Sunday, December 8, 2013

Review- THE DAILY MIRROR BOOK OF GARTH 1975 ANNUAL

THE DAILY MIRROR BOOK OF GARTH 1975 ANNUAL (Fleetway/ IPC, 1974; Softcover)
Collects the following Garth strips, originally published in The Daily Mirror newspaper: The Orb Of Trimandias (January 28- May 22, 1972), Ghost Town (April 11- July 12, 1973), Cloud Of Balthus (October 12, 1971- January 27, 1972), The Women Of Galba (December 27, 1972- April 10, 1973), Sundance (July 11- October 11, 1971), and Wolf Man Of Ausensee (May 23- September 6, 1972)
Writer: James Edgar
Artist: Frank Bellamy

A pox upon the denizens of the Masterworks Message Board! On the surface that site is a place where collected editions obsessives congregate to banter about books, play “fantasy football” by mapping out wishlist future volumes, and complain and nitpick about linework, restoration, and binding. Scratch the surface, though, and you'll find some stalwart collectors lost in an addiction spiral, encouraging and enabling one another in their endless acquisition of books. Sure am glad I'm not one of them. Heh. One such thread pointed out Book Palace's Heros The Spartan hardcover, which I have in my possession and will open on Christmas. When I stumbled upon the thread I was absolutely blown away by the artwork of Frank Bellamy. An evening of researching his body of work resulted in my bidding on, and ultimately winning, this book. 
Garth is a long running comic strip that was found in the UK newspaper The Daily Mirror. This book just sort of begins, with events presented in a way that readers should already be well aware of the premise of the strip. I don't know, this series may have been popular in England, but I cop an attitude with any comics that take it for granted that a reader should already know what is going on. 
Garth's hyper sensitive psyche causes him to slip in time via a time spiral, with his psyche inhabiting the body of others at various points in time. In The Orb Of Trimandias Garth's psyche journeys to 16th century Venice. In Ghost Town he journeys to 19th century Colorado. Meanwhile, Cloud Of Balthus finds Garth encountering the alien species the Cariads, who have kidnapped all of the astronauts aboard a NASA space platform. Garth journeys into space to rescue the astronauts while helping a Chinese spy ring steal scientific secrets. This feels an awful lot like Moonraker, the James Bond novel and movie. 
The Women Of Galba finds Garth dealing with an alien group of Women's Libbers, helping them depose the tyrant Osmer but cutting their husbands off. In Sundance, Garth becomes a US Cavalryman in 19th century Colorado. Kotalo, greatest of all of the medicine men, has a vision of a tall white eyed man flying in the belly of an iron bird. Garth tries to prevent war between Sitting Bull and General Custer, but ultimately Garth cannot change history, merely experience what others have already lived. 
The cover of this book is what grabbed me, and the story which it was based on certainly did not disappoint. Wolf Man Of Ausensee is a story about Garth saving a movie star from an attempted jewel theft after a movie premiere. The actress, Gloria Delmar, invites Garth to her friend's 300 year old castle in Austria. Castle Schloss Ausensee is owned by Conrad Von Ritter...who, it turns out, once sought Gloria's hand in marriage. Garth senses something is amiss in the castle's tower, and he is correct. It is Conrad's brother, Gunther, who suffers from the family curse and is a werewolf. 
 
These strips are all incredibly well written and drawn. There are adult overtones throughout the book, with double entendres abound. I really enjoyed this book and hope that Book Palace reissues more Frank Bellamy stuff. I'd also be up for a comprehensive, chronological, complete hardcover Garth Archives-type line.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- A few of the strips in this book originally contained nudity and were altered or omitted for the publication of this book.
The contents page omits the letter 't' from the title of Cloud Of Balthus.
The last two strips of The Women Of Galba are omitted.
Special thanks to Norman Boyd for his helpful and friendly email which helped me in my research.
I scored this book for relatively cheap ($23 US) on eBay. Upon it's arrival, I noticed that this book stunk. Not the old, mildewy smell of mouldering pulp paper which I find appealing, but the musty, blacker than black moldy smell found on books stored in damp conditions. It gave me a headache and made me sneeze. I was heartbroken at the prospect of not being able to read this. 
Undeterred, I set out for the hardware store and informed the employee that I needed a mask that would shield me from mold spores. I needed to be able to breathe for long periods of time while working with mold. The friendly staff pointed me to this face mask with a respirator. 
As you can see, this worked. My wife came downstairs and found me like this. She snapped a picture before bursting into laughter. I realized after looking at this picture that, to an outsider, I may appear to be insane. It all makes perfect sense to me, though. This book is segregated from the rest of my collection for fear that it will infect the rest of my beloved tomes.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: None.
Linework and Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5. There are two pages that look iffy. One is printed too dark, one too light. This could be a printer error and not a restoration error.
Paper rating: 3.5 out of 5. Decent weight uncoated stock. The paper is yellowed, which is exactly what I fear will happen to all collected editions with shoddy paper.
Binding rating: 4.5 out of 5. Glued binding that has held up remarkably well, especially considering how old and how weathered this book is. This book has clearly been read and loved over the years.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 3 out of 5. This cardstock cover is beat. The previous owner(s) obviously left it in direct sunlight, as it is faded. The coating, if any, was minimal and has all but worn off with the seemingly endless handling that this book has had.


http://www.instocktrades.com/


3 comments:

  1. Heh, heh. Love the fact that you had to read it with a Facemask on.

    Bellamy's art in B&W doesn't blow me away like his color work does, but it still looks very, very good.

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  2. Wow Kris! That's dedication! The original smells of pulp paper and is very nostalgically pleasant, so you got a bum steer there pardner! Thanks for the kind words.

    One correction that you wouldn't necessarily know...James Edgar wrote all these stories. He started writing for Garth in 1966 and carried on till 1977 when he and John Allard were the authors until1992, I think. Bellamy died in 1976
    Great blog by the way

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the compliment, Norman! Your Frank Bellamy site (linked above, folks!) was invaluable. Thank you for clarifying the writer of these strips. My early research named John Allard but I defer to your expertise on all things Bellamy.

      I have Heros The Spartan as well as the Bellamy King Arthur and Bellamy Robin Hood strip books waiting for me for Christmas. I can't wait to tear into Heros!

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