Friday, 30 January 2015


Yes, she is stunning, and you'll never have a wife or girlfriend as
gorgeous as her (nor will I), but console yourself with the thought
that, one day, she'll be a bandy-legged old trout with her bosom
covering her knees and more lines in her face than a spider's web.
Of course, by then you'll be dead, so it's a 'no-win' situation.


You'll perhaps recall me relating the tale of how myself and one
of my pals used to play at BATMAN & ROBIN back in the 1960s.
(You're no doubt relieved to hear that it wasn't just a few months ago -
I'm not that sad.)  For my utility belt, I utilised part of the accompanying
paraphernalia from my father's wartime portable morse code apparat-
us, which, to my eyes, looked vaguely similar to ADAM WEST's
equipment-laden waistline accessory on TV.

Now, usually I came in for a fair bit of mockery from my peers
for my costumed exploits 'round the neighbourhood, as did my com-
panion in crime-fighting, JOHN FIDLER (lucky his nickname wasn't
'KID', eh?), who assumed the role of ROBIN, THE BOY WONDER.
However, one evening, three local girls, who'd never previously paid
the slightest bit of attention to me, seemed impressed by the striking
appearance of my makeshift 'utility belt' and enthusiastically
asked for a demonstration of its capabilities.

Touched by their obvious interest and spurred on by the look
of wonder and admiration in their eyes, I agreed, and as we were play-
ing close to some nearby lock-ups, I headed over to the water tap used
by car owners to wash their vehicles.  It was housed in a grey-painted,
oblong wooden 'box' against a lock-up wall, and picking up a metal
bar from the ground, I placed it atop the flat surface of the box.

Directing the girls to stand at a distance over to my right (on the
faux grounds that "it might be dangerous") I pretended to take some
imaginary 'plastic explosive' from my belt and apply it to the iron rod.
Then, standing beside the tap and preventing their uninterrupted view, I
simulated the act of pressing a button on what passed for my buckle while
simultaneously attempting (surreptitiously) to bring down my left elbow
on the end of the bar and hopefully send it somersaulting high into
the air as 'though propelled by the explosive.

Alas, my ability was not the equal of my ambition, and my ruse
was rumbled right away.  Disillusioned cries rent the air, along with
contemptuous looks and jeering tones from the trio as they stormed
off in disgust at my barefaced attempt to defraud them.  Ah, how fickle
were the affections of these three feisty females, the extent of whose
eager expectations I had clearly underestimated and been found
sadly lacking as a consequence.

Even today, I remember how deflating it was to see the look
of awe and adoration fade from the eyes of the three former fawning
fillies who, only a short time before, had regarded me as a figure worthy
of respect and admiration, if not actual hero worship.  There have been
several females down through the years whose unrealistic expectations
I've probably been unable to live up to, but nothing fills me with such
feelings of failure as the memory of the faces of those three fear-
  some frustrated furies from so very long ago.


If I recall correctly, LEO BAXENDALE never made any
secret  of the fact that GRIMLY FEENDISH (brilliant name) was
based on cartoonist CHAS ADDAMS' UNCLE FESTER, from the
ADDAMS FAMILY.  Perhaps that's why he never took legal action
over copyright of the character (like he did with D.C. THOMSON) -
he'd surely have been on shaky ground if he'd tried.  Grimly was one
of the strips that appeared in the ODHAMS PRESS weekly comic
periodical named SMASH! back in the '60s, and he was the in-
spiration for the song Grimly Fiendish by punk band
THE DAMNED in 1985.

As you'll doubtless have noticed, bald baddie GRU in the
movie DESPICABLE ME bears an uncanny resemblance to
Grimly, but he's more likely to be based on Uncle Fester than he is
on Feendish himself.  Anyway, I don't think the accompanying four-
page strip from the 1967 SMASH! Annual is by Leo Baxendale,
but it'll give you a fair idea of the kind of shenanigans that "The
Rottenest Crook in the World" usually got up to in his
weekly criminal expeditions.

Any fond reminiscences of reading Grimly as a boy?
(You, not him.)  Then let's hear them, O fellow followers
from fandom.  (It's good to share!)

Thursday, 29 January 2015


From WHAM! #143, cover-dated March 11th 1967

What would you like first, the good news or the bad news?
Well, the good news is that here's THE HUMBUGS strip I spoke of
in a recent post, in which the terrible twins play at being THE THING
and THE INVISIBLE GIRL.  The bad news is that I haven't yet brought
down all my comic boxes (in which are stored my loose issues of WHAM!)
from the attic, so I've had to scan the page from my bound volume which,
as you can see, doesn't really lend itself to the process.  (I can't open it
wide enough to lay flat on the screen, hence the shadow and blurred
speech balloons on the right-hand side of the page.)

When I find the loose issue (which I think I've got) I'll scan the
page properly and replace the current image with a better one.  In
the meantime, however, this imperfect presentation should at
  least give you a fair idea of what's happening.  


From SMASH! Annual 1967

Believe it or not, there once used to be two DOCTOR DOOMS
inhabiting the same comics universe.  As well as the MARVEL Doom,
there was also the evil adversary of THE MAN FROM B.U.N.G.L.E.,
who appeared weekly in SMASH!, stable-mate to WHAM!, which had
THE FANTASTIC FOUR.  Both periodicals fell under the POWER
COMICS banner, both reprinted Marvel strips, and some of the U.K.
humour strips occasionally referred to the Marvel ones (like THE
HUMBUGS in Wham! mentioning the FF one week).

So for any U.S. readers unaware of the fact, here's the second
Doctor Doom trying to do away with the Man from B.U.N.G.L.E.
 Okay, okay - yours existed first!  (But ours was funnier!) 

And to save you having to turn your computer
screen upside down, here's the SOLUTION:


Brainy, blonde and beautiful, what's not
to like about RACHEL RILEY?  How about
the fact that she won't return any of my 'phone
calls?  Huh!  Bloody women!  They think they're
too good for me - and they're right!  (Curses
and exits, stage left.)

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


Since my posts on MARVEL U.K.'s Pocket Books from
the early '80s, I've acquired a few more on eBay.  I'll be adding the
above cover to the relevant post, but I thought it deserved one of its
own, so impressed am I with the illustration since first seeing it on an
issue of POW! back in the 1960s.  I just love this cover, and 'though
I don't have the original U.S. issue of THE AMAZING SPIDER-
MAN #5, I do have the reprint (cover and all) in an '80s issue

However, I thought I'd use this issue to demonstrate how
inconsistent these PBs could be when it came to reproduction.
Take a look at the page below, which is perfectly adequate
given the reduced 'Digest Size'. 

Now look at the following page and note that the top tier is
fine, but the bottom (third) tier has huge chunks of detail missing
from STEVE DITKO's art.

Same again with the following page. Check out the last panel -
the detail is almost non-existent and Flash and his admiring crowd
are practically invisible.

Having said that, however, these mags were great value
for money for readers who wanted to catch up on the early
tales of their favourite Marvel characters without having to fork
out a fortune on the original issues.  As for that cover, I've actually
got a DOCTOR DOOM figure that's clearly based on Ditko's in-
terpretation of the character.  I think I showed it before a while
back, but if I can remember which post, I'll add the photo
here when I get the chance. 


As it's fifty years since TV CENTURY 21 first hit the shelves,
it's now time to look at anther ten covers of what was arguably Britain's
most successful adventure comic for kids (at least, it certainly was at the
time).  ALAN FENNELL was the editor for around the first two years of
the comic's lifespan and it was probably never better than when under his
stewardship.  Hard to believe that it's been almost a quarter of a century
since some of these strips enjoyed a new lease of life for a new audience
in the early '90s, in the pages of THUNDERBIRDS THE COMIC,
with Alan once again being the man at the helm.  (Very fitting, I
thought, and nicely bringing things full circle.)

However, that's enough verbal reminiscing for the moment.  It's now
time to indulge our nostalgia by paying attention to the pretty piccies.
Got a favourite?  Be sure and let your fellow Criv-ites know!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


Let's be honest now - if you carried a skull around with you in a
box you'd be considered decidedly weird.  Having said that, sometime
back in the '70s, I bought a life-size skull by REVELL and painted it with a
greenish glow-in-the-dark paint.  One evening, me and some pals took it out
with us, and you should've seen the startled looks we got as I walked around
with Skully (the tooth is out there) tucked under my arm.  It really was a case
of exaggerated, open-mouthed, 'double-take' stares of shock and horror.
Wotta larf.  Wotta tit!  I wouldn't do it now of course, but back then I
was young, crazy and reckless (in a conservative - small 'c' - kind
of way), and was up for a jolly jape or two.

Anyway, that's enough talk about my favourite subject (me) -
time for a look at what brings use all here.  A four page BRIAN'S
BRAIN strip from the SMASH! Annual for 1967.  O joy! 


VICTORIA VETRI is her name - and making
men go weak at the knees is her game.  Hands up
all those who'd ditch the wife for this babe if they
ever got the chance?  (Go on - be honest!)


Having had this comic in 1975, when I recently saw it on eBay
I decided to re-acquire it.  I couldn't recall much about it, but, hey 
 it's the 100th ish so it was sure to have something of interest relating
to its celebratory status.  Nope, not a thing!  That blurb you see on
the cover is all you get!  No editorials, no articles, zilch!

Still, having bought it, I thought I'd better give you a glimpse
of the contents.  That's not my mistake regarding the indicia page,
by the way - it really did appear on the splash page of the second
story instead of (as is usually the case) the first.

So cop a gander at THE AVENGERS #100!  It's a little piece
of history, even 'though MIGHTY MARVEL didn't make much
noise about it at the time.  (Not like them to be so shy, is it?)


Here's another catchy little number by the late,
great JIM REEVES.  This is an overdub version
where he's accompanied by one of his biggest fans,
who's a successful singer in his own right.  You'll
be singing it for days.


Here's Gentleman JIM REEVES doin' his thang.
Catchy, catchy, catchy.  Did I mention how catchy
this is?  It's pretty catchy!


I know only three things about this babe:  1)  Her
name's CANDY LOVING.  2)  She was a PLAYBOY
model.  3)  I love CANDY.  (That's all there is.)

Monday, 26 January 2015


All images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

When you think about it, it at first seems strange that one of the
staple features of British comics for boys in the 1960s and '70s were
stories about the Second World War.  However, to many of the writers
who penned these adventures and who'd experienced the conflict first-
hand, that period must've seemed like fairly recent history.  After all,
it was closer in time to them than my own teenage years are to
me - and that feels like only yesterday.

THE CRUNCH included a story called HITLER LIVES, but
that was set in the present day (after recapping events at war's end
in early episodes) and wasn't really a war story in the traditional sense.
I suppose kids of the time enjoyed war stories 'though, otherwise, despite
the predilections of the writers, they wouldn't have appeared for as long
as they did.  Neither would comics like THE HOTSPUR, WARLORD
or BATTLE have had such long runs - unless, of course, it was
mainly World War II veterans who were buying them.

So, full marks to The Crunch for trying something at least slightly
different.  Not that the difference was radical, because, whatever the
setting, most adventure stories are either war, sport or cowboy stories
at heart - even science-fiction ones.  Think I'm talking nonsense?  Well,
consider - 2000 A.D.'s HARLEM'S HEROES was a sports story,
bounty-hunter STRONTIUM DOG (first seen in STARLORD) was
a cowboy story, and ROGUE TROOPER was a war story.

It's a bit like STAR TREK.  My father could never get into the
programme because of its SF trappings, but, essentially, Star Trek is
not too dissimilar to a war story set in a submarine.  KLINGONS and
ROMULANS are the Nazis, KIRK, SPOCK and the rest of the crew
are the good guys, and the ENTERPRISE is a submarine, but travel-
ling up in outer space instead of down in the depths of the sea.  You'd
be surprised (or maybe not) at how many Star Trek plots could
be transferred directly into a Second World War setting.

However, that's enough padding from me.  Now you can get
on with what you came here for.  Namely, ogle these fantastic front
and back covers from The Crunch - a comic that surely deserved
a longer life than it had.     

Sunday, 25 January 2015


All images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I never bought the first nine issues of STAR HEROES Pocket
Book - if indeed I even saw them!  I think I did see the first issue (or
an ad for it), but decided against buying it because I wasn't really into
science fiction comics.  At the beginning of 1981, walking from Southsea
into Portsmouth town centre, I spied the tenth issue in a shop and bought
it immediately.  The reason?  See for yourself - the original X-MEN!  As
with some of the other pocket books, it was like reading '60s comic
FANTASTIC all over again, and my then-youthful little heart
skipped a beat in anticipation of re-living my childhood.

I've now got all these stories in full-colour MARVEL MASTER-
WORKS and OMNIBUS volumes, as well as various other reprints,
but I couldn't part with my PBs because of the particular time in my life
that they represent to me.   Madness I know, but they've got a charm of
their own, even 'though they were far from perfect in their reproduction
of these classic strips.  I also acquired the next two or three issues in
Southsea/Portsmouth, and that's where I tend to think of whenever
I look at these cracking covers from a long-gone era.

The very same covers that you're now about to savour, O
dribbling Criv-ite, so I won't hold you back any longer - go to it,
frantic one!  And be sure to let the rest of us know what you think
of them in the comments section!  Lines are now open!

Okay, okay,, chill out!  There's no need to shout.  Here's
the first nine issues of the title to complete the set.