Thursday 31 January 2013


I don't have a photo of Kim, so you'll have to settle for one of Caroline Munro

Her name was KIM, a stunning-looking girl with long hair and a body more shapely than any 15-year-old female had a right to - definitely far too curvaceously endowed for her age.  Don't be alarmed - you haven't stumbled into a perverts' paradise by mistake.  I too was only 15 at the time, and consequently offer my observations of her feminine charms from that perspective and not of the 'middle-aged' man I am today.

All the boys fancied Kim, some secretly, some far more obvious in their eager appreciations.  Her 'goddess' effect, unfortunately, was somewhat compromised whenever she opened her mouth, because - in today's parlance - she was a bit of a 'ladette', whose foul tongue could strip wallpaper at fifty paces.

So, in the absence of anything else to write about, I thought I'd share with you just how Kim 'ruined' my reputation with my teachers at school, although I was unaware of it until some time after the fact.  (Don't get excited - it's not as interesting or as lurid as it sounds.)

The school hall, old block

One day, in Mr. MILLAR's maths class, a handful of pupils found themselves needing to sharpen their pencils at the start of the lesson.  I was one of them, the stunning Kim another.  Unfortunately, however, the class pencil-sharpener affixed to the top of a floor cupboard next to the blackboard wasn't working, so Mr. Millar took us through to the class behind ours by means of an adjoining door at the back of the room.

I had finished sharpening my pencil and was heading back through to my class when curvy Kim, who had been standing against the wall near the door, pushed me as I passed.  Ever the gentleman who knew how to treat a 'lady', I promptly pushed her right back.  "F**K OFF!" she roared, in a growl that would've put a navvy to shame. I was just resuming my seat when a clearly stunned Mr. Millar came through the adjoining door, fixed me with his accusing eye, and said "Was that you?"  Thinking he was asking if it was me who had pushed a 'mere' girl, I replied "She pushed me first!"

However, he was having none of it.  Out came the tawse and I was duly belted two or three times.  (I must here boastfully confess to being the best at 'taking the belt' in the whole school.  While guys twice my size doubled over in agony at each stinging stroke, howling in pain, I stared my teachers right in the eye and received each lash without flinching or uttering a sound.)  It was so on this occasion, and Mr. Millar was doubtless deflated by his inability to elicit any kind of response from me other than a sneery half-smile at his seeming impotence at administering corporal punishment.

Ground floor corridor, old block

It was all a sham on my part, of course.  Inside I was screaming like a demon and my palms were on fire, but I was too proud to ever let it show.  When I think of the times I was belted for no good reason, I rather suspect that some teachers saw it as a challenge to see who could be the first to demolish my resolve.  They were all doomed to equal failure and disappointment.

Anyway, I digress.  Some weeks later, Mr. McLAUGHLIN, one of the Tech teachers, was regaling me with a list of my faults (as he perceived them) and included "Swearing in Mr. Millar's class!" amongst his catalogue of alleged misdemeanours.  I almost did a double-take.  Until then, I thought I had been belted for pushing Kim, not swearing.  It just goes to show what a growl she had, if a teacher could mistakenly attribute her outburst to a boy rather than the girl responsible for it.

(To digress again for a moment: I had once drawn Mr. Millar on the back of my maths jotter and was struck by how much he resembled a WAYNE BORING drawing.  I don't just mean that the portrait looked like Wayne Boring had drawn it - I mean that Mr. Millar actually looked as if he were the real-life model for one of comicdom's (and SUPERMAN's) finest artists.  Whenever I saw him thereafter, I couldn't help but think of Wayne Boring.  Even the folds in his jacket looked as if they were by WB.  Uncanny, but true.)

Stair sign, old block

Right, where were we?  I have to be honest and say that this example of injustice always bothered me down through the years.  I occasionally ran into Mr. Millar (who was nicknamed 'Buttonheid' by his disrespectful students), and even sometimes spoke with him when I did, but it wasn't until over three decades later that, compelled to set the record straight, I broached the subject when our paths crossed one day and attempted to clear my mistakenly maligned name.

"Well, if you didn't deserve the belt that time, doubtless you did another time!" was his response, completely missing the point that my reputation had been unfairly tarnished by another's actions.  Younger readers, never having experienced corporal punishment, should be aware that, back in the days to which I refer, it wasn't uncommon for an entire classroom to be belted for the misbehaviour of a single person when the teacher was unable to determine who the culprit was.  So, if one ned threw an eraser at the blackboard when the teacher was writing on it with his back to the class, unless the miscreant admitted his crime, everyone was punished for it.

Thing is, it's only recently occurred to me that Kim may have pushed me simply to attract my attention, in that "I like you, so I'll pretend I don't like you!" sort of way. Who knows what might've happened if indeed that was the motivation behind her action.  Given her voice though, I'm not sure if I missed the chance of some titillating 'tonsil-hockey' or escaped a fate worse than death.  Just imagine a woman who looks like TULISA, but with a voice just like BLUTO from POPEYE - would you?  Could you?

Anyway, I've publicly put the record straight and finally righted a nearly 40-year-old miscarriage of justice.  Now where do I apply for compensation?


For Part One of Schooltime Scandals, click here.

Wednesday 30 January 2013


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Come with me now on a voyage of discovery as we return to an earlier era; when the sky was bluer, the air was purer, and we were all eager adventurers in the enchanted and magical kingdom of childhood that we thought was ours forever.

Or, if you prefer a less fanciful way of putting it, let's take a look back at The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL in the month of December in the year 1972.  JIM STARLIN is still producing the covers of this new weekly periodical, which is yet only a couple of months old in its seven year existence before being renamed in 1979.  (MARVEL COMIC, in case you were wondering.) 

The Big JOHN BUSCEMA illustration (2nd pic below) is a preview of the free giant-size poster awarded to readers who mutilated their comics by cutting out the tokens every week to send away for it.  Trust me, the poster was more vivid and far sharper in colour and detail than the preview would suggest.

So - pictures, previews, pin-ups, and puzzle pages!  What more could any Merry Marvelite ask for?  Stories?  Don't worry, it had those as well.  What a bargain for only 5 pence. Now excuse me while I slobber over that pic of SUSAN STORM - I'm in lurv!

Don't miss Part Four! 

Tuesday 29 January 2013


Copyright relevant owner

Well, more-than-likely unseen if you're an American reader, probably unseen if you're a British one younger than 30.  Back in 1986, a new comics periodical hit the shelves of U.K. newsagents - T.H.U.N.D.E.R. ACTION.  'Limited Edition' screamed the cover, and it was limited - it only lasted a mere four issues - but I don't think that's what the claim was intended to refer to.

The comic presented reprints of WALLY WOOD's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, which I assume were unauthorised as they were printed direct from scans of the original comics, in a style similar to The TITANS and SUPER SPIDER-MAN from MARVEL U.K.  (This consisted of printing two U.S. pages side-by-side on one U.K. page.)  Other material was presented in the traditional way however, so it was published as an 'upright' mag, not an actual 'landscape' one.

Amongst the new material over the four-issue run were two stories featuring DYNAMO and one with NOMAN.  The first one was in black and white, so I've posted them out of sequence as I wanted to grab your attention with a colour page. Anyway, if you're a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. fan, you might enjoy seeing these little-known adventures from 1986.  So, without any further ado, let's return to a time when I was exactly half the age I am now.  (And believe me, that makes me feel very old ancient indeed.)

For further info on this short-lived series, click here.

Sunday 27 January 2013


Copyright relevant owner

Back in July of last year, I posted the first part of On The SCENE Presents (The) SUPER HEROES, a 1966 one-shot (I think) magazine by WARREN which took a look at screen adaptations of various well-known super characters.  Well, I guess it's time for Part Two (remember, I did say it was an occasional series), so here, for your viewing pleasure, is the enigmatic and phantasmagorical PHANTOM.  Enjoy!

For Part One, click here.  Next time - SUPERMAN!


When you're young, you have absolutely no concept of never having existed.  On an intellectual level (if you ever felt disposed to consider the matter), you know there was a time when you weren't around, but you can't truly conceive what it was like because non-existence is a difficult if not impossible state to imagine.

Think of any period in mankind's history from before you were born; the Old West, the Victorian Era, the 1920s or '30s - whatever.  Even though you never experienced them, you almost feel as if you have, thanks to history books, old photographs, artists' impressions, TV shows, historical fiction, movies, etc.  And because you can't remember your beginning, it seems as if you never actually had one and that you've been around forever.  At least, that's what it seems like to me.

Consequently, when I was a teenager of 14, I subconsciously laboured under the impression that I had always been.  (Though the same perception also applies to any point in my childhood from when I first became aware of my surroundings.)  It's unlikely that I was alone in that regard, and it's surely the same for 14 year-olds today.  It's only because fourteen years to someone of my age passes so quickly that I finally realized just how inconsequential such a period of time actually is.  I've got things lying around the house which have never been out of the wrappers since I bought them that are older than that.

As you inexorably inch closer to that time when the condition of non-existence threatens to once again engulf you, it's a prospect you tend to contemplate more than you did (if at all) in your younger days.  Finally, you begin to be able to nearly catch a glimmer of what extinction might be like, and the prospect isn't a pleasant one.  I recall waking up in hospital one day after a procedure which required my unconsciousness, and was alarmed to find I had no recollection of even a half-sleep-like state between being knocked out and coming to.

As I said, no half-remembered thoughts, vague dreams, or hovering on the edge of awareness to connect me to my pre-anaesthetised self - only an absolute absence of even the slightest sense of continuity between the two conditions.  It was then that I realised what oblivion must be like.  It was as if I'd been dead for however many hours I'd been out, and, although my body was still functioning, as far as my mind was concerned, there was no discernible difference between death and unconsciousness.

So, death is not merely a case of not waking up, it's also not even being aware of going to sleep or being asleep at any stage in the process.  Shakespeare was wrong; there are no dreams in the sleep of death, only a blackness and silence from which we never awaken - an eternal nothingness, an everlasting night.

That's no doubt why I often find myself wishing I was only 14 again.  The illusion of no beginning (and, by extension, no ending), while temporary, is a comforting and necessary notion, otherwise we'd probably abandon our journey before we were very far into it.  After all, what's the point of taking a road to nowhere?

Come to think of it, I wouldn't even mind being half that age.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to work on that elixir of life I'm developing.  I just can't afford to relax if I want to be here in 2113.


We are but older children, dear,
Who fret to find our bedtime near.

Lewis Carroll.

Saturday 26 January 2013

THE 1973 FOOM KIT...


In just a little over a fortnight, it will be (gasp) a whole 40 years since MIGHTY MARVEL unleashed their brand-new frantic fan club upon the waiting world.  Those who became a Friend Of Ol' Marvel back in February 1973 received various goodies along with the first ever issue of FOOM magazine.  There was a giant-sized poster by JIM STERANKO, a half dozen or so FOOM labels, and a gold-backed membership card, which all came in a specially designed envelope featuring the HULK (not one of Jim's better drawings, it has to be said).

For those of you who weren't lucky enough to be around at the time, or who weren't smart enough to hold onto their own classic collectable kit, here's a pulsating pictorial presentation of what was included.  You can see the cover of the first magazine by clicking here


Friday 25 January 2013


Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #83, page 8, panel 1

All artists have (or should have) a reference file.  This usually consists of a collection of photos and illustrations of just about every scene imaginable.  It can contain previous drawings by the artist and also even the artwork of others - which is why it's also called a 'swipe' file, because it provides the working illustrator with material from which he can copy if his imagination (or knowledge of the subject) is a little lacking.

It may surprise you to learn that not every artist can sit at their drawing boards and draw just about anything off the top of their head or at the drop of a hat.  Even those who seemingly do so are often drawing (pun intended) upon their experience of an earlier drawing, the subject of which they first had to meticulously research before committing to memory.

Even artists such as WALLY WOOD and JACK KIRBY occasionally swiped from illustrators who had preceded them, like HOGARTH and FOSTER.  Joltin' JOE SINNOTT, inker of many of MARVEL's top pencillers - and an illustrator of no mean accomplishment in his own right - occasionally swiped when he was performing sole drawing chores on The MIGHTY THOR back in the 1960s.

Joe drew five Thor strips for JOURNEY Into MYSTERY (#s 91, 92, 94-96) and not only swiped from Jack Kirby, but even from himself.  I thought it might be interesting to look at a few panels 'inspired' by ones in previous stories.  Some are direct copies, others have been tweaked (and flipped), but their sources are still all-too apparent.

The following examples result from a casual browse through the stories themselves and are by no means exhaustive (in fact, I've since seen one or two others), so look through the issues yourself (if you have 'em) and see which ones you can spot.

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #91, page 12, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #94, page 12, panel 5


Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #83, page 10, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #92, page 10, panel 6

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95, page 4, panel 7


Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #85, page 6, panel 3

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #94, page 10, panel 2


Art by Jack Kirby (?)/Steve Ditko. JIM #88,
page13, panel 5

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #91, page 1, panel 4

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #94, page 5, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95, page 2, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #96, page 2, panel 1


Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #91, page 11, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95, page1, panel 6


Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #91, page 13, panel 3

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #92, page 11, panel 2


Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #93, page 3, panel 7.
(This panel looks like a patch)

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #96, page 8, panel 3


Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #86, page 12, panel 5

Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #91, page 9, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95, page 10, panel 7


Art by Jack Kirby. JIM #86, page 11, panel 6

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95 page 2, panel 3

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #95, page 13, panel 7

Art by Joe Sinnott. JIM #96, page 2, panel 3

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