Thursday, 14 December 2017

A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST - OR IS IT? WHAT DO YOU THINK...?



"A distinctive quality or atmosphere."  That's one of the definitions of the word 'flavour'.  And every neighbourhood I've ever lived in has had its own distinct flavour.  Whether it was intrinsic, or just the way I perceived things, I'm not quite sure;  perhaps a little of both.  In the latter case, if you live in the same house and area for many years, that perception can change with age, because when you're a kid and the territory is your playground, the way you view your surrounding environs differs from when you're an adult and it's only the place where you live.  As a grown-up, you no longer play in the woods and climb the trees, or go exploring the boundaries of your locale with your pals, so your perception (and thus the flavour) of the place likely adapts to your shifting experience of it.

In my case, I know that my neighbourhood no longer 'tastes' exactly as it did when I was a teenager.  That's due to various reasons, many of them ones of style.  For example, the pavements no longer have light grey slabs, but instead sport a dark tar macadam.  Street lights are no longer painted light grey, but for many years were of a much darker hue before being replaced with bare aluminium ones.  The designs of the cars parked in the street are totally different to cars of the '70s.  There are fewer green spaces for kids to play, and the horizons are narrowing because of new edifices blotting out the sky.  Even something as seemingly trivial as the shape and colour of window frames can alter the mood of a street in quite a significant way.  The 'feeling' I now experience of my surroundings when I leave my house to go shopping or visiting is not the same as when I was a teenager or young adult on my way to school or work, or simply going to see friends.

But there's another factor.  When I was younger, lingering thoughts of mortality did not concern me with quite the same intensity as they do nowadays (after all, the prospect of death seems far more remote in youth), and I had a sense of optimism about life.  Free from the worry of earning a living, or securing a future and raising a family, when I was a kid, life seemed like one big adventure and I couldn't wait to see what a new day would bring.  Now, rapidly approaching old age and in physical and intellectual decline, I fear for the future and could see tomorrow far enough (except when waiting for some item purchased on eBay to arrive).  All those different factors coalesce to alter not only my perception of my place in the scheme of things, but also to change the 'scheme of things' itself.  A two-pronged attack as it were.

Perhaps it's a mistake to stay in the same environment for any significant length of time.  Maybe people need to change their surroundings every so often, otherwise the taste of daily living becomes stale and no more than an endless repetition of things that no longer satisfy, no longer inspire.  True, the pattern of life is pretty much the same wherever we live, but the illusion of 'freshness' and 'newness' that comes with a change of locale is perhaps the closest we'll ever get to feeling that our daily grind has been transfused with new 'life'.

Are you an adult who's lived in the same house since you were a kid?  If so, do you recognise what I'm trying to say, or does the continuity of your life from infancy afford a comfort that you'd be loath to relinquish?  Or do you sometimes feel suffocated by it and yearn for change?  Particularly if the place as you once knew it no longer seems the same, and you're merely clinging on to the ghost of a memory of how things used to be.  If you can make head or tail of what I've been rabbiting on about, I'd be interested in reading your thoughts in the comments section.      

BABE OF THE DAY - ALEX KINGSTON...



ALEX KINGSTON looks great in this lacey
and racy outfit, I'm sure you'll agree.  Or perhaps
I'm mistaken and it's an all-over body tattoo.  Not
that it matters - either way, she still looks great.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

AN EMAIL FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP...



Con men appear to be getting either more inventive or desperate in their attempts to separate people from their cash.  Here's one of their most recent emails to me (and no doubt countless others), allegedly from someone they must believe has far more credibility than he actually possesses.  Would you ever fall for such a scam?

United States President Office
The White House
Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW,
Washington, DC 20500, United States.

*************24 HRS SERVICE ***************

Your ATM Visa Card Will Be Shipped Through DHL To Your Address:

Dear Beneficiary,

I am Mr. Donald John Trump, the newly President-elect of the United States. You will get more information about me here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald Trump

This is to inform you officially that after our investigations with the Federal Bureau of Investigation {FBI}, Central Intelligence Agency {CIA} and other Security Agencies in the country for the year 2017, we discovered that you have not receive your Outstanding Compensation Payments valued $10.5 Million, I Just received an urgent email from Mr. Mike Parra, the Dispatch Director of DHL Couriers Express that your ATM VISA Card worth $10.5 Million Dollars which I sent to you from The White House has been returned back to my office due to wrong address provided, I advise you to reconfirm Your Full Name, your Correct House Address, Phone Number, Occupation and Age to enable me resend the compensation ATM Visa Card to you immediately.

I have your file here in my office and it says that you are yet to receive your fund valued at US$10,500,000.00 (Ten Million Five hundred thousand Dollars).This Funds will now be delivered to you Via ATM VISA Card or your preferred payment option. Note that your loaded ATM VISA Card will be mailed to you through Priority Mail Express (DHL) to your designated address address immediately you admit full compliance to this email. You are advised to kindly reply this email with the above details to help ensure safe mailing of your ATM Visa Card:

As soon as the above mentioned details are received, your ATM Visa Card worth $10.5 Million USD will be delivered to your house address without any further delay, I am very sorry for the delay you have gone through in the past years. Thanks for adhering to this instruction and once again accept my congratulations in advance.

Thanks for your co-operation as I wait to hear from you.

Signed:
Yours Faithfully,
Mr. Donald John Trump.
President of the United States of America.

WHERE WERE YOU IN 1982? DID YOU TAKE A NOTE?



Long ago and far away, in another age to the one in which we all now live, I was a different kind of chappie.  Happy, content, optimistic, and with a feeling of eternity in my grasp.  I knew one day I would die (or so I'd been told, though I was looking for a clause in the contract), but that day was so far off as to appear unimaginable.  Now, of course, with less time in front of me than I have behind me, it's a different story (though I'm still searching for that clause), and I often find myself looking back on earlier years to when I was young, and fit, and handsome(ish), and master of all I surveyed.  (In my imagination anyway.)

So for today's exercise in nostalgia, we're returning to 1982 (though we'll bob around a bit).  If you're around my age, that date will trip off the tongue as if it were only a fairly recent period (isn't it?) - but no, it's an astonishing 35 years ago and counting.  Wow, 35 years.  I have friends who died long before they ever reached that age, yet it only feels like a few short years - months even - since I last saw and spoke with them.  But I digress.  The book at the top of this post was given to me by a friend in December of 1980, when he was back in our home town on a brief visit up from Portsmouth, where he then lived as he was in the Navy.

In the interests of full disclosure, he's no longer my friend and hasn't been since April of 1981, but that's another story.  The Reader's Digest account is that he was a compulsive liar and inveterate fantasist, and when I went down to Portsmouth to visit him (at his invitation) in '81, he studiously avoided me - and the only time he came to visit was when I was out and to question my landlady as to whether I'd returned to Scotland yet.  You see, so worried was he that I'd meet his new band of acquaintances and perhaps inadvertently expose some of the ludicrous fantasies he'd regaled them with, he gave me a wide body-swerve for the entire time (three or four months) I was there.  It was then that I decided I didn't need friends like that.

The book was one of the two last things he ever gave me the last time I saw him in the town we'd grown up in.  The other was his old brown wallet, which he no longer required as his sister had given him a new one for Christmas, which was then fast approaching.  I still have both items, and the notebook is filled (by me) with notes, scraps, sayings, quotations and pictures.  (The wallet remains empty.)  One of those pictures is a very poor quality 110mm photo of the time I appeared on TV in early 1982.  To be more precise, I didn't appear in person, it was a photo of me taken  in my room by a photographer (no surprise there then) for a consumer segment on a news and current affairs programme on Scottish Television.


The reason for my involvement?  I'd purchased some comics (at no small cost) from a mail order dealer at the end of 1980 or the beginning of '81, and he'd failed to send one of the issues.  (SMCW #1 in case you were wondering.)  After many fruitless letters, one of them from a lawyer, I got in touch with the programme (Scotland Today perhaps, can't quite recall) and they contacted him.  The comic was soon forthcoming, and the details were broadcast on the programme, hence a picture of my good self being required.  I wasn't supplied with a copy, so had to snap a couple of photos of the TV screen from a video recording of the programme made by a woman whose flat I was decorating at the time.  Both pictures had a dark bar across them, one at the top of one image, one at the bottom of the other.  I cut the two of them in half and joined the good halves together (with no great finesse as you can see above) and then glued the result inside the notebook.

Anyway, I was browsing through the book in the early hours of this morning, saw the photo and was appalled by how awful it looked.  I scanned it into my computer and set to work in trying to improve it by the use of digital technology (and perseverance), and though the finished result (below) is far from perfect, I'd say it's a wee bit better than the original.  At least it now looks like one photo as opposed to two halves taped together (which it was).

Incidentally, I still own that TV in the pic (though it's now in the loft) and the items on top of it, and the poster you can faintly see on the right of the photo still resides on that same spot (more or less) on my bedroom wall.  It's a The Wind In The Willows poster that I acquired from the Westwood Library in 1979, when I was there on a visit from Central Library, where I worked at the time.  As I used to live across the street from the Westwood Library when I was a boy (though not in '79), it has a particular significance to me. 

Well, that's today's nostalgic reminiscence out of the way and you're all now free to return to your normal lives.  At the back of your minds though, a seed has been planted, and you'll probably find yourselves, without really meaning to, thinking back on your own youth and what you were up to in the early '80s.  I trust all your memories are pleasant ones.

"Here's looking at you, Kid!"

Monday, 11 December 2017

CAN BATMAN FLY? S*D THAT FOR A GAME OF SOLDIERS...



Back in the '60s, one of my pals used to have the above MARX TOYS soldier.  I had the Marx Toys BATMAN, which shared the same face as his military colleague, and, for reasons now forgotten, we decided to swap.  As related in another post some time back, while we were playing in the field across the road from my house a short while later, an older boy by the name of ROBERT FORTUNE decided to see if Batman could fly and launched him into space, with catastrophic results (which I'm sure he intended).

My pal immediately wanted to annul the swap, but I was having none of it.  He owned Batman when he met his fate, so he had to live with the results.  We complained to Robert Fortune's mother, who said she'd tell him off, but we could tell she wanted to get back to her telly and was unconcerned with her son's behaviour.  And parents sometimes wonder why their children turn out the way they do, eh?

Anyway, saw the toy on eBay a while back and thought about bidding on it, but never got around to it.  Thought I'd show you a photo of it anyway, just to remind you what it looked like in case you had this toy when you were a boy.  And that's Batman below, though you can't see his face for a black-mask sticker over it.  (Trust me, they were twins.)

Any Criv-ites have either (or both) of these items when they were kids?  Share your reminiscences of them in the comments section.

BABE OF THE DAY - GAL GADOT...



GAL GADOT borrowed one of CUPID's
darts and shot it at me.  She needn't have tried
so hard to win my affections - that would have
happened anyway without any prompting.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

RECOMMENDED READING - DC KIRBY KLASSICS...


Images copyright DC COMICS

DC COMICS are producing some nice softcover collections of JACK KIRBY classics at the moment, very much in the mode of MARVEL's EPIC volumes.  The ones I'm aware of ('cos I have 'em) are CHALLENGERS Of The UNKNOWN, MISTER MIRACLE, and The DEMON, but there may be others and there's certainly bound to be more.  Well worth having if you're a Kirby fan.





For some reason the yellow on this cover scan isn't reproducing
properly, so you'll just have to imagine how it should be

Friday, 8 December 2017

SCREAM! IT'S THE DRACULA FILE...


Images copyright REBELLION.  Cover art by CHRIS WESTON

REBELLION (publishers of 2000 A.D.) are releasing some great reprint volumes at the moment.  I've got The LEOPARD From LIME STREET, MARNIE The FOX, FACEACHE, and now also The DRACULA FILE volume.  I've already got all 15 issues of SCREAM! plus all the Holiday Specials, but there's something about having the stories in a handy single edition to browse through whenever I want.

Take a look at the page below though.  The writer obviously didn't know his vampire lore, as he has Dracula casting a reflection.  Everybody and his dog knows that ol' Vlad doesn't cast a reflection (well, everybody except the director of ABBOTT & COSTELLO Meet FRANKENSTEIN), so how the error sneaked past the editor back in the day is a mystery.  Dracula does cast a shadow (as far as I remember) so I'd have made that the giveaway of his presence in this particular tale.

Anyway, The Dracula File contains some great art by ERIC BRADBURY (I lettered his work at least once for 2000 A.D.), so pop along to your nearest comics shop or bookstore and snap up your copy today.

I think the artist here is KEITH PAGE, but I'm not 100% sure

"DARE TO BE A DANIEL" - THE FIRST DAN DARE...


Images copyright relevant owners

Contrary to what you've been led to believe (especially if you're British), the original DAN DARE is not a spaceman who appeared in the first issue of EAGLE in 1950, but a private detective who debuted in WHIZ COMICS #2 (but was actually the first issue), cover-dated February 1940.  (Though it may've gone on sale around November 1939.)  This means that a Dan Dare was featured in comics a whole ten years before his admittedly more iconic namesake first saw the light of day.

'Tis said that our Dan was named after the Sunday School song "Dare To Be A Daniel", but I wonder if MARCUS MORRIS and FRANK HAMPSON were aware of their hero's predecessor and simply 'borrowed' the name?  The fact that it so appropriately tied in with the mood of the song (as well as the ethos behind the character) could've been the deciding factor in them using it for their own comic strip creation.  After all, both explanations aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, though admittedly the possibility of there being a connection is pure speculation on my part.

Anyway, enjoy the first Dan's debut instalment from another century - and millennium.  (Click on images to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.)     




BABE OF THE DAY - MICHELLE KEEGAN...



Using the keen deductive skills for which I
am renowned, I detect that the above elegant
creature is a woman!  Nothing gets past me.
Her name?  MICHELLE KEEGAN.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

CHRISTMAS IS A COMIN'...


Single frame from WINKER WATSON - The DANDY Annual 2004

Received a Christmas card from comics legend TERRY BAVE and his wife SHIELA this morning.  It's great to be so honoured by someone whose work I was reading and enjoying as a kid, from the days of WHAM!, SMASH!, WHIZZER & CHIPS, COR!!, SHIVER & SHAKE, MONSTER FUN, and many more comic publications.  It was a thrill when I got to letter some of Terry's pages back in my freelancing days - and it's still a thrill when I think about it today.  Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year (when it comes) to two sterling stalwarts of some of Britain's finest comic periodicals.

FACEACHE VOLUME ONE...


Images copyright REBELLION

I already have every FACEACHE strip by KEN REID ever published (plus a copy of the strip he was working on at the time of his death), but it's still good to see this new volume from REBELLION, reprinting the first hundred pages of RICKY RUBBERNECK from JET and the combined BUSTER & JET, when the former was merged with the latter after only 22 issues.  Looking for the ideal Christmas gift for that someone you love?  (In my case, that's me!)  Then rush out and buy a copy of this tasty volume today.

KID'S KLASSIC (KIRBY) KOVERS...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Take a look at these these two beauties, frantic 'King' KIRBY fans.  Originally splash pages, they've been pressed into service as alternate covers on recent issues of The HULK and SILVER SURFER.  Did you miss 'em?  If so, it's a good thing you've got enough good taste to visit this 'ere blog then, ain't it?  Otherwise you'd have had to do without seeing them, thereby impoverishing the quality of your life as far as your comicbook experiences go.  Hell, no - don't thank me - I live to share!  (But buy your own copies.)

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

THE DANDY'S 80TH ANNIVERSARY (UPDATED)...


Images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

The DANDY first appeared 80 years ago in 1937 and ended its run 5 years ago in 2012.  There's no arguing with the fact that a 75 year life-span is a great achievement for a comic, but why did it die?  Forget what you read elsewhere from people determined to rewrite history - The Dandy came to an end because it eventually failed to appeal to a large enough readership to sustain itself.  Simple as that.  But there's more to the story.

Immediately after its 2010 relaunch, it actually increased its circulation for a short time before dissatisfied readers simply lost interest and stopped buying, leaving newsagents with no option but to reduce their orders accordingly.  Sales had been in general decline for years, but what killed the comic at that specific point in time was that it failed to deliver the goods.  A few exceptions aside, bad art and poor stories meant that readers old and new abandoned the comic in droves.  You can forget talk about all those who enjoyed the new Dandy as proof it was great.  Remember, they were in the minority - the majority voted with their feet (and their wallets) and walked away.

Yet still a few deluded former contributors persist in perpetuating the myth that the relaunched Dandy was absolutely brilliant and deserved to succeed, and that other factors were mainly responsible for the comic's cancellation.  (Being hard to find on the shelves apparently.  Well, not in any WHS I was ever in.)  The facts speak for themselves.  The 'great save' designed to rescue the comic from oblivion failed.  That's the important thing to remember here - the relaunch ultimately proved to be inadequate and the wrong direction in which to go.  DCT themselves never denied that the comic lost around half its readers - only some  disgruntled contributors and fans have tried to put a different spin on the facts.

If you're a singer and only manage to sell a fraction of the available tickets - and then half the audience walks out during the show, to deny that the songs you sing and the way you sing them is most likely the primary reason for such a sorry situation is ludicrous.  Yet that's what the apologists for The Dandy's failure claim - it wasn't the content, it was everything else but, they say.

Anyway, you can safely ignore their deluded witterings, secure in the knowledge of the facts.  However, let's not dwell on The Dandy's demise - let's take a look at some pages from its very first issue from 80 years ago.  It was still to achieve the greatness for which it became acclaimed in its heyday, but it's interesting to see it take its first steps on that journey into legend.




Monday, 4 December 2017

YOGI BEAR & THE DALEKS...



My room/study/studio is in some disarray at the moment and I've been picking things up from the floor and placing them on the nearest available space to get them out of the way.  That sometimes leads to some strange and random scenarios, as this completely unstaged scene demonstrates - YOGI BEAR being surrounded by The DALEKS.  (Probably just want his autograph.)  Now that's an episode I'd watch. 

IT'S A DOG'S LIFE...



It was 19 years ago last week that my dog ZARA had to be put to sleep and I'd meant to post a photo in memory of her.  Better late than never they say, so here's a nice pic of her in my front garden, taken in 1987 or '88 when she was still only a young doggie.  Ain't she braw?

Friday, 1 December 2017

BABE OF THE DAY - ANNA BOR...



The beautiful ANNA BOR.  That's all the info
you need.  (Well, her 'phone number would be
nice, but that ain't ever gonna happen.)

JIM'S GOING TO HAVE A BLUE CHRISTMAS...



Say what you like, but Elvis's version of this song is one that makes you want to tap your feet - or even dance to it.  Jim sings the song the way it's meant to be sung - slowly and sincerely.  Give it a listen and see if you don't agree.

DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE...



Following on from my recent post about the 1966 BATMOBILE, let's return to the Riverside Museum in Glasgow to take a look at a few more snaps.  First up is my pal, IAIN, posing in a re-creation of an old street.  I'll pretend that you're interested and explain the rest of them as we go along.  (Though be aware that some captions might not reflect reality.)

Iain posting a letter.  (It'll never get there)

The subway - not the eaterie

Caught on camera vandalising the carriage

"Hello, sailor - do you come here often?"

"I'm just ignoring you.  Now feck off or I'll tell your wife!"

Drowning his sorrows in the bar. 

Me - leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street... 

And just to round things off, below is a couple of random snaps.  Right, that's yer lot.

Remember CHOPPERS?

Is that car taking off?

Thursday, 30 November 2017

SPECIAL EDITION OF TV21...


Images copyright relevant owners

Imagine this:  It's your birthday, and your other half presents you with her gift - a hideous, hand-knitted multi-coloured monstrosity of a pullover that even NOEL EDMONDS wouldn't be seen dead in.  The sleeves are too long, the trunk too short, and it hangs off you like an unsecured straitjacket that someone's vomited over.  Then she asks "Well, what do you think of it?" while fixing you with that puppy-eyed look of expectation, relying on you to validate her knitting 'skills'.  Not since she asked you "Does my bum look big in this?" have you found yourself in such an awkward spot.  Do you give her an honest assessment of her handiwork, or do you lie through your teeth to spare her feelings and ensure your own peace and quiet?

I now find myself in a similar situation.  I recently acquired the special 'universe edition' of TV21 #243, which was originally produced for inclusion with a Blu-ray boxed set of GERRY ANDERSON puppet shows a few years ago, and which is now available on its lonesome.  The verdict?  Well, while not in the same category as the above-described item of knitwear, I find myself divided in my reaction to it.  How can one be so thrilled and disappointed by something at the same time?  It's a joy to see, to hold, to own, but - compared to TV21 as it was in its heyday, it's hugely disappointing.  The artwork, with the exception of the LADY PENELOPE, THUNDERBIRDS, MARS SPACE PROBE, and (go on, Gordie, force yourself) ZOONY The LAZOON pages, is nowhere in the same league as days gone by, and the shape of some of the speech balloons is dire.  I find myself wondering how they could get it so wrong, while at the same time feeling grateful that they did at at all.

Even GERRY EMBLETON's art on STINGRAY falls far short compared to his work on the strip back in the '60s when he took over from his brother RON.  However, allowances can be made for the fact that he must by now be an old man, so perhaps it's unfair to expect the standard of work he used to deliver.  MARTIN BAINES' art is really nice, though his TB2 shape isn't too accurate, and the difference in size between TB1 & 2 is unclear in one panel, leaving both craft looking more or less equal.  BRIAN WILLIAMSON's art is okay, but doesn't capture the mood of the original AGENT 21 strip.  The FIREBALL XL5 strip, while not bad, cries out for the hand of MIKE NOBLE, and one wonders why he wasn't offered heaven and earth to produce the one page required.  As for MARTIN CATER's and MARTIN ASBURY's art on the ZERO X and CAPTAIN SCARLET pages - leave it out boys, you're 'avin' a larf.  Cater's art is amateurish, while Asbury's betrays his later career as a storyboard artist for movies.  Only the colouring (by 'SPECTRUM') saves it from looking like not much more than a 'rough' layout. 

And yet... and yet... this is a collectors' item and you should grab one while you can.  Despite my reservations with some aspects of the comic, it's still a thrill to see TV21 resurrected for one more issue.  (Though FANDERSON beat them to it in 2010 with their own version of the 'next' ish - see below.)  So ignore my negative reaction to parts of this special edition and order your copy from this link today.  (If only they'd put The DALEKS on the back page, I'd have been a very happy man.)  If you're a fan of the original TV21, then you'll be thrilled to hold this issue in your hands - though I reckon you won't be able to shake off a measure of disappointment at the same time.  Still, don't let it get away.

Already got this comic?  Agree?  Disagree?  Let's read your views in the comments section.  Insults and questioning of my parentage are most welcome.

THE 1966 BATMOBILE IN GLASGOW...


Now that's what I call a car!  Impressive, eh?

A friend and myself had been planning to go and see the 'original' BATMOBILE at Glasgow's Riverside Museum next week, but on a spur-of-the-moment decision we shot in yesterday afternoon to view the classic car from the '60s TV show.  Well, to be more accurate, it was a replica car we saw, but it was still quite impressive, as you can see by the photos.  And yes, that heroic, handsome manly-man in the last photo is none other than yours truly.  Someone give him a TV show - the women of the world deserve it.

(Click on images to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.  The last three only enlarge once.)

Here's my pal, trying to look as if he's leaning on the car

I'm sure I saw the Joker prowling about.  Hope the keys aren't handy

Who wouldn't like this car sitting out in the drive, eh?

I wonder if the parachutes actually work?

Check out the interior - but what do B & R do when it rains?  (Get wet)

Same again from the driver's side

Oh, look - the Bat Signal.  That can only mean one thing...

...yup, the Dynamic Duo (or not-so-close facsimiles) are bound to show

Say what you like - I think I cut more of a dash than the above pair
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