Thursday, 30 September 2010

THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO...



Calling all THUNDERBIRDS fans - leap straight over to
http://fabgearusa.com for details on how to order the superb nine
vehicle F-TOYS THUNDERBIRDS MECHANIC COLLECTION
pictured above. An absolute must-have for every serious collector
of GERRY ANDERSON's FAB puppet series from the '60s.

Monday, 27 September 2010

HOW TO DO THINGS THE STAN LEE WAY! INTRODUCING - THE STAN LEE UNIVERSE...


Stan (The Man) Lee
For all STAN LEE fans out
there, here's news of an upcoming
book from TWOMORROWS
PUBLISHING, which will be
available from the end of
November. Here's the spiel
from the Twomorrows site.

192 page hardcover - by
ROY THOMAS and DANNY
FINGEROTH.

Face front, true believers! THE
STAN LEE UNIVERSE is the
ultimate repository of interviews
with and mementos about Marvel
Comics' fearless leader! From his
Soapbox to the box office, the Smilin' One literally changed the face of comic
books and pop culture, and this tome presents numerous rare and unpublished
interviews with Stan, plus interviews with top luminaries of the comics industry,
including JOHN ROMITA SR. & JR., TODD McFARLANE, ROY THOMAS,
DENNIS O'NEIL, GENE COLAN, AL JAFFEE, LARRY LIEBER, JERRY
ROBINSON, and MICHAEL USLAN discussing his vital importance to
the field he helped shape.

And as a bonus, direct from Stan's personal archives, you'll see rare
photos, sample scripts and plots, and many other unseen items, such
as: PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE between Stan and such prominent
figures as: JAMES CAMERON, OLIVER STONE, RAY BRADBURY,
DENIS KITCHEN, ALAIN RESNAIS and (Sinatra lyricist and pal)
SAMMY CAHN! Transcripts of 1960s RADIO INTERVIEWS with Stan
during the early Marvel era (one co-featuring JACK KIRBY, and one
with Stan debating Dr. Fredric Wertham’s partner in psychological
innovation and hating comics)!

Rarely seen art by legends including KIRBY, JOHN ROMITA SR.
and JOE MANEELY! Plot, script, and balloon placements from the 1978
SILVER SURFER GRAPHIC NOVEL, including comprehensive notes from
Lee and Kirby about the story. Notes by RICHARD CORBEN and WILL
EISNER for Marvel projects that never came to be! Pages from a SILVER
SURFER screenplay done by Stan for ROGER CORMAN! Notes and thumb-
nail sketches by JOHN BUSCEMA from HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE
MARVEL WAY, and more! So get a jump-start on the celebration of Marvel's
50th anniversary, and let this incredible book take you on a guided tour
of the STAN LEE UNIVERSE. Excelsior! (Co-edited by ROY THOMAS
and DANNY FINGEROTH.)

Includes a deluxe dust jacket, plus 16 EXTRA FULL-COLOR PAGES
of rare Archive Material, not found in the Softcover Edition.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60549-030-4
ISBN-10: 1-60549-030-X

Sunday, 26 September 2010

CAN COMICS HAVE A HARMFUL INFLUENCE?


Harmless fun - or harmful influence?

Notice I ask "can" - not "do".  There's an obvious reason for this
subtle but important distinction, so I needn't elaborate.  However, per-
haps it's the wrong question - it's a bit like the old saying: "Guns don't
kill people - people do", in that it's not so much the medium per se
which can be potentially harmful, but the content.

Whether it be movies, books, magazines, records, television, comics -
or even newspapers, if inappropriate content is made available to minors,
or anyone for which it isn't suitable, then it's likely to have some kind of
negative effect on those who are exposed to it.  Will it make someone pick
up a gun or a knife and go on a killing spree?  Will it turn someone into a
sex pervert or even a rapist?  Well, that's not quite what I'm suggesting,
so let's not get carried away with ourselves.

Of course, there are those who dogmatically claim both those extremes.
Some say definitely yes, others give a resounding no.  For myself, I prefer
to allow for the possibility that certain comics - in the same way that certain
movies, video games, records, etc. - could be part of the problem we face in
the ever-increasing hedonistic, materialistic, sexualized and violent society
we live in today.  Notice that I said "part" - I'm not one of the so-called "anti-
comic brigade" castigated by those who feel that comics are exclusively
and uniquely beyond the possibility of having any kind of negative
effect on their readers.

Consider the influence that society and the culture we live in can have
on us.  Muslim cultures tend to produce Muslims; Catholic cultures tend
to produce Catholics.  Once upon a time, cannibalistic cultures produced
cannibals.  And you can multiply the examples many times over.  It's a simple
case of cause and effect.  (And I should here add that I'm not equating either
Muslims or Catholics with cannibals.)  If we live in a culture which embraces a
steady diet of murder, sadism, rape, violence, promiscuity, criminal activity,
coarse language, blasphemy, etc., through all forms of entertainment (and
that includes comics), is it any wonder that - as a society - we become
inured to it all, to varying degrees?

Sure, most kids know the difference between fantasy and reality,
and I'm not claiming that someone watching a violent video game (or
reading a violent comic) is going to turn out a maniacal murderer because
of it.  (Although neither am I saying that it couldn't happen - in extreme cir-
cumstances and in conjunction with other factors.)  However, doesn't the fact
that millions of kids regularly view ultra-violent video games without flinching
at explicit scenes of mutilation, mayhem and murder for the purpose of enter-
tainment - and see nothing wrong with it (and some might argue that this fact
in itself is evidence of harm) - not perturb you in the slightest?  Wouldn't you
concede that this is perhaps an example of the harmful and negative
effects that certain aspects of popular culture can have?

When it comes down to it, inappropriate content is inappropriate
content, regardless of whatever format it's presented in.  If it's material
which could have a harmful or negative effect on its audience, then surely
it doesn't much matter whether it comes in the form of a book, a movie -
or a comic.  The danger is in the content - not the carton.  That's why, to me,
those that assert that comics couldn't ever have - and haven't ever had - any
kind of negative influence on any reader, are not on as secure ground as
they might think.  The simple truth is - nothing's ever that simple.   

One thing I do know - while the question is at least being asked,
discussed and debated, the chances of things getting out of control are
kept in check to some degree.  It's when we forget to be vigilant about the
possibilities of declining standards in what is being disseminated amongst
our young that we are most at risk from the ills which may infect
our culture.

Feel free to give me your views on the matter.

(FOOTNOTE:  The above BUSTER COMIC LIBRARY issue
was pulled from distribution at the last moment due to fears that some
children might get the idea (even subconsciously) that it was okay to hold
lighted fireworks.  It would be foolish to dismiss the notion that IPC also
had concerns about being sued if some kid got hurt following Buster's ex-
ample, but the primary motivation was out of a genuine consideration for
children's physical safety.  Shouldn't we also be as concerned about the
possible psychological effect that some comics may have?  Incidentally,
I Googled "violent comic images" to find illustrations for inclusion -
most were of a sexual nature and far too inappropriate to use.)

THANKS FOR THE MEMORY...

 
"Gee, the waiters in this place are really old!"
Remember what
I was saying a few
posts back about
when you're really
famous, someone
always wants to
have their photo
taken with you?
Well, here I am
on a night out
some years back -
apparently the
older fellow was
an unknown, but
promising, up-and-coming American comedian by the name of BOB HOPE.
I understand he was quite good, although, sadly, he's no longer with us.

"Just sign here, Kid - I'll fill in the amount later." 
He wanted an
actual autograph
of course, so here
he is (with his wife
Dolores) indicating
where he wanted
me to sign and even
providing a pen for
my convenience. He
probably had it on
ebay five minutes
later and made a
fortune from it.

What can you do? Ah, the price of fame!

Incidentally, due to the angle the photograph was taken from, I've
been "stretched" a bit - I wasn't really that wide. (He said, vainly.) In
fact, the top pic in the right-hand side column was taken five or six
years after these ones.

Friday, 24 September 2010

FREE FACSIMILE OF BEANO #1 AT SAINSBURY'S...


It pays to shop around.
This year's DANDY and
BEANO ANNUALS (for
2011) are priced at £7.99
each, but already various
sellers are offering their
own deals on the books.
SAINSBURY'S are only
charging £5 each, but buy
both of them together and
they cost  a mere £8 for
the pair (essentially a
two-for-one offer).

However, whether you
buy it on its own or with
its sister publication,
THE BEANO ANNUAL
comes with a high quality
facsimile of the comic's first
issue from 1938. True, some liberties have been taken with the cover by omitting
the white margin, and the contents are abridged from the original 28 pages to 24,
but it's still a nice little collectors' piece.
 
Run out and but them both NOW!


And for those who want to know what the cover of the first issue
should look like - from my own personal collection - feast your
eyes on the illustration below...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

KID AS A KID...


"Ready or not, here I come!"

This clearly happy chappie is no doubt exulting in the fact that, with
a mighty DALEK in hand, no-one is going to risk incurring his righteous
wrath by trying to "take away his Breakaway". (Actually, I don't think
that particular biscuit was around in 1965, but never mind.) Look at how
fearless he is - he laughs - with eyes recklessly closed - even in the face of
deadly danger. (Okay, it's only Dad with a Box Brownie.) This toy Dalek
was manufactured by HERTS PLASTIC MOULDERS and was sold only
in WOOLWORTHS stores back in the '60s. Wish I still had mine.

"You lookin' at me? EXTERMINATE!"

JOHNNY FUTURE - MAN OF YESTERDAY...


Yesterday's Man of Tomorrow
One of my favourite
comic strips back when I
was a lad was JOHNNY
FUTURE, published in the
pages of FANTASTIC by
ODHAMS PRESS. The strip
had originally been called
THE MISSING LINK, but
the character was deemed
to be too similar to THE
HULK - then appearing in
sister publication SMASH! -
and a change in direction was
instituted. Whether MARVEL
objected to a Hulk 'knock-
off' appearing alongside other
Marvel characters, or whether
ALF WALLACE, the strip's
writer, arrived at this decision
on his own is lost in the mists
of time, but it was undoubtedly
a wise move. With fantastic (no pun intended) artwork by Spanish artist LUIS
BERMEJO, the strip ran until Fantastic absorbed TERRIFIC and JOHN
FOSTER (Johnny Future's alter ego) disappeared into comics limbo. Well,
almost - he had one more outing in the 1969 Annual, but - after that - it
was curtains for ol' JF.

There was occasionally some clumsy tampering with Luis Bermejo's
artwork (the addition of an inconsistent futuristic emblem on his costume
being but one example), but overall, the strip is fondly remembered as a
benchmark of comic strip art from the 1960s. Interestingly, Bermejo always
misspelt the title as "Jhonny Future" in his pencilled indication of where the
logo should be placed - English not being his strong point, I guess. STEVE
HOLLAND of BEAR ALLEY BOOKS was going to reprint the complete
run in book form, but - due to events beyond his control - it hasn't yet
come to pass and looks increasingly unlikely.

Incidentally, the back-page pin-ups are
usually credited to BARRY WINDSOR
SMITH, who, if he was responsible for
the one at the top of this page, seems
to have copied or merely traced it from
an original panel by Bermejo himself.
(See right.) Any clarification by anyone
who knows what they're talking about
would be most welcome, although I
suspect it's merely an enlargement of
the Bermejo panel which a staff artist
has worked on.

I have a fascinating origin worked out
for the Link and Johnny Future -
maybe one day...

THIRTEEN - UNLUCKY FOR SOME...

 

SUPER DC was a British monthly comic published by Top Sellers
back in 1969/70, featuring - as it said above the title - "The Best of DC
Comics". Such a claim was arguable, but I certainly thought it was a
worthwhile effort and it was definitely good value for one old
Shilling. (5 new pence.)

Apparently only 14 issues were ever produced - and I have the
first 13 of them. If anyone out there has the last issue and wants
to sell it, then get in touch - I'll give you a fair price for it.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

YOU MUST READ THIS! SEZ WHO? SEZ DEZ! (AND ME!)



What are you waiting for? Get right over to http://dezskinn.com
and read about the many and varied accomplishments and career high-
lights of the man referred to as "the British Stan Lee". Dez has been at
the forefront of the British comics industry for more years than he'd
probably care to remember, so you can bet that when he's got
something to say it's worth paying heed to.

Well? Why are you still here? Go and pay heed.

YOU COULDN'T MEET A NICER MAN THAN ARCHIE GOODWIN...



The late ARCHIE GOODWIN was one of nature's finest gentlemen.
He's probably as much a legend for being nice as he is for being one of
the greatest writers and editors that ever graced the comics medium. I was
fortunate enough to once spend a pleasant evening in the company of Archie
and his just-as-nice wife, ANN - along with famous Scottish man-about-town,
JOHN McSHANE - a few years before Archie passed away, enjoying a
pleasant meal and some entertaining conversation into the bargain.

Archie was modest and unassuming, and a joy to be with. He looked
much younger than his years, despite having suffered from the illness
which eventually claimed his life much too soon. It's been said that if you
look up the word "nice" in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of Archie
smiling back at you.

Here's to you, Archie - wherever you may be.

Monday, 20 September 2010

HANG LOOSE, FACE FRONT, 'NUFF SAID, EXCELSIOR!


"Wait'll I tell Kirby that I met Kid Robson."

When you're a living legend and creative megasatar in the world
of comics, one of the things you have to put up with is ordinary folk
wanting their photo taken with you so that they can tell their buddies
you're their best friend. Such a thing happened to me one day when
 out of the blue, this wrinkly old pensioner (oo-er - sorry, Stan)
insisted I pose for a pic with him - anybody know who he is?

Oh well - just another day in the life of a leg-end - er, I mean legend.

"AS HISTORY BOOKS HAVE SHOWED..."



Illustrated by E. H. Shepard
THE WIND IN THE
WILLOWS by KENNETH
GRAHAME entranced me
from an early age, and even
if you're now an old, crusty
adult, you really should give
it a read if you haven't done
so already. It's another of
those deeds that should be
on a "things to do before you
die" list. Forget the possible
stigma of reading a so-
called "childrens' book" -
 the standard of English
employed in the book
elevates it above and
beyond that much-maligned
and inaccurate category.

As the author himself said,
"It is a book of youth, and so
perhaps chiefly for youth, and those who still keep the spirit of youth alive
in them; of life, sunshine, running water, woodlands, dusty roads, winter
firesides." Definitely the finest book of its kind, so what's not to like? And
do your very best to get an edition illustrated by ERNEST H. SHEPARD.

Preparing for battle
Even if you don't feel
like reading it yourself,
buy a copy for your
kids or/and a young niece
or nephew (above the age
of 12 or 13, I'd suggest)
and present it to them for
Christmas. They're bound
to thank you in later years
for having enriched their
young lives.

GERRY ANDERSON'S BATMAN..?


"Where's my swimming trunks?"
You're looking
at a LOUIS MARX
TOYS' TWISTABLE
BATMAN, which was
readily available in all
good toy shops at the
height of the 'bat-craze'
back in the mid-'60s. (I
had several in my time,
all purchased from a
super little place known
as NURSERYLAND.
"Everything for Baby"
it boasted, but it also
sported quite a wide
range of toys for
kids of all ages.)

He was produced without trunks, but that apart, was a fantastic fun
figure - looking for all the world like a GERRY ANDERSON puppet.
Is that STEVE ZODIAC under the cape and cowl? Sure looks like
him to me.

Apparently, pristine examples of this toy can fetch up to £700
(according to a dealer who's well-known for charging about three times
that of everyone else), but I managed to pick up mine for a mere £30. It
still had the original cape, although it was torn and tatty, but was missing
the belt, bat emblem and batarang. I made a new cape using the original
as a template, and recreated the other missing items, which - although
not original - suffice for the purpose of display.

All in all, not a bad little acquisition. Anyone got a spare Bat-a-rang
and Utiliity belt they can sell me? If so, get in touch.


BOB - BETTER BRING BILL - BATMAN'S BACK!

 
 
Remember the BATMAN craze of the '60s? TOPPS published a set of
cards to cash-in on the interest that the TV programme had incited, and
to anyone who had them back in 1966, the above and below images will
surely bring back many happy memories of their childhood. A further two
sets were released after the first, and - fortunately, for people like myself
who never kept the originals - Topps reissued them back in 1989 when
the first TIM BURTON/MICHAEL KEATON/JACK NICHOLSON
big-budget Batman movie hit the screens.

Ah, happy days. More '60s Batman merchandise soon, perhaps.
 

"WHERE TREASON DWELLS - DWELL I..!" (EH?)



Pencil tracing by Dom Regan, inks and letters
by Kid Robson
Many of you will have
seen THE FREEDOM
COLLECTIVE one-shot
from a guy calling himself
ROUGH CUT COMICS
a few years ago. There were
quite a few people involved
with the issue, but I believe
the basic premise sprang
from the fertile mind of one
IAIN HENDERSON (which
makes up for his infertility in
other parts of his anatomy -
allegedly). It's all right - I
have a permit to take the
mickey out of him.

I'm unsure whether it
was prepared as a possible
project or merely for the
artist's own amusement,
but DOMINIC REGAN
(computer-colourist on various mags) produced a pencil rough of the above
image - traced from a copy of the cover of STRANGE TALES #135 - which
I inked, embellished and lettered, and which came out not too badly at all,
in my humble estimation.

"KRUST" was later changed to "K.R.U.S.H.", but the
above illustration is how it left my drawing board.

LET'S NOT "WELCH" ON OUR DEBT TO RAQUEL...

 
"Kid - I love you!"

To compensate for the upsetting nature of the photo in the previous
post (now deleted, but even the subject complained), here's one that
won't have you reaching for the 'barf bag' - enjoy. (If this is a woman,
my last girlfriend was a welder. Sob!)

Friday, 17 September 2010

PERTAINING TO PARANOID PALPITATIONS OF THE PALPABLE KIND...


There's a clue here somewhere
 I had thought that my 'difference of
opinion' with a certain person (see my
post "Setting the record straight" for
details) was all done and dusted, but
someone recently alerted me to the
fact that he is now implying that I
am posing as a variety of different
people over on the pages of his blog.
Curious, I visited the site and was be-
mused to see someone else's responses
to comments by the blogger being
slyly suggested as originating
from myself. 

When it comes to making assertions
of "paranoid accusations", he seems
completely unaware of the irony of his
remarks - as he's the only one indulging in that little pastime as far as I can see.

I have tried to be fair to this individual and have always given him his
due as a professional comics contributor, and acknowledged the merits of his
usually informative blog, but on this occasion I feel it is necessary to address
the situation of him taking pot-shots at me in my absence. Let's hope it's
the last time I have to do so.

RESTORING THE KING...


"Where's Cagney? I'll moider da bum!"

Being incredibly talented - as well as witty, charming and handsome
(not to mention modest and with a self-deprecating sense of humour) -
it should come as no surprise to anyone to learn that I once inked (or
re-inked, to be precise) the artwork of JACK "KING" KIRBY - while he
was still alive yet, making it even more of a thrill for me. To see my name
listed alomgside (well, not quite alongside - more like underneath) some of
the greats of the comicbook biz like STAN LEE, JACK KIRBY, VINCE
COLLETTA, etc., was a big deal for me, and one of which I'm immensely
proud. How did this monumental accomplishment occur, you are
perhaps asking - so here's the scoop.

MARVEL were still producing their first run of MASTERWORKS
books, when the then-editor, TOM BREVOORT, asked me if I could
supply some of the pages missing from their files. As it happened, I was in
a position to be able to help, utilising some of my comic collection featuring
Marvel reprints in British publications from the '60s. However, things were
a lot more complex than simply photocopying pages from old comicbooks
and sending them over to the States - and here's why:

Back in the '60s, ODHAMS PRESS, publishers of comics such
as WHAM!, SMASH!, POW!, FANTASTIC, and TERRIFIC (also
EAGLE and others), made all sorts of alterations to the Marvel comic
strips they reprinted. Credit boxes were deleted, American references were
changed, colloquial speech was altered, characters' names were revised, and
pages were - in the case of Wham!, Smash!, and Pow! - also resized to fit
the standard British comic dimensions. However, rather than witter on
about it let me show you. Below is a THOR page as it appeared
in issue #27 of Fantastic.


And here's how the page looked once I had restored it to its original
appearance. What you might call 'invisible mending'.



Next up is a poorly printed ad featuring the cover art from FANTASTIC
FOUR ANNUAL #3 - as you can see, most of the linework has dropped
out and a couple of characters have been deleted.


Here's the cover once I had re-inked it. Nothing too elaborate - merely
the application of a MARSMATIC drawing pen to a photocopy of the
above pic, and a combination of re-created and photocopied lettering
from the original comic.


Here are a few more "before" and "after" illustrations for your perusal.
As you can see below, the figure of the THING lost most of his body when
the image was resized to fit the larger page. With the aid of reference as
to how the page should have looked, I soon restored the missing details
and returned the page to its former state.

BEFORE:


AFTER:


BEFORE:


AFTER:


And finally, a Thor pic, before and after restoration.


Remember - the images can be enlarged by clicking on them - and then
clicking again on the enlarged pic to make it larger yet. (These two are a
little blurred - although the preceeding pictures can be seen to their best
advantage by this process.)

And that's how one restores royalty. Simple, really - but immensely
satisfying. Altogether now - "Long live the King!"