It was a lovely day, and Alex is a true superstar for putting it all together. I hope there'll be another one next year.
Book publication of volume one is set for 4 August 2009, so after the bank holiday weekend (Tuesday 5 May) the online strip will become a preview, with certain sections removed and the full story available in print only.
Cross posted at the Super Comics Adventure Squad.
Last night I trained it up to London to meet comics friends at a pub just a short walk from London Bridge, mostly DFC'ers, but some others too. One of the others was Ellen Lindner and I was able to buy a copy of her book, Undertow, which she signed and sketched in with a pen borrowed from one of the other others, Mousehunter author, Alex Milway (who's organising the Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival). I started reading Undertow today and it's completely fabulous. As was last night, which I enjoyed so much that I only just managed to get on the last train home!
The first comes from Denmark, and is from the same publisher as for the Nofret book I bought last year, Eudor Comics. This is Frank Madsen's Kurt Dunder in Tirol, which I believe is currently the only English translation from this series. And it's good stuff - the art is fluid and attractive, quite cartoony, and the story is my favourite kind, a mystery adventure (quite commonplace in Europe, but still a rare beast as far as comics in the UK are concerned). It has some good daft humour, mostly in the shape of Attilia, a mischievous though useful monkey. Kurt Dunder himself is described as a 'globetrotter and adventurer', which gives fair license for his exploits, and the other main supporting character is his sidekick, a rotund Tintin-quiffed fellow named Bill.
We need a translation of the next book, The Fifth Gospel (which I'm not certain has been completed yet), as the adventure continues there, though this volume does provide a satisfying read in itself. The translation is largely very good, but there is the odd error that stands out. I look forward to more English translations from Eudor, and definitely urge you to support them and buy their books to encourage this - both Nofret and Kurt Dunder provide marvellous reads.
Next up is Rick Geary, someone whose work I have been meaning to get hold of for years, but have only recently done so. Part of the reason I have only just dived in to his oeuvre is because so many of his works interest me, especially the treasuries of Victorian murder, and I wasn't really sure where to start. In the end it was the relatively recent release of The Adventures Of Blanche that hooked me in - and I think I have indeed been hooked!
Blanche is based loosely on Geary's own grandmother, with tales set in the early years of the twentieth century. The Adventures... book is a collection of three stories, a cthulhoid tale set in New York in 1907, a silent film yarn set in the Hollywood of 1915 (my favourite), and a mystery set in Paris in 1921. Blanche has a touch of Adele Blanc-Sec about her, though she is more a victim of circumstance rather than a driving force herself.
The other Geary book I bought is also fairly recent, and forms the first in his new series of treasuries of twentieth century murder, it being a documentary tale of the kidnapping of The Lindbergh Child. The case is told in the author's customary careful laying out of the facts, and similarly clear graphical presentation, to give a very decent yet unbiased overview. I'm looking forward to his next in the series, a case I have had some interest in before through Taylorology, the William Desmond Taylor murder.
The Linbergh affair gives a link to the next work I have, Rivière and Solidor's bande dessinée adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, a tale that was written just two years after the Lindbergh tragedy which heavily informed the backdrop of this Hercule Poirot whodunnit. The adaptation is cool and stylish, though sometimes a little stiff, and lacks the air of mystery the story deserves I think (perhaps something is lost in the translation). It's a nice volume though, and is one in a series of Christie adaptations from Harper Collins (I'd link to the series website but the the URL on the back of the book leads to a page error).
Entirely coincidentally, but just to further the link I've mentioned between Lindbergh and Christie, while colouring pages over the Easter weekend I listened to an audiobook version of Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, an excellent and intriguing book that follows the case of a child murder in 1860 and involving one of England's original eight Police Detectives.
Now onto a couple of self-published titles. Rol Hirst has produced PJANG number two, and if I tell you that PJANG stands for 'People Just Ain't No Good', then that may give a clue to the direction Rol's tales can often take. He's an excellent writer of character and observation, and the story here - '24 Minutes' - is nicely constructed. I've liked Dave Metcalf's artwork ever since the days of The Jock, and the atmosphere of the story is well reflected in his bold lines, but I did feel some slightly clearer scene setting would have benefited the comic in its early pages. Mind you, if I was the artist, I wouldn't exactly thank the author for situating the entire comic in a crowded railway station, and Dave has risen to the occasion. A good read with a lovely cover from Nigel Lowrey, and I recommend it.
And David Baillie has produced a lovely hardback volume of Tongue of the Dead, a fantasy tale that took me back to the days of White Dwarf magazine and Robert E. Howard's Conan, the novels of which also turn out to have been David's prime inspiration. The well-told story more than kept my interest throughout, and the clear illustration is easy on the eye and uncluttered. Extras come in the form of a series of one-page Zombie Interviews (as seen in Accent UK's Zombie anthology) and a few pages of story annotations, which I always appreciate, plus a short prose story to end with. A nice addition to your bookshelf.
"In some greek newspaper, I've read an article about Tintin, that had a few illustrations - one of which is very unfamiliar, and, strangely, makes me think of a fake. It's a front image of Haddock looking very angry, eyes closed, losing his pipe and waving his fist, while his cap hops out of irritation. The drawing style is very very close to Hergé (or de Moor, or Jacobs), but strikes me as odd for some subtle reasons - a bit too detailed and too realistic. In fact, it reminds me much more of Jacques Martin than Hergé."
The description immediately made me think of the Captain Haddock I drew for the A-Z of Comic Characters I completed last year. But it couldn't be could it? I suggested it, to which the reply came...
"I've just dropped an eye on your website, and I'm not sure if it could match your style: the lines are 'thinner' than yours, making it look more Jacobs/Martin than your vaguely more Floc'h/Riviere style."
I'm quoting that bit only because it delighted me to be compared to Floc'h! The forum poster kindly sent me a scan of the page in question, and sure enough - it is indeed my Haddock. Did the paper think it was by Hergé? Was it just a convenient image? Rather naughty of the paper in question, but not something I'd ever chase up due to it just being a blog sketch of someone else's character, plus it's a rather flattering mix-up.
For more Greek, you may be interested in the updated and now linguistically correct Notebook of Theophrastus page, complete with a new sound recording from Latin scholar, Quintus.
I did a short phone interview with Caroline Horn of The Bookseller earlier this week, mainly on the back of the Super Comics Adventure Squad press release, but she also kindly gave The Rainbow Orchid a plug in the resulting piece (though she called it 'Orchard', something I have seen elsewhere too).
And finally... I love this Yahoo Question. Mrs Cullen asks:
"Where has the rainbow orchid originated? NOT the comic. The flower. Where did it come from? NOT the comic***!!"
I think perhaps the title of my comic is frustrating her Google searches. My apologies, Mrs Cullen, allow me to offer some assistance. Wikipedia gives the rainbow orchid the term paphiopedilum wardii, and seems to suggest it originates in south-west Yunnan and Myanmar. One newspaper article, from March 2008, declares that the rainbow orchid, first discovered in the valleys of Putao and Nagmung in the late 1980s, has not been seen since November 2007, and is probably extinct in the locality. This, of course, is not my rainbow orchid, a name I didn't know existed when I started the story back in 1997.