Thursday, 31 January 2013

PART TWO OF SCHOOLTIME SCANDALS...


I don't have a photo of Kim, so you'll have to settle for one
of Caroline Munro

Her name was KIM, a stunning-looking girl with long hair and a body
more shapely than any 15 year old female had a right to - definitely far
too curvaceously-endowed for her age. Don't be alarmed - you haven't
stumbled into a perverts' paradise by mistake. I too was only 15 at the
time, and consequently offer my observations of her feminine charms
from that perspective and not of the 'middle-aged' man I am today.

All the boys fancied Kim, some secretly, some far more obvious
in their eager appreciations. Her 'goddess' effect, unfortunately, was
somewhat compromised whenever she opened her mouth, because -
in today's parlance - she was a bit of a 'laddette', whose foul tongue
could strip wallpaper at fifty paces.

So, in the absence of anything else to write about, I thought I'd
share with you just how Kim 'ruined' my reputation with my teachers
at school, although I was unaware of it until some time after the fact.
(Don't get excited - it's not as interesting or as lurid as it sounds.)

The school hall, old block

One day, in Mr MILLAR's maths class, a handful of pupils found
themselves needing to sharpen their pencils at the start of the lesson.
I was one of them, the stunning Kim another. Unfortunately, however,
the pencil-sharpener affixed to the top of a floor cupboard next to the
blackboard wasn't working, so Mr Millar took us through to the class
behind ours by means of an adjoining door at the back of the room.

I had finished sharpening my pencil and was heading back through
to my class when curvy Kim, who had been standing against the wall
near the door, pushed me as I passed. Ever the gentleman who knew
how to treat a 'lady', I promptly pushed her right back. "F**K OFF!"
she roared, in a growl that would've put a navvy to shame. I was just
resuming my seat when a clearly stunned Mr Millar came through the
adjoining door, fixed me with his accusing eye, and said "Was that
you?" Thinking he was asking if it was me who had pushed a 'mere'
girl, I replied "She pushed me first!"

He was having none of it. Out came the tawse and I was duly belted
two or three times. (I must here boastfully confess to being the best at
'taking the belt' in the whole school. While guys twice my size doubled
over in agony at each stroke, howling in pain, I stared my teachers right
in the eye and received each lash without flinching or uttering a sound.)
It was so on this occasion, and Mr Millar was doubtless deflated by his
inability to elicit any kind of response from me other than a sneery half-
smile at his seeming impotence at administering corporal punishment.

Ground floor corridor, old block

It was all a sham on my part, of course. Inside I was screaming like
a demon and my palms were on fire, but I was too proud to ever let it
show. When I think of the times I was belted for no good reason, I rather
suspect that some teachers saw it as a challenge to see who could be the
first to demolish my resolve. They were all doomed to equal failure
and disappointment.

Anyway, I digress. Some weeks later, Mr McLAUGHLIN, one of
the Tech teachers, was regaling me with a list of my faults (as he perceived
them) and included "Swearing in Mr Millar's class!" amongst his catalogue
of alleged misdemeanours. I almost did a double-take. Until then, I thought
I had been belted for pushing Kim, not swearing. It just goes to show what
a growl she had, if a teacher could mistakenly attribute her outburst to
a boy rather than the girl responsible for it.

(To digress again for a moment: I had once drawn Mr Millar on the
back of my maths jotter, and was struck by how much he resembled a
WAYNE BORING drawing. I don't just mean that the portrait looked like
Wayne Boring had drawn it - I mean that Mr Millar actually looked as if he
were the real-life model for one of comicdom's finest artists. Whenever I
saw him thereafter, I couldn't help but think of Wayne Boring. Even the
folds in his jacket looked as if they were by WB. Uncanny, but true.)

Stair sign, old block

Right, where were we? I have to be honest and say that this example
of injustice always bothered me down through the years. I occasionally
ran into Mr Millar (who was nicknamed 'Buttonheid' by his disrespectful
students), and even sometimes spoke with him when I did, but it wasn't
until over three decades later that, compelled to set the record straight,
I broached the subject when our paths crossed one day and attempted
to clear my mistakenly-maligned name.

"Well, if you didn't deserve the belt that time, doubtless you did
another time!" was his response, completely missing the point that
my reputation had been unfairly tarnished by another's actions. Younger
readers, never having experienced corporal punishment, should be aware
that, back in the days to which I refer, it wasn't uncommon for an entire
classroom to be belted for the misbehaviour of a single person when the
teacher was unable to determine who the culprit was. So, if one ned threw
an eraser at the blackboard when the teacher was writing on it with his
back to the class, unless the miscreant admitted his crime, everyone
was punished for it.

Thing is, it's only recently occurred to me that Kim may have pushed
me simply to attract my attention, in that "I like you, so I'll pretend I don't
like you!" sort of way. Who knows what might've happened if indeed that
was the motivation behind her action. Given her voice 'though, I'm not sure
if I missed the chance of some titillating 'tonsil-hockey' or escaped a fate
worse than death. Just imagine a woman who looks like TULISA, but
with a voice like BLUTO from POPEYE - would you? Could you?

Anyway, I've publicly put the record straight and finally righted
a nearly 40 year-old miscarriage of justice. Now where do I apply
for compensation?

******

For Part One of Schooltime Scandals, click here.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

PART FOUR OF MIGHTY MARVEL COVER GALLERY...

 
 
Come with me now on a voyage of discovery as we return to an
earlier era; when the sky was bluer, the air was purer, and we were
all eager adventurers in the enchanted and magical kingdom of
childhood that we thought was ours forever.
 
Or, if you prefer a less fanciful way of putting it, let's take a
look back at THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL in the month
of December in the year 1972. JIM STARLIN is still producing the
covers of this new weekly periodical, which is yet only a couple of
months old in its seven year existence before being renamed in
1979. (MARVEL COMIC, in case you were wondering.) 
 
The Big JOHN BUSCEMA illustration (2nd pic below) is a
preview of the free poster awarded to readers who mutilated their
comics by cutting out the tokens every week to send away for it.
Trust me, the poster was more vivid and far sharper in colour
and detail than the preview would suggest.
 
So, previews, pin-ups, and puzzle pages! What more could
any Merry Marvelite ask for? Stories? Don't worry, it had those
as well. What a bargain for only 5 pence. Now excuse me while
I slobber over that pic of SUSAN STORM - I'm in lurv!
 
Don't miss Part Four! 
 
 







Tuesday, 29 January 2013

'UNSEEN' T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS...

 
 
Well, more-than-likely unseen if you're an American reader, probably
unseen if you're a British one younger than 30. Back in 1986, a new comic
hit the shelves of U.K. newsagents - T.H.U.N.D.E.R. ACTION. 'Limited
Edition' screamed the cover, and it was limited - it only lasted a mere four
issues - but I don't think that's what the claim was intended to refer to.
 
 
The comic presented reprints of WALLY WOOD's T.H.U.N.D.E.R.
AGENTS, which I assume were unauthorised as they were printed direct
from scans of the original comics, in a style similar to THE TITANS and
SUPER SPIDER-MAN from MARVEL U.K. (This consisted of printing
two U.S. pages side by side on one U.K. page.) Other material was presented
in the traditional way however, so it was published as an 'upright' mag,
not an actual 'landscape' one.
 
 
Amongst the new material over the four-issue run were two stories
featuring DYNAMO and one with NOMAN. The first one was in black
and white, so I've posted them out of sequence as I wanted to grab your
attention with a colour page. Anyway, if you're a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. fan, you
might enjoy seeing these little known adventures from 1986. So, without
any further ado, let's return to a time when I was exactly half the age I
am now. (And believe me, that makes me feel very ancient indeed.)
 
For further info on this short-lived series, click here.
 
 



 

Sunday, 27 January 2013

ON THE SCENE - PART TWO: THE PHANTOM...

 
 
Back in July of last year, I posted the first part of ON THE SCENE
Presents (The) SUPER HEROES, a 1966 one-shot (I think) magazine by
WARREN which took a look at screen adaptations of various well-known
super characters. Well, I guess it's time for Part Two (remember, I did say
it was an occasional series), so here, for your viewing pleasure, is the
enigmatic and phantasmagorical PHANTOM. Enjoy!




 
For Part One, click here. Next time - SUPERMAN!

TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DIE...

 

When you're young, you have absolutely no concept of never having
existed. On an intellectual level (if you ever felt disposed to consider the
matter), you know there was a time when you weren't around, but you
can't truly conceive of what it must've been like because non-existence
is a difficult if not impossible state to imagine.
 
Think of any period in mankind's history from before you were
born; the Old West, the Victorian Era, the 1920s or '30s - whatever.
Even 'though you never experienced them, you almost feel as if you
have, thanks to history books, old photographs, artists' impressions, TV
shows, movies, etc. And because you can't remember your beginning,
it seems as if you never actually had one and that you've been around
forever. At least, that's what it seems like to me.

Consequently, when I was a teenager of 14, I subconsciously
laboured under the impression that I had always been. (Although the
same perception also applies to any point in my childhood from when
I first became aware of my surroundings.) It's unlikely that I was alone
in that regard, and it's surely the same for 14 year-olds today. It's only
because fourteen years to someone of my age passes so quickly that I
finally realized just how inconsequential such a period of time actually
is. I've got things lying around the house which have never been out
of the wrappers since I bought them that are older than that.

As you inexorably inch closer to that time when the condition of non-
existence threatens to once again engulf you, it's a prospect you tend to
contemplate far more than you did (if at all) in your younger days. Finally,
you begin to be able to nearly catch a glimmer of what extinction might
be like, and the prospect isn't a pleasant one. I remember waking up in
hospital one day after a procedure which required my unconsciousness,
and was alarmed to find I had no recollection of even a half-sleep-like
state in between being knocked out and coming to.

As I said, no half-remembered thoughts, vague dreams, or hovering on
the edge of awareness to connect me to my pre-anaesthetised self - only
an absolute absence of even the slightest sense of continuity between the
two conditions. It was then that I realised what oblivion must be like. It was
as if I'd been dead for however many hours I'd been out, and, although my
body was still functioning, as far as my mind was concerned, there was no
discernible difference between death and unconsciousness.

So, death is not merely a case of not waking up, it's also not
even being aware of going to sleep or being asleep at any stage in the
process. Shakespeare was wrong; there are no dreams in the sleep of
death, only a blackness and silence from which we never awaken -
an eternal nothingness, an everlasting night.

 That's no doubt why I often find myself wishing I was only 14
again. The illusion of no beginning (and, by extension, no ending),
while temporary, is a comforting and necessary notion, otherwise we'd
probably abandon our journey before we were very far into it. After
all, what's the point of taking a road to nowhere?

Come to think of it, I wouldn't even mind being half that age. Now,
if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to work on that elixir of life I'm
developing. I just can't afford to relax if I want to be here in 2113.

******

We are but older children, dear,
Who fret to find our bedtime near.

Lewis Carroll.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

THE 1973 FOOM KIT...



In just over a fortnight, it will be (gasp) forty years since MIGHTY
MARVEL unleashed their brand-new frantic fan club upon the waiting
world. Those who became a Friend Of Ol' Marvel back in February
1973 received various goodies along with the first ever issue of FOOM
magazine. There was a giant-sized poster by JIM STERANKO, a half
dozen or so FOOM labels, and a gold-backed membership card, which
all came in a specially designed envelope featuring the HULK.

For those who weren't lucky enough to be around at the time, or
who weren't smart enough to hold onto their own classic collectable
kit, here's a pictorial presentation of what was included. You can
see the cover of the first magazine by clicking here
   


 

Friday, 25 January 2013

JOURNEY INTO SWIPERY...


Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #83, page 8, panel 1

Every artist has (or should have) a reference file. This usually consists
of a collection of photos and illustrations of just about every item or scene
imaginable. It can contain previous drawings by the artist and also even
the drawings of others - which is why it's also called a 'swipe' file, because
it provides the working illustrator with material from which he can copy if
his imagination (or knowledge of the subject) is a little lacking.

It may surprise readers to learn that very few (if any) artists can sit
down at their drawing boards and draw just about anything off the top of
their head or at the drop of a hat. Even those who seemingly do so are
often drawing (pun intended) upon their experience of having drawn
something before which they first had to meticulously research and
have now consigned to memory.

Even artists of note like WALLY WOOD and JACK KIRBY swiped
from time to time from artists who had preceded them, like HOGARTH
and FOSTER. The renowned JOE SINNOTT, famous inker of many of
MARVEL's top pencillers - and an illustrator of no mean accomplishment
in his own right - occasionally swiped when he was performing sole
drawing chores on THE MIGHTY THOR back in the '60s.

Joe drew five Thor adventures for JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY
(91, 92, 94-96) and not only swiped from Jack Kirby, but even himself. I
thought it might be fun to look at the various panels that were 'inspired'
by ones in previous stories. Some are direct copies, others have been
tweaked (and flipped), but their sources are still all-too apparent.

The examples which follow result from a casual browse through
the stories themselves and are by no means exhaustive (in fact, I've
since seen one or two others), so feel free to look through the issues
yourself (if you have them) and see which ones you can spot.

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #91, page 12, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #94, page 12, panel 5

*******

Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #83, page 10, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #92, page 10, panel 6

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95, page 4, panel 7

******

Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #85, page 6, panel 3

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #94, page 10, panel 2

******

Art by Jack Kirby (?)/Steve Ditko. JIM #88,
page13, panel 5

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #91, page 1, panel 4

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #94, page 5, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95, page 2, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #96, page 2, panel 1

******

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #91, page 11, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95, page1, panel 6

******

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #91, page 13, panel 3

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #92, page 11, panel 2

******

Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #93, page 3, panel 7.
(This panel looks like a patch)

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #96, page 8, panel 3

******

Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #86, page 12, panel 5

Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #91, page 9, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95, page 10, panel 7

******

Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #86, page 11, panel 6

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95 page 2, panel 3

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95, page 13, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #96, page 2, panel 3