Thursday, 24 May 2018


Image copyright relevant owner

Back in 1971 and '72, I was purchasing a variety of comics, though I no longer recall whether I bought them all concurrently or jumped between some of them from week to week (or week to month in the case of one of them).  Amongst the ones I got were SUPER DC, VALIANT & SMASH! (then TV21), KNOCKOUT, COUNTDOWN, LION & THUNDER, YOGI & HIS TOY, JET, the occasional WHIZZER & CHIPS, BEANO, DANDY, BEEZERTOPPER, and SPARKY.  I usually bought any free gift issues whether I got a comic regularly or not, so that accounts for some on the list.  I haven't bothered trying to place these comics in their proper sequential order, but let's not be too fussed about that.  I also bought the occasional copy of BUSTER, and TV COMIC, as well as one or two others.

All these comics I associate with the house I was living in at the time (as well as several comics from an earlier period starting from near the end of 1965), and some of them were still on sale when I moved house in June of '72, meaning that I likewise associate them with my new home.  Knockout was still on the go, as was the renamed Countdown (TV ACTION, which acquired its new moniker a couple of months or so before we flitted), Valiant & TV21, Yogi & His Toy (which became FUN TIME in November '72), Lion & Thunder, Buster & Jet, and the like.

Comics create 'atmosphere', and because I continued to buy many of the same comics while living in my new abode that I'd first bought when staying in the previous one, that same atmosphere, or ambiance, or whatever you want to call it, was continued from one house to the other (also helped, no doubt, by retaining the same furniture).  Gradually though, my allegiance switched to new comics like The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL, SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY, The AVENGERS, DRACULA LIVES, PLANET Of The APES, The SUPER-HEROES, SAVAGE SWORD Of CONAN, SHIVER & SHAKE, MONSTER FUN, WARLORD, BUZZ, WHOOPEE!, etc., etc., and a new 'mood' was gradually created which supplanted the old one to some degree.

Because it was a gradual change, I probably wasn't consciously aware of the 'shift' at the time, and it's only really when I looked back on the period long after the fact that I saw there was a subtle shift in my perceptions of those years, with the second house developing its own 'flavour' that was no longer just a mere extension of the previous one.  When we look back on things years after the fact, we tend to allocate a separate 'compartment' to each new phase in our lives, as if each stage is sharply divided one from the other.  (And of course, sometimes they can be.)  However, a lot of the time, we seamlessly 'segue' from one phase into the next, because most of the other significant 'paraphernalia' (friends, parents, interests, hobbies, etc.) of our day-to-day existence is still present.

Reading the same (surviving) comics (and watching the same TV shows) on a regular basis in my new house as in my old one 'blunted the edge' (to some degree) of living in one house one day and a new one the next, and made the event seem more like a fade-in than a sudden splice.  It's not until old comics and TV shows disappear and new ones replace them, that the comfortable presence of the familiar that has accompanied us through some change in our circumstances, gives way to a new era with its own distinct flavour.  So gentle has been the 'changeover' though, that we're often unaware of it at the time, and don't realise it until long after the fact.  The same things happens in marriages too, with one partner, now that the kids have flown, seeing their husband or wife in a different light than previously.  Any perceived changes might be imagined, or, if actual, may have occurred quite a while before, but things like the kids leaving home or a partner retiring (or any significant alteration to everyday living), can bring previously unnoticed differences into sudden sharp focus.

So, what, in effect, am I blathering on about?  You expect me to know?  I probably had an idea in mind when I started this post, but my thought processes shift with the breeze these days, and I very often finish up at a different destination than the one I set out for - even if it's not too-far removed.  Just regard the preceding paragraphs as Plasticine, to shape into any form you fancy.  Then you can't blame me if you don't like whatever you end up with.  Hey, I must try that more often.


But that's a bit unsatisfactory, isn't it?  I guess I was trying to work out for myself why, living in the same home today as when I was 13, the house, the neighbourhood - the 'taste' of my life in effect - seems different to what it was when I first moved in and the following few years afterwards.  I can't help wondering what's caused this shift in my perceptions, and therefore took a stab at trying to determine what the reasons might be.  Was I successful?  Not really, but if I've managed to kick-start your own ponderings on the matter (in relation to your own individual situations of course), then the exercise hasn't been entirely futile.  And if you can't make head-nor-tail of what I've been on about, don't worry about it - there'll no doubt be a 'Babe of the Day' along to ease your throbbing brain before you know it.


Oh, now I remember where I intended to go with this.  I was going to say thank goodness for that 'bridging effect' I mentioned, because it shields us from the shock of sudden change that might otherwise overwhelm us.  It's probably far more difficult when one emigrates to the other side of the world where everything is different, but the pressures of short-range moves are alleviated when we're still surrounded by much that is familiar - even if it's only the comics or TV shows that we read or watch.  In my case, the fact that I still attended school in my old neighbourhood also helped, but the anchor of simple things like a few familiar weekly periodicals is a sure way of avoiding feeling completely sundered from our recent past when a change of locale occurs.  Long may it be so.   

Monday, 21 May 2018


Copyright relevant owner

From LION & THUNDER, cover-dated November 6th 1971, comes a complete PHIL The FLUTER tale in only two pages.  Actually, the strip should more accurately be called 'Phil The Flautist', but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?  Enjoy.

Thursday, 17 May 2018


If you're a fan of the late, great KEN REID, you'll have been over the moon to discover recently that a two-volume set is soon to be released of Ken's complete strips from WHAM!, SMASH!, and POW! - three of the five POWER COMICS that were around back in the '60s.  (He never did anything for the other two, FANTASTIC and TERRIFIC.)  The volumes will be available individually, and also in a handsome slipcase edition which comes with reproductions of some of Ken's original art.

Well-respected BEANO artist NIGEL PARKINSON and equally well-respected comics historian STEVE HOLLAND have each provided an Introduction for the tomes, as has Ken's son ANTONY J. REID - and also the publisher IRMANTAS POVILAIKA, enthusiastic expert on - as well as keen collector of - many classic British comics.

Prices are yet to be confirmed, but will probably be around £25 per volume and around £60 or so for the slipcase edition containing both books and the art facsimiles.  Keep your eyes peeled on Irmantas's blog, KAZOOP, for further details as they become available.  (And I'll also keep you posted - as, no doubt, will other blogs.)  Certainly something to look forward to, eh?

In the meantime, enjoy looking at these handsome covers, kindly supplied by Irmantas himself.  Good man.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018


How does this story grab you for sheer impertinence?  I've bought quite a few comics from a company called 30th CENTURY COMICS over the last couple of years and, in the main, been fairly happy with them.  A few recent comics however, weren't quite as described, and I let them know about it in a perfectly polite and pleasant manner.  Surely they'd want to know in order to avoid such a situation in future?  Not just with me, but with any other customers.

Two comics I bought in March were described as 'very good', but one had a piece torn off the back page, and the other had five faces on the cover defaced with a blue biro or felt tip pen.  There were also rips on the last three pages, the back cover sporting two long rips.  I contacted them about it, said they weren't really worth the bother or expense of returning, and asked for comment.  They awarded me £2 credit, which I was perfectly happy with.   

Last week, I ordered three comics from them at one go, and while two were okay, one was falling to bits.  I don't think that even its modest grading of 'good' adequately covered its imperfections.  It looked okay in its cardboard-backed clear bag, but when I took it out and opened it, the front cover came away from the spine - as did the next page.  When I examined it, every page was split at the spine, ready to detach at the merest handling.  The middle pages weren't quite as badly split, but still nothing to write home about.

Of course, I could have returned the comic for a full refund (whether that includes postage or not I don't know, though I'd have insisted), but it was WHIZZER & CHIPS #3, which I've wanted to replace for many years now.  (And when I say replace, I mean replace the original, long-gone copy I had in 1969.)  Still, for a mere £6 I was reluctant to bother 30th Century with a return, but I thought they'd at least want to know so they could take steps to ensure the mistake wasn't repeated.  (And, Microporous tape comes in handy for repairing old British comics, so I knew I could salvage the issue to some degree.)

And so I contacted them, said I wasn't complaining or looking for a refund, but I thought they'd want to know that this particular comic didn't match its description as to grading.  I was expecting a reply along the lines of "Thanks very much for alerting us to this matter as customer satisfaction is a priority with us.  We'll double-check any future orders before mailing to avoid any further disappointment." 

Well, knock me down with a feather.  You should have seen the deceptive, seemingly-'polite' reply I received, which essentially told me to feck off and not to order any more comics from them ever again.  They refunded my £6, which I tried to return, but it hasn't cleared in my account yet.  Imagine having your shopping delivered to your home by ICELAND, then finding a couple of items are long past their sell-by dates or were compromised in some way.  Would Iceland 'suggest' that you never buy anything from them again if you politely brought it to their attention?  I doubt it!
30th Century's excuse for their complacency is that the majority of their customers are satisfied (or maybe more easily pleased?), but if I ran a business, I'd be aiming for 100% customer satisfaction, not telling the ones that are (occasionally) disappointed to sling their hook.  What a world we live in when the customer is penalised for the seller's incompetence.  I doubt it would've been different if I'd just returned the comics, they'd have simply seen me as a fuss-pot and a nuisance.  I don't think it's being pernickety to expect a comic to be somewhere in the ball park of its advertised condition, but 30th Century clearly think otherwise.

Tell you what, why don't you make up your own minds?  Take a look at the photos of the comic and then tell me what you think.  It's screamingly obvious that the comic hasn't been checked properly at the grading stage.  One of the two so-called 'experts' (with 40 years experience grading comics apparently) has given it a casual glance, thought it looked okay, and stuck it in a bag.  30th Century Comics?  Not with that prehistoric attitude.  Here's an idea for you, ROB RUDDERHAM - why not just try ensuring that your comics are in the condition described in your catalogue before sending them out?  Or is that too simple a suggestion for you?  Anyone else have this kind of experience?  Let loose in the comments section.

Oh, and given their cheek, I've just now decided I'm going to keep the refund.  Why should I reward them for their incompetence and impertinence?


Ah, that explains it.  I've just found out that Rod Rudderham is one of the two graders.  Clearly just pays lip-service to the idea that grading can be subjective, and obviously felt insulted because I (a collector for more than 50 years) dared to question his grading in this instance.  How very dare I?


Update:  Rob Rudderham, in response to my review on 30th Century's Facebook page, says the following:

'For anyone reading this review, please note that asking a customer not to place further orders is a last resort we only employ with great reluctance when, after multiple experiences, the customer proves impossible to satisfy.  We have only taken this step 3 times in 25 years.'  (Emphasis mine.)

Well, I suppose that as two is a multiple of one, technically, it could be argued that he's correct.  (I have queried grading on only two separate occasions, once in regard to two comics purchased simultaneously, the other in regard to one comic bought at the same time as another two.  However, Mr. Rudderham is clearly being dis-ingenuous, as 'multiple experiences' suggests a far higher number than is actually the case.  As for being 'impossible to satisfy', on my most recent purchase, I was satisfied with two out of three comics, only commenting on one of them.  How this qualifies as 'impossible to satisfy' is beyond me.  As for '3 times in 25 years', perhaps that's because other dissatisfied customers have simply not availed themselves of his shop's services after their first disappointment, thus taking the decision out of his hands?      

Monday, 14 May 2018


Images copyright relevant owner

KNOCKOUT - there were two incarnations of course, the first back in 1939 to '63, the second in 1971 to '73.  The first version originally had a hyphen (KNOCK-OUT), but lost it at some stage down the line.  KELLY'S EYE started in Knockout, before jumping over to VALIANT when the two comics merged in '63, and it's with Valiant that the strip is most associated.

However, it's the second, revived Knockout in which I'm interested in this post - or at least the Annuals and Holiday Specials.  Speaking from a personal perspective, this comic has two distinct associations for me.  The comic came out when I was living in one house, and the first year's worth had been published by the time I moved to another in a different neighbourhood.  Consequently, I not only associate the comic with the previous house, but also the subsequent one because the weekly yet had another year to run before being merged into WHIZZER & CHIPS.

That second association though, has more to do with the fact that the first Holiday Special and Annual that I ever bought after moving into the other house were of Knockout - as I may not have still been regularly buying the weekly at that stage, if at all.  While living in my previous house I'd lent a stack of the early issues to a pal, and when he eventually gave me them back, they were in a terribly mutilated condition, with bits ripped off and pages missing.  That may well have been the 'jumping-off' point for me, barring free gift issues and the first three after it was subsumed by W&C.

I only ever bought that first Annual at the time, and picked up another two (for '83 & '84) sometime in the early '80s.  I can no longer recall if I bought the '83 one new when it first came out or shortly after, but up until a couple of months or so back, I had only five Knockout Annuals in my collection.  There were 13 in all, from the 1973 Annual (released in '72) up to the one for 1985 (released in '84), so I tracked the missing books down on eBay and completed my collection of them - 24 years after the final one was published.

So, not only does that give me the only excuse I need to bore you with my personal history, it also allows me to show you the covers of all 13 Annuals, plus the two Holiday Specials for 1972 and '73.  I've only got the first of these (can't remember if I ever had the second), so if you've got it and want to sell it, let me know in the comments section.  And in case you're interested, I also own all 106 issues of the weekly.  Maybe I'll put them on display on the blog sometime, if I ever find the time to scan them.

Incidentally, UK cartooning legend, TERRY BAVE, who drew several strips for Knockout, once told me that it was his favourite comic to work on, and that he was sorry when it folded.  (He also gave me his own copy of the first issue, so that exclusive item is one of the prizes of my collection.)  Right, enough waffle - on to the covers...

Wednesday, 9 May 2018


I see ol' BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH is bleating on about equal pay for women in movies and saying that he'll be trying to ensure payment parity in whatever projects he works on.   What a d*ck!  Now I happen to like Benny, but on this, he's being a d*ck.  Why doesn't he insist that he gets paid as much as his AVENGERS co-stars, because it's a safe bet that a few of them will be paid much more than him - more, even, than he received for starring in his own DOCTOR STRANGE movie.

Let's pause here for me to make a point.  I've worked in a few shop or factory warehouses in my career (though the last time was around 42 years ago), and whenever any woman co-worker (who were all usually older than me and hence paid more - but let's imagine for the purpose of discussion that we were on the same rate) was required to do some heavy lifting, they invariably asked a man (me) to do it for them.  So it was me who had to climb ladders or clamber over shelves and bring down (or put up) heavy boxes for them.  In effect, I was doing part of their job for them, so don't let's hear any of this equal pay rubbish.  Equal pay only applies when men and women are doing (and by 'doing' I mean actually doing, not just filling the position) the same job.  If a guy has to do part of their job for them (because they're women, and apparently can't be expected to physically exert themselves in any way) then it's not an equal situation.  (An office job would, of course, be an entirely different scenario.)

But back to Benny.  The reason why he's spouting rubbish is because it's the film and TV industry we're talking about, and as everyone and their granny knows, there's a pecking order amongst actors.  Some 'stars' are more bankable and therefore command higher pay packets for their contribution.  TOM CRUISE, for example, is always going to be paid more than just about any female co-star you can think of, because Tom puts more bums on seats.  If Tom (or any other big-name actor you care to name) asks for a certain fee, and the movie-makers are prepared to pay that fee to ensure his services, does that mean his female co-star (or even male co-star come to that) should automatically receive the same amount?  Of course not, because 'market forces' are in operation here.

Consider the recent stushie over the NETFLIX TV show, The CROWN, where actor MATT SMITH was paid more than co-star CLAIRE FOY.  Why?  Obviously, Matt Smith has a better agent than Claire Foy (or perhaps the same agent who does a better job on Matt's behalf), and LEFT BANK and SONY (the production companies) were prepared to pay what his agent asked for, as was presumably the case with Claire.  Or, for all I know, amounts were offered for each part, and it's then down to the actors and their agents to decide if they wish to accept.  Isn't that how it should be, or are production companies now obliged to pay one co-starring actor the same amount as the other one they were really keen to have (and were prepared to pay quite a bit more to get), simply out of some ill-conceived notion of so-called 'equality'?  That would mean that, because Tom Cruise was being paid a certain amount, then, if his co-star happened to be MIRIAM MARGOYLES, she would get the same.  Is that fair?  Movie and TV makers have to take into account 'star pulling-power' when choosing actors, and it's simply a fact that one star may have more pulling-power than the other and therefore deserve a higher fee.

But notice how it's been turned into a 'battle of the sexes' in the media.  Actually, you can substitute male co-stars in place of female ones in this discussion.  Note, however, that, so far (as far as I'm aware) no male co-starring actor is demanding that he should receive the same fee as the lead actor in any production.  For example, SIMON PEGG isn't demanding parity with Tom Cruise for his MISSION IMPOSSIBLE appearances.  Once again, women have seized the opportunity to bash men over the head for so-called gender inequality, when, in a lot of cases, it doesn't actually exist.  For every woman who doesn't receive equal pay with some man, there's at least just as many men in the same position.  If you're an actress  (a word now under threat of extinction because of the anti-gender distinction loonies) who receives less renumeration for your part than your male co-star, it's not necessarily due to you being unfairly discriminated against because of your gender, it may simply be because you're not as big a star with the same pulling-power.

If SHARON STONE and Miriam Margoyles were co-starring in a movie where they had more or less equal screen time, but Sharon was paid more than Miriam, would anyone turn a hair?  No, they wouldn't, because it's readily recognised that there's a pecking order in operation, and that Sharon's name is a bigger draw than Miriam's.  It's only when the actor being paid more is a man, that any controversy arises from the situation.  Men, you see (according to some women), should never be paid more than their female co-stars on a point of principle - that principle being that all men are b*sta*rds, rapists, perverts, and paedos - and overpaid ones at that.

And what about those daft male TV presenters who offered to take a pay cut to reduce their wages to that of their female colleagues?  @rseholes to a man.  So keen to appease misandric feminists, that next they'll be offering to castrate themselves rather than incur any form of female displeasure.  Taking a pay cut only achieves a quasi-equality, and reveals the misguided philosophy that lies at the root of the problem.  You see, if women are satisfied with men taking a cut in wages, it shows that their objection isn't so much that women are undervalued and underpaid, it's that they object to men - simply because they're men - getting something that they're not getting.  Their objections spring from the politics of envy - the belief that men shouldn't get anything that women don't seem to be getting (that's their perception anyway), regardless of whether either gender deserve to get it or not.

What will probably end up happening is that lip-service will be paid to pay equality, with two leading co-stars of different genders being paid the same basic fee, but with the bigger star (usually the male) getting a percentage of the profits, or some kind of bonus to offset his lower upfront amount.  At the end of the day, it really should be up to who's paying the bills.  If you're employing two actors to do a job, shouldn't you be allowed to offer a higher amount to the one whom you believe will bring more to the project, to secure his or her services if that's what it takes?  It's always been like that in the film industry, and any attempts to impose an artificial equality on what people are worth (regardless of their gender) aren't based on the realities of the situation.  

Anyway, that's my view on the matter.  Feel free to dispute it if you wish, but I warn you - if you do, I'll give you an intellectual kicking.  (Hee hee - that should start things off.)             

Tuesday, 8 May 2018


A teacher stood up in class one day and asked if there was a pupil who'd like to have the afternoon off and go home early.  Up shot a hand - "Me!" shouted one voice.  "Me too!" came another, and then the cry of "Me too!", "Me too!", "Me too!" reverberated around the classroom in a wave of sound.

Actors and singers are a self-absorbed, self-centred lot, who, just like kids, don't like to feel excluded from anything.  Millionaire entertainers appear on TV and ask people on less than average incomes to "give generously", while said rich folk raise their profiles and boost their 'caring' reputations at the same time.  (Did you know that TERRY WOGAN copped nine grand a pop for hosting CHILDREN IN NEED?)  If a mere handful of those rich celebs were to open their own cheque books, then they wouldn't need to ask the public for donations.  The spotlight on them isn't quite as bright that way though, is it?  And it's more obvious that the news has been released to the Press to enhance someone's rep.

Let me digress for a moment while I relate another true story.  Almost 20 years ago, a woman took a shine to me, and did her best to win my affections.  Every day, she'd come over to where I was sitting in a local 'food court' and sit down at my table.  She made eyes at me, flirted with me, and made it obvious that she was available if I were interested.  Trouble was, I wasn't.  She wasn't unattractive, but she just wasn't the type of woman that rang my bell, so I resisted her blatant advances.  She even bought two cinema tickets one night and asked me to accompany her to 'the pictures'.  As you'll have gathered by now, I'm pretty irresistible to women (as well as completely deluded - especially when it comes to how irresistible I am to women).  Anyway, although flattered to a degree, I had to let her down gently without hurting her feelings - so I told her I was too in love with myself to have room for anyone else in my life.  Okay, I jest (or do I?), but I managed to convey that I didn't feel towards her as she did towards me, and she backed off.

Did I feel harassed?  Did I feel sexually harassed?  Well, no, I don't think so - although I'd have preferred if the situation hadn't happened, and I did feel my heart sink on sight of her because I knew the dance that I didn't want to dance was about to begin again.  I'm sure everyone's been there.

Okay, so with that out of the way, now imagine that a newspaper or TV station were to offer me a couple of hundred pounds to share any experience I may have had of being on the receiving end of unwanted attention from someone.  Or, in the absence of a direct financial incentive, I perceived other ways in which I could profit from telling my tale.  Would I suddenly reinterpret my experience to suit the expectations of some media company looking for people's personal encounters of sexual harassment?  Well, no I wouldn't.  However, there are people who would - and there are even people who would do it without being consciously aware that they were 'massaging' the facts to better suit the demands of what reporters were looking for.  It happens - it's simply a fact of life, and isn't restricted to sexual matters, but transpires in every subject you care to mention.     

And so, to the "#Me Too" brigade.  Yes, it's terrible that people have been sexually harassed or assaulted and those that have indulged in such sickening acts should be brought to book, but there's a very real danger that some people might be so eager to identify with a movement that's generating a lot of media attention, that they'll rewrite their personal  history in order to cut themselves a slice of publicity pie.

So "Who's been sexually harassed or assaulted?" appears to be the big question these days.  "Me!" comes a genuine reply.  Then another, and another, and another - and human nature being what it is - it seems more than likely that some of these cries arise not from those with actual, factual experience, but rather from people who've reinterpreted past events out of a desire to promote themselves by 'supporting' a publicity-generating 'movement'.

Seems it's not just children in a classroom who don't like seeing others receiving something they're not getting.

Are you sick of reading about the topic?  Guess what?

Me too!

Comment ammo loaded?  Fire away.

Sunday, 6 May 2018


It should come as no great surprise to anyone that, occasionally, I re-read some of my old posts.  For two reasons, the first being that I'm quite proud of a few of them, the other being that I can correct any typos or poor spacing that fell through the net when I first wrote them.  Even the ones that are guff can be educational to me, because I can (hopefully) learn how to improve any future blog posts by learning what I did wrong in the past.  So, earlier, I was re-reading the post entitled "Said The Actress To The Bishop..." (about sexual harassment) and I realised I had more to say on the subject.

Recently, actress JULIANNE MOORE said that she only just realised she'd been the victim of sexual harassment after hearing other women tell their stories about their experiences.  "When this movement started, I felt sure that I hadn't personally been a victim of sexual harassment or assault, but as I read and listened to the countless other women's stories, I began to look at my experiences through a different lens."  Apparently, this 'sexual harassment' took the form of a director 'persistently' inviting her to his home for an 'audition', which she always declined.  Is it just me, or does the possibility also strike you that this might be an instance of someone rewriting the past in order to jump on the present bandwagon of victim-hood?  If you're being sexually harassed, surely you'd know it at the time?  Of course, without knowing the precise details of Ms. Moore's experience, we can't be sure either way, but at the very least it suggests the possibility of the scenario I just proposed.

If he was constantly ringing her and in a sleazy, innuendo-laden voice, asking her to "Come round and 'audition' for me sometime, baby" then he was certainly making a nuisance of himself.  However, if he merely said on a few occasions at chance meetings "I'd love to work with you some day, Julianne. If a role comes up that I think might suit you, I'll be in touch about an audition.  Must dash, 'bye", then that puts quite a different slant on the situation.  I know nothing about the guy by the way, he might be a total slime-ball, but I just think that Ms. Moore's total shift in attitude should be treated with caution until we know the full facts of the matter.  What do the rest of you think?  I believe there have been other allegations about the guy, but, if true, that doesn't necessarily mean he wanted to sleep with every woman he knew.  Has she simply assumed that because he's been accused of harassing other women, then he must have been harassing her as well - even if she never thought so at the time?  It does sort of come across that way.

And now, a true story.  Around 15 years or so ago, I was in Glasgow one evening, standing in Gibson Street (around the corner from the University), when I spied an attractive woman walking in my direction.  Our eyes met and we sort of smiled at one another, and she stopped to talk to me.  I was waiting for a friend coming out of a newsagent's behind me, so our chat was brief.  I quite liked her, so I said "I hope you don't think I'm being forward, but could we meet up for a coffee sometime?"  She was perfectly agreeable to the idea, and told me of the place she usually frequented, saying that I could find her there most days.  Surprisingly, this cafe had an area where they occasionally held art exhibitions, and the current one, she revealed, was of pages by an artist who had freelanced for 2000 A.D. and DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE.  Well, that sounded like fate to me.

A few days later, I popped along to this cafe and was surprised to see that I'd actually lettered some of the pages - and who should I spy but the lady herself.  We had a coffee, seemed to be getting along famously, and, emboldened by her friendliness, I asked if she'd like to go out for a meal sometime.  Yup, she was up for that, so we arranged a time when she could manage and I counted the hours.  On the day, pillock that I was, I waited for two and a half hours, but no show.  Cut to several weeks later, and I was in another cafe when I saw the lady in question coming along the street.  I went to the door to say hello and she stopped to speak to me.  Eventually I addressed the 'elephant in the room' and said "Perhaps I misunderstood, but you never turned up on the day we'd arranged."  "Oh, sorry, I was busy" she replied.  "That's okay.  If you'd rather not, just say so, but do you still want to go out for a meal?" I asked.  "I'd love to" she said.  I invited her into the cafe for a coffee and she said she'd join me shortly after she'd attended to something.  (She lived nearby apparently, though I didn't ask where.  And in case you were wondering, I'd regularly used this cafe for years before I ever met her.)

Two hours later it suddenly dawned on me that she wasn't going to show (yeah, I was a bit slow on the uptake), but as we'd swapped email addresses (and phone numbers) at some point, I decided to email her from the cafe's basement Internet room.  I explained that I didn't quite understand, but didn't want to make a nuisance of myself (or waste my time quite frankly), so if she wasn't interested then I'd prefer her to just say so, no hard feelings.  If she was interested though, I said that I was intending to go through to the upcoming Edinburgh Festival, and if there was anything she'd like to see and wanted to accompany me, then to let me know.

A day or so later (no, I wasn't still waiting in the cafe's basement), she replied, apologising for not coming to the cafe (had to clean her bike she said) and saying yes to the EF, and enquiring what I'd like to see?  By this time, however, I'd lost interest, so I merely said "Sorry, I'm too busy to be able to make it" and closed the book on that particular chapter of possibilities.  Some months later, I was in Glasgow again and thought I heard someone call my name from behind me.  I turned around, and about 20 feet or so away from me was the woman herself, but I just turned back and continued walking.  I wasn't even sure whether she'd actually called out to me or not, but I wasn't prepared to let her mess me about again.

Why relate this sorry story now, you may wonder, especially as it makes me look like a clueless sap who was getting the p*ss ripped out of him?  It occurred to me after re-reading the post I mentioned above, that, in the current 'anti-man' climate, an entirely different picture could be painted of a situation like the one I've just described.  A woman could easily present a tale of a guy who just didn't get the message, and kept asking her out when she wasn't interested - was 'sexually harassing' her in fact.  Of course, if a woman isn't interested, then she should say so, and that would be the end of the matter.  (In my case, however, the individual concerned repeatedly said she'd love to have dinner, etc., and seemed keen to maintain my attention.)

And that's part of the problem, isn't it?  Some women like to encourage attention from men, even if they have no intention of doing anything about it.  It's their way of validating to themselves and to their friends their attractiveness and desirability, and also their sense of self-esteem.  And although it won't be popular with any feminists reading this, even when some women say no to a date, they don't always mean "Definitely no", they mean "Try harder, convince me of your ardour, make me feel wanted by your passion, pursuit and persistence, until I've satiated my need to feel desirable - and made up my mind as to whether I'm interested in you or not!"  Whereas other women (or even the same women on different occasions), when they say no, that's exactly what they mean, with no room for negotiation or reconsideration.  How's a guy to know when there doesn't seem to be any consistency in the way women respond at different times in similar situations?

If you're a woman who isn't interested in guy who's interested in her, just say so and don't play games.  As I said, some women (and some guys also I'm sure) want to keep their fish on the hook with no intention of ever landing it.  Better to massage your ego some other way, instead of leading on some poor sap and then alleging that he was being 'a nuisance' a few years down the line.  I hasten to add that no such thing happened in my case, but I'm now aware how such instances could be misrepresented by some women determined to prove to their friends and family (and to themselves) how awesomely irresistible they must be by claiming they were 'sexually harassed' at some past point in time.

When such harassment genuinely does take place, no decent person, male or female, would condone or excuse it, but I'm not yet convinced that every alleged instance we've read or heard of recently (and the ones we've still to learn of) properly falls into that category.  Again, what think the rest of you?


I've been 'fine-tuning' this piece since first posting it, in order to better convey precisely what I was trying to say, so it's a bit of a work in progress.  Just when I think I've got it, I notice that some sentence or other either doesn't say quite what I intended - or suggests more than I'd intended.  Hopefully, it's not too confusing for anyone.                         

Saturday, 5 May 2018


Images copyright DC COMICS

Hard to believe that it's been 80 years since SUPERMAN made his debut in ACTION COMICS #1, cover-dated June 1938.  Here are the variant covers of the landmark 1000th issue, not counting exclusive store variants (apart from maybe the 10th one ).  Which one did you buy?  (The comic went on sale in April I believe.)

Below, the one that started it all - the very first issue.

Thursday, 3 May 2018


Oor WULLIE copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co, Ltd

(Or to be more precise, oor Wullie, your Wullie, a'body's Wullie.  That's a lot o' Wullie.)


Just got time for another quick post.  See the photo above?  It's the cover from a 1975 Oor WULLIE book (issued in '74) that's lain around my room for around 20 years or more.  (Someone must've given me it because I'd never buy a book in such poor condition.)  Now see the photos below.  That's the new cover I made for it with the help of a scanner/printer, digital restoration, couple of sheets of card, some Libra-Seal, and masking tape which I coloured with a felt marker pen.  Not too shabby, is it?  I had to enlarge the images at the printing stage by a few millimetres to allow for cropping, but the book's now neat enough to join my other Oor Wullie books.  Gosh, aren't I talented?  (And modest too of course.)

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


My very own, almost-pristine, FANTASTIC Annual for 1968

I must confess to feeling guilty for neglecting all you Criv-ites these past few months, so I've been making a special effort recently (when time allows) to trot out the odd post.  (What do you mean that all my posts are odd?)  Here's the latest piece of self-indulgent nonsense...


Regarding the TV21 Annuals in the previous post, only the first one (of which I have three) is in anywhere near to almost brand-new condition,  the others having obvious telltale signs of wear (and thus age) about them.  With Annuals, as with anything I collect, I tend to take what I can get when I can get it, and replace it later if a better condition one comes along, depending on price obviously.  As an aside, I've still got my copy of BEEB #1 that I bought down in Southsea/Portsmouth in 1985, but I noticed one on eBay recently in mint condition, still with original free gift.  It sold for something like £2.50, but now there's now another one up for sale at the ridiculous price of £40.  (Maybe it's the one that cost £2.50, and the buyer's trying to make a tidy profit by selling it on right away.)  That's why I'm cautious (sometimes) about paying big bucks for something, because s*d's law says that a cheaper, better one will come along eventually.  (Though in the case of Beeb #1, it happened in reverse on this occasion.)

I notice that when I'm lucky enough to buy an old item in pristine condition, especially when it's something I had new as a kid, that particular period seems not so far away, whereas if the item displays signs of age, then the period seems much further back in time.  Unless, of course, I acquired the original object from a jumble sale and it already looked old, in which case, because the replacement looks no worse than the original did when I first got it, that time doesn't seem so far removed as it otherwise would.  (Anyone following that, or am I far too obscure?)  It would be great to have everything I own looking as if it were brand-new, but at times I just have to settle for what my funds allow for.  Sometimes, a better-condition item will come along and I'll pass, because the not-so-good one has been in my possession for so many years that I've come to accept its imperfections and am exceedingly loath to part with it.  Admittedly, there have been occasions when I've bought another, better one and just kept both.

So what's your view on this if you're an eager collector of old items you had in your youth?  Is condition paramount to you, or not so important?  And, like me, does a replacement's condition influence your impression of how long ago you had the original?  If any of the above makes any sense to you, feel free to record your thoughts, theories and fancies in the comments section.      

Monday, 30 April 2018


Characters copyright relevant and respective owners

As I was coming back from the main shopping centre in my town this evening, I took the route that was near to the house in which I'd lived when TV CENTURY 21 first came out in 1965 (but dated 2065 remember).  I've often walked along that way in the last few years, and had noticed an elderly man who used to sit in the open doorway of his bungalow, listening to his radio and watching the world go by.  We nodded to one another on two or three occasions as I passed, but never spoke a word other than a brief "A' right" in the few scant seconds our gaze connected on my circuitous way home.  I'd even started to keep an eye out for him whenever I was in the area, so that I could swap 'nods' with him in case my acknowledgement of his presence was the only interaction he had with another person in his long and lonely day.  It would've bothered me if, while lost in thought, I'd forgotten to glance at his doorway and thereby inadvertently ignored him on my way past.  What if he looked at me in anticipation, expecting a nod that never came?  

Tonight his door was closed, and several items of household furniture and appliances lay scattered on his small lawn and footpath.  A fireplace, washing machine, tumble dryer (or small fridge), several odds'n'ends - and his wheelchair.  That tends to suggest he's passed away, rather than gone into an old folks home, and although I didn't know the man or anything about him, I felt kind of sad that another light had apparently gone out in the world.  I couldn't help but wonder what his interests or hobbies had been, what he'd done with his life, and whether he'd owned anything that he'd wish to be preserved or passed on, rather than thrown in a skip or given to a charity shop.

For all I know, he could have been an ardent comics collector with a full set of the original EAGLE, and maybe even, as a young adult, collected TV21 because it had been cast in Eagle's mould.  Now perhaps his collection lay in bin bags, or had been given to grandchildren or nieces and nephews, who would read these prized gems with no regard for their condition and then casually, callously, discard them afterwards.  Whenever I'm in the area in the future, I'll probably find myself automatically preparing to nod to him as I walk by his bungalow, before remembering that he's no longer there.  Which means, I suppose, that in some kind of ironic way, he'll always be sitting in that doorway - at least in my mind.  It also made me think of what lay ahead of me in my own future, and whether I'll likewise be an old man on my lonesome, worrying about what's going to happen to my collection of comics and toys when I die.  A sobering thought indeed.

And so, because I was thinking of TV21, and having just recently acquired the last two Annuals I needed (1969 & '70) to complete the set of eight, I thought I'd display them here.  As you can see, the last three come from a time when the comic was completely different to what it had started out as.  Despite what it says on the cover of the 1971 book, JOE 90 doesn't appear inside - nor does any other strip based on a GERRY ANDERSON puppet programme.  The comic had taken the nation by storm, but was barely a feeble puff by the time it finally breathed its last in the early '70s.  And thus do the mighty fall into ruin - as, also, must we who look at the stars while standing in the gutter, hoping for an immortality that may not exist and therefore may never inherit.

Enjoy the covers.

Y'know, it's hard to believe that there were only eight Annuals in total over a period of seven years - and that only the first five of them are in the style of TV21 as it had been when first released.  Back then, the comic seemed to have been around forever, yet five slim volumes on a bookshelf are all there is to represent its yearly output, in what felt like an eternity at the time.  Funny that.  The remaining three Annuals spring from an entirely different style of comic altogether, the same in name only.

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