Wednesday, 26 April 2017


Image copyright relevant owners

When I was a kid living in the first house I remember,
in the woods at the top of the street there was a fallen tree 
that I imagined was FIREBALL XL5.  I'd sit on the front of it,
pretending it was Fireball Junior and that I was pilot STEVE
ZODIAC.  When I was around five and a half, we flitted to a
bigger house a few minutes away in another street, but I
often returned to those woods to play on my tree.

One day my big brother came in and told me that work-
men had turned the tree around while doing something in the
woods (no, they weren't bears, so it wasn't that), so at the first
opportunity I ran up to see for myself.  I was disappointed, not
being a fan of change of any kind, but there wasn't anything
I could do but accept the cold hard fact of the situation.

When we moved again, I visited 'Fireball' often, even
taking some of the loose roots from the upturned base of the
tree as mementos of my childhood.  At some stage in the '70s
(mid-to-late, I think - can't quite remember) old 'XL5' was re-
moved and I never saw it again.  (Wouldn't it be weird if there
were a wooden ornament in my house made from that tree
and I didn't know?  I mean, I'd know there was an orna-
ment, but not that it was made from the tree.)

Anyway, fade out the 'TWILIGHT ZONE' theme.
I don't have a photo of the tree to show you (took some,
but never had them developed), so I thought I'd show you
a piccie of Fireball XL5 itself.  Don't know who the artist is,
but it's a pretty neat illustration.  Always loved those jet-
mobiles - anyone know where I can buy a real one?


(Yeah, some of my posts are pretty weird, ain't they?
Thing is, I just wanted an excuse to show you this image
of Fireball XL5, hence the personal reminiscence.)

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


NICOLA BRYANT is so happy, she's
jumping for joy - assisted by actor COLIN
BAKER, who can't believe his luck.  Nor can
the photographer come to that, as he's got
a much nicer view than poor Colin.


Characters copyright MATTEL Inc.

Those of a certain age will recall MAJOR MATT MASON,
MATTEL'S MAN IN SPACE, and the ads that appeared in
U.S. comics at the time.  However, it appears that the U.K. had
their own series of ads, which I've never seen reproduced any-
where else before.  Which doesn't necessarily mean they haven't
been, just that I've not seen them.  So, without claiming that the
following ads are comprehensive (there may have been more),
here are the ones which appeared in SMASH! in 1969.  No
doubt they appeared in other U.K. comics as well.

Did you have any Major Matt Mason toys, readers?
Why not reminisce about them to your heart's content in
our scintillating comments section?  And if you want to see
just a few Matt Mason items from my own collection,
you can make yourself jealous by clicking here.

And below are two ads which appeared in U.S. comics...


A staggering 33 years ago, in a shop in Edinburgh,
I laid a claim on 73 issues of the relaunched version of
SMASH!, 13 years after it had ceased being published
as an individual weekly periodical.  (It was merged into
VALIANT, as all readers of a certain age know.)  I took
#1 home with me that night, and the rest were either
posted to me, or I picked them up when the seller
later came through to a Glasgow comics mart.

There were 22 issues missing from the set I pur-
chased, and it took me over 30 years to finally track
them all down. To be fair to myself, 'though, it wasn't
really until the latter few years of that period that I ac-
tually attempted to find them in any determined way,
but eventually I did.  I found the last one I needed
only a year or two ago, completing the set.

Anyway, last year, I decided to finally read them,
and worked through the first 12 issues before tucking
them away again.  A couple of weeks back, I dug them
all out once more and continued from where I'd left off.
I'm now up to #30, but I'll be giving them another rest
for a while soon, as I don't want reading them to be-
come a dreary chore rather than a pleasure.

But that's mere incidental detail I suppose.  The
thing that astounds me is that it took me so long to
finally get around to reading them.  Having said that,
it sometimes feels like that day in Edinburgh was only
a little while ago, as opposed to the 33 years it actually
is.  Time really has flown, and it seems as if I did a
'RIP VAN WINKLE' and fell into a deep sleep
that lasted even longer than his 20 years.

So readers, that prompts a question.  Do any of
you ever look at some item in your possession that
you remember buying with such clarity that it seems
not too long ago, only to be amazed when it suddenly
hits you that it was 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years ago?
How does that realisation affect you, if at all?  Go
on, share all with your fellow Criv-ites.


The temperature's still a bit uneven
and there's a bit of a 'nip' in the air today
(in more ways than one).  When it's chilly,
JULIE tends to forget her name for some
odd reason, so I kindly wrote it on the
back of her chair to remind her.


Images copyright DC COMICS

I well remember the day I purchased this mag (along
with various others) from a local newsagent's, and sitting on
a bench in the Old Village quarter of my town to read it.  If it
wasn't on a Saturday I bought it, it would've been on a week-day
during the school summer holidays, and I find myself annoyed at
now no longer being able to recall with my customary precision.
Once, I could also have told you what comics I got along with it,
but, alas, no longer.  I have a notion that an issue of MISTER
MIRACLE might have been among the pile, but I could be
mixing two different days together, as I often sat in the
same spot to peruse my comics when I got them.

It goes without saying, of course, that I immediately fell
in love with The THORN.  Might have been her outfit, but
she fully captured my adolescent adoration and was instantly
added to the lengthening list of my favourite 'comicbook cuties'.
The newsagent's where I bought this four-colour treasure exists
only in memory these days (like so many hallowed haunts of my
youth), but in my mind, I'm still able to revisit its cool interiors
and relive happy moments from the past.  If there's an after-
life, perhaps all our cherished places will be there waiting
for us, like old friends we haven't seen in an age.

Does this mag hold any memories for you, dear reader,
and does it take you back to a moment in time you'd love
to live again?  If so, share your pleasant reminiscences with
your Criv-ite chums in our comments section.  A memory
shared is a memory spared from oblivion, so get your
typing fingers tapping now.  We await your input.

Monday, 24 April 2017


Like poems?  Maybe you'll like this one.
Hankies at the ready, three, two, one - go.

            I'll See You In The Morning.

            And so to bed my little lad, I'll see you in the morning.
            There's new adventures to be had with each new day aborning.
            'Though not for me alas, my son;  my days on Earth are fading.
            The doctor says I'm nearly done and Death comes 'serenading'.
            I'll not be here to watch you grow in each new bright tomorrow,
            I must confess I'm feeling low and in the grip of sorrow.
            I won't be here to hold your hand each time you trip and stumble,
            'though not exactly what I planned it does no good to grumble.

            I stand and watch you as you sleep and nearly cry a river.
            You've given me a joy so deep, but now I feel a shiver.
            My time is short, but I'll give thanks as long as I am able,
            'though soon enough I'll join the ranks of 'one short at the table'.

            So many things I want to say before I have to leave you,
            it's not my fault I cannot stay, but you'll have mum to cleave to.
            Be strong for her my little man, she'll need you in her sadness,
            give mummy all the help you can and be a source of gladness.

            Perhaps in time she'll wed again;  if so my little laddie,
            should that occasion happen, then - please don't forget your daddy.
            I'll keep an eye out from above, I'll see your joys and sorrows,
            you'll always have your daddy's love throughout all your tomorrows.

            Goodnight to you my little lad, I'll see you when you waken.
            And I will always be your dad - you will not be forsaken.
            I've stood and watched you for a week since I learned I was dying,
            Each night I've stooped and stroked your cheek and couldn't keep from

            Tomorrow I will play a game - pretend that I'm immortal;
            that things will always be the same and I won't pass Death's portal.
            So rest your head my little lad, I'll see you in the morning.
            A bit more time to know your dad - another day's aborning.


JERI RYAN reminds us what a stunning
woman looks like.  Not a moment too soon in
my case.  I'd better call Fred and tell him our
date's off.  His long hair confused me for a mo-
ment.  Phew, lucky escape - for both of us!
(He's not gay, 'though his boyfriend is.)


In a recent post, I showed you the cover of
The FANTASTIC FOUR #126 ('though they'd
dropped the 'article' by then), and mentioned that I
purchased it at the same time as a 2nd copy of The
on Friday, October 6th 1972.  However, I have
a regret about that day, which is this.

In the window of a little toy shop, which, if
memory serves, resembled The TINKERER's
repair shop (The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2),
was a DALEK Money Box by toymaker COWAN de
GROOT.  It was clearly based on the MARX Dalek,
but was even less accurate.  In fact, in profile, it re-
sembled the redesign on the DOCTOR WHO
TV show a few years back.

Therefore, not being terribly impressed by
it, I didn't buy it, 'though I could have.  Now I
wish I had, and whenever I see a photograph of it,
I regret not purchasing it when I had the chance.  It
commands a small fortune nowadays, but that's not
what fuels my regret - it's simply the 'time travel'
aspect of the item - apropos considering where
the Daleks made their TV debut.

So, readers, do you have any regrets like
that, where you recall having the opportunity of
acquiring something, but chose not to?  However,
don't let me hold you back in any way;  feel free to
air any regrets you may care to share.  You'll feel
far better for it.  Hey, trust me, I'm a doctor.
(Of all things related to nostalgia.)


And yes, there's a plate with a picture of
 a Dalek on it, clearly based on this one.

Sunday, 23 April 2017


Wing Commander GUY F. RODNEY, DFC, AFC

Believe it or not, there's another blog
called Crivens!  Or, to be more precise, its
BLOG'.  I saw this old photo on it recently, and
couldn't resist the temptation to try and tidy it
up a tad.  Below is the result, with another
version without the inscription.

Not too shabby, eh?  I enjoy doing this
sort of thing, as it restores photographs from
yesteryear to as near as possible their original
pristine condition.  Visit the other Crivens by
clicking on its blog name in the above par-
agraph.  Go on, check it out today.


Image copyright relevant owner

Sometimes I forget that there's more to comics than just
MARVEL and DC.  So, here's a CHARLTON comic cover,
HAUNTED #1, drawn by STEVE DITKO.  Natty design,
don'tcha think?  There's a great post about Ditko's Charlton
work over at Nifty NICK CAPUTO's blog, which you can
access by clicking here.  Don't forget to return to this one
'though.  You know how I hate talking to myself.

Saturday, 22 April 2017


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

I bought my first copy of this comic on October 6th 1972.
It was a Friday, I was off school, and I purchased my second
copy of The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #1 at the same
moment.  Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and relive that
day, all of nearly 45 years ago.  Well, in a way I can - whenever I
gaze upon this sensational cover of FANTASTIC FOUR #126
by Big JOHN BUSCEMA.  I wish they still made comics like
this today, don't you?  Then leave a comment saying so.


Did you know that JEN's uncle was a
coal miner in Britain?  That's when we had a
coal industry that is, which we don't anymore.
"But," you cry, "coal was for heating and elec-
tricity, etc., and we've still got them, so we
must still have a coal industry!"

No, we still have an energy, or power in-
dustry, which does essentially the same thing
without actually using British coal, so we don't
have a home-grown coal industry any longer.
H'mm, seems I've read a similar 'discussion'
fairly recently.  Now if only I could recall
where.  Any ideas anybody?

Cheer up, Jen - we'll get around to
ogling you in a moment.  Honest.


(And no, I don't have the faintest clue
what Jennifer's uncle did for a living.)


To my great amusement, I'm advised that, over
on some blog, a self-confessed 'wannabe writer' is still
trying to talk up a British comics industry that no longer
exists (by misrepresenting the views of those who are of
a different opinion), and making specious comparisons
to the music, movie and TV industries that yet retain
a significant presence in this country.

As I've previously gone to great pains to explain,
when I say 'comics industry', I'm referring to published
paper periodicals (of either weekly, fortnightly, monthly,
or even yearly frequency) containing mainly comic strips,
as the word was defined and accepted for decades in the
minds of the general public, and as yet defined on Wiki-
pedia and in most dictionaries.  If he could only grasp
the difference between the carton and the content,
he'd be a less angst-ridden little malcontent.

Books, DVDs, digital platforms, etc., containing
comic strip content, are not 'comics' in the traditional
sense of the word, but a different ('though admittedly re-
lated) animal.  When something 'evolves' into something
different, it ceases to be that which it was before.  And,
when it 'evolves' into something less than it was before,
then it's no improvement.  If a giant evolves into a
dwarf, he's not a giant anymore, is he?

Anyway, there's no point covering every aspect
of this discussion again, as it's practically been done to
death.  Here's one important aspect to consider 'though.
See these self-published and/or digital products that some
people tout as proof of today's 'evolved' comics 'industry' ?
Were there really an industry (as I understand the con-
cept), they wouldn't exist, because there'd be little need
to go down that particular route.  The existence of such
things only serves to prove just what dire straits
the so-called industry is really in.

The main difference is, I suppose, that these
people view any and all comic strip material as being
'comics' in themselves, and they're entitled to that view.
I, however, see comic strip material as something within
a comic (a published paper periodical), and although the
word has been and is sometimes used interchangeably,
I prefer to draw (npi) a distinction between the car-
ton and the content.  (Like we used to do.)

Anyway, who can blame that other blogger for
leaping on the bandwagon in a new attempt to stir up
controversy, thereby attracting attention to his site?  If
only he'd avoid being so embarrassingly ingratiating to
those whom he thinks might be able to help 'grease the
wheels' of his hoped-for comics career in the process,
we'd be spared having to witness the sad spectacle
   of a sickening bit of 'brown-nosing'.  


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's a great book I acquired recently.  It's a great
book that really should have been even greater, but I'll get
to that presently.  If you're a genuine comics fan, you'll know
of GENE COLAN.  Gene was a master of light and shade, and
one of the finest contributors ever to freelance for MARVEL.
The DUCK, and DRACULA are just a few of the titles he
drew for 'The House Of Ideas' in the '60s & '70s.

There are some great images in this 132 pager, but,
alas, also some not-so-great ones.  It's always somewhat
disappointing to read what a sublime artist someone is, and
then see art which doesn't quite bear that out.  Case in point is
the example below.  Nice pencil work, superb texturing, but that
apart, it's a dreadful drawing.  The figure is too squat, the head's
too big, the body's too small, and the legs aren't right in any way.
 And the fact that ol' DOOM's left arm appears to be sprouting
from the middle of his torso all result in a less than perfect
illustration.  (And the right arm is seriously dodgy as
well.  Where exactly does the elbow bend?)

For all the excellent examples of Gene's artistic ability,
there's a few I wish they'd just left out, because they don't
do his reputation any favours at all.  It's not the first time I've
found myself wishing that compilers of books like this had been
just a little more discerning in their choices, and, unfortunately,
this is another such occasion.  It also suffers from several areas
of over-printing, where one caption has been printed on top of
another, resulting in something that's practically unread-
able.  Don't they have proofreaders any more?

However, it would be remiss of me not to put things in
context by mentioning that Gene suffered from glaucoma
for many years (being almost blind in one eye and having tun-
nel vision in the other), and had to draw with his face practically
pressed up against the page.  This no doubt explains the instances
when his art wasn't at its best, and makes it all the more amazing
when it was.  So despite its few shortcomings, this tome should
be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of any devoted fan of
'The Dean'.  Published in 2010, it may yet be available.
Try your local FORBIDDEN PLANET first.

Friday, 21 April 2017


ELKE SOMMER whirls in surprise as I
sneak up on her with a box of MILK TRAY.
She's even more surprised when she discovers
that I've scoffed most of them and there's only
two left.  She's surprised even further when I
eat 'em.  Ach, she can bloody well buy her
own box of chocolates, the cadgin' bint.


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Big JOHN BUSCEMA demonstrates why he was JACK
KIRBY'S natural successor with this simple-but-effective
This one's an absolute belter in my view - how about you?

Thursday, 20 April 2017


COTE DE PABLO hangs over the rail-
ings, wondering where I've gotten to on our
date to the cinema.  I'd told her I was going to
get her a choc ice, but then decided to nip out
for a fish supper for myself.  That was three
hours ago, but it's not my fault that there
was a long queue at the chippie.

Think she'll be angry with me?


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

I recall lying on the living-room carpet scrutinising this cover
back in 1968, and that's where I find myself in memory whenever I
look at it today.  Many years later I acquired the original U.S. issue of
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY (#119) it first adorned, but somehow
that comic mag doesn't have quite the same nostalgic appeal as the one
above, probably because this is the ish I associate with my childhood.
This was quite a momentous number of FANTASTIC, as it was the
last one in which JOHNNY FUTURE appeared.  The very next
week, TERRIFIC was merged into Fantastic, so this was also
 the last edition to feature the comic's name on its own.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017


You're looking at a screen-grab from a video I made in 1991 of
a house I once lived in nearly 20 years before.  Helping me that day
was my identical twin brother, GEORGE, who, thanks to my mum,
dressed exactly the same as me from a young age.  "You're identical
twins - so you should dress identical!" she'd say, with less than
perfect grammar.  (That's me at the front, incidentally.)

It came in handy whenever we got up to individual mischief
as teenagers, because the police could never charge either of us as
they simply didn't know which one was the culprit.  Ah, what fun!  I
remember once challenging six guys to a fight - then running 'round
the corner of the lockups (where George was waiting) when three
of them chased me.  Me and my brother then set about them, and
they staggered back to their pals, saying "It's an ambush -
there's two of them!" 

Of course, the above is all a total figment of my imagination
(apart from making a video of my old house), invented purely for
the purpose of seeing how much nonsense I can write and hopefully
provide a chuckle for you in the process.  Next time, I'll relate how I
single-handedly saved the world from the threat of destruction by a
megalomaniac bent on global domination - and let my best pal
JAMES BOND take all the credit.

  Hey!  Where'd everybody go?


(Okay, so I lied about the twin.  Would you
believe he's my Life Model Decoy?)


That's the problem with wearing contact lenses I'm told;
there's always one popping out onto the floor, meaning you
have to scrabble about in a half-blind state, feeling for it on
the carpet.  That's what the stunning SAMANTHA FOX is
doing.  Perhaps I should tell her I'm standing on it.  (Nah,
don't think I'll bother - I'm enjoying the view.)


Okay, hands up if you ever had a pair of WAYFINDERS MOON-
SHOT shoes back in the late '60s or early '70s.  I did, and it's amazing
how excited one can get over seeing one's footprints in the mud.  If any-
thing, kids walked in mud more often, just to see the imprint of their shoes
in it.  The good things about these shoes (apart from the undersides) were
the free LETRASET transfers and the lunar space capsule with a magnet
on the back, enabling you to make it glide above the moon's surface on a
backdrop printed inside the box.  I wish they still made these shoes
today, 'cos I for one would definitely buy a pair.

Do you remember these shoes, readers?  If so, reminisce away
to your hearts' content in our scintillating comments section.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


The lovely IMOGEN HASSALL has just
invited me to sit down beside her, but there's only
one chair.  Just what can she be thinking of?  Hold
on, I think I know.  She's obviously spotted the bag
of Jelly Babies poking out of my pocket and wants
me to give her one.  Huh!  Cheek!  As if I'd give just
any woman a baby.  Er, wait a sec - that doesn't
sound quite the way I meant it to, so any in-
nuendo you think you see is your own.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Cover art by JOE JUSKO

As all true Marvelites know, The SILVER SURFER
had his own mag in the '60s which ran for 18 issues, the first
17 being illustrated by JOHN BUSCEMA.  However, there's a
'sort of' 18th ish he got to do (with STAN LEE), in the form of
the 1988 hardback graphic novel, which had one large panel per
page.  As you'd expect from Big John, he delivered a superbly-
drawn adventure, and this is one book that should be on the
shelves of every dyed-in-the-wool Silver Surfer fan.

When JACK KIRBY first introduced NORRIN RADD
into the pages of The FANTASTIC FOUR, he imbued him
with a strange, other-worldly quality that suited the character
to a 't'.  He drew him in a fluid way, that captured perfectly the
manner in which surfers 'bob and weave' on the waves.  Within
a very short time 'though, Jack's figurework had become much
more blocky and static (maybe because of a reduction in size
of the artboards he drew on), which is probably why Stan
decided to give the Surfer's regular mag to Buscema.

One only has to look at the 18th and final issue of the
Surfer's own mag (which Jack illustrated) to see the wisdom
of Stan's decision.  In contrast to Jack's Surfer, John's version
is lithe, fluid, and flexible, and has an innate nobility that was no
longer evident in Jack's rendition of the silvery one.  You might
disagree with my assessment, but I have persuasive proof of it.
What's that you say?  Show you?  Okay then, I will.  I now
 present the following exhibits for your consideration.


So there I was at the dancing the other
night with the delectable DALIAH LAVI,
when she tries to make me jealous by cosying
up to another man.  Not that I was bothered,
'cos I was busy snogging the face off the sen-
sational SALMA HAYEK.  (Honest!  Why
doesn't anybody ever believe me?!)


There's a little toning on some of the coins in this 1971
Proof Set, but that's to be expected with coins of this age,
even those enclosed in plastic display cases.  Examples of a
few of these coins were first released in the late 1960s, which
is strange to consider now, because, in my mind, £sd coinage
belong in the '60s and decimal ones in the '70s.  The fact that
both sets of currency overlapped (and in the case of the £sd
equivalents of decimal coins, for many years afterwards)
is something we of a certain age tend to forget now.

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