Monday 30 June 2014


Images copyright relevant owner

Ooh, look what that extremely nice TWO-HEADED BOY (from Two-Headed Thingies) sent me recently.  The BIRTHDAY BOOK For BOYS 1972, featuring strips and text stories from various comic periodicals that were available way back then.

Interestingly, the interior copyright date of 1972 suggests that perhaps it wasn't a Christmas Annual because, as all British readers know, the copyright date is usually that of the year an Annual is issued, not the year it's for.  (So, Annuals cover-dated 1972 for example, went on sale in August or Septermber of '71, and usually carried the year of issue inside.)

The purpose of the Annual was obviously to entice readers to hunt down the weekly comics which featured the particular stories they'd enjoyed and thereby increase circulation.  It would be interesting to learn whether the project ever bore fruit, but as far as I'm aware, the experiment wasn't repeated, so I think we can safely draw our own conclusions as to the results (or lack of them).  I'm bound to say that I think they missed a trick by not including ADAM ETERNO.
Anyway, take a look at a few of the contents and refresh your memories of your long-ago youth.  If you happen to know whether this book was issued at the end of '71 or sometime in '72, feel free to enlighten me in the comments section. 

Sunday 29 June 2014


Images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

I suppose I'd better make it a 'hat-trick' and show the third issue of HOOT in my collection - #3, appropriately enough.  So, why did the D.C. THOMSON title only manage to survive a mere 53 issues do you think?  Did the strips fail to tickle readers' funny bones, or was the name simply not inspiring enough?  Any thoughts or theories, leave 'em in the comments section and astound the rest of us with your amazing insight and wisdom.

(I've just noticed that issue #4 also had a free gift - an unusual occurrence - so I'll have to acquire that too.  Hoots, mon!)


UPDATE:  I've now acquired #s 4, 56, giving me seven issues in all (including #10, the Christmas number, which I got back in 1985).  Maybe one day I'll complete the full set.


Hee hee!  This is funny!

Saturday 28 June 2014


Images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

Last year, D.C. THOMSON released what they called THE LAST-EVER DANDY SUMMER SPECIAL.  Turns out that it seemingly sold so well there'll be another one this year (along with a BEANO Special also).  On a comics forum at the time, someone expressed the desire that just such a thing would happen - that sales would be so good, the title of the Special would prove to be a 'fib'.  (In other words, that it wouldn't be the last.)

The person was not implying that, in such a scenario, DCT would have been cynically lying - only that the description of the mag would prove not to be 'true' (which is a different thing).  Turned out that a rather obnoxious DCT employee (who has a history of going off half-cocked) completely missed the point and took exception to what he saw as the suggestion that Thomson's would ever deceitfully advertise a publication as something it wasn't (which is not what had actually been said or implied).

However, cynic that I am, it seems to me unlikely that any publisher could be unaware of the potential sales that a mag advertised as the 'last-ever' might enjoy and that a rethink might be required at some future date if such proved to be the case.  Therefore, when DCT labelled it as they did, they must've known there was at least a possibility it might not be.  Does that mean they lied?  Not necessarily, because if it didn't sell too well, then it certainly could've been the last.

It's worth remembering though, that DCT are well-practiced in advertising things that aren't actually as they seem: So-called 'free' gifts that the readers pay for via an increased cover price (though that hasn't happened for a while); 'two' great posters, when it's actually only one double-sided poster (meaning siblings can't have one each as they'd been led to believe).  And let's not forget 'makeovers' for well-known characters that were never intended as permanent changes, but were mere publicity stunts, sneakily 'leaked to the press' to generate renewed interest in the weekly comics.

The tedious, 'missed the point' prattlings of a DCT freelancer in 'defence' of his Beano-buddy (who had completely the wrong end of the stick to begin with) do not change the facts, which are these: The forum member was not accusing D.C. Thomson of lying, he was merely expressing the hope that the last Dandy Summer Special would prove not to be, which is precisely what's now happened.  It hasn't prevented Mr. "I'm not going to get involved" from becoming involved though, and from currently trying to browbeat others on that forum into accepting his and his (absent) buddy's take on things.

However, let's focus on the positive, eh?  There are new Beano and Dandy Summer Specials this year, so keep a lookout for them in your local WH Smith's from July 2nd.


Friday 27 June 2014


The world-famous Nardini's

I took a little trip into the past recently and visited Largs and Millport for the first time since 1971.  It was an experience that I'm not quite sure how I feel about, nor am I sure whether my uncertainty is something I can adequately express.  The reason being that there was enough that was still recognizable to recapture glimpses of my past, but there had also been a few changes which somewhat prevented me from being able to fully immerse myself in yesteryear.  If I'd continued in a state of unawareness of present conditions, the place as it had been would have remained alive to me forever in the evergreen land of memory, but now, alas, I'm all too aware that things are no longer as they once were, which saddens me.

The new pier, built around five years ago

A new pier, the old war-mine and toy boating pond long-gone, the paddle-boat pond now used for remote-control model ships, the amusement arcade on the beach-front converted to other pursuits, the pier at Millport no longer visited by the ferry (thereby requiring a bus trip to and from the ferry's 'new' drop-off and pick-up point) - all this and more took a bit of the shine off my return to the holiday haunts of myself and my family back in the dim and distant days of 1968, '69 & '71.  I know that my parents and (separately, with pals) my brother returned at intervals, maybe only on day-trips, but those were experiences in which I never shared, and therefore my memories are time-locked into a specific period which remained inviolate - until recently, that is.

A stroll along the seafront

One thing that did please me was finding that the toy shop in Millport from which I had bought my STEVE ZODIAC and ZOONY The LAZOON friction-drive JETMOBILE in 1968, was still in business.  MAPES, it's called, and though it had closed for the day by the time I arrived, I could see from a glance through the windows that it seemed to be the same inside as it was in my day.  New stock obviously, but apparently the same general design and layout as on my visit 46 years previously.  The bus driver informed me that the gentleman who ran the shop back then (Mr. Mapes, I think it's safe to say) was his next-door neighbour and that the shop is still family-run today. 
The Waverley - "goin' doon the watter"

So, in some ways a rewarding experience, but in others a disappointing one - and also a strange one.  For, despite the changes, it felt as if I'd last visited the place only yesterday or the day before. I think that's because my mind jumped straight back to 1971, leap-frogging over all the events in between as if they hadn't yet happened.  Who knows, perhaps my memories of my recent visit will eventually recede, and allow my previous fond recollections to resurface in the ascendant once more; then Largs and Millport as they were will live again, allowing me to re-walk their seaside streets as I knew them when I was a boy.

In the meantime, here's a brief photographic tour through Largs and Millport as they are today.

The street (or one very much like it in close proximity) where
we stayed in 1971.  Our house was one with an upstairs room
Might even have been this one

Formerly the paddle-boat pond... used for remote-control models

Adjoining flower area

Replica Viking ship outside The Vikingar Centre

Amazing the folk you meet in Largs

And now we're in Millport...

...where peace and serenity reign

World's narrowest house.  No, I didn't know it was in Millport either

Mapes - where I bought my jetmobile toy in 1968...

...before hot-footing it back to the pier so as not to miss the ferry

The Royal George Hotel at the pier entrance

A medieval-looking church tower in the distance

The pier where the ferry once plied its trade - but
not for 40-odd years, according to the bus driver

And here's a little friend I brought back with me from Largs.  Cute little nipper, ain't he?

FOOTNOTE: It was an odd feeling to return from Largs to a different home than the one in which I was living back in '68, '69 & '71.  So associated is Largs with that particular time in my life, that I feel I should've gone back to my old house rather than the one in which I now stay, had my tea, then ran around the field I used to play in just over the road (which would've been difficult as it no longer exists).  From my present dwelling I only ever holidayed in Blackpool, so had I revisited there instead, it would've felt more natural to return here. I now find myself curiously overwhelmed by the sensation that I'm out-of-step with my proper timeline.  Weird, eh?

Thursday 26 June 2014


Stressed out by the cares of the day?  Dig out your headphones, plug in, and feel all your tensions melt away to the velvet tones of the finest balladeer of the 20th century - JIM REEVES.  Honest, this is relaxation at its finest - you'll never hear a smoother, soothing singing voice than Gentleman Jim's.


Images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

Recently, I posted the complete issue of HOOT #1 on this blog so that those of you who bought it as kids could re-acquaint yourselves with its treasures, and to show those who weren't around at the time just what they missed.  Hoot came out at a time when I was mainly buying only the first three, free-gift issues of any new British comic (unless it was one I really wanted to collect in its entirety), but for some reason I missed #2, so only had the first and third issues, along with #10, which was the Christmas number, in my collection.

Not any more!  Today I took possession of that second ish, thereby fulfilling my original, nearly 29 year old intention of acquiring the first three issues.  It may have taken me almost 30 years (28 and a half, to be a tad more precise), but I got there in the end.  Here's the cover and some of the interior pages so that you can all rejoice along with me in my 'new' acquisition.

Wednesday 25 June 2014


While ELVIS was sleeping it off in the HEARTBREAK
HOTEL, next door, JIM REEVES was on the BLUE SIDE
OF LONESOME, drowning his sorrows in a tavern known as
THREE TEARDROPS.  Why not join him for a listen?  It's
cathartic, I tell you - cathartic.


Copyright relevant owner

Gather round, all ye cavorting Criv-ites with an appetite for things from yesteryear.  Today, for the pleasure of your palpitating peepers, we proudly present NORSTAD Of The DEEP, from the pulsating POW! Annual for 1971.  When I featured this particular Annual in a previous post, some of you requested to see all of this  full-colour story, not just the first page, so - here it is.  Illustrated by LEOPOLDO ORITZ, it's a nine-page tale that's sure to make you think twice about paddling in the sea the next time you're on holiday.  Enjoy!

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