Thursday, 23 May 2019

Three of a Kind - When Eight Bells Toll

Just a quick one today. I haven't done a "Three of a Kind" post for a while so here's three covers from popular thriller writer Alistair Maclean's When Eight Bells Toll. Originally published in 1966 it marked his return to writing after a three-year break during which he was running the famous Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor.

(Click for larger images).

First we have the US first edition...



This Companion Book Club edition was also published in 1966. It just goes to show that you don't necessarily need full colour to produce an effective cover.



I really like this final example by artist Vernon Hayles. Melbourne-based publisher Colorgravure Publications produced this Readers Book Club edition in 1968.


Hayles  was born in England but moved to Australia after World War Two. He worked for K.G. Murray as a cartoonist and illustrator on Man magazine where he created the trademark character Wilbur. He also worked on the company's comics line including Man Out of Space and the Climax range (stop sniggering at the back!). In 1952 he joined the Melbourne Herald as an editorial and gag cartoonist.


Monday, 20 May 2019

Guardian of the Reef

Today's comic strip comes from the 1960 Express Super Colour Annual and features some early work by one of the great British comic artists whose work has spanned seven decades! This early example is very different from the style that most fans are familiar with so I won't name him until you've looked at the strip. See if you can guess who it is!













John M. Burns (1938- ) began his career working for Junior Express and School Friend in the mid-1950s. His body of work is far too big to list here but I'll give you some of the highlights:

Wrath of the Gods - Boys' World/Eagle and Boy's World
Kelpie the Boy Wizard - Wham!
The Seekers - Daily Sketch
Space Family Robinson - Lady Penelope
Catch or Kill/Front Page - TV Century 21
Countdown - Countdown
UFO/Mission: Impossible - TV Action
Danielle - Evening News
The Tomorrow People/Space: 1999/The Bionic Woman/Buck Rogers - Look-in
George and Lynne - The Sun
Modesty Blaise - Evening Standard
Eartha - News of the World Sunday Magazine
The Fists of Danny Pike - Eagle
Jane - Daily Mirror
The Tripods - Beeb
Dan Dare - Eagle
Judge Dredd - 2000AD/Judge Dredd Megazine
Nikolai Dante - 2000AD
Sable and Fortune (Marvel)
Jane Eyre/Wuthering Heights - (Classical Comics)

And that's just scratching the surface!

Thanks to Colin from the John M. Burns Art  Facebook group for the scans of Guardian of the Reef.


Friday, 17 May 2019

Kalkitos - Frogmen and Sunken Treasure

Letraset weren't the only company providing kids with rub-down fun in the 1970s. Gillette in Italy also produced a range of transfers called Kalkitos and they produced at least two sets with an underwater theme.

I haven't managed to find a copy of Undersea World yet but you can see it on the Action Transfers site. I was able to acquire Frogmen and Sunken Treasure to share with you so without further ado here it is:

(Click for larger images).






Once again I've used Photoshop to virtually rub-down the transfers!

I shall be keeping an eye on eBay so hopefully this won't be the last post on the subject.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

The Zany Art of Diving

The success of the humour magazine Mad inevitably led to other publishers attempting to cash-in. Some went on to have quite lengthy runs but Zany was not one of them, lasting just four issues in 1958/59.

The first issue included a three-page look at skin diving for which The Grand Comics Database names Carl Burgos (1916 - 1984) as the probable artist.




Burgos drew the Human Torch in Timely's Marvel Comics #1 in 1939. After completing his military service he moved into advertising although he still worked on a freelance basis for Timely's successor Atlas (which ultimately became Marvel). He drew a handful of stories for Stan Lee at Marvel including one featuring the second Human Torch, Johnny Storm from the Fantastic Four. In the early 70s he edited a range of horror magazines for Myron Fass' Eerie Publications.


Archie Comics' entry into the more offbeat humour market was Archie's Madhouse (sometimes formatted as Mad House), the original home of  Sabrina the Teen-age Witch. In issue 35 they took a look at the hazards of skin diving.




The artist was Bill Kresse (1933 - 2014) who, in addition to Archie Comics, worked for various humour magazines including Cracked and Sick. After studying at New York's High School of Art and Design he started working for the Terrytoons animation studio. He later spent some time designing conveyor belt systems before joining the art department of Associated Press.

In 1968 he teamed up with Rolf Ahlsen to create a Sunday strip about a building superintendent. "Super" Duper appeared in New York's Daily news for over five years. They also created a short-lived strip about a dog called Scratch for which they used the joint pseudonym Krahlsen. In 1972 he became a regular guest on The Everything Show, a Saturday evening programme for kids hosted by a young Irene "Fame" Cara. He continued to work into his later years and contributed a series of badges for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.


As a final treat today, here's the cover to issue 28.



I've seen both Bob White and Samm Schwartz suggested as possibilities for this cover which features the square-headed Ches of Madhouse regulars Les 'n' Ches. Why does he have a square head I hear you ask? Well there you take me into deeper waters I'm afraid (no pun intended!)


Saturday, 11 May 2019

Live and Let Dive - The Book Covers

I think it's fair to say that, unlike Thunderball, the average person wouldn't associate Live and Let Die with scuba diving. This is no doubt because it doesn't feature in the film version. It does however feature in the novel and also the newspaper strip adaptation as seen in a previous blog entry.

Some early editions of the book put the underwater aspects front and centre as you can see from the examples below.

(Click for larger images).

Let's begin with the American first edition which was published in 1955 and featured a much more interesting cover than the text-only UK version. In the novel 007 becomes involved because Mr. Big is suspected of smuggling 17th Century gold coins which are believed to be pirate treasure. Later in the story Bond has an encounter with an octopus which explains the other elements of the cover design.



Some readers were already familiar with the story because Bluebook magazine had featured an abridged version of the novel in their May1954 edition, just a few weeks after the book had been published in the UK. Artist John Walters painted this wraparound cover, showing Bond's barracuda encounter, as well as providing an interior illustration.




In 1956 Swedish readers were treated to this simple but striking cover on their first edition.



The underwater aspects of the story were largely ignored by publishers through the 60s and 70s but in 1982 the James Bond Classic Library produced this stunning cover:



This simple but effective design from the Folio Society appeared in 2007.



And finally, this Estonian edition was published in 2008.





Thursday, 9 May 2019

The Trojan Horse

Today I'd like to present a four page story from the Boys' World Annual 1966.

Launched in January 1963, Boys' World was a weekly boys' paper very much in the style of the Eagle. Like the Eagle it featured work by some of the top British artists such as Ron Embleton, Brian Lewis, Frank Bellamy and John M. Burns. In addition to comic strips it contained text stories, features and articles on sport, travel, films, careers etc. It lasted 89 issues before being merged into Eagle in October 1964. Although the comic lasted less than two years, nine annuals were produced dated 1964 - 1972.

Thanks to Steve Holland from the excellent Bear Alley blog I can confirm that The Trojan Horse was beautifully illustrated by Spanish artist Juan González Alacreu. I'd also like to thank colcool007 from the Comics UK Forum for passing along the information.

(Click for larger images).





Although our plucky British heroes appear to be using rebreathers as was the norm at the time, the German frogmen appear to be using Cousteau-style Aqualungs (or Aqua-Lungs) which weren't fully developed until after the war (the first patent was registered in 1943).

Juan González Alacreu was born in 1937 and began taking art clases at the age of eight. At sixteen he won a scholarship to the School of Fine Arts in San Carlos de Valencia. He worked for many years in illustration but is now a successful Impressionist painter.

Like many Spanish artists he worked for various UK publishers and his work appeared in D.C. Thomson's Commando and Fleetway's War Picture Library. He produced some beautiful colour work on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in Lady Penelope and also assisted Emilio Frejo on The Avengers in Diana.




Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Diving. The Art of Diving.

I once taught a student diver called James Bond. True story!

Today I'm bringing you a selection of covers for Ian Fleming's Thunderball.

The genesis of Thunderball is quite complicated so, although it's somewhat outside the remit of this blog, I'll give a brief summary here as it may be of interest. In 1958, several years before United Artists began the Bond film series with Dr No, Fleming and his friend Ivar Bryce began talking about a possible movie with Bryce introducing Fleming to writer/director Kevin McClory. Along with Bryce's friend Ernest Cuneo, they began working on the story in May 1959. McClory was interested in the underwater world and wanted to include it in the film. Numerous drafts were completed and potential titles included James Bond of the Secret Service, SPECTRE and Longitude 78 West.

With Fleming busy on other projects, McClory recruited screenwriter Jack Whittingham who produced a finished script called Longitude 78 West. Fleming changed the name to Thunderball and declared his intention to submit the script to MCA, with McClory to be recommended as producer. In early 1960 Fleming proceeded to write a novel based on the script. The following year McClory saw an advance copy of the book and immediately launched a legal action to prevent its publication. This was unsuccessful and the book was published in March 1961 but the ruling left scope for further action by McClory.

In 1963, with Fleming unwell following a heart attack, an out of court settlement was reached. McClory was granted literary and film rights to the screenplay while Fleming retained the rights to the novel although there was a stipulation that it carry the statement "Based on a screen treatment by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and the Author." McClory was involved with the Eon Productions film of Thunderball but had to agree not to produce any further versions of the story for ten years. In 1983, in addition to Eon's Octopussy, cinema-goers were able to watch Sean Connery return to the role of  James Bond in Never Say Never Again which was based on the original script credited to McClory, Whittingham and Fleming.

Phew! Still with me? Right, let's look at some nice book covers! (Click for larger images)

The original first edition didn't depict any diving on the cover but this edition from the Book Club, also published in 1961, did. I can't make out the artist's signature I'm afraid. Any one out there know who it was?



In December '61 Argosy magazine published an abridged version of the novel. It didn't make the Christmas themed front cover but artist Gil Cohen produced this interior illustration. Born in 1931, Cohen is now known for his aviation art but previously worked in men's adventure magazines and also painted book covers, including Don Pendleton's The Executioner series.



This paperback edition first appeared in 1962. It was reprinted numerous times with occasional variations so I'm not sure which printing this copy is. Art by Barye Phillips (1924 - 1969). Nicknamed "The King of Paperbacks" he was prolific throughout the 40s, 50, & 60s. He was also a sculptor and in the mid-40s had produced illustrations for the Famous Fiction feature from the Bell Syndicate.



This Italian paperback was published in 1965 with the additional subtitle Operation Thunder.



This Dutch edition from 1974 features a cover by Jos Looman (b1941). In addition to book covers and magazine illustrations, in the mid-70s he moved into comic strip illustration with one notable example being the story of Genghis Khan.in Pep.



This Swedish first edition from 1962 has an unusual cover by Hans Arnold (1925 - 2010). Born in Switzerland, Arnold worked in Swedish magazine illustration throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s. He's probably best known for his work on the annual Among Gnomes and Trolls books (Bland Tomtar och Troll) and for the Scandanavian cover for ABBA's Greatest Hits.



This 1966 paperback also hails from Sweden.




This 1989 paperback had a simple but dramatic cover painting...



...which seems to have inspired this 1999 Spanish edition.



This striking 1997 cover is from the James Bond Classic Library edition.



Many of the books featured here can be found for sale online but if you're really keen to own a copy then why not consider this brand new slipcased editon.




Illustrated by Fay Dalton, this is the seventh in a series of deluxe hardbacks published by the Folio Society.






The end of Diving. The Art of Diving.

James Bond will return in Live and Let Dive - The Book Covers.



Saturday, 20 April 2019

The Collectable Art of Diving - "The Sea - our other world" Part Two

Click for larger images.















If you didn't fancy hiding your cards away in the album a poster was available as an alternative.


Finally here's an ad that ran in comics of the day.