Monday, 24 April 2017


In a recent post, I showed you the cover of
The FANTASTIC FOUR #126 ('though they'd
dropped the 'article' by then), and mentioned that I
purchased it at the same time as a 2nd copy of The
on Friday, October 6th 1972.  However, I have
a regret about that day, which is this.

In the window of a little toy shop, which, if
memory serves, resembled The TINKERER's
repair shop (The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2),
was a DALEK Money Box by toymaker COWAN de
GROOT.  It was clearly based on the MARX Dalek,
but was even less accurate.  In fact, in profile, it re-
sembled the redesign on the DOCTOR WHO
TV show a few years back.

Therefore, not being terribly impressed by
it, I didn't buy it, 'though I could have.  Now I
wish I had, and whenever I see a photograph of it,
I regret not purchasing it when I had the chance.  It
commands a small fortune nowadays, but that's not
what fuels my regret - it's simply the 'time travel'
aspect of the item - apropos considering where
the Daleks made their TV debut.

So, readers, do you have any regrets like
that, where you recall having the opportunity of
acquiring something, but chose not to?  However,
don't let me hold you back in any way;  feel free to
air any regrets you may care to share.  You'll feel
far better for it.  Hey, trust me, I'm a doctor.
(Of all things related to nostalgia.)


And yes, there's a plate with a picture of
 a Dalek on it, clearly based on this one.

Sunday, 23 April 2017


Wing Commander GUY F. RODNEY, DFC, AFC

Believe it or not, there's another blog
called Crivens!  Or, to be more precise, its
BLOG'.  I saw this old photo on it recently, and
couldn't resist the temptation to try and tidy it
up a tad.  Below is the result, with another
version without the inscription.

Not too shabby, eh?  I enjoy doing this
sort of thing, as it restores photographs from
yesteryear to as near as possible their original
pristine condition.  Visit the other Crivens by
clicking on its blog name in the above par-
agraph.  Go on, check it out today.


Image copyright relevant owner

Sometimes I forget that there's more to comics than just
MARVEL and DC.  So, here's a CHARLTON comic cover,
HAUNTED #1, drawn by STEVE DITKO.  Natty design,
don'tcha think?  There's a great post about Ditko's Charlton
work over at Nifty NICK CAPUTO's blog, which you can
access by clicking here.  Don't forget to return to this one
'though.  You know how I hate talking to myself.

Saturday, 22 April 2017


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

I bought my first copy of this comic on October 6th 1972.
It was a Friday, I was off school, and I purchased my second
copy of The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #1 at the same
moment.  Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and relive that
day, all of nearly 45 years ago.  Well, in a way I can - whenever I
gaze upon this sensational cover of FANTASTIC FOUR #126
by Big JOHN BUSCEMA.  I wish they still made comics like
this today, don't you?  Then leave a comment saying so.


Did you know that JEN's uncle was a
coal miner in Britain?  That's when we had a
coal industry that is, which we don't anymore.
"But," you cry, "coal was for heating and elec-
tricity, etc., and we've still got them, so we
must still have a coal industry!"

No, we still have an energy, or power in-
dustry, which does essentially the same thing
without actually using British coal, so we don't
have a home-grown coal industry any longer.
H'mm, seems I've read a similar 'discussion'
fairly recently.  Now if only I could recall
where.  Any ideas anybody?

Cheer up, Jen - we'll get around to
ogling you in a moment.  Honest.


(And no, I don't have the faintest clue
what Jennifer's uncle did for a living.)


To my great amusement, I'm advised that, over
on some blog, a self-confessed 'wannabe writer' is still
trying to talk up a British comics industry that no longer
exists (by misrepresenting the views of those who are of
a different opinion), and making specious comparisons
to the music, movie and TV industries that yet retain
a significant presence in this country.

As I've previously gone to great pains to explain,
when I say 'comics industry', I'm referring to published
paper periodicals (of either weekly, fortnightly, monthly,
or even yearly frequency) containing mainly comic strips,
as the word was defined and accepted for decades in the
minds of the general public, and as yet defined on Wiki-
pedia and in most dictionaries.  If he could only grasp
the difference between the carton and the content,
he'd be a less angst-ridden little malcontent.

Books, DVDs, digital platforms, etc., containing
comic strip content, are not 'comics' in the traditional
sense of the word, but a different ('though admittedly re-
lated) animal.  When something 'evolves' into something
different, it ceases to be that which it was before.  And,
when it 'evolves' into something less than it was before,
then it's no improvement.  If a giant evolves into a
dwarf, he's not a giant anymore, is he?

Anyway, there's no point covering every aspect
of this discussion again, as it's practically been done to
death.  Here's one important aspect to consider 'though.
See these self-published and/or digital products that some
people tout as proof of today's 'evolved' comics 'industry' ?
Were there really an industry (as I understand the con-
cept), they wouldn't exist, because there'd be little need
to go down that particular route.  The existence of such
things only serves to prove just what dire straits
the so-called industry is really in.

The main difference is, I suppose, that these
people view any and all comic strip material as being
'comics' in themselves, and they're entitled to that view.
I, however, see comic strip material as something within
a comic (a published paper periodical), and although the
words have been and are sometimes used interchange-
ably, I prefer to draw (npi) a distinction between the
carton and the content.  (Like we used to do.)

Anyway, who can blame that other blogger for
leaping on the bandwagon in a new attempt to stir up
controversy, thereby attracting attention to his site?  If
only he'd avoid being so embarrassingly ingratiating to
those whom he thinks might be able to help 'grease the
wheels' of his hoped-for comics career in the process,
we'd be spared having to witness the sad spectacle
   of a sickening bit of 'brown-nosing'.  


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's a great book I acquired recently.  It's a great
book that really should have been even greater, but I'll get
to that presently.  If you're a genuine comics fan, you'll know
of GENE COLAN.  Gene was a master of light and shade, and
one of the finest contributors ever to freelance for MARVEL.
The DUCK, and DRACULA are just a few of the titles he
drew for 'The House Of Ideas' in the '60s & '70s.

There are some great images in this 132 pager, but,
alas, also some not-so-great ones.  It's always somewhat
disappointing to read what a sublime artist someone is, and
then see art which doesn't quite bear that out.  Case in point is
the example below.  Nice pencil work, superb texturing, but that
apart, it's a dreadful drawing.  The figure is too squat, the head's
too big, the body's too small, and the legs aren't right in any way.
 And the fact that ol' DOOM's left arm appears to be sprouting
from the middle of his torso all result in a less than perfect
illustration.  (And the right arm is seriously dodgy as
well.  Where exactly does the elbow bend?)

For all the excellent examples of Gene's artistic ability,
there's a few I wish they'd just left out, because they don't
do his reputation any favours at all.  It's not the first time I've
found myself wishing that compilers of books like this had been
just a little more discerning in their choices, and, unfortunately,
this is another such occasion.  It also suffers from several areas
of over-printing, where one caption has been printed on top of
another, resulting in something that's practically unread-
able.  Don't they have proofreaders any more?

However, it would be remiss of me not to put things in
context by mentioning that Gene suffered from glaucoma
for many years (being almost blind in one eye and having tun-
nel vision in the other), and had to draw with his face practically
pressed up against the page.  This no doubt explains the instances
when his art wasn't at its best, and makes it all the more amazing
when it was.  So despite its few shortcomings, this tome should
be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of any devoted fan of
'The Dean'.  Published in 2010, it may yet be available.
Try your local FORBIDDEN PLANET first.

Friday, 21 April 2017


ELKE SOMMER whirls in surprise as I
sneak up on her with a box of MILK TRAY.
She's even more surprised when she discovers
that I've scoffed most of them and there's only
two left.  She's surprised even further when I
eat 'em.  Ach, she can bloody well buy her
own box of chocolates, the cadgin' bint.


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Big JOHN BUSCEMA demonstrates why he was JACK
KIRBY'S natural successor with this simple-but-effective
This one's an absolute belter in my view - how about you?

Thursday, 20 April 2017


COTE DE PABLO hangs over the rail-
ings, wondering where I've gotten to on our
date to the cinema.  I'd told her I was going to
get her a choc ice, but then decided to nip out
for a fish supper for myself.  That was three
hours ago, but it's not my fault that there
was a long queue at the chippie.

Think she'll be angry with me?


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

I recall lying on the living-room carpet scrutinising this cover
back in 1968, and that's where I find myself in memory whenever I
look at it today.  Many years later I acquired the original U.S. issue of
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY (#119) it first adorned, but somehow
that comic mag doesn't have quite the same nostalgic appeal as the one
above, probably because this is the issue I associate with my childhood.
This was quite a momentous number of FANTASTIC, as it was the
last one in which JOHNNY FUTURE appeared.  The very next
week, TERRIFIC was merged into Fantastic, so this was also
 the last edition to feature the comic's name on its own.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017


You're looking at a screen-grab from a video I made in 1991 of
a house I once lived in nearly 20 years before.  Helping me that day
was my identical twin brother, GEORGE, who, thanks to my mum,
dressed exactly the same as me from a young age.  "You're identical
twins - so you should dress identical!" she'd say, with less than
perfect grammar.  (That's me at the front, incidentally.)

It came in handy whenever we got up to individual mischief
as teenagers, because the police could never charge either of us as
they simply didn't know which one was the culprit.  Ah, what fun!  I
remember once challenging six guys to a fight - then running 'round
the corner of the lockups (where George was waiting) when three
of them chased me.  Me and my brother then set about them, and
they staggered back to their pals, saying "It's an ambush -
there's two of them!" 

Of course, the above is all a total figment of my imagination
(apart from making a video of my old house), invented purely for
the purpose of seeing how much nonsense I can write and hopefully
provide a chuckle for you in the process.  Next time, I'll relate how I
single-handedly saved the world from the threat of destruction by a
megalomaniac bent on global domination - and let my best pal
JAMES BOND take all the credit.

  Hey!  Where'd everybody go?


(Okay, so I lied about the twin.  Would you
believe he's my Life Model Decoy?)


That's the problem with wearing contact lenses I'm told;
there's always one popping out onto the floor, meaning you
have to scrabble about in a half-blind state, feeling for it on
the carpet.  That's what the stunning SAMANTHA FOX is
doing.  Perhaps I should tell her I'm standing on it.  (Nah,
don't think I'll bother - I'm enjoying the view.)


Okay, hands up if you ever had a pair of WAYFINDERS MOON-
SHOT shoes back in the late '60s or early '70s.  I did, and it's amazing
how excited one can get over seeing one's footprints in the mud.  If any-
thing, kids walked in mud more often, just to see the imprint of their shoes
in it.  The good things about these shoes (apart from the undersides) were
the free LETRASET transfers and the lunar space capsule with a magnet
on the back, enabling you to make it glide above the moon's surface on a
backdrop printed inside the box.  I wish they still made these shoes
today, 'cos I for one would definitely buy a pair.

Do you remember these shoes, readers?  If so, reminisce away
to your hearts' content in our scintillating comments section.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


The lovely IMOGEN HASSALL has just
invited me to sit down beside her, but there's only
one chair.  Just what can she be thinking of?  Hold
on, I think I know.  She's obviously spotted the bag
of Jelly Babies poking out of my pocket and wants
me to give her one.  Huh!  Cheek!  As if I'd give just
any woman a baby.  Er, wait a sec - that doesn't
sound quite the way I meant it to, so any in-
nuendo you think you see is your own.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Cover art by JOE JUSKO

As all true Marvelites know, The SILVER SURFER
had his own mag in the '60s which ran for 18 issues, the first
17 being illustrated by JOHN BUSCEMA.  However, there's a
'sort of' 18th ish he got to do (with STAN LEE), in the form of
the 1988 hardback graphic novel, which had one large panel per
page.  As you'd expect from Big John, he delivered a superbly-
drawn adventure, and this is one book that should be on the
shelves of every dyed-in-the-wool Silver Surfer fan.

When JACK KIRBY first introduced NORRIN RADD
into the pages of The FANTASTIC FOUR, he imbued him
with a strange, other-worldly quality that suited the character
to a 't'.  He drew him in a fluid way, that captured perfectly the
manner in which surfers 'bob and weave' on the waves.  Within
a very short time 'though, Jack's figurework had become much
more blocky and static (maybe because of a reduction in size
of the artboards he drew on), which is probably why Stan
decided to give the Surfer's regular mag to Buscema.

One only has to look at the 18th and final issue of the
Surfer's own mag (which Jack illustrated) to see the wisdom
of Stan's decision.  In contrast to Jack's Surfer, John's version
is lithe, fluid, and flexible, and has an innate nobility that was no
longer evident in Jack's rendition of the silvery one.  You might
disagree with my assessment, but I have persuasive proof of it.
What's that you say?  Show you?  Okay then, I will.  I now
 present the following exhibits for your consideration.


So there I was at the dancing the other
night with the delectable DALIAH LAVI,
when she tries to make me jealous by cosying
up to another man.  Not that I was bothered,
'cos I was busy snogging the face off the sen-
sational SALMA HAYEK.  (Honest!  Why
doesn't anybody ever believe me?!)


There's a little toning on some of the coins in this 1971
Proof Set, but that's to be expected with coins of this age,
even those enclosed in plastic display cases.  Examples of a
few of these coins were first released in the late 1960s, which
is strange to consider now, because, in my mind, £sd coinage
belong in the '60s and decimal ones in the '70s.  The fact that
both sets of currency overlapped (and in the case of the £sd
equivalents of decimal coins, for many years afterwards)
is something we of a certain age tend to forget now.

Monday, 17 April 2017


The shilling, also called the 'bob' still exists in its
decimal equivalent today - namely, the 5 pence piece.
This set by COINCRAFT displays six incarnations of
the British 'bob' down through the decades.  These six
coins add up to only 30 pence in decimal money, or
72 pennies in £sd.  (Sounds better, doesn't it?)

(In the above scan, some of the coins look a little
toned, but that's not how they are 'in the flesh'.  As
you can see from their reverse sides below.)


DALIAH LAVI cracks a smile on seeing
me prancing about in my big underpants.  Hey,
don't laugh - not everyone wears big underpants
because they've got a big bum.  I wear them for
an altogether different reason.  (Yup, you got
it - I'm wearing them over my head.)


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Ah, the memories associated with this comic cover
come flooding back to me on sight of it.  I purchased two
copies (still got them) from, I think, the VIRGIN MEGA-
STORE in Glasgow.  Then I bought two JIM REEVES LPs
from the HMV store just along from it.  (Or maybe I got them
in the reverse order to how I've  just described.)  Then I leapt
on the train home,  examining my new acquisitions all the way.
I still have one of the Jim Reeves LPs, the other I later gave
to a record shop as I already had the U.K. version, having
bought the second copy simply because it was the
U.S. release and had a different sleeve.

Y'know, it really only seems like a very short time
ago rather than the 35 years it actually is.  I find it hard
to get my head around that sometimes.  Anyway, I know
none of you are bothered with all that, but what memories,
if any, does this cover conjure up in your mind when you
look at it?  Relive them in our comments section and
compare notes with your Criv-ite chums.

Sunday, 16 April 2017


U.S. filmgoers may recall him in supporting roles as sinister KGB
LOCAL HERO, but to Scottish audiences, RIKKI FULTON was a gen-
uine comedy and acting legend.  Not only in his own right, but also along-
side another giant of TV and theatre, JACK MILROY, in their alter-
egos of FRANCIE & JOSIE, the work-shy Glasgow layabouts.

Back in the merry month of May, 1982, I had the good fortune
and great privilege of meeting Rikki Fulton in JOHN MENZIES (when
said establishment was situated near the bottom of Glasgow's Buchanan
Street, across from FRASER'S), and, for all those interested in learning
how your humble host managed to rub shoulders with the great man
himself, I shall now recount exactly what transpired.

I'd just stepped out of the lift on the ground floor, having been
in the record & book departments on the first, when I spied a familiar
figure leaning on the counter at the stationery section.  "Rikki Fulton!"
I gasped (more to myself than anyone else) in sheer disbelief at seeing a
principal member of showbiz royalty mingling with mere mortals.  (I was
only 23 at the time, so can surely be forgiven my youthful exuberance.)
Rikki Fulton, whom I'd seen in The FRANCIE & JOSIE Show on TV
back in the 1960s, right in front of me - in the actual, living, breathing,
pulsing flesh.  I'd thought such figures used servants or emissaries
for menial tasks like shopping, but apparently not. 

He appeared to be writing something and, thinking he was signing
an autograph, I approached (having calmed down a tad) and meekly
asked if I, too, could have his autograph.  "As long as it's not on one of
these!" he said without missing a beat, smiling and indicating the cheque
to which he was applying his name.  Clearly my cue to laugh at his witty
and apropos remark, but I was still too stunned at seeing him in person
to respond with appropriate appreciation for his quick-thinking, ad-
libbed riposte, so merely stood there like a fart in a trance.

I got a scrap of paper from the girl serving him and, smiling in the
most friendly manner, Rikki asked my name.  "Gordon" I managed to
stammer.  I'd regained my composure somewhat by the time he handed
me the note inscribed "For Gordon, Rikki Fulton", so I thanked him
then said:  "Sorry to have bothered you".  "Absolutely no bother at all"
was his warm and genuine response before moving toward the exit.  No
minders, no entourage - just an ordinary, everyday guy out shopping.
Of course, in truth there was nothing ordinary or everyday about
him - the man was a showbiz titan and comedy genius.

I still have that piece of paper, tucked safely into the sleeve of
on CD on ELM Records CDELM4123.)  And whenever I recall that
moment, a warm glow comes over me at the thought of it.  Rikki Fulton
was the epitome of the perfect gentleman;  kind and gracious to a stum-
bling, bumbling, starstruck fan and treating me as 'though I were doing
him a favour.  I'll tell you, a lot of so-called celebrities in any sphere
 you care to mention could learn something about how to behave to
the public from the legend that was - that is - Rikki Fulton.


"Jump in, the water's lovely!" says super
sultry DALIAH LAVI.  "The water's not
what I'm looking at," quips I, "but I aim
to make a splash!"  (Oh, I am awful.)


From the pages of BUSTER & JET, cover-dated April 21st
1973, comes KEN REID's longest-running weekly strip (16 years),
the boy with a 100 (later 1,000) faces - FACEACHE!  As today is
Easter Sunday, I thought I'd give you a strip about Easter -
can't say I haven't got my finger on the pulse, eh?  Enjoy.


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

GHOST RIDER - MIKE PLOOG - a real comic.  What's
not to like?  I give you - MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #7.  ("Hey,
stop shining it in my face, why don'tcha?!")  Now that's what I
call a cool-looking cover!  I bet he's glad he traded in his horse.
(Yeah, yeah, relax - I know he's a different GR.  Incidentally,
excellent choice of initials for a hero, I'm bound to say.)
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