Tuesday 31 March 2015


Yes, he is!  You can tell just by looking

An interesting development to my recent post about discrimination is a comment from someone called IAN ELLERY, who is apparently the chairman of a certain club for cartoonists.  I think I've heard of it, but I've certainly never heard of Ian Ellery.  You've read the comments I left on TONY ISABELLA's blog - polite, civil, mild-mannered, non-offensively stated (unless you're the kind of person who'd take offence at the list of ingredients on a tin of soup) - certainly not what you'd call a "rant".  Let's look at Mr Ellery's comment on that other blog, shall we?
"He is a well known Troll.  You are better off ignoring him and not giving him a forum for his deliberately provocative rants."

So, completely impartial and fair-minded then.

I'm not sure why someone I've never heard of and with whom I've had no previous dealings, would seek to malign my name for no justifiable reason in a public forum, but it's a shame he should violate what I'd hope is the ethos of his club by bad-mouthing me for merely expressing an opinion.  By not contributing anything meaningful to the topic on that other blog and resorting to malicious comments about the character of someone completely unknown to him (me), he surely epitomises the definition of the very word with which he attempts to sully my name.

Now perhaps you understand why I so robustly defend myself when other detractors do the same as him.  The reason is simple - lies spread quickly when not cut off at the root.

Shame on you, sir!  Shame on you!


(Update:)  Never one to take things lying down, I sent Mr. Ellery the following email:

"I take exceptiom to you describing me as a well-known troll on Tony Isabella's blog.  I may be well-known (debatable), but expressing an opinion that you or anyone else may disagree with does not qualify me as a troll.  Be assured that I will be exploring my legal options to make you accountable for publicly maligning me."

Mr. Ellery didn't reply, but later left this comment on Mr. Isabella's blog:

"And now he's trolling me by email and on his own blog."

Now, I'm not quite sure how sending a civilly-worded email to someone who has publicly defamed me equates with trolling, but Mr. Ellery clearly isn't interested in accuracy or the truth.  However, now I'm trolling on my own blog?  Doesn't seem to be connected to reality either.  Some people, eh?

Now, should he remove his 'trollish' comments from Tony Isabella's blog, I'll consider removing this post about him.

Monday 30 March 2015


Advisory: Controversial subject ahead.  If this isn't your cup of tea, please feel free to sit this one out until something more up your street comes along.


Did you know that, in Scotland, a shop can refuse to sell you any of its goods for any or no reason at all?  Just because they're offering an item (or service) for sale, they're not legally obliged to accept your offer to purchase it.  I think it may be the same in the rest of Britain, but I'm not 100% sure.  However, unless the law has been changed recently and nobody told me, that's the way things are.

At times I've tried to buy an item on display in a shop, only to be told I can't have it because it's the last one and needed for display purposes.  "Why display something that you don't have to sell?  Why not sell me that one, then put another on display when you get more in?  Otherwise, you're going to be pestered by folk trying to buy something that you don't have, and waste time explaining why they can't buy it."

My words usually fell on deaf ears though, mainly because the staff were simply too lazy to disturb their display in order to make a sale.  Madness or what?  The point I'm making however is that shops are allowed to discriminate in this way and there's not lot that you or I can legally do about.  And that's the point of this particular post, people - discrimination.

Discrimination is a neutral word; you can either discriminate in favour of someone or against them - whether it's positive or negative depends on its context.  And we all discriminate to some degree or other all the time, whether it's refusing to sell alcohol to a drunk in an Off-licence or pub, or simply because we don't like someone's attitude or the mere look of them.

There was a case in Britain somewhere (might even have been Scotland) not that long ago, where the proprietors of a Bed & Breakfast establishment refused to rent a double-room to a gay couple, as homosexuality is against the proprietors' religious beliefs.  The gay couple were offered rooms, but not a double-room.  Now, whatever you or I might think of this attitude, whether we regard it as bad business practice, small-minded, prudish, ridiculous, or whatever, if your place of work is also your home, shouldn't you be allowed to set the rules of behaviour for guests, however much others may object to them?

You have a choice, you see.  If you don't like the way someone conducts their business, you're free to go elsewhere.  Or you can bite the bullet and observe the 'rules of the house'.  You have the freedom to take your custom elsewhere, and they have the freedom to refuse your custom if they so wish.  In this particular instance, I think the courts found against the B&B when the couple sought redress for offended feelings, although, given the law as it applies to similar situations when a business declines to accept an offer to buy goods or services on sale, there seems to be a double-standard operating in the court's ruling.

(Just as an aside, if a prostitute declined to 'entertain' someone on the grounds of the would-be patron's ethnicity or gender, would they be liable to prosecution under the same principle as above?  I'll let the lawyers work that one out.)

Anyway, as some (if not most) of you will know, the State of Indiana recently passed 'religious freedom' legislation that is intended to ensure that if, for example, you're a minister, priest, rabbi, or devout religious person, you cannot be compelled to conduct/facilitate/indulge a gay wedding ceremony (for example) that goes against your religious beliefs.  As with most legislation, there are probably ways in which this can be applied in instances where it wasn't intended or envisioned.  The law can always be misused by those determined to do so.

However, whatever you may think of someone's religious beliefs, is it unreasonable to allow them the freedom not to participate in something with which they disagree?  To ensure that they can't be compelled to participate, in fact.  (Okay, I know that we run the risk of new religions popping up, where their adherents claim it's against their beliefs to pay taxes, and part of their faith to take as many drugs as they can get their hands on, but let's keep things manageable at this stage.)

Here's what TONY ISABELLA (a comicbook writer, for those not in the know) had to say about the matter on his blog recently:

"I just made a very painful decision.  Because the governor of Indiana and its state legislature have come down on the side of bigotry and discrimination, I cancelled what would have been my first convention appearance in that state in a decade or three.  Sometimes a writer has to walk the walk.

I will have more to say on this in the near future."

Now, I freely admit that I'm taking the new legislation (which many states in the U.S. have adopted) at face value, based on cursory reading on the internet, but ignoring for the moment any ways in which it can be misused or abused, the basic core of this legislation (the principle on which it's based) is simply to ensure that you can't, by law, be compelled to participate or facilitate something which goes against the tenets of your religion or conscience.  (Within reason, I would hope.)

Here's the comment I made on Mr. Isabella's blog:

"Is it bigotry or discrimination though?  If people who don't support or endorse a certain kind of lifestyle don't want to cater to it (which is I suppose what you're referring to), surely they shouldn't be compelled to if it's against their beliefs, religious or otherwise.  Isn't that freedom? Bigotry often appears to be too handy a word to describe anyone with a different opinion. The world is full of people who don't see things the same as us - on a variety of topics.  Should we refuse to be served at our local supermarket by the guy who has a different view to us on something?"

And here's Mr. Isabella's response:

"I'm calling complete and utter bullshit on your comments, Kid.  What Indiana is doing is clearly bigotry and is clearly discrimination.  A business does not have the right to refuse service to a customer because of the customer's sexual orientation. The one and only places where these faux-Christian bigots gets to discriminate are in their homes and their churches.  A customer can choose not to patronize a business for any damn reason they want.  A business cannot choose to deny service to someone because they are gay or black or even a ridiculous right-wing asshole. That's how America works.  If your next response is to complain that I am intolerant of intolerance, don't bother.  I'm a grumpy old man who doesn't have patience for such nonsense."

I replied, pointing out the same things I mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this post, so to avoid repetition, I'll skip past them.  I opened my response thus:

"Well, I was actually asking a question more than making any kind of a statement, in an attempt to understand your point of view.  (Skips.)  However, I think you're perhaps missing the point slightly, if you don't mind me being so respectfully bold.  Obviously, if you see something one way and someone else sees it another way, there is always going to be disagreement.  If it's against your beliefs (again, religious or otherwise), and you just cannot se any sense to their point of view, then it will seem unreasonable to you.  (And vice-versa in the case of the person you oppose.)  It's a bit like Algebra, which is a total mystery to me.  However, just because I can't comprehend it, I wouldn't say it was bullsh*t.  That's because I'm smart enough to know that I'm not smart enough to understand everything.

To me, 'bigotry' is usually accompanied by hatred - total and unreasoning.  We now live (mainly) in a society where people of a different sexual orientation are no longer persecuted or prosecuted, vilified, abused or shunned.  (We'll forget the Westboro Babtist Church for the moment.)  That's because we practice tolerance, even when a thing might be something with which we disagree.  That disagreement in itself does not constitute bigotry 'though (in my view). However, in some cases, although people are prepared to tolerate certain views or behaviour, they may feel that, in all good conscience, they cannot themselves become involved in sanctioning it by doing something that furthers that with which they disagree.

Now, perhaps I misunderstand what's going on in the state of Indiana, but it appears to me that the legislation only protects people from being forced to participate in something they (politely, non-violently, perhaps even usually silently) oppose.  That's what freedom is, surely?  People not being forced to do something which is against their conscience.  Isn't that the American way?  So if you're gay you can get married (you'll always find someone who will oblige you in a diverse society), but if the notion sits uncomfortably with you if you're a priest, minister or rabbi (or whatever) you can't be forced to do something that isn't in accord with your beliefs.  Whether or not those beliefs seem sensible or not to others is another discussion.

Incidentally, I'm also a grumpy old man, but I believe in trying to be polite, even in the face of seeming hostility for expressing a point of view with which others might not agree.

Pax Vobiscum."

Mr. Isabella responded thus:

"That was your last say on this, Kid.  All you've done is try and make excuses for bigotry and discrimination.  If you know anything about me or my work, you know I have little patience for such.  Your future comments on this matter will not be approved for publication."

Knowing that it wouldn't be published, I sought to address what I saw as Mr. Isabella's misperception.

"Nope, that's not what I've tried to do at all.  What I've tried to do is explain to you that what you see as bigotry and discrimination is what others may see as religious or personal freedom. There's always at least two sides to every situation and just because you (or anyone) doesn't, can't, or won't see the other side's point of view on any given matter, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're bigots, homophobes, @ssholes or scum.  However, it's your blog and you can publish what you like, but I'd appreciate you not characterising my comments as something they're not. Thank you.  I'll probably be addressing this topic and your attitude to it on my own blog, seeing as how you have no patience or respect for any view that isn't in accord with your own.  Unreasoning hatred of another's point of view, eh? Sounds pretty much like bigotry to me."

(Or at least something just as ugly.)  Mr. Isabella saw fit to reply:

"I gave Kid - Why do guys like him never actually sign their comments? - one more minute of his fifteen minutes so that you can read his implied threat of - yawn - exposing me as a bigot.  I think I can stand on my record of supporting equal rights and inclusion.  Heck, my record is a public record on account of I actually sign my name to my comments and columns.

I make no apology for limiting Kid's further appearances in the comments.  He's had his unconvincing say.  I see no benefit in allowing him to say the same thing over and over again. Let him post what he wants on his own blog.  If worried about that sort of thing, I wouldn't write what I write."

I objected to Mr. Isabella misrepresenting my comment, and said so in a reply that will doubtless never see print:

"Actually, Kid's my long-time nickname, and the name I worked under when I was a full-time comics contributor (IPC, Marvel) for 15 years.  As anyone can find out (along with my surname) by clicking on my avatar.  So once again you distort the reality of the situation in your unreasoning hatred of those with a different opinion to yours.  And there was no 'implied threat' to expose you as a bigot on my blog.  (Whatever you are is plain for all to see on your own site.) I was merely advising your readers and yourself that I would cover the topic on my blog and correct your misrepresentations."

Now, I'm not interested in changing anyone's mind on the matter.  All that concerns me is that people should be allowed to hold and express a dissenting point of view without being called names over it, or characterised as a backward, unthinking, primitive savage whose opinion is motivated or inspired by unreasoning hatred of another group of people.  Admittedly, I'm kind of fed up of society being battered & bullied into submission by vocal minorities who aren't satisfied with us tolerating them, and who seemingly won't be happy 'til the rest of society is re-modelled in their image to accommodate their likes and dislikes over everyone else.  (For example, lesbian couples insisting that the words 'mother' and 'father' be removed from an NHS booklet on childbirth because it made them feel excluded.  And their demands were met.)

It's a shame that Mr. Isabella prefers to portray anyone with a different opinion to him in such a negative light all the time, but I suppose it's easier than accepting the possibility that the other side may just have a point after all, and addressing the actual topic.  Those who seek to dismiss dissent by demonising their opponents (on whichever side of the divide) clearly have no reasoned argument to offer, and are no better or wiser than the folk they look down on.

I believe I'm a reasonable man.  Read the above comments again, and tell me where you see hostility, rudeness, and a lack of respect or consideration for the other guy's point of view.

I don't think it's mine.


(UPDATE:)  Mr. Isabella has now added this comment on his blog:

"I had a bad feeling about "Kid" from his first post and I regret giving him any kind of a forum at all.  The more I learn about him...

However, I will not be approving any further comments by him or about him.  He's not worth further discussion." 

Given that a frequent detractor of mine has just joined Mr. Isabella's blog, I think it's fairly safe to assume the source of at least part of the one-sided misinformation obviously supplied to him regarding myself.  Why, any more of this sort of thing and I may start to believe I'm important in some way.  After all, why else would a few hecklers be so determined to do me down?  Carrying a grudge bordering on the obsessional, perhaps?

As for Mr. Isabella, for one who is usually so rudely outspoken in his attacks on those he disagrees with (which seems to be every second person in America if many of his previous posts are any indication), his sullen response appears to prove the truth of a commonly held perception - namely, bullies don't like being stood up to.

However, just to show there's no hard feelings, let's all wish him luck in his next 'vast accumulation of stuff' garage sale.  Excelsior!


Copyright relevant owner

The eagerly-awaited new series of THUNDERBIRDS is on ITV next Saturday night (April 4th) at 5 p.m., so while we're all waiting, here's a look back at when the original incarnation was at its peak - in the pages of Britain's best-selling comic, TV CENTURY 21.

It'll be interesting to see whether the amount of associated merchandise which hits the toyshops will match that of the '60s, but I'm not sure I'll be buying any this time around.  My house is restricted for space and I need to conserve what little I have left for collectables from my childhood.  I'll wait and see the quality, however, before I make up my mind for sure.

Personally, I always preferred FIREBALL XL5, and I wish they'd colourise the episodes and re-broadcast them on TV.  That way, if the show became a hit with the kids of today, I could look forward to loads of cracking new retro-style 'must-have' goodies to add to my collection.

Anyway, will you be watching the new Thunderbirds to see if it's as good as the one you remember from your youth, or will you be down the pub with the lads, talking about fitba' and wummen?  Before you decide, glance over these ten classic covers from childhood and re- immerse yourself in the innocent joys of yesteryear!


MARTINE BESWICK is an absolute corker of a BOND
BABE, as you can see in this picture from THUNDERBALL
Don't you hate SEAN CONNERY for all the cracking burds
he was paid to snog in his acting career?  Just not fair!

Sunday 29 March 2015


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

When I first laid eyes on the cover of UNTOLD TALES Of SPIDER-MAN #15, I did a double-take.  "What am I doing on the cover of that comic?" I asked myself, seeing as how I likewise had a double-breasted suit, hairstyle and beard just like GORDON SAVINSKI.  (To say nothing of the same first name.)  And believe it or not (shock, horror) there are some people who'll tell you that, just like him, I'm a bit of a b@st@rd.  (It's not true of course - I'm the epitome of niceness.  Just ask my good buddies - SADDAMADOLF and VLADIMIR.  Two of them are dead, but it shouldn't be a problem if you can reach a happy medium.)

Anyway, that's enough guff from me, enjoy part three!

Saturday 28 March 2015


Images copyright relevant owner

WHIZZER & CHIPS came out in October 1969 and lasted one week past its 21st (uncelebrated) birthday issue in 1990.  The first Annual came out towards the end of 1970 (for '71), and the last one came out in 1993 (for '94) - making a total of 24 Annuals in all.  However, there was a 25th Annual in 2014 (for '15), with material reprinted from earlier books in the run.  (What a comeback, eh?  A whole 21 years after the previous Annual.)

Here then, is the first instalment in a four part series of Whizzer & Chips Annual covers, which, hopefully, you'll all enjoy.  Have you any happy memories of receiving one of these bumper books for Christmas when you were a lad?  Then the comments section awaits your joyous reminiscences.


It's just hit me on re-reading this post that the weekly Whizzer & Chips will have been absent from our newsagents' counters for 25 years come October.  That of course means that it's been gone four years longer than it lasted.  Gone for a quarter of a century!  Where did the time go?  I'm numb at the thought.


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

So here we are again, with yet another instalment of The CRUNCH cover gallery - despite there seeming to be little or no interest in this D.C. THOMSON title from the late 1970s.  I guess it was exactly the same back then, otherwise the weekly periodical would've been around for longer than it was - a mere 54 issues.  Still, if you've nothing better to do, it won't kill you to take a moment to cop a gander at these pulsating piccies from yesteryear.  Is there anyone out there who remembers this comic?


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

Thanks to a generous benefactor, I now own issue #646 of The BEANO from 1954.  Just think - WATKINS, REIDBAXENDALE and LAW - all in one single comic.  Things seldom (if ever) got better than this, and I'm sharing these masterpieces of art with all you Criv-ites!  So - where's my BLUE PETER badge for unselfish generosity?

And just think - The BASH STREET KIDS weren't even called that then.  A slice of history, or what?!

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