Saturday 31 December 2016


May 2017 be all plain sailing, and may you float through life
on a calm blue sea.  See you in the New Year, Criv-ite chums!


Today's Babe, fellas, is LINDA THORSON -
doing the worst VAL DOONICAN impression
I've ever seen.  Love the boots though.

Friday 30 December 2016


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

Okay, peeps, here's another couple of pages in our last post of
the 1978 Christmas BEANO issue.  Hopefully you've enjoyed the
half dozen strips featured in this short series, and maybe I'll show
some more next year.  Just wait until it comes though, don't go
wishing your life away.  I now declare these pages - open!


Two Babes for the price of one today,
Crivs.  Voluptuous VALERIE & magnificent
MARGARET both asking me (off-pic, lying
in my 'scratcher') if they can do anything for me.
Posing there in their scanties?  You bet there's
something they can do!  "Bring me cuppa
tea and a biccie, luvs - I'm parched!"


Copyright BBC BOOKS

No, not the '70s Dr. WHO TV serial storyline of that name, but the three FREDERICK MULLER books published back in the '60s.  BBC BOOKS have republished them with their original dustjackets, and very nice they look too, sitting on my bookshelf together.  If you're a Dr. Who fan, you'll want to have this trilogy of handsome volumes in your collection, so why not take a trip along to your local bookshop and buy them?

Go on, revisit The Doctor's past today!


Curiously, the original publisher, Frederick Muller, is named as Frederik Muller in these volumes.  Perhaps someone at 'BBC Books' was thinking of the bibliographer, book seller, and print collector who was born in 1817 and died in 1881, even though previous paperback editions had the 'correct' spelling.

Thursday 29 December 2016


DOLORES DONLON is fearless.
We're in the middle of winter, yet she's
prancing around with an open cardigan
and risking catching a bad cold.  Should
she need someone to rub VICKS on
 her, er... chest, then I'm her man.


From SMASH! Incorporating FANTASTIC #158, December 28th 1968

Still in the spirit of the season, here's the Christmas episode of The NERVS from 1968 by KEN REID.  So when was the last time you you saw such a well-illustrated strip in a modern comic?  H'mm, you're having to think about that, aren't you?

Wednesday 28 December 2016


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

As far as I can remember, no British MARVEL mag of the '70s and '80s followed the U.K. tradition of having snow on the cover masthead before THOR & The X-MEN #37 was published, so this one's a collecter's item on that basis alone.  And having ICEMAN's head in the corner was another n-ice touch for a winter issue, don'tcha think?

(If I'm mistaken and there was a U.K. Marvel mag prior to this one with snow on the masthead, then let me know, frantic ones!)


Seriously sexy JENNIFER BEALS
makes her Crivens debut today, readers,
and all I can say is - "I'm in luuurve!"


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

It's still within the Festive period, so here's the cover of the Christmas issue of one of the all-time great comics of yesteryear - FANTASTIC!  It was just over halfway through its short lifespan at this point, but readers weren't aware of that at the time.  In fact, it's unlikely that publishers ODHAMS PRESS knew either.

And look at the pic below: MARVEL, DC, and Odhams characters all on the one page.  Such a thing probably couldn't happen today, so savour this classic moment from 1967.

Image copyright MARVEL COMICS, DC COMICS, & relevant owner


It was 1972 or '73, getting on towards Christmas.  I'd just acquired two different Santa 'cake toppers' from a shop called W. & R. HOLMES, which was one of the absolute best shops in my local town centre.  One of the Santas was on skis and was identical to one once given to me by a neighbour (ROBERT BAIRD) two or three years before when I lived in a different house in another area.

The second Santa was smaller and, unlike the other, was more of a 'cartoon'-type figure.  I had them both for a relatively short time before they vanished into the limbo that inevitably claims most items from our youth.  In 1977, a mere 4 or 5 years later, but seeming like a lifetime (after all, I'd gone from schoolboy to working man in that time), I obtained a replacement for that second Santa in a local shop (R. S. McCOLL's) across from where I worked.

When I was in Portsmouth in 1978 to be best man at a then-friend's wedding, I saw the same Santa in a newsagent's and bought it for my pal.  Why?  Because he'd been with me when I got the two Santas from W. & R. Holmes on that Saturday morning back in the early 1970s so it somehow seemed fitting (even though he probably didn't remember it).  Whether he kept it or not I have no idea, but I still have my 1977 replacement and it's been part of the Christmas decorations every year since then.  (That's 40 Christmases in case you're counting.)

So, in yet another self-indulgent fit of sentimental reminiscing, I decided to give you the backstory just so I'd have an excuse to show a photograph of that little Santa.  As you'll have guessed by now, that's him at the top of this post.  It takes me right back to that crisp Saturday morning in the early 1970s just looking at him.  Long may it be so.

Have you got an old Christmas decoration that you'd never part with?  Go on - tell us all about it.  


I think all cars should be fitted with KELLY
BROOK-shaped airbags.  Then crashing your car
wouldn't be quite as awful as you'd expect.


Remember when houses once had a floor-to-ceiling cupboard in the kitchen that served as a larder?  The kitchen of the house in which I now live used to have one, but it was removed when the property was refurbished back in the mid-1980s, when my family and myself were living somewhere else.  When we returned over four years later, the larder was gone.  Y'know what?  I miss it - it somehow gave the kitchen character.

In this larder used to be a tin, on the lid of which was a picture of a little boy sitting on a raft* in the middle of a river.  Beside the boy was a dog - a Scottie, I think.  The lad may've been HUCKLEBERRY FINN or TOM SAWYER, but he was definitely in that mould.  I wish I could find a replacement for that tin, as even just thinking about it returns me to a long-vanished era.

This tin (a biscuit tin) used to reside in a drawer in the kitchen of my previous house, and also, I'm sure, the kitchens of the two homes before that.  Then, I merely took it for granted, but in this house, it acquired the status of a link to my childhood, which is sort of what happens to most items that lay around for any length of time.  At first, they're just there and we're only dimly aware of them, but eventually, we somehow come to notice them more and grow to cherish them.

At least, that's how it is with me.  Like a lot of things, the tin eventually disappeared, and I have no idea how long it was after it's disposal before I first noticed its absence. However, the tin is not the central point of this post; no, it's a little chalk 'snowman' that, after a few years as a Christmas decoration, was consigned to the tin when he eventually became a little the worse-for-wear.  That was the old tin's purpose you see - to store various items 'til they were required again (if ever).

Close to 30 years ago, I saw the snowman's twin in JOHN MENZIES, amongst an array of 'cake-toppers' on a shelf, and immediately snapped him up.  Like the tin, I can no longer recall (if I ever even knew) when the original vanished, but it may have been around the same time as the tin, which could've been the mid-to-late '70s.  So whenever I look at that snowman today, I'm reminded of past Christmases in four houses, as well as the tin which I'd dearly like to own again.

If you happen to have one of these tins, get in touch if you'd consider selling it.  That's the snowman at the top of the post, although, as he's got a flesh-coloured face, maybe he's meant to be an Eskimo kid in a snowsuit for all I know.  Anyway, I just felt like a bit of shameless reminiscing, so hopefully you'll forgive my self-indulgence.  Is there anything you miss from your youth that you'd like to own again?  (Aside from your youth, obviously.)  Tell your fellow Criv-ites.


(*Update:  And below is a picture of the tin.  As you can see, it's not a raft - it's a washtub, but I was right about the rest.  And thanks to eBay, I now own four of them in two different sizes.)

Tuesday 27 December 2016


Just returned from the shops to learn that actress CARRIE FISHER has died.  Saw her on a couple of chat shows not that long ago, and it's hard to believe that she's now gone.  To paraphrase a well-known saying:  "May she be with the Source."


Sadly, only a day or two after Carrie passed away, her mother, actress DEBBIE REYNOLDS, has also died.  Let's hope we can get into 2017 without losing any other celebrities, eh?  Such a shame.



A few doors along from me used to live a woman whose name (for the purpose of this tale) was Mrs. SMITH.  Mrs. Smith and her three daughters were living there when my family moved into the area in 1972 and had presumably lived there for a good number of years before we had ever thought to do so.  In the fullness of time, her daughters married and moved out and Mrs. Smith lived in the house by herself.

About fifteen years ago, I would occasionally see Mrs. Smith's teenage granddaughter visiting her, but her health had started to fail so I never saw much of Mrs. Smith herself, apart from the very odd occasion when she was sweeping her front porch.  Then, around six years back, I noticed that the now adult granddaughter and her boyfriend seemed to be visiting Mrs. Smith quite a lot, if their frequent comings and goings were anything to go by.

And then one day the proverbial penny dropped.  Mrs. Smith's granddaughter and boyfriend weren't visiting, but actually living there, Mrs. Smith having moved out of the house and in with another of her daughters some months before without me having noticed.  And so it had come to pass that another long-time familiar face had disappeared from my everyday life without me ever getting to bid her a last goodbye.  (Not that she'd be concerned with that.)

I've no idea if Mrs. Smith is still alive or not, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that she expired a few years back, so frail had she become.  In the caverns of my mind are many people who were once everyday participants in my day-to-day life who I haven't seen in years, and, like Mrs. Smith, I have no idea whether they yet inhabit this mortal plane or left for parts unknown a good while ago.  Alive, dead, flitted, emigrated?  Who knows?

(UPDATE: I later learned that 'Mrs. Smith' passed away on Friday, November 1st, 2013 - twelve days after I first posted this.  Her house has now been sold to someone who lets it.)

What strikes me as odd is that it can be many months, sometimes even years, before we realise that we haven't seen 'so and so' for ages, and that part of the backdrop of our lives has been altered by their absence.  I often think of folk who once perambulated past my window on a daily basis that I haven't seen in years, and wonder where they are and (if alive) what they're doing now.  (Just where is the guy with the ill-fitting toupee, who my teenage self used to see making his way to and from the local pub every night?  He must've been one helluva fighter to stop his drinking buddies continually ripping the p*ss out of him, that's for sure.)

I remember sitting in a cafe in Southsea one day, back around 1985, and noticing an elderly gentleman with a pale film over one eye and a distinctly Karloffian-type face (as BERNIE WRIGHTSON would draw it), dressed in 1950s style clothes under a black overcoat.  I only ever saw him once, maybe twice, but every now and again, my mind jumps backwards and I wonder what became of him, simply because I associate him with Southsea and have fond memories of my time living there, over thirty years ago.  

When I'm gone, I wonder if anyone will one day ever wonder what happened to the guy with his German Shepherd dog, who faithfully traversed the neighbourhood in all weathers, and, without ever having known me, sort of miss me in the same way that they miss their childhood - simply because I was once a familiar (from afar), everyday part of it.

It would be nice to think so, but somehow I doubt it.  


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

As promised, here's another couple of pages from the 1978 Christmas BEANO - ROGER The DODGER and The 3 BEARS. I'll post a couple more in a day or so, so don't be going anywhere or you'll miss 'em - and that would never do!  In the meantime, enjoy!  And if you had this issue as a kid, share your memories of it in our ever-lovin' comments section, why don'tcha?!

Monday 26 December 2016


There's a couple of things about
the lovely KELLY BROOK that I like,
but I just can't put my finger on them -
(otherwise I'd likely be arrested).


So what the hell happened?  I actually enjoyed it this year.
The Doctor is still a tad too shouty-wouty and a bit too much
of a would-be stand up comedian for my tastes, but overall, it
was an entertaining little show.  Maybe the secret is not to
 expect too much, eh?  There - that short enough for you?

Sunday 25 December 2016


Copyright relevant owner

I didn't see The SNOWMAN when it was first broadcast on CHANNEL 4 on Boxing Day in 1982.  It wasn't until I caught the latter half of it the following year (or even the one after that), that I bought the video of the classic cartoon-short about a Snowman who comes to life (as they all do, apparently), and which was based on the 1978 picture-book by RAYMOND BRIGGS.

I'd always assumed that DAVID BOWIE's introduction (first used in the 1983 broadcast) was the only one, so I was surprised to discover later that it wasn't.  The cartoon has now had three intros: the Raymond Briggs original, the Bowie one, one by Briggs' version of Santa (voiced by the late MEL SMITH), and (on DVD) none at all (but with all three intros as separate options).

Most folks probably think ALED JONES was the singer of HOWARD BLAKE's haunting composition WALKING In The AIR, as it was his cover which reached number five in the U.K. charts in 1985.  However, it's actually chorister PETER AUTY's soprano tones on the animated feature, although his name was missing from the credits and not added 'til the 20th anniversary version.

The Snowman and the young lad who built him (JAMES) made cameo appearances in the 1991 animated version of Briggs' FATHER CHRISTMAS, thereby suggesting that James's adventure with his snow pal wasn't a one-off.  This is borne out in the 2012 sequel, The SNOWMAN And The SNOWDOG, where a new boy finds an old box under the floorboards of James's old home, containing a hat, scarf, withered tangerine - and a photograph of James and the Snowman together, obviously taken on an occasion subsequent to the first one.

The sequel is also delightful, though not too different from its predecessor.  However, there are a few things I have some reservations about, so I'll address them here.  Coming thirty years after the original, viewers are within their rights in assuming that perhaps something close to 'real time' has elapsed in the intervening years, as the isolated house in the country is now part of a new estate.  Although surely a housing development would've simply bulldozed the house, rather than gone to the bother of building around (and next to) it.

Also, what happened to James, the original boy?  Would he really have abandoned the Snowman's accoutrements and photo of the two of them together?  I'd have preferred to see him as the new boy's father, passing on a magical secret to his son rather than his fate simply being ignored.  (We at least know he survived into adulthood and bore an uncanny resemblance to David Bowie.)  I suppose, though, that one can always interpret events as James's son and widow moving back to his boyhood home after having left some years before.  Perhaps the adult James only expired after the plans to move back were finalised, or perhaps (on a happier note) he's simply away on business at the time.

One thing I did like was the fact that, when the Snowman is given a fresh tangerine for a new nose, his shrunken, dried out one is utilised for the Snowdog.  "Waste not, want not!" as the old saying goes.  Also, a young girl is seen playing with what is clearly an item of Snowman 'merchandise', while the boy himself has a poster of Briggs' earlier creation from 1977, FUNGUS The BOGEYMAN, on his bedroom wall.  (And see if you can spot the 1966 TV BATMOBILE toy's brief and surprising appearance.)

As for the sequel's song, LIGHT The NIGHT by ANDY BURROWS (which is nowhere in the same league as the original), the makers (LUPUS) should've used either an instrumental version of Walking In The Air, or a new arrangement with perhaps a male-voice choir to distinguish it from Auty's.  (After all, it is the Snowman's 'signature' theme, in the same way that JAMES BOND and SUPERMAN have one also.)  Burrow's song is disappointingly underwhelming (though, for all I know, may be technically and musically perfect), and fails to resonate to anywhere near the same degree as Blake's original 1982 classic composition.

For all those interested, a DVD box-set of The Snowman & The Snowman and The Snowdog is available from most HMV stores and other outlets.  Or you can catch up with them on TV over Christmas if you're too much of a skinflint.  Well worth watching!  One thing I'd really like to know is this, though: what gives the Snowman his individual personality?  Is it the garden he's built in, or the person who builds him?  Or is it perhaps the accessories he wears?  If James is still alive and he were to build a Snowman, would it be a different one (personality-wise) to the one he built as a kid, or the same one?  Anybody got any thoughts on the matter?



Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

This story had previously been reprinted in a couple of issues of SMASH! (in two parts), also around Christmas, and whenever I look at the cover and b&w pages within, I'm back in my home town as it was in 1967, and not the vastly changed place it is today.  That's the thing about comics from yesteryear - they return us to the time in which we first read them, and which, if we're honest, we wish we could revisit far more often than we do.  Am I right, or am I right?


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

As an adult, that is.  Chances are that I had at least one Christmas issue when I was a kid, but this is the earliest one I own, the very ish I bought back in 1978 when I was a mere 20 years of age.  It's possible I bought it in Southsea when I was down there to be best man at a (now former) friend's wedding, but it's equally possible I bought it within a day or two of returning home.  I'll be posting a few other pages from the comic over the next few days, but in the meantime, here's the 'world's wildest boy', DENNIS The MENACE!  Enjoy.


Images copyright relevant and respective owners

It's the depths of winter once again, so let's cheer ourselves up by stepping back into sunnier climes with a look at some of the great Summer Specials from a long-vanished era.  Ready?


One of the things that every blogger has to concern themselves with is just what to write about for each new post, in the hope that at least someone will be interested in reading the result.  One can never really tell with any certainty just what will float a reader's boat so it's a bit of a gamble whenever a blog host takes the plunge with yet another entry for his members' perusal and hopeful appreciation.  Will a catchy title arouse their curiosity?  Will a dramatic opening illustration grab their attention?  Sometimes I'm surprised as to just what attracts a significant number of hits - and sometimes I'm disappointed in equal measure as to what seems to escape under the radar.

So, "what's the recipe for today, Jim?" - and will it be enough to lure you into my blog's web for a few enjoyable minutes of reading pleasure?  Let's look at the subject of Summer Specials - or Holiday Specials as they were also sometimes called.  Asides from three new Ultimate Beano Summer Specials which graced the shelves of WHa while back, the particular breed known as the Summer Special seems to be extinct.  Hardly surprising given the dying interest in comics in general, but no less disappointing for that inarguable fact.

Those of a certain age will recall the glory days, when - for a mere 2'6d (usually) - 96 pages of fun and adventure could be had to pore over again and again.  There was just something about those extra thick publications that seemed to beckon to us from the newsagents' counters - enticing us to spend the halfcrown that a kindly and indulgent grandparent or uncle had given to us only a day or two before.  We were mainly unaware that, inevitably, these bumper packages contained an allocation of reprinted strips from comics or annuals of an earlier era - and what did it matter anyway?  They were definitely new to us.

So come with me now on a short journey, and let us return to an age when Holiday Specials were a welcome distraction as we sheltered under the leafy shade of an overhanging branch from the heat of the sweltering Summer sun.  A bottle of pop in one hand, an oversized paper periodical in the other, the future remained an undiscovered country - in which, sadly, all too soon we would find ourselves residing while wondering how we got there. 

And below is one of my all-time favourite Specials - the TV CENTURY 21 Summer Extra for 1965.  Took me years to track down this replacement, but I got it for a very reasonable price.

Saturday 24 December 2016


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

A very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to all CRIVENS regulars and fellow comics bloggers.  May all your wishes come true in 2017.  (Apart from world domination - I'm reserving that one for myself.)


Strictly speaking, ALIONA VILANI
is a dancer, which probably explains how
she managed to waltz right into my heart.
(Yeah, these captions are getting cornier
 and cornier, so you try writing them.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...