Friday, 18 September 2020

GARTH & ROMEO - TOGETHER...


Copyright relevant owner
Copyright relevant owner

Here's a nice little ebay acquisition which I 'won' today - a 1960s 'Two-In-One' book of Garth and Romeo Brown.  Garth is on one side, Romeo on the reverse, so once you've finished one strip, you turn the book over to read the other.  This will complement my Garth books for 1975 and '76, all three bearing the Daily Mirror name on them.  I've borrowed the seller's photos, but will replace them with my own when the book arrives.  Just thought you might like to see it.  Anyone a Garth fan?

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Barry Pearl's Guest Post - Tales Of The Marvel Age: Prologue...


 
This is a beginning, a preface to a series of entrees about collecting the entire Marvel Age of Comics as they were originally published.  These entrees would be the most interesting if you too posted how you began collecting and, as we go on, your most interesting stories.  One of the great reasons to post here is that while my stories take place mostly in Forest Hills, in the borough of Queens, New York, your stories will be, for me, international. 
 
The purpose of this first post is just to give you my background, mention that I dislike comic book retailers and let you in on my second biggest lie! 
 
My journey begins with my Aunt Gussie and Uncle Leon who opened up a candy store in Woodside, Queens.  These stores are now extinct.  Upon opening, they sent me a box of goodies: candy, toys, and, on the very top, a brand-new Lois Lane comic where she was a witch!  That was Lois Lane #1, April 1958.  My brother read it to me.  The first comic I ever read was "The Caveman from Krypton" which appeared in World's Finest #102, June, 1959.
 
 
Soon, the most important comic I read was Challengers of the Unknown #5 or so.  It would be years before I knew who Jack Kirby was, but this was the comic that made me love comics.  Why?  The Superman and Batman comics of this era were mostly "gimmicked".  Superman would be old, fat, bald, blind or without powers; Lois would be a witch, fat, old, etc.  Jimmy Olsen would be a turtle and Robin would seem to have died. 
 
The Challengers had adventures.  They went places, they were "living on borrowed time" and threw caution to the wind.  I loved that.  And then it stopped.  I know now that was because when Kirby left, the series lost its energy.  I began to look for similar comics and for me that was cheap and easy. 
 
Remember my aunt and uncle owned a candy store, or to me, it was a comic book library.  I went there and could spend a Saturday eating ice cream and candy and reading (and yes, keeping) comics!  A hundred a month!!!!!!
 
 

So, when Fantastic Four #1 came out I began to see it often had the "Challenger's type" adventure stories in it.  (I still had no idea who Jack Kirby was.)  It also had personal story arcs that took time to develop.  Except for the Justice League, most DC comics, at that time, had two or three stories in each issue.  Marvel had one full-length story where the story and the characters could be fully developed.  DC also had fillers, short stories that were very plot-orientated.  Marvel eliminated those.  In their anthology titles (Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish, and Strange Tales) Marvel had double features.  Their tales were most often continued so the stories and characters could be advanced.
 
I didn't ignore DC, I read all their comics for a decade.  However, I kept the Marvels because, frankly, I enjoyed re-reading them more, especially the stories that took a few issues to tell.  I should mention that I lived, with my family, in a small apartment, and didn't have room for every comic I read, so I just kept the Marvels.  My aunt and uncle closed the store about 1970 and both soon passed, but I kept collecting... about 6,000 comics it total.  I had begun to write a book on this era, featuring a description and credits for every single one of those comics. 
 
I stopped collecting in 1978 and had packaged up all my comics, in plastic bags and in cartons, as there were no comic boxes then.  I stored them for nearly a quarter of a century before getting back to them.  More on that later. 
 
 
Having the complete Marvel Age in my home has led several companies, including Marvel, Taschen, Pulp Publications, Tomorrows, Alter Ego, Abrams ComicArts and many others, to use scans from my collection and to invite me to write about them. 
 
Along with Nick Caputo, Michael J. Vassallo and Roy Thomas, I co-wrote Taschen's huge 75 Years of Marvel (and their Stan Lee book) where they used a huge amount of my scans and they allowed us in an acknowledgment section to list the people who had recently helped us with the book.  If you get a copy, you will see that I listed my Aunt and Uncle who were long gone.  Here's my second biggest lie:  My niece wanted a copy of the expensive book and so I asked Taschen to send one to Gussie and Leon, care of my niece, so that she could get one. 
 
When she got the Taschen package it dawned on me that I got My Aunt and Uncle's first box of comics with their names on it and she would get their last box with their names on it, 65 years later. 
 
Thank you Aunt Gussie and Uncle Leon.  You would be so happy to see what you started.

CHILDHOOD'S END...


My 14th birthday was the first birthday I ever spent in my present home, and earlier birthdays in my previous house still seemed so recent that I didn't yet miss the years they represented.  It's only when the recent past has 'matured' (like an old wine) and is no longer so close that we begin to pine for it, and such was the case with me.  (It's not only absence that makes the heart grow fonder, but distance too.)  The last couple of years in my former domicile were not the same as the years that preceded them.  I'd already progressed beyond the stage of viewing the surrounding environs of my neighbourhood as my playground, and was venturing further afield in search of adventure. My taste for toys (in the main) was diminishing, and the occasional item aside, comics had become my primary interest instead of being just one of them.

The 'fabric' of my life had changed and was continuing to do so, but it was doing so while escaping my attention, so when my family flitted to my current residence in June 1972, my life continued for the first couple of years or so in much the same way as the last couple of years in my prior abode.  And it was this sense of continuity in the pattern of my life over the transitional period between one house and the other that dulled my awareness of an incontrovertible fact - namely, that my childhood had already ended in my former home and I had progressed from one stage of my life to another without being fully aware of the 'metamorphosis'.

It was only with the passage of time and many years after the fact that I realised my actual childhood 'belonged' to a previous house (and other houses before it), and that I'd left that blissful state unawares, as cognizance of the process of one's early life unfolding in stages doesn't consciously register until some way down the track.  As I've said before in other posts, life as it happens segues from one 'scene' to another in a subtle cross-fade, but when we look back years later, it seems to jump-cut between them.  That's because we recognise, categorise, and compartmentalise retroactively, not during the actual process of everyday life itself.

I think that's why I sometimes make little 'pilgrimages' back to old houses and neighbourhoods, to pay my respects to my demised childhood, even though, as I said, I wasn't aware it had passed away at the time.  And hey, perhaps it hadn't, and I'm assigning an arbitrary time of expiry as it subjectively seems to me today, not as it appeared back then.  Whatever the case, it makes me wonder how others regard this subject, which in turn leads me to ask the following question to those who feel inclined to answer:

Were you aware of when you ceased to be a child and moved on to the next level of your biological, emotional, and psychological evolution, or - like myself - was it not until many years later while trying to assemble the jigsaw of your life to view the full picture (up 'til now), that you realised you had transformed from a caterpillar to a butterfly without being aware of the fact?  Thoughts, theories, and observations will be made very welcome in the comments section.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

BABE OF THE DAY - VALERIE PEREZ...



The alluring Valerie Perez holds up a bag of swag to try and entice me into taking her out on a date.  She doesn't have to pay me  (though I'd be worth every penny), pleading would suffice. 

Sunday, 13 September 2020

AGAIN - THE PHANTOM VIKING...


Copyright relevant owner

Several posts back, I showed you a Phantom Viking strip from the Champion Annual for 1968.  If you remember, I said I may show the second PV strip from the Annual, which is a mix of full and spot colour.  Well, I'm nothing if not a man of my word, so here's that very strip, scanned at the risk of damaging the book so I hope you all appreciate it.

Are you old enough to remember ol' Vikie, and did you think he was just a rip-off of Thor?  Then feel entirely entitled to express your opinion in our free-to-enter comments section!  I repeat - free-to-enter - so where is everybody?  (Hey, I'll even settle for anybody.)








Thursday, 10 September 2020

AN INSPECTOR CALLS... ARE YOU GOING TO BE IN? (UPDATED)...


Copyright relevant owner

I suppose it was during my last year at secondary school that the following event I'm about to relate occurred.  Well, the location is definite, but the year is an educated guess, arrived at from the fact that the timing would've been just right.  Several classes of potential soon-to-be school leavers (if my conjecture as to the year is correct) were taken to the science block's screening room to see a movie one day, the cinematic treat presented for our appreciation being An Inspector Calls starring Alastair Sim, and based on the play by J.B. Priestley.

Directed by James Bond stalwart Guy Hamilton, it's a tightly-woven morality tale of how one's every action has unforeseen repercussions that impacts on not just the individual accountable for them, but others as well.  No doubt its screening was intended to inculcate a sense of responsibility in our young minds to prepare us for our impending entry into the working world and justify our position among the ranks of 'adulthood'.  (Of course, it may be that it was routinely shown to all 15-16 year olds each year, regardless of whether they were due to leave school or not, as perhaps that was the age-group considered to be more receptive to the film's 'message'.)  

It's a powerful story, and is so masterfully constructed that you 'can't see the joins' as it unfolds before you.  By that I mean each event appears to be a random happening, totally unconnected to the one that precedes it and the one that follows, though slowly but surely we learn that they're all tied together and that, in life, everything we do has consequences, like the ripples caused by a pebble thrown into a pond.  The acting, lighting, direction, etc., are superb, and the music cues, especially those accompanying dramatic revelations, is extremely effective.

So if you've never seen the film, hunt it down now as it's a true classic (and available on dvd). The twist in the tale of the original play has been 'accentuated' to greater effect in the movie, and I can promise you that you'll be thoroughly entertained, as well as having your imagination stimulated and maybe even your mindset and behaviour affected in a way that's beneficial to not only yourself, but also those with whom you interact.

Hey, that's a movie well-worth seeing, don't you think?!  If you're already familiar with the film, feel free to agree with my assessment of it - or not, as the case may be. The comments section awaits your esteemed presence.

*****

Below, the actual screening room, in 2007 or '08, recorded for posterity (by me) 33-plus years after first seeing the movie.  It was projected from a booth at the back, though I no longer recall with any certainty whether it was straight onto the wall or a 'roller-screen' (the latter I think), but this was where an Inspector called back in 1974.  (See what I did there?)  Within a few months (at most) of this photo being taken, the entire school was demolished to make way for houses and flats, a new school building having already been built (and in use) on adjoining land.   

Monday, 7 September 2020

GUEST POST BY BARRY PEARL - KIRBY THE WRITER...



Hooray!  At last, another guest post from the man James Bond wishes he could be - Bashful Barry Pearl!  This time around, Barry's looking at Jack 'King' Kirby's writing style.  (Hey, do you think JK was related to Nat Cole?  They had the same middle name!)  Over to BP...

******

I love Jack Kirby, it was his comics that created a comic book fan out of me.

But Kirby seemed to have a problem when, in the 1960s, he wrote without a collaborator.  It was as if he forgot what he'd written at the beginning of his continued stories (Fourth World, Eternals, Black Panther).  Instead of elaborating on already introduced plot points, he developed new ones, leaving me, the reader, hanging.  He also “jumped” around in the same issue, presenting concepts, but not developing them as he went on to the next.

Kirby also emulated the 1940s writing style of Joe Simon, where his dialogue basically discussed the action or the plot of the stories.  He wasn't successful in emulating Stan Lee's style, where characterization and personal development were necessary, especially when relationships needed to be developed.

Kirby succeeded as a writer with the DC war comic The Losers because it was all about the action, and didn't really have any developing relationships.

Many devoted Kirby fans insult me when I mention these points.  Be kind, but I'd like to read your opinion, whether you agree with me or not.  Kirby was a fantastic storyteller, but I felt he needed a partner to keep him on track and write better dialogue.  Sadly, the comics that he also supplied the dialogue for were not big sellers.

Below is a selection of Kirby pages to remind you of his writing style. 









What do you think, Crivs, is Barry spot on with his assessment, or do you think he's way-off beam?  Let's hear your thoughts, theories, and observations in our ever-lovin' comments section.  And whether you agree with him or not, I'm sure you'd like to express your appreciation for BP taking the time to compose this guest post.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

JAMES BOND - RANDY RASCAL OR RAMPANT RAPIST - YOU DECIDE...



What the hell is the world coming to?  On another blog, someone asserts that secret agent James Bond 'effectively' raped Pussy Galore in the scene in the barn on Auric Goldfinger's stud farm.  I've since learned that there are other sites where such an utterly ridiculous accusation is repeated as though it's fact, when the real facts are that there's nothing at all in the scene to suggest Bond is raping her.  Where does such lunacy come from?  (Stick around, I'll tell you shortly.)

Here are the real, incontrovertible facts of the case.

In the movie, Pussy Galore's lesbianism (as mentioned in the novel) is seriously downplayed - to the point that it's not exactly clear whether she is or she isn't. (Though it looks as if she might help out if they were short-handed.)

While Pussy is showing 007 around Goldfinger's farm, they go into a barn and engage in what appears to be a playful, flirtatious, fighting tussle; it certainly doesn't look like either one is seriously trying to hurt the other.  Bond tries to kiss Pussy, who initially appears resistant to the idea (after all, Bond is her hostage and trying to thwart her boss's plans), but then, going from her expression, changes her mind and willingly returns his kiss.  (Look at the above screen-grab - her arms are embracing him, not pushing him away.)

The scene fades out on that kiss, and it's left to the viewers' imagination as to whether they actually went any further, but Bond being Bond, it's not unreasonable to assume that they did (consensually).  Pussy then decides to switch sides, helps Bond defeat Goldfinger, and then, in the movie's final scene, gleefully (and willingly) engages in a bit of (unseen) rumpy-pumpy with our hero under the folds of a parachute.

So here's where the ludicrous assertion that Bond is a rapist breaks down.  (In fact, all that Bond can be accused of is trying to steal a kiss from her, and even then, likely only in a strategic manoeuvre to get her 'on-side'.)  If he'd raped Pussy, it's almost a certainty that she'd have killed him at the first opportunity, not switched sides and betrayed her employer.  

It's also clear, from her readiness to engage in another 'tussle' (without the half-hearted judo or karate this time) with Bond at the end of the movie, that she's completely 'up for it' - which isn't usually the response of someone who'd previously been raped by the person with whom she's now about to have consensual sex.

So how did the rape accusation come about?  Obviously, it originated from a bunch of woke feminists (male and female), who just don't like the idea that there are 'manly-man' men like Bond out there whom women can't resist.  I should know - I'm one of those men.  (Heh heh, little joke there.)  Add to that the fact that the literary Pussy was a lesbian, the idea that Bond 'converted' her ("I must've appealed to her maternal instinct" he says, when asked why Miss Galore changed sides) throws misandric feminists and lesbians into a paroxysm of fury at the very idea of such a thing.  (Yet, strangely, they're always quick to suggest that straight women can be easily 'turned' after a few sherries.)

So our hero - in essence a hired government assassin (when need be), but one who only kills bad guys in pursuit of a better world, is not only a randy cove, but also a bloody rapist!  According to a bunch of men-hating feminists with an agenda, that is.

Anyone else out there who's fed up with this nonsense?  Make your feelings known now.  In fact, make your feelings known even if you think Bond is a rapist.  I'm always prepared to give the other side of any controversial subject a fair crack of the whip, even if they are seriously deranged and talking utter bollocks.  (So completely impartial then.)

Right - who's going to be brave enough to be first?

Saturday, 5 September 2020

JAMES BOND 007 NO TIME TO DIE LATEST TRAILER...


    

Here's the latest trailer for No Time To Die, which seems to be derivative of earlier Bond movies, as well as the Mission Impossible films.  Yet another example of Bond following, rather than leading.  It's all gone a bit pc when the new 007 is a black woman (and it wouldn't surprise me if she's also a lesbian), because, as we all know, there are attempts afoot to programme us all into accepting that women can do everything that men can do.  And vice versa - except for having babies and menstruating of course (but at least we can catch man-flu and they can't).

Personally, I didn't see anything wrong with the old idea that men could be good at some things and women other things, with a bit of meeting in the middle, but under the new religion of 'equality'*, diversity, and inclusivity (for the sole purpose of enabling those with an inferiority complex to feel good about themselves), traditional outlooks are being jettisoned faster than a fart from The Flash!  (*What some people fail to realise is that 'difference' doesn't necessarily mean inequality.  An apple is still a piece of fruit despite not being an orange.)

Let's just hope the movie is worth the entrance fee, because there's only one stunt in the entire trailer that stands out - and even then it's based on a scene in The Great Escape with Steve McQueen (or his stunt man).  Right up to date, eh?

MY NUMBER'S UP - OR SHOULD THAT BE DOWN...?



Sometimes I'm not sure whether it's better to leave certain things where and as they are, or salvage them so that they survive beyond their allotted time and place.  For example, 29 years ago I bought the house number plate from the then-current (and now-deceased) tenant of one of my former homes, in which I'd lived from the age of 7 to nearly 14.  Within a few short years of obtaining the number, the house had new windows and front and back doors installed, and had I not got the plate when I did, it would've been consigned to oblivion along with the old windows and doors, etc., before I'd even known about it.

Several months back, I learned that the local council have plans to upgrade the lockups in that very same neighbourhood where I'd once lived, which would entail re-roofing them and replacing the doors.  Some lockups have been bought over the years and are now in private hands, so they might remain untouched and unrestored initially, but the owners will, eventually, have to effect repairs themselves as not all doors (fitted in the early '60s), are exactly in the best of condition.  In fact, some owners have already replaced the original doors, which swung outwards, with ones that swing upwards under the roof.

Limited edition model of Nobel 200

I therefore decided to ask the guy who rents (from the current owner) what had once been my parents' house and lockup to sell me the two number plates on the doors, so that they'd survive any future upgrade.  He kindly consented for free, only requiring that I replace the numbers with new ones so that the lockup's numerical sequence could be readily identified.  And that's how I came to own the two plates at the top of this post.  Come what may, I now possess a tangible reminder from the days when my father housed his Nobel 200 car (and then a Reliant Robin) in that very same lockup, behind those very same numbered doors.

The numbers plates had been painted over at some point in the intervening years since we'd moved (in the '90s perhaps), so weren't entirely visible from even a short distance away, but I plan on stripping back the paint and restoring them to their former glory.  It's a shame I couldn't have waited until the doors themselves were being replaced, as I feel a bit guilty about parting doors and plates from one another before a definite date for their 'retirement' has been set, but I couldn't run the risk of only finding out afterwards when it was too late to nab 'em, so I acted now to prevent such a thing happening.

Photo taken in the late '80s, with plates still visible
(if you enlarge the pic to its optimum size)

Like I say though, it bothers me a little that I've separated them from the only 'home' they've known for nearly 60 years, and if doors and numbers had sentience, I can't help but fancifully wonder whether they'd miss one another?  I suppose that when the doors are eventually replaced, I'll be glad I obtained the plates when I did, as there have been too many occasions in the past when I left such 'rescue missions' too late to do anything.

Right, now that I've once again confirmed that I'm totally bonkers, is there anything that yet resides in a former neighbourhood or home of yours, that you'd like to acquire out of a sense of nostalgia or sentiment - if you could?  Tell all in the comments section.  Oh, go on - it's no fun playing on my own.

Number plate from former house

Friday, 4 September 2020

BABE OF THE DAY - VALERIE PEREZ...



Here she is, fellas, the delicious VALERIE PEREZ, looking like the princess she is. Y'know, if she evinced a desire to marry me (being the handsome, manly-man that I am), I'd certainly consider it.  Remember though, Val, I'm quite a catch, so make sure that you don't get lost at the back of the queue (when it eventually appears).

SO - STILL 'THOR' AT VINCE...?


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Following on from my relatively recent repost about Vince Colletta (here), I thought I'd show you an example of why I think he often gets a 'bum rap' for ruining Jack Kirby's pencil art by missing things out.  As I said before elsewhere, I don't think that it was always a case of him taking shortcuts just for the sake of it, but probably because - at least on some occasions - of him applying his own artistic sensibilities to certain panels because he thought it improved their composition.

Take the panel which opens this post.  To my eyes, the figure at the back of the crowd in Jack's pencils is too small in relation to Loki (given the seeming short space between the two) - and the pavement (sidewalk) looks to be on the same level as the god of mischief's chest, but running up at a slight angle, as opposed to receding away from him at its proper perspective.  By removing the almost prostrate figure, the proportions of the fleeing crowd in relation to Loki appears more realistic, the seeming upward slant is lessened, and the general layout improved.

There's no doubt that Vince sometimes simplified or omitted detail that he didn't consider necessary in order to ink the job quicker, but, like I said, I believe there were times when he thought it improved the overall look of the art.  Sometimes he misjudged it, but, on balance, I think he usually gave more to the strip (in terms of a pleasing visual appearance) than he took away by leaving anything out.

Stan Lee was presumably (mainly) happy with the results (though I can think of one exception), otherwise he simply wouldn't have given Vince his best artist's pencils to ink.  At the end of the day, Thor reportedly sold better when Vinnie inked it than when Bill Everett or George Klein did, so I'd say that surely counts for some-thing.  Anyway, that's my thoughts on the matter - you'll have your own.

'Nuff said.

(Vinnie did make a couple of changes I'm not so keen on - he made Loki's right glove look longer than his left, and the paving slab lines on the sidewalk more angled.  Tsk, tsk!)

Thursday, 3 September 2020

HITTING ANOTHER TARGET - AND MISSING... (COMPLETE FIRST ISSUE)


Characters copyright relevant & respective owners 

The 'banner' headline on the cover gave it away.  Target, published by Polystyle Publications, was really nothing more than a resurrected TV Action, but a much cheaper, slapdash version that was, frankly, uninspiring.  It lasted 19 issues before being merged into TV Comic, and it's a surprise that it even survived for so long. The title was presumably inspired by Patrick Mower's TV show, but there had been another periodical called Target, published by New English Library, a few years before.

Harry North's black and white art on Hazell was the best thing about the comic, and if the colouring on some of the other strips had been better, and other artists' work tighter, the publication may have stood a greater chance of success.  I can no longer recall whether I stayed with Target for its entire short run or jumped ship after #3, but I do remember giving the first three issues to a pal in the late '70s, possibly the start of the '80s, and I thought that was the last I'd ever see of them.

Around 33-odd years later, though, he gave me them back, along with some other comics I'd given him, which I've now 're-owned' for around 7 years or thereabouts, so I thought I'd share the entire first issue with you here on Crivens.  If you bought Target back in the '70s, what did you think of it?  Or if you're seeing it here for the very first time, does it look like a comic you'd have been interested in?  Share your thoughts in our ever-lovin' comments section if you'd be so good.

(Yeah, I know the post's title is a contradiction-in-terms if taken literally, but I mean it in an ironic, figurative way.)  




















And, below, is the earlier NEL title of the same name, but which was a very different type of publication.

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