Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL CRIV-ITES...

 
 
Never having been an imbiber of alcohol in my life, Hogmanay
is not something I particularly look forward to, except to see the back of it
as quickly as possible and have everything return to normal. More drinking,
more arguing, more fall-outs and more fighting seem to be the order of the
day at this time of year than at any other, and I'm hard-pushed to see why
so many people anticipate the occasion with such enthusiasm.
 
Personally, I'll be in my bed well before the bells, but for those of
you who'll be partying long into the early hours and think I'm a right ol'
misery-guts, just remember that your neighbours, elderly or otherwise, may
be trying to get some much needed sleep, so it wouldn't hurt to show a little
consideration for those who prefer a bit of peace and quiet.
 
Anyway, having nailed my colours to the mast as a grumpy ol'
killjoy, let me wish all of you a Happy (and considerate) New Year.
See you in 2014 when your hangovers have worn off.

  Oh, and one more thing - "Bah, humbug!" 

Monday, 30 December 2013

STINGRAY: THE BURGLARS - FROM TV CENTURY 21 ANNUAL 1966...



I remember it well.  The TV CENTURY 21 ANNUAL for
1966 - loads of them, filling a square, metal wire stand on the ground
floor of KRAZY KUTS in my home town, in August or September of
1965.  I was living in one house when I first saw the annual, and another
by the time I got it for Christmas that year.  I therefore associate it with
both houses, but mainly (perhaps) with the second one, as that was the
one I was living in when I actually got my grubby hands on the book.
I also remember wishing my life away for it with the careless
indifference that only a child can afford.

It all seems rather tame stuff in comparison with today's comics
and annuals, but, at the time, it was the annual to have in 1965, as it
represented the top-selling weekly comic of the day (which sounds like a
contradiction-in-terms, but you know what I mean).  THUNDERBIRDS
was on TV by the time I obtained the annual, but it had been prepared for
publication before the latest GERRY ANDERSON sensation had made
its debut, so STINGRAY was the book's main feature, appearing
in two strips and featuring prominently on the cover.

Here, then, is the first of them - if you want to see more, be
sure to let me know in the comments section.  Same goes if you'd
like to share with the rest of us your own personal reminiscences
associated with this classic annual from yesteryear.






CAUGHT ON CAMERA - DALEK VISITATION...



I was out in the back garden the other afternoon when I heard a
rustling in the undergrowth at the side of the house.  Thinking it was a
fox, I froze, hoping to see Reynard in all his furry glory - but surprise,
surprise, 'twas no fox but rather a DALEK peeping cautiously from the
foliage.  My mistake for tossing some old iron nails into the bushes when
I'd replaced them in the back gate last week, but I hardly expected a Dalek
to be foraging for metal scraps in my back garden.  No doubt his spaceship
was concealed nearby (it's a big garden) and he was looking for parts with
which to effect a minor repair, so I just let him get on with it .  Luckily I was
able to surreptitiously snap a few photos with my concealed lapel camera
before going back into the house, 'cos I know what a disbelieving lot
some of you can be.  He might still be out there for all I know.

What's that, nurse?  It's time for my medicine?  Who are you calling
a little pr*ck?  Oh, I see - you mean the injection?  Okay, fire away.

See you all again when I wake up and they take off these
long-sleeved pyjamas they're fitting me with.  Flubble!


Sunday, 29 December 2013

INTRODUCING CAPTAIN SCARLET...



As CAPTAIN SCARLET stares off into the distance in the best
LITTLEWOODS catalogue tradition (at least he's not in his underpants),
my mind turns back to the late 1960s when the above EP was part of my
family's pooled (and eclectic) record collection.  Whenever I listen to a CD
I now own of this particular mini-album, I'm once again lying on the floor
in front of our ancient cabinet unit containing a record player, with an
assortment of 45 rpm singles scattered all over the carpet.

Funny how certain sights, sounds and smells can transport one back
to a different era, allowing one to relive earlier, long-gone moments from
the past as if they were only yesterday.  Funny but warmly reassuring, and
I wouldn't have it any other way.  What memories spring to the minds of
the rest of you upon sight of this collectable from yesterday?  Feel free
to share your recollections in our scintillating comments section.

Incidentally, this mini-album (and others) are included as
extras in the Complete Captain Scarlet DVD collection.


******

Below, especially for McSCOTTY, is a picture of the PEDIGREE
bendy Captain Scarlet figure mentioned in the comments section.
One sold on eBay in October of 2012 for £285.

Friday, 27 December 2013

ARCHIE COVER GALLERY...



I never really read ARCHIE comics (apart from when he teamed-up
with the PUNISHER), but I was aware of them.  A goodly number of years
back, there was a bunch of them on sale in my local FORBIDDEN PLANET
so I bought 'em, mainly because they reminded me of an earlier era.  Still haven't
read 'em of course, but maybe one day I'll get around to it.  Archie first appeared
in PEP COMICS in 1941, published by MLJ.  There seems to be contention as
to who created him, some sources claiming it was publisher JOHN L. GOLD-
WATER and others that it was BOB MONTANA, although perhaps they
were co-creators in the best STAN LEE/JACK KIRBY tradition. 

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy seeing some examples of when
comicbooks were actually comic-books, so feast your eyes on these
colourful covers, o dedicated seekers after truth.





Thursday, 26 December 2013

IF YOU'VE GOT THE SPACE, THEN HE'S GOT THE TIME...



For all those who enjoyed the TV programme about
how WILLIAM HARTNELL became the very first
DOCTOR WHO, it's now available on DVD.  So, if you
have any belated Christmas gifts still to buy for any
fans of the TIME LORD, your problem is solved!

Anyone else like to see actor DAVID BRADLEY
appear in a few TV specials, relating untold tales of
Hartnell's Doctor? I know I certainly would.  Let's
hope STEVEN MOFFAT reads this blog.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

PERPETUATING THE PLEASURES AND PASTIMES OF THE PAST...


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Funny how things never really change, eh?  (Having said that,
I reserve the right to completely contradict myself in a future post.)
In the 1960s, I was reading The FANTASTIC FOUR in WHAM! and
BATMAN in SMASH! (and watching him on the telly), as well as playing
the Caped Crusader in my homemade Batman suit while running around
the neighbourhood with my pal JOHN FIDLER as ROBIN, The BOY
WONDER.  (No need to wonder - he was a real boy!  And you
can read about those childhood escapades here.)

So what did I treat myself to for Christmas this year?  The JOHN
BYRNE FF OMNIBUS Volume 2 and an ADAM WEST poseable
Batman figure.  Funny how my interests are exactly the same now as they
were when I was a child - or is it?  Adults I know who still drink furtively in
underpasses did the same thing as teenagers (or younger).  A large number
of people tend to perpetuate the pursuits of their youth, so, if you've got
kids, perhaps the best gift you can bestow upon them is to help them
cultivate an interest in worthwhile pastimes for the future.

You know it makes sense.  Sermon over - Merry Christmas.

Image copyright DC COMICS

THE 1970 CHRISTMAS BEANO COVER...

 
 
For those of you kind enough to make time for a visit to this humble
blog on a day which offers so many delights and distractions, the above
cover is specially for you! May all my regular readers (even those without
Google accounts who don't comment any more) have a great Christmas
and an even greater 2014.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

CHRISTMAS SPARKY COVER FROM 1970...

 
 
And another cracking Christmas cover in the countdown to the
25th. Isn't it an atmospheric beauty? C'mon now, who all misses
SPARKY and wishes it was still around? Hands up! One, two,
three, four, five, six, seven...ulp - far too many to count!

Monday, 23 December 2013

BLUE PETER BOOKS COVER GALLERY - PART THREE...



Since doing my previous two posts on the BLUE PETER BOOKS,
I've acquired a few more to round off my collection so thought I'd share
them with you here.  I was never what you would call a regular viewer of
the programme even if I saw enough of them for it to seem so in memory,
but I have a fond affection for the show as it represents part of my
childhood and teenage years.




I only caught the occasional episode after LESLEY JUDD departed
in 1979, but again, it seems in retrospect that I saw more of them than I
actually did, and I must confess to fancying JANET ELLIS (didn't every-
one?) when she joined in 1983.  The Twentieth Book was published in the
25th Anniversary of the show, and I've had a softcover copy of the book for
quite a few years now, which seemed a bit of an anomaly as the others were
in hardback.  I've since discovered that it was a second edition printed by
Scholastic Publications, so I assume it was printed for schools.  (I've
recently obtained a first-print hardback edition as well.)



I now have Books one to twenty, which represents the first twenty-five
years of the programme, and I'll soon have Book forty, which was the last
one ever published in 2011.  The only other one I have is Book twenty-eight,
published in 1998 to celebrate forty years of Blue Peter.  (Oh, and I've got
a Blue Peter stamp album as well.)



"Why not collect them all?" you may be wondering.  Simply because
they mean nothing to me.  The only Blue Peter programmes I've watched
in many a year are the Anniversary shows - and that was only to catch a
glimpse of the presenters from the past who I grew up watching.  Maybe
one day I'll add the few remaining ones published in Anniversary years,
but it's not at the top of my 'things to do' list.  Time will tell, I guess.

  

A DOGGIE TALE...


Zara circa December 1987

I was in the back garden filling my bird feeders the other day (as I
do every day) and, coming in through the porch door, I spied scratches
in the paintwork on the lower part of the exterior of the kitchen door in
front of me.  I'd seen them before, naturally (many times), but so used
to them am I now that they don't really register with me anymore,
so why they did on this occasion I'm not quite sure.

The scratches had been caused by not just one dog, but three.  First,
PRINCE, a mongrel we'd owned back in the early '70s that looked for
all the world like a 'miniature' German Shepherd;  then TARA, an actual
German Shepherd we owned from around the mid-'70s to 1986.  Finally,
ZARA (another German Shepherd), who I'd bought to replace Tara
when her time had come to an end earlier in the same year.

Zara circa 1987

What's interesting 'though, is that we'd moved away from this house
in 1983, when Tara was eight and a half years old.  Tara died three years
later, which is when I got Zara - and a year after that we moved back to
our previous house (as regular readers will be tired of reading).

So what's interesting about that?  Well, the back door of that other
house likewise has scratches from both Tara and Zara (made when they
were seeking re-entry after being out in the garden 'watering' the plants),
so both houses bear the marks of the same two dogs, but, in the case of
this house, made with a four year gap between them.

It had occurred to me a few years back to fill in the scratches, but
now I don't think I'll ever bother.  It's somehow oddly reassuring to
see the 'footprints' of our three dogs still there after all this time (Zara
died fifteen years ago), as fresh as when they were first made.  It's as
if Prince, Tara and Zara are still around in some way.

Tara circa 1984

In fact, sometimes, when the wind is howling late at night, I seem
to hear scratching at the back door and a muffled whining, as if some-
thing is seeking shelter from the elements.  My first thought, of course,
is that my ears are playing tricks on me, but then my curiosity kicks in
and I make my way through to the kitchen to check things out.

Whenever I open wide the door, however, only the inky blackness
of the night beyond stares back at me - but the unmistakable smell of
doggie fur hangs in the midnight air, as if I've only just missed a canine
visitor or three wishing to remind me that their spirits yet linger out
in the garden in case I should ever forget them.

Never, my doggie pals - never.

******

   (I'll add a photo of Prince when I can find one.)

Sunday, 22 December 2013

SPARKY FOR CHRISTMAS...

 
 
For no other reason than it's getting near Christmas, here's a nice
Seasonal scene from the 1973 Yuletide issue of SPARKY, as drawn by
the late, great, BILL RITCHIE. I humbly suggest that it'd be a great
idea for D. C. THOMSON's to utilise such Festive cover illustrations
in a series of Christmas cards and add a few coppers to their coffers.
Remember, you read it here first!!!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

I WOULD WALK 100 TILES...



You're looking at a floor tile from the assembly/dining/gym hall
of my old primary school, which I acquired only yesterday.  Below
is my local newspaper's report on the story behind these mementos
being made available.  I'm fair-chuffed to have yet another tangible
reminder of my soon-to-be demolished old school, especially this
particular tile, #50 - representing the school's 50th year.)

Mementos: Shona Kinloch with daughter Kate and
Margaret Gilberstson with Molly

Thursday, 19 December 2013

ALLY SLOPER #3 - CHRISTMAS ISSUE...

 
 
Continuing our series on DENIS GIFFORD's four issue magazine
from the '70s, here's #3 of ALLY SLOPER, which is rather an apt choice
in the run-up to Christmas. A new, one page FRANK HAMPSON strip was
included, but that profile shot in the second panel demonstrates a weakness
of Hampson's that was evident even in his earlier DAN DARE work. Every-
thing else on the page looks like it was modelled for - except that profile
shot - which may have been posed for, but just doesn't look it.
 
Regarding the LEO BAXENDALE page supposedly drawn specially
for Ally Sloper - it could well have been, and Leo then decided to use it in
one of his WILLY THE KID books. However, there is another possibility,
which is that Denis was perhaps indulging in a bit of hyperbole and Leo had
actually drawn it for Willy and merely let Denis use it. I'd imagine that Bax
would've been far too busy devoting himself to Willy strips to produce free
pages for anyone else, but that may just be the cynic in me talking.
 
Anyway, enjoy the selection of contents from issue #3
from 37 years ago. Scary when you think about it, eh?












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