Monday 15 December 2014

Taschen's The Complete Little Nemo: The Missing Strip

Under our Christmas Tree this year, if it fits (it's bloody huge!) will be a copy of this. It was published over a year late, but on all accounts is well worth the wait. If you're unfamiliar with Winsor McCay's masterwork, then hie thee to Google and have a look. Suffice to say it was doing things with the comics genre over a hundred years ago which arguably have still not been bettered.

My copy has yet to be opened, but I see from reviews online that it is apparently annoyingly incomplete to the tune of one strip. Back on January 7, 1906 the US newspapers and European ones for seem reason carried different strips, and the Taschen book reportedly only includes one of them (which one, I don't know, yet).

So, as a public service, here are both strips from that day, as reproduced in the Sunday Press editions (which were also incomplete, but at least did not purport to be).

[UPDATE: Commenter Leonidas II clarifies the history of these strips: "Both pages where published in the USA. Some papers published one, some published the other. Bill Blackbeard tells all the story in volume VI of the Fantagraphics edition." Thanks Leonidas. The Fantagraphics editions (published by Titan Books in the UK) have always been very pricey on the secondary market, so I've only ever owned a volume 3. Perhaps they will become more affordable now the Taschen edition has come out.]

Sunday 7 December 2014

The Forgotten Poetry of William Kean Seymour, With A Binding By Vernon Hill

The Collected Poems of William Kean Seymour arrived on the desk at the Little Shop this week, and sent me scuttling to google to find out more...

It's a first edition from 1946, and features a charming binding and title page design from another name I didn't recognise: Vernon Hill.

Alas, Wikipedia has very little to say about William Kean Seymour (other than revealing his fairly prodigious output), though there's an informative entry on Vernon Hill here.

Seymour's poetry is mostly forgotten today (he's probably best remembered for editing the 1920s anthology A Miscellany of Poetry). You might have heard of his son Gerald though, who is still writing acclaimed thrillers. And even if you've never heard of Gerald Seymour, you've probably heard the haunting feem toon that Haunting-Feem-Toons-R-Us funsters Clannad did for the TV adaptation of one his best known books, Harry's Game.

But back to Seymour senior. The 200 poems collected in the book are, as Seymour says in his Author's Note, "a winnowing of much mainly lyrical verse written and published in the last thirty years." The collection also includes "thirty poems hitherto not published in book form. More would have been included, but enemy action decreed otherwise."

A lot of the poems deal with nature in its many forms; Birds in Rain, Dawn, The Poppy to name but three, but here's a different kind of piece, which caught my eye as I flicked through:


When a dream haunts my path,
Strays in lingering innocence,
Shows the lovely forms it hath,
Tells me never why nor whence,

I with fevered fingers grope,
Sick for permanence, and find
Chaos in the heart of hope
And torment in the mind.

... and here's an animated reading of one of his nature poems, The Snail.

William Kean Seymour then. Ripe for rediscovery, I'd say.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Is This One Of The Scariest Pamphlets Ever Published? Know Your War Time Gases...

War time ephemera is usually fascinating, and this little pamphlet is equal parts fascinating and alarming. There's no date printed inside that I noticed, but from its matter-of-fact references to 'political developments of late' and 'future hostilities', it must be late 1930s, just before Mr Chamberlain's piece of paper.

The focus of the pamphlet, which is essentially a catalogue, is familiarising yourself with what the Germans are likely to start throwing at British cities from their bombers, and then getting hold of the kit that will protect you from it. 

The number one fear was gas: still fresh in memories from the First World War of course. The final two pictures below show a couple of items I still can't quite get my head around: sets of little phials of actual deadly gases, one of which is designed to be smelt, just so you recognise it in future...

In a similar vein, the third image shows one of their 'experimental' thermite bombs (available in three sizes), designed to show you what an incendiary bomb was like.

Bizarre as it may seem, I suppose such kit was useful for ARP personnel-in-training... it's certainly a reminder of what must have been a terrifying time to live through.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Saki Illustrations by Lynd Ward, from The Haunted Omnibus

Long time readers of the blog will know how excited I get at any new discovery when it comes to one of my favourite writers, H. H. Munro, aka Saki. Previous posts have waxed lyrical about Saki dust jackets, but this time it's some wonderful interior illustrations.

Saki is one of the most anthologised authors of all time, and it's no surprise that the editor of 1930s collection The Haunted Omnibus chose two of his stories to include. Each and every tale in the collection had the good fortune to receive an illustration by one of the very best illustrators there ever was: Lynd Ward.

I'd not come across them before, so here they are... (and should you want to read them, both stories are easily findable online, and will only take a few minutes to read. They're both utter classics of their kind).

Sunday 16 November 2014

How To Buy A Set Of James Bond First Editions For Less Than The Price Of A New Car. Or Indeed House.

The short answer is that you can make me an offer on this lot... Are they all first edition, first impressions? Of course not. That would be tens of thousands of pounds... I'd be happy to part with these for very considerably less than that...

Casino Royale, Live and Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun (with its super-rare gun stamped on the front board) are First Edition Library facsimiles. The rest are all Cape 1st/later impressions (apart from Thunderball and Octopussy, which are 1st/1sts) with good quality repro jackets.

The real draw is the condition. All of them are clean and sharp, and there's only one name inscription (in You Only Live Twice). None are ex-library, which is pretty remarkable, as the vast majority of these later hardcover printings often ended up in libraries (if James Public wanted to buy a copy, they'd get one of the PAN paperbacks). If later printings of many books are anything to go by, then I'd wager that several of these later impressions had *lower* print runs than the first printings, so technically some of these could be *rarer* than the 1st/1sts! Hey, it's a point of view.

The Gardners and Bensons are all 1st/1sts (bar No Deals, Mr Bond, which is a 1st/2nd), all in VG+ to Fine condition, and some, as you'll see, are signed. Actually 4 of the Bensons are, though I've only showed one.

These'll be going on eBay soon as three big lots (all the Flemings, all the Gardners, and all the Bensons + the latest three novels), but in the meantime feast your eyes...

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Unboxing Arrow Video's Withnail and I Box Set, Plus: Had Your Fill Of My Dick? Then I Have Moorcock To Show You...

An image-heavy post this week, but there's lots of goodies below, so do scroll down...

First off, Arrow Video's amazing Withnail and I limited edition box set has arrived, and it is a thing of beauty. A more detailed review will follow once I've had a chance to digest its many wonders, but here's a quick shufty at what it looks like... The first thing to say is that it's a lot bigger than I expected: 8 and a half inches square. Arrow offered 'personalisation' for early bird customers, with a choice of quotes on the back, a variety of front cover images to choose from, and a space for your name and the limited edition numbering on the back. As you'll see, I took the opportunity to have mine belong to a certain Uncle...

Only 119 of this edition, with the photo cover of the two of them sitting on the steps, was produced. Blimey, a real rarity then!

Take off the outer slipcase, and the 'book' packaging is revealed. It's 200 pages of Withnail-related articles, some reprinted from various sources (including Bruce Robinson's excellent and previously long-out-of-print Introduction to the book which published the screenplays to both Withnail and How To Get Ahead In Advertising), some (I think) new to this book. [UPDATE: Arrow Video have confirmed to me via the Twitter that all the pieces dated 2014 were indeed especially commissioned for this book.) Sprinkled throughout are a selection of Murray Close's classic on set photos, in glorious black and white (as they were originally taken).

Then, at the back, 4 discs: Withnail on Blu-ray and DVD, and then How To Get Ahead In Advertising on Blu-ray (its debut in that format) and DVD, both films remastered from the original negatives.

A fabulous job from Arrow, and that's even before I've put a disc anywhere near a player! This limited personalised edition is now sold out, but there will be a quantity of unpersonalised ones available pre-Christmas from Amazon, it appears from this listing. For more details on the slew of extras included, have a look at my earlier post.

Onwards. Regular readers of this blog will remember the hilarity that ensued when my Dick recently grew, but then quickly shrunk again before I had a chance to show it off in the window. Yes, my pile of Philip K. Dick books sold before I could display them (well what did you *think* I meant?), but no matter, I have plenty Moorcock where they came from... Here's a gallery of their wonderfully bonkers covers. I'll admit to having not read any Moorcock. Any offers on where I should start?