Sunday 31 May 2015


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Four issues for the price of three this time around, chums, as we wrap up the colour issues of CAPTAIN BRITAIN in this post.  Next time, as we continue the series, it'll be mainly black & white images (apart from the covers) that your awestruck orbs will encounter.  However, it's not all bad news - JOHN BUSCEMA & TOM PALMER take up the artistic duties on the good Captain, which can in no way be defined as a demotion. 

So why was the comic transformed into a b&w publication after only 23 issues?  It seems obvious that the weekly title wasn't selling as expected and savings had to be made.  Losing the colour content would've reduced overheads considerably, so it's likely that's why the decision was made by the head honchos at MARVEL.  Sadly, it didn't help, as the mag only lasted for another 16 issues - which we'll start taking a look at in the very next post in this series.  Don't forget to be here or you'll miss all the fun!

Saturday 30 May 2015


Have you ever been so 'lost in the moment' that you've been completely oblivious to what was happening around you?  I suppose it may've happened more than once in my own life, but I can only recall the one specific instance which I'm now about to relate to you.

The stage and a glimpse of the classroom behind it

Return with me now to the mid-1960s, to behind the heavy stage curtains of my primary school's gym and dinner hall.  This was, in effect, a classroom, in which I remember being instructed in arithmetic, though other subjects were also taught.

The desks faced the wall, which once had a blackboard.
The lectern would've been out on the stage in my day

Many years later, long after I'd left school altogether, the large windows which allowed me to gaze out at the sky, lost in daydreams, were covered over.  However, in my time, pupils could still watch the chalk dust floating in the rays of the sun which streamed through the panes on sunny summer afternoons and caught us in their spell.

The wall on the right once had more windows, which were blocked
off or removed sometime in the 1990s or early 2000s

On this particular day, I was reading RIP VAN WINKLE by WASHINGTON IRVING, though it may have been a simplified, abridged version designed for younger readers of the age I then was.  (Then again, it may not.)  I remember finishing the tale, raising my head from the book - and being amazed to find the classroom empty.  Vacant desks met my bewildered stare to the front and sides of me, but when I turned around, there were my classmates and teacher waiting at the door to see how long it would take me to realize that the bell had gone and the lesson was over.
This is a photo from around '86 or '88 of part of the exterior of the
stage classroom.  As you can see, it had a lot of big windows

I gaped at them in embarrassed silence, then gathered my stuff together and joined them, filing out to another class or playtime break.  I was amazed that my attention could be engaged to the extent of being unaware of what was going on around me, and that's probably why I've never forgotten the occasion.  I sometimes wonder if I'd dimly heard the bell, but then become so engrossed at that point so as to immediately forget it, or it had completely failed to register on my consciousness.  Who can say?

The wider of the two doors is the one into and out of the room.  The teacher was standing
at the door, with the pupils to the right of it, watching me with much amusement

Anyway, that little reminiscence permits me the opportunity of presenting some nice art by ARTHUR RACKHAM, and a few photos of my old school (which is now demolished), the better to indulge my wallowing in nostalgia.  It also prompts me to ask the question of whether you've ever become so 'wrapped up' in a book or comic as to forget everything and everyone around you? If so, spill the beans!  We're all dying to know the details.

Incidentally, I've just re-read the story and much enjoyed it.  You could do worse than give it a read yourself, so rush out and buy a copy at the earliest opportunity.


Three for the price of one today, chaps.  Meet
the FEMBOTS!  (I'm sure you'd like to.)

Friday 29 May 2015


Images copyright relevant owner

From 1970 to '93, there were 24 WHIZZER & CHIPS Annuals issued, one for each coming year.  That means that if you got that first book when you were a kid, by the time the last one was published, there was a good chance that you were a parent with children of your own.  The thought that a series of Annuals can span the period of childhood to adulthood is one that boggles my mind, because when you see them together on a bookshelf (not that, in this instance, I have all of them), it's difficult to appreciate the length of time they represent.

Anyway, enjoy seeing the last six Annual covers from a weekly comic that lasted from 1969 to 1990.  Paradoxically, that 21 years seems far longer than it was, as well as no time at all at the exact same moment.  Don't ask me how that's possible, it just is.

BONUS: In 2014, over 20 years after the last Annual appeared, EGMONT released a 'best of' book, featuring various selections of strips from previous Annuals between '71 & '85.  The very first cover was utilised for this publication, thus bringing things nicely full circle.  Will there be another one this year?  Only time will tell.


Today's babe is LEE MERIWETHER.
Now isn't she the cat's pyjamas!

Thursday 28 May 2015


Copyright relevant owner

Presenting the second STAR TREK tale from the TV21 Annual for 1973, the last in the series.  If that title wasn't used for an episode of the TV programme, then it should've been - it's almost too clever for a book for mere kids.  JIM BAIKIE illustrated both ST stories in the book, and does a very nice job indeed.  I have the feeling I may have lettered some of his later work in 2000 A.D., but I wouldn't swear to it in court without checking up on it first.

Anyway, we're about to beam down and examine this strip up close, so set phasers on 'stun' - you never know what we might encounter.

Wednesday 27 May 2015


Copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

I'm not sure what I was doing buying nursery comics at the age of 13, but I certainly bought the first three issues of LITTLE STAR when the weekly title hit newsagents' counters back in 1972.  I may even have got more than that, but I simply can't remember.  It was probably just the collector's mentality in me that compelled my purchase of the first issue at least, as I could seldom resist the allure of a new comic.

Anyway, I recently had the chance to obtain the first 25 issues, plus #36, for an absolute song.  In fact, the postage cost more than the comics, so they were quite a steal.  I haven't had much chance to go through them yet, but any comic with artwork by TOM KERR and BILL RITCHIE can't be all that bad.

Number 36 is a puzzler, because I'm sure I wasn't still buying the comic that far into the run - but the free gift of a paintbox seems familiar, so either I bought the issue specifically for the gift, or another periodical also gave away a paintbox at some time or other.  As I associate the gift with my previous house, and not the one I moved to in June of that year (#36 came out in September), the latter scenario is not altogether impossible.

(Unless, of course, I acquired the issue in the newsagent's shop across from my old home - I still attended school in the area - and the neighbourhood associations have coloured my memory.)

Anyway, I don't imagine there'll be much interest amongst you Criv-ites (and Criv-kids) in such a periodical, but it makes a nice change of pace I think, and there's a slim chance that some younger members may recall it from their youth.  Let me know if you'd like to see some of the contents in a future post.

Tuesday 26 May 2015


I've finally managed to get my TV CENTURY 21 Specials down from the loft, so I've snapped a piccie of all six of them to make you all jealous.  Back in the 1960s, I only bought the first two (maybe three) of them - don't recall even seeing the remaining three when they originally went on sale.  Got all six of them now though, and had 'em for a good while.

Did you have any of these comics?  Feel free to share your reminiscences of them in the comments section.  Incidentally, the first one shown wasn't the first published, but rather the second.  However, it's my favourite.  The second one shown is actually the third, so you'll have to mentally rearrange them.  (The bottom three are in their sequential order though.)

Monday 25 May 2015


Here's lovely LESLEY ANN WARREN to get
your pulses racing and make you think about trading
in the wife for a newer model with far less mileage on
the clock.  (Oh, I am awful - but I like me.)


Copyright relevant owner

By the time the TV21 Annual for 1973 hit the shops, it was a far different yearly publication than it had once been.  For a start, gone were all the GERRY ANDERSON related stories and in their place were strips typical of just about any other book for boys.  The one exception to blandness was STAR TREK, which maintained the outer space theme once represented by FIREBALL XL5, ZERO X, and even, to some degree, THUNDERBIRDS.  (The previous two Annuals had also lacked any 'CENTURY 21' content.)
So, let's take a look at the first of two ST strips which appeared in the last-ever Annual of what had, for a time, been the best-selling children's publication to grace the counters of Britain's newsagents.  I'll present the second titanic tale soon, so keep your palpitatin' peepers peeled for those pulse-pounding pages.

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