Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Baretta Annual

A one-off annual from Brown Watson, Baretta Annual was based on the American TV series which ran for four seasons in 1975-78. The show starred Robert Blake as Tony Baretta, a plainclothes cop with 53rd precinct in New Jersey. Dressed in a soft cap and t-shirt, Baretta lives with a cockatoo named Fred in a hotel run by Billy Truman, a former colleague of Baretta's late policeman father.

The show ran to 82 episodes and for the life of me I don't recall ever seeing one of them. I went digging around YouTube and found these opening credits, but it's not ringing any bells.

Robert Blake had an interesting career, capped by a trial in 2002 for the murder of his wife, of which he was acquitted, although he was later found to be liable for her wrongful death at a civil court case in 2005. Wikipedia has more details.

The Baretta Annual from Brown Watson was the usual mix of stories, strips and features. This is one I had down as being by Steve Moore, although he later said that he couldn't remember what his contributions were. Like me and the programme, nothing rang any bells.

The artwork is by Ron Tiner (strips), John Bolton and, possibly, John Peter Britton. I'll post examples from all three over the next few days and maybe we can get some confirmation of the latter's contributions (if any). First up, the strip that opened the book, drawn by Ron Tiner...

(* Baretta © Universal City Studios Inc.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Basil F. Deakin

A regular contributor to comics and annuals in the 1950s, Basil Deakin wrote spy and jungle stories for Lion featuring Julo of the Islands (1954) and Max Malone of the Secret Service (1957-60), which for a time co-starred Battler Britton (the character was subsequently taken over by Frank S. Pepper). As well as writing anonymously and as Guy Deakin and Trevor Hugh in the pages of Lion, he also wrote for the Lion Annual as Michael Alan. Full details can be found in Lion King of Picture Story Papers.

As Guy Deakin, he contributed a number of stories to other annuals, including the Daily Mail Boys Annual, Daily Sketch Modern Boys Annual, Super Thriller Annual and Our Own Schoolboys Annual. I believe he also adopted the name Beryl Deakin for a story in Cherry Ames Girls Annual.

In 1960, Deakin published the first of a number of tie-in books. Walt Disney's Zorro Annual contained nine stories by Deakin illustrated by John Challen. Deakin also wrote a collection of stories, True Adventure Stories for Girls, for Paul Hamlyn's Spring Books, and four volumes based on the western series Bonanza for Purnell, illustrated by a number of artists, including R. Walker and Barrie Mitchell.

He also penned three adventure stories for Collins' Spitfire Books range of short novels.

Basil Frederick Deakin was born in Aston, Warwickshire, on 21 August 1906. His birth was registered as Frederick Basil Deakin, named after his father, Frederick Montague Deakin (1878-1973), but I suspect that, like many families, he was known to his family as Basil as 'dad' would have been called Fred or Frederick. It is not uncommon to find people switching their Christian names for this reason.

At the time of the 1911 census, Frederick, his wife Florence Martha Deakin (d.1961), and the family—which included siblings Marjorie Dorothy (1899), Madeline May (1901-1993) and Colin Hugh (1910-2003)—were living at 6 Rowdan Road, Beckenham. Frederick was a municipal official inspector of buildings for Beckenham urban district council. He served during the First World War, giving his address in 1914 as 34 Royston Road, Penge SW. After the Great War, the family moved to 7 Werter Road, Putney SW15.

Basil Deakin married Hilda Rose Gore (1898-1988) in 1926 and had a number of children, including Keith Warwick I. (1927-1994), Trevor Hugh Guy (1929), who seems to have been the source of numerous pen-names, and Michael A. B. (1933). At the time, the family lived at 24 Tangier Road, Richmond [fl. 1929/31) before moving to 16 Copthall Gardens, Twickenham [fl.1934/57].

Basil died in Louth, Lincolnshire, in February 1989, shortly after the death of his wife.


The Menace of Mask. London & Glasgow, Collins (Spitfire Books), 1967.
Secret of Zarb. London & Glasgow, Collins (Spitfire Books), 1967.
The Terror of Tiba. London & Glasgow, Collins (Spitfire Books), 1967. 

Walt Disney’s Zorro Annual. London, Daily Mirror, 1960.
True Adventure Stories for Girls. London, Spring Books, 1961.
Bonanza. Paulton & London, Purnell, 4 vols., 1965-68.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

David Brin Cover Gallery


Sundiver (New York, Bantam Books, 1980)
Bantam Books 0553-17162-3, £1.95.
Orbit 1857-23370-0, 1996, 340pp,  £5.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1996; [3rd imp.] 1996; [4th imp.] 1997; [5th imp.] 1998

Startide Rising (New York, Bantam Books, 1983; revised, West Bloomfield, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1985)
Bantam Books 0553-17170-4, Aug 1985, 462pp, £2.50. Cover by Bruce Pennington?
Bantam Books, 1993
Orbit 1857-23372-7, 1996, 458pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1996; [3rd imp.] 1997; [4th imp.] 1998

The Practice Effect (New York, Bantam Books, 1984)
Bantam Books 0553-17184-4, Feb 1986, 277pp, £1.95
---- [2nd imp.] 1991, 277pp, £3.99.

The Postman (New York, Bantam Spectra, 1985)
Bantam Books 0553-17193-3, 1987, 321pp.
Orbit 1857-23405-7, 1997, 321pp, £5.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1997; [3rd imp.] 1998; [4th imp.] 1998
Orbit 978-0356-50175-8, 2012, 389pp, £8.99. Cover design by Nico Taylor

Heart of the Comet, with Gregory Benford (New York, Bantam Books, 1986)
Orbit 1857-23436-7, 1997, 477pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1998; [3rd imp.] 2002, £7.99

The Uplift War (West Bloomfield, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1987)
Bantam Books 0553-17452-5, 1987, xi+638pp. Cover by Tony Roberts
Orbit 1857-23371-9, 1996, 638pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1996; [3rd imp.] 1997; [4th imp.] 1997; [5th imp.] 1998

Earth (New York, Bantam Spectra, 1990)
Futura 0708-84872-9, 1990, 751pp, £4.99. Cover by Kevin W. Kelley
Orbit 978-0356-50176-5, 2012

Glory Season (London, Orbit, 1993)
Orbit 1857-23202-X, 1994, 608pp.

Brightness Reef (New York, Bantam Books, 1995)
Orbit 1857-23385-9, 1996, 705pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino
---- [2nd imp.] 1996; [3rd imp.] 1997; [4th imp.] 1998

Infinity's Shore (New York, Bantam Books, 1996)
Orbit 1857-23565-7, 1998, 670pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino

Heaven's Reach (New York, Bantam Books, 1998)
Orbit 1857-23739-0, 1999, 592pp. Cover by Fred Gambino

Foundation's Triumph (New York, HarperPrism, 1999)
Orbit 1841-49000-8, 2000, 440pp, £6.99. Cover by Fred Gambino

Kil'n People (New York, Tor, 2002)
Orbit 1841-49152-7, 2002, 612pp.

Existence (New York, Tor, 2012)
Orbit 978-0356-50173-4, 2012, 659pp, £8.99. Cover design Nico Taylor (LBBG)


The River of Time (Niles, Illinois, Dark Harvest, 1986)
Orbit 1857-23413-8, 1997, 295pp, £5.99. Cover by Fred Gambino

Otherness (London, Orbit, 1994)
Orbit 1857-23310-7, 1994, 387pp. Cover by Fred Gambino?

Tomorrow Happens (Framingham, Massachusetts, NESFA Press, 2003)
(no UK paperback, NESFA edition cover by Jim Burns)

Graphic Novel
The Life Eaters, illus. Scott Hampton (New York, DC Comics/Wildstorm, 2003)

The Transparent Society (New York, Addison-Wesley, 1998)
Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe, with Kevin Lenagh (New York, Bantam Spectra, 2002)
Through Stranger Eyes: Reviews, Introductions, Tributes and Iconoclastic Essays (AnnArbor, Michigan, Nimble Books, 2008)

Others (as editor)
Project Solar Sail, with Arthur C. Clarke (New York, Penguin/Roc, 1990)
King Kong Is Back!: An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape!, with Leah Wilson (Dallas, Texas, BenBella Books, 2005)

Non-fiction (as editor)
Star Wars on Trial: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Debate the Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time, with Matthew Woodring Stover  (Dallas, Texas, BenBella Books/Smart Pop, 2006)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Comic Cuts - 15 August 2014

This should be the final week that I gloss over any news of the next title to appear from Bear Alley Books. I'm in the process of swapping contracts with the copyright owner and about to write out a cheque, so I should be able to announce the title next week.

I haven't been idle... it's a comic strip reprint so I have been cleaning up scans and roughing out an introduction. The former process is almost finished and I should have the text finished next week. I still have to sort out a cover and to lay out the book, but my turnaround time is pretty quick and the book should be available next month.

So... um... do you want to hear about the tomatoes? We've now had 14 of the big 'uns and 44 cherry tomatoes. And they're delicious, too. I don't want to talk them up too much, but they put Sainsbury's tomatoes to shame. You can—and I do—eat them as a snack. Yum!

Maybe it's the mix of rain and sunshine we're having that's bringing out the best of the plants. I've just read on the Wikipedia page for tomato that "the poor taste and lack of sugar in modern garden and commercial tomato varieties resulted from breeding tomatoes to ripen uniformly red." This is what happens when you listen to Marketing over Quality Control—now doctors have to tell you to eat fruit because breeding has made them aesthetically pleasing, but bland and tasteless. A bit like pop stars.

The other good bit of news is that I'm now 15 stone something rather than 16 stone something. I have what's best described as a sedentary lifestyle: I'm in front of a computer most of the day when I'm not in front of the TV or in bed. And since I've worked from home I've steadily piled on the pounds. Things weren't helped by my heavy smoking, a love of fast food and a bad back that has caused me problems since I slipped a disc when I was in my early twenties.

You can get away with a lot when you're young, but not so much when you're getting a bit long in the tooth. Since moving to Colchester twenty-something years ago I've put on weight steadily; when I gave up smoking three years ago I piled in on, which was causing major problems with my back. It was getting to the stage where Channel 5 were going to get interested in putting me in a documentary. So I decided I needed to lose some weight, slowly and steadily in a sustainable way. Over the past year and a half I've lost about a pound a month following the simple dietary advice that you need to "eat less and move around more".

And this week I cracked that 16 stone barrier. I've still a long, long way to go... I need to lose another 2 stone just to be considered obese and another 4 stone to get to the top end of where my weight should be. If you're not a regular reader, maybe you should make a note to call back in four years and see if I made it.

Random scans this week are a selection of books I've picked up cheap recently. When I moved to Colchester there were three very good second-hand bookshops. We're now down to one and the charity shops rarely carry anything pre-decimal. There's one bookshop in Wivenhoe, which has a shelf of second-hand books... but there are second-hand books all over the place. One of the newsagents sells cheap books, the post office ladies raise money for charity by selling books for 50p, all the pubs have a shelf of books that you can read or take and sometimes you'll just find books sitting in a box on a wall with a note saying: Free.

A free box is where I found Hubert Selby's once controversial Last Exit to Brooklyn, still the only book, as far as I know, that someone actually claimed depraved them. It was during an obscenity trial, and the woolly definition of an obscene libel is that it is something that has a tendency to deprave or corrupt. Well, nobody has ever shown quite how a book has depraved or corrupted the witnesses brought in to speak against it... except once when, back in the late 1960s, publisher Sir Basil Blackwell said that he had been corrupted by reading Last Exit to Brooklyn. The jury found against the publisher John Calder, but the verdict was overturned on appeal.

Nick Davies is the journalist responsible for breaking the phone hacking scandal. This is one of his earlier books, the grim and tragic story of drugs and prostitution and poverty in Britain... and this during the supposed boom years of the 1990s. I'd hate to think what a sequel would uncover about society today, thanks to bedroom taxes and the tabloids demonizing the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho I found in a pub. I'm endlessly fascinated by Hitchcock, who made some of my favourite movies (I've probably got more Hitchcock movies than films by any other director). This one features Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren from the 2012 movie on the cover. The book is packed with detail about the movie, from its conception as a novel and the first abortive screenplay to its presentation in theatres and its influence on later movies.

And, lastly, we have Lyttleton's Britain, which cost me 50p. It collects some of the introductions that Humphrey Littleton gave to the various towns visited during the recording of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. These have always been a delight—and I'm glad to see (or, rather, hear) Jack Dee continue the tradition to this day. Although they will always be best with Humphs sometimes faltering but always knowing delivery, some of the entries are laugh out loud even when read in silence.

Last week I knew what the hell I was going to be doing for the next few days. This week... not so good. I'm trying to put together a John D. MacDonald cover gallery but the clock is ticking and I might not be able to get it finished. I've dug out a couple of annuals that have some strips and illustrations worth rescuing from obscurity.

So the next seven days may see some combination of the above, and at the end of it an announcement. It's about time. (Or am I thinking of Doctor Who?)