Saturday 31 August 2013


Images copyright relevant owner

"Parting is such sweet sorrow" - and so, alas, we present the final episode of MIKE NOBLE's very first FIREBALL XL5 adventure for TV CENTURY 21 comic.  Only two pages this time 'round, but don't blame me - it's just the way the cookie crumbles.  Y'know, great as they were, wouldn't it have been awesome if the TV21 Annuals had featured the same sort of high-quality colour reproduction as the weekly?  It was surely possible, as the'60s DALEKS Annuals had strips of the same painted style as their back page appearances in TV21.

Anyway, that's it for now, culture-lovers - I'm off to enjoy my many treasures ("the slow result of life's decay" according to LEWIS CARROLL), and laugh gleefully as I foil the deluded intent of my internet stalker by deleting his many comments unread.  Oh, what fun!  See you next post.


Copyright relevant owner

Right, be honest - you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?  A while back I said I'd publish another RON TURNER-drawn CAPTAIN SCARLET adventure from the second of two Annuals (1969) devoted to the SPECTRUM operative - and you've been waiting patiently ever since!  Well, the wait is finally over - here it is!

I could wax long and lyrical over the superlative artwork, the vibrant colours, the dynamic storytelling - but why bother?  You can see it all for yourselves in the accompanying pages.  So, not being the type pf person to impede the pleasure of others, I'll stop yapping and let you get straight into them.

Spectrum is Green!

Friday 30 August 2013


How do you measure success?  Is it by comparing your achievements to the accomplishments of others, or against the fulfilment of your own ambitions?  And when it comes to judging the success of others, it's probably pretty pointless using your own aspirations as the standard by which to do so, because they simply may not have been aiming at the same target - nor shooting the same kind of arrows in order to hit whatever target they were aiming for.

I once freelanced for IPC's top-selling boys title, 2000 A.D.  I had my name in print, people requesting my autograph, and - best of all - money!  Was I success?  Well, in one way, yes - but in another way, not really.  I'd never had any particular ambition to work for 2000 A.D. per se, only to work in comics in some way.  The fact that I started my 15-year career on the most popular adventure comic in the country was merely a bonus.

Was I any more of a 'success' than someone whose first job was as a shelf-stacker in Sainsbury's and who then worked his way up to the position of store manager?  Well, no, not really.  Is he any more of a success than me?  Just how do you measure it?  It may never have been his ambition to work in a supermarket, but it was mine to work in the comics biz - and I actually achieved that.  (Interestingly, back in 1988, MARVEL U.K. contacted me to offer me work - I never had to approach them.  That's being a failure?)

If you're happy (or content) with your achievements in life, then, in a very real sense, you're a success.  Whether you're a biscuit salesman or banker, if you've attained the goals you set for yourself then that's an accomplishment.  (Unless your ambition was to be a failure - now there's an interesting paradox.)  Remember, you can't be said to have failed at something you've never tried (after all, you've got to be in a race to win or lose it), so don't ever waste a second paying heed to those smug, self-satisfied types who regard their own personal career situation as some kind of 'international standard'.

Deep down inside, they're extremely insecure people who need to feel that they've done better in life than anyone else in order to feel good about themselves.  Sad but true. 

Thursday 29 August 2013






It had been raining, and I could see through the classroom windows that it was beginning to get dark outside.  The rain-lashed footpaths reflected the yellow lights of the school building in their shimmering, mirrored surface, and as the art lesson neared its end, I started gathering my stuff together in preparation for the bell which would signal our release.

One thing was wrong however; my schoolbag was absent from its accustomed place under my desk.  "Right, who's got my schoolbag?" I challenged, standing up and addressing the line of classmates to my side.  "Is this it?" came a murmer from the far end.  "Yeah, pass it along to me!" I said, and the bag was handed from one pupil to another until it reached me.

No fool was I!  First thing I did was check the contents to ensure that nothing was missing.  In actual fact, the reverse was true - at the bottom of my bag was a class paintbrush which didn't belong there.  "Please Miss," I said to the teacher, "someone's put a paintbrush in my schoolbag."  As it turned out, I'd have been better placing the brush in its pot with the others and saying nothing, but perhaps I was fueled by a subconscious desire to solicit an acknowledgement of my 'virtuous' nature.

Mrs. Barclay (dubbed 'Screamer Barclay' by we pupils) seemed unperturbed.  "Put it in its pot!" was all she said - so I did.  However, at lesson's end, she took a count of the brushes and discovered that some were missing.  She decided that a search of the boys was in order, but not the girls.  (Obviously, in much the same way that ol' QUEEN VICTORIA reputedly couldn't imagine women ever indulging in 'unnatural desires', Mrs. Barclay clearly considered females incapable of taking something that didn't belong to them.  The settlements often arrived at in today's divorce courts suggest otherwise.)

Mr. McLEAN, the head art teacher, was sent for, and when he arrived, 'Screamer' explained the situation about the missing brushes.  She concluded her summary of events by saying - and these are her actual words - "A brush has already been found in Gordon Robson's schoolbag."  I regarded this as a gross misrepresentation of the facts, so I interjected and said "Yeah, and it was me who found it!"

I wasn't the subject of any undue attention as a result of Mrs. Barclay's less than stringent recounting of the facts, and it may be that it hadn't been her intention to cast me in the role of transgressor, but nevertheless it riled me at the time and still does whenever I think of it today, more than 40 years after the fact.  Reputations often rest on such gossamer threads that I'm always prepared to stand up and defend mine at the drop of the proverbial hat.

Now, I'm sure there's a moral in there somewhere, but I'll leave you to figure it out for yourselves.


Why not take advantage of our free therapy session and exorcise your demons of yesteryear by unloading them in the comments section?  Go on - you'll feel much better for it. 

Wednesday 28 August 2013


Copyright relevant owner

Adult publication HONK! by artist LEE JAMES TURNOCK, is now available here.  Not for the faint-hearted, vicars, priests, rabbis or kids.  After enduring vilification by some so-called 'professional' cartoonists (note: just because you get paid for it doesn't necessarily mean you're any good - as the work of some published individuals far too readily attests), LJT finally has his very own underground comix which lovers of that genre should be well-pleased with.  Check out the above link now!

Update as of October 2023: LJT's comic is no longer available. 


Regular readers will know that I'm a huge fan of the book The WIND In The WILLOWS, written by the estimable Mr. KENNETH GRAHAME (a Scotsman, naturally) back near the turn of the last century.  I collect different editions of the book, and today I took possession of the latest addition to my library, The Centennial Anniversary Edition - which is a reissue (or an old copy) of the 75th Anniversary Edition with an amended dustjacket.

What's fascinating is the fact that the cover illustration by ERNEST H. SHEPARD is not one that's familiar to these shores, apparently being reserved exclusively for U.S. editions of the book.  The evocative illo, featuring the main characters from the tale, is copyrighted 1960 to the artist, but it's interesting to wonder why it was never used in U.K. editions - though it's always possible that it may have been utilised relatively recently.

The volume features an informative preface by MARGARET HODGES, and an 'afterword' by E. H. Shepard himself, entitled 'Illustrating The Wind in the Willows', which, again (to the best of my knowledge), has never appeared in any U.K. printing of the classic tale.  I do have two reservations however.  Firstly, the eight colour plates (first seen in the 1959 edition) seem 'washed out' in comparison to U.K. printings - and, secondly, the dustjacket seems too large for the book's width, in the way that the flyleaf folds over the edge.  That apart, it's a nice little addition to the collection of any fans of this classic piece of literature.



Cop a gander at the above panel from THOR #144, in which BALDER The BRAVE manfully suppresses his attraction for his golden-haired Asgardian buddy's girlfriend.  What a hero!

But wait a minute - according to the panel below, from the TALES Of ASGARD back-up strip in JIM #102SIF is his sister.  Ugh!  What a pervert!

Funny how quickly you can go off some people, eh?

However, worry not, O true believers.  It was later revealed that Sif was actually the sibling of HEIMDALL, not Balder.  Phew!  (And that looks like Heimdall's helmet in the above pic, so Stan was likely responsible for the mix-up.)

Monday 26 August 2013


Images copyright REBELLION

Here's a treat for you all - the full-colour ROBOT ARCHIE strip from the LION Annual for 1968.  As you're no doubt aware, when Archie first appeared in Lion way back in the '50s, the strip was called The JUNGLE ROBOT.  His colour has differed down through the years, sometimes being red, sometimes grey - and perhaps even various other hues of the spectrum as well.

I'll be featuring other strips from this book in future posts, so don't forget to check back from time to time.

Sunday 25 August 2013



Way back at the start of the '80s (wow, more than 30 years ago) I purchased two brush pens with which I hoped to practise my inking.  I'd had them for a while before I got around to using them, and when I did, it was on a DOCTOR WHO drawing of the original and best Doctor, WILLIAM HARTNELL.

I pencilled the figure and TARDIS and then inked them in, rather too thickly in places, due to my unfamiliarity with the pens, which, unlike most brush pens of today, had flexible, rubber-tip 'points' to them.  In the end, I abandoned the drawing because, although I was happy with the likeness, the pose was a little too rigid and not quite natural enough to my eyes.

Part of the problem was that I had done the drawing A4 size, which was far too small to allow for a finely-detailed finish, so I put it away, resolving to draw a larger version at some time in the future and give it the loving attention it deserved.

Well, the future came and went, and I never did get around to redrawing my Bill Hartnell 'masterpiece'.  However, a few months back, I discovered an old, actual-sized photocopy of my initial drawing (dunno know what happened to the original) and decided to finish it.  I'd already added a logo back in 1983 (photocopied from a 1979 ish of DWW), so all I had to do was complete the background, which I did over the course of a few days when time, inclination, and energy levels allowed.

I still possess my original brush pens after all this time (STAEDTLER MARS GRAPHIC 3000) and, amazingly, they both still work, although the ink in one of them is no longer quite as black as it once was.  (A bit purple in fact.)  However, I didn't want to compromise their nigh-pristine condition by subjecting them to the rigours of artistic application, so I used an actual brush and a combination of different markers.

What you see above is the finished result.  Now, perhaps I'm biased, but I'd say it's not too bad for a 30-odd year old drawing.  Maybe one day, I'll enlarge it to A3 size, tidy it up a bit and add some colour.  Or who knows?  I may even start from scratch and do the thing properly.

And, just in case you're interested, below can be seen my original brush pens from the early '80s.



Should anyone with the requisite skills feel like colouring  the illustration, go ahead - as long as I get to see the result. 

Saturday 24 August 2013


Images copyright relevant owner

Oh, lookee-look-see - the crew of FIREBALL XL5 return for another thrilling four pages of magnificent MIKE NOBLE artwork, culled from the pages of the greatest comic of its kind ever to exist - TV CENTURY 21.  Nowadays, it's extremely doubtful that any weekly periodical for children would be able to afford artists of the calibre of Noble, EMBLETON, BELLAMY, etc.  Even just one of them would probably be beyond their budget, never mind all of them in the same publication. Yup, there's no doubt about it - we kids of the '60s were spoiled, pure and simple.

Fifth and final part coming soon!



"Keep the customer satisfied" runs the old saying - and I do my best to keep all my 'customers' satisfied by trying to write posts that are worth reading.  I'm quite sure I haven't always achieved that goal, but it's honestly not for want of trying on my part. It might amaze you to learn that hosting a blog is a 'hit-or-miss' affair, as it's never easy to judge with any certainty just what might interest the readers.

Sometimes I'm surprised by the hits an average post might get, and often I'm equally disappointed to see that no one seems much interested in what I may regard as a masterpiece (for me, that is).  Take JOHNNY FUTURE for example.  One particular post might receive numerous visits, but the next instalment only receives half as many.  How do I account for it?  The fact is, I can't.  One would think that all the people who visited the previous post would keep an eye out for the next one, but it doesn't seem to work like that.

So, all I can do is do my best - and hope that, in the long run, most visitors find at least one post that makes dropping in on this blog worthwhile.  It always helps to get feedback, because that lets me know just which posts have gone down well with the readers.  You see, hits alone don't really prove anything, as a good dollop of them may result from folks dropping in by accident - and then dropping right out again.

So, if you enjoy any of my future posts, feel free to leave a comment telling me what you like about them.  And if there should be any you don't enjoy, feel free to tell me about them as well.  That'll help me to try harder in my efforts to inform, enthral and entertain you all.  (You can't accuse me of lacking ambition, now can you? "Shoot for the moon" I always say!)

In fact, why not leave a comment right now?


Here's a puzzle to ponder: Why hasn't DOCTOR DOOM ever used the time machine he created to go back into the past and fix the error in his calculations for his matter-transmutation and dimensional-warp machine?  Then it wouldn't have exploded and he could have contacted his mother in the afterlife as was his intention.  (Or perhaps he did and I missed it?)
Actually, there are probably loads of good reasons for him not having done so, but how about exercising your imaginations and seeing what ingenious explanation you can come up with.  Go on - have some fun and show everyone how smart you are. 

Friday 23 August 2013


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

All frenetic fans of The MIGHTY THOR will surely be interested in the latest OMNIBUS edition (Vol 2) of the hammer-throwing Asgardian's awesome adventures, collecting JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #121-125THOR #126-152 & ANNUAL #2.  (I'm glad to see that the over-thick 'restored' panel border lines on a couple of TALES Of ASGARD stories which marred earlier re-presentations have now been fixed.)

The book is well-worth having just to see the large-sized pages of JACK KIRBY's & VINCE COLLETTA's art at its finest - with perfect colour registration, a plethora of back-of-the-book bonuses - and the letters pages from each issue thrown in for good measure.

Rush out and buy one today!

ISBN: 978-0-7851-6783-9

Wednesday 21 August 2013


Copyright DC COMICS

Continuing our look back at some of my favourite comics of the past, we now turn our attention to SUPERMAN #198, which I first spied in my local Barber's in 1967 or '68 when my father took me for a haircut one day.  (This was before he acquired the 'amazing' RONCO home haircutting device a few years later.  This was a small plastic item with a razor blade at each toothed end, which, magically, could make hair fly from your head in all directions at once, merely by being waved anywhere within a two inch vicinity of it.  At least, that's how it seemed to operate - it was lethal!)

As I awaited my turn in the chair (if only it had been electric, some of you are doubtless thinking), I read the comic so thoughtfully provided by the barber for the entertainment of his younger customers.  Needless to say, I was entertained.  So much so, in fact, that, seeing I didn't want to relinquish it from my grasp, he let me take the comic away with me, nice man that he was (and hopefully still is).  The premises remained a 'hairdressing salon' right up to a few short years ago, when someone else acquired the lease and turned the place into a Delicatessen.

The first story in the mag was drawn by AL PLASTINO doing a pretty fair imitation of CURT SWAN, and the second tale is by the great man himself.  Both strips later turned up in the monthly SUPER DC, a British anthology reprint mag that lasted for 14 issues.  However, whenever I look at my replacement copy of Superman #198 today, I'm back in that barbershop getting a short back and sides, and thrilling to the amazing adventures of the mighty Man of Steel.  If only such establishments were like that today, I'd doubtless get my (luckily luxuriant) hair cut more often.  (Sawdust on the floor or not.)

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