Monday, 31 March 2014

THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO - COME TO 'LIFE'...



You're looking at the cover of BLAKE BELL's 2008 book,
THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO.  When myself and one of
my pals, MOONMANDO, visited an art gallery recently and saw a
display of giant heads, I remarked that they reminded me of Ditko in
some way, 'though I wasn't quite sure why.  It was regular commenter
McSCOTTY (in response to a post I did of our visit) who pointed
out that the display was reminiscent of the cover of Blake Bell's
book - which I've had in my collection for a good while.

Anyway, Moony played around with a couple of photos he'd
taken of the display, transforming them from colour into black
and white, and also photoshopping the suspending cables out of the
picture.  He's graciously allowed me to reproduce them here and, as
you can see, they're almost like the Ditko illustration brought to life.
I wonder if the display's creator was inspired by the co-creator
of SPIDER-MAN - what do you think?


FROM FANTASTIC TO FUTURE SHOCKS...




Y'know, it's curious how seemingly unrelated things are
connected in some way.  Case in point, the recently deceased
STEVE MOORE, who started his not insignificant career as
an office boy at ODHAMS, and then had a major impact on
British comics over nearly the next fifty years.

At one time (after the demise of WHAM!) my favourite
weekly comic was FANTASTIC, which Steve was involved
with as a teenager, even appearing in a superhero costume (on
the letters page of issue #50) which a reader had designed,
stitched together, and sent in.

Steve also created the THARG'S FUTURE SHOCKS
format for 2000 A.D., and it was one such strip which was
my first professional IPC lettering assignment when I started
freelancing for them at the start of 1985 (having been assured
of work by editor STEVE MacMANUS in '84).

Just think - if Steve Moore hadn't created the format,
there may never have been an opportunity for me to work
for IPC, as it may have been harder for Stevie-Mac to put me
on a strip already being regularly lettered by someone else.  The
individual nature of the Future Shock strips however, allowed
for different contributors per episode, thus giving me an
opening into the comics business.

So, just as I'm grateful  to Steve MacManus for giving
me a chance to work on 2000 A.D. to begin with, I'm just
as grateful to Steve Moore (whom I never met as far as I'm
aware), for creating the series that gave me my break into the
industry, and a fifteen year career working on, amongst
others, IPC's top-selling comic at that time.

As I said - curious how things are connected, eh?

Sunday, 30 March 2014

A DAY OUT IN GLASGOW...



It was quite muggy today, but, undeterred, myself and one
of my pals, the intrepid Moonmando, journeyed into Glasgow's
West End to have a look around Kelvingrove Art Gallery.  So,
for a change of pace, instead of boring you with my usual woeful
waffle, I thought I'd bore you with my insipid images instead.
Considerate to a fault, that's me!

(And count yourselves lucky - I took nearly
twice as many photos as you see here.)


Here's Yogi, sans hat, collar & tie



You could actually step over the balcony and onto the wing
of the Spitfire, but I wouldn't advise it

This reminds me of Steve Ditko's art for some reason





The fourth oldest University in the English-speaking world

Student's Union Bar

Saint Silas' Episcopal Church in the West End


This tenement was burnt-out a few years back
and was left a hollow shell with no floors from top
to bottom.  I used to sneak into the basement while
it was lying empty and just gaze, amazed, at its
cavernous emptiness 

Hopefully these items will be replaced in Kelvingrove Park
at some point in the future

One of the entrances to the back of Park Circus

A back lane in Park Circus

Park Circus - elegant Georgian townhouses.  Looks
like the A-Team are visiting

This building, No. 8, is now private apartments, but was formerly
a Bed & Beakfast called Kelvin Lodge.  Myself and a young lady once
stayed the night in Room 21 on the middle floor, to the left of the
window above the door



Lost - one white cat.  Return to Ernst Stavro Blofeld


Kelvingrove Park

IT'S GOOD TO BE ALIVE...



I saw this video on the FRANKENSTEINIA blog and
quite enjoyed it. Thought you might like it also.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

"KNOW WHAT TOMORROW IS, DUCKY?"



The above strip, from The PENGUIN BOOK Of COMICS,
is the very first The WIZARD Of ID strip I ever saw, back in the
early 1970s.  It gave me such a chuckle that I later bought a couple of
paperback collections of the Wiz's newspaper strips, and very funny
they were too.  I'd highly recommend them to all you Criv-ites.

JOHN BYRNE'S FANTASTIC FOUR COVER GALLERY - PART THREE...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Hard to believe that, with this post, we're almost halfway
through JOHN BYRNE's run on The FANTASTIC FOUR,
one of the 'must read' MARVEL mags of the 1980s.  I must con-
fess to enjoying PAUL RYAN's art on the FF when he eventually
assumed the artistic duties, but I was never as impressed with the
stories as I'd been with some of Byrne's tales.  I'd have loved to
see JB continue scripting the series and Paul Ryan drawing
it - that would've really been something, don't you think?

Anyway, enjoy the covers here and be sure to
rejoin us for another ten in an upcoming post.

This one's another mag I bought before dropping in on Glasgow's
Blue Lagoon for a Fish & Chips tea.  Unfortunately, those particular
premises are now gone, 'though others yet remain in the city centre.





This, I believe, was the first ish of the FF I bought after moving to a
new house in 1983.  What's more, I got it from the shop I used to buy
TV Century 21 on my way to school when I was six.  On the way home
with this mag, I stopped in a park and sat on a huge stone to read it, a
stone that had  been there at least since I was around two years old.
Maybe around ten or so years after stopping to read this ish, the
stone was gone - and with it, yet another part of my childhood




Friday, 28 March 2014

TODAY, I P-P-PICKED UP A PENGUIN (BOOK OF COMICS)...


Cover illustration by Alan Aldridge

Way back in the early '70s, I recall sitting in the Norfolk
Restaurant in my home town with a friend, browsing through
The PENGUIN BOOK Of COMICS - the original 1967 version,
not the 1971 revised edition.  I'd borrowed it from my local library
and, many, many years later, I bought that actual book from them in
one of their regular clear-outs of old stock.  It was a little beat-up
when I acquired it (doubtless the reason why they dispensed
with its services), but I still have it today. 

This morning, however, I took receipt of a far better copy, the
cover of which you can see above.  When this book was first being
prepared, the publishers (PENGUIN, obviously) managed to secure
permission from NATIONAL PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS
to use the image of SUPERMAN on the cover.  They described in
exact detail how the cover was going to look, a deal was
struck and the book was published.

However, when NPP (now known as DC COMICS) saw
it, they weren't too happy and returned the cheque, demanding
ten times more than they had originally asked for.  Penguin refused, 
explaining that they hadn't deviated from their initial cover description
and sent the cheque back, only for it to be returned yet again.  Not one
for giving up easily, Penguin once more sent the cheque to the States,
only to hear nothing of the matter from that point on.  What's more,
the cheque was never cashed - perhaps Superman, champion
of the oppressed, had a word with his publishers.

When the book was reissued in 1971, a brand-new cover was
produced and all the DC Comics illustrations used in the previous
edition were excluded, being replaced by MARVEL COMICS
art.  As you can see, I've included the new cover here so that
you can compare them both.

Anyway, just thought I'd show off the latest edition to my
bookshelf, which I acquired for a mere £1.20.  (The book, not
the bookshelf.)  Wotta bargain, I'm sure you'll agree.

Cover illustration by Bob Smithers, based
on design by George Perry

The beat-up library copy - purchased
for 65p in 1994

The 1989 reprint of the '71 edition

DRAWING A TEDDY BEAR? IT'S A PICNIC...



The first thing I remember ever drawing was a teddy bear.  It
was a photo of a 'special offer' teddy on the back of a packet of
KELLOGG'S CORN FLAKES, back in 1964.  I carefully cut out
the teddy and smuggled him into school one day in my satchel.  I was
fifteen at the time - - and, yes, you're right, I'm pulling your leg
about my age.  Just checking to see if you're paying attention.

Actually, I was only five, which some people may consider as
still too old to be interested in teddies, but this was fifty years ago
remember, when kids were kids and not the chain-smoking, binge-
drinking, coke-snorting, sex-obsessed little hooligans they seem to be
today.  Anyway, using the cardboard cut-out as a stencil, I drew around
it and recorded the outline on a sheet of paper.  Then it occurred to me
that it would be a simple enough task to supply the details within
the outline, which was composed mainly of circles.

I then realised that the head, ears, body, arms and legs, like-
wise consisted of circles, and that I could easily draw them without
recourse to the 'stencil'.  Voila!  I drew Ted quite a few times before
graduating to other subjects.  After all, drawing something seemed to
 be a simple matter of copying shapes in front of you onto a piece
of paper, which I found to be an easy enough thing to do.

So, whaddya know!  Next thing I knew, I had developed a
reputation for being a 'good drawer'.  Incidentally, the ted at the
top of this post is a stand-in.  The original's arms didn't extend
quite so far from his body.  Still, cute little fella, eh?

Thursday, 27 March 2014

PUTTING THE CHEF IN THE PICTURE...



Back when I was a full-time professional comics contributor,
I dined out every evening at various local eateries.  In one of those
establishments, the head chef was an English chappie named STEVE,
and one night he asked me if Id do a caricature of him that he could give
as a present to his mother whom he was shortly due to visit in his home
town.  If I recall correctly after all these years, he sat at my table while I
drew a preliminary pencil pic, which I then took home, copied onto an
A4 sheet then inked and also coloured.  (But not before I'd made
a photocopy of the black and white original.)

I saw him on his return and he told me his mother was extremely
pleased with the pic, but he then said something which quite startled
me.  Apparently, his two young nephews had visited his mother during
his stay and recognised my name.  He confirmed to them when asked
that I was indeed the very Robson who contributed to 2000 A.D.,
which happened to be their favourite weekly comic, and they were
well-impressed that one of THARG's droids ate in the actual
restaurant in which their uncle worked.

Even 'though I was merely bathing in the reflected glory of 'the
galaxy's greatest comic', I was fair chuffed that two strangers who
lived hundreds of miles away even knew who I was - and I was even
more pleased when Steve told me that they had asked him to inform
me that I was their favourite lettering artist.  Anyway, I didn't charge
Stevie-boy for his caricature, but I got a couple of free meals out
of it as a 'thank you' for my efforts.

And, in a way, I'm still 'dining out' on that pic
today, as you've all just read for yourselves.

FINAL PART (SIX) OF KEN REID'S JASPER THE GRASPER...



Alas, alack!  Stop the clocks and rend your garments, for misery
is surely upon us.  'Tis with immense sadness (and, paradoxically, an
equal measure of pride) that CRIVENS! herewith presents, for your
personal perusal, the very last JASPER The GRASPER two-page strip
from the whimsical pages of WHAM! #47, cover-dated May 8th 1965.
Drawn by the incomparable KEN REID, no artist who followed him
on a strip ever drew it better (and often not even as good) than
the mighty Ken himself.

But dry your tears, for there is gladness in the midst of sadness.
You now have all six episodes (that's twelve full pages) to linger o'er
lovingly whenever the mood takes you.  And I have once again fulfilled
my self-appointed task to share the very best of British and American
comics with all you lilting lovers of comic strip culture.

You might consider leaving a comment expressing
 gallons of gratitude.  You know how insecure I am.

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