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 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
enthusiasm and exuberance as regards
my involvement in the field.  BOB
PAYNTER, group editor of the IPC
humour division, was one of the few
individuals 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 business, and also to later sub-editor
of the comic ALAN McKENZIE - who gave
me as much work as I could handle, but I must
confess to being puzzled as to why not everyone
seemed to regard their jobs with the same un-
adulterated joy that I did.  Been 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 his
pal, Del - in the famous IPC 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 to be known as EGMONT.  (The
only publication not included in the sale
was the 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 jettisoned
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.

******

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 wheel-
barrow - 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 fab
AURORA kit, so this
time 'round 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 and 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 ol' Supe's
manly physique, the chest emblem didn't
really adhere too well - in subsequent
releases of the kit by MONOGRAM,
MPC, and REVELL-MONOGRAM (the
two companies merged in 1986), this was
overcome by the supply of waterslide
decals instead of stickers. For my own kit, I
merely hand-painted the "S" emblem in the
appropriate places. I also affixed a spare
1964 nameplate because, to my eyes, the
kit didn't seem complete without it.

Aurora really were the "bees' knees"
when it came to 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 and painted by Kid Robson

 Another big
Television 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 airwaves - 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.

Just 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
few 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 £5 (plus 75p
for postage) from the
following source:
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.