Monday 29 February 2016


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

If American comics still operate the same way today as they've always done, the June cover-dated monthly mags will be coming out in March.  That said, there was usually a delay in the United Kingdom, before the advent of specialist comicbook shops speeded things up for the British consumer.  Forty years ago, I'm not quite sure when we'd have had access to mags bearing the month of June on them, but one thing I do know is that the bar-code box made its first comicbook appearance on all mags bearing that date.

Forty years!  I can hardly believe it, mainly because that little box still seems like a relatively recent interloper on the covers of my favourite comics.  Can it really be the case that it's now existed for the majority of my comics-buying life?  Tell me it isn't so.  You'd think that after all this time I'd be used to it, but no - it still leaps out at me like a spot at the end of someone's nose, demanding my undivided attention and preventing me from being able to properly focus on the actual cover art itself.  "Out, damn'd spot!  Out, I say!"

Forty years, eh?  I don't even feel like I'm old enough (most of the time) to have forty years behind me.  Yet for some strange reason, I find myself fervently hoping that I've got at least that length of time ahead of me.  If it passes half as fast as the previous forty, my life will be over before I even know it, a thought that affords me no pleasure.  Anyway, I'll try and be gracious and wish that little bar-code box a Happy 40th Birthday.  And from now on I'll try not to stare.  No point in making it self-conscious.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

It's surprising just how many people still think that SPIDER-MAN was thrown into AMAZING FANTASY #15 because it was the last issue, just so that STAN LEE could get the character out of his system while assuaging MARVEL publisher MARTIN GOODMAN's reservations about the teenage hero by the fact that, hey, it was the mag's last ish, so what did it matter?

As you can see from the above lower cover caption box (and if that's not a contradiction-in-terms, I don't know what is), there was "An important message to you, from the editor - - about the new Amazing!"  And just what exactly was this message?  Read it below.  (Click to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.)

So there you go - AF #15 was never intended to be the last issue.  It was meant to be the first in a new direction for the mag, so clearly the decision to cancel it was made after it had been prepared for (or sent) to the printers, and maybe even after it had gone on sale.  (See the final caption below for further proof.)  When later recounting Spidey's debut, Stan remembered that it had appeared in the final ish of AF, joined two and two together - and came up with five.  Which is not to suggest that he set out to deceive, only that much of his 'reminiscence' belonged more properly to what he believed had most likely happened than what actually did.

Regular readers will be aware that I've covered this subject before, but this time I decided to include the actual pages to show that I ain't just whistlin' Dixie.  So, yeah, AF #15 was the last ish, but that's not why Spider-Man appeared in it.  Excelsior!

Sunday 28 February 2016


"Just how do you get into that dress?" I asked the lovely JORDAN
CARVER.  "Well, buying me a drink would be a good start!" she said,
with a mischievous glint in her eye.  Now that's my kinda woman.

Saturday 27 February 2016


As an occasional writer of poetry, I can tell you that only a very small proportion of them were about subjects I set out to write.  Although I'd sometimes decide on a poem's theme beforehand, the majority of my writings resulted from a line popping into my head from nowhere, then following its own course with not much direction or assistance from me.  My main contribution was to juggle some rhymes and then polish the finished poem into a composition that seemed to be the result of someone who'd had something specific to say and said it.

Thing is, someone will then ask what your inspiration or motivation was, and you find yourself relaying a perfectly convincing account of why you wrote what you did.  A poem about a fear of the dark?  Well, that was because you recognized that such a fear was common to a lot of people and you wanted to make a statement about it, and... blah, blah, blah!  It's only much later (if at all) that you may recall it was a random line that jumped into your head, and that you merely followed in its wake.  Honest, take my word for it - however ridiculous that may sound, that's often simply the way it is.

There's no conscious desire to deceive anyone over the origins of what you've written, but in being asked what your motivation was, your mind is misdirected into thinking that you had one, and it automatically produces a rationalization that seems entirely likely and reasonable.  If it isn't what actually happened, it should've been.  You even believe it yourself as you relate the creative genesis of your poem or story to your inquisitive enquirer.  You simply accept it as fact and it may never occur to you to question or doubt it.  Then, whenever you're asked about it in future, your mind goes into automatic mode and you trot out the same old story.

Which brings me to STAN LEE.  Where did he get the idea for SPIDER-MAN?  Did JACK KIRBY give him it, did he recall the '30s pulp hero The SPIDER, or was he inspired by watching an arachnid crawl up a wall and then decide to base a comic strip on a character with spider powers?  I don't think even Stan remembers for sure.  I think it's not unlikely that, when asked years later what had prompted the idea, his memory searched itself for a logical explanation and produced one which seemed the most probable.  And you know what?  It may even be the true one, with a little creative embellishment to make it more interesting.

I don't believe Stan has ever consciously lied in an attempt to steal credit for other folk's creations.  I think that he genuinely believes his accounts of the origins of MARVEL COMICS and, like I say, they may well be true.  If his version of events has occasionally strayed from historical fact, it's likely due only to the fickleness of memory and its ready capacity to construct order and reason for that which is often the result of sudden, random impulse and not the deliberate and controlled act of conscious creative endeavour. 

What think the rest of you?        


Images copyright DC COMICS

Here's a new title I think you'll like, Criv-ites.  DARK KNIGHT III - The MASTER RACE, by - well, you can see the talent listed on the covers of the first three issues on show here.  Each ish contains a separate mini-comic, connected to the main tale, but best read after it.  I don't know which version of the DC Universe this story takes place in (I haven't been buying DC titles for quite a few years now), but it's shaping up into an intriguing and compelling epic.  Money to spend?  Then give this titanic title a try-out, Criv-ite comic chums!


This is a page I drew a few years ago, based on the splash page of AMAZING FANTASY #15.  PETER PORKER is based on an actual person in Glasgow who lives up to his comic counterpart's name.  I'll have to try and finish this strip one day - there's a story that's worth the telling.  In the meantime, have a chuckle or two at this parody page.

Friday 26 February 2016


The only thing I know about JORDAN
CARVER is that she's stunning - but that's
more than enough for superficial me.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I've just returned from the mid-'70s after accomplishing something I should've done forty years ago.  I finally read all 31 issues of HOWARD The DUCK's monthly full-colour comicbook, something I never managed to do at the time.  You see, back then, I purchased the first five issues (which I still have), and for some reason, never got the rest.  In the late '80s or early '90s, I acquired #s 6-12 from a back issue dealer, but I can't recall whether I actually ever read them or not.  Well, I have now!

When I obtained the two volume set of The COMPLETE COLLECTION of the famous fowl's '70s adventures, I sat down and read them all in their entirety, several issues at a time.  There's something so quintessentially '70s about these stories, and so strongly do I associate Howard with that particular era, that it was almost as if I'd returned to the period to complete a task I'd begun back then.  It was like long-gone neighbours still inhabited their former homes, long-vanished shops still thrived, and the long-shrivelled sense of optimism and eternity still inhabited my once-youthful soul.  I felt as if I was only 16 or 17 again.

That feeling all-too-quickly passed when I finished the last story and reluctantly returned to the here-and-now.  The illusion was nice while it lasted, but reality always stalks such brief excursions into the past, waiting to reclaim you for its own once again.  However, don't let that deter you.  If you'd like to feel young and vital once more, I suggest you revisit a comicbook series that you associate with a dearly missed time in your life and plunge straight in.  The water's lovely, so make the most of it before it evaporates and you find yourself beached on the dry sands of the present.  It's a bitter-sweet experience to be sure, but no less worth it for all that.  What more can I say?  See you in yesterday.

Thursday 25 February 2016


Images copyright DC COMICS

If you're a JACK KIRBY fan (and who isn't?), you're sure to enjoy these two handsome volumes in DC COMICS' OMNIBUS series, spanning Jack's DC career from the 1940s right up to his last comicbook work in the '80s.  It has to be conceded that some of  his later work wasn't quite in the same league as when he was firing on all cylinders, but anything by 'King' Kirby is always worth a look.

The first volume came out in 2011 and the second in 2013, but both editions should still be available in your local comicbook shop or most relatively decent bookstores with a graphic novels section.  I acquired them only yesterday, but I like them so much I thought I'd give all you faithful Criv-ites the heads-up so's you can add them to your own collections if you haven't yet done so.

Read the pertinent details on the back covers by clicking on them to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.


Rich, beautiful, female - and rich.  (Did I mention that she's rich?)
PARIS HILTON sure is a catch!  (She's rich you know.)  I've always quite
 fancied spending some time in Paris - but I don't think she's up for it.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS 

If you're a smart cookie, you rushed out and bought Volume
TION when I recommended it to you all a little while back.  So it stands
to reason you'll want to add Volume Two to that space beside it up on the
bookshelf.  Then you'll have every issue of Howard's full-colour monthly
comicbook from the mid-'70s, as well as all sorts of other bonuses.  But
don't take my word for it - read the spiel on the back cover, then get
'round to the nearest comicbook store and buy yourself a copy
as soon as you can.  You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday 24 February 2016



With CONAN The BARBARIAN #1, British comics artist  BARRY SMITH had at last begun to divest his art style of the KIRBY influence and was finally forging ahead with a look more his own - and thank goodness for that!  As a mere Kirby-clone he was second-rate, but as himself he was simply first class.


(Oh dear, I've gone and done it again!  I've already featured this cover in a previous post in this series.  Never mind, it's worth seeing once more, but I need to get myself some memory tablets.)

Tuesday 23 February 2016


Crikey!  I'm all a-quiver at the sight of the delectable
SUZANNE DANIELLE!  If you're not similarly affected
then your name's obviously Graham Norton!


Characters copyright relevant owners

I obtained this battered little book from eBay a few years ago, and, like most collectors, I prefer my books to be inscription-free.  Lately however, I've started to find inscriptions fascinating, as they prompt me to wonder about the people mentioned in them.  For example, just who was Bryan, is he yet alive, was he still the apple of his daddy's eye as as an adult as he was as a child?  Did he give the book away, lose it, was it stolen - or did his mother donate it to a jumble sale when teenage Bryan was out at school one day?  Did he even give it a second thought, miss it, or was it he himself who put it on sale on eBay, quite indifferent to the token of his father's love for him that he was discarding?

Do you ever wonder about the people who originally owned the second-hand books you've picked up in charity shops, jumble sales, or eBay?  What's the most touching inscription you can recall, and do you ever wish that you could have an inscribed book you received as a child from a now-deceased friend or relative, but which you later gave or threw away, back again?  Do tell.


Monday 22 February 2016


As regular readers will likely already know, I'm a sucker for just about any form of YOGI BEAR merchandise.  Why?  Because the bold bruin was a prominent feature of my early childhood and reminds me of those far-flung days.  Just received these 'dabitties' from the '60s, and though I can no longer recall if I ever actually had them when I was a kid, I'm glad to have them now!

"But why are they called 'dabitties'?" some of you may be wondering.  Because you'd lick (or wet with a sponge) the back of your hand, place a cut-out transfer onto it, then dab on it 'til it had dried and the image had been 'transferred'.  (I'm sure you divined the 'transfer' part for yourselves.)  I don't know whether this was just a Scottish term or it was used across Britain - what were they called in your neck of the woods?

Now if anyone has a set of DALEK dabitties from the 1960s that they want to sell, I'd be a very happy man!

Sunday 21 February 2016



Something I noticed only recently is that a panel from the very
first appearance of The CLOAK (POW! #18, cover-dated May
13th 1967) was clearly based on the front cover of MAD #1 (cover-
dated October-November 1952).  Or could it be no more than mere
coincidence?  Doubt it, but as it took me nigh on 50 years to spot
it, I don't suppose I'll be getting a BLUE PETER badge for my
keen observational skills anytime soon.



"Get yer 'cote' luv - you've pulled!"


Art by Walter Simonson.  Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

What a difference colour makes.  Not convinced?  Take a look at these
basic, flat-coloured examples of JACK KIRBY & VINCE COLLETTA
THOR stories from the TALES Of ASGARD 1984 Special (Vol. 2, No.1).
Alongside are the newly coloured, multi-hued MATT MILLA pages from the
hard-cover edition of the same tales.  (First available as a 6-part mini-series.)
The pages are given a whole new dimension, enabling them to go toe-to-toe
with many contemporary offerings available in comics shops today.

Not wishing to labour the comparison, but the difference is similar
to that of an old POPEYE or BETTY BOOP cartoon compared to the
almost 3D effect of the animation in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?
Last year, I bought the computer-coloured reprint of MARVEL COMICS
#1 and the effect was the same.  The pages seem to have become imbued
with a vitality lacking in their original printing and don't appear quite as
dated in contrast to more modern presentations.

A while ago, the U.K. mag AVENGERS UNITED reprinted the Tales of
Asgard series in its original form, and it was generally met with an indifferent,
sometimes even hostile reaction.  It seems that kids of today have been spoiled
by the photo-realistic, more complex colour-art in contemporary stories, and
couldn't quite take to the four-coloured classics of yesterday.  I'm pretty sure
that, had MARVEL/PANINI been able to present the Matt Milla versions
(which hadn't yet been done), the response would've been more positive.

I think it can only be a matter of time before Marvel start colouring all
their stories from yesteryear in this same fashion and then re-presenting
them as 'definitive versions'  in deluxe, hardcovered volumes.  As I said, it
certainly gives them a whole new dimension and might help them to appeal
to younger readers not yet steeped in the company's glorious history who
seem to have an aversion to older material.  (Hard as it is to believe.)

ISBN # 9780-7851-3921-8

The Complete TALES Of ASGARD is available now from all good
comic shops (and has been for some time).  And here, for completists,
is the cover to the original 1968 TOA Special.  (Vol. 1, No. 1.)

Art by Jack Kirby & Frank Giacoia


Pencils by Jack Kirby

Following on from the previous post, here are a few more examples
of the difference that colour (or, to be more precise, choice of colour)
can make to a printed page.  The first example, above, is how the cover
of JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #83 would have looked (more or less)
back in 1962.  Compare it against the much brighter, recoloured version
from the first printing of MARVEL MASTERWORKS Vol. 181991/
'92.  (Note:  A superior version, more faithful to the original, appears
in the recent softcover edition of THOR MASTERWORKS.)

Inks by Joe Sinnott

Now compare both of them to TOM CHU's version (below), repro-
duced in the TALES Of ASGARD hardcover volume, which also re-
prints J.I.M. #83's origin.  (Unfortunately, despite the superb colour-
ing, the art has been retouched in places, having been restored from the
reprint in THOR #158.  For a more faithful reprint of this classic story,
see the softcover MASTERWORKS edition, referred to above.)

Colours by Tom Chu

Saturday 20 February 2016


Is this guy seriously deluded or what?  Giving me a dose of my own medicine?  What a loser!  It gives me immense satisfaction to know that, without even trying, I can get under the skin of some frustrated inadequate to such an extent that he feels compelled to vent his frustration in such an impotent way.  He's obsessed with me to such a degree that he's glued to my blog every day, according every post a level of attention that surely marks him out as someone with too much time on his hands.  Obviously doesn't have a girlfriend or wife (unless she's inflatable) because he's clearly got no balls - as shown by the fact he hides his real identity behind mine.  Or perhaps he wants to be me, hence him using my name and face in the performance of his 'tribute act'?

So let's look at the 'truth', shall we?  I don't impersonate people, I don't set up fake accounts with the intention of maliciously maligning anyone, I don't spread lies about folk, and I'm not and never have been a 'troll'.  Yet this sad d*ck does all of that and believes he's got the moral highground?  If anyone's laughing, it's me - my very existence is the bane of his life and he's so tormented he feels compelled to express his rage, even if it's only in this childish, pathetic and laughable way.  (He's clearly of low intellect.)  I've become his life's focus and he's on a mission to make people hate me.  As if anyone gives a sh*t!  I never knew I was so important.  Hey, I've got my very own 'mini-me', an obsessed stalker - "Made it, Ma!  Top of the world!"

Feel free to join me in laughing at the sad bell-end.


Just seen his latest tweets - says I 'angrily' say I'm not a 'troll'.  I'm not dealing with 'Brain of Britain' here, am I?  I laughingly said I'm not a troll - 'cos I'm not the one impersonating somebody and telling lies about them, am I?  What a tit!  Thanks for all the extra hits, dobber!


His latest tweet is extremely revealing.  Says he's never used his real name online or the same alias twice.  If it's a lie, he's a liar, and if it's the truth, he's admitted to being a 'troll'!  Wotta dobber!  Sounds like someone desperately trying to cover his tracks.  The boy's a joke. 


ANDY PANDY copyright relevant owner.  Art by PHIL GASCOINE

Hard though it may be to believe, ANDY PANDY and his puppet pals first appeared on TV in June or July of 1950, in the FOR The CHILDREN slot.  Astonishingly, the episodes were first broadcast live, until it was realized that filming them meant they could be conveniently repeated.  26 episodes were recorded in 1952 and repeated continuously up until 1970, whereupon 13 new episodes were filmed.

In 1953, the WATCH With MOTHER name was adopted and Andy alternated with The FLOWER POT MEN ('52) and RAG, TAG And BOBTAIL ('53).  PICTURE BOOK and The WOODENTOPS (both 1955) were later added and the 15 minute, 1.30 p.m. slot expanded from three to five times a week, with other programmes added to the mix over the years.  (The Watch With Mother name was finally dropped in 1975 on the grounds that it sounded dated.)

Surprised as I was to learn that new Andy shows were made in 1970, I was even more amazed to discover that Annuals (published by PURNELL) were issued every year from at least the '60s right into the early '80s.  Who knew Andy was so popular with the Annual-buying public?  Anyway, I only own one, dated internally from 1974, so here's two-pages to show you what you've been missing.  (He also had a strip in the weekly ROBIN nursery comic.)

Anyone got a full set?  (Anyone brave enough to admit to it?)

And here's an extra bonus - the opening and closing credits.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Hah!  Thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?  No chance, Charlie, the old brain-box may not be as sharp as it once was, but I always get around to things eventually.  So here's the latest offering in our sizzlin' TALES Of SUSPENSE cover gallery, so that you cavortin' Criv-ites can track the early issues of IRON MAN & CAPTAIN AMERICA's MARVEL-lous adventures in the '60s.

There!  Who said intros have to be long-winded?

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