Friday, 20 July 2018

WHAT'S IT WORTH? NOT WHAT HE'S ASKING...



Currently on sale on eBay, the seller says:  "Can't say a lot.  Don't know a great deal about it... no rips or tears."  One of the photos he shows reveals a tear at the bottom of the cover's spine.  Guess how much he wants for this dog-eared, spine-creased comic without the original free gifts?  £180.  Considering he admits to not knowing much about it, we can surely be forgiven for thinking he's being a tad optimistic, to say nothing of opportunistic,  In short, a chancer!

I reckon if it was in pristine condition with the 3 free gifts, it might be worth a third of the asking price to a buyer seeking to complete the 14 issue run.  What do you reckon, readers?  (And in case you were wondering, I've already got this issue three times over.)

JIMMY HANSEN - R.I.P.



Sad to learn, from browsing through STEVE HOLLAND's blog, that JIMMY HANSEN, ace cartoonist on such characters as BUSTER, SHINER, RICKY RAINBOW (which I lettered), and DENNIS The MENACE (as well as numerous others), died on Tuesday 19th June from cancer.  No doubt many comics fans who grew up reading his strips will feel that a little part of their own lives has departed with him, but at least his work survives in back issues that those who were wise enough to hang onto theirs can return to again and again. Condolences to his family, friends and fans.  See Steve's post on the artist here.  

Thursday, 19 July 2018

THE BEANO CENSORS HISTORY - PEANUT 'WHITEWASHED' FROM COMIC COVER (UPDATED)...


Images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

Just sat down with my 80th anniversary boxed set of The BEANO, and am hugely disappointed to see that now the 'PC Brigade' are rewriting history.  Think I'm kidding?  Take a look at the facsimile cover of the first issue above.  PEANUT, the little black boy who adorned the masthead has been excised from existence.  The joke page which features him is also missing.  (As are another 3 pages from what was originally a 28 page periodical.)  So much for it having any archival value to collectors or historians.

What's the problem?  The first issue has been reprinted several times over the years and Peanut has always been present, so why is he absent now?  Racially sensitive perhaps?  Maybe even offensive?  Bollocks!  A cartoon drawing of a black boy should be no more offensive to a black person than a picture of DENNIS The MENACE or FRED FLINSTONE would be to white person.  What black people should be offended by is Peanut being written out of history as if he never existed.

The reprint even has a note inside saying "Some pages may contain references which are of their time, but would not be considered suitable today."  Yet they omit Peanut, who - as a cartoon caricature - in no way could be considered any less suitable than any other comic strip character.  Take a look at him in a pic from one of the excised pages (below).  He's a cute-looking wee fella who surely wouldn't be considered offensive to black people in any way.  (I think it's safe to assume that they have a sense of humour as well as perspective.)


Every single person who had a hand in the insulting decision to whitewash (no pun intended) Peanut from the comic's history should be lined up in a corridor and given a severe kicking for their seriously unsound, politically correct, pathetically patronising attitude.  Remember a few years back when various council bosses and business managers issued an edict that their employees shouldn't swap Christmas cards with the word 'Merry Christmas' on them?  Only cards with 'Seasons Greetings' or some equally anaemic, non-specific message should be used, for fear of offending Muslims.  The Islamic community's reaction?  "Don't be daft - we don't care!"  This is yet another example of that kind of stupidity.

Here's how the 2008 book, The HISTORY Of The BEANO, addressed any potential controversy:  "It (The Beano) has always been a child of its time, however, and as one looks over 70 years of Beanos, there is some content that would no longer be thought acceptable.  When The Beano was first published in 1938 , the drawing of 'Peanut' appeared on the front cover, something that would never be contemplated today.  To place The Beano in the context of the time, we keep the image of Peanut in this history but we certainly do not wish to cause any offense by so doing."  See?  Informative and educational at the same time.  That's surely the best way to do it.

The boxed set itself is otherwise excellent and good value for money, and if you're a Beano fan, you're sure to love it.  However, if you expect the facsimile of the first issue to accurately capture and reflect the spirit and humour of its time, then be aware that its archival and historical integrity has, sadly, been seriously compromised.  Below is how the cover looked back in 1938.  It would be nice if Thomson's could remember it for the next big anniversary bash.

RAMPAGING REPOST: SON OF LOOPY LAPSES IN LOGIC DEPT...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS.
Cover art JACK KIRBY & DICK AYERS

One of the drawbacks of the much-vaunted 'Marvel Method' was that, oc-casionally, the words didn't always match what was going on in the pics - or vice versa, if you prefer.  Writer STAN LEE usually tailored his script to the art, and on the odd instance when he diverged (for whatever reason), he would have a panel or page redrawn to fit the direction in which he wanted the story to go.  It has to be admitted though, that sometimes things didn't quite gel and that glaring in-consistencies managed to sneak past the proofreading process.  Such an example is the one below from The INCREDIBLE HULK #5 - take a look.
   

Okay, got that? According to RICK JONES (the inevitable teenage sidekick), TYRANNUS and BETTY have already passed through the opening which the boulder now blocks, this being the route by which the villain first reached the surface.  However, peruse the following panels and see if you can spot the 'loopy lapse in logic' which Stan, as both writer and editor, failed to see. 


It's obvious from the first panel that Tyrannus and Betty are still making their way up the mountain (from the other side, presumably), not descending into the bowels of the earth.  And, when The HULK and Rick return, the boulder has been moved.  However, if Tyrannus was already on the other side of it, who moved it and why The scene as dialogued just doesn't make sense.  It's clear that JACK KIRBY intended Bruce and Rick to detect tracks leading from the boulder, not to it;  and while they made their way back to the lab, Tyrannus arrived and moved the rock, which is why it wasn't in place when ol' Greenskin and his teenage chum returned.

 Here's how certain dialogue and captions should read:

CAPTION:  A SHORT WHILE LATER...

Bruce:  IT DOESN'T SIT RIGHT WITH ME, RICK!  WHY
WOULD AN ARCHAEOLOGIST NEED A LOCAL GIRL TO
SHOW HIM THESE CAVES?  WE'D BETTER INVESTIGATE!

Rick:  AW, THIS IS FOR THE BIRDS, PAL!  WHO
WANTS TO LOOK AT SOME OLD CAVES?

Bruce:  ANOTHER THING - - WHY DIDN'T TYRANNUS
HAVE ANY ARCHAEOLOGICAL EQUIPMENT WITH HIM?
RICK - - LOOK AT THAT!

Rick:  TRACKS - - LEADING FROM
BEHIND THIS GIANT BOULDER!

Rick:  WE CAN'T BUDGE IT - - YET IT'S CLEARLY
BEEN MOVED RECENTLY!  BUT HOW?

(Etc., etc.)

Caption:  NOT LONG AFTER, AS TYRANNUS TAKES HIS
BEWILDERED PRISONER TO HIS SUB-SURFACE ESCAPE
CRAFT, THE MOST POWERFUL CREATURE OF ALL LEAPS
TOWARDS THE CAVE ENTRANCE... 

Obvious when you apply a little logic, isn't it?  Still a classic story though, and one of my all-time favourites.

For more Loopy Lapses in Logic, click here and here.

******

(In case there's anybody out there unfamiliar with the 'Marvel Method', this was when the writer would supply the penciller with a brief synopsis (or both of them would work out a basic plot), which the artist would then illustrate, perhaps adding some ideas of his own to 'flesh things out'.  Then the writer, usually following explanatory margin notes by the artist, would script the dialogue and captions, before sending the pages to be lettered and inked.)

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

QUESTION: WHAT'S RED AND ITCHY THAT YOU CAN SIT OR SLEEP ON? (NO, THE ANSWER ISN'T YOUR @RSE)...



Regular long-term readers may recall me mentioning my family's custom of visiting my maternal grandparents every Sunday afternoon for tea, and their itchy, red bed-settee that we used to sit on as I read whatever comics I'd taken along to while away the hours.  As is no doubt obvious from the name, the settee (which looked just like a settee) could be folded out into a bed to accommodate visitors who might have to stay overnight for whatever reason.  Indeed, one Sunday night in their previous home in Rutherglen, we were astounded to find on the point of departure that a thick impenetrable fog had descended, making it impossible to see and resulting in us having to stay until the next day.  The bed-settee was pressed into service, and I'd imagine it fulfilled the same function for others on the odd occasion.

It's amazing the amount of comics I associate with that settee;  issues of TV CENTURY 21, DETECTIVE COMICS, BATMANSUPERBOY, SUPERMAN, FANTASTIC, WHAM!POW!, MWOM, and just about any other title you care to name.  I'd always take at least one comic with me on my visits, perhaps acquired on the Saturday or that very day - or even through the preceding week.  I liked to dwell on my comics, immerse myself in them, drink in their four-colour or monotone magic, and lose myself in the fantastic fables they presented in their palpitating pages to a receptive readership.

The years passed (as years do), and eventually my grandparents moved into an old-folks home.  Amongst other things, we took possession of their itchy, red bed-settee, which sat in my brother's room for several years in two different houses.  When he eventually got his own flat, he didn't take the settee with him and it was left to gather dust in his old room.  Again, regular readers will perhaps remember that, after four years in another house, we returned (sans sibling) to our former abode, the one I now inhabit.  The settee moved back with us, but unfortunately, we had acquired so much other furniture in the four years we were away that there was really no room for it and, sadly, it was soon quietly dispensed with.

Even today, while poring over some of my old comics, I'm suddenly reminded of the old bed-settee, and realise that I'd once read whatever comic I'm looking at on that very settee, more than two-thirds of my lifetime away.  I've got a slightly blurred photo somewhere of me sitting on the settee, with which I hope to adorn this post (if I can find it), plus a couple of other random snaps of it shortly before its enforced 'retirement'.  A few of the comics are the original ones I had back then, and several are later replacements, but I'm struck by the fact that, in some instances, I read the originals and their replacements while sat on that same red settee, many years apart.  It's now been gone for over 30 years, but sometimes it still seems like part of my life - especially when I'm reading comics or annuals that I remember reading back in the '60s, '70s and early '80s, sat on that sadly-missed, itchy, red bed-settee.

Now here's another question:  Is there an item of furniture, or anything in fact, that your mind returns to whenever you're re-reading a comic or book from your long-gone youth?  Do you suddenly give a sigh at the thought, and wish that you could have it back again, and regret, as I do, that for almost every new purchase in our lives, an older possession, representing so many memories and associations, must sadly be 'sacrificed' at the altar of acquisition in order to accommodate it?  Do tell.


Above, the disassembled parts of the settee, a couple of months or so after moving back to my present abode.  Ah, the memories that the sight of it evokes.  The top photo was taken in the previous house, but I remember the settee in my gradparents' possession from several of our houses before that.  (Incidentally, tired and grumpy-looking as I may look, I was still only in my 20s in that pic.)  I should also mention that the settee was only itchy because of the material it was made of, not because it was 'unclean' or anything.  I mainly remember it being itchy from when I was a youngster and still wearing shorts, because then the bare skin of my legs came into contact with it.  'Twasn't so bad when I started wearing long trousers (at the age of 20 - he joked).

******

And below is one of the comics I associate with the settee.  I'll add more from time to time as I remember them. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

OVER TWO MILLION HITS - AND GROWING...



Well, who'da thunk it?  CRIVENS! has now received over two million hits since I first began it back in - when was it - 2010?  (And no, the majority of them haven't been by me.)  What amazes me is that although I'm not blogging as much as I used to, the site still gets thousands of visits per month.  True, I'm blogging a bit more than I'd anticipated I'd have time for, due to other commitments which I originally thought would completely curtail my Online activities, but nowhere near as often as I used to.

Over two million visits, eh?  What's wrong with you people?  Don't you have anything better to do?  Seriously though, thanks for dropping by and feel perfectly free to continue doing so.

MIGHTY MARVEL MISTAKES...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

When The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL was launched in 1972, pages were slightly resized from their US dimensions to accommodate the weekly periodical, which, I suppose, was using UK comics like VALIANT and LION, etc., as a template.  This meant that panels were trimmed and, where necessary as a result, 'rearranged' a bit.  Above is a page as it appeared in FANTASTIC FOUR #6, and below, as it was presented in MWOM #13.  Take a moment to compare them and see if you can spot a rather glaringly-obvious mistake.
  

See the 3rd panel in the 2nd tier?  It was trimmed (as were the two preceding panels, as well as the 3rd tier) and JOHNNY STORM was moved up a bit, but whoever did it has placed Johnny's hand in front of the tiny 'GRABBER', which now appears larger than it's supposed to in comparison to The TORCH's five digits.  Johnny's hand, of course, should be obscured by the grabber, which would retain the intended perspective.  It would actually take more time and care for whoever 'reworked' the panel to position the hand in front of the grabber than it would to cover the hand, so the mistake is hard to fathom.  It's when I see clumsy alterations like this that I wish the pages had been left alone, because none of the changes were ever an improvement.  Compare the panels side-by-side below.


Just for fun, see if you can come up with a 'NO PRIZE' explanation that would account for Johnny's hand being where it is in the reworked panel.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

BABE OF THE DAY - HEATHER GRAHAM...



Okay, so perhaps it's not quite so warm
today as yesterday, but it's certainly not that
cold.  There must be some other explanation
for HEATHER GRAHAM's 'perkiness'.
(Not that anyone's complaining.)

Saturday, 14 July 2018

I'VE SPOTTED A MISTAKE, BUT - 'WHY WON'T THEY BELIEVE ME?'



In The SILVER SURFER #3, dated December 1968, the back-up strip was a TALES Of The WATCHER story called WHY WON'T THEY BELIEVE ME?, drawn by GENE COLAN and written by STAN LEE.  This was a redrawn strip that first appeared in AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #7, dated December 1961 (which was actually the first renamed issue of AMAZING ADVENTURES), and originally illustrated by STEVE DITKO.

The 2nd version of the strip was reprinted in ASTONISHING TALES #31, dated August 1975, and in interesting error was made when the original 'next issue' caption box was omitted and the final panel 'drawn up' to fill the space the caption had inhabited.  Take a look at the above picture and you can see that although the Martian has increased his size, it's clear that Professor CRATER is standing off to the side but is still slightly in the foreground.  However, in the picture below, the prof looks as if he is standing just behind the alien, as a result of the 'touch-up' artist extending the Martian's leg in front of the prof's body.

Obviously, the prof's body should be in front of the Martian's leg, and I'm at a bit of a loss to understand why the reprint artist couldn't see this (or the editor, or the proofreader), as it now looks like the professor is ignoring the Martian and addressing the soldiers on the other side of the room.  A trivial oversight to be sure, but one that should have been caught before it saw print.

It's still a very imaginative story with a great 'twist' ending though.

Friday, 13 July 2018

ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS...?



According to tradition, Friday the 13th is considered by many to be an 'unlucky' day.  Curiously, the 13th on any day other than a Friday doesn't seem to be regarded with the same apprehension (despite 13 supposedly being an unlucky number in general), but put the day and the date together and some people fear the worst, only breathing a sigh of relief when Saturday 14th comes around.  There are probably various possible explanations for the day's bad rep, one of them being that that there were 13 disciples at the last supper, but this is probably mere retrospective speculation.

However, here's what I wanted to ask you.  Have you ever experienced a particular piece of bad luck or misfortune on a Friday 13th, and do you attribute it to the date, or instead put it down to mere coincidence?  Details please, if you would be so kind.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

'YESTERDAY'...



Yesterday, hand-in-hand with a young lady, I strolled around the West End of Glasgow, basking in the streaming rays of the sun as they caressed the 'dear green place' (as the City is called).  We talked and laughed and ate, and enjoyed each other's company;  visited museums and art galleries, cafes and restaurants, parks and recreational areas, and time seemed to stand still (or at least slow to a crawl) as we drank in the day and made memories that, to me at least, would last forever.

Then I awoke this morning and realised that 'yesterday' was 19 years ago, and wondered where the time sneaked off to when I wasn't looking.  Does she remember yesterday with the same fond affection, or does the memory languish in a hidden drawer of a secret compartment for which she has lost the key?

******

(In case you're wondering about the photo's relevance, the empty table is where we sat to have breakfast, in a cafe that became a vodka bar back in 2001.)

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

PURE SILVER - QUERCETTI FIREBALL XL5 TIMES TWO...



Back in 1963 I received a super QUERCETTI FIREBALL XL5 parachute toy for Christmas.  A few weeks later, while standing on the street outside my house with it, a neighbour (ALISTAIR McNAUGHT) ran into me on his bike, sending XL5 crashing onto the pavement and breaking it beyond repair.  His mother sent him to the front door with one of his spare spinning flying saucers to replace it, but my mother politely declined on my behalf - much to my annoyance.


Around 1969 or '70 (and two houses later), I saw another one for sale in a Rutherglen shop called JOHNNY's and bought it immediately.  When the toy had first appeared in '63, it was priced at 10/6, but my second one cost only 2/6, no doubt on the grounds that it was old shop-stock and had lain unsold for years.  It met its fate weeks afterwards when it overshot onto a road after me launching it into the sky, and the impact cracked the back wings.


Cut forward to sometime in the '90s and me spying one for sale in a magazine for collectors.  Boxed, and at a mere £90, I sent off the dosh and waited with great anticipation for the replacement for my childhood toy to arrive.  I was surprised when it did, because it wasn't exactly as I remembered it, colour-wise.  The ones I had as a kid were the same as the one in the first photo, but this was an all-silver colour with an orange nosecone.  (See photo below.)


I assume that the all-silver version was a later release, because it doesn't have an alternate 'Fireball Junior' - nor is it even mentioned in the instructions.  Those of you who ever owned this toy will know what I'm talking about.  The silver and grey plastic model came with two yellow nosecones, one with fins, and one without (seen in the 2nd and 3rd photos) to attain a higher altitude, whereas the all-silver model was supplied with only an orange one with fins.  But how do I know which one was which, sequence-wise?


It's a guess of course, but first edition toys usually have all the 'bells and whistles', while subsequent versions are often simplified on cost-cutting grounds, so it seems likely that the single nosecone, all-silver toy was a later release, not the other way around.  Anyway, a couple or so years later, I was able to acquire a replacement for the two-tone XL5 for around £250 or thereabouts, the only difference to my original being that the catapult wasn't the exact colour that I seem to remember from my youth.  (I'll live.)  The one disappointment common to just about everybody who ever owed this toy was that STEVE ZODIAC was just a generic astronaut, rather than the man himself as depicted on the box.  Other than that, it was a great toy and is now a highly collectable item.


Not many collectors (any in fact) I've spoken to know about the all-silver model, so it gives me great pleasure to show both of them together on this 'ere blog of mine.  Did you own either of these versions as a kid?  Feel free to share your reminiscences of them in the comments section.  Incidentally, one of the three boxes seen in the photos ia a replica (the middle one), but doesn't it look great? 

Sunday, 8 July 2018

NEED A BOX TO MATCH? READ ON, MACDUFF...



Anyone who collects 1960s toy cars (as I do) knows that it's sometimes difficult to obtain even pristine items in their original packaging and must often take what's going at the time in case the opportunity doesn't present itself again at a later date (and at an affordable price).

The two cars on show here were originally sold in card-backed bubble packs, and although I could print out replicas of the cards myself, I decided to use the services of a company which produces retro-style boxes to match cars bereft of their original packaging.

To reiterate, these two cars weren't issued in boxes, but if they had been, this is what they might've looked like.  They improve the displaying of such items many-fold, and if you have any collectable toy cars which would benefit from having a box to match, here's the link for you:


Go on - pay it a visit today.

RIP-SNORTING REPOST: THE STARTLING SECRET ORIGIN OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR...


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

(Today's post is taken from Roddy Weed's blog and is
published with full permission - take it away, Roddy...)

******  

Hi, fans - I'm RODDY WEED and I'm back yet again with a few fascinating facts (that you already know) and loads of fantastic throwaway theories to amaze and astound you ('cos they're so far-out) on this, the world's greatest blogazine - DIAL 'B' For BULLSH*T !

Think you know the origin of the FANTASTIC FOUR ?  Well, IRoddy Weed, am about to give you the real, honest-to-goodness lowdown on the true origin of the fab foursome created by STAN LEE and JACK KIRBY in 1961.  For instance, did you know that the actual prototypes of the FF were ROBIN HOOD & His MERRY MEN ?  Hard to believe?  Well, IRoddy Weed, writer of the greatest blogazine in the history of the world, am going to prove it to you right now.

ROBIN Of LOXLEY, also known as the outlaw ROBIN HOOD, had four main comrades in his band of SHERWOOD FOREST followers.  Namely, LITTLE JOHNWILL SCARLETFRIAR TUCK, and MAID MARION.  Pay attention now, while I exclusively reveal the astounding, irrefutable conclusions of many minutes of painstaking research and several seconds of convoluted contemplation on the pertinent points which prompt my cataclysmic claim.


REED RICHARDS is clearly based on Robin Hood because he's the leader of the group in the same way that Robin is chief of his merry men.  Also, his stretching ability mirrors the expanse-spanning reach that Robin's arrows allow him in his quest for justice, enabling him to smite his enemies from a distance.

BEN GRIMM is obviously an amalgam of Little John and Friar Tuck;  John is grim-meined (hence Ben's surname) and a man of great strength, while Tuck, despite his ungainly appearance (just like Ben's) has a heart of gold and is possessed of a noble spirit that echoes his modern-day counterpart.  Likewise, Ben's orange-hued epidermis is reminiscent of Tuck's ruddy complexion.

JOHNNY STORM is undoubtedly Will Scarlet - the colour of his fiery alterego being the living embodiment of Will's surname.  Just like Will, Johnny is sometimes a bit hot-headed (willful even), further confirming the uncanny similarities 'twixt the two men.  No doubt Will often used flaming arrows to lay his enemies low just as Johnny has done when tossing fireballs at the bad guys.

SUSAN STORM is inarguably the modern-day equivalent of Maid Marion.  Firstly, she's the only permanent female member of the group (like Marion) and, furthermore, she eventually wed the group's leader, providing persuasive proof that the FF were (perhaps - maybe - probably - oh, what the hell - definitely) inspired by and based upon Robin and his outlaw band.


Unconvinced?  Consider PRINCE JOHN then.  Patently the archetype on whom the FF's arch-foe, DOCTOR DOOM, is based.  Just like John, Doom lives in a castle;  just like John, who conceals his true persona under the guise of benign ruler of a country, Doom hides his true visage under a mask.  And in the same way that John hates Robin and his band and tries to kill them, Doom's mission is to wipe Reed and his team from the face of the Earth.

The similarities are simply stunning, and 'tis only IRoddy Weed, who - despite all these glaring clues staring everyone in the face for years - has recognised their significance and pieced them together using my highly imaginative and creative cranium (and a few reefers) to educate and enlighten your dull and dreary lives and save you from the tedium of your vapid, pointless existence.

This is IRoddy Weed, creator of the world's greatest blogazine, signing off for the foreseeable future - so that you'll all miss me and pine for my return.  (What will you do without me?) 

Saturday, 7 July 2018

STEVE DITKO DEAD AT 90...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Just heard on BBC RADIO 4 news that STEVE DITKO was found dead in his New York apartment on June 29th, aged 90, though it's thought he actually died two days earlier.  For those of us who grew up reading his SPIDER-MAN and DOCTOR STRANGE tales (published by MARVEL COMICS), it's a very sad time indeed, as well as an unwanted reminder of our own mortality.  Steve, of course, did more than simply co-create the above-named two characters (with STAN LEE), but it's for them that he'll probably be best remembered.  I'll leave it to others to go into more detail on the artist's life and career - suffice to say that his work and influence will live on.


Thursday, 5 July 2018

RAMPAGING REPOST: I DREW MONTY'S DOUBLE...



Some years ago, I worked in my local MOTOROLA plant and, upon turning up for work one night, I was charged with an unusual task.  One of the staff was retiring (though certainly not shy) and, knowing of my artistic leanings, my boss, MARIE, asked me to do a caricature to be presented to the soon-to-be former worker the next day.  It was a bit short-notice, but I was supplied with a photo of the individual and let loose.

What you see above is the result, drawn during my half-hour lunch break in the wee small hours of the morning.  Done with a gel pen if I remember correctly, I took a bit of care inking this one as it was going to be framed before being given to the 'lucky' recipient, but it was still drawn pretty fast, hence the name of DUNN KWIK, my pseudonym employed for all pieces that circumstances (or laziness) dictated being produced in a bit of a hurry.  It was a good likeness and I hear the subject was more than pleased with the the finished article.

I can see what needs improved, but, all-in-all, it isn't too bad and adequately fulfilled the purpose for which it was created.  Can't ask for more than that in half an hour, can you?  Obviously it would've been far better in colour, but not having been given any advance warning, I had nothing with which to colour it.

******

In fact, on reflection, scratch that modest assessment above.  That drawing is pretty darn good considering the circumstances under which it was produced, drawn off the top of my head with no reference material as a prompt.  And it's a good likeness, given that all I recall being provided with was a thumbnail-sized photo on an ID card.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE...



The ADVENTURES Of ROBINSON CRUSOE is a FRANCO LONDON FILMS production that was first shown on BBC 1 on October 12th 1965.  (When I say "first shown", I don't mean that it appeared on UK TV first, I'm referring only to when it was first broadcast in this country.)  It had made its debut on German TV a year earlier, on October 3rd '64, in four 90 minute episodes, and aired in America the same year.  (The Italian version was first shown on December 13th '64 and the French one on September 10th '65.)  As well as the German TV four-part version, there was also a six-part version, as well as a 13-part version (that's the one we got) to suit the broadcasting requirements of different countries.

It goes without saying though, that the English language cut was the best - simply because, along with the Italian version, it benefited from a new distinctive soundtrack by ROBERT MELLIN and GIAN-PIERO REVERBERI that wasn't used in the German and French versions.  Can you imagine the show without that music?  I doubt it would've become so popular with any other musical score, because that's the thing that most British kids remember about the programme - the haunting music that so suited the mood of the serial .

However, now it's time for the inevitable personal reminiscence that blights most of my blog posts.  I saw the first four episodes while living in one house (the same one in which I first saw The SINGING RINGING TREE), and the remaining nine episodes in another house to which we moved in November of '65.  However, because the layout of the living-rooms of both houses was pretty much the same, I tend to associate the show with both of them equally.  (Incidentally, don't ask me why, but The Singing Ringing Tree is usually rendered without a comma, though the original German title has one.)

But back to Robinson Crusoe:  The BBC's rights to broadcast the show expired sometime in the '80s and, as far as I know, it hasn't been on UK TV since 1982.  The last time I remember seeing it (before I acquired the DVD a few years ago) was in the early '70s during, I think, the school holidays, though I probably didn't see every episode.  Hold on, scratch that - I seem to dimly recall seeing an episode or two in its '80s screening, but the memory is uncharacteristically vague and indistinct.

If you ever saw this serial, then you'll know why it's considered such a classic.  It's available on DVD and the soundtrack was re-released on CD a few years ago.  Well worth hunting down if, like me, you're fond of reliving your childhood.  Let's face it - they were the best years of our lives.  Below are a select few screen grabs from the NETWORK DVD (7952735) to help whet your appetite and prompt your memories.  And I've even included the theme tune for you - am I great guy or what?  (Okay, who's the joker who said "What" ?)










Monday, 2 July 2018

SWINGING FROM THE SINGING RINGING TREE...



Looking for something really interesting to read?  Then, to be honest, this post probably ain't it, Charlie.  Nevertheless, I shall persevere in the hope that at least some of the thousands hundreds dozens handful of people who visit this blog may be as fascinated in looking back at the past as I am.  Which brings us to The SINGING RINGING TREE.

In Britain, the above-mentioned 1957 German movie for children was first shown, split into three weekly episodes, on BBC 1 on November 19th 1964 (as part of their 'Tales From Europe' series), and this immediately creates a problem for me, memory-wise.  You see, for years, I was sure I'd first watched this programme while living in the house prior to the one I was actually living in when I saw it.  (We'd moved only around four months before.)  However, the two houses were only minutes apart, and my brother (with me in tow) occasionally called upon friends in our old house's street before going to school in the mornings. (Since the last three fourths of our route to school was the same from the second house as it was from the first, this has probably added to my confusion.)

Anyway, the most obvious explanation is that, the morning after The Singing Ringing Tree made its debut, we likely trekked up to our old street, and then, in the company of my brother's pals, traversed the same route to school as formerly, excitedly talking about the programme on the way.  (It made quite an impression back in the day, and was voted the 20th spookiest show ever in a 2004 readers' poll in The RADIO TIMES.)  It's probably the fact of being in our old street that day which formed the association of the programme in my mind with my previous house, even though we were ensconced in another abode at the time.

But that's enough of my self-indulgent reminiscences you'll be glad to hear.  A few years ago, I bought the DVD of the film, which is in colour and runs for around 71 minutes.  Fortunately it includes the British narration used by the BBC, but I wish it had also included the option of watching it in three instalments, as it had originally been show in the UK in 1964.  Still, being able to hear and see it again is a great experience, and if you saw this programme as a kid, I'm sure you'd enjoy reliving part of your youth as you enter the autumn of your years.  I saw The Singing Ringing Tree again, two or three times over the years (before I acquired the DVD) in two other houses, but it's still the house I wasn't living in with which I mainly associate it.  Funny that, eh?

Enjoy the screen grabs from the DVD, which should still be available on the NETWORK, digitally-remastered release - 7952133.









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