Thursday 30 September 2010


Calling all THUNDERBIRDS fans - leap straight over to for details of how you can acquire the superb 9 vehicle F-TOYS THUNDERBIRDS MECHANIC COLLECTION pictured above.  An absolute must-have for every serious collector of GERRY ANDERSON's FAB puppet series from the '60s.

Monday 27 September 2010


Stan (The Man) Lee

For all STAN LEE fans out there, here's news of an upcoming book from TWOMORROWS PUBLISHING, which will be available from the end of November.  Here's the spiel from the TwoMorrows site.

192 page hardcover - by ROY THOMAS and DANNY FINGEROTH.

Face front, true believers!  THE STAN LEE UNIVERSE is the ultimate repository of interviews with and mementos about Marvel Comics' fearless leader!  From his Soapbox to the box office, the Smilin' One literally changed the face of comic books and pop culture, and this tome presents numerous rare and unpublished interviews with Stan, plus interviews with top luminaries of the comics industry, including JOHN ROMITA SR. & JR., TODD McFARLANE, ROY THOMAS, DENNIS O'NEIL. GENE COLAN, AL JAFFEE, LARRY LIEBER, JERRY ROBINSON, and MICHAEL USLAN discussing his vital importance to the field he helped shape.

And as a bonus, direct from Stan's personal archives, you'll see rare photos, sample scripts and plots, and many other unseen items, such as: PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE between Stan and such prominent figures as: JAMES CAMERON, OLIVER STONE, RAY BRADBURY, DENIS KITCHEN, ALAIN RESNAIS and (Sinatra lyricist and pal) SAMMY CAHN!  Transcripts of 1960s RADIO INTERVIEWS with Stan during the early Marvel era (one co-featuring JACK KIRBY, and one with Stan debating Dr. Fredric Wertham’s partner in psychological innovation and hating comics)!

Rarely seen art by legends including KIRBY, JOHN ROMITA SR. and JOE MANEELY!  Plot, script, and balloon placements from the 1978 SILVER SURFER GRAPHIC NOVEL, including comprehensive notes from Lee and Kirby about the story.  Notes by RICHARD CORBEN and WILL EISNER for Marvel projects that never came to be!  Pages from a SILVER SURFER screenplay done by Stan for ROGER CORMAN!  Notes and thumbnail sketches by JOHN BUSCEMA from HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL WAY, and more!  So get a jump-start on the celebration of Marvel's 50th anniversary, and let this incredible book take you on a guided tour of the STAN LEE UNIVERSE.  Excelsior!  (Co-edited by ROY THOMAS and DANNY FINGEROTH.)

Includes a deluxe dust jacket, plus 16 EXTRA FULL-COLOR PAGES of rare Archive Material, not found in the Softcover Edition.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60549-030-4
ISBN-10: 1-60549-030-X

Sunday 26 September 2010


Harmless fun - or harmful influence?

Notice I ask "can" - not "do".  There's an obvious reason for this subtle but important distinction, so I needn't elaborate.  However, perhaps it's the wrong question - it's a bit like the old saying: "Guns don't kill people - people do", in that it's not so much the medium per se which can be potentially harmful, but the content.

Whether it be movies, books, magazines, records, television, comics - or even newspapers, if inappropriate content is made available to minors, or anyone for which it isn't suitable, then it's likely to have some kind of negative effect on those who are exposed to it.  Will it make someone pick up a gun or a knife and go on a killing spree?  Will it turn someone into a sex pervert or even a rapist?  Well, that's not quite what I'm suggesting, so let's not get carried away with ourselves.

Of course, there are those who dogmatically claim both those extremes.  Some say definitely yes, others give a resounding no.  For myself, I prefer to allow for the possibility that certain comics - in the same way that certain movies, video games, records, etc. - could be part of the problem we face in the ever-increasing hedonistic, materialistic, sexualized and violent society we live in today.  Notice that I said "part" - I'm not one of the so-called "anti- comic brigade" castigated by those who feel that comics are exclusively and uniquely beyond the possibility of having any kind of negative effect on their readers.

Consider the influence that society and the culture we live in can have on us.  Muslim cultures tend to produce Muslims; Catholic cultures tend to produce Catholics.  Once upon a time, cannibalistic cultures produced cannibals.  And you can multiply the examples many times over.  It's a simple case of cause and effect.  (And I should here add that I'm not equating either Muslims or Catholics with cannibals.)  If we live in a culture which embraces a steady diet of murder, sadism, rape, violence, promiscuity, criminal activity, coarse language, blasphemy, etc., through all forms of entertainment (and that includes comics), is it any wonder that - as a society - we become inured to it all, to varying degrees?

Sure, most kids know the difference between fantasy and reality, and I'm not claiming that someone watching a violent video game (or reading a violent comic) is going to turn out a maniacal murderer because of it.  (Although neither am I saying that it couldn't happen - in extreme circumstances and in conjunction with other factors.)  However, doesn't the fact that millions of kids regularly view ultra-violent video games without flinching at explicit scenes of mutilation, mayhem and murder for the purpose of entertainment - and see nothing wrong with it (and some might argue that this fact in itself is evidence of harm) - not perturb you in the slightest?  Wouldn't you concede that this is perhaps an example of the harmful and negative effects that certain aspects of popular culture can have?

When it comes down to it, inappropriate content is inappropriate content, regardless of whatever format it's presented in.  If it's material which could have a harmful or negative effect on its audience, then surely it doesn't much matter whether it comes in the form of a book, a movie - or a comic.  The danger is in the content - not the carton.  That's why, to me, those that assert that comics couldn't ever have - and haven't ever had - any kind of negative influence on any reader, are not on as secure ground as they might think.  The simple truth is - nothing's ever that simple.   

One thing I do know - while the question is at least being asked, discussed and debated, the chances of things getting out of control are kept in check to some degree.  It's when we forget to be vigilant about the possibilities of declining standards in what is being disseminated amongst our young that we are most at risk from the ills which may infect our culture.

Feel free to give me your views on the matter.

(FOOTNOTE:  The above BUSTER COMIC LIBRARY issue was pulled from distribution at the last moment due to fears that some children might get the idea (even subconsciously) that it was okay to hold lighted fireworks.  It would be foolish to dismiss the notion that IPC also had concerns about being sued if some kid got hurt following Buster's example, but the primary motivation was out of a genuine consideration for children's physical safety.  Shouldn't we also be as concerned about the possible psychological effect that some comics may have?  Incidentally, I Googled "violent comic images" to find illustrations for inclusion -most were of a sexual nature and far too inappropriate to use.)


"Gee, the waiters in this place are really old!"

Remember what I said a few posts back about when you're really famous, someone always wants to have a photo taken with you?  Well, here I am on a night out some years back - the older fellow was an unknown, but promising, up-and-coming U.S. comedian called BOB HOPE.  I hear he was quite good, but, sadly, he's no longer with us.

"Just sign here, Kid - I'll fill in the amount later." 

He wanted an autograph of course, so here he is (with wife Dolores) indicating where he wanted me to sign and even providing a pen for my convenience.  He probably had it on eBay five minutes later and made a fortune from it.  What can you do?  Ah, the price of fame!

Friday 24 September 2010


Copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

It certainly pays to shop around.  This year's DANDY and BEANO ANNUALS (for 2011) are priced at £7.99 each, but already various sellers are offering their own special deals on the books.  SAINSBURY'S are only charging £5 each, but buy both of them together and they cost  a mere £8 for the pair (essentially a two-for-one offer).

However, whether you buy it on its own or with its sister publication, The BEANO ANNUAL comes with a high quality facsimile of the comic's first issue from 1938.  True, some liberties have been taken with the cover by omitting the white margin, and the contents are abridged from the original 28 pages to 24, but it's still a nice little collectors' piece.
Run out and but them both NOW!

And for those who want to know what the cover of the first issue should look like - from my own personal collection - feast your eyes on the illustration below...

Wednesday 22 September 2010


"Ready or not, here I come!"

This clearly happy chappie is no doubt exulting in the fact that, with his mighty DALEK in hand, no-one is going to risk incurring his righteous wrath by trying to "take away his Breakaway".  (Actually, I don't think that particular biscuit was around in 1965, but never mind.)  Look how fearless he is - he laughs - with eyes recklessly closed - even in the face of deadly danger.  (Okay, it's only Dad with a Box Brownie.)  This toy Dalek was manufactured by HERTS PLASTIC MOULDERS and was sold only in WOOLWORTHS stores back in the '60s.  Wish I still had mine.  What about you?
"You lookin' at me?  EXTERMINATE!"


Yesterday's Man of Tomorrow

One of my favourite comic strips back when I was a mere lad was JOHNNY FUTURE, published in the pages of FANTASTIC by ODHAMS PRESS.  The strip had originally been called The MISSING LINK, but the character was deemed to be too similar to The HULK - then appearing in sister publication SMASH! - and a change in direction was instituted after several issues.  Whether MARVEL objected to a Hulk 'knock-off' appearing alongside other Marvel characters, or whether ALF WALLACE, the strip's writer, arrived at this decision on his own (or perhaps even intended it from the start) is lost in the miry mists of time, but it was undoubtedly a very wise move.  With fantastic (no pun intended) artwork by Spanish artist LUIS BERMEJO, the strip ran until Fantastic absorbed TERRIFIC, and JOHN FOSTER (Johnny Future's alter ego) disappeared into comics limbo.  Well, almost - he had one more outing in the 1969 Annual, but - after that - it was curtains for ol' JF.

There was occasionally some clumsy tampering with Luis Bermejo's artwork (the addition of an inconsistent futuristic emblem on his costume being but one example), but overall, the strip is fondly remembered as a benchmark of comic strip art from the 1960s.  Interestingly, Bermejo always misspelt the title as "Jhonny Future" in his pencilled indication of where the logo should be placed - English not being his strong point, I guess.  STEVE HOLLAND of BEAR ALLEY BOOKS was going to reprint the complete run in book form, but - due to events beyond his control - it hasn't yet come to pass and looks increasingly unlikely.  (Update: REBELLION is releasing a complete collected edition of the strip in April 2020.)

Incidentally, the back-page pin-ups are usually credited to BARRY WINDSOR SMITH, who, if he was responsible for the one at the top of this post, seems to have copied or merely traced it from an original panel by Bermejo himself.  (See below.)  Any clarification by anyone who knows what they're talking about would be most welcome, though I suspect it's possibly an enlargement of the Bermejo panel which a staff artist has retouched in places.

I have a fascinating origin worked out for the Link and Johnny Future - maybe one day I'll share it with you.  (Update: That day is here.  Click on this link to read about Johnny's connection to The Man Of Tomorrow.)


Copyright DC COMICS

SUPER DC was a British monthly published by Top Sellers back in 1969/'70, featuring - as it said above the title - "The Best of DC Comics".  Such a claim was arguable, but I certainly thought it was a worthwhile effort and it was definitely good value for one old Shilling.  (5 new pence.)

Only 14 issues were ever produced - and I have two sets of each of them, plus two copies of the Bumper Book - so well done me!  The covers of all of them are elsewhere on the blog.

Tuesday 21 September 2010


What are you waiting for? Get right over to and read about the many and varied accomplishments and career highlights of the man referred to as "the British Stan Lee".  Dez has been at the forefront of the British comics industry for more years than he'd probably care to remember, so you can bet that when he's got something to say it's worth paying heed to.

Well? Why are you still here?  Go and pay heed.


The late ARCHIE GOODWIN was one of nature's finest gentlemen.  He's probably as much a legend for being nice as he is for being one of the greatest writers and editors that ever graced the comics medium.  I was fortunate enough to once spend a pleasant evening in the company of Archie and his just-as-nice wife, ANN - along with famous Scottish man-about-town, JOHN McSHANE - a few years before Archie passed away, enjoying a pleasant meal and some entertaining conversation into the bargain.

Archie was modest and unassuming, and a joy to be with.  He looked much younger than his years, despite having suffered from the illness which eventually claimed his life much too soon.  It's been said that if you look up the word "nice" in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of Archie smiling back at you.

Here's to you, Archie - wherever you may be.

Monday 20 September 2010


"Wait'll I tell Kirby that I met Kid Robson."

When you're a living legend and creative megastar in the world of comics, one of the things you have to put up with is ordinary folk wanting their photo taken with you so that they can tell their buddies you're their best friend.  Such a thing happened to me one day when out of the blue, this wrinkly old pensioner (oo-er - sorry, Stan) insisted I pose for a photograph with him - anybody know who he is?  Oh well - just another day in the life of a leg-end - er, I mean legend.


Illustrated by E. H. Shepard

The WIND In The WILLOWS by KENNETH GRAHAME entranced me from an early age, and even if you're now a crusty old adult, you really should give it a read if you haven't done so already.  It's another of those deeds that should be on a "things to do before you die" list.  Forget the stigma of reading a so-called "childrens book" - the standard of English employed in the book elevates it above and beyond that much-maligned and inaccurate category.

As the author himself said, "It is a book of youth, and so perhaps chiefly for youth, and those who still keep the spirit of youth alive in them; of life, sunshine, running water, woodlands, dusty roads, winter firesides."  I'd say it's definitely the finest book of its kind, so what's not to like?  And do your very best to get an edition illustrated by ERNEST H. SHEPARD.

Even if you don't feel like reading it yourself, buy a copy for your kids (or nieces and nephews) - above the age of 12, I'd suggest - as a Christmas gift.  They're bound to thank you in later years for having enriched their young lives.

Preparing for battle


"Where's my swimming trunks?"

You're looking at a LOUIS MARX TOYS' TWISTABLE BATMAN, which I assume was readily available in all good toy shops at the height of the 'Bat-craze' back in the mid-1960s.  (I owned several in my time, all purchased (on different occasions) from a super little shop known as NURSERYLAND.  "Everything for Baby" it boasted, but it also sported quite a wide range of toys for kids of all ages.)

He was produced without trunks, but that apart, was a fantastic fun figure - looking for all the world like a GERRY ANDERSON puppet.  Is that STEVE ZODIAC under the Bat cape and cowl?  Sure looks like him to me - what about the rest of you?

Apparently, pristine examples of this toy can fetch up to £700 (according to a dealer who's well-known for charging about three times that of everyone else), but I managed to pick up mine for a mere £30.  It still had the original cape, although it was torn and tatty, but was missing the belt, Bat emblem and Bat-a-rang.  I made a new cape using the original as a template, and recreated the other missing items, which - although not original - suffice for the purpose of display.

All in all, a nice little acquisition.  Anyone got a spare Bat-a-rang and Utility belt they can sell me?  If so, get in touch.


Images copyright DC COMICS

Remember the BATMAN craze of the '60s?  TOPPS published a set of cards to cash-in on the interest that the TV show had incited, and to anyone who had them back in 1966, the above and below images will surely bring back happy memories of their childhood.  A further two sets were released after the first, and - fortunately, for people like myself who never kept the originals - Topps reissued them back in 1989 when the new TIM BURTON/MICHAEL KEATON/JACK NICHOLSON big-budget Batman movie hit the screens.

Ah, happy days.  More '60s Batman merchandise soon, perhaps.


Pencil tracing by Dom Regan, inking and lettering by Kid Robson
Many of you will have seen The FREEDOM COLLECTIVE one-shot mag from a small independent 'publisher' a number of years back.  There were quite a few people involved with the issue, but I believe the basic premise was based on a suggestion by a Glasgow artist (not the one allude to below and named above), author, and well-known man about town.

I'm unsure whether the original pencil rough of the above image was prepared as a possible project or merely for the artist's own amusement, but it was traced from a copy of the cover of STRANGE TALES #135 - which then inked, embellished, improved, as well as lettered, and which came out not too badly at all, in my humble estimation.

"KRUST" was later changed to "K.R.U.S.H.", but the above illustration is how it left my drawing board.


"Kid - I love you!"

To compensate for the upsetting
nature of the previous post's photo (now
deleted, but even the subject complained),
here's one which won't have you reaching
for a 'barf bag'!  (If this is a woman, then
lemme tell you, my last girlfriend must
 have been a navvy.  Bleccchhh!)

Friday 17 September 2010


There's a clue here somewhere

I'd thought that my 'difference of opinion' with a certain person (see my post "Setting the record straight" for details) was all done and dusted, but someone recently alerted me to the fact that he's now implying that I'm posing as a variety of different people over on the comments section of his blog.  Curious, I visited the site and was bemused to see someone else's responses to his comments being slyly suggested as originating from myself. 

When it comes to making assertions of "paranoid accusations"he seems completely unaware of the irony of his remarks - as he's the only one indulging in that little pastime as far as I can see.

I've tried to be fair to this individual and have always given him his due as a professional comics contributor, and acknowledged the merits of his usually informative blog, but on this occasion I feel it is necessary to address the situation of him taking pot-shots at me in my absence.  Let's hope it's the last time I have to do so, as it has become extremely tiresome.


"Where's Cagney?  I'll moider da bum!"

Being incredibly talented - as well as witty, charming and handsome (not to mention modest and with a self-deprecating sense of humour) - it should come as no surprise to anyone to learn that I once inked (re-inked, to be precise) the artwork of JACK "KING" KIRBY - while he was still alive, making it even more of a thrill for me.  To see my name listed with some of the legendary greats of the comicbook biz like STAN LEE, JACK KIRBYVINCE COLLETTA, etc., was a big deal for me, and one of which I'm immensely proud.  How did this monumental accomplishment occur, you are perhaps asking - so here's the scoop.

MARVEL were producing their first run of MASTERWORKS editions, when then-editor, TOM BREVOORT, asked me if I could supply some of the absent pages from their files.  As it happened, I was in a position to help out, utilising some of my comics collection featuring Marvel reprints in U.K. publications of the '60s.  However, things were a lot more complex than simply photocopying pages from old comicbooks and sending them over to the States - and here's why:

Back in the '60s, ODHAMS PRESS, publishers of comics such as WHAM!, SMASH!, POW!, FANTASTIC, & TERRIFIC (also EAGLE and others), made all sorts of alterations to the Marvel comic strips they reprinted.  Credit boxes were deleted, American references were changed, colloquial speech was altered, characters' names were revised, and pages were - in the case of Wham!, Smash!, and Pow! - also resized to fit the standard British dimensions.  However, rather than witter on about it let me show you.  Below is a THOR page as it appeared in issue #27 of Fantastic back in 1967.

And here's how the page looked once I had restored it to its original appearance.  What you might call 'invisible mending'.

Next is a poorly printed ad featuring the cover art from FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3 - as you can see, most of the linework has dropped out and a couple of characters have been deleted.

Here's the cover once I had re-inked it.  Nothing too elaborate - merely the application of a MARSMATIC drawing pen to a photocopy of the above pic, and a combination of re-created and photocopied lettering from the original comic.

Here are a few more 'before & after' illustrations for your perusal.  As you can see below, the figure of The THING lost most of his body when the image was resized to fit the larger U.K. page.  With the aid of reference as to how the page should have looked, I soon restored the missing details and returned the page to its former state.





And finally, a Thor pic, before and after restoration.

Remember - the images can be enlarged by clicking on them - and then clicking again on the enlarged pic to make it larger yet.  (These two are a little blurred - although the preceding pictures can be seen to their best advantage by this process.)

And that's how one restores royalty.  Simple, really - but immensely satisfying.  Altogether now - "Long live the King!"

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