Wednesday, 27 July 2011


The one and only Bob Hope
 October 13th, 1984.
That was the day I ful-
filled my ambition of
drinking in a pub called
The RED LION.  (Okay,
it was only a Coke, but
it still counted.)  I had
always wanted to do so
since reading the name
in The WIND In The
WILLOWS many years
before, when Mr. TOAD
had sauntered into a pub
of the selfsame title and
ended up stealing a

Not that I had the
intention of doing any-
thing similar ('though I
could've nabbed an ash-
tray as a memento if I'd wanted to) - it's just that there was something about
the name that appealed to me.  It conjured up images of  old world charm, of
another era when things seemed simpler and more pure.  Ruddy-faced gents
crouched 'round a roaring fire, quaffing from flagons of ale held nonchalant-
ly in their weather-beaten hands, as coachmen and travellers, filled and
fortified, prepared to embark on the next leg of their journey.

I repeated the feat two or three years later, when I had lunch with the
assistant editor of IPC's BUSTER in a Red Lion pub just across from
Downing Street in London.  That was still in the future however; for now
the heady rush that came from watching JOHN LOWE score the first-ever
televised nine-dart finish in history (on another pub's TV later that evening),
and then meeting the legendary BOB HOPE before attending his show
at The EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE an hour or so afterwards.

I met Bob again in 1994 at The GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT
HALL, and had my photograph taken with the great man and his wife.  I
have his autograph several times over, on records, books, magazines and
photos.  Above is the one he sent me a few weeks before his concert
in Edinburgh on that magical and eventful night back in 1984.


Art by Neal Adams
The past few days
have been of the gloriously
warm, sunny, summer kind
that we imagine all our child-
hood summers to have been
like, and as I stepped off the
train from Glasgow early
yesterday evening with
Of KUNG FU #12 in my
possession (bought from a
back issue shop in the city),
my mind drifted back to a
similar gloriously warm,
sunny, summer late after-
noon of 36 years before,
when - as a mere freckle-
faced teenager - I had first
purchased my original
copy of this black and
white magazine.

I had also obtained the very first MONSTER FUN Holiday Special
at the same time.  (IPC were quick off the mark releasing this one, because
the weekly publication had only been out for a very short period - a matter
of weeks, in fact.)  I remember that it reprinted the initial SAM'S SPOOK
strip by LEO BAXENDALE, which first appeared in SMASH! in Jan/Feb
of 1971.  It still sported the "starts today" blurb on the top left-hand side
of the logo, no doubt the result of an editorial oversight as such blurbs
were  usually removed from out-of-sequence reprintings.

(NOTE:  My memory of this was confirmed when, a week after
typing the above, I obtained a back issue of this comic also.  The
cover and Sam strip are inserted below.  Click to enlarge.)

Art by Rudy Nebres
Back in 1975, a friend had been
with me when I acquired these two
publications, bought at some stage
on a day out to Glasgow.  When we
got back, I accompanied him (still
clutching my comics) as he visited
his sister's parents-in-law, who
resided not too far from the house
I'd lived in when Sam's Spook first
made his debut, and from which my
family had moved only three years
before (1972).  It's because of this
that I associate these comics with
my previous neighbourhood just
as much as I do with my then
(and still) current one.  Funny
thing, memory, eh?

Art by George Perez, Rico Rival, and
The Tribe
I'd bought this ish mainly for
GUN cover art and article, having
seen (with the same friend) ROGER
MOORE's second 007 movie not too
long before.  (It had its U.K. premiere
on 19th Dec '74, but my local cinema
didn't screen it until sometime in '75.)
Reading it again for the first time in
nearly 40 years, was surprised by
how much of it I remembered - even
down to actual paragraphs.  The mag
Of KUNG FU and SONS Of The
TIGER, with artwork by RUDY
plus BOND pin-up by the great

Art by Gray Morrow
I often think back fondly to
that particular summer day - and
many another day from long ago
also.  (Perhaps I may even have
warm recollections of yesterday
in the years to come - I hope I've
got at least another 50 ahead of
me, optimistic as that may be.)
Little did I then realize that my
friendship with the pal I'd known
since I was 7 would  barely last
another six years, but such is
life - something to look forward
to in blissful ignorance of what
may happen, and to look back
on in fond reminiscence (hope-
fully) of what did.

I hope all your summers turn out to be gloriously
warm and sunny - even if only in memory.

Friday, 22 July 2011


Above is an extremely rare LOUIS MARX BATMAN
toy from the 1960s.  I had two of them (at different times)
when I was a kid, and have very happy memories of playing
with them, especially the second one I received for Christ-
mas in 1966 or '67.  (Could even have been '68.)

Marx had a soldier figure out at the same time (in fact,
it actually predated the Batman one), which had the exact
same head (minus the black mask - a sticker - on the face
in the above pic) as his Caped Crusader counterpart.

I had a great time dressing up 'little Bruce' in his vari-
ous pieces of equipment and subjecting him to all sorts of
imaginary ordeals and adventures.  (Oo-er, it's just clicked
how pervy that sounds, so I'll deny it in court.  Someone
please tell me I wasn't the only one.)

Incidentally, despite the backing card's claim, the only
thing that moved on the legs were the boots, which turned
from left to right - or all the way 'round if you preferred.
Hardly what one would call fully-articulated.

I eventually swapped the toy with a pal for the soldier
version and then, the very same night, watched Bats meet
his doom as an older lad (ROBERT FORTUNE) launched
him into the air while saying "Let's see if he can fly..." - only
to see Batman smash to pieces on his descent.  My stunned
pal immediately wanted to effect an annulment of our
swap, but I was having none of it.  Poor Bats.

Anyway, if you were fortunate enough to have had one
of these figures as a kid, here's a look back into the past -
happy reminiscing.  (If not, this is what you missed.)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


Issue #1.  Images copyright relevant owner

One of my favourite comics as a boy was THUNDER, containing such gems as ADAM ETERNO, STEEL COMMANDO, BLACK MAX, GAUNTLET Of FATE, and various others, including a couple of one-page humour strips.  Looking back at my collection, over 40 years later, I'm surprised by how boring the covers were - perhaps the most effective were issues 23 - and it was probably the comic's inability to stand out on the newsagent's counter which contributed to its remarkably short lifespan of only 22 issues.

Issue #2

Thunder's most impressive strip was undoubtedly Adam Eterno, the man who couldn't die - unless struck a fatal blow by an object made of solid gold.  (So a glancing blow on the back of his head from a gold-plated cigarette lighter was hardly going to bring him down.)  Adam survived for quite a few years, first when Thunder was absorbed by LION, and then when Lion was merged with VALIANT - before disappearing into comics limbo and the fond memories of former readers lucky enough to have caught this short-lived comic thunderclap.

Issue #3

Below:  The first-ever instalment of Adam Eterno from Thunder #1.

See also here - and here.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Art by Ian Gibson
I've just watched a programme called SCOTLAND'S AMAZING
COMIC BOOK HEROES on TV. How nauseating to see a particular
ex-editor gush sycophantically about one of two currently high-profile
writers he once described to me as "a couple of pretentious w*nkers!"
when they contributed to the comic on which he used to work. Funny
how those who never had a good word to say about someone suddenly
change their tune when the person becomes famous and successful -
especially if there's 5 minutes screen time on the telly to be had.

And why was PAT MILLS, the creator of 2000 A.D., 'airbrushed'
from the comic's history and not given a mention? (Apart from the
fact that he's not Scottish that is?)

Friday, 8 July 2011


Adam West as THE BATMAN 

Yeah, don't worry about the title - it doesn't make much sense.
(Grabbed your attention 'though, didn't it?) Look at the above photo - I
can't help but think that it actually goes some way in capturing the dark
and mysterious aspect of BATMAN as he was originally envisioned. It
makes me wonder what the result would have been had the TV Producers
decided to go down that avenue instead of the one they ultimately chose.
Would it have been as successful as it was? Who knows? One thing's for
sure, however - the childhoods of  kids in the '60s would have been
markedly different. Anyone got any thoughts on the matter?
Adam's screen test costume

Monday, 4 July 2011


Artwork by Jack Kirby

Due to be released any time soon is the above little beauty.
Keep an eye out for it and if you see it before I do, give me
a shout. Just love that cover!
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