Tuesday, 7 December 2021

HOW... DID YOU LIKE THIS TV SHOW BACK IN THE DAY?

I was dozing away in front of the TV on Saturday morning, when on comes a programme called How.  Could this be related to the one I watched as a kid, I found myself wondering.  Yes, it was, but it was fronted by three 'youngsters' with that 'I'm your wild and wacky pal' style of presenting, of the fixed broad smiles and staring eyes variety that I so despise.  I found myself wishing that Fred Dineage was back presenting it, when a stylised visual of his face appeared momentarily on screen.  "Ah, well," I thought, "at least they're acknowledging his place in the show's history."

Then the great man himself popped up, in filmed inserts where he's described as 'Head Of How'.  I don't think he actually appeared with the three newbie presenters, but it was great to see him still connected with the show.  I seem to remember when the original How with the first set of presenters first appeared on TV, but it could well just have been its first broadcast in Scotland on STV, back in the '60s.

The pilot was hosted solely by its creator Jack Hargreaves and shown late at night, originally intended to give its adult audience interesting things to talk about when they were next in the pub, drinking with their mates.  Then, after a rethink, Jack thought it would be better suited to kids, and it went out on an afternoon slot, at first with Jack again being sole presenter.  It wasn't long before others joined him, such as Fred Dineage, Jon Miller, Bunty James, and Marian Davies, to name just the better known ones.

The original show ran from 1966 to 1981, which surprised me, as I think the last time I saw it would've been in the '70s, though there's a chance I've simply forgotten viewing after that date.  It was revived as How 2 in 1990 until 2006, again with Fred Dineage, and actually lasted a year longer than the original run, though with fewer episodes.  The series from which the episode I saw was made in 2020, so maybe I was watching a repeat, but it was good to see Fred again, in essentially the same show I viewed as a kid.  I hope they make some more.

I preferred the way kids shows were presented back in the '60s, with there being no difference in the way presenters addressed their young audience to that of older viewers.  There were no unnaturally wide smiles, popping eyes, and manic movements; no condescending, patronising delivery - just presenters who behaved in the same professional way regardless of the age of their audience.

Whaddya think, Crivs?  Am I making too much of things, or are some of you in agreement with my observations?  Tell all in the comments section.

******

Here's what I consider an interesting thought.  Nowadays, the photo at the top of the post would likely be criticised for 'cultural appropriation', even though Red Indians (aka native Americans*) who walk about in denims and tee-shirts get a free pass.

(*At least until someone decides that the word 'native' is offensive on the grounds that it suggests uncivilised and primitive.)

HERE WE GO - ER, MEGO AGAIN...


Copyright DC COMICS

Well, told you I'd post my new 'Mego' toy when it arrived, which was yesterday (Monday), so here it is.  This is a 2016 reissue of the Superman figure on sale in the '70s, and pretty much the same as the one I bought in Blackpool in 1974.  The costume's blue colour is perhaps a little deeper, but that apart, it's the exact same face that was on the one I had.

Although this figure was originally manufactured by Mego throughout most of the '70s, this reissue is by Figures Toy Co.  I don't know whether they're connected or not, but that's definitely the Mego figure and box, though the box may be one from its later days, not quite sure.

I've got one more figure to come, which is on its way from Australia, so if you're into things like this (I'm being optimistic, aren't I?) I'll show it on the blog when it arrives.  Something to look forward to, eh?  (For me, I meant, not you.)

Incidentally, having caught a bit of the new Superman & Lois TV show on Saturday, I realised that the other Supes figure I showed you last month looks a bit like it's based on the actor who plays The Man Of Steel and Clark Kent.  There's the figure again below just to remind you.  What do you think - see any kind of a resemblance?

Saturday, 4 December 2021

CRIVENS' FIRST CHRISTMAS SONG OF THE SEASON...


By special request from reader CJ, here's a Christmas song to get us in the mood.  (Hey, it's only three weeks away.)  So let's now listen to the mighty Jim Reeves with his version of Mary's Boy Child.  All together now...

FANTASTIC FOUR No. 1 PANEL BY PANEL - A CONCISE REVIEW (UPDATED)...


Copyright relevant owners

Fantastic Four No. 1 Panel By Panel is essentially 'take two' of Maximum Fantastic Four, first published back in 2005.  The new 2021 version is intended to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Cosmic Quartet's first appearance and contains a 'reprint' of their debut issue, photographed from an actual published comic from 1961, as are the close up panels which precede it.

It doesn't work, and I have to be frank and say that I was disappointed with the book when I browsed through it earlier today.  Why?  Because the publishers have used an extremely grubby and dilapidated copy of FF #1 and the paper discolouration is far too evident, as is every blemish and imperfection on each page.  Unlike the Maximum edition, which used clean and recoloured proofs for the panels (it didn't contain the issue in its original form), Panel By Panel uses them as they originally appeared (though enlarged) and Ben-Day dots just don't lend themselves to being increased to several times their normal size.

It all might have worked had a cleaner, brighter copy of FF #1 been utilised, but I suppose they had to go with whatever was available, which was a ragged, dirty copy that looks like it's suffered from damp.  The essays are interesting, but I'd suggest only buying this book if you won't miss the money it costs to purchase it.

Conclusion?  Interesting, though very far from being an essential 'must have'.

Footnote: Also, the book doesn't quite live up to its name, as I've just noticed at least one panel is completely missing (I'll check for others later), and many others are cropped, resulting in only partial images, not complete ones.  One partial panel has been 'manipulated' to include its caption from the 'off-screen' side and, what's more, the caption has been reduced in size, resulting in the lettering being much smaller than an accompanying speech balloon.  Tsk!  My disappointment continues to grow.

Friday, 3 December 2021

THE TOM PATERSON COLLECTION - OH, PUT A SOCK IN IT! (D'YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?*)...


Copyright REBELLION

Just arrived at Castel Crivens today is this great book published by The Treasury Of British Comics (Rebellion), The Tom Paterson Collection.  Rather than waffle on about it, here's a selection of images borrowed from the Treasury's website.  The last one is an alternative cover to the one above, and costs a tenner less, so you have a choice of just what you want to spend.  Both books are listed as hardbacks, but I suspect that's an error and the second one is probably a paperback.  (Incidentally, I lettered a handful of the strips included in this volume, so I'm very nearly famous.)  The book also contains some unpublished strips of Tom's, so if you're a fan of his, it's right up your street.  To order, click here.

The colour pages in the book have been sourced from published comics (as were the b&w ones I assume - with the exception of the previously unpublished ones obviously), but the quality is excellent, so perhaps they've been digitally enhanced to a certain extent.  Which just shows what can be done and makes me wish that The Power Pack volume of Ken Reid's work printed in greyscale (instead of colour) had been produced in a similar manner, as it would've better captured the spirit of the original comics the strips were taken from.  Hopefully, Rebellion (who didn't publish the aforesaid book) will one day do it as it should be done as they now own the copyright to the material, which wasn't the case when the two volume set of Reid's Odhams work was first produced.

(*And in case you didn't get what I was burbling on about in the title, Tom's 'trademark' is drawing steaming, smelly socks, which he usually places somewhere in his strips.)

I recall standing just outside Bob Paynter's office and the two of us
looking at his personal copy of this comic back in 1985.  Time flies






Tuesday, 30 November 2021

THE DAY 'BATMAN' FAILED (A REFLECTIVE REPOST)...


Copyright DC COMICS

You'll perhaps recall me relating the tale of how myself and one of my pals used to play at BATMAN & ROBIN back in the 1960s.  (You're no doubt relieved to hear that it wasn't just a few months ago - I'm not that sad.)  For my utility belt, I used part of the accompanying paraphernalia from my father's wartime portable morse code apparatus, which, to my young eyes, looked vaguely similar to ADAM WEST's equipment-laden waistline accessory on TV.

Now, usually I came in for a fair bit of mockery from my peers for my costumed exploits around the neighbourhood, as did my companion in crime-fighting, JOHN FIDLER (it's indeed fortunate that his nickname wasn't 'KID', eh?), who assumed the role of ROBIN, The BOY WONDER.  However, one evening, three local girls, who'd never previously paid the slightest bit of attention to me, seemed impressed by the striking appearance of my makeshift 'utility belt' and enthusiastically asked for a demonstration of its capabilities.

Touched by their obvious interest and spurred on by the look of wonder and admiration in their eyes, I agreed, and as we were playing close to some nearby lock-ups, I headed over to the water tap used by car owners to wash their vehicles.  It was housed in a grey-painted, oblong wooden 'box' against a lock-up wall, and picking up a metal bar from the ground, I placed it atop the flat surface of the box.

Directing the girls to stand at a distance over to my right (on the faux grounds that "it might be dangerous") I pretended to take some imaginary 'plastic explosive' from my belt and apply it to the iron rod.  Then, standing beside the tap and preventing their uninterrupted view, I simulated the act of pressing a button on what passed for my buckle while simultaneously attempting (surreptitiously) to bring down my left elbow on the end of the bar and hopefully send it somersaulting high into the air as though propelled by the explosive.

Alas, my actual ability was very far from the equal of my ambition, and my ruse was rumbled right away.  Disillusioned cries rent the air, along with contemptuous looks and jeering tones from the trio as they stormed off in disgust at my barefaced attempt to defraud them.  Ah, how fickle were the affections of these three feisty females, the extent of whose eager expectations I had clearly underestimated and been found sadly lacking as a consequence.

Even today, I remember how deflating it was to see the look of awe and adoration fade from the eyes of the three former fawning fillies who, only a short time before, had regarded me as a figure worthy of respect and admiration, if not actual hero worship.  There have been several females down through the years whose unrealistic expectations I've probably been unable to live up to, but nothing fills me with such feelings of failure as the memory of the faces of those three fearsome frustrated furies from so very long ago.

CRIVVIES - PLEASE HELP BATMAN BELT UP...


Batman copyright DC COMICS

STOP!!!  Don't jump elsewhere just yet.  I know I've shown you this Batman figure (by Marx) before, but this time, something's different.  Before I get to that, just a quick recap.  When I first bought this (replacement) figure more than a quarter of a century ago, the cape was frayed, and the Bat-a-rang and utility belt were missing (along with the Bat emblem).  I used the original cape as a template to make a new one out of non-fraying felt, created a Bat-a-rang from Perspex, and crafted a utility belt, again using felt.

At first I gave Bats a more contemporary symbol, but eventually printed one from a picture of the emblem used on Adam West's costume, and, as you can see below, the result was pretty good.  Obviously I'd have preferred all the original components, but believe me, unless it's unopened and unplayed with, you'd be pretty hard-pressed to find this classic toy in any condition, never mind a complete version.  (And it'd cost you a small fortune if you did.)

Bats looks a little brighter her as photo was taken in daylight

Guess what though?  Someone on ebay is selling repros of the belt from the Mego 8" figure, so I bought one.  It's different from the Marx belt in that it closes at the back, not the front, and the detail isn't quite the same.  It's also too short to fit around the waist of the Marx figure, but I sorted that by using a bit of felt to extend the length and now it's a perfect fit.  What I'd like to know though, is which one you Crivvies prefer.  The felt belt has been in use for more than 25 years, but the plasticky/rubbery belt perhaps looks as though it belongs more with the figure.

So help me out guys.  Look at the photos and tell me which of the two belts looks more at home on Batman (who looks for all the world like a Gerry Anderson puppet) - the handmade felt belt or the other 'real' one.  Your opinions will be carefully considered and help me come to a final decision as to which belt Bats gets to wear full-time.  Kindly register your vote now if you'd all be so good.  (No prizes unfortunately, just the joy of taking part.)

I think there's a layer of dust on Bats in the first pic, hence the grey looking grubbier

Monday, 29 November 2021

CAN YOU ANSWER THIS QUESTION...?


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Okay, here's a question for all you Crivvies, which will hopefully inspire you to apply your mighty brains in search of a revealing answer.  What's the one comics issue that's made the most lasting impression on you (story or art-wise) since you first started reading, and why?  Failing that (in case it's too difficult to pick just one), what's the one single regular title (as in Superman, Spider-Man, or whatever) that's your favourite series in your longstanding term as a comics reader?

Never mind that 'answers on a postcard' nonsense.  It'll save you the price of a stamp if you use the comments section.

******

No responses yet.  Either the question's too hard or too boring.  Say which you think it is - maybe it's both.

POST FROM THE PAST: DC'S OLD BLACK MAGIC CREEPY COVER GALLERY...


Images copyright DC COMICS

Here's a post first published over eight-and-a-half years ago which never garnered a single comment.  I thought it might have better luck this time, so come on, Crivvies, don't let me down.

******

Back in the early to mid-'70s, DC COMICS published a 9 issue run of a comic called BLACK MAGIC, which reprinted strips from the 1950s PRIZE COMICS mag of the same name.  Some of the art was revised in places to look less dated (and also to meet then-current Comics Code requirements) and, overall, the reproduction wasn't quite as good as it could (and should) have been.  However, it was a noble attempt to present older tales to a then-modern readership, so here are the covers to all 9 issues of this short-lived but interesting revival of a SIMON & KIRBY classic.

Looking at these covers takes me right back in time.  I still remember the shop from which I bought the first issue, though it's so long since I've been there that I'm unsure whether it still exists or not.  I suspect the latter.  Also, I don't think I had every issue at the time, just the first three or four perhaps.  However, I've got 'em all now, even if it did take me 40 years to own the complete set.  Did you buy this mag back in the day, and if so, what are your memories of it?  

(Interestingly, the fourth issue featured a version of a hitherto unused cover originally intended for the first issue of the title's initial 1950s run.)








Friday, 26 November 2021

WHEN IS A YEAR NOT A YEAR? WHEN IT'S A FANDERSON YEAR (UPDATED)...


Copyright relevant owner

Let me now tell you all about Fanderson, the Gerry & Sylvia Anderson Appreciation Society.  They make great items for their members that aren't available anywhere else.  These are top-notch quality items at reasonable prices and I have no complaints about them.  I do, however, have a complaint about the way they run their fan club and the manner in which they make their members part with their money when it comes to renewal.

Let me give you the facts.  On March 16th of this year I joined Fanderson so that I could have access to the exclusive goodies they make.  I received confirmation of my membership which said that it would expire on March 16th 2022 (see below).  Fanderson refer (or did until recently - more on that shortly) to the membership as lasting a year, which any normal person would take to mean 12 months.  Imagine my surprise then, when I received an email sometime in August telling me that my membership had now expired (after a mere five months) and that it was time to renew.

See?  A full year.  This is now casually dismissed as a 'system limitation'

I contacted chairman Nick Williams to ask what was going on, and received a dubious attempt to justify their request for me to renew.  Apparently, in Mr. Williams' world, a year doesn't mean a year, but only the time it takes for the member to receive his three FAB magazines, the publication schedule of which is increasingly variable.  Therefore, if you receive your trio of mags in five months, then your membership has expired.  You see, they've lagged behind in their publishing schedule, so this is an attempt (according to Mr. Williams) to get things back on track.  (At members' expense and inconvenience, not their own.)

Hello Gordon, and thanks for getting in touch.

As we can't publish FAB magazine to a strict schedule, a Fanderson membership doesn't run for a year, but for three issues.  Normally, we publish in Spring, summer and winter, so three issues does roughly equate to a year.  For this reason we never say anywhere that a membership is for a year.  (Not quite true, and conveniently ignoring that a 'year's membership' implicitly suggests a year.)

Thanks for bringing this to our attention and all the best.

Note, however, in the following extract from their terms and conditions, that a year's membership is said to include three magazines, not consist of them, which is entirely different.  Why shouldn't a year mean a full year (as stated on their membership confirmation), which would entitle the member to only three magazines, regardless of how many are published?  So, for example, if Fanderson were to publish only two during any given year* and your membership expires, they could send on any delayed mag when it appears, and if they publish four or five during a year, you're still only entitled to three, but can buy the extra mags from their online shop if you so wish.  This seems an eminently more sensible way of doing things than the rather elastic way they seem to prefer.

(*In fact, this actually happened one year.  Was membership extended until the next mag was published the following year?  I very much doubt it.  Talk about double standards.)

When you join Fanderson we'll send you a welcome letter, your membership badge and card and the latest issue of the club's own magazine FAB.

Your membership includes three issues of FAB per year (nominally in spring, summer and winter) and each full colour issue features the latest news of Anderson productions... etc., etc.

However, is it any wonder they prefer a more 'flexible' approach when it means that renewing members have to stump up £62 in a five (or whatever) month period, as opposed to £31 every 12 months?  It's a sure-fire way of doubling their income.  Another thing to consider is that because my membership was curtailed prematurely, I could no longer purchase anything from their online shop as I was no longer a member.  By no stretch of the imagination can this be described as a fair and satisfactory scenario, as everything led me to believe I would have a full year's membership, despite Mr. Williams gymnastic reinterpretation of what a year means.

Not helping matters was the fact that the first FAB mag I received was from last year (November 2020), meaning that I received what was essentially a back issue.  As the next new one came out in May 2021, I maintain that it better qualified as the 'latest' issue (being only 2 months in the future as opposed to its predecessor being four months in the past of the previous year) and that I should've been sent the first one produced in the calendar year that I joined, not the calendar year before.

Mr. Williams unconvincing attempt to justify this was to claim that new members would complain if they didn't receive a magazine immediately after they joined.  I doubt it - not if it was explained in the terms and conditions that their membership was effective immediately (thereby giving them access to the online shop), though they'd only receive the first new mag of any given year when it was published.  

Had the first mag I received been published in 2021, that would've been acceptable (even if it was a couple or so months old) as it would qualify as the latest issue of that specific year, but it's just not on to send me one from the year before I joined when it prematurely terminates the duration of my membership, requiring me to renew after only a few months.  So let me be clear: a previously-published magazine from the year before a new member signs up would be a 'no-no', but one from the same year a membership starts would be okay.

Mr. Williams was tenacious in his refusal to acknowledge any merit to my observations, saying that I didn't understand the terms of membership.  Strangely, he then went on to say that the current situation was not usual, being a result of them getting behind schedule, so for some reason he expects me to know, seemingly by osmosis, the rather elastic way the club has when it comes to the way they do business.  Essentially, he's admitting that a year's membership is normally a year, except when they mess things up and get behind with things.

Thanks again, Gordon.

Thanks for pointing out the place where it says "per year", which shouldn't be there and has been corrected.  (Remember, he'd previously said that they 'never say anywhere that membership is for a year'.)

As I've already said, (and as I'd already demonstrated wasn't quite so) memberships do not run a calendar year, but three issues of FAB.  We make this clear: on the Members benefits page - on the join the club page - in our Terms and Conditions.  (As all three pages had been hastily amended to remove any reference to a year since my first email, this was tantamount to changing the rules after the match had started, therefore rendering any such claim of clarity redundant, to say nothing of dishonest.) 

The fact that the terms and conditions have since been comprehensively rewritten (that's at least twice now) amply demonstrates the validity of my observations, otherwise why would they need to retroactively change things (in response to my emails) if everything had been crystal clear to begin with?  Mr. Williams even thanks me at one point for bringing the matter to his attention, and admits that he has 'corrected' the relevant information so that no one else thinks they're getting a year's membership when they take out a year's membership.  Crazy or what?

Fanderson might be a "club for fans, by fans", but that shouldn't be an excuse for ripping off members by moving the goalposts whenever it's expedient.  If they're going to take people's hard-earned money, then they should be prepared to give people what they're paying for.  Mr. Williams said that if I rejoined, he would give me an extra FAB mag for free (wow - charged twice in one year for one extra mag), but eventually gave me a partial refund after I'd worn him down a bit.  Naturally, I won't be renewing my membership as I've no wish to be part of something that treats its members with such contempt.  Shame about missing out on their nice goodies, but they're missing out on my dosh.

So if you're looking for a well-run, organised club for Gerry Anderson fans - one which treats its members' intelligence (and wallets) with respect - then Fanderson isn't it.  "Not well done, Parker." 

******

(Update:) On consideration, although I was originally prepared to ascribe their haphazard way of doing things to nothing more than incompetence, I'm now left with the conclusion that this "membership doesn't last a year" thing is a calculated act to prise more money out of members at a quicker rate. (Might not have started as that, but they 'wised up' pretty quick.)  As I said above, why shouldn't it be a full 12 months membership which entitles subscribers to three FAB mags a year, as and when they appear?

To reiterate, if they only publish a couple of mags one year, they can send the third mag on when it appears, and if they publish four or five, members are entitled to only three of them as part of their membership.  That's surely the simplest and best 'value for money' way of doing it, so the fact that they don't, preferring instead to ask members to renew after only a few short months (variable from 'year' to 'year'), is highly suspicious.  Call me cynical if you will, but something sure smells fishy in Denmark, don't you think?

If you're a member of this club, tell them you won't renew until membership is for what it was originally intended to be, before they realised they could fleece you for more money by asking you to renew on receipt of your third issue of the mag.  After all, should that mag not be published until several months after the previous one. your membership isn't extended until you receive it, is it?  You're being ripped off!

Thursday, 25 November 2021

STREETS AHEAD...


Part of the view from the front step of my old house, taken many, many years after flitting

There's a woman I know (slightly) who works in one of the shops in my local town centre and who lives in the same street as I did from 1960 to '64.  Her family moved in either just before or just after mine, and as far as I know she's lived there ever since.  This will be her last full day in the house as she recently sold it, and tomorrow she moves into a flat just along the road.  Apparently, looking after the front and back gardens became just a bit much for her, which is what prompted her to consider downsizing to a smaller domicile without gardens.

I don't remember her from my time there, nor her me, but we probably saw one another running around the neighbourhood back in the day.  It was only by chance, during an idle chat when I was in her shop one day, that I learned she stayed in my old street.  What must it be like flitting from her family home after more than 60 years and starting all over again?   As she's only moving nearby, she'll probably still pass her old house on a regular basis, which makes me wonder whether that'll make her miss living there all the more (if she does at all) or derive some kind of comfort from it yet being part of her daily experience, even if only an external one.

Are there any Crivvies who still reside in the house they grew up in, and would you be able to move elsewhere without suffering some pangs of regret that an era had come to an end after so long a period?  I don't think I could handle such a move, and I've only lived in my current home since I was 13 and a half (not all my life), with a four year gap when my family moved to another neighbourhood before returning to our former abode, where we'd previously resided for 11 years.  Any thoughts, theories, observations or speculations on this topic are most welcome.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

EBAY 'SCAM' ALERT: DO YOU EXPECT ME TO PAY, GOLDFINGER? (YES, MR. BOND - AND THROUGH THE NOSE!)



Take a look at the above model, currently available from the Corgi website for £27.49 (not including p&p).  Now take a look at the ebay listing below of the exact same recently reissued model - asking price £185.  (A couple or so other sellers aren't quite so greedy, asking £50 or just short of £70.)  It seems that some 'crooks' simply have no shame.

Incidentally, a far more accurate version of the original 1965 model will be available (mail order only) around January or February in the New Year.  I'll be receiving it when it becomes available, so I'll keep you posted.  (Despite the box, the car in the photos is a re-created version of the 2nd edition 1968 silver birch Aston Martin [painted gold], not the 1st edition '65 one.)

Click to enlarge

THE ROCKETEER - MEGO ARTICULATED FIGURE...



Hard to believe that The Rocketeer movie came out 30 years ago, the character having debuted a mere nine years earlier as a back-up tale in the pages of Starslayer #2.  Created by the late Dave Stevens (who sadly died in 2008 at the ridiculously young age of 52), the complete eight chapters have been reprinted in various editions (that I know of) down through the years, and at least one of those volumes belongs in every true comics fan's collection.  (And a deluxe 40th Anniversary Artist's Edition is due out in April 2022.)

Regarding the movie, I've only ever seen occasional bits of it on TV, never the full shebang, but one day I intend to sit down and watch it from beginning to end.  I already have a Rocketeer figure which came out around the time of the film, but I recently bought this Mego figure 'cos I thought it was a neat looking item.

Only one problem: the straps which attach the rocket pack to the figure are of a barely stretchable flat plastic and are difficult to get the arms into without them digging into the tunic's sleeves.  Each loop needs to be half-rolled over them, which results in the plastic becoming twisted in places, and I was worried that this procedure might eventually damage the fabric of the tunic, if not snap the straps.

So what was the solution?  I carefully removed the original straps (without breaking anything - that's the two-loop [single piece of] plastic you can see at the bottom of the clear display 'case') and substituted a softer black elasticated cord which allows me to affix the rocket pack with no difficulty or risk of damage to either the cord or tunic.  Who's a clever boy then?  (Now feed me some Trill.)

My collection of Mego figures is coming along nicely, and another one (this time from America) should be arriving in a couple of weeks or so.  Can you guess who it is?  Don't worry if you can't, he'll be revealed on the blog when he arrives.  Can't wait 'til he gets here.

Anyway, below is the cover of one of The Rocketeer collections I mentioned.  Do yourself a favour and track down a copy as soon as you can.  You'll love it.

Sunday, 21 November 2021

POST FROM THE PAST: COMPASS OF THE STARS...



Long ago and far away, in a dimension which can be accessed only through the mystical portals of memory, I popped into the neighbourhood newsagents on my way to school one day and purchased a copy of TV CENTURY 21 #3.  Within this great comic, paradoxically dated a hundred years in the future, was a sheet of card from which could be pressed out a model of FIREBALL XL5.


When I got to school, before lessons began I sat and assembled the folded pieces into their predetermined shape while my teacher and classmates looked on, fascinated.  I wasn't one who particularly enjoyed being the object of of such rapt attention, but I was so engrossed in what I was doing that I paid them scant heed and just got on with it.  When I had finished and the teacher had expressed approbation for the fruits of my labour, lessons began, and although I couldn't tell you anything else that happened that day, that particular moment is a fond recollection over fifty-six years after the fact.

Relax - mine doesn't have 'Northernlad' stamped across it

I never saw that cardboard 'model' from childhood again until nearly twenty years later, when it was reproduced in black and white on the back cover of  S.I.G., a magazine devoted to the puppet programmes of GERRY ANDERSON.  I remember thinking that it was a shame it wasn't in colour and hoping that someone would one day get around to producing a proper facsimile of this free gift which I greatly coveted.

 

Well, several decades on, someone finally did it.  Printed on card (though not perforated for pressing out), it enables nostalgists like myself to relive a part of our cherished childhood and bridge the span between past, present and future. Future?  Sure - after all, the comic was dated February 6th, 2065, so technically it's not due to be published for another fifty-six years.  Thanks to a rift in time and space, however, I managed to obtain a replacement for the actual comic a good while back.  It's immensely satisfying to finally be able to reunite it with a copy of its original free gift after so long a period.

Suddenly I'm an eager five year-old child once more, sitting in a chalk-dusty classroom in a different century - when the one we now live in was  the stuff of dreams and seemed too far away to even contemplate.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

POST FROM THE PAST: BATTLE ACTION GRUDGE...


Copyright REBELLION

Surprising as it may seem, some people don't know - or appreciate - the difference between typeset lettering and hand-lettered dialogue balloons (or captions) in a comic.  "What difference does it make?" they ask in a puzzled manner.  Of course, these people are as thick as the proverbial brick and I'm sure all you 'Crivvies' could tell them the answer just as well as I could, if not better.


However, there's no need to tell them when I can show them.  Back in the 1970s, there was a period when IPC MAGAZINES resorted to typeset lettering for all their publications, the result of a dispute (so legend has it) with the letterers they usually employed.  DCT had used typeset lettering for years of course, and more or less did it pretty adequately.  IPC's attempts were disastrous on the other hand, and the appearance of many a strip was ruined in my humble opinion.  (For which I'm justly famous, I might add.)


Years later, when these strips came up for reprinting, they had to be relettered by hand to bring them up to an acceptable standard and allow them to fit in with the new material they sat alongside.  One such story is the one featured in this post, 'THE GRUDGE', which first appeared in BATTLE #196, cover-dated December 2nd, 1978, and resurfaced twelve years later in BATTLE ACTION FORCE (un-numbered), cover-dated December 14th, 1985.


This is one I lettered myself, and more was required that just placing new lettering over old.  There's a fair amount of 'blotting out' and 'drawing up' to be done, so that old balloon tails or odd edges don't protrude out from under the new and improved speech bubbles and captions.  Anyway, I'll let you judge for yourselves just how good a job I did - right after you've read the story.  Ready?  Off you go then.  The original pages are on the left, the relettered versions on the right.


Click on image to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.

MAKE THE WORLD GO AWAY...



Here's a nice, slow, relaxing ballad sung by Jim Reeves to soothe your heart and mind, and make you feel refreshed after listening to it.  Wish I could sing like this.  In fact, I wish I could sing.

Friday, 19 November 2021

POST FROM THE PAST: CAUGHT ON CAMERA - DALEK VISITATION...



I was out in the back garden the other afternoon when I heard a rustling in the undergrowth at the side of the house.  Thinking it was a fox, I froze, hoping to see Reynard in all his furry glory - but surprise, surprise, 'twas no fox but rather a DALEK peeping cautiously from the foliage.  My mistake for tossing some old iron nails into the bushes when I replaced them in the back gate last week, but I hardly expected a Dalek to be foraging for metal scraps in my back garden.  No doubt his spaceship was concealed nearby (it's a big garden) and he was looking for parts with which to effect a minor repair, so I just let him get on with it.  Luckily I was able to surreptitiously snap a few photos with my concealed lapel camera before going back inside, 'cos I know what a disbelieving lot some of you can be.  He might still be out there for all I know.

What's that you say, nurse?  Time for my medicine?  Who are you calling a little pr*ck?  Oh, you mean the injection?  Okay, fire away.

See you all again when I wake up and they take off these long-sleeved pyjamas they're fitting me with.  Flubble!



Okay, okay - it's actually a Sevans Dalek kit that I built and painted myself, but I thought some of you might've found that harder to believe than the first account. 

PSST! WANNA SEE MY SUPER EIGHT INCHER? COP A GANDER...


Copyright DC COMICS

I think it was 1974, but it could've been the previous year as we holidayed in Blackpool two years in a row.  If it was '74, that was the very last holiday I ever had because when I started work at 16, I never had another one.  Anyway, I remember seeing an eight inch Mego Superman action figure in a shop window, and by the time I'd managed to persuade my parents to give me the money for it (out of my holiday dosh, which they looked after), we were well-past the shop.  I had to run back, hoping that it hadn't sold in the meantime, as I imagined might happen with Supes being so popular.

I needn't have worried.  He was still there, so I entered the shop and purchased him.  At 15 (or 14 if it was '73) I was probably too old for such a toy (maybe even any toy), but this was one I simply had to have.  And that's why, dear Crivvie, I recently bought a replacement for it, which arrived at Castel Crivens just a short time ago.  Truth to tell, it's not exactly a 'replacement' as it has an updated head and the costume sports some differences, but it is a genuine Mego figure, albeit one issued in 2020, not the 1970s.  (I've included a picture of the original, culled from ebay, so that you can compare the two.)

Anyway, I haven't ruled out buying an original at some point, but the contemporary version will suffice for the nonce.  Alas, I'm now (and have been for a long time) far too old to actually play with any of my collectable toys - they function more as ornaments than playthings, but at least I can still derive pleasure from simply looking at them in their allotted place.  Any of you Crivvies ever have any Mego Superhero figures back in the day?  Do tell!




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