Thursday, 22 January 2015


Whenever I first read a book, the images that form in my head
are indelible.  Even if I re-read the book twenty years later, the exact
same imagery is conjured up in my mind as before - although sometimes
a more careful contemplation of the text might reveal that what I'd en-
visioned was perhaps not in perfect accord with the mental picture the
writer was trying to paint.  (It's usually pretty close 'though.)

What do I mean exactly?  If a writer's description of a location is
similar enough to one I'm familiar with, then that's where I'll think of
whenever I read the associated piece of text.  KENNETH GRAHAME's
WILD WOOD (from The WIND In The WILLOWS) is an amalgam,
to me, of two different woods in two different neighbourhoods where I lived
as a youth.  Exactly which wood depends on precisely which paragraph (or
sentence) I'm reading, but one descriptive passage will suggest one wood,
and another the other one.  These images formed in my brain when I
first read the book, and these are the images that remain with me
to this day, no matter how many times I re-read it.

So what's that got to do with this strip from the FANTASTIC
Annual for 1968 (issued in August/September of 1967)?  Well, what
I've just waxed boringly about in the preceding preamble is pretty much
the same when it comes to comic strips.  With one difference of course, as
comic strips have their own accompanying set of images which don't require
much, if any, interpretive contribution on the part of the reader.  However,
comic strips still carry with them their own associations of where and
when they were first read, so they leave their own indelible impres-
sions on a reader's mind in a similar way to what novels do. 

  For example, I so associate the COLOSSUS strip - drawn
by the amazing Spanish artist JOSE ORTIZ MOYA - with the house
and neighbourhood in which I stayed when I first read it, that I'm right
back there again in a heartbeat on sight of this particular tale.  Regardless
of however many homes I've lived in (or ever will live in) since my initial
exposure to this story, whenever I've re-read it over the years, it's al-
ways that first house I find myself thinking of each time I pore over
this astoundingly awesome Ortiz artwork.

Anyway, it goes without saying that you all deserve a gold BLUE
PETER BADGE for having to wade through the previous paragraphs
of self-indulgent tosh to get to a point that should've taken only a few
sentences.  You know me 'though - in love with the sound of my
own computer keyboard.

If you think you recognise the style, you'd be right.  As well as
drawing Spanish strips and working for WARREN PUBLISHING,
Jose also drew strips such as The THIRTEENTH FLOOR and The
TOWER KING for IPC MAGAZINES.  He did much more than I've
mentioned here of course, and fans of the man and his work might like
to read more about his career by looking him up on WIKIPEDIA.
Sadly, he died aged 81 on December 23rd, 2013, but he leaves
behind a rich legacy of absolutely amazing artwork.

Anyway, congratulations - you've scaled the final plateau.
Now you can enjoy this 12-page strip by one of the comic strip
medium's true masters.      


John Pitt said...

I used to have this. Now I've got it back again! - Thanks, Kid!

Kid said...

And you didn't even have to get out the bowl, JP.

John Pitt said...

I've just got it out again though after your latest post!!

Kid said...

H'mm, that looks like a bigger bowl, JP.

Gey Blabby said...

Now Comes ... Garth! Anytime I see a big muscly blond bloke I think of Garth, especially if he's drawn in that 'British' style, as here.

Like you with WITW I used to use the local landscape as a reference when I was reading a book. I was lucky that beyond my house there was only woods, braes, burns and rivers (with waterfalls) practically all the way down to Ayrshire (with a few small towns thrown in for variety). When I read Kidnapped at a very young age, I hadn't yet visited the original Highland locations, so I used the local features to fill in the details. Same with other stories that had similar settings. Me and my mates used to imagine our local quarry as part of the James Bond stories, with the daily explosions and the complicated conveyor belt systems that carried all the different rocks similar to Dr No's guano operation.

Likewise, your comment on the importance of where and when you first read a particular comic strip: the first American Marvel comic I ever held in my hand was purchased on holiday in Fort William when I was nine years old. It was The Amazing Spiderman #84 in 1970, with a Romita cover of Spidey and The Kingpin. It was one of the few sunny days on that holiday and we went for a picnic on the shores of Loch Eil, looking directly at the famous view of Ben Nevis, and that's where I read my first Marvel comic. I was so inspired that I spent the rest of the afternoon jumping up and down on all the rocks on the shores of the loch, posing like Spidey.

Kid said...

Whenever I went out to play after seeing just about any Western movie on TV, the field across the road from my house seemed as large as any sprawling plains I'd seen on the telly. Likewise, Ben Lomond in the distance was, to me, the Lonely Mountain I'd read about in The Hobbit. Making such connections wasn't something I consciously tried to do - the associations were automatic and seemed quite natural.

Fascinating and entertaining reminiscences, GB - keep 'em coming.

Gey Blabby said...

The view from our (ahem, how posh!) veranda was also of Ben Lomond faraway in the distance; although we were a bit further west than you, Kid, I imagine it was pretty similar. I didn't read Tolkien until much later, so I didn't - or couldn't - make that connection. For me, 'The Ben' was an indication that beyond that point the Highlands were waiting.

Kid said...

And for me, that Smaug was waiting. (I prefer my version.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the strip Kid. By the way, you should correct the artist 's name to Jose Ortiz (not Oritz).


Kid said...

Yes, I should, shouldn't I? So I have! (How did I miss that one?) At least I spelt Moya correctly.

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