British comics archivist Gary James has launched his British Comics Database web site, a project running to some 6000 pages of data about British comics, from the ABBA comic and Action to Zoids and Zorro – and the release of eBooks on British comic characters.
At this stage, there is still material to be added, complementing the research work done by Al Notton over on the Comics UK Database and the UK Comics Wiki (as well as Steve Holland’s fantastic Bear Alley blog). But Gary’s site is definitely one to bookmark for future reference, although he cautions that updates will be irregular while “various buttons get pushed, and levers nudged, so this website can operate without the aid of hope and magic” – so his originating British Comics Database blog should be consulted for the moment.
“The transfer of information from the blog is underway,” says Gary, “and by the time I’m done I’ll have around six thousand pages uploaded. Which is a lot of comics and annuals – and not an inconsiderable amount of time to write up.
“The process hasn’t been as smooth as hoped, and some (hopefully minor) changes are still to come, but given the scope of the website it is a lot less troublesome than I had anticipated. Indeed, there are less issues to fix than there seemed to be.”
One aspect of the site of interest is the planned publication of a series of eBooks dedicated to corners of the British comics universe, with the first, Detective Dan Volume 1 – The Cowboy With A Thousand Faces, on sale now focusing on the western character created for Comet in the 1950s. Collecting the first 15 adventures together for the first time, this specially-prepared document contains the full-length saga and four short stories which began the character’s run in.
Meet the cowboy who, if he looked himself in the face, would not recognise himself! Everybody thought that Dan the Dude was just a “tenderfoot” – a real greenhorn! Really, he was a clever range detective – a daring law-man who had brought many a badman to book. And he was a master of disguise – that’s why we call him… The Cowboy With A Thousand Faces.
Gary’s isn’t a price guide. Nor is it merely a list of comics, annuals, and related ephemera published in the United Kingdom. Having noticed the relative lack of information available about British comics, and well aware that a comprehensive reference work was badly needed to raise attention to the valuable history, he set out to fill that gap.
“It has been through a constant process of trial and error that the material contained (and elsewhere) was compiled, thus some of the entries are rather more complex than others,” he notes, “and certain information found in one entry is omitted elsewhere. Standardization of the material was a secondary concern to the pressing need to bring the pertinent information together.”