Saturday 30 November 2013


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's a nice little comic mag that all fans of The INHUMANS - and NEAL ADAMS' art in particular - are sure to drool over: Mighty MARVEL's one-shot collection of AMAZING ADVENTURES #s 5-10 and The AVENGERS #95.  With awesome art by Adams and MIKE SEKOWSKY (inked by TOM PALMER, JOHN VERPOORTEN, BILL EVERETT and FRANK GIACOIA), it's 104 blockbusting pages of Merry Marvel Magnificence, contained within a cataclysmic cardboard cover to rock your socks.

Here are just a few random images to whet your aching appetite, frantic ones.  So what are you waiting for?

Sorry about the spine-crop - that's the way it is in the mag

Friday 29 November 2013


Copyright relevant owner

I have to be honest and say that I'm not really a fan of underground comics, the only one I ever purchased being COMIX BOOK #1 back in 1974 or '75.  I'm unable to give the precise year due to the fact that, as U.S. comics and mags came over here as ballast on ships, sometimes they could lie around in warehouses for months - if not years.  (Though, on occasion, they reached newsagents' spinner-racks on or around the actual month on the cover - don't ask me how.)  I don't suppose it much matters to you, but as I tend to use comics as a calendar to chart my life, I prefer to be able to pinpoint events with unerring accuracy.

I yet recall the long-gone little newsagent's shop on the far reaches of my home town's old village quarter where I bought the above periodical - as well as quite a few other fondly-remembered comicbooks and magazines.  I browsed through it and saw that it had a STAN LEE connection, though, truth to tell, I wasn't too impressed by it.  It was a 'compromise' comic - in that it didn't really feature the same kind of content as 'real' underground comics (or 'comix' as they're usually called), but it looked like one even if it didn't quite read like one.

I bought it mainly because it was a first issue, but I soon decided to ditch it, first extracting the only strip I considered worth keeping - the four-page ALICE In WATERGATELAND - which you can read below as I was savvy enough to hang onto it for those 38-plus years.  Just as well I did, because it's not featured in the new tome, The BEST Of COMIX BOOK, a collection of the 'best' strips from the five issue run of the '70s mag - the first three of which were published by Marvel.  I only ever saw #1, not knowing that there were others until fairly recently.

If you're into underground comix, then you'll more than likely enjoy this little piece of history.  I bought it because I wanted to see the cover again, the better to lose myself in memories of yesteryear, and a much-missed shop that could always be relied upon to provide me with some four-colour treasures in which I could lose myself in the magical realms of fantasy for a few fanciful hours.  However, I plan on actually reading the stories contained within this handsome volume, just to see what I missed all those many years ago.

And below, just for you Crivvies, is the front cover of the new hardback book, featuring the work of various nigh-legendary luminaries such as ART SPIEGELMANJUSTIN GREEN, ALEX TOTHMICHAEL PLOOGS. CLAY WILSON, HOWARD CRUSE, HARVEY PEKAR, TRINA ROBBINS, BASIL WOLVERTON - and many more!

Thursday 28 November 2013


As regular readers of this blog will know, I spend an inordinate amount of time looking back on my early years, and one of the things that recently struck me was just how differently some of my friends' parents treated me when I was a teenager, as compared to how my parents treated most of my pals.

For example, whenever any known member of my motley crew came to the door for me, they were invariably invited in, and quite a few times my mother would feed the fortunate individual if they called when she was just about to make something to eat.  If I was having fish and chips then whatever pal had been fortunate enough to drop in was also treated to the same culinary delight as myself.

However, it seems to me that, whenever I called in to visit certain pals, I was kept waiting at the door if it was answered by a parent - and one time, calling in on one particular pal at a prearranged time in order to go somewhere, I was told "He's still in his bed!" and had the door closed on my face.  Sorely tempted as I was to say "Well, get him out of bed then!", my somewhat lame "He's expecting me!" as the gap in the door narrowed had no effect.  On the other hand, if ever I was in my bed when a friend called, they were still invited in and I would be told to rouse myself as quickly as possible.

I can't recall, with one possible exception, any of my friends' parents ever feeding me if I should mistime my visit and chap their door when they were fixing on getting around to eating.  Usually I'd be told "He's just about to have his tea!" and find myself staring at a door.  And I'd imagine it was the same for any other friends that called, not just me - though I can't prove it, so maybe I just gave off the wrong vibes.  Can't see how though - I was never a ned and certainly didn't dress (or behave) like one.

Of course, this doesn't apply to everyone I know, as some pals never called at food-times - or vice-versa - but it happened in the case of a few long-term regulars.  I guess I'll just have to put it down to my parents being better-mannered and more welcoming than those of some of my pals.  Names are withheld, of course, to spare the blushes of the guilty parties.

Tuesday 26 November 2013



Sadly, veteran comic artist AL PLASTINO passed away on
November 25th at the age of 91. Plastino drew SUPERMAN,
BATMAN and various other DC COMICS characters through-
out his long and illustrious career, even redrawing JACK KIRBY's
Superman in FOREVER PEOPLE #1. Another legend leaves
comicbook fans the poorer for his passing.


DECEMBER 15th, 1921 -
NOVEMBER 25th, 2013



Copyright relevant owner

Believe it or not, ROGER MOORE is almost three years older than SEAN CONNERY and was 45 when he took over the role of JAMES BOND 007 in LIVE & LET DIE.  I find that surprising as Rog could have passed for at least five years younger than his age, whereas, in an interview given in 1971 to promote DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, big Tam looked at least ten years older than he actually was.  Of course, time has levelled the field and they both now look as if they'd blow over in a strong wind, but let's all hope that the two actors have a good many years ahead of them, for all the cinematic enjoyment they've given us over the decades.

Anyway, to Roger goes the honour of being the longest-serving Bond so far, with a whopping seven spectacular movies under his belt.  Sean also made seven Bond films, but NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN was a remake of THUNDERBALL, with a twelve year gap between it and his previous outing as 007, and wasn't an 'official' EON production.  (Though Eon now own the rights to the movie.)

So, without further ado, let's take a look at all seven Original Motion Picture Soundtrack album covers from Roger's thirteen year career as BOND... JAMES BOND - shaken, but definitely not stirred.  (Just had to get it in somewhere.)


Copyright BBC TV and the Estate of TERRY NATION

Be honest - you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?  But no, never fear - here, at last, is the next instalment of DALEKS sweet cigarette cards by confectionery manufacturer CADET, released back in the 1960s when DALEKMANIA was still reverberating around the cosmos.  (Well, Britain anyway.)

You've now seen 35 out of 50, which leaves only 15 of them still to go.  So keep your eyes peeled - they'll turn up when you least expect 'em - promise!

Monday 25 November 2013


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Issue #33 of the UK's SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY ushered in the JOHN ROMITA era of Spidey, with the Jazzy one breathing new life into the wondrous web-spinner.  Romita's style was arguably more 'commercial' and, in the States, where these tales had first appeared some years earlier, sales reportedly increased after STEVE DITKO departed.  It's unrecorded whether the same thing happened here, though it's unlikely as, with #35, the 40 page issues came to an end, with #36 onward sporting 8 fewer pages than before.  When the mag went glossy covered with #48, the page count went up to 36, but so too did the price - to 6 pence.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy another look at the covers and some of the pin-ups from the last 40 page issues of SMCW.  If you had any of these comics at the time, feel free to share your memories of them in the comments section.  Go on - you know you want to.

Sunday 24 November 2013


Copyright BBC TV

So - the much trumpeted The DAY Of The DOCTORS - any good, or the usual pile of old pants that STEVEN MOFFAT has delivered since he took charge of the programme?  Some nice bits - especially at the end, where WILLIAM HARTNELL's Doctor stood behind and above the line of other incarnations - but overall, it failed to deliver.

It's interesting that Moffat, who wrote some of the better scripts when RUSSELL T. DAVIES was the main man, has been unable to attain his former heights since he's been at the helm.  The trouble is (in my opinion) that - as the ultimate example of a Doctor Who fan-boy geek himself, his self-indulgent revelling in his own vision of what the programme is about - while doubtless leaving other geeks in convulsions of ecstasy at the pseudo-scientific gobbledygook and non-coherent nonsense presented on-screen - tends to leave more sensible, level-headed viewers feeling alienated (apt word, considering the topic) by the lack of clear, linear storytelling presented in an intriguing and compelling way.

As I've said before, the impression given is that he starts from an idea of what he imagines will be an 'in your face' series of images - and then tries to weave a story through them in order to tie them all together in some way - rather than have an idea for a story first and then work out the best way to tell it.  I could well be wrong of course, but there has to be some explanation as to why a more mainstream audience remains unimpressed by his efforts, while viewers who love the show don't have any pals who aren't Doctor Who fans and have never had a girlfriend.

JOHN HURT gave a stellar performance of how the Doctor should be portrayed, while the smug comedy double-act of MATT SMITH and DAVID TENNANT reminded me of why I'm glad to be seeing the back of Smith.  This was meant to be drama, remember, but at no time was there any real sense of menace or danger; instead we were subjected to Moffat's limited repertoire of cliched, by-the-numbers, well-worn nods in the vague direction of something slightly resembling (but not too much) suspense.  Yawn.  And, nice as it was to see TOM BAKER subsidising his pension, his cameo appearance made absolutely no damn sense.

A wasted opportunity in my view, and the fact that Moffat reportedly wrote extra-tough, convoluted dialogue for PETER CAPALDI's audition doesn't bode well for those who'd hoped to have seen the end of confusing, illogical stories where the Doctor breathlessly explains what's been happening and how he's going to solve it in a panting paragraph of dreary and un- convincing exposition before pressing a button on his sonic screwdriver in the last five minutes and making everything right again.

Personally, I'd rather see DAVID BRADLEY given the chance to revive Hartnell's Doctor in a series of 'untold tales' TV specials - now that would be worth watching.  Who's with me?  (Pun intended.)

Agree or disagree, folks?  The comments section is open for business - don't disappoint me!


Dr. Who copyright BBC TV.  Daleks copyright BBC TV and the Estate of Terry Nation

Doctor Who & the Daleks, Morecambe & Wise, Abbot & Costello, and, er... Fish & Chips... are name pairs that somehow seem to belong together.  Don't ask me why - they just do. Never was that more true than in the good Doctor's case, as - if it hadn't been for the sensation created by the metal-cased mutants - Doctor Who's popularity probably wouldn't have survived for anywhere near as long as it has.

And I was there when it all started.  I sometimes think that the '60s were the best-ever years in which a child could grow up.  Just think of all the Gerry Anderson and Hanna-Barbera programmes that kids were privy to back then, to say nothing of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mission Impossible, Batman and Star Trek.  Were we lucky or what?  And then there were the comics, chief amongst them TV Century 21, which, along with strips based on the afore-mentioned (and recently departed) Mr. Anderson's puppet programmes, also featured the dreaded and deadly despotic demons known as The Daleks!

The Daleks were everywhere; on mugs, badges, games, jigsaws, toys, models - you name the merchandise and the Scions of Skaro had lent their name and shape to it.  Apparently, Christmas of 1964 was christened 'Dalek Christmas', so popular was the Louis Marx 'tricky action' (bump 'n' go) Dalek, as well as every other kind of plaything in which the mutated Kaleds' appellation and image could be cast. 

The Doctor, along with his two grandchildren John and Gillian, appeared every week in TV Comic, published by Polystyle Publications.  The grandkids (exclusive to the comic in place of Susan) had disappeared into limbo by the time the Doc had moved over to another comic in the Polystyle stable, Countdown (later to be retitled TV Action), in adventures aimed at slightly older readers than its predecessor.  However, eventually the Time Lord and his first periodical were reunited (when TV Action fell victim to declining sales) and remained firm friends until Dez Skinn lured the Guardian from Gallifrey over to Marvel U.K. with the promise of his very own weekly publication.

I had occasionally read the Doctor's adventures in TV Comic around 1964-'65, but - truth to tell - they were nothing special and failed to exploit the 'unlimited budget' uniquely available to the comic strip medium.  After all, whatever fantastic premise the writer can dream up can potentially be portrayed as realistically as anything the artist is capable of drawing, so the sky's the limit.  Not in TV Comic's case, alas, but the full-colour Daleks strip on the back cover of TV Century 21 was something else entirely.  Here, the incredible came to life, and the 104 episodes which ran for the first two years of the comic's span are still fondly remembered today by readers who devoured them at the time.

And, as I said, I was one of them.  I still remember making my way to school some mornings as a mere six-year old boy, oblivious to everything around me as I lost myself in the photogravure pages that depicted the exploits of the metal-clad mutants bent on universal domination of all sentient life-forms.  I'm not sure why, but I don't think I ever regarded the Daleks as the bad guys in these tales; I always took their side and wanted them to win.  If I should ever find myself up in court someday, accused of some anti-social act, I'll be sure to blame the insidious influence of the good Doctor's diabolical adversaries for corrupting me.  (I knew that Fredric Wertham's theories would come in handy some day.)

You can imagine my delight when, years later (as a professional lettering artist), I was invited to work on a few strips for Doctor Who Magazine, the first issue of which (in its weekly incarnation) I had purchased back in October of 1979.  As it happened, one of the strips I lettered was published in an issue which also featured a full-colour reprint of a TV21 Daleks page, and it gave me a strange-but-welcome sense of reconnection to my childhood.  By some odd quirk of fate, my name was appearing in a magazine which had pierced the veil of time and space and plucked a page from my past - a page that I particularly recalled reading on one of my trips to school nearly 27 years before.  For a moment I was a kid again, wishing my life away until the next exciting chapter in the mysterious, white-haired stranger's Saturday evening adventures on BBC TV.

And that brings me to the Doctor himself.  Doctor Who?  Yes, that's right.  Sure, it's an old 'joke', but it illustrates an important aspect of the character.  The Doctor was originally an enigma; a mysterious stranger who nobody knew anything about.  Who was he?  Where did he come from?  Was he good, bad, or simply amoral?  No one was quite sure, and I have to be honest and say that I thought the Doctor was all the more interesting for this approach.

Anyway, as the 50th anniversary of the Doctor's '60s debut on television and in comics is celebrated, long may he reign - and may the dastardly (but loveable) Daleks never be far behind him.


As an added bonus, here's part one of the very first Doctor Who comic strip, featuring William Hartnell, ever published.  Originally presented in black and white in TV Comic #674, dated November 14th 1964, and reprinted in colour in Doctor Who Classic Comics #2, dated January 6th 1993.  The art is by Neville Main.  Enjoy!

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