Sunday, 16 February 2020



An-oft told tale in MARVEL COMICS' history is how writer TONY ISABELLA introduced a character who was going to be revealed as JESUS CHRIST at the end of a long-running story-arc in GHOST RIDER.  Apparently, this had been run past the necessary people and approved, only for JIM SHOOTER (who was then an associate editor) to nix the idea at the last moment, changing Christ to a demon who'd been only posing as a righteous person and 'friend' to JOHNNY BLAZE.

Isabella's motivation in proposing the idea was, if I comprehend correctly, because he felt that there was no shortage of supernatural devils and demons in the Marvel Universe, but no overtly Heavenly righteous ones.  Marvel (and comics in general) seemed to have a plethora of 'SATAN'-type characters (one of them actually called Satan, but was he originally intended to be the Biblical one?*), but no 'GOD' ones. (Note the capital 'G' - we're not talking Norse or Greek deities here).

(*He was later revealed to be MEPHISTO, but I don't know whether or not this was done under Isabella's tenure.)

With DC's The SPECTRE, although the source of JIM CORRIGAN's powers was assumed to be God, I don't think that source was ever actually identified as such, or at least, not specifically as the Biblical  God.  That tended to leave out any particular theological or denominational inferences, so the readers could interpret that particular version of God according to their own beliefs.  So no real problem there then - unless you happened to be an atheist.

Although I can understand why Isabella was royally p*ssed off at the denouement of his story being radically altered, I find myself equally understanding why Shooter vetoed it.  Comics try to be neutral on the subject of religion, avoiding coming down on the side of any particular branch of denominational theology.  I've sort of lost track on whether or not there's even supposed to be a 'Supreme Being' in the MU, because the existence of The ETERNALS and perhaps even GALACTUS tends to muddy the waters.

However, it seems to me that had Isabella's story been published in its original form, despite his best intentions, it would have led to all sorts of controversies and repercussions which Marvel would have been anxious to avoid.  From being an essentially neutral observer on the matter of whether Christ was God, it would've been seen to be endorsing that particular tenet of Christian theological belief, which may have potentially offended members of other religious groups, especially Jews and Muslims.

And you can bet that some groups would've been offended by the notion of Jesus Christ being used as a character in a superhero mag - especially if He seemed to be sanctioning Ghost Rider's methods of dealing with 'sinners', which was surely at odds with Biblical teaching.  Isabella's idea (if I understand rightly) was that Johnny Blaze would accept Christ as his saviour, essentially rendering his crime-fighting exploits as being in service to Jesus.  Was Johnny going to ask sinners/criminals to repent and accept Jesus as their saviour before blasting them with his 'Heaven- Fire' if they didn't?  You can see the inherent problems from the get-go.

But were they insurmountable?  Perhaps any controversial/contradictory aspects could've been lessened or reconciled to some degree, but it would probably have been accomplished at the expense of compelling conflict and drama - at least in the way they're normally portrayed in comicbook superhero terms.  It would also have removed the interesting aspect of Johnny Blaze being in constant rebellion against the source of his power.  And let's be brutally honest here - the idea of a 'Sunday School' super-hero isn't quite so compelling, is it?   

Any thoughts on the matter, Crivs?  Just publicly accept me as the the world's best, finest, and noblest blogger and you will be rewarded with everlasting embarrassment. No, wait - that didn't come out right.  Och, tell you what, just leave a comment then. 

Saturday, 15 February 2020



Life is full of surprises.  I put off buying REBELLION's collected edition of STEEL COMMANDO - FULL METAL WARFARE when I heard it was a digest-sized publication.  However, I eventually decided to take the plunge, and was pleasantly pleased to find when it arrived this morning that its reduced dimensions don't make it difficult to read in the slightest.

Containing strips from THUNDER, LION & Thunder (including 5 combined CAPTAIN HURRICANE & Steel Commando episodes), VALIANT & LION, plus a trio of tales (one in full colour) from Thunder Annuals 1972, '73 & '74, there's 37 stories in all for discerning collectors to add to their treasure-trove of comic strip classics.  Also reproduced are three covers from different publications which cover-starred ol' 'Ironsides' back in the '70s.

One thing that slightly irked me was the following message inside the book:  'This edition faithfully reproduces the original publication. It therefore may deal with race, class or gender in ways uncomfortable to contemporary readers.  (Okay so far, I suppose - but then...)  We apologise in advance for any offence given.'  Do you ever see or hear such 'apologies' attached to old movies about World War II - or any other topic?  Most sensible people usually know instinctively to regard such things in the context of their time and don't need to be patronised in this way.

If they had to have something, why not the following? 'These stories reflect the attitudes and language from the period in which they are set, and perhaps also the time in which they were written. They do not necessarily reflect modern-day attitudes or opinion.  We therefore trust that no offence will be taken.'  Don't you think that's just a good bit less toadying to those determined to take offence at anything and everything?  Even if they kept their own version, but changed the last line to 'We regret in advance any offence which might be taken', that would be an improvement.

Anyway, that niggle aside, this is an excellent publication that will be sure to delight those who thrilled to the exploits of the Steel Commando back when they were kids or teenagers.  Priced at £6.99, it's a little beauty.  Get your copy now!



Although I was never a football fan when I was younger (nor am I now), I still bought soccer-themed comics from time-to-time.  That's because, comics for girls aside*, the lure of a new weekly periodical was hard for me to resist.  (*Having said that, I may have bought the occasional ish of LADY PENELOPE.)  So I purchased the early issues of SHOOT!, SCORCHER, and SCORE.  I no longer recall just how long I continued with them (maybe a few weeks or months), but I was certainly in on the ground floor when they first hit the shelves of newsagents all across the nation.

One of the strips I really enjoyed was BILLY'S BOOTS (from Scorcher), and today I received REBELLION's excellent volume of the collected weekly episodes from the first year.  In full-colour as they were originally published, it's great fun to revisit the '70s in my last six months of being a primary school pupil and my first four at secondary (with eight weeks holidays in between the two periods).  Not that you'll be interested in my personal history, but it may prompt you to remember your own if you were around at the time.

When I first read Billy's Boots in the '70s, the impression I had was that 'DEAD-SHOT' KEEN had long departed this mortal vale, so I was surprised to see while browsing through the book that BILLY DANE actually meets him in one of the strips, Keen being very much alive, though retired.  I feel that I'd have remembered that, so it's possible I abandoned Scorcher before ever seeing that particular revelation.  Maybe once I immerse myself in these stories from yesteryear, hitherto dormant memories will resurface, and seemingly forgotten details will become crystal-clear once more - we'll see.

Anyway, if you were a fan of the boy with the magic football boots, this handsome volume (priced at £19.99) is one you should definitely have on your bookshelf, ready to dip into at a moment's notice and thrill again to stories from your youth when you thought you'd be a child forever.  Didn't we all?!

Friday, 14 February 2020


Copyright relevant owner

Space was not the 'final frontier' for someone too young to remember the Korean War.  The 1950s comics were.  Until PS Publishing and Gwandanaland started reproducing 1950s comics, with the exception of EC, I never got to see many of them.  In fact it was easier to find reproductions of the 1940s comics than the 1950s. While many of the stories are not great, and repetitive, it is wonderful to finally see many of my favorite artists starting out.

There was a huge amount of Sci-Fi and space adventure comics in the 1950s.  Here is Space Adventures #10 from 1954.  It lists its publisher through issue #8 as Capital, and then it changes to Charlton.  Steve Ditko did the art.


It's a cold, wet, miserable day outside in my neck of the woods, but warm as toast inside.  That's mainly due to two things - central heating and today's babe BETTIE PAGE.  (And I could probably get by without the central heating.)

Thursday, 13 February 2020


I notice from my stats that someone keeps visiting Crivens (the best blog in all the universe - if you live in an alternate universe that is) in search of BERNADETTE PETERS, so I've decided to oblige them by publishing this photo of the lovely lady. Considerate to a fault, that's me.


Outside, it's a wet and windy day. The rain lashes the streets with unrelenting fervour as, from my window, I observe a few bedraggled passersby scurry for shelter or in pursuit of some purpose know only to themselves.  The sky is grey and omi-nous, clouds swirl overhead in regal, grim-meined majesty, contemptuously regard-ing us mere mortals as the lowly ants we undoubtedly are.

And that's the weather forecast for today.

However, cosily ensconced within the comfortable confines of my comics covered cubbyhole, I luxuriate in the warmth emanating from the radiator and concern myself with what pithy (no, I don't have a lisp), profound and poignant comments I can bestow upon my eager audience, who look to me to lighten and brighten their unbearable burden by bedazzling them with the wit and wisdom which so freely pours forth from my meaningful, methodical and monumental mind. 

Oh, what lucky people you are.

When I was a boy in Belmont, we had an outside 'garden cellar' (as did most houses in the street), in which we stored coal in one half and garden tools (lawnmower, spades, etc.) in the other. (It was called a cellar even though it wasn't underground, but apparently the term is not misapplied in such circumstances.)  On rainy days I'd sit on a deckchair inside the bigger-sized half with the door slightly ajar, reading comics and listening to the rain pattering off the pavement and caressing the concrete roof under which I ever-so-snugly sheltered.

Even today, I find it a supremely calming experience to sit in a car in the rain and listen to the drops rattlling on the roof in their staccato, tinny-sounding fashion. There is a wonderfully diverse quality to rain; when one is out walking in it, it invigorates, it refreshes, and it cleanses.  Yet, when one takes the time to regard its presence in quiet contemplation from the comfort of a dry haven, it also relaxes the mind and soothes the soul.

Sadly, refuge in the garden cellar of my youth is a couple of houses ago and many years in the past. However, I can still seek sanctuary in its shadows with one short step into the hallowed halls of memory.  As Cicero himself said: "Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things."  Failing that, of course, I can always go and sit in my nice new acrylic garden shed and listen to the rain pitter-patter all around me, the door half-open to allow me to watch it in silent awe.


Incidentally, the photo below was taken almost thirty years ago outside the very cellar mentioned, around twenty years after I had moved from the house.  How did I manage that, do I hear you ask?  Ah, but that's a story for another time.



Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

52 action-packed pages of arachnid adventure!
There’s been a major theft the likes of which we’ve never seen and for once, the Black Cat didn’t do it.  But Spider-Man might need the help of his once-foe-once-friend-once-crime-boss Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat!  Trouble is the Black Cat still wants to clean her claws with Spidey’s face!  By Nicks Spencer & Humberto Ramos!
Reprinting material from Amazing Spider-Man #9 &10.
On sale Now!



Got this great book today, which I'm looking forward to working my way through when I can apply myself.  The cover is slightly misleading though, because the cover attributes the strip to THUNDER, and the stories within were actually first pub-lished in the combined LION & Thunder.  (The correct credit is given inside.) However, that's a minor niggle as it contains some terrific artwork by CARLOS CRUZ, illustrating stories written by DONNE AVENELL.  Definitely one to have if you're a fan of classic British adventure strips.  Dr. MESMER'S REVENGE - get yours now!  (No, silly - the book, not your revenge!)  Priced £14.99.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020


Copyright relevant owner

I freely confess that I've carried a torch for JANE RUSSELL for many a year, but I don't think I've ever seen her in the movie MONTANA BELLE.  Nevertheless, I ain't gonna let that stop me from ogling these posters, and I thought my fellow Crivs would like to cop a gander as well.  Ah, Jane - wotta babe you are!

Monday, 10 February 2020


Sexy siren JANE RUSSELL jaunts around the dance floor in an attempt to qualify for STRICTLY COME PRANCING, but unfortunately she's too much of a woman to impress the two gaylords on the judging panel.  Never mind, eh, lads?  At least us rugged, macho, manly-men appreciate her.  (Hey, who's been using my lipstick and eye-shadow?  And where's my handbag got to?)


Nope, I dunno why he's wearing a deckchair either

For those of you who don't have a blog of your own, but would sometimes like to (or even if you do), here's an invitation for you.  Write a guest post for Crivens! and savour the sizzling sensation of seeing your words in print.  It'll bring you such fame that you won't be able to walk down the road without being besieged by hordes of screaming, admiring females trying to touch you and slipping you their 'phone numbers.  (That reminds me, I really must give some of them a call one day.)

Let me know if you're interested.

Sunday, 9 February 2020


'Homage' to cover of IRON MAN #150.  Hand drawn, no tracing or graph
paper or projectors involved.  Characters copyright MARVEL COMICS

Yeah, I know some of you will have seen this before, but I'm stuck for something to write about so it's either this or nothing.  (Hey, whaddya mean that nothing would've been preferable?!)


It's not generally known, but although I was primarily a lettering artist throughout my 15 year career in comics, my original ambition was to be an adventure comic strip artist.  I started lettering simply to get my size 9s in the door, but when I saw that I could earn more as a letterer than as an artist (on account of being faster at the former than the latter), I stuck mainly with the lettering.

However, I did a bit of drawing as well, adding to panels when re-sizing IPC comic libraries, and doing occasional spot illos when the opportunity presented itself.  I also worked as a restoration artist on some MARVEL MASTERWORK volumes, re-inking and even re-creating JACK KIRBY art, which was a huge thrill for me.

However, my frank and forthright views on this blog on the current state of the British comics 'industry' (hah!) has brought me in for criticism from some quarters, with a few disgruntled individuals dismissing me as "only a letterer" and a "Kirby tracer".  Thing is, I got my first paying gig as a cartoonist when I was still at school, and have produced artwork for publication (for which I was paid) since even before (during and after) I started freelancing for IPC/FLEETWAY, MARVEL COMICS (and others).

So here are a few examples of my artwork ranging from my teenage years right up to adulthood.  Quite a few are professional pieces I was paid for, some were freebies for people I know, and the remainder were done for my own amusement.  I've shown them all before at various times, but it can't hurt to remind people that I'm certainly more than "only a letterer".  Funny how some people who work in comics mistakenly imagine that it's the only legitimate outlet for an artist's work, eh?


Huh!  Not even one appreciative comment so far.  I knew I should've take off the 'Do Not Feed The Ego' sign hanging around my neck before I posted this.  (Now I know what YOGI BEAR feels like.)

Pencil caricature (using my pseudonym) done as a gift for someone

"If you don't like a certain cartoonist's version of DESPERATE
, then why not try drawing it yourself?"
someone dared me.
So I did!  Characters copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

B&W copy of colour ad for a local restaurant.  I was going
to be paid £100 for it, but decided against it in the end

2000 A.D. pin-up.  I was paid for it, but don't know
if it was ever published.  Characters copyright

One of the lettering samples that got me the promise of work from
IPC.  Pencils by me.  Characters copyright MARVEL COMICS

Set of four cartoon illustrations for Equestrian event programme

Cartoon illustration for local business

Acrylic ink caricature of a friend's son

Pencil caricature done as a gift for someone

Parody of AMAZING FANTASY #15 splash page

Cartoon strip for local business

Proposed strip (at the request of BOB PAYNTER) for OINK!
comic while at the preparation stage.  Never got any feedback,
but a similar character appeared a few months later

in 1983, background completed 30 years later, in 2013

Acrylic ink portrait done as a gift for someone
after much badgering.  Yeah, you can see my
heart wasn't really in it

Inked drawing done as a gift for someone.  Characters

Newspaper ad drawn as a teenager for local business

Photocopy of pencil drawing done for my own amusement around 1981

Instruction leaflet done for local business's delivery drivers

Newspaper ad for Glasgow hairdressers

Acrylic ink caricature done as a gift for someone


Drawing done as a gift for someone

Pair of flyers for local business

Proposed logo for Glasgow con.  Don't know if it was used or not

Cartoons for two camping posters done in my late teens/early 20s

Logo for local business

Acrylic ink caricature done as a gift for someone

Quick caricature done as a gift for someone

Fun & Activity booklet produced for local business

Acrylic ink caricature done as a gift for someone

Unfinished pencil caricature

Comic strip drawn for The BOOTS NEWS when I was 17

Pencil drawing done as a teenager

Unpublished strip for local paper.  Others were published though

Cartoon strip drawn for my own amusement

Character copyright DC COMICS

And finally - a couple of pages of JK artwork I inked.  The FF one
appeared in an issue of The JACK KIRBY Collector.  Characters
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