Tuesday, 11 December 2018

MORE TRUE BELIEVERS...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here are some earlier-released TRUE BELIEVERS FANTASTIC FOUR mags to the ones in the previous post, for all those who are interested in acquiring inexpensive reprints of some classic FF tales.  There are some more KIRBY drawn issues on the way, which I'm expecting to receive pretty soon.  I'll post them on the blog the minute I've got my grubby hands on them.  If your local comics shop doesn't have the ones shown here, they should be available on eBay






Monday, 10 December 2018

ARE YOU A TRUE BELIEVER?


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

If you're not buying the TRUE BELIEVERS FANTASTIC FOUR series of comics then you're missing out on some great classics.  Sure, like me, you may already have the stories in various reprint collections, but there's something about having them in their own individual issues which is hard to beat.  Take the ish above, for example.  I first read this tale in MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS #1 back around 1967 or thereabouts (and again in The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #s 3 & 4 in 1972), but having the latest TB reprint is almost like having the original FF #2.  You're not going to come any closer than this to it - unless you already own it or win the Lottery.


Next up is FF #8, which I first read when it was spread across a couple of issues of WHAM! back in the '60s.  Like the SKRULLS tale, I read it again in an issue of MCIC and MWOM, and I still recall reading its ODHAMS PRESS presentation in my grandparents' flat one Sunday afternoon on one of my family's weekly visits.  To have it again in its very own individual comic is brilliant.  No more sitting with a heavy Omnibus volume on my thighs when I'm in the smallest room in the house, perched on the porcelain.  (Well, you gotta have something to read while you're in there, haven't you?)


And then comes FF #15, which I again remember reading in Wham!, this time during some 'free time' in my primary school classroom.  (Or it may have been during an interval when it was pouring down with rain outside and too wet to let us out into the playground.)  Seeing the story again in this superb re-presentation is almost like being a kid again in the '60s.  There are more STAN LEE and JACK KIRBY Fantastic Four classics coming soon, so keep an eye out for them to add to your collection.  I hope they reprint #7 ("PRISONERS Of KURRGO, MASTER Of PLANET X!") before too long, as it's one of my favourites.

So what are you waiting for?  Rush straight round to your local comicbook store today.  Each issue is only around a pound, though it'll cost you more if you order them through eBay.  Either way, they're worth it!  

Saturday, 8 December 2018

KID'S KLASSIC (KIRBY) KOMIC KOVERS - J.I.M. #84...


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Quick - who's the nurse in the left of the picture?  JANE FOSTER you say?  No, JANE NELSON, which is what Nurse Jane was called in her first appearance, in JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #84. (It was amended to Foster in early reprints, but was restored to Nelson in more up-to-date re-presentations.)  The EXECUTIONER wasn't THOR's ASGARDIAN adversary of the same name, but rather only the lowly dictator of SAN DIABLO, a rather second-rate villain for the mighty thunder god it has to be said.  JACK KIRBY has made 'Goldilocks' a little bulkier on this cover than the previous one, but inside he's slightly more slender in form.

BABE OF THE DAY - SYBIL DANNING...



Today's babe was requested by someone called
BASIL, who wanted to see a sultry photo of SYBIL.
We aim to please, Basil, so - here she is.  The 'phone
line was a bit FAWLTY, but I think he said he was
married to her.  Lucky man, eh?

Friday, 7 December 2018

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN...



It's funny the things we remember long after the fact.  The Christmas tree I put up in my living room on the 1st of this month is probably older than I am.  In every house I've ever lived in, it's served its festive purpose faithfully.  It's around 4ft high, and its branches are supposed to bend up against its 'trunk' to facilitate fitting back into its box.  However, it's been many years since that's happened, for two very good reasons.  Namely, the wire branches have long been too fragile to withstand bending without breaking, and the box was discarded sometime in the early '80s because it was redundant.  After all, what's the use of a box if you can no longer fit what came out of it back into it?

It wasn't my decision.  One year the box was still there in the loft, the next year it wasn't.  I suspect it may have been thrown out when we moved house in '83, but it could've happened up to a year or three before this.  It had been a familiar object whenever I was in the loft, all through my childhood and right up into my 20s, and it's difficult to believe that it's now been gone for longer than we had it.  In fact, whenever I go into the loft, I'm still sort of half-expecting to see it, as it's so embedded in my consciousness as one of the loft's inhabitants.  Daft as it may sound, I miss it when its absence once again registers with me.

So, dear Criv-ites, is there something that your family once owned which, in the back of your mind, you feel is still around - until you look over to its once-accustomed place and are suddenly reminded that it isn't?  Some fondly-recalled item from your childhood and/or teenage years whose presence yet remains long after its physical departure?  If you're even half as bonkers as I am, there's bound to be, so share your memories of it in our comments section.

(And, in case you were worrying or wondering, my Christmas tree now has its own black bin-bag in which it resides [unfolded] between yuletide gigs, to protect it from the loft's less-than-tropical conditions.)  

Thursday, 6 December 2018

OVER 200 QUID? YOU'RE 'AVIN' A LARF!


Images copyright relevant owner

Take a look at this cover of the TV COMIC Annual for 1977.  There's one on sale on eBay at the moment for a 'buy it now' price of a fiver, and another one for £4.99.  Unless they're in absolute pristine condition, those prices are pretty fair for a book that pops up on a regular basis.  Hold on though.  There 's another couple also available which are ludicrously expensive - one for - wait for it - £201.08 from julies.bookshop, the other for £202.47 from worldofbooks.  The former is described as being "in very good overall condition, with some signs of previous ownership", which means it may well have an inscription or some scribbles, and have puzzle pages filled in.

The latter is described as "...Reading Copy.  You can call it "well loved" if you want, but the reality is this book is likely to be heavily worn, possibly with external damage.  If you are after the text of the book then this will be absolutely fine, but it's unlikely to meet your needs for a present or as part of a collection."  Basically, what you're buying is potentially as far away from pristine as it's possible to get.

I have two theories here.  The first is that one seller has seen what the other seller is asking for and merely followed their example.  Y'know - "Wow!  If theirs' is worth that, then mine must be worth that too!"  Trouble is, the book is worth nowhere near that amount, and it'll be another couple of centuries before it even might be.  The second theory is that both sellers are merely chancers who hope that there's someone stupid enough to pay over £200 for a book that's only worth a mere fraction of that.  And harking back to an earlier post, it's ridiculously obscene amounts like this that clueless charity shop staff are basing their prices on.

All I can say is it's just as well I still have the copy I bought back in the '70s (that's it at the top of this post) - not that there'd be much chance of me ever paying £200 for a fairly easy-to-come-by Annual that can be bought for a fiver.  What's your take on this situation, readers?  Ever been flabbergasted by the asking price for something on eBay?  Tell your fellow Criv-ites about it in the comments section.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

BABE OF THE DAY - LYNDA CARTER...



The wondrous LYNDA CARTER sits by
the swimming pool in my back garden, copping
an eyeful as I change into my swimming trunks.
Luckily, the photographer left me out of the pic
so as not to make any of you guys jealous of
my manly-man, herculean physique.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

DOCTOR WHO - THE PHANTOM PIPER...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

The latest Doctor Who graphic novel from Panini Publishing is here, collecting the acclaimed comics series from the award-winning Doctor Who Magazine.

The Phantom Piper stars the Twelfth Doctor (played on TV by Peter Capaldi) and his companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie).  The Doctor and Bill are plunged into four incredible adventures...

The SOUL GARDEN


The Doctor and Bill land on Saturn's Moon and encounter the crazy quadrillionaire Rudy Zoom, classical poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and deadly plant creatures called the Haluu!

The PARLIAMENT Of FEAR


A journey to America's Wild West leads the Doctor and Bill into a lethal showdown with a myth come to life:  the legendary were-owls known as the Stikini!

MATILDUS


Bill finds herself in the alleyways of the spaceport Cornucopia, and meets the streetwise Kaballus Kids!

The PHANTOM PIPER


The time-travellers arrive in the lunar city Athenia, home to the world-famous code-breaker Alan Turning and a race of androids called the Galateans.  But a malevolent creature from humanity's darkest dreams is ready to strike... the Phantom Piper!

Stories and art by Scott Gray, Martin Geraghty, Staz Johnson and Mike Collins!

The lavish volume also includes a 15-page commentary section by the creators, revealing never-before-published artwork, photos and character designs.

On sale now, 148 pages, full colour.  RRP £14.99, $19.99.

ISBN:  1846539269 / 978-1-84653-926-8.

Friday, 30 November 2018

MIGHTY MARVEL CHECKLIST - ON SALE NOW!


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

AVENGERS UNIVERSE #13

76 pages of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!  Three awesome stories!

The Avengers and the Champions fight their way to the heart of the High Evolutionary’s power – but the price of victory may be too much for them to bear!  By Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos and Jesus Saiz!

The Uncanny Avengers take on the Juggernaut, and Quicksilver makes a BIG mistake!  By Jim Zub and Sean Izaakse!

A classic 1960s Marvel tale!  The first adventure of Captain America’s second generation Avengers, by Stan Lee and Don Heck!

Featuring material first printed in Champions #14, Avengers #674, Uncanny Avengers #29 and Avengers (vol 1) #17.

On sale 29th November.

£4.50.


WOLVERINE & DEADPOOL #12

76 pages of mutants and mayhem!  Three killer stories!

Wolverine and her family battle the Orphans of X and The Hand!  By Tom Taylor and Jaunn Cabal!

Old Man Logan returns to New York, and challenges the might of the Kingpin!  By Ed Brisson and Dalibor Talajic!

Deadpool and Old Man Logan battle through an army to save a young mutant girl!  By Declan Shalvey and  Mike Henderson!

Featuring material first printed in All-New Wolverine #29, Old Man Logan #36 and Deadpool vs Old Man Logan #3-4.

On sale 29th November.

£4.50.

I DIDN'T NEED MUCH PERSUASION...


Image copyright relevant owner

Hard as it may be for most of you to believe, I don't seem to be universally popular in some circles of the comics 'fraternity'.  Yeah, who'da thunk it?!  People don't seem to like it when I hold (or express) a different opinion from them on some subject, and take it as a personal insult.  The stories I could tell you!  What's worse though, is when some of them tell blatant porkies in order to cast doubt on my integrity and diminish my good name.  Me - a warm, wonderful human being who brings happiness into the lives of everyone he knows.  (Pssst!  Need two ounces of 'happiness'?  That'll be 20 quid to you, mate!)  But I jest!  One of the accusations levelled against me in the past (by some nutter) is that I steal new digital comics and thereby deprive creators of earnings that are due to them.

Guess what though - I don't like digital comics - don't even read 'em.  Wouldn't have them if you paid me.  I do have a few data discs with old, out of print comics on them, that the creators (most of whom are now sadly dead) would get no reprint fees from anyway, and whoever owns the copyright doesn't seem to want to do anything with them.  And what's more, I have loads of the comics anyway, but rather than spend hours digging through boxes in my loft to find a specific issue for scanning, it's much easier to take the image from a handy data disc.  In cases where I don't have an actual issue, the discs are a stopgap until I can track it down.  Case in point:  the above PERSUADERS Holiday Special from 1972.

I had this comic back in the '70s and have wanted another for a while now, but I've only ever seen it once for sale on eBay.  That was only recently, and you're looking at it 'cos I bid on it and won.  Previously, when I showed images from it on the blog, they came from a data disc acquired via eBay.  I assume that whoever makes them, scans his own comics for the purpose, and as they usually only cost a couple of quid a disc, he's hardly going to get rich from it.  In fact, scanning old comics can be a tedious, tiresome affair, and if he charged for his time, going by the price of his discs, he'd probably make about 5p a week.  So if I ever show a comic on this blog that I don't actually have in my collection, I just don't have it at the moment - but I will if I ever see it for sale anywhere at a reasonable (as in affordable) price.

That reminds me - reasonable prices.  I was in an OXFAM charity shop the other day which had a couple of BEANO Annuals on display inside a glass cabinet - one for 1994, the other for 1999.  Guess how much?  Around £30 each!  Picked yourself up off the floor yet?  That's right - £30 a pop.  A sign said that the Internet price was £60, so potential buyers were obviously meant to think they were a total 'steal'.  I've never seen Beano Annuals for those years sell for anywhere near that sum, so either some chancer on the Internet was taking the p*ss (I've seen one guy asking for £120 for an average condition 1976 SHIVER & SHAKE Annual a week after I bought one for a tenner), or some assistant has heard that old (as in '40s & '50s) Beano Annuals sometimes fetch that price and thinks they're all worth a fortune.

Just think - charity shops are basing their prices on the ludicrously extreme valuations of chancers on the Internet, even though it's highly unlikely that such overpriced items would ever achieve the hoped for amount.  Yet try explaining that to a charity shop manageress (so they can avoid damaging their shop's credibility, not because you want the bloody thing) and you get a tedious spiel about how their staff are trained to price things realistically, in accordance with the current collectors' market value of each item.  For feck's sake, they're completely ignorant about condition being an important factor, and often overlook missing pages, filled-in puzzles, inscriptions, spines missing, etc.  Utterly bloody clueless the lot of them.

But hold on a mo - I've drifted away from my favourite topic of conversation - namely me!  Never mind, I'm bound to pick up those reins again before too long, so you can look forward to the supreme joy of reading about your genial host in a future post.  Well, whaddya know - I finished on a rhyme.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

THE SPACE BLIMP OF CHRISTMAS - WHERE ARE YOU?



I guess it must have been 1966 or '67 and getting near to Christmas.  At one time, looking back ages later, I thought it was 1968, because I associated the time and the toy with a comic and a cafeteria, but I'm sure I had it for longer than the latter date would allow, so I could be combining two separate but similar occasions in my memory.  What the heck am I gibbering about?  Santa and his Space Blimp, pictured above, which my mother bought me from WOOLWORTH'S one dark evening in the '60s.  The way I remembered it for years (years after the event it has to be said) is that I had a copy of SMASH! with me at the time, and then we retired to The NORFOLK Restaurant - which was a restaurant in name only as it was actually a cafeteria.  In one hand, I had my new Santa toy, and on the table lay my copy of Smash!, in which The SPECTRE (not the DC COMICS version) dodged bullets in a shooting gallery.

Well, as I said, that's the way I used to remember it, but thinking back, '68 seems too late - I'm sure I had the toy before that.  And, without checking, I'm not sure whether that particular instalment of The Spectre was published in a December issue.  So, again, as I said, perhaps two separate events that have rolled together into one over the passing of the years - an impression more than a memory in fact.  Not that it's important to anyone but myself.  What is important is that I loved that Santa toy, and owned Santa and the reindeer head up until 1972 or '73 (the 'blimp' itself met a premature end), before I cruelly dispensed with them (and other childhood possessions) in an attempt to be more 'grown up'.  I was a fool and have regretted it ever since.  In fact, it's probably that event that laid the seeds for me being receptive to the idea of tracking down the things of my youth, of fanning the collecting spark into a flame when the opportunity presented itself a decade later.

I want this toy more than I want to marry SALMA HAYEK (when she's divorced from her present husband of course).  In this toy lies a portion of my childhood that I want back, and that's more important than an awesomely alluring sex goddess any day of the week (except Fridays).  Do you own this toy or know where I can get it?  If so, let me know at once and filthy lucre could be yours for the asking.  Don't let me down.

WHICH WITCH IS WHICH?



There's a story behind the little witch keyring you see in the above photo.  Not a particularly interesting story to be honest, but one I feel compelled to tell.  The original keyring I first had was bought in Largs in 1971, and goodness knows how long I actually had it for.  Probably not very long.  In 1975, I saw a batch of the same keyrings in my local FINE FARE (remember that shop?) in two variations.  The first was the same as the one above, with a green shawl (or whatever it is), and the second had an orange shawl.  I bought the green one as it was the same as my original, but when the metal chain split through the rubber ring it was attached to, I bought an orange one as that was all that was left.  I'm giving you the Readers' Digest version here, because I may have individually bought a couple of each at different times (while stocks lasted), but the rubber to which the metal chain was attached kept breaking, so my reunion with this reminder from my past was short-lived.

Still awake?  I next encountered this keyring (in its original colour scheme) in Southsea in 1981, almost 10 years after its original predecessor.  That's the one in the photo, still in one piece almost 38 years later.  Back in the '70s, I'd assumed witchy was a DISNEY character, but now I think I was mistaken in that assumption.  I suppose my primary association with this keyring is Largs, but sometimes it depends on just where my memory lands while hopping through the labyrinthean corridors of my mind.  One time, it might be Largs, another, Fine Fare, and another, Southsea - the chamber spins and stops where it will.  Though if my immediate memory isn't Largs but one of the other places, it always makes its circuitous way back to Largs after visiting the other destinations;  a journey in reverse so to speak.

So here's a question for you all, in a shameless attempt to hoodwink you into believing I was leading up to it when I started typing, and didn't just think of it this very second.  (Otherwise, you might assume - rightly - that there was no real point to this post.)  Have you ever once owned an item which you either lost, gave away, or threw out and then replaced many years later, which, when you think back, you associate with where you obtained the replacement as much as where you acquired the original?  Or vice versa - or any possible variation you can wring out of the question.  Hey, gimme a break, willya?  They can't all be gems.

CREEPY CREATIONS WILL MAKE YOU A GOGGLE-EYED GOON...


Images copyright REBELLION

My CREEPY CREATIONS volume arrived today, but unfortunately it was slightly damaged, making it necessary for me to resort to some digital manipulation in order to present a pristine cover image.  Never mind, those nice folks at REBELLION are going to send me a replacement copy, but in the meantime here's my own contribution to the annals of comics history - The GOGGLE-EYED GOON Of GLOUCESTER.

The top of the page credits have been redone all through the book

I remember drawing this while lying on my grandparents' living-room carpet the day after buying SHIVER & SHAKE #1, and posting it off the very next morning.  (The drawing, not the carpet.)  Twenty weeks later it appeared on the back page and, scoff all you will, that really is my actual drawing (or an enlarged tracing), which KEN REID 'slicked up' no end with his meticulous inking style.  The reason I know he never completely redrew it is because there were a few things I was unhappy with in my version which are still all-too obvious in the published page.  Ken would surely have fixed those imperfections had he started from scratch.

The wings are far more ornately rendered than I would have drawn them, and there's a bit more detailing in the forehead creases and one or two other places, but trust me on this - the finished result can be regarded as nothing less than a Robson/Reid collaboration.  Obviously I can only conclude that Ken regarded my drawing as being of a high enough standard to work over, simply giving it a more professionally inked finish, but he left what I regarded as my mistakes intact.

It would be interesting to know if he did the same thing with other submissions, or did he completely redraw and improve them?  Unfortunately there's no way for me to judge, but if one of your entries ever saw print, perhaps you remember if it was different in any way from your original drawing?  If so, let me and your fellow Criv-ites know.

One other thing about ol' Goony;  there was some kind of art competition in a UK comic (perhaps a MARVEL one) a couple or so years later, and someone had copied my drawing and submitted it, which I saw when thumbnails of the entries were published in the winners and runners-up results.  If he got a prize for it, it really belongs to me - so if he sees this, he should send it to me at once (whatever it was), the robbing b@st@rd!

Interestingly, out of all 72 entries (the first seven were 'in-house'), there was only one other from Scotland after mine - number 39's 'The Flying Haggis From Hamilton' by Iain Crosbie.  (Other creations had Scottish locations, but were sent from elsewhere.)

Anyway, if you're a Ken Reid fan, or were one of the winners of the Creepy Creations comp back in the day (or both), then this book is definitely for you.  Rush out and buy it from your local comics shop, or better yet, order it from the TREASURY Of BRITISH COMICS site today!  £17.99.

Incidentally, the internal colour images come from printed copies of the comics, but they look great, no doubt having been 'tidied up' in some computer-magical way.  If only the QUEEN Of The SEAS and DARE-A-DARE DAVY pages in one of the recent Ken Reid ODHAMS volumes (by another publisher) had been presented in the same manner, then the book would've been as good as it could be, not the 'settle-for-second-best' edition that it actually was.  (Not that it was bad, but it could've and should've been better.)

IT'S A KNOCKOUT! (NOW THERE'S AN ORIGINAL TITLE FOR A POST)...


Image copyright relevant owner

Well, it's only taken 45 (and a half) years since it was first issued for me to acquire it, but my very own copy of KNOCKOUT Holiday Special from 1973 arrived this morning, thereby completing my collection of the '70s incarnation of this title.  106 weekly issues, 2 Holiday Specials, and 13 Annuals - and I've got them all!  Now all I have to do is find time some day to sit down and read 'em.  I'm hoping to have at least another 50 years or so of life left to me (if I can't be immortal), so hopefully that'll be long enough to find a window in my busy routine to accomplish the task.  I don't recall the contents of this Special (though the cover rings a bell)  so it's possible I never had it at the time, but I'm certainly glad to own it now.  Took me right back to the '70s for a moment on just seeing the logo again - great stuff.

Did you buy Knockout when you were a kid, readers?  Did you have this Special?  If so, let's hear your memories of childhood when the world seemed a brighter, cleaner, happier place.  Maybe it was just an illusion, but some illusions are worth their weight in gold if they have a beneficial effect on our lives, don't you think?  Right, don't all rush the comments section at once - form an orderly queue.

Monday, 26 November 2018

PAST PONDERINGS...



As I get older, I find that my thoughts often turn to certain places and points in my past the further in time I become removed from them.  I suspect it'll probably be the same for most of you.  When you're a teenager, you don't miss your childhood quite so much (if at all) because it doesn't seem that long ago, and because you're busy enjoying the things that come with being a teenager.  (Girls, Melvin.  And smoking and drinking - not that I ever imbibed in the latter two - or enough of the former come to that.)  When you're a young adult, your teenage years still seem fairly recent, so you don't miss them so much either.  But that doesn't quite nail down what I'm trying to convey.

When I first moved into my present house in 1972, unusually for me, I didn't really miss my previous house in the same way that I had missed the ones which preceded it.  That's because I still went to school (for another two and a half years) just across the road from my old house, and because I still hung around the area as that's where my friends lived.  I'd moved to another house in another neighbourhood, but because my 'old' neighbourhood was still very much part of my day-to-day experience, there was no reason for me to miss it as I frequented the area a very large part of the time, both during and after school hours.  I passed my old house often, or had it within view, without ever feeling disconnected from it.

((Note:  Even after I started working, I hung around the local shopping 'precinct' across from my ol' home with my pals, and because of this, I actually associate HOWARD The DUCK #3 [which came out in 1976, four years after I'd moved] with my old neighbourhood [as much as anywhere], as I recall having it on me there one night.  Interestingly, had I still lived across the road, the place would likely never have been part of my stomping grounds as it was too close to potential parental surveillance.))  

In fact, it wasn't until I moved to yet another house eleven years later, that I began to miss the house I hadn't hitherto missed until that point.  (Readers may well be thinking at this stage:  "Wait a minute, didn't you just say you moved into your present home in 1972?"  Yes, but after moving out in 1983, we moved back again in '87.)  In fact, the 'interim' house, the one in which my family lived between '83 and '87, wasn't one I had ever wanted to move to, so when we vacated it after four years, I did so without a second thought.  Strangely though, about 18 to 20 years afterwards, I started to have fond memories of my time there, and today miss that house as much as any of the others I've lived in.

I've been back inside every house I remember ever having lived in, years after the fact, and it's almost like time travel for me.  As I said in another post once, whenever I've revisited a place, it's almost like I just popped out to the shops for ten minutes and then came straight back, the years spent elsewhere seeming almost like a dimly remembered dream.  There's only one residence I've never been back inside of, and that's my first abode in Glasgow, where I lived for the first one and a half years of my life.  I've stood on the landing outside the front door and had my photo taken (and also snapped photos of the outside of the tenement building), but as I have no conscious memory of ever having lived there, the 'time travel' effect wouldn't occur anyway.  (The apartment has lain empty for a few years, hence my inability to gain access.  One day soon hopefully.)  

So what's the point of this meandering post you may be wondering.  I'm interested to hear if there are times or events in your life that are long-gone, and which you never really thought about - or missed - until many years after the fact, and which now feel painful - unbearable even - to be 'parted' from?  Search the recesses of your memory banks and share with your fellow Criv-ites some magical moments from your past that you wish were still present.  Quick - before the memory fades forever.   

Friday, 23 November 2018

AND WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME ADDICTED?


The original ad that started it all

So when did it begin, this 'obsession' with collecting things from childhood?  Well, in my case, that depends on exactly what we're talking about - comics or toys.  I started re-acquiring childhood comics around the end of 1980/the beginning of '81, when I purchased the first issues of FANTASTIC, TERRIFIC, The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL, SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY, and the 1968 POW! SMASH! FANTASTIC Holiday Special.  I'd retained quite a number of comics from their original time of purchase around 1974/'75 when I was a teenager, but the afore-mentioned items resulted from a determined effort to re-obtain certain publications I'd originally had as a youth.  Although, to be more accurate, that determination sprang from discovering their availability by chance, which sounds like a contradiction-in-terms.  However, you know what I mean - I just happened to see an advert for them and decided I wanted to own them again.

With toys, the tap was turned on in a drip around 1982, when a former colleague asked me if I'd like an unbuilt AURORA SUPERBOY model that one of his friends no longer wanted.  I sure would, but it didn't materialize right away.  Then, some time later, he told me about an Aurora BATMAN kit he'd seen in a model shop in Glasgow for a mere £1.50.  I duly gave him the money to buy it for me as he was in Glasgow more often than I was (and knew exactly where the shop was located).  Then, in 1983, MONOGRAM reissued four of the 'glow-in-the-dark' Aurora models of the UNIVERSAL movie monsters, so I bought the FRANKENSTEIN kit (from LEWIS'S in Glasgow) as I'd had it more than half my life earlier.  Then the Superboy model I'd previously been offered finally passed into my possession. 

So far, my re-acquisitions amounted to a mere trickle, and there was yet no hint of the flood that was to eventually follow.  In 1984, PALITOY announced that they would no longer be making the 12" ACTION MAN articulated figure, so I bought the very next one (and for half-price too) I saw in a shop before they all disappeared off the shelves completely.  That was the start of it and, somehow, without me being fully aware of the addiction that was overtaking me, I started buying just about anything that I'd had as a kid, or wanted as a kid but never had, or didn't exist when I was a kid but should have - or, in fact, anything I would've bought had I still been a kid.  Before I knew it, I had surrounded myself with replacements for comics and toys I'd owned (or wanted to own remember) in my youth, and it's a habit that prevails to the present day.

What can I say?  There's something comforting in being reunited with a past possession from a vanished time in one's life.  It's like stepping back into 'yesterday' when one originally saw and owned the item, even if the moment is of an all-too brief duration and the present impatiently protrudes into the passing parade of prior pleasures from a bygone era.  If you don't 'get it' then I could never explain it to you - you'd have to experience the sensation for yourself in order to appreciate what I'm talking about.

Fortunately for me, I'm aware that there are others who visit this blog who know exactly whereof I speak.  So tell me, fellow travellers in time, when did the journey begin for you?  Also, what was your first 're-acquisition' and why did it mean so much to you?  Relive the moment in our cavorting comments section.

******

Incidentally, regarding the ad at the top of the page - the individual concerned never sent me my SMCW #1, so, after several months of him ignoring my requests for it, I had a Solicitor's letter sent to him - no response.  Quite a bit of time passed before I eventually wrote to a TV consumer affairs programme who chased him up - the comic was sent in short order and the story featured on the show.  Below is a photo of myself used in the broadcast and snapped from the television screen.  Oh, and as far as I remember, contrary to what the ad says and with the possible exception of MWOM, none of the mags had their original free gifts.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

MIKE NOBLE - R.I.P.


Images copyright relevant owner

Just learned (over at MOONBASE CENTRAL) that legendary artist MIKE NOBLE passed away at the age of 88 on November 15th.  Mike was a titan in British comics and illustrated FIREBALL XL5 in TV CENTURY 21, as well as a whole host of other strips in various publications.  Sad to see yet another figure who featured heavily in my childhood depart this mortal vale.  I never met Mike, but WOODSY or SCOOP (from the afore-mentioned Moonbase Central blog - newsflash - it was Scoop) made a point of mentioning my name to him at a convention once, and telling him how much a fan of his work I was.  It's good to know that he got to hear that in conjunction with my name.

I think that Mike Noble was Britain's equivalent to JACK KIRBY (as inked by WALLY WOOD), as every panel he drew had a sense of dynamism about it.  In tribute to Mike, what follows is one of my very favourite strips that he drew.  (Click to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.)






APPRECIATION SOCIETY? WORSHIPPING CULT MORE LIKE (UPDATED)...



Guess what?  Yours truly joined a FACEBOOK group called the SNYDER/DITKO APPRECIATION SOCIETY a little while back.  Among its many fine members are a small band who don't so much appreciate STEVE DITKO as outright worship him.  What's more, that small clique are filled to the brim with hatred for STAN LEE, which is indulged and encouraged by the host, a fellow by the name of ROB IMES.  I tried to provide a bit of balance on occasion, as I believe it's possible to appreciate Stan, Steve, and JACK KIRBY together, and not just one at the expense of either of the other two.  However, sometimes a few of the posts by other members revealed discrepancies in the stated philosophy of OBJECTIVISTS (followers of AYN RAND), as well as seeming inconsistencies in Steve Ditko's thinking, so I invited other members' views on the topic, hoping for some clarification and interesting and enlightening discussion.

My latest post was about the image above, which is self-explanatory.  I tend to agree with Steve's view on the matter (though I think he's being a tad pedantic, because I believe that whenever Stan described himself as the creator of SPIDER-MAN, he was thinking more of the original idea, not so much the actual published product itself), but it seems at odds with something he (Steve) once said in an interview by GARY MARTIN concerning CAPTAIN ATOM (in The COMIC FAN #2, 1965), which was this:

Gary:  Who originated Captain Atom?

Steve:  Someone at Charlton Press.  Don't know exactly who as I just worked out costume, etc.

(In case you were wondering, writer JOE GILL created the character.)  Now, if we regard the word 'originated' as a synonym for 'created' (as it is usually used), then it occurs to me that Steve's above illustrated definition of 'co-creator' status can be viewed as somewhat inconsistent with his earlier statement.  Even if we give him the benefit of any doubt and assume that he believed there was a fine distinction between the word 'originated' and 'created', he must surely have recognized that Stan was using the latter word in a synonymous way.  After all, Stan never claimed to have drawn the character or designed the costume, and more often than naught went to great pains to give Steve credit and to praise him for his contribution to (and development of) the 'finished article', so Steve surely wasn't so obtuse as to mistake Stan's intention?  He must've known in what sense Stan used the word.  And if he didn't see the distinction, then we're surely justified in wondering whether he missed it in Gary Martin's question too.  (Whether Gary intended to make that distinction by his use of the word, or whether he was using it synonymously is unknown.)

Think about it for a moment.  Here, Ditko seems to be downplaying his contribution to Captain Atom, saying that he "just worked out costume, etc." as if it were no big deal.  He certainly doesn't appear to be laying claim to co-creator status in the good Captain's case, so why the seemingly opposite view in regard to SPIDER-MAN, where he goes to great effort in reminding us that he designed the costume?  Sure, he did more than that, but the idea existed pre-Ditko's involvement.

I think Steve's problem was the same as Jack's, in that they both resented the attention and adulation (to say nothing of the money) that was given to Stan in what they saw as on the back of 'their' efforts.  Neither of them ever quite appreciated that Stan's plotting (at least in the early days) and scripting, to say nothing of his leadership and direction - plus the friendly mood that permeated the early Marvel mags' letters and Bullpen Bulletins pages - were all enormously instrumental in their success.  It was the way they read, not just the way they looked, that distinguished them from their competition and garnered acclaim and popularity.  "Which 'creation' has the highest value, word or image?" someone asked on that other site.  In Marvel's case, it was both, but that probably requires further explanation.

Both Steve's and Jack's visual storytelling, before and after Marvel, always looked just as impressive, but their solo efforts never made quite the same impact as their collaborative Marvel work in the '60s.  It was their time at Marvel that created their reputations and secured their legendary standing.  Why was this?  To me, the answer is obvious - Stan Lee!  And if it was Stan's input that made the difference, then it's fair to say that his was, arguably, the greater contribution - at least in the effect that it had.  His input enhanced the work of Ditko and Kirby, as theirs did his, but his enhanced theirs more.  Remember, a comic is not just pictures, it's words too, and Stan's words made a powerful impression on Steve and Jack's art.  They, however, could never quite see it.  

So was Stan intentionally trying to rob any of his collaborators of their due and deserved status on the odd occasion that he focussed more on his own achievements?  I don't think so. In fact, JONATHAN ROSS's TV programme, In SEARCH Of STEVE DITKO, although cited by the anti-Stan brigade as evidence of Stan trying to hog full credit, doesn't necessarily prove their case.  It's clear to me (mainly because he said so in JR's documentary) that Stan regarded whoever came up with the original idea as the 'creator' - the 'originator' - and that was Stan.  He wasn't denying that Steve's contribution to the finished, published product was instrumental in defining the character as known to the comics-reading public, he was only saying that the original idea was his.

But what about his much later testimony in court when he seemingly claimed sole creatorship and said that he exaggerated Steve's and Jack's involvement to make them feel included, to feel good?  I think we have to remember that, by that time, Stan had endured years of rabid Ditko and Kirby fans (and Jack himself) denying him any creative input at all into any of the many MARVEL characters and was understandably on the defensive.  Also, the Kirby family were claiming that Jack had created everything and Stan had created nothing, so he was only responding to the Kirby family 'in kind'.  In Spidey's case, I feel that it was quite legitimate for him to emphasize that he'd come up with the original idea - and I believe that's all he really meant when he said that he created Spider-Man - he did!  The idea for Spidey - the one which led to the Spidey that we know - came from him.

Remember too that he was by that time a vulnerable, confused old man with a failing memory (not that it was ever good), and doubtless had huge pressure put on him by the Marvel/DISNEY attorneys, who probably prepped him in what to say.  A sense of loyalty to the company who'd employed him for most of his life may also have been at the root of him overstating the case.  However, don't forget that Jack had done the same thing himself, often claiming that he'd created everything at Marvel (even Spider-Man) and that not only had Stan never created anything, he'd also never written anything.  Steve wasn't quite so bold, but he did tend to downplay Stan's input in favour of highlighting his own.  And it's easy to see (and understand) why - he felt he'd been robbed of his due credit because Stan got more attention (even though Steve claims he never wanted any), so it looks as if Stan reacted in a similar way when it seemed that he was being denied any credit at all.  You can't kick Stan here without also kicking Steve and Jack at the same time if you're going to play the 'blame game'.

Anyway, my most recent efforts to counter the anti-Stan sentiment on that other site led to me being banished from it - without warning and despite some unbiased members 'liking' my latest post.  It seems that any viewpoint that runs counter to the 'accepted' one (i.e., that of the site owner and a few cronies) won't be tolerated for very long.  I may be the one nicknamed 'Kid', but I've found that it's very often other people who behave like petulant children whenever someone suggests an alternate point of view to their own.  Independent thought is frowned upon in those kind of places, which is ironic in this instance as it's apparently something that Steve Ditko encouraged.

In conclusion, I'd like to make it clear that I appreciate Stan, Jack, and Steve, but I refuse to deify any of them or regard them as saints.  Just like their creations, the creators also had feet of clay.

******


Someone posted the above link to this post on that other site a few hours ago.  Seems he was trying to make a point, but as nobody has ever joined that site (or any other that I'm aware of) and insisted (or even suggested) that fans of Ditko's post-Marvel work need to appreciate the work he did with Stan, it seems somewhat redundant.  He's making a comparison that, as far as I can see, has no basis in fact.  (The typical 'straw man' argument.)

Monday, 19 November 2018

BABE OF THE DAY - ELVIRA...



Ah, ELVIRA... Mistress of the dark.  I'm betting
that her favourite chocolates are BLACK MAGIC.
One thing's for sure, she's got me under her spell -
I'm pretty sure it's the same with the rest of you.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING, AND EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE...



When I think back over my long life, there are two things that occur to me:  the first is just how quickly it's passed, and the second is how much I associate certain things with specific times and places of my childhood.  Taking GERRY ANDERSON TV shows as an example, SUPERCAR and FIREBALL XL5 I associate with one house, STINGRAY with the house after that, and THUNDERBIRDS, CAPTAIN SCARLET, and JOE 90 with yet another.  I only have to look at a Supercar or Stingray toy (or picture) and I'm once more in whatever house I lived in at the time I first experienced them.

Is there anything that you particularly associate with places you've lived in as a kid, or does your childhood seem set in some dimly-remembered, geographically non-specific magical fantasy land, not in the actual places or homes you grew up in?   

Saturday, 17 November 2018

BALDER THE BRAVE COVER GALLERY...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I bought this four-issue limited series of BALDER The BRAVE back in 1985/'86 (wow - 32/33 years), but it's only in the last 15 minutes that I finally got around to completely removing the price sticker residue that blighted their appearance since I first got 'em.  (Well, since I peeled the stickers off after getting the mags home more than three decades ago that is.)  Read them at the time, but can't recall a thing about them, except that artist SAL BUSCEMA was emulating the drawing style of WALTER SIMONSON, who wrote the four-ish tale.  (Walt drew the covers.)

Anyway, nothing profound (or even remotely interesting) to say, so I'll let you get on with appreciating the four covers on display here.  Feel free to share your thoughts and observations with the rest of us, if you have any.  You know where the comments section is. 



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