Saturday 31 March 2012


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

It's now time for our regular trip back into the past to look at another half-dozen issues of FANTASTIC front covers and back-page pin-ups.  If you were around when these comics first went on sale, you'll have a blast revisiting your yesterdays - if not, then just enjoy the pretty pictures.  See?  What more could anyone ask?  There's something for everyone on this blog.  Only another fifty-nine to go.

Friday 30 March 2012


A 1988 view of my old primary school from the top of the street
where I lived between November '65 and June '72

I managed to arrange access to one of my old primary schools with a representative of the local educational authorities a few weeks back.  I wanted to record it for posterity before it's demolished, which is due to happen in the not too distant future.  The school lay empty, the pupils having transferred to a new building on the corner of one of the football pitches at the far side of the playground.  I had complete access to every corner of the original building, and I have to admit that it was quite an emotional experience to revisit the scene of what had once been such familiar territory on a daily basis for five years of my childhood.

The corridor outside the headmaster's office.  His door is the one on the right

I remember my very first day there, standing in the corridor with my father (just outside the janitor's room) along from the headmaster's office, awaiting his auguste presence so that I could be 'processed' and thence delivered to my first classroom.  Another boy was also present and my father enquired as to why.  Turns out he had found a ten shilling note and was waiting to hand it in.  "You don't want to be late for your classes," my father said to him.  "Give it to me and I'll pass it on, and you can get along to your room."  The boy did so, and was thus not only robbed of a legitimate excuse for missing the start of lessons, but also recognition for his honesty and any possible reward ensuing from it.  I still feel bad for him to this day, 47 years later.
Room 7 - my first classroom at my new school

When the headmaster had finished overseeing the daily influx of pupils, he came along to his office and my father duly transferred the ten shillings into his custody - and me along with it.  We were invited into his sanctum sanctorum to complete my official registration and it was there that I witnessed something I had never seen before and which I can't see (or do) now without thinking back to that day so many years ago.  As he was speaking, he folded a piece of foolscap paper in half and then used a ruler to slit the sheet up the middle into two A5 sections.  To me, this was comparable to witnessing the invention of the wheel.  Why had such a simple, obvious (and effective) means of paper partitioning never occurred to me?

The stage in the dining and gym hall

Anyway, touring 'round my old school was rather a bittersweet experience.  On one hand, it was almost like I'd never left, what with familiar visions of the past springing out at me from the very walls; on the other, it was rather depressing to see the state of dilapidation the building had been allowed to fall into since the prospect of a new school was first mooted.  There'd been a few changes over the recent years, but nothing too major to obscure the welcome glimpse into yesteryear.  Pupils from another school will soon be using the building until their new one is completed, and then I'm afraid it's 'curtains' for my old childhood friend - it's possibly got another year and a half at most before it's demolished.  Having served the community so well for 50 years, it's about to be wiped off the face of the map as if it never existed - a sad fate indeed.

The other end.  The kitchen is behind the shutters on the right

However, the school will endure - in name, in memory, in photographs - and also in the hearts of those who once walked its hallowed halls and corridors in the halcyon days of their childhood.  Remember when your parents used to tell you that one day you'd look back on your school years as the best days of your life and you thought they were mental?  Turns out they were right after all.
View of the football pitches.  This scene was eventually obscured by opaque safety glass

FOOTNOTE: Incidentally, the photos displayed here are not the ones I took recently.  I decided to use ones taken back around 1986 and 1988 because the school was practically exactly as had been in my day and was in a much better condition than in subsequent years.

View from the playground.  The stairway windows have started to be replaced
with reinforced, opaque glass.  Over the years, the classroom windows on this
side would likewise be obscured


For a similar self-indulgent, rambling reminiscence, click here.



Okay, peeps - here's the second part of the origin of IRON MAN from TALES OF SUSPENSE #39.  You have to hand it to STAN LEE's brother, LARRY LIEBER - he sure could deliver a well-crafted script.  'Twas he who came up with names like ANTHONY STARK, HENRY PYMDON BLAKE, URU and probably a whole host of others.  Let's hear it for Larrupin' Larry Lieber - he's one of the good ones. 

Thursday 29 March 2012



Oh, you lucky peeps.  Scanned from my very own copy and for your eyes only, the origin of The INVINCIBLE IRON MAN from TALES Of SUSPENSE #39.  So, join us now as millionaire weapons inventor ANTHONY STARK has his life changed forever - and is transformed into a man of iron.

Part Two coming soon.  And remember that this tale is available in MARVEL MASTERWORKS and OMNIBUS volumes.  Run out ant treat yourself right away!


When NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN came out in 1983, SEAN CONNERY hadn't played JAMES BOND 007 since the 1971 movie DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER 12 years earlier.  It's therefore somewhat startling to realize that Never Say Never Again is now almost 30 years old, because the period of time 'twixt then and now doesn't seem anywhere near as long to me as the 12 years preceding it.  A dozen years seeming longer than 29?  How can such a perplexing paradox be?  Regular readers will know that I often theorize, soliloquize and agonize over such time discrepancies, but relax - that isn't the purpose of this post.  So what is?

I was doing a little tidying up today and came across a cardboard standee I acquired from a once-local record & video shop, and which used to adorn a wall of my room in the mid-'80s.  The movie had just been released on video (remember them?) and this was one of the ads used to promote the fact in stores across the country.  The shop manager didn't have space for it so kindly enquired if I wanted it, knowing that I was a Bond fan.  He didn't have to ask twice.  At first it sat on top of my portable TV before being promoted to the wall, to better protect it from being damaged should it inadvertently be knocked from its precarious perch atop the telly.

Despite all the hype of Connery returning to the role, Never Say Never Again took a good gubbing from OCTOPUSSY at the box office, proving the folly of releasing it at the same time as the 'official' EON movie.  It also demonstrated that, at least in the minds of the general public, ROGER MOORE was the 'real' Bond and Connery the pretender - which must've been a slap in the kipper to the man who'd established the part.  After fulfilling his contractual obligations to promote the movie, Connery subsequently spoke dismissively of it - basically describing it as a piece of sh*t that he wishes he'd never been involved with.  Hell hath no fury like a 'luvee' scorned, eh?

Anyway, I thought I'd share the ad with all you Crivvies, what with it being a lovely piece of art and all.  Now all I have to do is find a space for it on my wall again - and work out why I ever took it down in the first place.

So... who was your favourite James Bond - and why?

Wednesday 28 March 2012


The last time I recall eating a Cadbury's BAR SIX was sometime in the late '80s or so.  I remember my maternal grandparents used to have a stock of them (and other chocolate bars) when I was a child and I probably first tasted one at their house on one of our weekly Sunday visits in the late '60s.

Am I correct in thinking there was just a hint of CARAMAC about the taste?  Regardless, they always went down well with a cuppa.  Cadbury's should bring them back at once.  Anyone else agree?  Speak up at the back there! 

Tuesday 27 March 2012


Copyright relevant owner

Published nearly 50 years ago in January 1964, GOLD KEY's STEVE ZODIAC & The FIREBALL XL5 comic is an interesting little one-shot.  Of all the GERRY ANDERSON puppet programmes, Fireball XL5 was the only one to be broadcast on network TV in the States, making it perhaps the most successful of all Anderson's shows across the pond.

The comic contains two stories, believed to have been written by PAUL S. NEW-MAN and drawn by MEL CRAWFORD, though PAUL NORRIS and FRANK SPRINGER have also been suggested.  The stunning cover painting is by GEORGE WILSON, who some think may have been the cover artist of at least three of the four issues of the SUPERCAR comic by the same publisher.

As I said, this was a one-shot.  It's just a shame the comic didn't continue as a series. At least we can content ourselves with the stunning MIKE NOBLE Fireball XL5 artwork from TV CENTURY 21, which has recently been reprinted in a series of hard and softcover albums by REYNOLDS & HEARN and SIGNUM BOOKS.

Anyway, enjoy the first story in the comic, The MOON MASTERS, and click here to follow Steve Zodiac as he goes on the TRAIL Of The TRAITOR.

You didn't think I'd forget the cover?  Shame on you.

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