Wednesday, 27 July 2011

YOU GOTTA HAVE HOPE...


The one and only Bob Hope
 October 13th, 1984
That was the day I ful-
filled my ambition of
drinking in a pub called
THE RED LION. (Okay,
it was only a Coke, but
it still counted.) I had
always wanted to do so
since reading the name
in THE WIND IN THE
WILLOWS many years
before, when MR TOAD
had sauntered into a pub
of the selfsame title and
ended up stealing a
motorcar.

Not that I had the
intention of doing
anything similar
('though I could've
nabbed an ashtray as a memento if I'd wanted to) - it's just that there was some-
thing about the name that appealed to me. It conjured up images of  old world
charm, of another era when things seemed simpler and more pure. Ruddy faced
'gentlemen' crouched 'round a roaring fire, quaffing from flagons of ale held non-
chalantly in their weather-beaten hands, as coachmen and travellers, filled and
fortified, prepared to embark on the next leg of their journey.

I repeated the feat two or three years later, when I had lunch with the
assistant editor of IPC's BUSTER in a Red Lion pub just across from
Downing Street in London. That was still in the future however; for now
the heady rush that came from watching JOHN LOWE score the first-ever
televised nine-dart finish in history (on another pub's TV later that evening),
and then meeting the legendary BOB HOPE before attending his show
at THE EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE an hour or so afterwards.

I met Bob again in 1994 at THE GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT
HALL, and had my photograph taken with the great man and his wife. I
have his autograph several times over, on records, books, magazines and
photos. Above is the one he sent me a few weeks before his concert in
Edinburgh on that magical and eventful night back in 1984.

THE STEADY STRANDS OF SUN - PHEW!

 
Art by Neal Adams
The past few days
have been of the gloriously
warm, sunny, summer kind
that we imagine all our child-
hood summers to have been
like, and as I stepped off the
train from Glasgow early
yesterday evening with
THE DEADLY HANDS
OF KUNG FU #12 in my
possession (bought from a
back issue shop in the city),
my mind drifted back to a
similar gloriously warm,
sunny, summer late after-
noon of 36 years before,
when - as a mere freckle-
faced teenager - I had first
purchased my original
copy of this black and
white magazine.

I had also obtained the very first MONSTER FUN Holiday Special
at the same time. (IPC were quick off the mark releasing this one, because
the weekly publication had only been out for a very short period - a matter
of weeks, in fact.) I remember that it reprinted the very first SAM'S SPOOK
strip by LEO BAXENDALE, which first appeared in SMASH! in Jan/Feb
of 1971. It still sported the "starts today" blurb on the top left-hand side of
the logo, no doubt the result of an editorial oversight as such blurbs were 
usually removed from out-of-sequence reprintings.

(NOTE: My memory of this was confirmed when, a week after typing
the above, I managed to obtain a back issue of this comic also. The
cover and Sam strip have been inserted below. Click to enlarge.)


Art by Rudy Nebres
Back in 1975, a friend had been
with me when I acquired these two
publications, bought at some stage
on a day out to Glasgow. When we
got back, I accompanied him (still
clutching my comics) as he visited
his sister's parents-in-law, who
resided not too far from the house
I'd lived in when Sam's Spook first
made his debut, and from which my
family had moved only three years
before (1972). It's because of this
that I associate these comics with
my previous neighbourhood just
as much as I do with my then
(and still) current one. Funny
thing, memory, eh?

Art by George Perez, Rico Rival, and
The Tribe
I'd bought this ish mainly for
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN
GUN cover art and article, having
seen (with the same friend) ROGER
MOORE's second 007 movie not too
long before. (It had its U.K. premiere
on 19th Dec '74, but my local cinema
didn't screen it until sometime in '75.)
Reading it again for the first time in
nearly 40 years, was surprised by
how much of it I remembered - even
down to actual paragraphs. The mag
also had SHANG-CHI, MASTER
OF KUNG FU and SONS OF
THE TIGER, with art by RUDY
NEBRES and GEORGE PEREZ,
plus a BOND pin-up by the
 great GRAY MORROW.

Art by Gray Morrow
I often think back fondly to
that particular summer day - and
many another day from long ago
also. (Perhaps I may even have
warm recollections of yesterday
in the years to come - I hope I've
got at least another 50 ahead of
me, optimistic as that may be.)
Little did I then realize that my
friendship with the pal I'd known
since I was 7 would  barely last
another six years, but such is
life - something to look forward
to in blissful ignorance of what
may happen, and to look back
on in fond reminiscence (hope-
fully) of what did.

I hope all your summers turn out to be gloriously
warm and sunny - even if only in memory.

Friday, 22 July 2011

BATMAN - WITH ACCESSORIES...



Above is an extremely rare LOUIS MARX BATMAN figure
from the 1960s. I had two of them (at different times) when I was a
kid, and have very happy memories of playing with them, especially
the second one I received for Christmas in 1966 or '67. (Could
even have been '68.)

Marx had a soldier figure out at the same time (in fact, I believe
it predated the Batman one), which, funnily enough, had the exact
same face (minus the black mask - a sticker - on the face in the
above photograph.)

I had a great time dressing 'little Bruce' up in his various pieces
of equipment and subjecting him to all sorts of imaginary ordeals and
adventures. (I've just realized how pervy that sentence sounds, so I'll
deny it in court. Someone please tell me I wasn't the only one.)

Incidentally, despite the claim on the card, the only thing about
Batman's legs that moved were his boots, which turned at the join
from left to right - or all the way 'round if you preferred. Hardly
what one would call fully-articulated.

Anyway, if you were fortunate enough to have had one of
these figures as a kid, here's a look back into the past - happy
reminiscencing. (If you didn't, this is what you missed.)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

YOU'LL BE THUNDER-STRUCK...


Issue #1

Issue #2
One of my favourite comics as
a boy was THUNDER, containing
such gems as ADAM ETERNO,
STEEL COMMANDO, BLACK
MAX, GAUNTLET OF FATE,
and various others, including a
couple of one-page humour strips.
Looking back at my collection, over
40 years later, I'm surprised by how
boring the covers were - perhaps
the most effective were issues 2 &
3 - and it was probably the comic's
inability to stand out on the news-
agent's counter which contributed
to its remarkably short lifespan
of only 22 issues.


 
Issue #3
Thunder's most impressive strip
was undoubtedly Adam Eterno,
the man who couldn't die - unless
struck a fatal blow by an object
made of solid gold. (So a glancing
blow on the back of his head from
a gold-plated cigarette lighter was
hardly going to bring him down.)
Adam survived for quite a few
years, first when Thunder was
absorbed by LION, and then when
Lion was merged with VALIANT -
before disappearing into comics
limbo and the fond memories of
former readers lucky enough to
have caught this short-lived
comic thunderclap.

Below: The first-ever instalment of Adam Eterno from Thunder #1.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

NOTHING SUCCEEDS LIKE SUCCESS...

 
Art by Ian Gibson
 
I've just watched a programme called SCOTLAND'S AMAZING
COMIC BOOK HEROES on TV. How nauseating to see a particular
ex-editor gush sycophantically about one of two currently high-profile
writers he once described to me as "a couple of pretentious w*nkers!"
when they contributed to the comic on which he used to work. Funny
how those who never had a good word to say about someone suddenly
change their tune when the person becomes famous and successful -
especially if there's 5 minutes screen time on the telly to be had.

And why was PAT MILLS, the creator of 2000 A.D., 'airbrushed'
from the comic's history and not given a mention? (Apart from the
fact that he's not Scottish that is?)

Friday, 8 July 2011

THE CAMPY CAPED CRUSADER GOES WEST...


Adam West as THE BATMAN 

Yeah, don't worry about the title - it doesn't make much sense.
(Grabbed your attention 'though, didn't it?) Look at the above photo - I
can't help but think that it actually goes some way in capturing the dark
and mysterious aspect of BATMAN as he was originally envisioned. It
makes me wonder what the result would have been had the TV Producers
decided to go down that avenue instead of the one they ultimately chose.
Would it have been as successful as it was? Who knows? One thing's for
sure, however - the childhoods of  kids in the '60s would have been
markedly different. Anyone got any thoughts on the matter?
 
Adam's screen test costume

Monday, 4 July 2011

ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR...


Artwork by Jack Kirby

Due to be released any time soon is the above little beauty.
Keep an eye out for it and if you see it before I do, give me
a shout. Just love that cover!