Tuesday, 18 January 2011

CALLING GRANTBRIDGE STREET...


???
Whenever I try to access the GRANTBRIDGE STREET blog, I get diverted to a notice telling me that the site contains "inappropriate content" (I've never noticed any - isn't it about comics?) and asking me if I want to continue. However many times I answer in the affirmative, absolutely nothing happens and I remain in limbo. This is a fairly recent development as I never used to have any trouble accessing the blog.

Anyone know what's going on?

(Update: Problem now solved. Nothing a change of provider couldn't fix.)

Monday, 17 January 2011

MAGICAL MEMORIES OF A TIME LONG PAST...


IPC Magazines former HQ - King's Reach Tower
One of the things
that surprised me when
I began my professional
comics career way back
in 1985 was how much
the comicbook business
seemed like "just a job"
to some of those working
in the industry.  Having
grown up on the 1960s
MARVEL BULLPEN
and copycat ODHAMS
GARRETT image, I expected everyone to be really enthusiastic about what they
were doing, but I found that - with a few exceptions - most people on the office
side of things didn't seem to be ecstatic about what they did for a living.

Bob Paynter - or is it The Shadow?
To non-comic fans, they were "in
publishing" - almost as if they were
embarrassed by their profession.  As
for me, it was as if I'd died and gone
to Heaven, and I was bursting with en-
thusiasm and exuberance with regard
to my involvement in the field.  BOB
PAYNTER, group editor of the IPC
humour division, was one of the few
exceptions I met who found my enthusiasm refreshing (instead of embar-
rassing), and he did his best to channel as much work in my direction as
he could.  (Incidentally, in the photo above, Bob was posing - I didn't
snap him unawares as he was putting on his jacket.)

Steve MacManus
Special mention must be given to 2000 A.D.
editor STEVE MacMANUS, who gave me my
start in the biz, and also to later depute-editor
ALAN McKENZIE - who gave me as much
work as I could handle, but I was puzzled as to
why not everyone regarded their jobs with the
same unadulterated joy that I did.  Doing it too
long perhaps?  Never wanted to do it in the first
place?  Not allowed to do comics the way they
would've wished?  Who knows, but I look back
on my time in the last dying embers of a once
thriving industry with great fondness.

Art assistant Kevin Brighton and
pal Derek Pierson in IPC's canteen
Dying embers?  I'm afraid so.  You
see, about a year and a half or so after
starting my freelance career, IPC sold
their YOUTH GROUP - the department
responsible for producing their comics -
to the infamous ROBERT MAXWELL,
in conjunction with a Dutch company*,
later known as EGMONT.  (The only
periodical not included in the sale was
long-running football mag, SHOOT.)

It's more than likely that the discussions which led to this purchase had
commenced a good while before I began my career, but it's strange now to
think that the once mighty IPC comics-publishing empire was winding down
just as I was revving up.  Looking back, it doesn't seem fair.  Once IPC jet-
tisoned the Youth Group its fate was sealed - the number of published
comics soon began to dwindle, as title after title faded into oblivion.

King's Reach Tower at night
However, having said that, I
had a 15 year career as a comics
contributor, visiting London once -
sometimes twice - a week for about
the first two years or so.  Getting to
see various bound volumes (and
artwork) of ODHAMS PRESS and 
FLEETWAY comics from years
ago, lying around the offices of
KING'S REACH TOWER, gave
me a strange sense of connection
to those earlier times.  As did
meeting editors and production
staff who had worked on comics
had read as a boy.  Ah, such
marvellous moments, such
magical memories.

It's an experience I wouldn't have missed for the
world, and one for which I'm extremely grateful.

******

*Regarding Egmont, the story I heard at the time was that Maxwell
bought 50% of the Youth Group, in conjunction with GUTENBERGHUS
(later renamed Egmont), who bought the other 50%.  When Maxwell died,
Gutenberghus acquired full ownership of the former IPC comics group.
Can anyone confirm this, or was I misinformed on this aspect?
   
******

Click here for more info on Steve MacManus.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

HE'S SMARTER THAN THE AVERAGE BEAR - IF YOUR AVERAGE BEAR IS WINNIE THE POOH (A BEAR OF VERY LITTLE BRAIN)...



I haven't yet seen the new YOGI BEAR movie, but the
trailer looks like a lot of fun, so I'll be buying my ticket the moment
it's released in Britain. It won't be the first time the redoubtable bruin
has appeared in cinemas 'though - he made his silver screen debut back
in the mid-1960s in HEY THERE, IT'S YOGI BEAR, with no less a
luminary than JAMES DARREN (from THE TIME TUNNELT. J.
HOOKER) as Yogi's singing voice. Also back in the (early) '60s, the
WADE company produced this great little porcelain figure of BOO
BOO's pal, along with HUCKLEBERRY HOUND and
MR. JINKS (without the meeces).


It's not often you see this item with its original box, so I hope
you appreciate all the effort I go to in order to bring you a glimpse
of these cataclysmic classic creations - carefully culled from my
own personal collection.

Monday, 10 January 2011

THE MIGHTY WORLD OF CHRISTMAS!

 
Cover art by Jim Starlin & Joe Sinnott

Okay, I know I'm a little late with this one, but there's still a smattering of snow
on the ground so I might just get away with it. Feast your eyes on the cataclysmic
classic cover of the "Christmas" issue of THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL
#13 - pencilled and inked by JIM STARLIN and JOE SINNOTT respectively.
This comic first appeared on newsagents' shelves back on December 23rd, 1972 -
just over 38 years ago. There's no point in padding this out any further - this
is one of those pictures that speaks for itself.

Friday, 7 January 2011

BEGIN THE SAGA OF THOR IN THIS OMNIBUS...

  
The Mighty Thor Omnibus Volume One
Just released is this
magnificent OMNIBUS
edition of The MIGHTY
THOR (or THOR The
MIGHTY, if you prefer - as
I do).  Including JOURNEY 
Into MYSTERY #83 - 120,
ANNUAL #1 (THOR's first
battle with HERCULES), as
well as pin-ups and letters
pages - in fact, everything
needed to fulfill the happy
expectations of even
the most demanding
Marvelite.

 RUN, don't walk, to your
nearest comics shop and
pick up a copy now.  Better
take a wheelbarrow - it's
a heavy tome.

ISBN:  9780-7851-4973-6

Sunday, 2 January 2011

"FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET..."


Aurora Superman kit - built and painted by me
Well, we've had THE
BATMAN, so we might
as well have his good pal
SUPERMAN.  In an earlier
post, I featured the 1964
version of this fabulous kit
by AURORA, so this time
around let's have the 1974
version, which had a few
differences.  Mainly, the
nameplate was omitted
and, instead of the "S"
emblem being moulded
on the costume & cape, a
couple of adhesive labels
were supplied.  Also, the
copyright details on the
base were updated.

Box art by James Bama or
Mort Kunstler?
Because of the contours of Supe's
manly physique, the chest emblem didn't
really adhere too well - in subsequent re-
leases of the kit by MONOGRAMMPC,
and REVELL-MONOGRAM (the two
companies merged in 1986), this was over-
come by the supply of waterslide decals in
place of stickers.  For my own kit, I simply
hand-painted the "S" emblem in the ap-
propriate places.  I also affixed a spare
'64 nameplate because, to my eyes, the
kit didn't seem complete without it.

Aurora really were the "bees' knees"
when it came to model figure kits.  The
WORLD'S FINEST, you might say.

Incidentally, the box to your right is
the one from 1964, not the 1970s - simply
because I think it's better.  However, as I'm
known far and wide for my generosity and
consideration for others,  for completists,
the '70s one is presented below.

The British version didn't have the
8 page comic, alas

Saturday, 1 January 2011

RIGHT, ALTOGETHER NOW - "DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH - BATMAN!"

  
AURORA BATMAN kit - built & painted by me
 Another big TV hit of the
'60s was BATMAN, which -
much like The MAN From
U.N.C.L.E. - resulted in a
wealth of merchandising.

Released in 1965 - some
months before the TV show
hit the screens - the AURORA
plastic model kit of the Caped
Crusader no doubt benefitted
from a boost in sales due to the
popularity of the programme
when it aired in 1966.

Thought you might like to
see it.  And it's all mine.  Oh,
and here's the box, too.

Box art by CARMINE INFANTINO
& MURPHY ANDERSON

"OPEN CHANNEL 'D'..."



One day, back in 1965, I remember my brother anxiously trying
to obtain a copy of that week's RADIO TIMES - because therein was
printed a coupon which enabled aspiring secret agents to send off for a
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. ID card.  As any child of the '60s will recall,
TMFU was the big hit of the time on British (and American) TV, and
every kid in the land wanted to be an U.N.C.L.E. agent.  I still remember
the address - 58 St. James' Street, London, SW1.  We sent off for quite
a number of cards over the course of the next few months, I can tell
you.  Sadly none of them survived, but for those of you in a similar
predicament, dry your tears - the heartache is over.

You can now obtain
an exact facsimile of
that '60s Radio Times
U.N.C.L.E. ID card -
professionally printed
from an original - along
with its U.S. counterpart
and a letter of acceptance
from the United Net-
work Command for
Law and Enforcement
- for a paltry £7.50 (inc.
p&p) from here.  (If
you live outside the
U.K., check prices
for your country.)

Quick - before T.H.R.U.S.H. cause an international shortage
by buying them all - recapture a magical moment from your long-
ago childhood before it's too late.