Monday 10 June 2024


Copyright DC COMICS

From the 30's to the 70's (with the apostrophes after the zeros) never looked right to me.  It's like writing CDs as CD's.  Surely it should be From the '30s to the '70s?  That's how I prefer to render it anyway so that's what I've done.

Oops, sorry, got distracted.  The Superman and Batman companion volumes, first published in the US in 1971 by Crown, were/are great books, though looking at them now, I can see just how poor some of the reproduction was/is.  They appeared in the UK in 1972, published in paperback by Hamlyn, who reissued them in 1979, with no updating in the Supes volume to take account of Superman the Movie from 1978.  The contents of the two books were the same as before, though the spines were slimmer as ever-so slightly thinner paper was used inside. 

However, when Bonanza Books (a division of Crown) issued new hardback editions in the States, the film was mentioned in the text of the cover's interior fold-over, though not anywhere else inside.  Bonanza varied the size of the books, some editions being the same as the Crown printings, others being not-quite-so wide and around an inch or so taller, with the artwork on the Superman cover filling more space and with less margin.  (See photo below.)

I have three Batman and five Superman editions, the Batman volumes consisting of the UK 1972 and '79 paperback printings (Hamlyn), plus a recently acquired late '70s US hardback one (Bonanza).  The Superman volumes consist of the UK 1972 and two of the '79 paperback printings (Hamlyn), plus two late '70s hardback editions (Bonanza), which are different dimensions as mentioned in the previous paragraph.

So why buy so many you're maybe wondering?  You need to ask?  Obviously I'm bonkers (though you knew that anyway), but the 'real' reason is just that I'm a compulsive collector who likes different versions of the same thing.  However, another more practical reason is that back in 1982, I got my '79 paperbacks hardbound, which meant sacrificing the covers (though I retained them as pin-ups), so having the Bonanza editions means that I can scan the dust-jackets and print out new ones for my erstwhile paperback-now-hardback volumes.  I did that for the Superman one a while back, and now I've got the Bonanza Batman, I'll be doing the same with it, too.

So there you go - how to create a post from the most trivial and inconsequential topics, just so that you Crivvies can have something to read.  Of course, whether it's actually worth reading is up to you to decide.  I'm sure you'll let me know either way.  (At least, I hope you will.)        

Saturday 8 June 2024


Deary me, so the Time Lord is now officially a Gaylord!  Won't be watching again.  Why we as a nation put up with these insidious attempts at indoctrinating our kids I'll never know. 

Friday 7 June 2024


Copyright DC COMICS

Here's a nice little facsimile edition you might be interested in - the very first issue of Mad comic, which lasted for 23 issues before being transformed into a 'magazine'.  However, when it first debuted, it was a a regular comicbook, plain and simple.  I actually have the Millennium edition of this issue, plus various reprints in books and magazines, but it's nice to now have it in something close to its original form to add to my ever-expanding collection.

'Close to'?  Yeah, because today's comicbooks aren't the exact size that they were back in (at least) the '50s and '60s (and even into the '70s and maybe the '80s as well), so it'll be a few millimetres less wide than the original and possibly there'll be a slight discrepancy in height, though unless you have an actual first issue from 1952 with which to compare, you shouldn't be aware of the difference.  (Apart from the fact that I just told you about it.)

So grab a piece of history while you can, because I hear this issue is selling well!

Artist Mike Higgs must've liked the cover as he used the layout for a panel in The Cloak's debut in Pow! #18, cover-dated May 13th 1967.  That's it below, next to its inspiration.

Thursday 6 June 2024

THE MARX OF THE BAT... (Updated)


You're looking at an extremely rare Marx Toys Poseable Batman figure from the '60s, which arrived at Castel Crivens yesterday.  This is my third time around with this toy as I previously owned two of them - though not at the same time - when I was a kid.  I last had this toy back around the late '60s when I swapped it (I must've been ill) for a Marx soldier figure with the same head as Batman.  (I've now got two soldiers, acquired just over three years ago in 2021.)

Bats arrived with most of his accessories, but sans cape and cowl, though part of his mask was a black sticker (with eyeholes) over the top half of his face.  It survives, but needs a little remedial work to restore it to its former glory, though truth to tell, when I make a new cape and cowl, I probably won't incorporate the sticker so as not to permanently obscure Bruce Wayne's upper face as was the case in the toy's original form.  No, I'll do a better job, as the original one-piece cape and cowl (apart from the sticker) was made of an easily-fraying fabric, which is likely why it didn't survive to accompany wee Bats to my house.

The surviving accessories from the figure above

I've told the following tale a couple of times before, but on the evening I swapped Batman for my pal's soldier, he was showing the toy to one of my brother's pals, who suddenly said "Let's see if he can fly" and launched it with some force across the playing field we were standing in.  Sadly, poor Bats didn't survive his descent to terra firma.  Over the decades, I started to lament his fate with a growing intensity - oddly lacking at the time (no doubt because he no longer belonged to me), and I'm really glad for the opportunity to roll back time and be reunited with a toy from my youth.

Below is the toy (not mine - image 'borrowed' from... somewhere) as it originally appeared in the shops back then.  Anyone else ever own one?  If so, permit your fellow Crivvies to dine on your memories before they fade beyond your ability to recall.  And out of all the Batman merchandise you once owned (if any), which one was your favourite that you'd like to own again if you could?

Is it just me, or does the face look a bit like MICHAEL KEATON?

Tuesday 4 June 2024



As you'll probably have noticed, faithful Crivvies, I've not been blogging as regularly as I used to, but I don't want any of you thinking it's because of laziness or that I'm no longer interested in keeping Crivens going.  No, it's simply due to health reasons, but don't worry, I'm not going to bore you with the specifics of what actually ails me.  Suffice to say my energy levels are at an all-time low and I find it increasingly difficult to muster the necessary stamina to pump out new posts every day as once was the case.  Sometimes I even published more than one!  Ah, those were the days.  Of course, I may be misjudging my 'panting public' - maybe some of you are grateful that I'm not as productive as I used to be so that you can have a rest from my woeful weary waffle?  I'm sure you'll let me know.

Anyway, in an attempt to demonstrate that I haven't deserted you, here's a cover gallery omnibus of Marvel's 18-issue Frankenstein Monster mag.  Titled The Monster of Frankenstein for its first five issues, it changed to simply The Frankenstein Monster with its sixth (thus dispensing with one small word - 'of'), and as the revised title graced the cover for 13 issues out of the 18, that's what I refer to it as in this post's headline.  I've shown the covers on the blog before (in four separate posts), but for this single presentation I've applied some digital technology to spruce them up a bit by removing any glaringly obvious imperfections.  If you've got any favourites, feel entirely free to let me and your fellow Crivvies know which ones they are.  Remember, Crivens is nothing without you.

Wednesday 29 May 2024


What do you use as your computer's screensaver, fellow Crivvies?  I've got several I can use, most of them being the front and/or back views from previous houses I've lived in.  At the moment, I use part of the view from my old bedroom window in a former dwelling, which I took in 1988 - 16 years after having flitted from the place, and one year after we moved back into the next house we'd first moved to in 1972.  (We flitted from that house in 1983, though returned in '87, you see.  Hope that makes sense.)

The above scene has a particular significance to me, though it's probably fair to say that it didn't mean anything much when I lived in the house between 1965 and '72.  However, my old primary school (the second of two) which you see in the photo was demolished in 2014 - and even if it still existed, it would be obscured by a three-storey building of amenity apartments for the elderly - so to see again the field I played in as a kid (it hadn't really changed in all that time) brings to mind friends and neighbours who are long (and in some cases not so long) dead and buried (or cremated).  Not everyone I knew then has expired though, as some of them merely moved elsewhere in the UK, or emigrated.

It's comforting to know that these views are preserved for posterity in photographs, as one glance at them returns me in memory to an earlier period of my life when things seemed so much simpler and better.  I also then  'laboured' (though it was no hardship) under the delusion that I'd live forever, and sometimes these days I briefly (emphasis on 'briefly') forget that such isn't the case.  So I repeat - what do you use as your screensaver, and does it have any specific significance that you'd care to share with the rest of us?  We're all waiting.

Monday 20 May 2024


No, of course it isn't, but ain't he a cute little fella?  (I assume.)  Snapped him out in my back garden this morning (you can just see part of his mum in the second photo) and thought I'd give him a star turn on Crivens!  Third photo's a little blurred as he did a sudden twirl as I pressed the button, but you can still see his short muzzle.  I'll try and get some better ones next time, though I'll have to be quick 'cos fox cubs don't take long to sprout.  What's surprising is that 'Cubby' seems to be a litter of one this year - there are usually three or four of them.  Got any foxes in your garden, Crivs?  I put out food for the wee critters 'cos I'm a big softie - do you?

Saturday 18 May 2024


Same as last week - I could hardly stay awake through it.  Exterminate!  'Nuff said.



Here's a quick question for you, Crivvies.  Which comicbook would you've liked to see 'touched' by a particular artist (penciller or inker), who didn't work on that comicbook?  For instance, much as I like Vince Colletta's inking of Jack Kirby's pencils on Thor, I'd have loved to see what John Severin's inking would've done to the strip.  I'd also have loved to see Wally Wood's inks on Kirby's FF.  I'm not just talking about the odd assignment here and there, I mean as regular contributors to those particular mags.  Same goes for pencillers - which comics would you've liked to see drawn by which artists?  Tell all in the comments section.

Thursday 16 May 2024


Copyright DC COMICS

Actually, it's the recent Facsimile Edition and is very nice indeed.  I don't recall whether I ever had the original or not, though I'm familiar with the contents and have them in other reprint collections.  The only thing that lets it down slightly is that the house ads at the back of the book are obviously scanned from an original edition and are therefore slightly faded and murky in places.  I'd have thought DC could've dropped in some new colour to sharpen them up a bit, but maybe they didn't think it was worth it.  However, the actual story pages are as sharp and clear as a bell (mixed-metaphorically speaking).

Anyway, peeps, did you have this giant book (as in comicbook) back in the '70s, and if so, just what did you think of it?  Tell all your fellow Crivvies now and start the comments ball rolling!

Wednesday 15 May 2024

The GHOST Who 'TALKS'... (Updated)

Actual drawing size 57mm high

I've just spent the last 20 minutes or so 'conversing' with an old friend.  He died 11 years ago (which I only found out about in September of last year), but between the end of 1977 and 1980, we kept in touch by letter after he joined the Navy.  So did I employ a happy medium?  (Guffaw!)  No, I recently rediscovered his letters in a box and had a read through them, and it was good to 'reconnect' with the friend I'd liked and found amusing, before he became almost another person (at least in regard to me) and I eventually cut all ties with him.  (Regular readers will perhaps remember the events from previous posts.)

As I read his letters and cards, his 'voice' ran through them, and it was as if time had rolled back and his missives were recent communications, not nearly 50 years old.  To read references that only I would know was a poignant reminder of our youth, and I found myself dwelling on events and circumstances that I hadn't thought of in a long time.

For example, he mentions 'cows passing over' (raining) when he was on a training exercise, and my mind returned to the time a passing car drove through a muddy puddle and thoroughly drenched us with its contents.  I remarked that we looked as though a herd of cows had passed over us and 'dropped their load' (though the latter part wasn't the precise phrase used).  Over the years, whenever we recalled the event (which happened when we were primary school kids), we always referred to it as 'The Day The Cows Passed Over'.

He also humorously calls himself 'a bear of very little brain', adding 'Tiddely Pom', which was a direct reference to the time I'd bought a Winnie The Pooh book and brought a poem containing the phrase to his attention.  When we were out that night, we kept repeating the full poem (short as it was) and couldn't help laughing at the sheer silliness of it.  (Ah, the exuberance of youth.)  This had happened only around a couple or so years before he joined the Navy, and with that curious paradox of time, seemed fairly recent and also ages ago at the same moment.

He also scribbles the phrase 'Biffo The Bear Is An Easter Egg With Legs' in the top margin of a letter, which recalls the time we were on our way home after visiting a friend* and saw a father write the phrase (backwards from our point of view) in the condensation on his kid's bedroom window.  I assumed he remembered the circumstances, but was surprised when he asked me on one of his visits back to Scotland just where it came from.  I explained its origin, but he had no memory of the event.  "Then why did you write it in your letter?" I asked.  "Because you did in yours, and I found it funny" was his reply.

Another random thing he wrote on one letter, unconnected to its contents, was 'Rubber Buttons'.  This referred back to a conversation we'd had as young teens, about the so-called 'short trousers' we wore as kids.  Back then, short trousers ended just above (or touching) the knees and were higher-waisted.  Their flies had far too many buttons (seemingly made of a dense rubber) which were difficult and time-consuming to undo, resulting in having to hoist up a trouser leg to have a wee, as it took too long to open the fly.  When you were desperate, trying to undo the buttons was like moving in slow-motion, so long did it take (or appear to).

What's more, short trousers were thicker back then (as well as longer), and when you rolled up a leg, it resulted in something resembling a concertina that was spring-loaded, threatening to unfold over the 'little chap' and getting soaked in pee in the process (both trousers and said 'little chap').  Oh, the hardships, trials and tribulations we had to suffer in the '60s.    

There was so much more; references to people we knew, jobs I'd had, places we'd frequented, etc.  I'm glad I never threw his letters out as they allowed me a brief return into the past, and my demised youth that yet calls to me on occasion, but tauntingly teases me by remaining just beyond my firm and tangible grasp.  The rough pencil sketch at the top of this post is a quick drawing I did of him one night (I think) in the flat of a mutual friend (*same one as alluded to above), which said friend had in his possession for a good while until I reclaimed it from him.  It's been back in my ownership for decades now, from before I eventually realised my childhood pal had 'grown up' into a person I no longer liked or found amusing and let him follow his own path.

It was good to revisit him from a time before this though, even if it was all-too-brief.  As is life, sadly.  It's a shame I never made copies of my own letters before I sent them, just so I could read his correspondence in context, but it simply never occurred to me to do so way back then.

Any similar stories, Crivvies?  If so, let's hear them.

Monday 13 May 2024


Images copyright relevant and respective owners

I don't know about you, but when I buy a facsimile edition of a comicbook, I don't expect (nor do I want) footnotes from publishers prominently posturing in a politically 'correct' way and thereby compromising a mag's historical 'integrity'.  Look at that caption under the splash atop the indicia in the above example - no, Marvel, no!  The 2019 facsimile didn't have it, so why does the 2023 version need it?  Newsflash!  It doesn't, and I just wish Marvel (and anyone else) would cease trying to convert us to whatever the current woke fashion in thinking happens to be.

Hitherto, Marvel have trumped DC in (at least) one important way with their facsimiles, and that's with the reproduction quality of the ads.  In most cases, DC scan their ads from published comics of the past, and they look faded and just a bit rough, whereas Marvel (and don't ask me how they do it) usually manage to reproduce their ads in such a way as to make them look brand-spanking new and as sharp as they first appeared.  In the recent facsimile of The Flash #105, the ads have curved corners in some instances, indicating that they were either scanned from a comic with spine roll, or a bound volume, but DC need to do better in this department.

Having said that, look below at the same ad from a recent DC facsimile compared to a Marvel one; surprisingly, the DC example is of a much higher quality than Marvel's, so at least DC is improving and may yet overtake their rival's replica editions when it comes to the reproduction quality of the adverts.  Anyway, thought you might like to see the covers of some more recent facsimiles from the top two comics publishers so feast your eyes, effendis!  And if you have any thoughts and observations you'd like to share with your fellow Crivs, feel entirely free to do so in the comments section.

Marvel facsimile ad                                                         DC facsimile ad

The new 2024 printing - it was also published in 2021 with the original 12c cover price 

The 2023 printing - it was also published in 2019 (when it was only $4.99)

Update: I've added the cover of All-American Comics #16 to the above ones, and below is the inside front cover.  (It was once the custom to include the indicia on this page - I think it changed in the '50s sometime in DC's case, the '60s in Marvel's, but don't know the exact dates.)  Anyway, as you see, DC have their own version of Marvel's footnote and it's exactly where it should be - not destroying the comic's integrity in a screamingly obvious way - nor doing it with a mini-lecture.

Click to enlarge, then click again for optimum size

Sunday 12 May 2024


Let's not waste words - the two episodes were dreary drivel, turgid tosh, and pointless pish.  I could barely stay awake through either of them.  They'll have to try a helluva lot harder than this if they want to win my vote.  Thoughts, anyone?  (And the figures in my Corgi Toys Yellow Submarine bear more of a likeness to The Beatles than the actors chosen for the roles did.)

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