Monday 30 September 2013


Well, we're at the end of our short trip as far as looking back at 21 of the covers to the 26 issue run of WHAT THE - - ?! goes.  Hopefully you've enjoyed the journey, along with our occasional detours into NOT BRAND ECHH territory - I know I have.
Y'know, one of the most tedious comics I've ever read is FANTASTIC FOUR ROAST, published back in the early '80s.  I usually enjoy FRED HEMBECK, but it just went on forever and it seemed that it would never stop.  However, I suspect that not every What The - - ?! story was an unparalleled example of joyous jollity and could probably rival the unceasing turgidity of FFR.
One day I'll sit down and re-read them and find out for sure.  (I re-read Roast last year, and almost lost the will to live less than halfway in.  As I was reading it in the loo at the time, my legs had lost all sensation by the time I got through it.)
Anyone got any favourite stories from any of the featured issues that they'd care to recommend?  If so, feel free to share your picks in the comments section.



I don't think I've ever actually read all my NOT BRAND ECHHs, so one day I must sit down and do just that.  Another thing I need to do before I fall off the twig is acquire the missing four issues to complete my collection.  Funnily enough, I used to have at least two, perhaps three, of them, but they were a bit battered so I threw them away.  (Not something I'd do these days, I hasten to add.)

Anyway, that's yer lot as far as NBEs go, but there are still a few WHAT THE - - ?! covers coming your way in a future post, so remember to stay tuned.

As a bonus, below is a copy of the first issue - with a U.K.
price of 10d on the cover. And thus we come full circle.


I no longer recall exactly why I gave up buying WHAT THE - - ?! - "The Marvel Mag of Mirth and Mayhem!"  All I know is that I've got the first 21 issues out of a 26 ish run.  One day I'll track down the final five numbers and complete the set, but that time is not yet - there are other classics from yesteryear that I wish to re-acquire first.  I doubt I've even read most of the issues I do have past the first few - another task to fulfil when I can work up the enthusiasm for it.  So much to do, so little time.
Thankfully, however, we've all got enough time to appreciate the covers spread before us, so let's not waste another moment - go to it, tiger!  (As Stan would say.) 

Sunday 29 September 2013


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Seeing as how a number of you seem to have enjoyed the recent WHAT THE - - ?! cover gallery, I thought you might also like to see its forerunner, NOT BRAND ECHH.  So, herewith presented are the first five covers - the few remaining issues in my collection will be featured in a follow-up post whenever I remember.

This cover was later used on MARVEL MADHOUSE #1, a U.K. monthly mag published in 1981

And below is the cover to CRAZY #1 from 1972/'73 (first acquired by me while on holiday in Blackpool in 1973), which featured the contents of NBE #8, with the order rearranged somewhat.


Back in the '60s, MARVEL published a comic called NOT BRAND ECHH, which lasted for 13 issues.  In the '70s, CRAZY was the order of the day (3 issues featuring reprints from NBE in the colour version of the monthly mag).  If they had a humour mag going in the '80s, I wasn't paying attention, but I was wide awake in the early '90s when they released WHAT THE - - ?! - the then-modern version of what Not Brand Echh had been three decades before.  (It lasted for 26 issues, though I only ever bought 21 of them.)

Anyway, here's the first of a three-part series, showcasing the zany covers of Mighty Marvel's Madcap Magazine for Mental Mutants!  Got a favourite?  Then be sure to share it with your fellow Crivs.  


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's a couple of back pages from MARVEL's WHAT THE - - ?! mag from the early '90s.  I'll be running a gallery of front covers in an upcoming post or two in the very near future. These two are just to give you a little taste.  Whaddya think?

Saturday 28 September 2013


Images copyright DC COMICS

Here's a cracking hardback book I got a good while back, but neglected to inform all you Crivvies of.  It's part of the DC COMICS CLASSICS LIBRARY, and features the first three BATMAN ANNUALS.  Although I'm a big fan of the MARVEL MASTERWORKS books and large-size OMNIBUS volumes, I must confess that I prefer the paper DC uses in its reprint books.  Marvel uses a glossy paper which reflects the light, whereas DC employs a matte paper which captures the mood of the traditional comics page.  I wish Marvel would follow suit.

Although DC published a replica edition of the first Batman Annual a few years ago, it's handy to have it and the subsequent two editions in the same volume.  Doubtless it would set collectors back a few quid to acquire original issues, so this handsome hardback edition with a dynamic dustjacket is just the ticket for all those of you who haven't yet won the lottery.

Featuring such tales as - oh stuff it - there are far too many to mention.  You'll just have to get your own copy to discover just what Dark Knight delights it contains.  The perfect Christmas present to give yourself before December 25th.

ISBN #978-1-4012-2192-8


Images copyright DC COMICS

Ah, Rothesay, 1970.  How it all comes back to me.  The sound of the gulls, the smell of the sand and the sea - and Giant BATMAN (G61) #213.  Emerging from the little side-street newsagent's clutching my prize, I was soon immersed in its pages as we (my parents and brother) strolled through the picturesque alleys of the Scottish seaside resort.  (As I type this, I'm besieged by a nagging doubt as to whether my bruv obtained his copy of The FLASH #190 from the same source on the same day, or from another newsagent's on the early evening of a different day.  On reflection, I think it was the latter.)

If memory serves (it gets lazier the older I get), it was on this holiday that I also bought a cheap articulated figure with bendy rubber arms.  I had the boots from a PEDIGREE CAPTAIN SCARLET action figure with me (having swapped an ACTION MAN for it with a pal some time before), and when I placed them on the cheapo figure (I steadfastly refuse to use the word 'doll'), so tight were they that when I pulled them off, the feet came off with them.  A couple of nuts and bolts from a small hardware store soon rectified the problem, but so annoyed was I with those confounded boots that I threw them from the far end of the pier into the sea.  Sacrilege!  The boots alone would probably fetch a tidy sum on ebay nowadays.

(Before we proceed, I should perhaps allay your horror at the above act by saying I now have two Pedigree CA figures, complete with boots, so I feel that - given what they cost me - I've now repaid my debt to society for my heinous crime.)

Anyway, returning to the Batman, this big 30th Anniversary Special included a new version of "The ORIGIN Of ROBIN!", plus "HERE COMES ALFRED!", "The MAN BEHIND The RED HOOD!", "The CHALLENGE Of CLAY-FACE!", as well as a solo Robin adventure entitled "The GAME Of DEATH!"  Essentially, most of them were origin tales, although I recall reading in a later issue's letters page that the Alfred story had been traced from the original published comic as proofs were unavailable at the time.  Quite a few early Batman tales were re-created utilising this method, including his debut appearance from DETECTIVE COMICS #27, which was even used for the very first ARCHIVE EDITIONS of ol' Bats.  I seem to remember that the Red Hood story also received this treatment, but I'm not 100% certain after all this time.

So, let's have a look back at some of the pages from this landmark issue, purchased in the holidays between my transition from Primary school to Secondary.  To me, it will ever scream "Rothesay, 1970!", but to you, dear readers, it will doubtless have its own sweet memories and associations.  Why not take this opportunity to relive them now - and then share them with your fellow 'Criv-ites' in the comments section?


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