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Monday, March 30, 2015

The Eagle Cutaways of Bruce Cornwell

The Eagle Cutaways of Bruce Cornwell
by Jeremy Briggs

One of the staples of Eagle comic over its nineteen years was the cutaway. These fascinating and educational illustrations weathered the changes to the comic throughout the 1950s and 1960s, running with few gaps from an electric train in the first issue to a truck in the penultimate issue. Both these cutaways were illustrated by Leslie Ashwell Wood who was by far the most prolific cutaway artist Eagle had, contributing almost two thirds of the near 960 cutaways published in the weekly title.

While not all the cutaways are signed and therefore attributable to a specific artist, there were at least 23 artists other than Wood who contributed cutaways, from the familiar names of J Walkden Fisher with 59, Lawrence Dunn with 48 plus Geoffrey Wheeler and John Batchelor with 44 each, to the less familiar names of Brian Watson, T C Renwick-Adams and Alan Crisp who provided one each. One familiar name not normally associated with the Eagle cutaways is Dan Dare artist A Bruce Cornwell.

Bruce Cornwell’s earliest published Eagle cutaways were of the Rotor Cruiser and the Theron Duty Cutter for the 1953 Dan Dare Spacebook, not done in the coloured half centrespread style of the comic at the time but as highly detailed full page black and white images in keeping with the rest of the Space Book. Ten years later he would also draw several more simplified cutaways as part of larger articles in the 1963 Dan Dare Space Annual with one, the Faroe Jet, signed with his ABC initials.

None of these black and white cutaways were in the style of those that the weekly comic was known for. However he did paint four colour cutaways for the weekly Eagle and, perhaps unsurprising for a former merchant seaman, they were all of ships. Bruce remembered that “the subjects were all chosen by the editor, but I always wrote the text and key.” As to whether the amount of detail in the illustrations required him to increase the size of his original artwork he recalled, “sometimes it was half up or one up but never any larger.”


The first of these colour cutaways appeared in Eagle v11 #37 (dated 10 September 1960) and showed the passenger/cargo ship, RMS Windsor Castle, which was then used by its owners, Union Castle Line, to sail between England and South Africa. The ship had a relatively tall superstructure and funnel in comparison to its length and to help overcome this within the confines of the requirement for a long, narrow illustration, he buried the lower bow well into the sea and effectively off the page to allow more room for the height required.


In v12 #4 (28 January 1961), at a time before communications satellites, HM Telegraph Ship Monarch, operated by the state run General Post Office, provided the means of worldwide communication by laying undersea cables. When asked if he had ever had the chance to see or visit any of the cutaway subjects before he began his work, Bruce remembered, “Only Monarch, I went on board when she was up the Thames loading cable. The design department were very helpful in supplying me with a roll of blueprints.”

Asked what the response if any there was to his cutaways in the comic, he recalled, “When Eagle published the Monarch work the GPO contacted me to produce another cutaway for them, of course it was a different angle but with the same detail. They wanted to send it to schools who were always requesting details.”


Rather closer to home in v13 #32 (11 August 1962) was the Woolwich car and passenger ferry which ploughed its trade on the Thames between Woolwich and North Woolwich. Of the four ships that he produced cutaways for Eagle of the Woolwich ferry was the one that had the best chance that Eagle readers would actually travel on. How then was he able to get enough information on the vessels to make the cutaways accurate and was there a need to make educated guesswork? “No guesswork ever,” replied Bruce emphatically, “there’s always some ‘clever’ individual out there waiting to pull you up.” However the Woolwich ferry did pose a different challenge, “I had to dig out information on the new Woolwich ferry only to find out that it had been ordered but not built. The agency supplied me with engineer’s plans and wished me luck!”


Bruce Cornwell’s final weekly Eagle cutaway was of the first of only four civilian nuclear powered cargo ships ever built, the NS Savannah. This ship was operated by the American State Marine Lines and the cutaway appeared in v13 #52 (29 December 1962). To modern eyes this is perhaps the most usual subject of the four cutaways but the Savannah was in service from 1962 until 1972 and still exists today berthed at Baltimore in the United States where she has been declared a Historic National Landmark.


There are a few other cutaways by Bruce Cornwell associated with Eagle that are worth mentioning. In 1952 he illustrated a short factual series entitled Ships Through the Ages and, as part of the 16th And 17th Century Craft section of this in Eagle v3 #8 (30 May 1952) he presented the sectional cutaway of a high-sterned Elizabethan warship in a large, signed panel.


However there was another Eagle cutaway that he did even before the first issue of the comic was published that was, ironically, his last cutaway to be published. The illustration was of Dan Dare’s Number 2 rocket ship from the Voyage to Venus story. “Frank requested it”, Bruce recalls, “even the layout and left the job to me. This was before we went to press. He was pleased with the finished job, but after that, I don’t know what happened to it.”

What happened to it was that it lay forgotten for decades until it was rediscovered and was finally published, along with a new key devised by Bruce himself listing its different sections, as the colour centrespread of Spaceship Away issue 22 in Autumn 2010.

His most detailed Eagle cutaways were his four ships. Asked if he enjoyed the challenge of painting his four main Eagle cutaways Bruce replied, “I did enjoy them; the sea and ships have always been a passion of mine.”

(I was fortunate to correspond with Bruce Cornwell for a year or so before he passed away on 2 March 2012 during which time he helped me in writing several articles on his non-Dan Dare work, articles that were written for Eagle Times, the journal of the Eagle Society. Bruce was generous with his time while his memory of events, people and his work from more than half a century beforehand was quite remarkable. This article on his cutaway work was the last one I completed with his help. The original version of this article was published in Eagle Times v25 #1, Spring 2012).

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Peter Grehan

Peter Grehan has scripted a number of issues of Commando during the 21st century. His LinkedIn profile reveals that he has written widely for film, audio, magazines and technical publications. He began his career as a technical assistant at BP Chemicals in 1974 before joining HTV in Cardiff as an assistant in 1983. He switched to engineering, working in various roles writing procedures and assembly instructions for Mitel Telecom, Electrocoin Automatics, G. E. Aircraft Engines and Quantum Electronics Manufacturing between 1987 and 2000.

In March 2001 he became a technical editor for JPM International, Cardiff. He had previously published small press and in-house magazines and freelanced as a writer since 1999, his work appearing in Manufacturing and Engineering Magazine and elsewhere. In 1999, he penned the audio CD drama Silent Warrior (1999) featuring the Sontarans for BBV; this was followed in the early 2000s with a number of audio internet productions for BTR Productions, an Australian SF group best-known made a number of Doctor Who audio dramas, including Grehan's 3-episode Smokescreen (2002). Most of his contributions were one-off dramas (Time to Go Home (2002), God Rust Ye Merry Gentlemen (2002), Countdown (2003), Crisp and Even).

He had a number of jobs throughout this period, including work as a part-time lecturer at the University of Glamorgan and as a technical author for Contour Premium Aircraft Seating. Since 2008, he has been a visitor services assistant at the Wales Millennium Centre, and he spent a year as a host at the Doctor Who Experience, Cardiff.

His recent writing has included the short film Torn Veil (2009) and the radio play The Quarry (2013). His Natural Born Cyborgs was a finalist in the Sherman Cymru Script Slam Competition in 2009. He has a number of projects in progress, including film scripts and a non-fiction book about science fiction.

PUBLICATIONS

Comics
Pete's Private War, illus. Carlos Pino (Commando 3466, Sep 2001)
The Sands of War, illus. Correa (Commando 3591, Jan 2003)
Down But Not Out!, illus. Vila (Commando 3743, Aug 2004)
Operation "Snowstorm", illus. Vila (Commando 3776, Dec 2004)
Tradition of Honour, illus. Carlos Pino (Commando 4250, Nov 2009)
Friends or Foes?, illus. John Ridgway (Commando 4258, Dec 2009)
The Panther's Claw, illus. Mario Morhain (Commando 4428, Sep 2011)
The Voyage of HMS Onion Wagon, illus. Vila (Commando 4508, Jun 2012)
The Fighting Gendarme, illus. Olivera (Commando 4535, Sep 2012)
Ground Attack!, illus. Carlos Pino (Commando 4699, Apr 2014)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Comic Cuts - 27 March 2015

I'm going to have to make this a fairly quick visit as I have some paying work (!) to attend to that needs to be written before the end of the month. I've had to put my "book-in-a-week" project on hold but you'll be pleased, perhaps amazed, that the latter is almost done. I started it on Tuesday the 17th, worked on it Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (having taken Thursday off to write blog material for Bear Alley). I did a roughly half day on both Saturday and Sunday, picked up the pace again on Monday. So that's five days, in which time I've scanned and cleaned 180 pages. I've roughed out an introduction based on an article I wrote twenty years ago, adding some bits that I've discovered in the meantime. That just leaves laying the book out and creating a cover.

Whether I'll be able to do this in two days is... well, to be honest it's unlikely. But I won't be far off putting together a roughly 180-page book from standing start in maybe nine days. I'll hopefully have more news next week.

I'm feeling far more energetic than I have done for some weeks. Years ago, I used to have to work on two or three things at a time, with deadlines looming almost every other day, and I rarely had any problems. I may not be the greatest writer in existence, but I can't think of a time I missed a deadline... except those I set for myself. The Countdown book dragged on last year for months beyond what I'd planned. It was all for the better in the end, but I really should have been a little more strict about drawing a line under certain things.

Ditto the Don Lawrence book that's currently in production. Some of the pages were fine, but I ended up rescanning chunks of the book, which has meant it took a lot longer to piece together than it should have. Again, I should have been stricter with myself.

Anyway, enough of this self-flagellation, as the point I'm trying to make is that I'm feeling more positive at the moment than I was a month ago. I'm high on the adrenaline of working hard and the satisfaction that comes from it. And I'll leave it at that.

The latest issue of Spaceship Away! has arrived. As always, it's a gorgeous magazine presented in full colour and if you're in any way a fan of the old Dan Dare, you really ought to be reading this. From Don Harley's Phantom Fleet front cover to Don Harley's view on the rear cover of how Chaplain Dare could have looked, the magazine has plenty of gems, including a Don Harley centrespread (if you haven't got the message yet, I like Don Harley!).

Strip-wise, Spaceship Away! is still reliant on Tim Booth, who is writing and painting two Dan Dare strips in the classic style. Other strips include a reprint of a Jet Morgan yarn from Express Weekly and a "new" Nick Hazard adventure, 'Planet of Doom', by Ron Turner, nicely coloured by Martin Baines in Ron's distinct style. I'm not sure why there are quotes around the word "New" on the cover... it makes me wonder whether this, too, has appeared previously. I'm racking my brains to remember the story that appeared in an old Harrier comic, but I keep thinking the story was 'Invaders from Time'.

Articles this issue: Alan Vince relates the story of Harold Johns, one of Frank Hampson's early assistants who went on to paint many book covers (a few of which have featured here on Bear Alley); Jeremy Briggs explores 'The Lost Eagle' when IPC attempted to relaunch Dan Dare in 1973; and Andrew Darlington takes a look at 'Dan Dare in Lion & Eagle'. And there's a humourous aside from Ray Aspden, too.

You have to hand it to Des Shaw: he certainly packs a lot into 40 pages. You can find out more about the magazine, buy back issues and subscribe to the latest issues at the Spaceship Away website.

Here's an interesting mystery. Below is a piece of cover art by Oliver Brabbins, whom we've been covering in some depth in the last few weeks. It's in a style he used when he was painting covers for booklets published by Paget Publications in 1948-49. But this is one I've never heard of and I wonder whether it was ever published? My thanks to Morgan Wallace for the photograph.

Night Meeting leads us neatly into our random scans, the first of which is another cover by Brab from 1948. This is the cover for the unnumbered series Thrilling Romance, published by Bear Hudson.

Below that is an early Asimov UK paperback published by Panther in 1958. The artist is Josh Kirby, whose artwork graced many of the Discworld covers that I ran recently as part of our Terry Pratchett cover gallery.

Our last two scans are a pair of books I picked up recently, one an alternate world yarn wherein the Germans won the war, the second the first volume of a space opera series by Michael Cobley (cover by Steve Stone).

Next week might be a bit sparse as I won't have much spare time over the weekend to put anything together. There will, however, be an article by Jeremy Briggs, another in his series of Eagle Times' features, early next week.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Commando issues 4795-4798

Commando issues on sale 26 March 2015.

Commando No 4795 – Lethal Attraction
It seemed a simple job; hop across to Belgium and find out what was causing strange magnetic field disturbances in the Ardennes region. So simple did it seem, that the Convict Commandos thought they might have time for a bit of relaxation along the way.
   Trouble, though, followed Britain’s most dangerous special missions unit like seagulls follow a trawler, and it wasn’t long before they were caught in a net thrown by advancing German forces.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

Commando No 4796 – Night Strike
A tough, battle-hardened platoon finds it hard to accept a young officer straight from home, especially when the signs are that he may be a coward.
   But Second Lieutenant Gary Bardon was no coward. His nerve had broken, true, but when the chips were down he went all out to prove he was twice the man they thought he was.

Introduction
Over the years we’ve had a fair few “brothers at war” stories. In fact, there was one a couple of months back called just that. It’s a device that works well, and this story is no exception. The siblings at each other’s throats are not only in the same arm of the forces, they are in the same unit, one commanding the other. But who is really in command? Now there’s a question.
   The inside by Buylla — who illustrated 9 Commandos in all — is assured and engaging. Particularly in the final sequences, his compositions come to dangerous life just like the story.
   I think you’ll like this one — I know I did.—Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Kenner
Art: Buylla
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No 151 (February 1965), re-issued as No 739 (May 1974),.

Commando No 4797 – U-Boat Hunt
After Royal Navy Lieutenant-Commander Robert Paterson lost his ship, his crew — and very nearly his life — to a prowling U-Boat in the Atlantic, he became obsessed with finding the enemy sub responsible.
   Robert was given command of a Q-Ship — a vessel that looked like a merchantman but was fitted with concealed guns that would destroy any U-boat that came in range.
   It seemed Robert might have his revenge!

Story: Bill Styles
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4798 – Shield Of Truth
Buried under rock and sand in the North African Desert lay the Shield Of Truth. Made of bronze, highly polished, it revealed the truth about any man who looked into its mirror surface.
   Hidden for over two thousand years, it was found by two British pilots who had staggered mile after mile across the merciless sands. When they stared at their reflections in it, one saw his bravery dissolve into fear…and the other saw his fear change to bravery.

Introduction
Our eponymous “Shield Of Truth” is an example of what film director Alfred Hitchcock famously called a “MacGuffin” — a plot device: something that motivates a character or propels a story forward. Here, though, it plays second fiddle to the characters themselves, and rightly so.
   However, in my opinion, the most interesting character here isn’t one of the leads (although they’re all great) — he’s a rather eccentric French Foreign Legionnaire called Jules, who seemingly appears out of nowhere. He reminds me of Ben Gunn from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic swashbuckling tale Treasure Island and is every bit as memorable.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Ken Gentry
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No 1064 (September 1976), re-issued as No 2364 (April 1990).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mike Knowles

(* Mike Knowles dropped me a line recently noting that he was a fellow Starblazer writer. In fact, Mike's contribution to that series far outweighed mine: not only was he there at the beginning, he also created one of the most enduring characters of the whole series: Carter. Being my usual nosey self, I asked Mike for a little background to his comic writing career... and here is his response.)

I started back in the late 70’s writing for women’s confessional magazines. Supposedly true stories about jilted brides and unmarried teenage mothers. If you thought they were written by the protagonists, think again! A good analogy would be those sex phone chats where, unknown to the gullible caller, it’s actually some old woman supplementing her pension. So forget Anne Summers underwear. We’re talking corsets and wrinkled tights! My sob stories must have had some merit because they were republished in German magazines with the result that I got paid twice for them!

Then, one day, I came across an ad in the Manchester Evening News stating that D. C. Thomson were looking for artists and writers. I’d always loved comics so I wrote to them. They replied with a short booklet and suggested I try writing something for Commando. Whereas later on when I became a regular writer, Thomson would give me story ideas, on Commando you had to first sell an idea to them. If accepted you then had to supply a two-three page outline of the story. And, once that hurdle was passed, you were then allowed to write the script. I can’t remember the name of the first story I did. I do recall the lead character was called Vic and he was a con man and a coward. And it ended with an exploding truck and a fiery death. But then I’ve always preferred to approach my writing from a different angle.

After I had a few stories under my belt I sent in an idea for their weekly comic called Bullet. It was called 'The Hammer of Vulkan' and was set in Russia in WW2 involving a German punishment battalion. They liked it and, before very long, I was getting invited to annual editorial meetings where two of their editors would travel across the country to wine and dine their writers and artists. At the meeting I would supply some story ideas of my own and they would give me some of theirs. So I usually ended up with four or five. All of them two or three page spreads. Bullet became Warlord and I was happily writing for 'Union Jack Jackson', Sergeant Ryker, '3 Men in a Jeep' and the rest of them. I also started writing for the Dandy and Beano and became a regular contributor to the Dandy Comic Library and Beano Comic Library, (I’d get free copies so my two young sons were never without something to read! It also gave me an opportunity to bring back some old characters like 'Keyhole Kate' (these days it would be accused of turning kids into Peeping Toms, forgetting of course that children are naturally nosy) and 'Pansy Potter the Strong Man’s Daughter'. I also recall getting long letters from the editor, (his name escapes me), which he’d written on office notepaper in red biro. We would exchange jokes and work out story lines. It was a great time.

No satisfied with my current workload, (I was also writing sketches and quickies for TV and radio, writing for a live satirical show in Manchester and did a stint as a gag writer), I tried my hand at the girl’s papers, Bunty and Mandy. (My poor wife must have wondered if I was going down the transgender route). But no, there was method to my madness! This meant a separate meeting with the girl’s paper editors and an additional annual meal in a posh pub or hotel. Being canny Scots who are not noted for their financial generosity, they must have rued the day they accepted my work! “Och!” I can hear them saying in the boardroom. “This Sassenach will mek us bankrupt!” Then one day I had a letter from a Thomson editor called Bill McLaughlin asking me to meet me in Manchester. There he told me they were launching Starblazer and he was getting a team of artists and writers together. In an interview on downthetubes.net, he writes...
In September 1978 the go ahead was given to publish the comic and authors and artists sought out. The response to adverts was immense and finally we settled on a coterie we knew we could rely on: Ray Aspden, Mel Chappell, Rob Carter, John Speer, Mike Knowles and John Radford to name but a few. These stalwarts were ably supported by Alan Rogers and Grant Morrison, who both scripted and drew their own stories.
This first one I did was Holocaust Hogan and then there was The Web of Arcon which was inspired by a Space 1999 episode! I also created Carter the Mandroid which, I think, was based on Robocop! Thus doing my bit to keep plagiarism alive and well! Later on I also worked for Fleetway and the chief editor, Bob Paynter, asked me to write for half the characters in Buster and half in Whizzer and Chips! I also produced some computer artwork created, believe it or not, on a 250K Amstrad PCW using some DTP software! If Sugar knew about this he’ll probably invite me to join him on The Apprentice. Bob also sent me to Manchester to meet Patrick Gallgaher, Tony Husband and Mark Rodgers who had come up with an idea for a comic called Oink! I went to the launch party but, with all the other work I was doing, I couldn’t do as much for them as I would have liked to. I did, however, create the eponymous Billy Bang. I didn’t have time to create a complex character, so Billy was a kid who literally exploded with anger. Thus coining a new phenomena: Spontaneous Human Fulmination! Billy also manage to overcome the rigid law of entropy, reforming himself after each blast. I think someone said this was the worst strip in the comic and I must confess they weren’t far wrong! 

Nowadays I’m relaxing like the proverbial pig in ordure, devoting my time to, amongst other things, hacking into computer games and creating a free comic called, The Halfpenny Dreadful Comic.  The first issue is almost complete. After lengthy negotiations at diplomatic level involving a whoopee cushion and some black puddings, the comic has been kindly sponsored by Kim Jong Un and contains such earthly delights as the world’s worst misogynist and the result of a second autopsy on Elvis Presley.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)

Science fiction and fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett, best known as the creator of the Discworld series of novels, died on Thursday, 12 March 2015, at the age of 66. In 2007, he had been initially mis-diagnosed as having had a stroke; it was only four months later that he announced that he was suffering a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's disease, or "the embuggerance" as Pratchett called it.

Many of his 70 fantasy novels were set on the Discworld, a flat disc supported on the backs of four elephants who stood upon a giant turtle. This vast world allowed Pratchett the scope to explore endlessly and in whatever direction he cared to take. Over the course of 40 titles, Pratchett was able to satirize everything from Shakespeare to the movie industry. The light, lively tone of the novels disguised Pratchett's treatment of many wide-ranging historical and philosophical subjects. The Science Fiction Encyclopedia notes:
Of particular sf interest is Pratchett's development of Discworld's chief City, Ankh-Morpork – initially perhaps no more than a nod to Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar – into an intricately sleazy metropolis with all the bustle and stench of Victorian London. This city is subjected to gradual industrial revolution under the watchful eye of its ruthless and Machiavellian yet oddly sympathetic dictator, Lord Vetinari the Patrician. The Ankh-Morpork City Watch police-procedurals confront Captain Vimes of the Watch – an instinctive socialist and anti-Patrician – with threats that move steadily away from fantasy (a dragon in Guards! Guards!) to the high-velocity rifle of Men at Arms; an elaborate poisoning plot complicated by robot-like Golems in Feet of Clay; a highly popular and potentially disastrous war in Jingo (also featuring a voyage under the sea in another new Invention, the submarine); all too familiar problems with restive immigrant communities, here dwarfs and trolls, in The Fifth Elephant and Thud!; and even the dynamics of an internal city revolution in Night Watch, albeit thirty years in the past and visited by timeslip. Irreversible-seeming Disaster afflicts Discworld in Thief of Time, when a mad scientist based in Ankh-Morpork creates the ultimate Time-measuring device and thus brings about the end of time. The Watch becomes sidelined by the invention of the printing press and hence of investigative journalism in The Truth, and recedes into the background as a new ex-conman hero is recruited by the Patrician to tackle huge financial frauds involving the continent-wide "clacks" semaphore system (featuring knowingly Internet-like protocols and "c-mail" addresses) and the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork in, respectively, Going Postal and Making Money. Pratchett's serio-comic rephrasing of hard political questions in the Discworld context is highly effective; Night Watch won the Prometheus Award for Libertarian SF.
The Discworld series was made up of a number of intersecting novels and characters, beginning with Rincewind (a wizard with almost no magical talent), the Witches (Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick), the members of the night shift of the City Watch led by Samuel Vimes, Death and his apprentice, Mort, and, in a recent series of young adult novels, 11-year-old witch Tiffany Aching. Pratchett won the Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, the first of his younger Discworld novels.

In 1994 he received the British Book Awards' Fantasy and Science Fiction Author of the Year award. His novel Pyramids won the British Science Fiction Award in 1989. He had fifteen novels in the top 200 compiled by the BBC's The Big Read poll in 2003 to identify the nation's best-loved novels, more than any other author. Five (Mort, Good Omens, Guards! Guards!, Night Watch and The Colour of Magic) were in the top 100, an achievement only matched by Charles Dickens.

Pratchett also received the NESFA Skylark Award in 2009 and the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2010. His contributions to young adult literature were recognised by the American Library Association he awarded him the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 2011 and I Shall Wear Midnight won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy in 2010.

Pratchett received numerous honorary doctorates from universities and was awarded an OBE in 1998 and a knighthood in 2009, both for services to literature.

Outside of writing, he became a frequent and eloquent speaker on subjects such as the future survival of the orangutan in Borneo—he was a trustee for the Orangutan Foundation UK—and assisted dying, on which subject he lectured (a BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture read by Tony Robinson and  broadcast in February 2010) and made a well-received TV documentary, Terry Pratchett Choosing To Die, broadcast in 2011, which won the Scottish BAFTA for Best Documentary. The Terry Pratchett First Novel Award was established as a biennial award for unpublished science fiction novelists and first awarded in 2011.

Terence David John Pratchett was born in 28 April 1948 in the village of Penn, near Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, the only child of David Pratchett (1921-2006), an engineer, and his wife Eileen Florence (nee Kearns), who had married in 1942. Pratchett passed his 11+ and began attending Wycombe Technical High School, although did not complete his A-Levels and considered Beaconsfield Public Library the main source of his education.

His first story, 'The Hades Business', was one of a number published in the school magazine and later became his first professional sale when it was bought by Ted Carnell for Science-Fantasy in 1963. At 17 he became a trainee reporter on the local Bucks Free Press (where he contributed 247 episodes to the 'Children's Circle' section under the name Uncle Jim between 1965-70) and later continued his career as a journalist with the Western Daily Press in 1970 and, after briefly returning to the Bucks Free Press in 1972, the Bath Chronicle in 1973 He sold a further story to New Worlds ('Night Dweller', Nov 1965) and also wrote his first novel, The Carpet People, drawing on one of his earlier Uncle Jim stories. During an interview with publisher Peter Bander van Duren in 1968, he mentioned that he had written a book and it was subsequently published with illustrations by Pratchett by Van Duren and his business partner Colin Smythe in 1971.

Pratchett's association with Colin Smythe was the turning point of his career. He went on to produce illustrations for 17 issues of the journal Psychic Researcher whilst writing his second novel, The Dark of the Sun (1976). His third novel, Strata (1981), introduced an earlier version of the flat earth that was to become Discworld in his next novel The Colour of Magic (1983). A paperback edition of the latter was published by Corgi Books in 1985 and by 1987, when The Light Fantastic (1986) was published by Corgi, Pratchett's sales began to boom. Colin Smythe quickly realised that Pratchett would be better served by a larger publisher and instead became his agent. The third Discworld novel, Equal Rites (1987), was published by Gollancz, who offered him a three-book deal.

In 1980, Pratchett had begun working as a publicity officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) but was able to take up writing full time in 1987. Over the next three decades, Pratchett wrote some 70 books, amongst them novels for young children, including the Nome trilogy, beginning with Truckers (1988) and a trio of novels featuring Johnny Maxwell starting with Only You Can Save Mankind (1992); he collaborated with Gray Jolliffe on The Unadulterated Cat (1989) and Neil Gaiman on Good Omens (1990), which was recently adapted by Radio 4 (2014). He also almost collaborated with Larry Niven, creator of the Ringworld (and one of the authors Strata parodied) but the novel Rainbow Mars (1999) was later completed by Niven alone, with acknowledgment to Pratchett.

Over the years there have been numerous adaptations of Pratchett's work, including numerous radio plays and stage plays, the latter adapted by Stephen Briggs. Nation was adapted by the National Theatre in 2009-10, including a performance broadcast to cinemas in January 2010. In 1992, Cosgrove Hall Films made a stop motion animated version of Truckers, followed by cartoon sereis based on Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music in 1996. Live action adaptations of Johnny and the Dead (1996) and Johnny and the Bomb (2006) were produced for ITV and BBC1 respectively.

A number of live action Discworld adaptations were broadcast by Sky from 2006, including Hogfather (2006), The Colour of Magic (2008), The Light Fantastic (2008) and Going Postal (2010).

Discworld has inspired four comic book adaptations, although three (The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Guards! Guards!) were adapted by other hands. Mort (Gollancz, 1994) was adapted by Pratchett himself, with artwork by Graham Higgins.

The first dedicated Discworld convention was held in 1996 in Manchester with Pratchett as Guest of Honour. Pratchett was also well-known for his signing tours. He was forced to curtail many of his activities following his diagnosis with posterior cortical atrophy, a variant of Alzheimer's disease. He donated $1 million to the Alzheimer's Research Trust in 2008 after discovering how little funding  research into Alzheimer's received compared to cancer research. He also made Terry Pratchett: Living With Alzheimer's, broadcast in February 2009, to raise awareness of the illness.

Pratchett continued to write prolifically during his later years, learning to dictate rather than type at his bank of computer screens. Doubleday, his UK publishers in hardcover since 1998, noted that Snuff (2011) was Britain's third fastest selling novel since records began, selling 55,000 copies in three days.

Pratchett also began collaborating on a series of parallel world novels with Stephen Baxter, three of which were published: The Long Earth (2012), The Long War (2013) and Long Mars (2014). Planned to run to five volumes, the fourth, The Long Utopia, will be published in June 2015.

The author completed his 41st Discworld novel, The Shepherd's Crown, in the summer of 2014. It will be the fourth to feature (now teenage) witch Tiffany Aching. It will be published in the autumn, illustrated by his long-time collaborator, Paul Kidby.

Pratchett was married to Lyn Purves in October 1968. They moved to Rowberrow, Somerset, in 1970, where daughter Rhianna was born in 1976. In 1993 the Pratchetts moved to Broad Chalke, near Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Pratchett died at home of natural causes, survived by his wife and daughter, an asteroid (127005 Pratchett) and a fossil sea-turtle (Psephophorus terrypratchetti). A triptych of posts appeared on Pratchett's twitter account:
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.
Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
The End.
The announcement of his death  spread quickly around the world; fans responded in a variety of ways, with Reddit users designing a piece of code which could be embedded into any website to create a header reading "GNU Terry Pratchett"—a reference to Pratchett's Going Postal novel. A JustGiving page set up by Pratchett's publicist Lynsey Dalladay has raised over £40,000 for the Research Institute for the Care of Older People.

(* Photo: Luigi Novi; Discworld artwork by Josh Kirby.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Terry Pratchett Cover Gallery

The Carpet People (1971; revised, 1992)
Corgi Books 0552-52752-1, 1993, 189pp, £3.99. Cover by Josh Kirby

The Dark Side of the Sun (1976)
New English Library 0450-03298-1, 1978, 158pp. Cover by Tim White
Corgi Books 0552-13326-4, 1988, 158pp, £2.50. Cover by Josh Kirby

Strata (1981)
New English Library 0450-04977-9, May 1982, 192pp, £1.50. Cover by Tim White
Corgi Books 0552-13325-6, 1988, 192pp, £2.50. Cover by Josh Kirby

The Colour of Magic (1983)
Corgi Books 0552-12473-3, 1983, 237pp, £2.50. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp] 1985; [3rd imp.] 1987; [4th imp.] 1987; [5th imp.] 1988; [6th imp.] 1988.

The Light Fantastic (1986)
Corgi Books 0552-12848-1, 1986, 216pp, £2.50. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1987; [3rd imp.] 1987; [4th imp.] 1988.

Equal Rites (1987)
Corgi Books 0552-13105-9, 1987, 204pp, £2.50. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1987; [3rd imp.] 1988.

Mort (1987)
Corgi Books 0552-13106-7, 1988, 271pp, £2.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1988; [3rd imp.] 1989; [4th imp.] 1990; [5th imp.] 1990; [6th imp.] 1991; [7th imp.] 1992; [8th imp.] 1992; [9th imp.] 1993; [10th imp.] 1993, £4.99.
 
Sourcery (1988)
Corgi Books 0552-13107-5, 1989, 269pp, £2.99. Cover by Josh Kirby

Wyrd Sisters (1988)
Corgi Books 0552-13460-0, 1989, 251pp, £2.99. Cover by Josh Kirby

Pyramids (1989)
Corgi Books 0552-13461-9, 1990, £3.50. Cover by Josh Kirby

Guards! Guards! (1989)
Corgi Books 0552-13462-7, 1990, 316pp, £3.50. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1991.

The Unadulterated Cat, with Gray Jolliffe (1989)
X

Truckers (1989)
Corgi Books 0550-52595-2, 1990, 206pp, £2.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1990; [3rd imp.] 1990; [4th imp.] 1990; [5th imp.] 1991; [6th imp.] 1991.

Diggers (1990)
Corgi Books 0550-52586-3, 1991, 172pp, £2.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1992; [3rd imp.] 1992.

Wings (1990)
Corgi Books 0550-52649-5, 1991, 175pp, £2.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1992.

Eric (1990)
VGSF 0575-05191-4, (Aug) 1991, 155pp, £2.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
Millennium 0857-98954-6, 2000, 155pp, £4.99. Cover by Josh Kirby

Moving Pictures (1990)
Corgi Books 0552-13463-5, 1991, 332pp, £3.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1991; [3rd imp.] 1993, £4.99.

Good Omens, with Neil Gaiman (1990; revised 1990)
Corgi 0552-13703-0, 1991, 382pp.
World Book Night 978-0552-15984-5, 2012, 414pp. [bound with a chapter of The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton]

Reaper Man (1991)
Corgi Books 0552-13464-3, 1992, 287pp, £3.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1992; [3rd imp.] 1992; [4th imp.] 1993, £4.99.

Witches Abroad (1991)
Corgi Books 0552-13465-1, 1992, 285pp, £3.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1992.

Small Gods (1992)
Corgi Books

Lords and Ladies (1992)
Corgi Books 0552-13891-6, 1993, 381pp, £4.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1994.

Only You Can Save Mankind (1992)
X

Men at Arms (1993)
Corgi Books 0552-14028-7, 1994, 380pp, £4.99. Cover by Josh Kirby

Johnny and the Dead (1993)
X

Soul Music (1994)
Corgi Books

Interesting Times (1994)
Corgi Books 0552-14235-2, 1995, 351pp, £4.99. Cover by Josh Kirby

Maskerade (1995)
Corgi Books 0552-14236-0, 1996, 380pp, £5.99. Cover by Josh Kirby

Feet of Clay (1996)
Corgi Books

Hogfather (1996)
Corgi Books 0552-14542-4, 1997, 444pp, £5.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1997.

Johnny and the Bomb (1996)
X

Jingo (1997)
Corgi Books 0552-14598-x, 1998, 413pp, £5.99. Cover by Josh Kirby

The Last Continent (1998)
Corgi Books 0552-14614-5, 1999, 411pp, £5.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 1999.

Carpe Jugulum (1998)
Corgi Books

The Fifth Elephant (1999)
Corgi Books 0552-14616-1, 2000, 459pp, £5.99. Cover by Josh Kirby
---- [2nd imp.] 2000.

The Truth (2000)
X

Thief of Time (2001)
X

The Last Hero (2001)
X

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (2001)
Corgi Books 0552-54693-3, 2002, 269pp, £5.99.

Night Watch (2002)
X

The Wee Free Men (2003)
X

Monstrous Regiment (2003)
X

A Hat Full of Sky (2004)
X

Going Postal (2004)
X

Thud! (2005)
X

Wintersmith (2006)
X

Making Money (2007)
Corgi Books 978-0552-15490-1, 2008, 479pp, £7.99. Cover by Paul Kidby

Nation (2008)
X

Unseen Academicals (2009)
X

I Shall Wear Midnight (2010)
X

Snuff (2011)
X

Dodger (2012)
X

The Long Earth, with Stephen Baxter (2012)
Corgi Books 978-0552-16408-5, 2013, 423pp, £7.99. Cover photos by Getty Images

Raising Steam (2013)
X

The Long War, with Stephen Baxter (2013)
Corgi Books 978-0552-16775-8, 2014, 500pp, £7.99. Cover design by R. Shailer/TW

The Long Mars, with Stephen Baxter (2014)
Doubleday 978-0857-52175-0, 2014, 357pp. Cover design by R. Shailer/TW

The Shepherd's Crown (2015)
X

PICTURE BOOKS
Where's My Cow?, illus. Melvyn Grant (2005)
The World of Poo (2012)

COLLECTIONS
Once More With Footnotes, ed. Priscilla Olson and Sheila M. Perry (2004)
A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction (2012)
Dragons at Crumbling Castle and other stories (2014)

NON-FICTION

The Discworld Companion, with Stephen Briggs (1994; revised, 1997; as The New Discworld Companion, 2003; revised again as Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion...So Far, 2012) 

The Science of Discworld (1999)

The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (2002)

Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, with Stephen Briggs and Tina Hannan (2002) 

The Discworld Almanak, with Bernard Pearson (2004)

The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch (2005)

The Unseen University Cut Out Book, with Alan Batley & Bernard Pearson
Doubleday, 2006. Cover by Alan Batley

The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld, compiled by Stephen Briggs (2007)

The Folklore of Discworld, with Jacqueline Simpson (2008)

The Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day (2013)

A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-Fiction (2014)

RELATED

The Streets of Ankh-Morpork by Stephen Briggs, assisted by Terry Pratchett
Corgi Books 0552-14161-5, 1993., £4.99. Cover by Stephen Briggs

The Josh Kirby Discworld Portfolio
Paper Tiger 1850-28259-5, 1993, 64pp, £10.95. Cover by Josh Kirby

The Discworld Mapp: Being the Onlie True and Mostlie Accurate Mappe of teh Fantastyk & Magical Dyscworlde, with Stephen Briggs
Corgi, 1995.

The Unseen University Challenge by David Langford (1996)
Vista 0575-60000-4, 1996, 224pp, £3.99. Cover by Josh Kirby

The Pratchett Portfolio by Paul Kidby (1996)

Discworld Unseen University Diary 1998
Gollancz, 1997.

A Tourist Guide to Lancre: A Discworld Mapp
Corgi Books, 1998.

GURPS Discworld: Adventures on the Back of the Turtle (Austin, Texas, Steve Jackson Games, 1998)

Discworld's Ankh-Morpork City Watch Diary 1999 by Stephen Briggs (1998)

Death's Domain: A Discworld Mapp
Corgi Books, 1999.

Discworld Assassins' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2000, with Stephen Briggs (1999)

Discworld Fools' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2001, with Stephen Briggs (2000)

Discworld Thieves' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2002, with Stephen Briggs (2001)

The Wyrdest Link by David Langford (2002)

Discworld (Reformed) Vampyre's Diary 2003 (2002)

The Art of Discworld by Paul Kidby (2004)

The Celebrated Almanak for the Year of the Prawn, with Bernard Pearson (2004)

Ankh-Morpork Post Office Handbook Discworld Diary 2007, with Stephen Briggs (2006)

Lu-Tze's Yearbook of Elightenment 2008, with Stephen Briggs (2007)

The Complete Ankh-Morpork: City Guide, with The Discworld Emporium (2012)

Dodger's Guide to London, with The Discworld Emporium (2013)

Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook, with The Discworld Emporium (2014)

Discworld 2015: We R Igors: First and Last Aid, with The Discworld Emporium (2014)

SCREENPLAYS

Terry Pratchett's Mort: The Play, adapted by Stephen Briggs.
Corgi Books, 1996.

Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters: The Play, adapted by Stephen Briggs.
Corgi Books, 1996.

Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards!: The Play, adapted by Stephen Briggs
Corgi Books, 1997.

Terry Pratchett's Men at Arms: The Play, adapted by Stephen Briggs
Corgi Books, 1997.

Soul Music: The Illustrated Screenplay
Corgi Books 0552-14556-4, 1997, 124pp, £9.99.

Wyrd Sisters: The Illustrated Screenplay
Corgi Books 0552-14575-0, 1998, 128pp, £9.99.

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, adapted by Stephen Briggs (2003)

Going Postal: stage Adaptation, adapted by Stephen Briggs
Bloomsbury/Methuen Drama, 2005.

Terry Pratchett's Hogfather: The Illustrated Screenplay, with Vadim Jean (2006)

Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic: The Illustrated Screenplay, with Vadim Jean (2008)

GRAPHIC NOVELS

Mort, illus. Graham Higgins (1994)
VG Graphics 0575-05699-1, 1994, 93pp.