Saturday, 31 October 2015


This page is from the January 6th 1968 issue of POW! (#51),
rather than a '67 October one, but none of that month's episodes had
anything to do with Hallowe'en, whereas this story better suits the
time of year.  Once again brilliantly illustrated by the mighty KEN
REID, it nicely rounds off our celebration of All Hallows' Eve.



It's Hallowe'en tonight and the mood  hangs heavy in the air, so that's all the excuse I need to re-post this particular piece.  Back On October 25th, 1969, the third issue of WHIZZER & CHIPS went on sale, with a GUY FAWKES mask as a free gift.  It looks like the artwork of TOM KERR to me, but regardless, I remember rushing over to the newsagent's across the road from my house to buy it, the minute the shop opened in the early hours of that Autumn morning a whopping 46 years ago.  (The comic bears the date of November 1st, but British comics were traditionally dated up to a week ahead to give them a longer shelf-life.)

Handy how both Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes Night were covered by this issue coming out in advance of the two occasions. I wonder if the mask was used by 'guisers' on October 31st, and then 'recycled' for use on their 'guys' on November 5th?  If so, quite a few of them probably perished on top of a bonfire in parks and gardens the length and breadth of the U.K.  It's a wonder any survived.

As this was the last Hallowe'en of my primary school days, it was most likely the very last time I went out 'guising' (or 'trick or treating' as they call it now), but I didn't wear this mask and have no solid recollection of what I actually dressed up as that particular year.  However, one glance at the above cardboard mask brings back the sights, sounds and scents of that Autumn evening in my old neighbourhood, so very long ago.

Makes me wish that I was ten years old again.  Did anyone else have this W&C mask?  What are your memories of this day in 1969?  (Or any childhood Hallowe'en night if you don't go back that far.)  Spill all in the comments section.



Seeing as how it's Hallowe'en, I thought I'd re-publish this two-year old post of a true tale to put you in the mood.  Are you alone?  Are you sure you're alone? Perhaps you'd better check first before we proceed.  Ready?  Good, then I'll begin.


Not long after my family had moved into our new house back in 1972, a curious thing happened. My brother came downstairs into the living-room one night and claimed he had just seen an elderly lady in white on the stairway outside his room.  My parents pooh-poohed the notion, but, shortly after, my bed was moved from my front room on the grounds that it was damp (the room, not the bed) into my brother's room, which we then shared for a few months (again, the room, not the bed).  I suspect it was more to do with my brother being scared to be alone than it was with the risk of me catching pneumonia, but I grant that it could've been a combination of both.

Some indeterminate time afterwards (a year or two perhaps), my brother again came into the living-room with a concerned look on his face and called us upstairs, saying that someone was walking around in the attic.  We all trooped up to my brother's room and, sure enough, there was a sound of creaking boards - as if someone was walking from one end of the attic and back again.  My father got out the stepladder and tentatively poked the top of his head a few inches into the hatch opening, but he was in no mad rush (nor were we) to more thoroughly explore the vast confines of its black interiors, so we put the noise down to some not entirely convincing 'rational' explanation and retired downstairs again.  

Some years later, we moved house, and four years after that, we moved back again - with the exception of my brother, who had acquired his own flat in the meantime. Now, I don't believe in ghosts, but the couple with whom we exchanged houses in order to return to our former abode, told me that one night while lying in bed, a ghostly apparition had drifted through the wall from my brother's old room into theirs, then floated right over their bed and melted through the window on the other side.  They were a young couple and a bit flaky, so I put their 'experience' down to having partaken of a combination of too much alcohol and weed.

But here's where it gets strange (as you doubtless anticipated).  A few years after having moved back, I was lying in my bed one night in the small hours when I suddenly became aware of a wizened old woman in white shuffling towards my bedside.  She stopped and stooped, lowering her crinkled face towards mine as if scrutinizing it intently.  For a moment I was paralysed, but then, with a growl, I sat bolt upright in bed to confront the ancient figure, who immediately retreated (still facing me) into the far corner of the room before fading into nothingness.

I sat stunned for a moment, not quite sure what had happened. Had I seen a ghost, the very one my brother had claimed to have seen so many years before?  Or had I only been dreaming and suddenly awoken - with the figure in my dream somehow still visible before me, like some swiftly-diminishing after-image?

Who can say for sure?  I still don't believe in ghosts, but that was certainly a moment which gave me pause for thought.  Anyone else got any similar experiences?  Feel free to share.


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

The cover said it all - CAPTAIN AMERICA LIVES AGAIN!
And he certainly did, in the pages of The AVENGERS #4.  True, a
stand-in had first appeared in STRANGE TALES #114 to see how
the comics buying public would respond to the return of the super-
soldier from World War II - which was obviously in a positive way,
as this time it was the real deal.  The shield-slinger was back!

Friday, 30 October 2015



From WHAM! #20, cover-dated October 31st 1964, comes FRANKIE STEIN, drawn by - yep, you guessed it - KEN REID.  Just think - over 50 years old and still miles ahead, art-wise, of a lot of the stuff that appears in the few surviving kids' comics of today.  We were spoiled back then, and no mistake!


Look who's back - the alluringly lovely LEE
MERIWETHER herself.   She was so pleased
to be our Babe the other day that she begged me
for a return appearance.  At least, she did in my 
fevered imagination, so that'll do for me.


From SCORCHER & SCORE mag, cover-dated August 19th
1972, comes a strip called HARRY HAMMERTOE...The SOCCER
SPOOK.  Drawn by the prolific and gigantically-gifted REG PARLETT,
who was another cartoonist who could show some of the 'young' team in
comics today how it should be done!  Every panel a joy - as was every
strip he drew in his long career!  More Harry Hammertoe soon.



From POW! #2 (ODHAMS), cover-dated January 28th 1967, comes a page of DARE-A-DAY DAVY, illustrated in the manic style of British comics cartoonist KEN REID.  Compared to Ken's highly-detailed artistry, many cartoonists of today are mere scribblers, who pale into insignificance measured against the giants of yesteryear - when Britain had an actual comics industry and not the faded, atrophied remnant that exists today.  And don't be fooled by those who say that comics are still a vibrant force to be reckoned with - that's merely wishful thinking on their part.


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

I recall having this comic when I was a kid and being amazed at how detailed the art was compared to JACK KIRBY's early FF work, which I'd read in the pages of WHAM! comic, a British weekly published back in the '60s.  Those reprints were in black and white, so seeing my favourite super group in colour was another eye-opener and added a whole new dimension to the amazing quartet's cataclysmic cosmic capers.  And though I didn't mind continued stories, it was good to read a complete tale in one issue.

Thursday, 29 October 2015


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

THOR The MIGHTY looks a little undernourished in this
cover, as he did in many of his early appearances, but it wasn't too
long before he was beefed-up and looked a bit more manly (despite
the long hair).  When this illo was used in The MIGHTY WORLD
Of MARVEL #20 to promote Thor's 'debut' in SPIDER-MAN
COMICS WEEKLY #1, it was retouched to make him look
bulkier and more impressive, as befitting his godly status.

The original is still a great cover 'though, eh?


Oops!  Just noticed that I posted this cover not long ago
as part of the 'Klassic Komic Kovers' series.  My ol' memory
must be failing me!  Never mind, at least it provides you with
a choice of my woeful waffle to read, depending on which of
  the two posts you happen upon.  Aren't I generous?! 


The weather isn't exactly merry at the moment, but here's
 a Babe who'll brighten your day - LEE MERIWETHER.


Images copyright their respective owners

Here's a wee something I picked up in a local comicbook store today.  (Better watch that, I'll get caught one day!  Joke.)  As you can see, it's a book called The GREATEST COMIC BOOK COVERS Of ALL TIME! - a slim volume, but with some nice covers within its pages.  It was difficult deciding which examples to show you, but in the end, I decided to go with a couple from the CHEESY CHEESECAKE section, so here they are.  Now if these don't convince you to seek out a copy of this COMIC BUYER'S GUIDE presentation, nothing will.

What would be your 20 greatest covers of all time?

Tuesday, 27 October 2015


Funny how certain things can trigger specific
memories.  Whenever I hear WAND'RIN' STAR
by LEE MARVIN, I think of the house I lived in at the
time, and the view from the top of the road of my primary
school, with the interior lights lit up against the darkness
of an Autumn or Winter morn.  This was because it was
often on the radio as I got ready for school  in the
mornings and was still in my head as I set off.

The movie was released in 1969 and the song
was Number One in the U.K. charts for three weeks
in March of 1970.  That means there were only around
three months to go before I left primary school for the last
time, but in my mind's eye, it seems a far longer period than
it actually was.  These days, when Autumn leaves are all a
swirl and I see a lit up building against a darkened sky, I
think of my former house and old school, and seem to
hear old gravel-voice's haunting 'song' as the
soundtrack to that particular memory.

So - works both ways then, eh?


Yeah, yeah, I know what you're going to say - the uncanny BORIS KARLOFF portrayed the monster (or creature, if you prefer), not its creator.  However, as Doctor FRANKENSTEIN was its 'dad', the monster can legitimately lay claim to the name,  too.   (Wanna argue with him?)


BRIGITTE BARDOT is a brave woman.
We're nearly into November and she's walking
about with hardly a stitch on.  (Not that I'm
complaining, mind - suits me just fine.)


A few years ago, this car was on sale on eBay, and I'm sure whoever now owns it won't mind me showing such an inspired idea.  Isn't it great?  If only it could travel underwater, it'd be perfect.  Del Boy, eat your heart out.


Actually, if it was a ROBIN RELIANT, it would have only three wheels, not four - I was fooled (easily done with me) by the colour.  Wonder what type of car it is?  I have seen a Reliant made up like this though.


Images copyright DC COMICS

And now, for your pleasurable perusal, the final six covers of writer/artist WALTER SIMONSON's ORION series by DC COMICS.  Walter had a long and successful run on THOR over at MARVEL, so it was only fitting that, having worked on an 'old' god, he should have a go on a 'new' one, even though, this time around, it was for only 25 issues.

Anyway, there's no point padding out this preamble any further when these cataclysmic covers are crying out for your attention, so I'll shut up now and let you get on with enjoying them.


UPDATE:  I've just read the entire run over the last few nights and quite enjoyed them.  I remembered the early ones, but not so many of the later issues and I wonder if that's because, having missed #14 for some reason, I perhaps bought the subsequent issues without reading them.  As I recently acquired the missing ish, that was no longer a problem, so I started at the beginning (as you would) and worked my way through to the end.  Issue #5 was a major disappointment, being mainly a wordless battle issue and, good as Simonson is, he's no JACK KIRBY when it comes to staging page-after-page of extended fight scenes in a clear, coherent, and effective manner. I had to look twice far too many times to work out exactly what was happening from panel to panel.

Another problem is that JOHN WORKMAN Jr.'s uniform, one-style-fits-all sound effects are quite intrusive, seemingly pasted at random over the artwork, rather than being sympathetic to the panel composition and complementing the action.  Unfortunately, they look as if they're sitting above the art, rather than being part of it.  A bit more variety in style and shape would've worked wonders.

All in all though, a good read.  If there's a collected edition, it'd be worth adding to your bookshelf.

Monday, 26 October 2015


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Believe it or not, we're now at the halfway mark of MARVEL U.K.'s 1975/'76 weekly periodical The SUPER-HEROES cover gallery - only another 25 issues to go and then another brief slice of the sizzlin' '70s will be over.  Strange how something which occupied such a short period of my youth seems, in memory, to have been around for far longer than it actually was, eh?

One of the great things I enjoyed about this mag was seeing reprints of the early X-MEN stories, as it reminded me of one of my favourite comics of the 1960s, FANTASTIC, where I'd first read them.  That had been a mere eight years or so before, a period which, today, seems to pass faster than a fart from The FLASH (or perhaps I should say QUICKSILVER in this instance), but back then it was practically half my life away.

Anyway, I know that you don't drop in to read anything I have to say, so let's get to the good stuff.  Did you buy this mag at the time?  If so, share your nostalgic reminiscences about it in the captivating comments section.  Go on, your fellow Criv-ites are in urgent need of something interesting to read.

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