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Friday, April 07, 2017

Comic Cuts - 7 April 2017

Progress was made on a couple of fronts this week. The money-paying work that has been hanging over my head for the past month is finally going somewhere; I have two more articles written on financial subjects that, to be honest, I barely understand. If you're ever in the same situation, do what I did: find somebody who does understand the subject and interview them. Then, in the edit, change your dumb questions (e.g. "What does that mean?") to smarter-sounding questions (e.g. "Is it a strategy that can be applied globally to both large corporations and SMEs?").

On the Valiant index front I took a break from the 1960s where my note taking has reached 1966 and The House of Dolmann and jumped ahead a decade to take a look at One-Eyed Jack, as Rebellion have a collection coming out in June. What a great strip. Not without its problems: cramming a whole story with a beginning, middle and end into three pages was never the best way to do things, hence to preponderance of serials in British weekly anthology comics.

2000AD solved this problem by giving strips like Judge Dredd more space; Valiant solved it by training its writers to cut out every bit of fat from a storyline, which made each tale motor along but without any hope of complexity in the plots of development in the characters. That's great when you're 12 and not looking for anything other than a fast-paced yarn to entertain you, but you can see how limiting that is when you're re-reading a strip for the first time in forty years.

To make the stories readable, given the limitations of the format, was a skill in itself and that's why you see the same names crop up over and over again in British comics. There are still vast holes to fill in our knowledge of who wrote what, but it's usually the same names who crop up time and again: Tom Tully, Fred Baker, Frank Pepper, Scott Goodall... and in the Seventies and beyond Pat Mills, John Wagner, Gerry Finley-Day, Alan Hebden... writers who could spin an imaginative yarn within the boundaries of the short-form format of British comics.

I've also been keeping busy indexing some of Fleetway's old annuals. It's a bit of a sideline, and I really ought to be concentrating on Valiant, but there was so much reprinting in later annuals and holiday specials that knowing where the strips originally appeared is quite useful for other indexes.

Random scans... for no particular reason, a group of books by winners of the Victoria Cross.


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