the machinery involved in the printing process would not have taken kindly to bits of sand falling off the artwork.

I have my suspicions that the artwork in question was either the piece above, from issue 321, September 1959, or issue 325 (October 1959), both of which have sandy backgrounds.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quartermain

A book that has been waiting in the wings for some time at Book Palace Books is the collection of H. Rider Haggard stories - King Solomon's Mines, Allan Quatermain and Montezuma's Daughter - which should be amongst the next set of releases.

Above you'll see the opening page of Mike Hubbard's superb adaptation of Allan Quatermain, both the original processed scan and the finished, cleaned-up artwork which has also been relettered in the style of the original as it appeared in Ranger. The only change I made was to lower the lettering on the final panel, which began over the picture on the printed version.

It's a fantastic strip... and one that's going to look great when the book appears. We'll be running a few more teasers over the coming months, just to whet your appetite.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Art of Denis McLoughlin

Just to bring you up to date on the book that has been bubbling away for a year or so, namely the definitive look at the life and work of Denis McLoughlin whose 'noir's style cover art has attracted devotees and collectors on both sides of the Atlantic.

The book The Art of Denis McLoughlin to  be published next Spring, is written by Denis McLoughlin's good friend and biographer David Ashford as well as containing an account of the artist's life, art and influences written by Denis McLoughlin himself. The book will feature reproductions from the surviving original artwork, "pulls" in high quality print, never before seen photos chronicling the artist's life and page after page of some of the most stunning artwork ever to see print in the 20th century.

So here's some teaser spreads and the current promo that will be going out in the latest Book Palace catalogue.