Saturday, 31 March 2012

PART FIVE OF FANTASTIC COVER GALLERY...



Now it's time for our regular trip back into the past for a look at another half-dozen issues of FANTASTIC front covers - along with their back-page pin-ups. If you were around when these comics first went on sale, you'll have a blast revisiting your yesterdays - if not, then just enjoy the pretty pictures. See? What more could anyone ask? There's something for everyone on this blog. Only another fifty-nine to go.











Friday, 30 March 2012

THE BEST DAYS OF OUR LIVES...


A 1988 view of my old school from the top of the street where
I once lived

I managed to arrange access to one of my old primary schools with
a representative of the local educational authorities a few weeks back.
I wanted to record it for posterity before it's demolished, which is due
to happen in the not too distant future.  The school lay empty, the pupils
having transferred to a new building on the corner of one of the football
pitches at the far side of the playground.  I had complete access to every
corner of the original building, and I have to admit that it was quite an
emotional experience to revisit the scene of what had once been such
familiar territory on a daily basis for five years of my childhood.

The corridor outside the headmaster's office.  His door is the one
on the right

I remember my very first day there, standing in the corridor with
my father (just outside the janitor's room) along from the headmaster's
office, awaiting his auguste presence so that I could be 'processed' and
thence delivered to my first classroom.  Another boy was also present and
my father enquired as to why.  Turns out he had found a ten shilling note
and was waiting to hand it in.  "You don't want to be late for your classes,"
my father said to him.  "Give it to me and I'll pass it on, and you can get
along to your room."  The boy did so, and was thus not only robbed of a
legitimate excuse for missing the start of lessons, but also recognition
for his honesty and any possible reward ensuing from it.  I still feel
bad for him to this day, 47 years later.
 
Room 7 - my first classroom at my new school

When the headmaster had finished overseeing the daily influx
of pupils, he came along to his office and my father duly transferred
the ten shillings into his custody - and me along with it.  We were invited
into his sanctum sanctorum to complete my official registration and it was
there that I witnessed something I had never seen before and which I can't
see (or do) now without thinking back to that day so many years ago.  As
he was speaking, he folded a piece of foolscap paper in half and then used
a ruler to slit the sheet up the middle into two A5 sections.  To me, this
was comparable to witnessing the invention of the wheel.  Why had
such a simple, obvious (and effective) means of paper partitioning
never occurred to me?

The stage in the dining and gym hall

Anyway, touring 'round my old school was rather a bittersweet
experience.  On one hand, it was almost as if I'd never left, what with
familiar visions of the past springing out at me from the very walls;  on the
other, it was rather depressing to see the state of dilapidation the building
had been allowed to fall into since the prospects of a new school were first
mooted.  There'd been a few changes over fairly recent years, but nothing too
major to obscure the welcome glimpse into yesteryear.  Pupils from another
school will soon be using the building until their new one is completed, and
then I'm afraid it's 'curtains' for my old childhood friend - it's possibly got
another year and a half at most before it's demolished.  Having served
the community so well for 50 years, it's about to be wiped off the
face of the map as if it never existed - a sad fate indeed.

The other end.  The kitchen is behind the shutters on the right

However, the school will endure - in name, in memory, in photo-
graphs - and also in the hearts of those who once walked its hallowed
halls and corridors in the halcyon days of their childhood.  Remember
when your parents told you that you'd one day look back on your school
years as the best days of your life and you thought they were mental?
Turns out they were right after all.

View of the football pitches.  This scene was eventually obscured
by opaque safety glass

FOOTNOTE:  Incidentally, the photos displayed here are not the
ones I took recently.  I decided to use ones taken back around 1986 and
1988 because the school was practically exactly as had been in my day
and was in a much better condition than in subsequent years.

View from the playground.  The stairway windows have started to be
replaced with reinforced, opaque glass.  Over the years, the classroom
windows on this side would likewise be obscured

******

For a similar self-indulgent, rambling reminiscence, click here.

PART TWO OF THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN...



Okay, peeps - here's the second part of the origin of IRON MAN
from TALES OF SUSPENSE #39. You have to hand it to STAN LEE's
brother, LARRY LIEBER - he sure could deliver a well-crafted script.
'Twas he who came up with names like ANTHONY STARK, HENRY
PYMDON BLAKE, URU and probably a whole host of others. Let's
hear it for Larrupin' Larry Lieber - he's one of the good ones. 





Thursday, 29 March 2012

THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN - PART ONE...



Oh, you lucky people. Scanned from my very own copy and for your
eyes only, the origin of the INVINCIBLE IRON MAN from TALES
OF SUSPENSE #39. So, join us now as millionaire weapons inventor
ANTHONY STARK has his life changed forever - and is transformed
into a man of iron.








Part Two coming soon.

NEVER SAY NEVER - EVER, EVER AGAIN...



When NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN came out in 1983, SEAN
CONNERY hadn't played JAMES BOND 007 since the 1971 movie
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER 12 years earlier. It's therefore somewhat
startling to realise that Never Say Never Again is now almost 30 years old,
because the period of time 'twixt then and now doesn't seem anywhere near
as long to me as the 12 years preceding it. A dozen years seeming longer
than 29? How can such a paradox be? Regular readers will know that I
often theorize, soliloquise and agonise over such time discrepancies,
but relax - that isn't the purpose of this post. So what is?

I was doing a little tidying up today and came across a card-
board standee I acquired from a once-local record & video shop, and
which used to adorn a wall of my room back in the mid-'80s. The movie
had just been released on video (remember them?) and this was one of the
ads used to promote the fact in stores across the country. The shop manager
didn't have space for it so kindly enquired if I wanted it, knowing that I was
a Bond fan. He didn't have to ask twice. At first it sat on top of my portable
television before being promoted to the wall, the better to protect it from
being damaged should it inadvertently be knocked from its
precarious perch atop the telly.

Despite all the hype of Connery returning to the role, Never Say
Never Again took a good gubbing from OCTOPUSSY at the box office,
proving the folly of releasing it at the same time as the 'official' EON Bond
movie. It also demonstrated that, at least in the minds of the general public,
ROGER MOORE was the 'real' Bond and Connery the pretender - which
must have been a bit of a slap in the kipper to the man who had established
the part. After fulfilling his contractual obligations to promote the movie,
Connery subsequently spoke dismissively of it - basically describing it
as a piece of sh*t that he wishes he had never been involved with.
Hell hath no fury like a 'luvee' scorned, eh?

Anyway, I thought I'd share the ad with you here, what with it being
a lovely piece of art and all. Now all I have to do is find a space for it on
my wall again - and work out why I ever took it down in the first place.

So...who was your favourite James Bond - and why?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

BAR SIX - THE BEST BAR NONE?



The last time I recall eating a Cadbury's BAR SIX was
sometime in the late '80s or so.  I remember my maternal grand-
parents used to have a stock of them (and other chocolate bars)
when I was a child and I probably first tasted one at their house
on one of our weekly Sunday visits in the late '60s.

Am I correct in thinking there was a hint of CARAMAC
about the taste?  Regardless, they always went down well with a
cuppa.  Cadbury's should bring them back at once.  Anyone else
agree?  Speak up at the back there! 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

FIREBALL XL5 AND THE MOON MASTERS...



Published nearly 50 years ago in January of 1964, GOLD KEY's
STEVE ZODIAC AND THE FIREBALL XL5 comic is an interesting
little one-shot. Of all the many puppet programmes produced by GERRY
ANDERSON, Fireball XL5 was the only one to be shown on network
television in America, making it perhaps the most successful of all
Anderson's shows in the States.


The comic contains two stories, believed to have been written
by PAUL S. NEWMAN and drawn by MEL CRAWFORD, 'though
PAUL NORRIS and FRANK SPRINGER have also been suggested.
The stunning cover is by GEORGE WILSON, who some think may
have been the cover artist of at least three of the four issues of the
SUPERCAR comic by the same publisher.


As I said, this was a one-shot. It's just a shame that the comic didn't
continue as a series. At least we can content ourselves with the stunning
MIKE NOBLE Fireball XL5 artwork from TV CENTURY 21, which
has recently been reprinted in a series of hard and softcover albums
by REYNOLDS & HEARN and SIGNUM BOOKS.


Anyway, enjoy the first story in the comic, THE MOON
MASTERS, and click here to folow Steve Zodiac as he goes on
the TRAIL OF THE TRAITOR.













You didn't think I'd forget the cover? Shame on you.