Saturday 2 March 2024



Y'know, something about SPIDER-MAN's origin that never really gelled with me was the idea that he had the proportionate powers of a spider - simply because he was bitten by a radioactive one.  Sure, he certainly manifested similar abilities, though didn't possess the natural physical 'equipment' to produce his own webbing, making the first movie ridiculous in that respect, despite STAN LEE saying that he thought it was an improvement.

Therefore, if (for the sake of discussion) we accept the original notion that he got his powers from the spider, he could obviously only replicate its abilities in as much as his own human make-up would allow him to.  But if that's true, then how did he manage to walk up walls while wearing gloves and (originally) thick-treaded boots?

Furthermore, whenever he was crawling on a ceiling, wouldn't his weight have brought it down - especially in offices where polystyrene ceiling tiles hid the electrical wires for air-conditioning and overhead lighting?  It doesn't really make much sense.  (I hear you - does any superhero concept?)  But we're not stuck with the 'official' explanation if we don't want to be.

My own opinion (despite what the comics may now suggest) is that it was simply the radiation that imbued PETER with enhanced powers, not the spider - it was merely the 'messenger'.  The radiation allowed him to transcend his human limitations and do things that he otherwise wouldn't be able to.  Walking up walls?  That was as a result of Peter having some kind of 'psionic' force that allowed him to defy gravity to a limited extent.

You see, in my view, because Peter saw the spider, it had a psychological influence on the way he understood and 'rationalised' his enhanced abilities.  Potentially, if he hadn't been limited by his own perceptions of what a spider can do (disproportionate strength and speed, the ability to cling to surfaces), he might have manifested even greater powers - like being able to fly for example.  (Even his so-called 'spider-sense' is merely a form of ESP.)  

What I'm suggesting is that the spider was merely the conduit for the radiation that gave him his powers, not the source itself.  The radiation affected his metabolism, increased his strength and speed, and also imbued him with the ability to develop just about whatever enhanced attributes he could imagine (within reason).  Now, though, his powers have become established and can't evolve further.

Anyway, I think there's great story potential in my idea.  I'd love to see a tale where Peter discovers he's a 'child of the atom', not the spider, and that the arachnid merely influenced how he interpreted his radiation-induced powers, and wasn't the genetic source of them itself.  What say the rest of you Criv-ites?  Let loose the dogs of dissent in the comments section.

Friday 1 March 2024


You'll remember me showing you some A3 cover enlargements I'd framed back in November 2022 (see here), and mentioning that there was one picture I couldn't photograph because the Christmas tree was blocking sight of it.  I said that once my decorations were back up in the loft, I'd show a snap of the pic (a poster) and now, after my decorations being in my living-room for more than a full year, they're now all safely ensconced back in the attic.

So - here's the pic - though, unfortunately due to where it was positioned (on the side of a display cabinet), I couldn't get a good shot of it without the clear plastic within the frame reflecting the camera flash, as well as the wall (and other things) the picture is next to.  So I moved the pic to another wall (temporarily) and took another snap, which is slightly better.

Anyway, I said I would and I have, so here it is.  Don't say I'm not a man of my word (though I'll admit it does sometimes take an inordinately long time for me to fulfil it).

Incidentally, I used another browser to access my blog, which is how I was able to add the above image.  The previous post yet applies.


Suddenly, whenever I try to add a photo to a new post, I get an 'error occurred' message and I can't add any images.  Any other bloggers finding the same thing or is it only me for some unaccountable reason?

Upon checking, it only seems to be happening when I use Microsoft Browser.

Update: I've fiddled about with things, reset settings to their default values, and it now seems to be working again.  However, I've no idea as to what caused the problem to begin with.  Strange, eh?  I've now added the 'offending' image to the post.


Copyright DC COMICS

A nice Brian Bolland drawing adorns the cover of the UK Official Superman Annual for 1983 (issued towards the end of '82), and though I've not reproduced them here, the endpapers inside the book sport a double page illo by Dave Gibbons.  I have to say that I find Vince Colletta's inking of Jim Starlin's pencils in the first story quite pleasing in this instance, though many of you might disagree with me as he wasn't everyone's favourite inker.

It's interesting to note that the first 'part' of what was originally three separate issues of DC Comics Presents (#s 27, 28, & 29), has 17 pages, the second part has 16, and the third part has only 15.  Part two has therefore had what was probably a recap page omitted to avoid repetition (though it might be another page entirely), and part three has had two pages omitted for, I assume, the same reason*.  This 'vandalism' was an all-too-common practice in these London Editions/Egmont Annuals which would've likely prevented my from buying them back in the day had I noticed as I'd have considered them incomplete.

(*I think I actually have the original US comics, but, if so, I forget where I've stored them so am unable to check at this present time.)

I got this book recently as part of a set of three (of which I really only wanted one), and as I showed you the 1984 Batman Annual last week, I thought it only fitting to share this one with you as well.  Incidentally, I've presented the splash pages in the order they originally appeared, as the Superboy tale was 'sandwiched' between the second and third parts of the main story, so don't go thinking I've mixed them up.  Feel entirely free to share any reminiscences you may have of this Annual in the comments section, Crivvies. 

Thursday 22 February 2024


Copyright DC COMICS

When I recently decided to obtain a replacement for my own long-gone 1980 UK Superman Annual, I ended up buying four of them from different eBay sellers to try and get a decent-condition copy I was happy with.  One Annual was part of a trio sold as a single lot, so along with the 1980 Superman Annual, I now also possess the 1983 one (in pretty good nick), plus the 1984 Batman Annual, neither of which I owned before.

The Batman book required a bit of cosmetic work to the cover (colour touch-ups, ironing out corner dunts, etc.,) as well as erasing the results of colour pencils to a few interior non-story pages, but it was worth the effort as it contains some nice Batman tales, as well as sporting a cover by Dave Gibbons.  I could simply buy a better condition copy of course, but this one was never really in my sights so I can live with it just as it is.

Tell you what, though... rather than tell you about the contents, why don't I show them to you?  Well, the splash pages at least, just to give you a taste of the book.  If you had this Annual back in the day (or even the original US monthly comics where the stories first appeared), feel free to share your unique memories of it/them in our crying-out-for-attention comments section.  (Don't be heartless and disappoint it now, y'hear?)

Monday 19 February 2024


Images copyright relevant and respective owners

Okay, peeps, for a change of pace from my dreary, weary, woeful waffle, here's a thought-provoking guest post from Gene Phillips about the nature of time and memories - assuming I understood it, that is.  Hopefully, this will inspire you to think, and having 'thunk', express your thoughts in the comments section.  Read on, MacDuff!


"Time is simultaneous, an intricately structured jewel that humans insist on viewing one edge at a time, when the whole design is visible in every facet."

"Why couldn't the past, present and future all be occurring at the same time -- but in different dimensions?"

The first quote comes from one of the most famous graphic novels of all time, the 1986-87 Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons WATCHMEN, and the sentiment expressed, about the relativity of time, is "intricately structured" as one of the narrative's main themes.

The second comes from a very obscure Stan Lee/Jack Kirby story in AMAZING ADVENTURES #3 (1961), "We Were Trapped In The Twilight World!"  It wasn't reprinted until the twenty-first century and I doubt that even its creators remembered it after they tossed it out within the pages of a title that was finished in three more issues, being renamed AMAZING ADULT FANTASY from #s 7-14.

Not only was "Twilight" probably tossed off to fill space, the idea of the simultaneity of past, present and future isn't even important to the story's plot.  Shortly after the handsome young theorist expresses his time-theory, he drives away with his girlfriend.  A mysterious, never-explained mist transports them both back into Earth's prehistoric past.  While the two of them flee various menaces, the scientist theorizes that entities from the past sometimes entered the mist and showed up in modern times, so that ape-like cavemen generated the story of the Abominable Snowmen.  Grand Comics Database believes that "Twilight" is one of many SF-stories plotted by Stan Lee but dialogued by his brother Larry Lieber, so, failing the discovery of original Kirby art, there's no ascertaining which of the three creators involved generated the line.

In both stories, the simultaneity of all times has one common function: to cast a light on the limits of human perception.  But is there any truth in it?

In the sense of the bodies we occupy, not really.  Our common experience as human beings is that our bodies are totally enslaved by the unstoppable progress of the future, remorselessly eating away the present the way age eats away at our bodily integrity.  And yet, one organ in the body defies future's tyranny and that's the brain.

Only in the brain are past, present and future truly unified -- though one may question if Moore's correct about how "intricate" the structure is, even assuming that the paradigm applies only to fully functioning human brains.  And time is only unified in terms of a given subject's own memories.  I don't necessarily dismiss such things as "memories of a past life" that are usually cited in support of reincarnation, but those type of memories are not universal enough to draw any conclusions.

My ability to "time-travel" in my memories is similarly limited.  I can summon a quasi-memory of being on a family vacation and finding MARVEL TALES #11 at an out-of-town pharmacy.  That comic book would have been on sale in 1967, probably a few months prior to its November cover-date.  I think this was probably the first SPIDER-MAN comic I bought, but my memories of reading the comic for the first time aren't that specific since I didn't get into buying superhero comics until the debut of the BATMAN tele-series in early 1966.  That show would have finished its second season in March 1967, at which time I might have felt venturesome enough to sample a superhero I'd never heard of.  Now, for me to be correct on that score, I would have to have bought MARVEL TALES before the 1967 SPIDER-MAN cartoon debuted that September, since it's also my memory that I watched that TV show when it first aired.  But can I be absolutely sure that I didn't see the cartoon before buying the comic book?  Not in the least.  I seem to remember that I'd bought enough back issues of SPIDER-MAN or MARVEL TALES that when the cartoon debuted, I recognized how some of the cartoon-stories had been adapted from the originals, but that memory is not reliable.

In the WATCHMEN chapter referenced, Doctor Manhattan can foresee future events as accurately as he can recall memories of the past -- or at least, whatever past experiences are important to Moore's narrative.  And in "Twilight," the protagonists live through the past so as to clarify events in their present, but total narrative clarity is denied real people.  However, what our functioning memories do preserve are not just every single experience we have, but the important experiences.

Humans can travel in time from Significant Thing #1 to Significant Thing #4566 via chains of mental association, though some of these associations might be subconscious.  I once noticed that Robert E. Howard's barbarian hero Kull first appeared in print in the August 1929 issue of WEIRD TALES, about three or four years before Siegel and Shuster collaborated on their landmark hero Superman.  We know that Siegel named Superman's dad after himself, making "Jor-L" out of the first syllable of the author's first name and the last syllable of his last name, but whence comes "Kal-L"?  Did it come from... "Kul-L"?  Even assuming that Siegel read the Kull story, there's no way of knowing if he consciously remembered reading it, but if he read it, maybe something about the hero's name appealed to Siegel and he simply recycled that appeal when it came time to name his own hero.

We do not know if anything survives the demise of our physical forms.  But while we are alive, it's entirely logical to build up our stores of significant memories, whether we can take them with us or not.  To borrow from the title of an old English poem, those memories provide us with our only "triumph over time".

One last Significant Thing: the last issue of Marvel magazine AMAZING ADVENTURES was cover-dated November 1961, the same date assigned to FANTASTIC FOUR #1. So that arbitrary date becomes something of a threshold between the Old Marvel Way of doing things, and the New Approach, which would, as I've argued elsewhere, have saved the medium of comic books from extinction.


Any thoughts, Crivvies?  Let GP (and the rest of us) read them now!

Sunday 18 February 2024

CRYIN' COCKLES AND MUSSELS, ALIVE, ALIVE-O! (Or: Sea Shells On The Seashore)...

Let me see, now... I think it was either in 1965 when I was on holiday with my family in Rothesay, though it could well have been the following year when we holidayed in Kinghorn - I'm not quite sure after all this time.  Regardless, we were walking along the beach one day and my father was picking up a few cockle and mussel shells and putting them in one of his jacket pockets.  He also lifted a piece of what I can only describe as 'slate'.  Later, in Woolworth's, he bought a packet of Humbrol paints that came in little glass vials (remember them?) and some glue or resin, though I forget exactly which kind.

Next, he attached the mussel shell to the slate, then affixed some smaller shells around the join, and when everything was safely and securely attached, he painted them.  Hey, presto - instant home-made ashtray.  When we returned home at the end of our holiday, the ashtray made the journey with us, and as my father was a pipe smoker, often made use of his handiwork - as did my mother, who smoked the occasional cigarette.  (Hands up those who thought I was going to say she was a pipe smoker too?  Cheek!)

Sometime in the early or maybe mid-'70s, I noticed one day that the slate base had been replaced with a sturdier, heavier base and I assumed that the original one had broken, perhaps as a result of being dropped or my father requiring it for some other purpose.  I never found out the actual reason, but it seems reasonable to assume it was one of those two possibilities.  Some of the shells had also been broken over the years and the paint on them was no longer as bright and shiny as it had once been.  I'd always intended to spruce it up a bit, but the decades came and went without me ever getting around to it.

However, several months back, a pal and me visited Prestwick, where I picked up a few small shells from the beach, realising that they were the very chappies I needed for whenever I finally got started on 'tarting up' the ashtray.  Not that it had been used in many a year as I've never smoked, and visitors usually go outside if they're 'gasping for a fag'  Anyway, long story short, I applied myself to restoring the ashtray's cosmetic appearance over the last couple of days and now it looks better than it has for a long time.  I used acrylic paints on the shells as acrylic dries quicker than enamel, then coated them with acrylic varnish.

That's the finished result in the photo atop and bottom of this post and I have to be honest and say I'm quite proud of it.  Just think, it goes all the way back to my childhood close to 60 years ago, and I associate it with at least three houses (maybe four) I've lived in over that time.  As I said, it no longer fulfils (and hasn't for an extremely long time) the function of an ashtray, being retained mostly for its cosmetic appeal (to my eyes, if not yours), as well as the welcome memories that one glance at it can bring.  It's a familiar 'face' from the past and it's got a free home with me for the rest of its (and my) days.

Any similar reminiscences, Crivvies, of items from your childhood?  Then we're 'all ears' (so to speak), so share them with the rest of us in the comments section.

Wednesday 14 February 2024


Today, as all good Criv-ites are surely well aware, is Valentine's Day.  I've never received a Valentine's card in my life, nor have I ever sent one, but many people will be waiting in eager anticipation of a card from a loved one (or an anonymous admirer) popping through their letterbox, and probably as many people will be anxiously fretting over not getting one and what it says about just how they're regarded by others if they don't.

However, today my mind can't help but think of my late pal's widow, Heather, whose husband Matt (known as Moonmando to long-term readers of Crivens) passed away in a local hospice exactly a year ago today from inoperable liver and bowel cancer.  It must be difficult when others about you are basking in the glow of getting a Valentine's card when the only person you'd really love to receive one from is no longer around to give it.

So, readers, as you savour the reassurance of knowing you're adored, spare a thought for Heather and those like her to whom this date isn't a cause for celebration, but rather a painful reminder of a heart-aching emptiness in their life.  (Though that pain isn't restricted to only one day.)  It's tough when your time is up and you have to depart this world, but I sometimes wonder whether it's even tougher for the ones you leave behind. 

Tuesday 6 February 2024


In all my life it could never be claimed by anyone or myself that I was ever fashionable when it came to the clothes I wore.  For example, look at the flared trousers I'm wearing in the above photo taken in 1978.  I was around 19 and flares had been out of fashion for two or three years as far as I recall.  However, this post isn't really about fashion, it's just me self-indulgently reminiscing about my past and marvelling at how recent these photographs feel to me, while at the same time seeming as if they were taken long ago and far away in an age now lost to history.  (As all ages eventually are in the fullness of time.)

Despite my hyperbole I can readily recall where these pics were taken though.  The first two were on the roof of a derelict farmhouse and riding stable which later became a pub called Whitehills Farm.  (It closed only a few months back.)  The photo-booth pic was taken in my Town Centre post office, and is, I think, the only one (barring my then-pal's wedding photos in Portsmouth that same year) of the two of us together at the same time.  Looking at the first two, it reminds me that, even as 19 year-olds, the pair of us still explored places we had no right to be.  Dangerous places too, as the building was a ruin and could easily have collapsed under us.  

These days my memory isn't always as reliable as it used to be, so I was unsure whether these pics were taken before or after his marriage until I re-read a letter from him postmarked January 16th, asking why he hadn't heard from me since the 'big day' (thus before).  So, 46 years ago captured in a few photographs, prolonging the moments and the time they depict long past their natural shelf-life.  Truly, a camera is a brilliant invention - probably one of the most remarkable in human history.  It can be a pleasant experience looking through old photos, but sometimes also a painful one, as we're reminded of those who are no longer around and just how old we've become.

I've got thousands of photos and it's sad to think that they only really mean something to me as nobody else would be interested in them.  So many moments frozen in time that will one day be discarded when I'm no longer around to look at and enjoy them.  'This Is My Life', but it's a life that cuts no ice with anyone else when it comes to preserving a photographic record of it.  It's quite a sobering thought to realise that, in the great scheme of things, we're really not as significant as we'd like to think we are.  Ah, 1978 - where did you sneak off to when I wasn't looking?  And that goes for every year before or since.

Do you enjoy looking through your old photos, readers, or are your past fashion mistakes and embarrassing hairstyles something you'd much rather prefer to forget?  The comments section awaits your input if you'd like to visit.  Don't be shy now.

Monday 5 February 2024


Certain trees have been an important aspect of my life over the decades, not only as 'signposts' to memories of the locations in which they stood, but also reminders of the times in which I first became aware of them.  The first was actually a fallen tree on which I played at Fireball XL5 as a 4 or 5 year-old kid, and the next (two houses later) was the main one on which the neighbourhood kids had elected to hang a rope to provide a 'swing' for all those who enjoyed such a pastime.  (What boy didn't?!)

Then there was the one down the road from me in the area we flitted to halfway through 1972, which I passed on a daily basis to and from school for the next two-and-a-half years, as well as sundry other times.  It stood on the edge of a burn (narrow watercourse), which had two metal barred 'fences' at different angles to one another where two separate channels of the burn met, to prevent 'flotsam and jetsam' being carried into the tunnel that the water led in to (and out of) whenever it was in full and furious flow.

As a shortcut, I used to regularly walk over the three or four foot long, two or three-inch wide top of one of those fences to reach the other side, without pause or uncertainty, and I did so with such aplomb that I impressed even myself.  (I know what you're thinking - "He's easily impressed!")  I couldn't do it today because my sense of balance is completely shot, but when I returned to the area (and house) in 1987 after four years elsewhere and resumed using that same route to and from my home, I found that, after an initial hesitation, I could again routinely walk over that strip of metal with the same ease and assurance as previously.  So my balance was pretty much the same at 28 as it had been at 13.  No mean feat if I say so myself.  (And I do.)

There have been other trees that meant something to me as 'markers' in my life and maybe one day I'll write about them, but for this post, the one at the bottom of the street is the focus of my attention because, after nearly 52 years, it was blown down by the fierce gales that much of the country has been subjected to over the last several weeks.  It survived the second-last one from around three weeks or so ago, but, alas, it fell victim to the most recent one a week back.  I was in a friend's car and was dismayed to see it no longer standing tall and proud as we passed its fallen form, but I made a mental note to try and get some photos before council workmen come to dismember it and cart away the branches and trunk.

As you can see from the photos, I managed to capture its image before it disappears forever.  I do actually have quite a number of photographs I took of the tree in its heyday (I guess I must've known, deep-down, that it wouldn't be there forever), but they aren't to hand at the moment for me to show them here - when I find them, I'll add them to the post.  I wasn't really too surprised to see it had finally succumbed to the elements, because it actually stood in quite a tenuous spot with not a lot of earth and soil around two sides of it.  I think I was more surprised that it had survived as long as it did, as I always feared that council workmen would fell it as a potential hazard even if it managed to withstand the gale-force winds that assailed it every so often.

For quite a number of years now, whenever I passed it on my perambulations, I would reach up and touch the ends of its overhanging branches (which hung over the pavement on the street-side of the burn) in greeting and appreciation of its continued presence (in fact, I did so only a few weeks back), as it was like an old friend from my past as well as my present - though, sadly, no longer my future.  I was always relieved and gladdened to see it still stretching towards the heavens after a storm, but now I'll never be able to pass the spot again without a sense of loss and sadness at its absence.  Daft as it sounds, if trees can be aware of their surroundings, I wonder whether it will miss me (or anyone) as much as I'll miss it when it's finally removed.

So here's to another soon-to-be-vanished aspect of my past.  They become more frequent the older I get, but such is life, I guess.  Do any of you ever feel the same about once-familiar local 'landmarks' from your day-to-day life that are no longer around?  If you can relate to this post in any way, feel free to leave a comment - otherwise I'll suspect you're ignoring me because you think I'm as barmy as a big box of biting, battling badgers.

Sunday 4 February 2024


Copyright DC COMICS

It's a highly unusual situation for me to look at an item and have absolutely no hint of an idea as to when and where I first bought it, but such is the case with the above Annual.  Note that it's an 'official' Superman Annual, though as far as I know, there were never any unofficial ones - certainly not in the UK at least.  It's dated 1980, which means it went on sale around August or September of 1979, but however hard I try, I just can't recall where I obtained it from or in what year.  Was it 1979 or sometime in the early '80s?  Did I buy it new from a shop or by mail order as a 'back issue', or did I get it in a jumble sale?  Perhaps a friend (yes, I do have some) gave it to me - I just don't have a ruddy clue.  I find this incredibly irritating as I've always prided myself on having a good memory, but this is a book that somehow slipped through the cracks.

What I do remember is I gave it to a a pal by the name of Bob Billens (or something close to that) in the early '80s, after I'd already extracted two pages that made up a Superman poster, plus a third page by Curt Swan (possibly first published in a US mag) showing how to draw Superman's face in a variety of expressions.  I was going to throw the book out, but he said he'd take it instead, regardless of the extracted pages.  I still have those pages, though I substituted the poster, which was on my wall, with a print-out of a scan of it a few years ago.  Recently, I got the urge to track down a replacement, but I couldn't even recollect what the cover looked like.  I looked at UK Superman Annuals on eBay, and there were a few which showed images of some of the contents.  When I saw the double-page poster I knew that was the one I was searching for.

So that's another item from my youth returned to the fold, 40-plus years after owning my original, and it's good to have again.  It reminds me of that friend (before he proved to be a bit of a d*ck - no, I don't mean 'duck'), as well as a time in my life when it seemed that the world was my oyster and I had unlimited time to 'cultivate' it.  Funnily enough, although I extracted the poster in the early '80s while living in my current house, it wasn't until my family moved to another in 1983 that, around a year later, it went up on a wall in my new bedroom.  As regular readers know, we returned to our previous home just over four years after flitting from it, where the poster assumed the spot on the wall it was intended for had we never moved elsewhere.  Strange when you think about it, eh?  It ended up where it began, and maybe that's precisely how it should be.

Any thoughts, theories, observations, or accusations (y'know, like "You're bonkers, Robson!") made welcome in our comments section.

A page in a similar vein to this one appeared in SUPERMAN #245 for Dec '71/Jan '72 

Below, a print-out of a scan of the original poster done a few years back, occupying the same spot on the wall as its predecessor.  It's still there to this day.  The main difference is that this is a one-sheet poster, whereas the original was two pages, with an 'invisible' horizontal join in the middle. 

Sunday 28 January 2024


Copyright DC COMICS

No, your eyes do not deceive you - you are seeing double and, yes, I've shown the cover of this number before as a single issue (though I applied digital technology to disguise some flaws.).  Back in May it was, when I acquired a replacement for my original copy after 43 years.  (I still have the cover and splash page though, 'cos I used them as pin-ups on my bedroom wall in another house.  They're tucked away somewhere safe at the moment.)

As alluded to, it wasn't in perfect condition, as it had the number 10 scrawled on the cover in ballpoint pen (which I assume was a reduction from its price of 15p, and at one time it may have had a sticker on it which had been removed, leaving some residue over the 'E' of Superman.  The '10' wasn't too noticeable, though its impression was visible if the light fell on it in a certain way, and I gave the area around the 'E' a colour touch after removing the residue, but it wasn't in perfect condition.

I decided to wait a while to see if I could live with these flaws, but when I recently saw another one on eBay described as being in near mint condition, I decided to take the plunge and purchase it.  Alas, the seller had failed to notice a couple of small rips on the left-hand lower cover, one which was around half-an-inch long.  He gave me a very generous partial refund after enquiring whether that would be acceptable, and the application of some PVA glue to the rips soon remedied that problem, but the colours on the cover and inside weren't quite as vibrant as the other copy.  The vagaries of printing, alas.

Also, my original copy had, I'm sure, the UK 15p price on it (as does the replacement I bought in May), whereas the more recent copy has the original US price of 40c.  Normally, such things wouldn't bother me if I were buying the comic for the first time, but as I'm replacing the one I had in 1980, I'd prefer it to be a 15p issue. 

So what do I do now?  Learn to live with these imperfections or wait until a near-pristine copy pops up at a reasonable price and go for third-time lucky?  (Fourth if you count my original.)  So far I'm undecided, but if and when I make up my mind, you'll be the first to know (after me of course).  What I'm interested in, though, is what would you do in this situation?  Just accept the flaws or look for a better issue?  The comment section awaits!


Ah, you'll have to be quicker, Crivs - just bought another one!    

Friday 26 January 2024

BATMAN #5 Facsimile Edition...

Copyright DC COMICS

DC's Facsimile Editions just seem to get better and better.  Some earlier issues were scanned from published originals and weren't quite as sharp or as bright as they could've been; others were comprised of a mixture of pages from new proofs when it came to the main strips, alongside murky ads scanned from published comics.  This latest issue is more-or-less perfect throughout and is printed on matt paper, as opposed to the slightly glossy stuff favoured by Marvel.  All-in-all, it adds up to a nice little product worthy of adding to your collection.  If you haven't got it already, rush out and buy it today.  (Or acquire it via eBay like I did.)

Note that on the symbolic cover, the bat emblem is absent from Batman's costume - presumably so as not to clash with the baddies in front of his chest.  (Hee-hee!  I said "chest".) 

Tuesday 23 January 2024


 Dolly Parton asked me to join her for a roll in the hay
so I dutifully obliged, though all it did was get us covered in
the stuff.  That's all we did for a couple of hours - take turns at
rolling around on haystacks out in her big barn and telling each
other silly jokes.  Wasn't at all like what Sean Connery and
Honor Blackman got up to in Goldfinger.  I must be
losing my sex appeal - though Dolly sure isn't. 

Thursday 18 January 2024


Funny how some behaviour continues even after a 'change' in circumstances, eh?  Back around 1971/'72, I used to wash cars on Saturday mornings in the car park of the pub on the other side of the shops across from my house.  This gave me some extra pocket-money with which to indulge my buying habits, such as comics and the occasional toy or model kit.  Halfway through June of '72 my family moved to another house in a different area, but because it wasn't too far distant I continued my car washing 'business' in my former neighbourhood as if nothing had changed.

One of my purchases with the proceeds from my labours was the very first Knockout Annual for 1973, bought, it seems from memory, a little earlier than when Annuals usually went on sale in shops, from the newsagent's just along the road from my new house.  Another buy was the Matchbox Superfast Flying Bug (No. 11), purchased from the newsagent's in my old neighbourhood (while residing in my new one) just after a car-washing session one sunny Saturday in 1972.  I forget which item was obtained first, not that it much matters for the purpose of this story.  Annual or car?  Just can't recall.

Maybe a week later, in the company of a pal, the late Alan Bowie (no relation to the singer, whose real name was Jones), I bought a second Flying Bug from another newsagent's, in an area where I'd once lived prior to the two mentioned above.  AB also bought one, being enamoured by mine and wanting one for himself.  Why did I buy another?  I have a vague recollection of having blootered my original with continually scudding it across the living room carpet into the skirting boards and compromising its pristine condition.  I was always a sucker for things that were brand-spanking new.

Close to 30 years ago now, I bought a replacement Flying Bug (boxed), and recently saw another on eBay.  I couldn't help thinking it would be nice to have a spare one - to sort of stand-in for the one my pal had bought 50-odd years ago, on the same day I'd purchased my second Superfast car.  So I promptly bought it and it arrived at Castel Crivens last week.  I'll keep it out for a while to enjoy looking at it, then I'll store it alongside my other one in a box in the cupboard.  First, though, I'll photograph the two of them together (still to do at time of typing) so you Crivvies can cop a gander at them.

Having two of them reminds me of not only an earlier time in my life, but also in my late friend's, who I later fell out with (in 1981) and didn't find out had died in 2013 until September of last year.  So he's gone and I have no idea how long it will be until I follow him, but for the meantime, I can look at these two cars and remember a time when we were best buddies with an eternity ahead of us.  Always better to recall the happy times, eh?  Any of you Crivs own an item which reminds you of old pals who you later lost touch with, and if so, how about sharing it with the rest of us in the comments section?

And just in case you were interested, below is the cover of the Knockout Annual for 1973 (on sale in '72).  It's as Christmassy a cover as you could wish for, though I got it around July, possibly August.  It was the only Annual the newsagent's had, and I remember it was a sunny day.


It occurs to me that I have many items that remind me of specific friends, people (and also places), who are indelibly associated with them because they were with me when I first purchased the items in question.  It's almost like a diary entry, being able to look at something and recall who was with me when I bought it, and in what shop in which neighbourhood as well.  It doesn't happen with every item I own, but it occurs enough times to warm the cockles o' me 'eart.  

Tuesday 16 January 2024

ACTION MEN Of The 1960s - Guest Post By Doctor ANDREW MAY...

Fellow Crivvie Doctor Andrew May has decided to spoil us all once again with another guest post.  This time he's looking back on one of the most popular toys for boys ever created, which is yet available today in 2024.  Good toys never die, eh?  Over to Andrew...


I mentioned in a comment on this blog a few months ago that I still had some Action Man figures from the 1960s, so I'm grateful to Kid for this chance to say a bit more about them.  The four that I still have are pictured above - they're lying flat on their backs because the internal elastic has become so loose they can't stand up on their own.  Apart from that, though, they're in pretty good condition given how much I used to play with them.  One of the brown-haired figures is missing a foot, and the yellow-haired one is minus both hands, but otherwise they've survived the years pretty well.

As you can see, these are all "first generation" Action Men with painted-on hair - originally bought circa 1966-67 when I used to play with them constantly with my best friend of the time, who was the same age as me and lived in the same village.  We were continually swapping toys between us, so the ones I ended up keeping weren't necessarily mine to start with.  My own first Action Man was the yellow-haired one (who, as you can see, quickly got stereotyped as a German), though the oldest toy in the photo is the black-haired one on the left, which originally belonged to my friend and subsequently came to me in a swap.

At one point I also had an Action Man "Talking Commander", which I never really liked, as well as a Tommy Gunn - an Action Man clone from a different manufacturer (Pedigree), which I also didn't like much.  I suspect I ended up swapping one or other of them for that black-haired Action Man, which was always my favourite.

Technically, in fact, that one isn't an Action Man at all but a G.I. Joe - the original American toy from which the first generation Action Man was copied.  You can see this by comparing the inscription on the black-haired figure with one of the others:

The first one reads: "G.I. Joe reg. T.M. copyright 1964 by Hasbro (R) Patent Pending Made in Canada", while the second one says "Made in England by Palitoy under licence from Hasbro (C) 1964".

As discussed recently on this blog, Action Men weren't cheap - the equivalent of over £30 in today's money.  But many years later my mother told me that, after initial misgivings about "boys playing with dolls", she and my father decided it was the best money they'd ever spent on me, because I played with them constantly from age 8 right up until I was 11 or 12.  By that time I was too old for toys as such, but (with a new and more sophisticated circle of friends after starting high school), they became more like today's modern action figures for adult collectors, being put on display with different uniforms and equipment.  I even remember adding stubble to one of the brown-haired figures to make a "Sgt Fury" lookalike!

Back in their early days, however, the figures really got their boots dirty fighting endless back-garden battles.  Here's a couple of photographs from that era:

As you can see from the second of the above garden pictures, I used to have an Action Man "frogman" outfit in those days, complete with wetsuit and scuba tank.  None of that's survived, but I do still have a few miscellaneous accessories - of which the most interesting (to me) is the spacesuit pictured below.  The silver fabric is reminiscent of the iconic Mercury spacesuit (1961-63), but I think it's actually meant to be a Gemini suit (which would have been bang up to date at the time I bought it), because it includes a hand-held manoeuvring gun like the one used by Gemini astronauts on spacewalks.

It's been good to look back on my childhood playthings and I only hope that it's reminded you of many happy moments playing with your Action Men.  Any of you still have them?


Thanks, Andrew, for taking the time to prepare this post for your fellow Crivvies.  I'm sure they'll have enjoyed looking back just as much as you did.  Hopefully, they'll be so moved with nostalgia and emotion that they'll leave lots of lovely comments.

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