Monday, 31 March 2014


Copyright relevant owner

You're looking at the cover of BLAKE BELL's 2008 book, The WORLD Of STEVE DITKO.  When myself and one of my pals, MOONMANDO, visited an art gallery recently and saw a display of giant heads, I remarked that they reminded me of Ditko in some way, though I wasn't quite sure why.  It was semi-regular com-menter McSCOTTY (in response to a post I did of our visit) who pointed out that the display was reminiscent of the cover of Blake Bell's book - which I've had in my collection for a good while.

Anyway, Moony played around with a couple of photos he'd taken of the display, transforming them from colour into black and white, and also photoshopping the suspending cables out of the picture.  He's graciously allowed me to reproduce them here and, as you can see, they're almost like the Ditko illustration brought to life.  I wonder if the display's creator was inspired by the co-creator of SPIDER-MAN - what do you think?


Y'know, it's curious how seemingly unrelated things are
connected in some way.  Case in point, the recently deceased
STEVE MOORE, who started his not insignificant career as
an office boy at ODHAMS, and then had a major impact on
British comics over nearly the next fifty years.

At one time (after the demise of WHAM!) my favourite
weekly comic was FANTASTIC, which Steve was involved
with as a teenager, even appearing in a superhero costume (on
the letters page of issue #50) which a reader had designed,
stitched together, and sent in.

Steve also created the THARG'S FUTURE SHOCKS
format for 2000 A.D., and it was one such strip which was
my first professional IPC lettering assignment when I started
freelancing for them at the start of 1985 (having been assured
of work by editor STEVE MacMANUS in '84).

Just think - if Steve Moore hadn't created the format,
there may never have been an opportunity for me to work
for IPC, as it may have been harder for Stevie-Mac to put me
on a strip already being regularly lettered by someone else.  The
individual nature of the Future Shock strips however, allowed
for different contributors per episode, thus giving me an
opening into the comics business.

So, just as I'm grateful  to Steve MacManus for giving
me a chance to work on 2000 A.D. to begin with, I'm just
as grateful to Steve Moore (whom I never met as far as I'm
aware), for creating the series that gave me my break into the
industry, and a fifteen year career working on, amongst
others, IPC's top-selling comic at that time.

As I said - curious how things are connected, eh?

Sunday, 30 March 2014


It was quite muggy today, but, undeterred, myself and one of my pals, the intrepid Moonmando, journeyed into Glasgow's well-to-do West End to have a leisurely look around Kelvingrove Art Gallery.  So, for a nice change of pace, instead of boring you with my usual woeful waffle, I thought I'd bore you with my insipid images instead.  Considerate to a fault, that's me!

(And count yourselves lucky - I took nearly twice as many photos as you see here.)

Here's Yogi, sans hat, collar & tie

It would be possible to step over the balcony and onto the wing of the
spitfire, but I wouldn't advise it.  (And the gallery wouldn't allow it)

This reminds me of Steve Ditko's art for some reason

The fourth oldest University in the English-speaking world

Student's Union Bar

Saint Silas' Episcopal Church in the West End

This tenement was burnt-out a few years back
and was left a hollow shell with no floors from top
to bottom.  I used to sneak into the basement while
it was lying empty and just gaze, amazed, at its
cavernous emptiness 

Hopefully these items will be replaced in Kelvingrove Park
at some point in the future

One of the entrances to the back of Park Circus

A back lane in Park Circus

Park Circus - elegant Georgian townhouses.  Looks
like the A-Team are visiting

This building, No. 8, is now private apartments, but was formerly
a Bed & Beakfast called Kelvin Lodge.  Myself and a young lady once
stayed the night in Room 21 on the middle floor, to the left of the
window above the door

Lost - one white cat.  Return to Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Kelvingrove Park


I saw this video on the FRANKENSTEINIA blog and
quite enjoyed it. Thought you might like it also.

Saturday, 29 March 2014


The above strip, from The PENGUIN BOOK Of COMICS, is the very first The WIZARD Of ID strip I ever saw, back in the early 1970s.  It gave me such a chuckle that I later bought a couple of paperback collections of the Wiz's newspaper strips, and very funny they were too.  I'd highly recommend them to all you Criv-ites.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Hard to believe that, with this post, we're almost halfway through JOHN BYRNE's run on The FANTASTIC FOUR, one of the 'must read' MARVEL mags of the 1980s.  I must confess to enjoying PAUL RYAN's art on the FF when he eventually assumed the artistic duties, but I was never as impressed with the stories as I'd been with some of Byrne's tales.  I'd have loved to see JB continue scripting the series and Paul Ryan drawing it - that would've really been something, don't you think?

Anyway, enjoy the covers here and be sure to rejoin us for another ten in an upcoming post.

This one's another mag I bought before dropping in on Glasgow's
Blue Lagoon for a Fish & Chips tea.  Unfortunately, those particular
premises are now gone, though others yet remain in the city centre.

This, I believe, was the first ish of the FF I bought after moving to a
new house in 1983.  What's more, I got it from the shop I used to buy
TV Century 21 on my way to school when I was 6.  On the way home
with this mag, I stopped in a park and sat on a huge stone to read it, a
stone that had been there at least since I was around two years old.
Maybe around 10 or so years after stopping to read this ish, the stone
was gone - and with it, yet another part of my childhood

Friday, 28 March 2014


Cover illustration by Alan Aldridge

Way back in the early '70s, I recall sitting in the Norfolk Restaurant in my home town with a friend, browsing through The PENGUIN BOOK Of COMICS - the original 1967 version, not the 1971 revised edition.  I'd borrowed it from my local library and, many, many years later, I bought that actual book from them in one of their regular clear-outs of old stock. It was a little beat-up when I acquired it (doubtless the reason why they dispensed with its services), but I still have it today. 

This morning, however, I took receipt of a far better copy, the cover of which you can see above.  When this book was first being prepared, the publishers (PENGUIN, obviously) managed to secure permission from NATIONAL PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS to use the image of SUPERMAN on the cover.  They described in precise detail just how the cover was going to look, a deal was struck and the book was then published.

However, when NPP (now known as DC COMICS) saw it, they weren't too happy and returned the cheque, demanding ten times more than they'd originally agreed to.  Penguin refused,  explaining that they hadn't deviated from their initial cover description and sent the cheque back, only for it to be returned yet again.  Not one for giving up easily, Penguin once more sent the cheque to the States, only to hear nothing of the matter from that point on.  What's more, the cheque was never cashed - perhaps Superman, champion of the oppressed, had a word with his publishers.

When the book was reissued in 1971, a brand-new cover was produced and all the DC Comics illustrations used in the previous edition were excluded, being replaced by MARVEL COMICS art.  As you can see, I've included the new cover here so that you can compare them both.

Anyway, just thought I'd show off the latest edition to my bookshelf, which I acquired for a mere £1.20.  (The book, not the bookshelf.)  Wotta bargain, I'm sure you'll agree.

Cover illustration by Bob Smithers, based on a design by George Perry

The beat-up library copy - purchased for 65p in 1994

The 1989 reprint of the '71 edition


The first thing I remember ever drawing was a teddy bear.  It was a photo of a 'special offer' teddy on the back of a packet of KELLOGG'S CORN FLAKES, back in 1964.  I carefully cut out the teddy and smuggled him into school one day in my satchel.  I was 15 at the time - - and, yes, you're right, I'm pulling your leg about my age.  Just checking to see if you're paying attention.

Actually, I was only 5, which some people may consider as still too old to be interested in teddies, but this was 50 years ago remember, when kids were kids and not the chain-smoking, binge-drinking, coke-snorting, sex-obsessed little hooligans they seem to be today.  Anyway, using the cardboard cut-out as a stencil, I drew around it and recorded the outline on a sheet of paper.  Then it occurred to me that it would be a simple enough task to supply the details within the outline, which was composed mainly of circles.

I then realised that the head, ears, body, arms and legs, likewise consisted of circles, and that I could easily draw them without recourse to the 'stencil'.  Voila!  I drew Ted quite a few times before graduating to other subjects.  After all, drawing something seemed to be a simple matter of copying shapes in front of you onto a piece of paper, which I found to be an easy enough thing to do.

So, whaddya know!  Next thing I knew, I had developed a reputation for being a 'good drawer'.  Incidentally, the ted at the top of this post is a stand-in.  The original's arms didn't extend quite so far from his body.  Still, cute little fella, eh?

Thursday, 27 March 2014


Back when I was a full-time professional comics contributor,
I dined out every evening at various local eateries.  In one of those
establishments, the head chef was an English chappie named STEVE,
and one night he asked me if Id do a caricature of him that he could give
as a present to his mother whom he was shortly due to visit in his home
town.  If I recall correctly after all these years, he sat at my table while I
drew a preliminary pencil pic, which I then took home, copied onto an
A4 sheet then inked and also coloured.  (But not before I'd made
a photocopy of the black and white original.)

I saw him on his return and he told me his mother was extremely
pleased with the pic, but he then said something which quite startled
me.  Apparently, his two young nephews had visited his mother during
his stay and recognised my name.  He confirmed to them when asked
that I was indeed the very Robson who contributed to 2000 A.D.,
which happened to be their favourite weekly comic, and they were
well-impressed that one of THARG's droids ate in the actual
restaurant in which their uncle worked.

Even 'though I was merely bathing in the reflected glory of 'the
galaxy's greatest comic', I was fair chuffed that two strangers who
lived hundreds of miles away even knew who I was - and I was even
more pleased when Steve told me that they had asked him to inform
me that I was their favourite lettering artist.  Anyway, I didn't charge
Stevie-boy for his caricature, but I got a couple of free meals out
of it as a 'thank you' for my efforts.

And, in a way, I'm still 'dining out' on that pic
today, as you've all just read for yourselves.



Alas, alack!  Stop the clocks and rend your garments, for misery has surely come upon us.  'Tis with immense sadness (and, paradoxically, an equal measure of pride) that CRIVENS! herewith presents, for your very own personal perusal, the very last JASPER The GRASPER two-page strip from the whimsical pages of WHAM! #47, cover-dated May 8th 1965.  Drawn by the incomparable KEN REID, no artist who followed him on a strip ever drew it better (and often not even as good) than the mighty Ken himself.

But dry your tears, for there is gladness in the midst of sadness.  You now have all six episodes (that's twelve full pages) to linger o'er lovingly whenever the mood takes you.  And I have once again fulfilled my self-appointed task to share the very best of British and American comics with all you lilting lovers of comic strip culture.

You might consider leaving a comment expressing gallons of gratitude.  You know how insecure I am.

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