Thursday, 28 February 2013

HOLY BATMOBILES, ROBIN!



Don't you just love the BATMOBILE?  Doesn't everybody?  I'm
talking about the 1966 Television Batmobile, of course!  There's just
something about its sleek contours which are appealing to the eye.  As
everybody and their granny knows by now, the car was customised by
GEORGE BARRIS from a 1955 FORD LINCOLN FUTURA
especially for the ADAM WESTBURT WARD TV show of
the 1960s, still fondly remembered to this day.

The original Futura was designed by BILL SCHMIDT and
JOHN NAJJAR, and completely hand-built by GHIA in Turin,
Italy, costing $250,000 at the time.  That's a far cry from the $4.62
million dollars that Barris recently sold the original car for, having re-
tained ownership since purchasing it a few years after it was first built.
(For only a dollar, or so legend has it.)  Prior to George acquiring it, the
vehicle had tasted celluloid fame in 1959, when it featured prominent-
ly in the film IT STARTED WITH A KISS, starring DEBBIE
REYNOLDS and CLARK KENT's dad, GLENN FORD.
   
This is a 'snap together' kit by POLAR LIGHTS from a year
or so ago, which usually hangs on my wall.  The surprising thing is,
despite looking like die-cast metal, it's actually made of plastic and is
as light as a feather.  I was dusting it and decided to snap a few photos
and share them with you here.  I doubt you can buy a better model of
the car than this nine inch long one (unless it's the MATTEL ELITE
larger scale diecast version - of which I have two - but that one
doesn't have figures).  Nice, eh?  Generous to a fault I am.



Wednesday, 27 February 2013

MIGHTY MARVEL COVER GALLERY - PART SEVEN...

 
 
Let us now return to the early days of 1973 and the glory that was
THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL in all its multi-faceted mag-
nificence. Just think - THE INCREDIBLE HULK, THE AMAZING
SPIDER-MAN, THE FANTASTIC FOUR, to say nothing of pin-ups,
puzzle pages and piles of powerhouse punch-ups, every week
for a mere and measly 5 new pence. Wow! We never had it so good!
  
It wouldn't (it couldn't) last, of course. As the weeks wore on, the
colour pages dwindled in number, and before its first year was over,
MWOM was quite dull looking in comparison to how it had started
out. But that yet lies ahead of us; for the moment, let us savour the
dynamic delights of Mighty Marvel Magic at its finest while we
recall with nostalgic affection the best years of our lives so very
long ago! Onward!







 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

PART FOUR OF SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY COVER GALLERY...

 
 
Hang loose, heroes - as STAN LEE would (and very often did) say! I
haven't abandoned the SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY cover gallery,
I've merely been waiting for the right moment to unleash upon you the
next cataclysmic chapter in this scintillating series - and here it is!
 
So, enjoy these 1973 presentations  of ol' SPIDEY and THOR, and
their charming coterie of cheerful chums with whom they did battle week
after week, back in the dim and distant days of over 40 years ago. What
do you mean, you weren't there? Are you trying to make me feel old?
Sheesh! Gimme a break, for cryin' out loud. 





 

 
 
 



Monday, 25 February 2013

PART FOUR OF FOOM COVER & IMAGE GALLERY...

 
 
Admit it - you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you? O ye of little faith.
How could I possibly forget the next chapter in the unfolding saga of
FOOM covers and select pages which I lovingly scan and prepare for
your image-hungry eyes, and serve up fresh as the morning dew?
(Although sometimes, I have to confess, in the finest BLUE PETER
tradition, they're ones I prepared earlier.) 
 
The eleventh issue of Marvel's fabulous 'fanzine' featured the
dramatic announcement of the return of JACK KIRBY to MARVEL,
after his five year stint at DC COMICS. Unfortunately, Jack's come-
back was somewhat anti-climactic, and he never quite reached the
former heights of glory he had attained the first time 'round.
 
Anyway, enjoy reliving whatever memories (if any) these pulsating
pictures from the '70s stir up in the myriad mazes of your mind. And
if you weren't around at the time, don't worry - they're still well-worth
savouring in all their cataclysmic glory - even if it's for the very first
time! (After all, it's not your fault you weren't there.) 
  


 







 

THE LONELY MOUNTAIN...

 
 
The mountain in the distance is BEN LOMOND, taken on
Saturday from the top of the street where I once lived back in the
'60s and early '70s. It was clearly visible from my back garden (and
also from my bedroom window if I popped my head out), and as I
said in a previous post, when I first read THE HOBBIT, it was easy
to imagine that Ben Lomond was THE LONELY MOUNTAIN
under which the dragon SMAUG sat on hordes of treasure that
BILBO BAGGINS and his crew hoped to 'liberate'.
 
Isn't imagination wonderful? Anyway, just thought I'd share
the pic with you here. As I was taking it (minutes after leaving a
friend's house), some fat brat on a bicycle called me a rude name as
he whizzed past. I sincerely hope the little b*gger crashed into a
lamppost as he sped away. That's what I'd call instant justice!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

PART FOUR OF THE INCREDIBLE JOHNNY FUTURE...

 
 
Nah, you don't need to read any long-winded waffle from me regarding
the awesome artwork of LUIS BERMEJO on the magnificent JOHNNY
FUTURE strip from the pages of FANTASTIC back in the swinging '60s.
Just enjoy!


DALEK DESIGNER RAYMOND CUSICK PASSES AWAY...

 
 
I've just learned the sad news that RAY CUSICK, designer of
TERRY NATION's iconic mutant monsters THE DALEKS, died
on February 21st at the age of 84. All children owe him a huge debt
for enriching their childhoods with his perfect realisation of DOCTOR
WHO's scary inhabitants of the planet SKARO. Sadly, he never got rich
from his inspired interpretation of Nation's description of the transformed
KALEDS, as he was a BBC employee at the time and it was just another
day's work for him. Apparently he received a £100 bonus as a token of
appreciation from Auntie Beeb, but considering the many millions derived
from Dalek merchandise, it seems they didn't appreciate him as much as
he deserved. Raymond himself never made an issue of it 'though, and
was content merely to be recognised as the designer of the metal-
cased mutants. Mr Cusick is survived by two daughters, seven
grandchildren and several million Daleks.

 
 R.I.P. Raymond Patrick Cusick. 1928 - 2013.

WILL SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE JOHNNY FLAGG A FIGHTING CHANCE...?

 
Front cover to TITAN edition
 
Back in 1989, I bought the MARVEL hardback featuring the FIGHTING
AMERICAN stories by SIMON & KIRBY which had first appeared in the
1950s. Some of the pages had been very obviously touched-up and, in some
cases, re-created by tracing from the published comics. Some captions and
word balloons had been re-lettered also, meaning that the book, 'though
worthy, was hardly archival in nature.
 
Back cover to TITAN edition
 
Then, a couple of years back, over on the Simon & Kirby Museum,
restorer HARRY MENDRYK posted 'before' and 'after' examples of
pages from a new Fighting American reprint book which he was then
working on. There were pictorial comparisons with the earlier book,
and the new presentation looked superior in every way. Sadly, this
doesn't seem to have transferred to the published result.
 
Panel from TITAN edition
 
I managed to pick up a copy of the TITAN BOOKS softcover
edition in my local FORBIDDEN PLANET comics shop recently, and
I have to be honest and say that I found it to be disappointing in certain
respects. Some pages and panels are so murky, and colours so dark,
that the detail is practically invisible underneath. Perhaps the problem
is purely down to the printing, but what's the point of alleged 'faithful'
reproduction of the original line-work if you can't even see it?

Panel from MARVEL edition
 
I can't open the book wide enough to scan complete pages
without creasing the spine, but I can show you a panel from each
volume so that you can see the difference for yourselves. The first
picture, shown before the preceding paragraph, is an example from
the Titan book, followed by the same panel, above, from the Marvel
presentation of the tale. Which one would you say was clearer?
 
Front cover to MARVEL edition
 
Despite the imperfections of the 1989 release, it's a much easier
reading experience and less likely to induce eye-strain and headaches
in those who peruse its pages than the the 2011 Titan volume. So don't
be misled by its claims to superiority over the Marvel book - it would be
a tad hasty to dispense with the earlier edition until a truly superior
version is available to collectors.
 
 Sad to say, that's still to happen. Maybe one day? In the meantime,
I'd say that both volumes are essential items on any serious Simon &
Kirby fan's bookshelf.

Back cover to MARVEL edition
 
FOOTNOTE: I played around with the Titan panel on my computer
and this (below) was the result, so it seems that the murkiness is down
to the way the book was printed rather than the way the pages were
prepared for publication. Hopefully Titan will release a superior,
defect-free edition in the not too distant future.
 
Reworked TITAN panel