Thursday 28 February 2013


Copyright DC COMICS

Don't you just love the BATMOBILE?  Doesn't everybody?  I'm talking about the 1966 Television Batmobile, of course!  There's just something about its sleek contours which are appealing to the eye.  As everybody and their grandma knows by now, the car was customised by GEORGE BARRIS from a 1955 FORD LINCOLN FUTURA especially for the ADAM WESTBURT WARD TV show of the 1960s, still fondly remembered to this day.

The original Futura was designed by BILL SCHMIDT and JOHN NAJJAR, and completely hand-built by GHIA in Turin, Italy, costing $250,000 at the time.  That's a far cry from the $4.62 million dollars that Barris recently sold the Batmobile for, having retained ownership since purchasing the Futura a few years after it was first built.  (For only a dollar, or so legend has it.)  Prior to George acquiring it, the vehicle had first tasted celluloid fame in 1959, when it featured prominently in the film IT STARTED WITH A KISS, starring DEBBIE REYNOLDS and CLARK KENT's dad, GLENN FORD
This is a 'snap together' kit by POLAR LIGHTS from a year or so ago, which usually hangs on my wall.  The surprising thing is, despite looking like die-cast metal, it's actually made of plastic and is as light as a feather.  I was dusting it and decided to snap a few photos and share them with you here.  I doubt you can buy a better model of the car than this nine inch long one (unless it's the MATTEL ELITE larger scale diecast version - of which I have two - but that one doesn't have figures).  Nice, eh?  Generous to a fault I am.

Wednesday 27 February 2013


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Let's now return to the early days of 1973 and the glory that was The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL in all its multi-faceted magnificence.  Just think - The INCREDIBLE HULK, The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and The FANTASTIC FOUR, to say nothing of pin-ups, puzzle pages and piles of powerhouse punch-ups, every week for a mere and measly 5 pence.  Wow!  We never had it so good!
It wouldn't (it couldn't) last, of course. As the weeks wore on, the colour pages dwindled in number, and before its first year was over, MWOM was quite dull looking in comparison to how it had started out.  But that yet lies ahead of us; for the moment, let us savour the dynamic delights of Mighty Marvel Magic at its finest while we recall with nostalgic affection the best years of our lives so very long ago!


Tuesday 26 February 2013


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Hey, hang loose, heroes - as STAN LEE would (and very often did) say!  I've not abandoned the SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY cover gallery, I've merely been waiting for the right moment to unleash upon you the latest cataclysmic chapter in this scintillating and spectacular series - and, well, whaddya know - here it is!

So, enjoy these 1973 presentations of ol' SPIDEY and THOR, and their charming coterie of cheerful chums with whom they did battle week after week, back in the dim and distant days of over 40 years ago.  Whaddya mean, you weren't there?  What are you trying to do - make me feel old?  Sheesh!  Gimme a break, for cryin' out loud. 

Monday 25 February 2013


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Admit it - you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?  O ye of little faith.  How could I possibly forget the next chapter in the unfolding saga of FOOM covers and select pages which I lovingly scan and prepare for your image-hungry eyes, and serve up fresh as the morning dew?  (Although sometimes, I have to confess, in the finest BLUE PETER tradition, they're ones I prepared earlier.) 

The eleventh issue of Marvel's fabulous 'fanzine' featured the dramatic announcement of the return of JACK KIRBY to MARVEL, after his five year stint at DC COMICS.  Unfortunately, Jack's comeback was somewhat anti-climactic, and he never quite reached the former heights of glory he had attained the first time around.

Anyway, enjoy reliving whatever memories (if any) these pulsating pictures from the '70s stir up in the myriad mazes of your mind.  And if you weren't around at the time, don't worry - they're still well-worth savouring in all their cataclysmic glory - even if it's for the very first time!  (After all, it's not your fault you weren't there.) 


The mountain in the distance is BEN LOMOND, taken on Saturday from the top of the street where I once lived back in the '60s and early '70s.  It was clearly visible from my back garden (and also from my bedroom window if I popped my head out), and as I said in a previous post, when I first read The HOBBIT, it was easy to imagine that Ben Lomond was The LONELY MOUNTAIN under which the dragon SMAUG sat on hordes of treasure that BILBO BAGGINS and his crew hoped to 'liberate'.

Isn't imagination wonderful?  Anyway, just thought I'd share the picture with you here.  As I was taking it (minutes after leaving a friend's house), some fat brat on a bicycle called me a very rude name as he whizzed past.  I sincerely hope the little b*gger crashed into a lamppost as he sped away.  That's what I'd call instant justice!

Sunday 24 February 2013


Nah, you don't need to read any long-winded waffle from yours truly regarding the awesome artwork of LUIS BERMEJO on the magnificent JOHNNY FUTURE strip from the pages of FANTASTIC back in the swinging '60s.  Just enjoy!


I've just learned the sad news that RAY CUSICK, designer of TERRY NATION's iconic mutant monsters The DALEKS, died on February 21st at the age of 84.  All children owe him a huge debt of gratitude for enriching their childhoods with his perfect realisation of DOCTOR WHO's scary inhabitants of the planet SKARO.

Sadly, he never got rich from his inspired interpretation of Nation's description of the transformed KALEDS, as he was a BBC employee at the time and it was just another day's work for him.  Apparently he received a £100 bonus as a gesture of appreciation from Auntie Beeb, but considering the many millions derived from Dalek merchandise, it seems they didn't appreciate him as much as he deserved.

Raymond himself never made an issue of it though, and was content merely to be recognised as the designer of the metal-cased mutants.  Mr Cusick is survived by two daughters, seven grandchildren and several million Daleks.

 R.I.P. Raymond Patrick Cusick. 1928 - 2013.


Front cover to Titan edition

Back in 1989, I bought the MARVEL hardback featuring the FIGHTING AMERICAN stories by SIMON & KIRBY which had first appeared in the 1950s.  Some of the pages had been very obviously touched-up and, in some cases, re-created by tracing from the published comics.  Some captions and word balloons had been re-lettered also, meaning that the book, though worthy, was hardly archival in nature.

Back cover to Titan edition

Then, a couple of years back, over on the Simon & Kirby Museum, restorer HARRY MENDRYK posted 'before' and 'after' examples of pages from a new Fighting American reprint book which he was then working on.  There were pictorial comparisons with the earlier book, and the new presentation looked superior in every way.  Sadly, this doesn't seem to have transferred to the published result.

Panel from Titan edition

I managed to pick up a copy of the TITAN BOOKS softcover edition recently, and I have to be honest and say that I found it to be disappointing in certain respects.  Some pages and panels are so murky, and colours so dark, that the detail is practically invisible underneath.  Perhaps the problem is purely down to the printing, but what's the point of alleged 'faithful' reproduction of the original line-work if you can't even see it?

Panel from Marvel edition

I can't open the book wide enough to scan complete pages without creasing the spine, but I can show you a panel from each volume so that you can see the difference for yourselves.  The first picture, shown before the preceding paragraph, is an example from the Titan book, followed by the same panel, above, from the Marvel presentation of the tale.  Out of the two of them, which one would you say was clearer?

Front cover to Marvel edition

Despite the imperfections of the 1989 release, it's a much easier reading experience and far less likely to induce eye-strain and headaches in those who peruse its pages than the the 2011 Titan volume.  So don't be misled by its claims to superiority over the Marvel book - it would be a tad hasty to dispense with the earlier edition until a truly superior version is available to collectors.

Sad to say, that's yet to happen.  Maybe one day?  In the meantime, I'd say that both volumes are essential items on any serious Simon & Kirby fan's bookshelf.

Back cover to Marvel edition

FOOTNOTE: I played around with the Titan panel on my computer and this (below) was the result, so it seems that the murkiness is down to the way the book was printed rather than the way the pages were prepared for publication.  Hopefully Titan will release a superior, defect-free edition in the not too distant future.

Reworked Titan panel

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