Monday, 31 October 2011

KIRBY'S GHOST - PLANKS AND MOTES (A MORALITY TALE)...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

A while back, over on DANIEL BEST's blog, he reported the fact that GREG THEAKSTON had claimed in the second volume of his JACK KIRBY biography that Kirby did not draw his recreations of MARVEL covers in the early 1990s and that they were ghosted by other hands.  This naturally has raised some interesting questions.  For example, would Jack and Roz have allowed pages to be attributed to him and sold for high prices if he hadn't produced them?  For that matter, would Marvel or SOTHEBY'S ?


Theakston's claim has naturally set tongues wagging as to who may have been involved in creating these pages if, as he asserts, it wasn't Kirby.  (And that's important to remember - if.)  As far as I'm aware, there is no evidence to support the participation of any particular individual, but I'm not in full possession of the facts (or what passes as facts) in the matter.

Naturally, when such rumours take root (and there seems just no way to stop them), there is always rabid speculation amongst groups of fans, and, even if no one is publicly named, people tend to form their own ideas as to who might have been involved.  There is only a relatively select group of people who would even be considered capable of such work, and doubtless all of them were regarded at some stage as potential candidates amongst those given to conjecture on the matter.  It is in that context we must now consider what comes next.


On Dan's post, he related the relevant facts and indulged in a bit of speculation.  He considered the different possibilities and concluded that, if (remember that word?) the pages were ghosted, he had been led to believe that MIKE ROYER may have been responsible.  He made it clear, though, that his personal belief was unconfirmed - and at no time did he state that Royer, if he had actually drawn the covers, would have known they would be passed off as being exclusively pencilled by Kirby.

In short, all Dan may have meant was that he regarded Royer as the best qualified to produce the work, without necessarily ascribing to him any fraudulent intent or design.  That is an important aspect to remember.


HARRY MENDRYK from the JACK KIRBY MUSEUM website immediately went on the attack, accusing Best of not only slandering Royer, but also of charging him with fraud.  Now, while deliberately misrepresenting the work of one artist as that of another undoubtedly gives rise to legal and ethical implications, that doesn't necessarily mean that the one who produced the work knew it was going to be sold on that basis.

If something is advertised as an original piece of a particular artist's work without the actual artist's prior knowledge or consent, then he's hardly guilty of any wrongdoing in those circumstances.  And, at the risk of labouring the point, I can see nothing in Dan Best's post to the contrary.


Mr. Mendryk is not prepared to allow for any such possibility, or to give Best the benefit of the doubt.  Indeed, such subtleties as I have expounded here seem lost on him.  Did Mendryk investigate the matter?  Did he ask Best to elaborate, or to say precisely what he meant?  No, he immediately accused Best of smearing Royer's reputation, and attributed  meanings and motivations to Best's words that are certainly open to a different interpretation.  Why didn't he check first?  In this regard, he seems at least equally as guilty of the exact same behaviour of which he accuses Best.


As far as I can see, all Dan has done is report a pre-existing story and add his thoughts on the topic.  In so doing, he has generated comment which has made people aware that Mike Royer rejects any suggestion of being involved.  (There are links to this in the comments section.)  In reporting the already well-known rumour, Best has effectively put an end to one speculative aspect of it.  Mike Royer says he was not involved, and I'm perfectly happy, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, to accept his word.  I doubt I'm alone.


As I said on Harry Mendryk's blog, although it's obviously better if unsubstantiated rumours never start in the first place, once they're doing the rounds, it's often advisable to subject them to the spotlight of truth and let them wither under its glare, rather than allow them to fester in secret.  Mr. Mendryk has recently deleted our discussion - I leave it to individuals to draw their own conclusions as to why.  However, I consider my observations worthy of consideration, which is why I publish them here.

I should add that I do not presume to speak on Dan Best's behalf - my only purpose (which springs from a desire for fairness and impartiality) is to show that people who live in glass houses should perhaps think twice
before throwing stones.   

Friday, 28 October 2011

SHAMEFUL TALES: A SAD, BAD, 'MAN AND HIS DOG' STORY...



Every so often you read a story in the newspaper that reaffirms
your faith in human nature. Then, however, there's the other kind.
This is one of those.

Ginger's owner leads her away from his car before driving off.
First photo, Ginger looking happy yesterday 

By Sara Dixon

'This is the moment before a faithful dog was dumped by
her heartless owner and left to fend for herself in an act of
cruelty condemned as "despicable" by an animal charity.

The pet was led into a thin strip of woodland bordering a
busy road where she was abandoned to her fate.

But she was so desperate to stay with her cruel owner that,
even though she was lame, she tried to run after his car as
he sped away.

At first it appeared he was merely taking her for a walk.  But
seconds later he was captured on CCTV racing back to his
vehicle.  It is thought there were three others in the car.

The dog desperately tried to catch up with him despite only
being able to limp because her claws had been left to grow
into her paw pads.

When the Shetland terrier cross, now nicknamed Ginger,
realised she had been left she sat in one spot and refused to
budge until rescuers gently coaxed her inside their office.

Luckily for Ginger the entire incident was witnessed by
shocked workers in the office overlooking the car park in
Granby Industrial Estate in Weymouth, Dorset.

Steve Sudworth and his colleague at BMT Defence
Services, Mike Jolliffe, rushed to rescue the abandoned
animal as the owner drove off in a metallic-blue Kia Rio.

Despite her ordeal and distress, the good-natured dog
quickly made friends with her rescuers.

Mr Sudworth, 49, an engineer at the firm, said:  "I saw
the man walking very fast back to the car and he jumped
in.  I thought he was going to shout to the dog, but he just
drove off fast.  He looked really unrepentant.  The dog was
trying to follow but couldn't because of the limp.  I would
have run up the road after them but they were gone too
fast.  It's shocking."

Mr Jolliffe, a designer, made the dog a makeshift collar
out of his belt.

Ginger, who was abandoned last Thursday lunchtime,
was taken to a vet so her painful paws could be tended.

Mr Jolliffe said:  "She was a lovely little girl and she made
so many friends here very quickly."

Animal charity Dogs Trust condemned Ginger's
abandonment as "inexcusable".

Chief Executive Clarissa Baldwin said:  "There is absolutely
no excuse for abandoning a dog to fend for itself in this despic-
able way.  Sadly cases of animals being dumped in this fashion
are all too common.  We would urge people always to seek
help from animal rehoming charities."

Ginger is being cared for by dog wardens at the Weymouth
and Portland Borough Council kennels while they look for a
new home for her.  Officials are hunting Ginger's heartless
owner from the CCTV footage.

Chris Robertson, the council's assistant dog warden, said:
"The footage speaks for itself and it is appalling."

Her owner is described as white, between 5ft 10in and
6ft tall and wearing blue jeans and a brown sweater.

Mr Robertson said the council was considering prosecuting
the owner under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.'  

From THE DAILY EXPRESS, Tuesday, September 21, 2110.

******

We can only hope that they find him and someone kicks the absolute
living sh*t out of him.  In a tender, loving, caring way of course.

******

Ginger with walker Vicky Crow

UPDATE:  The response to Ginger's predicament was over-
whelming, and I'm glad to say that she has now been re-homed with
a more suitable owner who will give her all the love and attention she
  deserves.  Two people are being prosecuted for abandoning her.  

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

SO...VINCE THE PRINCE OR FORGETTA-COLLETTA?



VINCE COLLETTA is a name which seems to cause controversy
whenever it's mentioned these days.  Some comicbook fans think he
was great, others think he was okay, and then there's another group
who think he was the worst inker ever to work in the business.


Some JACK KIRBY fans in particular believe he ruined every page
of the King's work he ever touched.  Others think he transformed Jack's
THOR pages into a tour de force of illustrative brilliance which should
grace the Sistine Chapel.  Then there are those poor souls who can't
see the difference between one page and another, regardless of
whoever pencilled or inked it.



While it's true that Vince's inks may not have suited every artist
whose pencils he worked on, there are some whose art was definitely
enhanced by the touch of his pen and brush.  (GENE COLAN, JOHN
BUSCEMA, and FRANK ROBBINS, to name but three.)  Jack Kirby
was definitely on that list.  Vinnie diluted the idiosyncracies and ab-
stractness of Kirby's art, imbuing it with a rugged, realistic quality
that perfectly suited the mythical backdrop of Thor's adventures,
particularly when set in ASGARD.



I'm not alone in thinking that part of the reason for Colletta's bad
rep these days is based on poor quality reprints of his work in various
magazines back in the early '70s, printed from proofs in which his fine
detailing was lost and clumsily retouched by less-skilled hands.
(Using a blunt felt marker by the looks of things.)



However, back in the late '60s a U.K. publication called FANTASTIC
reprinted Thor's adventures from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, using
clear, sharp proofs for near-perfect black and white reproduction.  U.S.
spellings, colloquialisms and references were changed, creator credits
and corner page numbers were deleted, and open case sound-effects
were sometimes blacked-in or cross-hatched for greater impact in the
b&w format, but the art still looked great.



It gives me great pleasure to present Vince's inking of Jack's pencils more
or less the way they would have looked when they were first completed, as
opposed to the far inferior reprints which came later.  Enjoy.   



Click on image, when it appears, click again for optimum size.

Monday, 24 October 2011

WHEN SUPERMAN WAS A BUDDING SLAPHEAD - (WELL, ALMOST)...


Images copyright DC COMICS

Every now and again, I'll see a discussion on the merits of
VINCE COLLETTA's inking and the reasons why JACK KIRBY's
SUPERMAN heads were usually inked by MURPHY ANDERSON.
To me it's always seemed obvious that at least one of the reasons was
that Jack couldn't render ol' Supes' kiss-curl very well, often making
his hair look like a comb-over to hide a receding hairline.  (Or an
ill-fitting toupee.)

Don't believe me?  Take a look at the stat of the pencilled pic
below and judge for yourself.  The words 'ARTHUR SCARGILL'
spring to mind.  (Or even 'ISAIAH' - 'cos one 'eyes's higher' than
the other.  Boom-boom!)


'HULLORERR CHINAS' - THE DAY I MET THE LEGENDARY RIKKI FULTON...



U.S. filmgoers may recall him in supporting roles as sinister KGB
officer MAJOR PRIBLUDA in GORKY PARK and Dr. GEDDES in
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 paper 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 my
FRANCIE JOSIE LP by GOLDEN GUINEA.  (Yet available 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 epit-
ome of the perfect gentleman;  kind and gracious to a stumbling, bumbling,
pain in the @rse fan and treating me as 'though I were doing him a favour.
I'll tell you, a lot of so-called celebrities in whichever field of endeavour
you care to mention could learn a thing or two about how to behave
to the public from the legend that was - that is - Rikki Fulton.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A MONSTER TO MARVEL AT - PART FOUR...



Okay, here we go with the final four issues of MARVEL's own
fright-fest known as THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER. Now that
you have all 18 covers to drool over, you can keep a lookout for them
in the back issue bins of your friendly neighbourhood speciality comics
shop and pick up a copy or two to actually read. Or buy the softcover
ESSENTIALS volume - whichever takes your fancy. And, if they
haven't already, Marvel is sure to release an OMNIBUS edition
for you to throw your hard-earned cash at before very long.
Keep dem eyes peeled.





Saturday, 22 October 2011

BLAZIN' A TRAIL: STARBLAZER COVER GALLERY - PART TWO...


Images copyright D.C THOMSON & Co, Ltd

As promised some time back, here are the covers from
STARBLAZER #s 6 - 10.  I don't think I ever bought
any further issues after #10, so that's yer lot I'm afraid.







AD BREAK: THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR - PART THREE...



And just for completion's sake, here's the in-house ads that appeared
after pages 5 and 18. Now you've got even more than you need.

Friday, 21 October 2011

THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR - PART TWO...



As promised, the second part of DAREDEVIL's origin, scanned
directly from my own copy of issue #1 from 1964. For the cover and
the first 11 pages, see the previous post.


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