Wednesday 30 September 2009

2009 - a year I will always remember

2009 was important to me because it saw the publication of my first novel, The Tarnished Star written under the pen name Jack Martin. The reason I chose the name - well my grandfather William John Martin, the man who introduced me to the genre was better known as Jack. The book is dedicated to him and it was a great honour to adopt the name.

The book has done really well, both an Amazon and Book Depository best-seller, and is still in print in a great hard cover edition from Robert Hale LTD. The Book Depository has it on offer with free worldwide delivery and Amazon also have the book at a low price. Do a Google search on The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin for the latest offers.

Check out some of the reviews: HERE

And I am interviewed regarding the book HERE


Frederick Remington, renowned artist of the West, the man responsible for creating the look of the period that movie makers would follow and continue to do so even today. But what many people don't realise is that Remington was addicted to photography and used images he snapped himself for a great many of his most famous paintings.

Remington was born in 1861 and died in 1909 - his paintings of the authentic West, much of which he visited for real, have attracted many admirers over the years.

Remington' s first camera was a Scovill Detective box camera - this particular camera had revolutionised photography by making it accessible to amateurs. The photographs he took were essential to the realism he depicted in his wonderful paintings. He took this camera with him in 1886 while in pursuit of Geronimo.

Remington would state in 1907 - "I don't employ photography at all now but I once found it a great help."

Visit the Remington website HERE


November 2nd is Wild West Monday 4th and starting tomorrow - 1st October sees a month of nothing but western related posts on the Archive, leading up to the big day. There'll be reviews, interviews, features, a Gunsmoke podcast, a big cash competition, author profiles and more news than you'll know what to do with.

This time it's gonna be big and if you run a western website or blog then please get involved in pushing for the next Wild West Monday. Give Wild West Monday as much publicity as possible - get everyone involved.

So Western fans be here for daily in October and prepare for Wild West Web craziness. The omens are good - my vision, delivered by a ghostly figure on horseback, tells me that Wild West Monday the fourth is going to be a massive.


It's a simple premise, a worldwide gathering of fans, coordinated via the Wild West Web. It's easy to take part - all you have to do is on Nov 2nd visit book stores and libraries and enquire about their western range. If they don't carry westerns then request they do so. If enough of us do this around the world then it will be noticed and publishers and book sellers will answer the demand we have created. We can do it - we've done it before and we can do it again. Wild West Monday is go.

So be here, gathered around the camp-fire, at dawn for the kick off - The Archive's month long series of western posts to get us all in the mood for Wild West Monday.


Part nine is over at Meridian Bridge


Are publishers running scared of the digital book revolution? Are they destined to make the same mistake as the music industry made with MP3?

For the second time this month, a publisher has decided to delay the electronic-book release of a major new title in hopes of maximizing hardcover sales, as the beleaguered industry works out how e-books fit into its marketing strategy.

The Harper imprint of News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers said Tuesday it is pushing up publication of Sarah Palin's memoir, "Going Rogue: An American Life," to Nov. 17 from next spring.

The publisher said it is issuing 1.5 million copies of the former Republican vice-presidential candidate's book. But the electronic edition won't be available until Dec. 26.

This is the first time Harper has withheld the e-book edition of a major title since the form began to gain popularity, due in large part to Inc.'s Kindle e-book reader. The Kindle made its debut in November 2007.

full story HERE

WIld West Web Roundup

Howard Hopkins AKA western writer Lance Howard had just announced the sale of his 32nd Black Horse Western - head over to his blog where he's talking about his books and the genre in general.

'It’s called “The Killing Kind” ' Howard writes, 'and is a bit different from most of my previous books for the line and more like what I write under my own name. The novel relies much more on suspense and tension than out and out gunfights and complicated plot devices.'

Sounds good to The Archive but then we're all fans of Lance Howard here - he consistently delivers enjoyable westerns. In fact his novel, Ladigan is one of my favourite westerns of recent years.

So roll on 32 and we hope it ain't too long for 33.

The next part of the story with no name should be popping up somewhere on the Wild West Wed later today but as I write the story has not surfaced - so check back later for updates on, The Story with no name.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

THE ARCHIVE LIKES - Toeknee Handc**ck

The name Tony Hancock was known to me as a school kid without being aware of who he was. His fame in the school play yard was because he was the only comedian whose name you could spell out with body parts - You see it used to amuse us, spotty scruffy kids, to spell the name in body parts. You'd go, "Toe" and point to your toes, and then "Knee" and point to your knees - toeknee and then Han would become hand and ...well, you can figure out the rest.

I think the great man would have gotten a kick out of that.

Hancock, was one of the finest comedic actors that Britain has ever produced and his long running show, Hancock Half Hour which started out on radio and then transferred to television is generally credited with inventing the sitcom. At a time when most comedy was sketch driven, Hancock's show, written by the legendary team of Galton and Simpson, was event driven and would portray the misadventures of Hancock and his friends each week.

The best known episodes are the generally regarded classics - The blood doner, the radio ham, the bowmen. Like Monty Python huge swathes of dialogue from the Hancock scripts are so well known that people often quote them in day to day speech.

"A pint! - that's very near an armful.' Hancock pointed out to a doctor when he had gone along to give blood and enquired about how much they wanted. "I'm not walking around with an empty arm."

Hancock would see himself becoming Britains best known comedian before quitting his television series at the height of its fame to concentrate on feature films. His first film The Rebel was only a minor success and his his second The Punch and Judy Man flopped miserably. Hancock then went to Australia and signed up for a six part comedy series - Hancock Down Under - he only completed three episodes before committing suicide in June 1968. In recent years Hancock had suffered a myriad of personal problems.

His legacy lives on and many of the episodes of his popular TV and Radio series have been released on DVD and CD - BBC Radio 4 Extra  regularly broadcasts episodes of the radio series

He must read the Archive

Following last week's Archive post on the Whitechapel Murders it looks as if Sherlock Holmes is now on the case - In a new game available now in shops and to download. The press goes: Although we are talking about a character from fiction - Holmes - and a meliante never identified - which is known by the generic name Jack - real life, so many stories and myths were built around their pictures that we can consider them as elements of our modern mythology . And as often happens with good stories, these two were merged to form a game that portrays a legendary hunt.
System Requirements:
• Operating system: Microsoft ® Windows ® XP or VISTA
• Processor: with a clock speed of 2.6 GHz
• RAM: 1 GB
• Video card:-class GeForce 6800, ATI X1300 or better
• Free disk space: 2 GB
• Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card
• Management: keyboard, mouse


THE DIGITAL TAKEOVER:Will digital books catch fire this holiday? According to an online survey, 1 in 5 shoppers said they planned to buy an electronic book reader such as a Sony Reader or Amazon Kindle this year. When asked what they would like to get as a gift this year, about 1 in 10 cited a digital book reader. Portable music players, once the hot holiday ticket, got just 3.4% of the vote, while game consoles came in at 6%. Likely buyers tend to be men, under 35 years old, living in the Northeast where more people use public transportation, and with an average annual household income of more than $100,000, according to the survey of 771 respondents.

Of those who said they planned to spring for an electronic book reader, 62% said they would buy Amazon's Kindle 2 or Kindle DX, while 32% favored the Sony Reader. Although Amazon and Sony dominate the business today, more devices are scheduled to hit the U.S. market within the next year, including the $399 IREX expected later this winter and Plastic Logic due out in 2010.

The wonderfully scatty Sarah Palin: Only announced a few months ago but it has now been confirmed that Sarah Palin's autobiography will be in stores by Christmas.

EVEN THE US ARE FOLLOWING THE UK WITH THIS NONSENSE: For a country that venerates its First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech, the United States tries to ban books with alarming frequency.

Stick a pin in each place where there's been a challenge to a school or library book, and you'll have a map of the United States that looks like a hedgehog in need of a haircut.

This year already, challenges have been reported from Montana to Indiana to Texas, in high schools and libraries, and from classics like Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, to newer books like Brent Hartinger's The Geography Club and Chris Crutcher's Chinese Handcuffs.

This February in West Bend, Wisconsin, a local couple filed a petition calling for the Library Advisory Board to remove or label several Young Adult titles, including Francesca Lia Block's Baby Be Bop and Stephen Chobsky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because they felt that all the books in the young-adult section that dealt with homosexuality were "gay-affirming." The couple also requested that the library build a collection of books by "ex-gays" in order to achieve an ideological balance.

GOOGLE BOOK SETTLEMENT DEAD IN THE WATER: The Settlement, however, has received an exceptional amount of objections from a variety of sources, including countries, states, nonprofit organizations, and prominent authors and law professors. Indeed, objections to the settlement are too numerous to discuss fully here, but include concerns regarding orphan works, potential antitrust violation, and privacy concerns. This has resulted in the parties renegotiating many aspects of the agreement. Just yesterday, Judge Chin of the Southern District of New York, granted a motion to delay an October 7 hearing on the settlement given the fact that the parties are renegotiating the agreement. In light of all this, it remains to be seen to what extent the settlement can survive in any form…

Monday 28 September 2009


Be thankful you're not getting the audio


The Archive's interview with world renowned Billy the Kid expert, Fred Nolan can now also be found on EZINES ARTICLES. Or to read it on the Archive itself go HERE

Detectives, sex and old blue eyes

They were holding what was billed as, "American style flea market" in the community centre to raise funds for the local scout group. A good cause I thought and went along- mind you, dear reader, I think there might be something wrong here since there were no fleas there, American or otherwise.

What I did get was this nice magazine which I thought, at first glance, was a pulp mag along the lines Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Magazine but upon closer examination I found it was one of those true crime type publications. Mind you I bought it anyway.

I found this advert in the crime magazine for a book of sex practices amusing - and useful too if I could ever find anyone to practice with.

Ahh well -

Anyway tacky crime magazines aside I also came away with a pile of old paperbacks and a complete bound (well I think it is complete) set of an old part work called The Movie. There were twenty binders, each full of the history of cinema told in an engaging style. I paid £20 - can't be bad.

Sunday 27 September 2009

GOOGLE HAVE PROVEN John Lennon was right

when he said The Beatles are bigger than Jesus

More than forty years after John Lennon invoked the ire of Christians by claiming his band were bigger than Jesus, he has been proved right by an analysis of search terms on the Google search engine. In the last four weeks more computer users have typed in the search word "Beatles" on the Google website than "Jesus". The popularity of The Beatles has increased substantially during September thanks to the re-release of all of their albums digitally-remastered. Though it must be remembered Jesus had no album out this month.


The countdown has begun

2nd November 2009

This time in association with BHE Books we'll be running details of a cash prize competition revolving around Chap O'Keefe's popular Misfit Lil. And if you have bought a copy, or intend to, of the excellent Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope then hang onto your email recipet as you'll need it to enter the BHE competition. And if you want some free instant Chap O'Keefe western adventure then check out a full western novel in E-Book form in the sidebar of this blog. It's listed in the right hand sidebar and is in four parts - called The Sheriff and the Widow it's a full length novel that offers a great western story for nothing. Now that can't
be bad.

And for anyone interested in a western novel in the traditional style then check out my best-selling d├ębut, The Tarnished Star still available, with free worldwide delivery HERE. The book is going second-hand on Ebay for upwards of £15 but why bother when you can get a brand new hard cover for £9.20 GBP with delivery anywhere free. It's been constantly in print since June and is proving the western sales sensation of the year. Go get it folks.

It's the book that critics are saying, 'Is the best book I've ever had for propping up my table leg.'

So if you've got a wonky table or maybe fancy a good read you really can't be without The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin

And for the entirety of October The Archive will be posting nothing but western related posts to get you all in the mood for the next Wild West Monday. We've got interviews, film and book reviews, historical features and maybe the odd drunken cowboy. In the meantime if you haven't signed our petition then please do so HERE and let's push our beloved genre back into the limelight.

And keep your eyes peeled here and on other blogs for more Wild West Monday news - this time it's gonna' be bigger than ever.

Saddle up and let's ride for - THE WESTERN: THE GENRE TOO TOUGH TO DIE

Saturday 26 September 2009


If you or your children or grandchildren have read any of the books pictured, you have read a banned book. Your mid has been corrupted, or at least is has according to the political correct brigade.

Today begins National Banned

Book Week. It is a celebration of going into a library and picking up books off the shelves and reading them. Books that bland uninteresting middle class wankers think are too much for your sensibilities.

These people would rather you and other people in the world didn’t have the opportunity to read some of these books.

These people who seek to ban books from libraries are the PC brigade. They usually challenge books or ask the library to ban them with the best intentions in mind: to protect others, especially children, from difficult ideas and information. I'd much rather they piss off and protect us from their puerile nonsense. The world has gone PC crazy - recently I was served Spotted Richard because a European Directive says we can't call it, "spotted dick anymore" -The effort to remove books from libraries — public and school libraries — is wrong.

No person or group of people who have personal problems with a set of ideas should tell other people what they can or cannot read. Or eat or watch or anything else these dangerous lunatics who have seized control of political power feel is unsuitable.

As the linguist Noam Chomsky has said, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”


As a companion to the posts on Jack the Ripper I thought it would be useful to offer links to some of the most interesting Jack the Ripper content on the web.

Jack the Ripper Casebook
is one of the most comprehensive sites dedicated to serious research of the killings. The Casebook also produces a brilliant and fascinating series of round table discussions as podcasts which can be found in the contents list on the site.

The Metropolitan Police site has a comprehensive list of documents concerning the crimes.

Jack the Ripper gives a good introduction to the famous mystery.

TEN INTERESTING RIPPER SUSPECTS does just what it says on the tin.

There are numerous other Ripper sites on the web but these are the ones I have found the most interesting for my own research.


Like Patricia Cornwell's book reviewed yesterday, Stephen Knight's The Final Solution offers what seems a plausible solution to the crimes of Jack the Ripper. And he presents his case in an authoritative manner and leaves the reader once again thinking we have our man - or men in this case. However unlike Cornwell's theory the Royal Conspiracy theory is easily debunked and can be disproven without any doubt at all.

The premise of this book is that The Duke of Clarence ( a known homosexual) had a secret marriage to a prostitute and fathered a child with her. The woman was snatched by shadowy agents of the Royal family and lobotomised by the Queen's physician William Gull. There were five women who knew about the marriage and child and these were the canonical Ripper victims. It was this theory that formed the basis for the Johnny Depp movie, From Hell and indeed Stephen Knight's documentary, The Final Solution is hidden away on the DVD of the movie as a easter egg.

The theory comes from a story told to BBC researchers by Jeseph Gorman, a man who claimed to be Walter Sickert's (the man Cornwell claims was the ripper) illegitimate son. The theory is still the most popular with movie makers, writers and the public. However the fact is that it can be cast aside as a fanciful nonsense and not only that but Joseph Gorman later admitted that he had made it all up and his claim to be Sickert's son has never been established. Indeed if one believe Cornwell's claims about Sickert then he was incapable of fathering a child.

If there had been a Royal Conspiracy involved would they have dispatched of the women in such a high profile way? And these women were dispatched in a ferocious and brutal fashion with the killer overpowering them easily - we are asked to believe that William Gull, Queen Victoria's physician, a man in his seventies, was largely responsible. Another point against the theory is that William Gull had actually suffered a stroke a few years before the crimes.

Also if there was a Royal Conspiracy one would expect to find a White Fiat Uno mentioned in witness statements.

To my mind the reason that the conspiracy angle is so popular is because it contains all the elements of a Dan Brown thriller - the royals, the freemasons. There are even parallels with the Royal conspiracy regarding Princess Diana - The Ripper conspiracy claims the Royals act because Prince Eddy has fathered a Catholic child and with Diana the conspiracy claims she was pregnant with a Muslim child.

Stephen Knight places great importance on an address in Cleveland Street where the Duke of Clarance lived with his prostitute bride. However the particular address in Cleaveland Street didn't exist in 1888.

owever Stephen Knight offers a plausible sounding amount of evidence and it is only when you look further into the case that you realise much of his evidence is based on hearsay and supposition with the most troubling thing being that his chief source admitted to making the whole story up. And it can't be proven that the man was actually the world famous artist, Walter Sickert's son. Add to that the fact that the conspiracy involved the five canonical victims having known each other when there is no proof of that. Indeed it is highly unlikely that they did so. However what is becoming clear through evidence now turning up is that the final victim in the canonical five may have actually modelled for Sickert. She was also the only victim killed at home and was brutalised far worse than any of the others, almost flayed to the bone the autopsy report claims. This seems to add credence to Patricia Cornwell's claims about Sickert - did the artist, unable to have that which he desired because of his deformed penis, see Mary Kelly (crime scene photo above) , the only one of the five victims who could have been described as attractive, as a mockery of his condition? Did Mary Kelly discover that he had done the other killings and have to be silenced?

Despite the lack of hard facts, the Conspiracy theory remains one of the most popular. It continues to appear in popular fiction and media, eclipsing all other theories. The reasoning for this is quite simple - conspiracy theory are always popular because most people (rightly so) do not trust the government. However it does make an interesting story and when read as fiction it is absolutely riveting - this fact has not been missed by most as this theory is often the basis for movies, television shows, comic books, and novels.

Friday 25 September 2009


From the Commander Bond.Net News

The bad news continues for the debt-laden MGM Studios—home of the James Bond films.

According to new updates at Deadline Hollywood Daily, the studio has made a conference call plea with its ‘very loud and very upset’ bondholders in order to try and stave off the threat of bankruptcy.

The studio, which carries a burdening $3.7 billion in debt, is trying to work out a deal with the creditors to waive interest payments until February 2010. The company is in desperate need of $20 million in short-term cash flow to cover overhead, and an additional $150 million to get through the end of year and continue funding its projects, and to further start Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit (not having to make payments immediately provides the studio with some much-needed money to back their film production slate).

Full article HERE.


E BOOKS A GO GO: According to the Kindle Nation Daily blog, the Amazon Kindle edition of the new Dan Brown novel The Lost Symbol is outselling its hardcover counterpart, an interesting development.

It is important to note however that the hardcover has been on sale, via pre-order, for 150 days already and it would appear that most excited buyers put in there orders sometime during that period. The Kindle edition is also significantly cheaper.

The whole situation is interesting to note however, as the Kindle edition is outselling any book available at Amazon, whether in print or digital, a good sign for the device, which many have called overly expensive for its functionality

GOOGLE BOOKS DEAL DELAYED: WASHINGTON — A New York judge on Thursday ordered that a hearing over a settlement between Google and US authors and publishers be postponed to take into account objections on copyright and anti-trust grounds.

US District Court Judge Denny Chin agreed as expected with the request from the US Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers to delay the October 7 "fairness hearing" on the legal settlement.

Facing objections from the US Justice Department and others to the deal, the authors and publishers asked Chin on Tuesday to delay the hearing on the settlement that would allow Google to scan and sell millions of books online.

Chin said that Google and the authors and publishers were in negotiations with the Department of Justice which "will result in significant changes to the existing settlement agreement."

NEW EBOOK READER: River has set a local price for its e-book reader, the Story, which is now available to pre-order for Korean buyers. The device carries a price of 358,000 KRW (~290 USD) directly from the company. The package includes a 2GB SD card, folding case, and two free book downloads.

The device integrates a 6-inch display and a QWERTY keyboard, while a 3.5mm headphone jack provides audio feeds. The device is similar in form to the Kindle, with a thin profile that appears to fit easily in the folding case. A variety of formats are supported, including EPUB, PDF, raw text and Office documents.


I've been reading a fair bit of literature on the Jack the Ripper murders for a project I'm working on and I want to talk about two books that claim to solve the mystery and identify the Ripper or, as in Stephen Knight's case, the Rippers.

The first book Jack the Ripper: Portrait of a Killer Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell I will discuss here and the second, The Final Solution I will save for a later post. Both offer credible but differing theories as to the killers identities. And of course there are many other theories, equally credible out there.

The Ripper killings, as horrific as they were, have become diluted by the Ripper industry that has sprung up around the killer - movies, comics, books, even video games. Jack the Ripper sums up a Dracula like fictional character and even viewing the autopsy pictures that exist, as horrific as they are, does not have the effect they should have on the viewer. These were real women who suffered terrible and brutal mutilations by killer or killers unknown. And yet to the modern eye they have the effect of being film stills as if cut from one of the many Ripper movies. We have an image of the Ripper in our mind - long flowing cape, stove pipe hat, walking cane and a Gladstone bag. It is the uniform of a monster that actually existed but yet as become, in some senses, fictional.

The Patricia Cornwell book, first published in 2002, reveals world famous painter, Walter Sickert as the fiend of Whitechapel. And although I've read much debunking Ms. Cornwell's theory I must say that most of the debunking gets the facts wrong. For instance I've read that Cornwell claims that all of the letters sent to the police and newspapers pertaining to be from the killer came from Sickert. Wrong - Ms. Cornwell does insist that a great many of the letters came from the talented artist, who could write in several different hands, but many of then, she says, are hoaxes sent by practical jokers with a sick sense of humour. A little aside here but following avenues of my own research I learned that a lady named Miriam Howells from Penricwber, a village only a few miles from my own, was arrested and charged with writing two Ripper letters. The reason I've mentioned this is that it reveals the interest the case achieved worldwide - in an age when news didn't travel that fast the Ripper was the topic of conversation everywhere. Letters to the police came from not only London and most major UK cities but some from as far afield as France and even the US. In fact there was one theory that the killer was an American left behind after Buffalo Bill's Wild West Circus left London earlier that year. Police records reveal that three of the many people questioned in 1888 listed their occupations as "Cowboys" and were linked to the American exhibition.

The women pictured left are known as the canonical five - these are the five official victims of the serial killer known as JACK THE RIPPER, but Cornwell, as do most other Ripper students, claims that there were other killings that were also the work of the same hand.

Cornwell brings all her skill as a fiction writer to drawing a vivid picture of London's East End as a filthy slum area populated by society's unfortunates but into which wealthy men, men like Sickert, would venture to get their thrills amongst the degradation of extreme poverty. The East End offered a distraction from the well ordered Victorian society that these men were used to.

Then as now, prostitution was often the only way for certain women to put food on the table and working the streets in the over populated, badly lit East End must have been a dangerous option for women. None of the C5 were beautiful women, all had been ravaged by extreme poverty and hardship - two of them, for instance, had their front teeth missing and all of them were dowdy sorry looking people.

Cornwell tackled this, the ultimate cold case, with all the skills of modern forensics and perhaps the most compelling evidence she discovered was a partial DNA match to Sickert on one of the Ripper letters. Though the DNA was mitochondrial - but it was specific enough to eliminate 99% of the population. The matches on the stamp when compared to DNA on Sickert's own personal letters and the overalls he wore when he painted were exact. However the author warns that this is 114 year old DNA - that the findings would not stand up in a courtroom on their own. She also places great importance on the watermarks in the paper used for the Ripper letters which matches the brands that Sickert often used. This is important as some of the letters when measured were discovered to be not only the same brand but to have come from the same print batch as papers in Sickert's own collection.

Another interesting aspect of Cornwell's theory is that Sickert was a lone killer when so many other Ripper theories has the killer as part of a conspiracy involving the British Royal Family. The author also points out the remarkable similarities between several of Sickert's paintings and actual crimes scenes. Now these days the case is so well publicised that everyone knows what the crime scenes look like but that was not so during the time that the artist was working. Cornwell theorises that Sickert, arrogant and believing himself far superior to the investigating team was leaving these clues in his work because it amused him to do so.

Ms. Cornwell has a point as many of the artists darker works do indeed look like the actual crime scenes

Cornwell, who amassed a multi million fortune from her fiction, is adamant that she has got the right man - "I do believe 100% that Walter Richard Sickert committed those serial crimes, that he is the Whitechapel murderer," She told an American interviewer on TV IN 2002. She also claims that if a jury had been presented with all of her evidence they would have said, 'hang him.'

The reasons for all this? Well, Cornwell claims, Sickert was born with a deformation of his penis, a fistula, underwent several operations as a child which would have left him without enough penis to penetrate. Investigators at the time claimed that the killer would have had to have had medical knowledge and Sickert, an artist, certainly had anatomical knowledge.

It's certainly a page turner of a book and the theories presented and the evidence does suggest to the reader that we have finally caught our man - the problem is that so many other books do the same thing and next time I'll look at Stephen Knight's the Final Solution which is an equally plausible identification of the Whitechapel killer(s).

Thursday 24 September 2009


Banned Books week is an important initiative that readers everywhere should support. Click on the button on the website to find out more.


When I was a kid we had our own British versions of Marvel comic strips - these were usually in black and white and were always reprints from the original American strips. These days Marvel are published in the UK in full colour and in better quality books than the originals but this was how we once caught our super-hero action.


Mighty World of Marvel was a long running title - today Panini comics also publish a Mighty World of Marvel.

The Hulk was always the main star of The Mighty World of Marvel and later on other titles would be merged into the magazine before vanishing forever.

And nice to see Charles Atlas had some competition.

Beano 1949 V 1973

The Beano issue one came out in 1938 and the comic is still being published today - it is the world's longest running weekly comic and is still a huge success. These day there is another comic, Beano Max published alongside the regular weekly comic.

Given the title's long life I thought it would be interesting to compare a few issues of the Beano, one from 1949 and another from 1973 - click on any of the images for a larger readable version of the comic page. The cover star of both issues is Biffo the Bear and although the character had retained his popularity from the 40's to the 70's you can see how he has evolved visually. The character is still a part of the comic today though Dennis the Menace has taken over the coveted cover page.

The contents of the comics though is where the real difference comes in.
Lord Snooty, who takes up the third page of the 1949 issue was still in the title when I was reading it through the Seventies. But the other two characters here Smarty Smocum and the Magic Lollipops have completely vanished by my day. Indeed I've never known the comic to feature two stories on the one page.

The 1973 stories on the second and third page are more familiar to me from my youth.

Both Grandpa and The Three Bears were long running stories and although the titles may sound like the comics were aimed at pre-schollers that is not the case - The Beano is a humour comic that has always been popular with children of all ages, indeed a fair few adults would be lost without their weekly fix of mayhem from DC Thomson, the company behind the comic.

Back to 1949 and the biggest surprise is to find text based stories in the comic - I've never known that and was surprised to see these here.

In the 1970's it was rare to find a comic that was anything but comic strips - text stories would sometimes turn up in the annuals but I can not remember the Beano Annual ever having text stories - obviously they must have during the early days. It's an indication of how reading habits had changed.

By 1973 it was comic strips all the way and another hugely popular character is Mini the Minx, a kind of female Dennis the Menace. She even wore the same clothes though the two characters were not supposed to be related. This was something the comic would often do - if a character was especially popular they would create variations on the characters - making them female or dogs or even mice. For instance a strip below Pup's Parade is basically dog versions of the Bash Street Kids.

1949's next strip is again in a style that had vanished by the time I was reading the comic and this is followed by another text story. It would have taken longer to read a text story so perhaps kids in the 40's having less distractions demanding their attention would have welcomed the text stories.

The text story - Taylor's Goose.

The 1949 issue then closes with another comic strip and the back cover is shared by four stories.

The comic was much thinner in 1949 but then paper rationing had not yet been fully relaxed after the war. By 1973 the comic was twice the thickness but made up entirely of comic strips and the only characters that remained from the earlier issues were Biffo the Bear and Lord Snooty.

Johnny Hawke is followed by The Bash Street Kids, another popular strip which dominated the middle pages and remains a favourite by readers today. In fact the strip is probably second in the all time popularity stakes to Dennis the Menace. The latter being the comic's superstar.

Pup's Parade which followed was the doggie world's answer to the Bash Street Kids.

The comic then had four more pages of strips featuring now iconic character - Roger the Dodger, Little Plum, Baby Faced Finlayson, billed as the cutest bandit in the West before ending with Dennis the Menace taking up the colour back pages.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

The story with no name

Head over to Cap'n's blog for part eight of the story with no name - the previous entries can be found via the link at Ian Parnham's blog

Tuesday 22 September 2009


I’ve had my new E-Reader (Elonix) for a few weeks now and have had time to get to grips with the new technology. The thing came loaded with a 100 free books, all of them public domain classics that are available from Gutenberg. I’m not sure how useful having the complete works of Shakespeare preloaded into memory is – it’s hardly light reading to pass away a few hours. But the inclusion of books that I know from reputation but have never actually read is welcome – Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, the complete Sherlock Holmes. Okay I’ve read quite a bit of the later but not the entire canon. I probably will now.

Now fiddling about with the machine, trying to read something on it, initiallu felt kind of artificial, akin to playing a video game rather than reading a book but gradually I started to get used to it and flicking through the library I stopped on Tom Sawyer and started to read. Within a page I was hooked and the fact that I was reading this ancient text on the latest technology didn’t matter anymore. I was dragged into the story in the same way I’m used to with proper books – books printed on paper that is. Mark Twain was reaching out through the years and via technology that would have been alien to him, completely immersing my imagination in his story. A good story is a good story no matter when it’s read. Or indeed how it’s read.

Course I knew the Tom Sawyer story – I’d seen TV adaptations over the years, caught the odd movie and probably read a chapter or two of the original book at school. But until now I’d never read the original book – a timeless classic, a book that is as much at home in the digital 21st century as it was in the inky black nineteenth. What really delighted me about the book was the sheer amount of small detail – it really gave the feeling of what it must have been like to be a young boy during the period. Tom gets up to it all, searching for treasure, conning his friends into whitewashing his fence and even charging them for the privilege while he sits idle, swapping marbles, brass knobs and dead cats. And at one point he even attends his own funeral. It’s a book about childhood and what it’s like to be a child and as Twain says in the introduction he hopes adults will read it in order to once again relive the sensation of youth. He certainly got his wish there.

I doubt if I would ever have read this charming book were it not bundled with the E-reader – there’s so many other things to read that I’m hardly going to look at the classics which I knew, or rather thought I knew, inside out. Still I’m going to tackle Huckleberry Finn next which, I’m assured, is an even better book.

The Archive's back....

Well almost - at the moment I'm doing 12 hour days filming the third series of Lark rise to Candle ford and add to that a hour and a half drive each side of that journey. Damn there's not enough hours in the day. And then I've got a book to write and sometime I need to fit in time to wash and eat. Mind you I like it that way...the busier the better and of course during those long hours on set I can always catch up with my reading which leads to my next post....

Monday 21 September 2009


Posting resumes as usual this Wednesday 23-09-09

stats for previous week

Weekly Stats Report
: 14 Sep - 20 Sep 2009

Unique Visitors364223197152126931171,272182
First Time Visitors287181166128105741021,043149
Returning Visitors7742312421191522933

Wednesday 16 September 2009




The Archive is taking a break for one week only and will return on Wed 23rd September, fully refreshed and ready to go. Today is the 16th September and already there has been 83 posts this month so there's plenty to read while we're gone. And if you missed the digital publishing first which was the publication on this blog of Keith Chapman's ultra rare Saint strip then check it out now.
Part 2
Part 1

Over the next few hours there'll be a new video promo going up in the sidebar which will link to this strip.

When the Archive returns October will be perilously close and we start a month of nothing but western posts leading up to the next Wild West Monday in November - so there's plenty to plan while the Archive is away. And soon we'll be gearing up for the launch of Arkansas Smith, my follow up to the successful Tarnished Star.

There'll also be news of the next THEMED WEEKEND - This time it's the Black Horse Western Range and we'll have an insane amount of interviews and features running over the weekend. You think The Saint weekend was busy - you ain't seen nothing yet.

Me I'll be using the time to finish up my contacted commission for BBC Books and also trying to get to the final stages of It's High Noon, Boyo (working title only) which will probably end up going under the title of, A Policeman's Lot. I've promised myself there'll be no internet use for a week - I've just got to get some work done.

So that's it - be here in 7 for more of the same

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