Friday, July 13, 2012

Research is a Wonderful Thing

Hello there and welcome back. Thanks to all of you who expressed concern but yes I did survive the hippy festival, just barely mind. While I sit here in a happy hippy daze I thought I should bring to your attention a little something you may have missed.

A book as rich in detail and as copiously illustrated as David Ashford's The Art of Denis McLoughlin requires an awful lot of research. Editor Peter Richardson spent a considerable amount of time and effort in collecting samples of Denis McLoughlin's work on the T.V. Boardman American Bloodhound Mystery series. Here's one I read earlier (don't tell the wife!).

The results of his collecting frenzy will be plain for the world to see once the book is published in August. These Bloodhound books, once extremely popular, are now increasingly rare and in demand amongst collectors. It's easy to understand why they command respectable prices; not only did the books introduce many significant  thriller / mystery authors to the British market but Denis McLoughlin in his capacity as Art Director of the series produced some of his strongest work for them.

As lovely as these books are we've decided that the best thing to do is release them back into the wild and give collectors a chance to fill in the gaps in their Wants Lists. You can find a full listing of those we have for sale here including full descriptions; condition etc. The highlight for me has to be this very nice example of Henry Kane's Death on the Double, which as well as having one of Denis Loughlin's most alluring covers also features as a bonus a bookmark, a contemporary T.V. Boardman catalogue AND a letter signed by McLoughlin himself; a unique opportunity for collectors of the great man's work.

The Art of Denis McLoughlin together with the eagerly anticipated Illustrators Quarterly issue one (available here) are due to land in the UK around the 18th August. We feel certain that once people see the high quality reproductions of these covers the rare Bloodhound originals will fly off the shelves. Fair warning and all that.
That's all for now, have a good weekend. Best, Dave.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Heros - A First Glimpse of the Cover Art

Dave, over at Book Palace HQ has been doing a magnificent job of releasing tit-bits of information on our forthcoming Heros project and as we have been emailing contributors, restoring scans and devising the overall layout, none of which could have happened without the negotiations with various interested parties to achieve copyright clearance, dotting of Is, crossing of Ts etc, etc, we have been aware of a build up of speculation to the point where we just know that we have to start showing you something more substantial than verbatim scans of old Heros spreads.

So let me fill you in on a few of the details, so you can get a handle on what is happening. Firstly and most importantly the format; the book is going to be the same size as our Wulf the Briton epic, so it's Gi-Normous, so that you can fully appreciate the artwork as Frank Bellamy intended it to be seen. Interestingly, Bellamy was such a perfectionist that he often worked on his strips the same size as they were reproduced, and never more than a quarter up, so he knew exactly how each pen line and brush stroke would reproduce. In addition and such was his professionalism, he reduced the number of bottles of colour Pelikan ink he worked with to ... 3, plus black. The reason being that Eric Bemrose who printed the Eagle would often have to retouch art which had colours that were proving unco-operative in repro and such work resulted in the publisher having a re-touching surcharge added to their bill. Bellamy's work NEVER incurred one of these charges.

So the good news is that, as with Wulf, you are getting the optimum best job we can deliver in terms of the pages being as Bellamy intended. There is one compromise we have had to make and that is that the book will not be presenting each double page spread on a single page. We fully explored the feasibility of such an approach, but we were left with two alternatives, one being a greatly reduced size for each Heros spread, the other being a book that would have to be bound along it's longer edge and would cost a fortune.

So in the end sanity prevailed, we went back and looked at the double page spread in our companion volume Wulf The Briton (there is one from Christmas 1959) and looked at the all important gutter. The wonderful thing about Prolong is the quality of their binding, the books are bound in signatures of four sheets and open out flat with no problem whatsoever, so in the end we decided that the answer to our problem was right under our noses. In addition the book will be much easier to handle and more of a reading experience. Plus it will greatly help in keeping the cost of this book down. So all in all we decided it was by far the best route to take.

Anyway and because I know you are keen to see something more substantive here are some before and after restorations plus...

The cover. Hope you like it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Heros - A Quick Update

Before I head out of the office for a weekend spent camping in a field with a bunch of Dead Heads (no giggling at the back please) I'm very pleased to be able to announce that comics legends John Byrne, Dave Gibbons and Walt Simonson have all graciously offered to contribute their memories and appreciation of Frank Bellamy's legendary Heros the Spartan comic strip. The three gentlemen  explain a little of what Bellamy's famous creation means to them and the influence it has had on their own outstanding and award winning work.

These two images come from the rarely seen Eagle Annual from 1966, the very last work by Frank Bellamy on this series to be published in Eagle. Note particularly the use of dramatic contrast in the inking, unusual in artwork of this period designed to be coloured where simple blocking usually sufficed. Also of course the circular panel used to highlight and suspend a moment of dramatic action.

I think this second example really shows Bellamy's layout design and colouring to great advantage.

We are honoured to receive Messrs Byrne, Gibbons and Simonson's contributions for our Heros project and we hope that their insights will enable readers far and wide to more fully appreciate the genius of Frank Bellamy's creation.

Please note scans above are from a copy of the Eagle annual in rough and not our finished work destined for the Book Palace Books edition, thus the bend in the centre of the page where it isn't quite flat.

Right off to camp it up in the mud. See you soon I hope!