Tuesday 18 January 2011



Whenever I try to access the GRANTBRIDGE STREET blog, I get diverted to a notice telling me that the site contains "inappropriate content" (I've never noticed any - isn't it about comics?) and asking me if I want to continue.  However many times I answer in the affirmative, absolutely nothing happens and I remain in limbo.  This is a fairly recent development as I never used to have any trouble accessing the blog.  Anyone know what's going on?

(Update: Problem now solved.  Nothing a change of provider couldn't fix.)

Monday 17 January 2011


IPC Magazines former HQ - King's Reach Tower

One of the things that surprised me when I began my professional comics career way back in 1985 was how much the comicbook business seemed like "just a job" to some of those working in the industry.  Having grown up on the 1960s MARVEL BULLPEN and copycat ODHAMS GARRETT image, I expected everyone to be really enthusiastic about what they were doing, but I found that - with a few exceptions - most people on the office side of things didn't seem to be ecstatic about what they did for a living.

Bob Paynter - or is it The Shadow?

To non-comic fans, they were "in publishing" - almost as if they were embarrassed by their profession.  As for me, it was as if I'd died and gone to Heaven, and I was bursting with enthusiasm and exuberance with regard to my involvement in the field.  BOB PAYNTER (above), group editor of the IPC humour division, was one of the few exceptions I met who found my enthusiasm refreshing (instead of embarrassing), and he did his best to channel as much work in my direction as he could.  (Incidentally, in the photo above, Bob was posing - I didn't snap him unawares as he was putting on his jacket.)

Steve MacManus

Special mention must be given to 2000 A.D. editor STEVE MacMANUS (above), who gave me my start in the biz, and also to later assistant editor ALAN McKENZIE - who gave me as much work as I could handle, but I was puzzled as to why not everyone regarded their jobs with the same unadulterated joy that I did.  Doing it too long perhaps?  Never wanted to do it in the first place?  Not allowed to do comics the way they would've wished?  Who knows, but I look back on my time in the last dying embers of a once thriving industry with great fondness.

Art assistant Kevin Brighton and pal Derek Pierson in IPC's canteen

Dying embers?  I'm afraid so.  You see, about a year and a half or so after starting my freelance career, IPC sold their YOUTH GROUP - the department responsible for producing their comics - to the infamous pension thief ROBERT MAXWELLin conjunction with a Dutch company*later known as EGMONT.  (The only periodical not included in the sale was long-running football mag, SHOOT.)

It's more than likely that the discussions which led to this purchase had commenced a good while before I began my career, but it's strange now to think that the once mighty IPC comics-publishing empire was winding down just as I was revving up.  Looking back, it just doesn't seem fair.  Once IPC jettisoned the Youth Group its fate was sealed - the number of published comics soon began to dwindle, as title after title faded into oblivion.

King's Reach Tower at night

However, having said that, had a 15 year career as a comics contributor, visiting London once - sometimes twice - a week for about the first two years or so.  Getting to see various bound volumes (and artwork) of ODHAMS PRESS and FLEETWAY comics from years ago, lying around the offices of KING'S REACH TOWER, gave me a strange sense of connection to those earlier times.  As did meeting editors and production staff who had worked on comics I had read as a boy.  Ah, what marvellous moments, such magical memories.

It's an experience I wouldn't have missed for the world, and one for which I'm extremely grateful.


*Regarding Egmont, the story I heard at the time was that Maxwell bought 50% of the Youth Group, in conjunction with GUTENBERGHUS (later renamed Egmont), who bought the other 50%.  When Maxwell died, Gutenberghus acquired full ownership of the former IPC comics group.  Can anyone confirm this, or was I misinformed on this aspect?

Click here for more info on Steve MacManus.

Tuesday 11 January 2011


I haven't yet seen the new YOGI BEAR movie, but the trailer looks like a lot of fun, so I'll be buying my ticket the moment it's released in Britain. It won't be the first time the redoubtable bruin has appeared in cinemas though - he made his silver screen debut back in the mid-1960s in HEY THERE, IT'S YOGI BEAR, with no less a luminary than JAMES DARREN (from The TIME TUNNEL, T. J. HOOKER) as Yogi's singing voice.  Also, back in the (early) '60s, the WADE company produced this great little porcelain figure of BOO BOO's pal, along with HUCKLEBERRY HOUND and Mr. JINKS (without the meeces).

It's not often you see this item with its original box, so I hope you appreciate all the effort I go to in order to bring you a glimpse of these cataclysmic classic creations - carefully culled from my own personal collection.

Monday 10 January 2011


Cover art by Jim Starlin & Joe Sinnott

Okay, I know I'm a little late with this one, but there's still a smattering of snow on the ground so I might just get away with it.  Feast your eyes on the cataclysmic cover of the "Christmas" issue of The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #13 - pencilled and inked by JIM STARLIN and JOE SINNOTT respectively.  This comic first appeared on newsagents' shelves back on December 23rd, 1972 - just over 38 years ago.  There's no point in padding this out any further - this is one of those pictures that speaks for itself.

Friday 7 January 2011


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Just released by MARVEL is this magnificent OMNIBUS edition of The MIGHTY THOR (or THOR The MIGHTY, if you prefer - as I do).  Including JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #83 - 120ANNUAL #1 (THOR's first battle with HERCULES), as well as pin-ups and letters pages - in fact, everything needed to fulfill the happy expectations of even the most demanding Marvelite.

RUN, don't walk, to your nearest comics shop and pick up a copy now.  Better take a wheelbarrow - it's a heavy tome.

ISBN:  9780-7851-4973-6

Sunday 2 January 2011


Aurora Superman kit - built and painted by me

Well, we've had The BATMAN, so we might as well now have his good pal SUPERMAN.  In an earlier post, I featured the 1964 version of this fabulous kit by AURORA, so this time around let's have the 1974 version, which had a few differences.  Mainly, the nameplate was omitted and, instead of the 'S' emblem being moulded onto the costume and cape, a couple of adhesive labels were supplied.  Also, the copyright details on the base were updated.

Because of the contours of Supe's manly physique, the chest emblem didn't really adhere too well - in subsequent releases of the kit by MONOGRAMMPC, and REVELL-MONOGRAM (the two companies merged in 1986), this was overcome by the supply of waterslide decals in place of stickers.  For my own kit, I simply hand-painted the 'S' emblem in the appropriate places.  I also affixed a spare '64 name-plate because, to my eyes, the kit didn't seem complete without it.

Aurora really were the "bees' knees" when it came to plastic model figure kits - the WORLD'S FINEST, you might say.  Incidentally, the  first box below is the one from 1964, not the 1970s, simply because I think it's better.  However, as I'm known far and wide for my generosity and consideration for others, for completists, the '70s one is presented underneath it.


The British version didn't have the 8 page comic, alas

Saturday 1 January 2011


AURORA BATMAN kit - built & painted by me

Another big hit of the '60s was BATMAN, which - much like The MAN From U.N.C.L.E. - resulted in a wealth of merchandising.

Released in 1965 - some months before the TV show hit the screens - the AURORA plastic model kit of the Caped Crusader no doubt benefitted from a boost in sales due to the popularity of the programme when it aired in 1966.

Thought you might like to see it.  And it's all mine.  Oh, and here's the box, too.



One day, back in 1965, I remember my brother anxiously trying to obtain a copy of that week's RADIO TIMES - because therein was printed a coupon which enabled aspiring secret agents to send off for a MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. ID card.  As any child of the '60s will recall, TMFU was the big hit of the time on British (and American) TV, and every kid in the land wanted to be an U.N.C.L.E. agent.  I still remember the address - 58 St. James' Street, London, SW1.  We sent off for quite a number of cards over the course of the next few months, I can tell you.  Sadly none of them survived, but for those of you in a similar predicament, dry your tears - the heartache is over.

You can now obtain an exact facsimile of that '60s Radio Times U.N.C.L.E. ID card - professionally printed from an original - along with its U.S. counterpart and a letter of acceptance from the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement - for a paltry £7.50 (inc. p&p) from here.  If you live outside the U.K., check prices for your country.  (Update: Sadly, the link no longer seems to be active.)

Quick - before T.H.R.U.S.H. cause an international shortage by buying them all - recapture a magical moment from your long- ago childhood before it's too late.

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