Sunday, 31 December 2017


Images copyright relevant owner

Here's a ZIP NOLAN tale and a MOWSER page from the 1980 LION Holiday Special.  Betcha you'd all love to see the ROBOT ARCHIE and The SPIDER confrontation, but I'm holding off on that for the moment.  After all, you need something to look forward to.  Incidentally, this Lion Special only had 64 pages, which was 16 short of the 80 page 1974 Special, which itself was 16 fewer than the year before in '73.  (I can't say precisely which year the page count dropped from 80 to 64 as I don't have the '75 - '79 issues.)  Page numbers were going down and prices were going up, which is, I suppose, why Holiday Specials eventually faded from the scene.  


I received a comment the other day to one of my posts from last week.  This is what it said:  'Thank you for all your hard work scanning comics like this.  It must take you AGES and cost you so much money out of your own hard earned cash to buy the old comics to show us.'  (You can read my response here.)

As you can see, it positively drips of sarcasm and insinuates the very opposite of its apparent meaning. My suspicions were immediately aroused as to who'd be so obsessed with me that they'd go to the bother of submitting such a comment, and I've now had those suspicions confirmed.  I've just received screen grabs from a blog, wherein the writer goes on about how much hard work is involved in scanning and how he mainly uses only comics from his own personal collection, and a Twitter account by the same writer, wherein he takes a pop at me.  Let's look at what he Twitters on about, shall we?

The first comment is in direct response to my recent post on DOCTOR WHO (in which he actually quotes me, so no doubt then as to who he's taking a dig at), and the second distorts my claim that the only two surviving weekly comics from the time this country had a vibrant comics industry are The BEANO and 2000 A.D.  Here we see the tedious, infantile carping that this arrogant individual is prone to in regard to myself.  He's done this before of course, not only on his own blog and Twitter accounts, but also on other people's.  Sometimes he's had second thoughts and removed the posts (if not to hide his 'aggression', then at least his smug, pompous, supercilious self-righteousness), but he just can't seem to leave well enough alone.

I'm advised that he's also recently introduced a new character into one of his strips who is supposed to be a mickey-take of people who share my views on comics (that'll be the majority then), but I confess to being generous in my view - he's likely got a particular individual in mind.  As for his pejorative use of the word 'grandad', I believe he's the same age as myself, so he's surely insulting himself here as well.

Anyway, nice to know that I'm so much in his thoughts at this time of year, but for the record, I've got a life and I'd bet it's a grand sight better than his.  Were I tempted to be offended by his ad hominem attacks, I'd take consolation from the fact that I'm not bald and obese, and have actually had girlfriends (real ones, not inflatable ones like his) from time to time.  That's probably the true root of his 'attitude'.

As for New Year resolutions, I don't have to make any - my life's perfectly fine as it is.  Anyway, have a great time when it comes, readers, and wishing you all a 2018 that is pillock-free.


1st Update:  Within a very short time of me publishing this post (and running true to form) this individual tweeted the following comment:

"I should have known that as soon as I posted those tweets about grumpy gits, one paranoid individual would take it personally on his blog.  Pitiful and annoying.  Give it a rest and drop the grudge." 

Is anyone apart from a few lick-spittle sycophants actually fooled by his disingenuous, well-practised, wide-eyed 'innocent victim' routine?  It's obvious from his comments (wherein he quotes the actual content of one of my posts, remember) that he actually did know (as I usually respond to such remarks), and precisely who he was (primarily) taking a pot-shot at.

The number of times he's done this (he has an established history of doing so) are far too many to be down to simple coincidence - or any alleged paranoia on my part (despite his absurd suggestion of such).  H'mm, must be trying to drum up more attention for himself.  Pathetic.  If anyone's got a grudge, it's him, the sad pillock.


2nd Update:  Ah, it's clear to me now - he's got one of his self-published thingies coming out soon.  Anyone else see a pattern emerging here?  He did the same thing last time when he published 'anonymous' comments on his blog and tried to suggest they were from me - by 'tweaking' things I'd said about self-publishing on my own blog.  The timing's a dead giveaway.  Or are we really expected to believe that it's mere coincidence? 


Image copyright relevant owner

Here we go again with yet another episode of MOWSER's long-running feud with JAMES the butler.  Impeccably drawn by REG PARLETT, I wish some of today's lesser cartoonists would take a leaf out of his book when it comes to composition and storytelling.  A deceptively-simple style, it never fails to raise a laugh on the visual aspects alone, even if the basic plot wasn't always as outrageously funny as Reg made it appear.  (Though most plots were pretty darn funny.)

Incidentally, this is a resized reprint with some panels 'extended' by a lesser hand, so try and ignore those parts.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

You're all loving this series so far, I hope!  I know I am!  The above FANTASTIC FOUR issue (#90), was the first instalment of a four-part adventure, and one of the classic tales of the '60s.  A few years later, it was reprinted in The TITANS (#33), and the cover was redrawn to suit the different page size of the UK 'landscape' format.  I'm lucky enough to have both versions in my immense collection of comics, which is why I can show you them here.  Got a preference, frantic ones?  Then say which and why in the comments section. 


Image copyright relevant owner

Reprinted (and resized) from a weekly issue of LION, this MOWSER strip appeared in the 1973 LION & THUNDER Holiday Special.  As usual, the art was by the phenomenally-talented REG PARLETT, who had a gift for making every single panel look funny.  This was due to the expressions and body language of the characters, as well as the way the scenes were composed.  One of Britain's best artists, and one of our country's funniest strips - what a combination!


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

And again.  Is there no stopping me?  Nah, this is too much fun!  Submitted for your contemplative consideration and comparison, FANTASTIC FOUR #89 and The TITANS #32.  Y'know, I reckon that with a tighter inking job on the redrawn versions, they'd have been almost as good as the originals, despite the alterations necessitated by the different page dimensions.  What do you think, frantic ones?

Incidentally, I received an 'anonymous' comment recently from someone who seems to have a bee in his bonnet about the images that other people use on their blogs - this blog in particular.  (You can see the comment here.)  So, just to be clear, all covers shown in this series so far have been from comics in my own collection.  So there, 'Mr. Anonymous'.  (You'd think someone would have better things to do with their time.)  

Saturday, 30 December 2017


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Might as well strike while the iron is hot I suppose, so here's the second instalment in our new series of The TITANS covers, compared to the originals they were copied from.  Above is The FANTASTIC FOUR #86, below is The Titans #29 - what do you think, Criv-ites, does it manage to replicate the KIRBY/SINNOTT magic?  Or is it nothing more than a pale imitation which fails to score with you?  Let us all know in the comments section. 


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

When MARVEL UK published The TITANS weekly back in the mid-'70s, because of the landscape format, some covers (and splash pages) were redrawn to fit the different dimensions of the page.  I thought it would be fun to compare the original covers with their new versions (usually drawn by LARRY LIEBER), so here's the first in a short series.  Any comments, you know where they go.


Images copyright relevant owner

With the arrival this morning of the 1973 LION & THUNDER Holiday Special, I now have the full set of three and can turn my sights to filling other gaps in my collection.  Truth to tell, I'm not even sure I had this Special back in the day - or if I was even still buying the weekly - as nothing about it (with the possible exception of the cover) seems familiar to me.  Still, I've now got the three Specials, the three THUNDER Annuals, and most of the 22 issues of the weekly comic before it was merged with LION.  (I plan on acquiring the few missing issues before too long.)

Never mind all that though - not when you can now settle back and enjoy a ZIP NOLAN tale and a MOWSER escapade.  Don't let me hold you back.


ANNA BOR has set herself an impossible
task - she's determined to climb that big rock
behind her, but backwards.  She'll never do
it, but I must admit it'd be fun to watch.


A couple of posts back, I showed you the JAMES BOND 007 secret agent set and mentioned the RED BOX 707 knock-off - well, here it is.  As I said, not exactly the same as the LONE STAR set, but not without its own appeal.  Incidentally, I still have the box for this - saw it just a few weeks back, but have now forgotten where I put it.  When I discover it again, I'll scan it and add it to this post.  (Update:  Now done.)  Apparently this set first appeared in the 1960s, but I bought this one in the late '80s or early '90s - from ARGOS of all places.  I think it's a superb wee set, and am gutted that I'm now too old to play with it.  Mind you, that can be said for a lot of things about me these days.  (Just remember, you're responsible for your own innuendo.)

And below is the version from the 1960s.  Did you have either of these sets when you were a kid?  Tell all.

And as promised, here's the box for the one I have.  Don't you wish you owned this great Special Agent Set?  Betcha do!



                     So Christmastime's upon us once again
                     And all our hearts are filled with love and cheer.
                     We show goodwill towards our fellow men
                     But thank the stars it's only once a year.

                     We push our way through crowds and stand in queues
                     To find that 'special gift' for one held dear.
                     And some of us fall prey to 'Christmas blues'
                     So thank the stars it's only once a year.

                     We eat, drink and be merry to excess
                     And overdo things 'til we feel 'quite queer'.
                     We promise that next Christmas we'll spend less
                     And thank the stars it's only once a year.

                     And far above the raucous sounds of fun
                     God wishes Happy Birthday to His Son.

Friday, 29 December 2017


Image copyright relevant owner

Check out this little beauty!  No doubt costs a fortune these days (if you can find one), but no charge to see it on this blog you'll be glad to know.  Note that 007 has a badge in the shape of The MAN From U.N.C.L.E. one, but obviously he doesn't wear it on missions so that SPECTRE can't identify him.  (Well, he changes his face that often, it must be difficult to keep their files up to date.)

I've got a RED BOX version of this set (though the contents aren't exactly the same) which I bought from ARGOS around 25 years or so back.  It was originally issued in the '60s as a James Bond knock-off (the agent's number is 707), and I believe the silencer and telescopic sight were originally red, though mine are black to match the gun.  Tell you what - I'll you show you it in an upcoming post.  Don't miss it.


Returning from the shops a week or two back, I stopped at a bench on the outskirts of the park near my home.  As I sat gazing into the distance and enjoying the rest, I was struck by the formation of the clouds on the horizon, which seemed to me like some vast Olympian city of the gods hovering in the sky.  In my imagination I could see tall, robed figures, their noble brows adorned with laurel wreaths, strolling leisurely amongst immense, marbled columns, untroubled by the cares and woes that so often beset we mere mortals.

The park greenery lay before me like Jack Kirby's NEW GENESIS, while 'SUPERTOWN ' floated serenely overhead.  Were they, in some benign and bemused way, studying we finite beings who live our lives in the blink of an eye compared to the eons-long span which gods are heir to?  Did they observe me looking longingly at their heavenly haven?  Did kindness touch their hearts for one brief moment and cause them to call to me, inviting me to stride the streets of their celestial city, there to spend my days in idyllic pursuits, free from the ravages of time?

Then a dog barked and, alas, the fragile spell was broken.  Returned to reality, I bent and retrieved the shopping bags which lay at my feet.  With one last lingering look at the city in the sky, I turned and slowly made my way up the hill to where, at journey's end, a far more humble home awaited me than the one which had so recently seemed to beckon. 


Here's FATHER CHRISTMAS's (that's SANTA to
you and me) wife, MARY, looking all sultry and alluring
as hubby puts the reindeer away.  Better finding her than
a mince pie and a glass of milk waiting for you, eh?


Images copyright relevant owner

Having shown you their FIREBALL XL5 BAGATELLE, it would be remiss of me not to let you see the MARX TOYS DALEKS one also.  Again, these toys go for astronomical sums on eBay and elsewhere, so unless you've got money to spare, the closest you'll ever get to them is seeing photographs on places like this 'ere blog-thingy of mine.  If it makes you feel any better, no - I don't have one either.


Images copyright relevant owner

I had this MARX TOYS FIREBALL XL5 BAGATELLE when I was a kid.  Can't remember now whether I acquired it new or from a jumble sale, but I recall sitting out on my front doorstep with it as my father mowed the lawn one Summer's evening, while the first (pilot) episode of ALIAS SMITH & JONES was broadcast on BBC 1.  Funny how one memory leads to another, eh?  I saw this on eBay a while back, but it was priced a bit higher than I was prepared to pay - maybe one day.  Now, having just typed that, I have a nagging doubt as to whether it might've been the DALEKS Bagatelle I was playing with that night.  I certainly had it at one point, but - nah, the Fireball one it was, I'm fairly sure.  Anyway, if you had it too, here it is again to remind you.  Bet you'd love to own it again as well, eh?  

Thursday, 28 December 2017


It's still the Christmas period and white outside
(well, it is where I live), so here's JIM REEVES
with a song which fits the mood of the moment.


One look at LINDA THORSON tells me
it must be cold outside today, so I'd better
wrap up warmly.  Where's me thermals?

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


Images copyright relevant owner

When COUNTDOWN comic came out in 1971, I gave the first issue a cursory browse-through on my local newsagent's counter, but wasn't particularly impressed by it.  Consequently, I didn't start buying it until later, when it began reprinting some FIREBALL XL5, STINGRAY, and CAPTAIN SCARLET strips from TV CENTURY 21.  (I think they reprinted some THUNDERBIRDS ones too, but that may have been later - can't quite recall offhand.)  Only six or so years had elapsed since I'd first read the Fireball and Stingray strips, but that was half my life away at that point and therefore seemed a much longer period of time.

There was one Fireball adventure I particularly loved, which takes place on URANITURE, a planet seemingly populated by living snowmen.  Countdown reprinted the colour pages in black and white, two pages to one, but that didn't overly bother me as it was great to see MIKE NOBLE's dynamic, action-packed art again in any form.  I decided to extract these pages and assemble them in their own mini-comic, but I made a bit of a hash of it and, embarrassed by my less-than-perfect attempt, eventually discarded my homemade efforts to the dustbin of history.

However, over the years, it always bothered me slightly that I hadn't succeeded in my lofty goal, and though I now possess various colour and black and white reprints of this particular tale and don't really need any more, I decided to have another crack at it.  I own quite a few issues of Countdown, but not the numbers containing this particular adventure.  I do have access to them though, so I printed them out and assembled them under a cardboard cover, and - viola - I've finally completed the task I set myself 46 plus years back.  It does my heart proud to finally finish something begun so long ago.  Why, I'm almost overcome with emulsion.

Have you any similar tales to tell, frantic ones?  If so, let loose in the comments section.  And if you'd like to read this Fireball tale, click here for part one.

(Update:)  If I may be permitted a little self-indulgence, this adventure, as I said, first appeared in colour in TV Century 21 (#34, September - #39, October, back in 1965), and whenever I look at the colour version, I associate the strip with the house I lived in at the time, plus the route leading to the newsagent's around the corner from me, and the shop itself, from where I usually bought the comic.

Jump forward six years to October 1971 and Countdown #38, when the first episode of the strip was reprinted (ending in #43, December), and the black and white version has different associations for me.  I was living in a different house in another neighbourhood by this time, and purchasing my comics from another newsagent's, so obviously they're what spring to mind when I look at Countdown's monochrome pages.  Remarkably though, the manager of the first shop (Chamber's) was now in charge of the second shop (R.S. McColl's), so I also associate both incarnations of the tale with him, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Smith.

I'm also astonished to realise that a mere six months after the story ended in Countdown, I was living in yet another house in yet another area, because it seems that I held on to my homemade 'collected edition' in the previous house for far longer than that.  Isn't it strange that the same strip can have two separate associations with two different times and places, simply because of the different way in which they were presented?            

Tuesday, 26 December 2017


Told you I was dreaming of a white Christmas
- and I got one.  It snowed yesterday in my neck
of the woods and a blanket of white bedecks the
ground outside my window.  So to warm myself
(and others) up, here's a nice picture of the
stunning VICTORIA - she's hot stuff.


Image copyright BBC

Societal changes never happen of their own accord.  You may not agree with anything else I write from this point on, but that's a simple, unalterable fact.  You can be assured that there is always some group, large or small, that is driving things forward in an attempt to effect any kind of change in society that you care to mention.  Whether it be women's rights, working conditions, the abolition of slavery, the smoking ban, any proposed reduction in the age of consent, the age at which one can purchase alcohol, allowing 16 year-olds the vote, the introduction of Universal Credit - or Brexit - none of these things happened (or will happen) by accident without a motivating force, an agenda, behind them.  Every single change in society's mores and morals, whether good, bad, or indifferent (and which is which depends on your point of view) did not come about by coincidence or random happenstance.

Which brings me to the DOCTOR WHO Christmas Special.

The Doctor is now a woman.  Sure, falling viewing figures meant that something drastic had to be done, and the more controversial the better as far as generating interest and raising the show's public profile goes, but there's a reason beyond that which explains the timing of this alteration to over 50 years of continuity.  We now live in an age of gender politics, where gender distinction is in the process of being eroded by those who are determined to force their beliefs on the rest of us.  There is seldom only one reason for anything, so not everyone who welcomes this change (or is prepared to tolerate it) dances to the same tune on the matter, but there are definitely those who view any perceived social injustice inflicted upon women (or any suggestion of social advantage conferred upon men) as being the result of gender distinction, and that without it the world would be a much fairer place.

That's why some shops have introduced gender-free changing rooms and no longer describe the clothes (or toys) they sell for children as being for boys or girls;  why some schools introduced gender-free toilets (then were forced to change back again under parental objection), and why it's now being mooted that anyone should be free to identify with whatever gender they choose without any form of medical or psychological assessment.  The number of adults affected by such gender-confusion is small, and the number of children even smaller, but the majority of ordinary people are expected to accommodate the minority by having their wants, needs, and preferences quashed underfoot.  If there is one single child in school who identifies with the opposite gender, then, in the minds of some, every other pupil must forego the provision of toilets set aside for their own sex and suddenly share mixed facilities.  We're not talking about one single, separate cubicle being unisex, but 'public' toilets being open to both boys and girls to use at the same time.

The fact that it's in an atmosphere such as this that the new show-runner of Doctor Who has decided to make the Doctor a woman is no coincidence, but is part and parcel of an agenda to influence the public's perception on the matter of gender.  (Yes, and hopefully push up the ratings at the same time - the two aren't mutually-exclusive.)  But wait a minute, you say.  The Doctor is an alien who can regenerate into a much younger or older being, so why shouldn't he be able to regenerate into a woman?  (To which I'd reply why should he be?)  The 'regeneration' idea was merely a device to allow for a change of actor in the lead role.  It was later suggested that there could be fluidity between genders, but this was most likely initially to stir the pot and keep viewers on their toes, before it was seized upon by certain individuals in pursuit of their own agenda to influence public perception on the topic of gender.

You think that's far-fetched?  Then I'd suggest you haven't been paying attention to what's been happening around you in all forms of the media.  TORCHWOOD, under the pretence of 'reflecting' society's alleged changing attitude to homosexuality, was in reality trying to influence that attitude.  Whether you see that as a good thing or a bad thing will depend on your point of view, but a discussion on 'morality' is not what I'm interested in at the moment.  It's evidence that CHRIS CHIBNALL had something else in mind other than just entertaining SF fans, and now that he's in charge of Dr. Who, he's going down a related path.  I'm not necessarily suggesting that it's his overriding motivation for such a change (that'll probably be the ratings) - perhaps he has a more casual and less compulsive attitude for introducing a female Doctor, but the timing in today's gender-charged atmosphere is unlikely to be coincidental - at the very least, it's riding the coattails of a trend.  And maybe that's why so many TV shows and movies hitch their wagon to such a controversial issue - because it's 'trendy' to do so.  However, reflecting any kind of a trend usually results in spreading its influence to a wider audience.

Remember, this change comes at a time when some people have seriously suggested that JAMES BOND not only could be, but should be played by a woman.  I'm not making this up;  so consumed are they in their desire to obliterate any form of gender distinction, that they think a woman has as much right to play 007 as any male actor.  Am I alone in considering their obsessive adoption of such an idea akin to some form of madness?  Oddly (though perhaps not), I've yet to hear anyone suggest that MODESTY BLAISE (were she ever to receive her own movie franchise) should be played by a man.

So just think - if you're one of the millions of pupils who'd feel uncomfortable or embarrassed by the opposite gender being able to listen to your farts and splashes in a unisex, multi-cubicled school toilet, or a customer who'd prefer to avail yourself of the changing rooms in a shop without members of the opposite sex hearing you unzip, unbutton, and undress as you try on some new apparel, your insecurities, inhibitions, and preferences don't matter a damn!  All that counts is catering to the requirements of a few gender-confused individuals, whose feelings and sensitivities must be considered over and above those of the rest of us - we who constitute the majority.

What must be remembered is that Time Lords are supposed to be the most advanced civilisation in the universe, who are beyond the petty obsession with gender that humans have (according to the Doctor in one episode).  Could it be any clearer?   Any human concerns over gender are backward and primitive, and the obsession of tiny minds.  We're being sold a bill of goods here, to the effect that unless we share the Time Lords' 'superior' attitude in this regard, then we're intellectually-stunted savages whose opinions on the subject are invalid and unworthy.  The show is actually trying to embarrass us into jettisoning our perfectly natural views on the matter of gender.  Are you seriously denying that there's no agenda?  Wake up and smell the coffee, for feck's sake.
Disagree all you want, and I'm sure that many of you will.  You may even consider the matter insignificant and nothing to get annoyed about, but I'd suggest that the Doctor changing gender at this particular time is yet another symptom of the madness and chaos which currently threatens to consume us all.

Or... maybe it's simply an attempt to breathe new life into a tired old show?  What do you think?  As usual, the comments section awaits.

Monday, 25 December 2017


Well, the day isn't over yet, so theoretically,
it might yet snow - somewhere.  JIM REEVES
is certainly dreaming it will - and so am I.

Sunday, 24 December 2017


A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Criv-ites.


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Originally the splash page of FANTASTIC FOUR #51, this great JACK KIRBY image of The THING now graces the cover of this new MARVEL 2 IN ONE first issue.  Superb stuff, eh?  Unfortunately, there were a few fingerprints (none of them mine) on the cover which have lifted the colour, but I've digitally disguised them as much as I can.  Still a great pic though, eh?


(Turns out those fingerprints were an attempt at a colour effect.  Not a successful one in my view.)   


"That's AZDA price - ching, ching!"


Images copyright relevant owner

Originally published in the EAGLE Annual for 1955, this Christmas DAN DARE tale should give you a taste of what Festive fare was served up to readers at Yuletide time back when your grandfather was a kid - unless, of course, you're old enough to have read it yourself back then.  To be honest, I think Dan belongs in the fifties - there was something about the tales that suited then-recent post-war Britain, and none of the attempts at updating him have ever achieved his original popularity, either proving uninteresting to contemporary kids, or not the 'real' Dan Dare to older readers.  Anyway, enjoy it for what it is, and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Criv-ites.

I may still be posting over the holiday period, but no promises - too many mince pies and fizzy pop beckon, so we'll see how I feel. 

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