Sunday 30 April 2017


Joke pages in comics didn't often strike me as containing particularly funny gags.  Here's a couple of exceptions which actually made me chuckle, from a 1969 ish of SMASH!  Perhaps you'll like them too - if so, let me know.


Copyright relevant owner

Just thought I'd show this cover because I like it.  It's now my ambition to have a book like this named after me.  'The KID ROBSON Adventure Book' certainly has a nice ring to it.  Any enterprising publishers out there who'd be interested?  Hello?  (Hell of an echo in here.)



Having formerly worked in comics for 15 years, and having read them for over 50, I've often found myself amazed by the gaffs some alleged editors made (or failed to notice) when it came to putting a comic together.  Here are just 6 I've seen in comics (and blogs) over the years.  Can you think of any others?  Then leave a comment in the you-know-where.

Correct ones on the left, wrong ones on the right.

Sought-after.  (Not sort-after.)

Could have.  (Not could of.)

Whet your appetite.  (Not wet.)

Heyday.  (Not hayday.)

Prerogative.  (Not perogative.)

Prodigy.  (Not progidy.)

If ignorance is bliss, then there must be a hell of a lot of ecstatically happy people around.   


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Above is the illustration from the cover of MARVEL's 1994 hardback volume, FANTASTIC FIRSTS (below).  A strictly limited edition, it wasn't available to the general public, though a softcover edition (with an added WOLVERINE tale) was released some years later. Unfortunately, I can't show the contents because it's too tightly bound to scan, but it contains the origins of all the main Marvel superheroes, though sadly not from particularly good proofs.

The thing that makes the book worthwhile however, is the introductions to the tales by creators mainly associated with the characters; thus The HULK has an intro by HERB TRIMPE (rhymes with 'shrimpy'), Sgt. FURY is introduced by DICK AYERS, and The SILVER SURFER by Big JOHN BUSCEMA, etc.  These personal intros have interesting reminiscences from the contributors' point of view, and make for informative reading.  The book comes in a slip-case and is quite a handsome-looking item.

My first copy of this book had trouble with the spine splitting when I opened it (a defect of the binding, not as a result of any rough handling on my part), so I obtained a 2nd copy, as imperfection irks me.  (Being perfect myself you see.)  As the first one was falling apart, I removed the cover pages (which I intend to frame at some point), and disposed of the rest, though I kept the slipcase, which now houses the first two Hulk MARVEL MASTERWORKS.

Anyway, thought you might like to see this striking illustration.  Would look good as a poster, I'd say.

And below is the book to go for if you want a collected edition of Marvel origin stories - MARVEL FIRSTS.  It doesn't have the personal intros of the above volume, but the stories are, in the main, reproduced from more accurate and archival sources.


"Gordie, where are you?"

ABI TITMUS runs into the street
looking for me, but she can relax 'cos
I've only nipped out to nab a newspaper
and a couple of cheese and onion pasties.
I'm heading straight back, Abi dear, so no
need to panic.  (Women just find me
 irresistible for some reason.)



If you're a fan of WARREN mags CREEPY and EERIE, then you'll be interested in this title I picked off the shelves of a comicbook store recently.  It's an excellent 'tribute' magazine, but I feel it could be improved in a few ways.  Let's get the 'minor' faults out of the way first.

The lettering.  Done by computer font, but that in itself isn't the problem - it's the spacing.  When words are italicised, any 'screamers' (exclamation marks) run into the first letter of the next sentence, resulting in the balloons and captions having a squashed appearance that's sore on the eyes.  A bigger space needs to be left between sentences to avoid this.  Occasional missing punctuation also detracts from smooth reading.

Not so minor - the plots.  The story, 'FAIR TRADE', involves a mind swap between bodies by the method of sorcery.  (Spoiler alert:)  The process reverses itself the day after the sorcerer is killed, before he'd cast his next spell which would've 'halted the physical transfer which naturally follows any mental transfer'.  Er, run that past me again?

A sorcerer transfers one person's mind into the body of another, but unless he casts a second spell, the body will automatically reunite with its mind - rendering the first spell totally redundant.  H'mm, maybe the writer needs to put more thought into his plots as this aspect is too contrived to be convincing.  (If a tale about sorcery and mind-transference can ever be convincing, but I'm sure you get my point.)

Anyway, don't be put off by me being pernickety.  This mag is like a time tunnel into the 1960s and '70s and is well worth a look.  Available from all good comics shops.  Dig one up as soon as you can.

Spot the misspelling of 'Pharaoh' in the contents above

Saturday 29 April 2017


Someone wanted a pic of LADY PENELOPE,
but here's one of PENELOPE CRUZ instead.  Hey,
her name's Penelope and she's a lady - what more do
you want?  (The other one's a snooty snob anyway
so just forget all about her.  She ain't worth it.)


Image copyright relevant owner

I don't suppose I ever thought much about it at the time, but I do now.  You see, the fact that comics are produced at least 8 weeks ahead of seeing print, I now realise that the first 9 (at least) DARE-A-DAY DAVY strips in POW! couldn't have been from genuine readers.

Also, several of the stories were reused a few years later in VALIANT comic, in a Davy-type strip called CHALLENGE CHARLIE, so it's a certainty that the named 'readers' were fictitious and never received £5 (that's inflation for you) for alleged 'contributions'.

Were the publishers just trying to save a few quid by inventing readers' suggestions, or did they simply never receive enough to begin with?  I once won a £1 in 1973 for a contribution to SHIVER SHAKE, so not all invitations for reader-participation were fake, but it does cause me to wonder just how many were.

So, dear reader, did you ever win £1 for submitting an idea to Pow!'s Dare-A-Day Davy, or do you know of anyone who did?  If so, leave a comment and dispel the mystery.  And if you'd like to make a comparison between Davy and Charlie, I'll post some examples when I can.   

Friday 28 April 2017


Elusive BOB PAYNTER.  They seek him here, they seek him there... (you know the rest)

Legendary cartoonist TERRY BAVE is looking to get in touch with his former editor and old friend BOB PAYNTER.  Bob, if you get to read this (or hear about it), would you contact me via the comments section and we'll work out a way for you and Terry to make contact.  He'd dearly like to catch up with you and reminisce about the good old days.  Go on, make his day.


If anybody has Bob's contact details, if you let me know, I'll pass them onto Terry & Shiela.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Update: And I'm sure you'll all be glad to know that, thanks to Bob's granddaughter, who chanced upon this post, Bob and Terry (no, not the ones from The Likely Lads) are now back in touch again and reminiscing over old times.  Don't you just love a happy ending?

Another update: As the comics world knows by now, Terry died on December 6th 2018, but at least he and Bob were reunited and managed to get in quite a few sessions of reminiscing by 'phone and letter before Terry passed away.  I spoke to Terry on the 'phone every so often, and he told me it meant a lot to him that he and Bob were back in touch.  Crivens is sometimes regarded as 'controversial' by some people, but without it, the pair might never have heard from each other again.  If that's the only good thing it's ever done, then it's served at least one useful purpose.

GINGER with a sketch of his mum & dad



Time now for some more original art, in this instance BAD PENNY by LEO BAXENDALE, from the back page of SMASH! #156, January 25th 1969.  I've scanned the first two panels as one, as they have a caption running across both of them.  And, although you can enlarge the panels by clicking on them, I've repeated the last one in two bigger halves for greater visual impact.  The strip has been drawn on two thin sheets of card, extended on the right-hand side, then stuck down on a thicker piece of art board.  To give you all an idea of how poorly these pages were treated in storage, this one has footprints on the back, indicating that it was lying face down on the floor at some stage and walked over.  (Or perhaps lay on top of a pile of art used as a step to reach something on a high shelf.)  Shameful, eh?

And look at the street name in the panel below.  Is this what you'd describe as a Nightmare on Elm Street?

And here's the published page as readers would have seen it back in 1969.


Images copyright their respective owners

Well, what can you say and how do you say it?

As most of you will know by now, LEO BAXENDALE passed away recently.  Leo was an influential creator in the world of UK comics, but due to leaving mainstream comics in the mid-1970s, is known mainly to diehard fans who read his stuff in the '50s, '60s, and '70s.  News of his sad demise will bring him a wider recognition among the great British public, but it's a poor trade-off at the end of the day.  Some people you think will live forever, some people deserve to live forever, and Leo probably deserved it more than most.  True, he has attained a kind of immortality through his comics creations, but even that seems a lesser reward than it should be.

Anyway, there's little point in me repeating facts and figures about his career; that's already been done on other blogs, in far more detail than my tendency to the superficial can match.  Suffice to say that, when it comes to comics, Leo was a lion. There have been other lions of course, and there'll be others again, but he was among the first.  Sadly, I never met him, but he very kindly replied to several of my fan letters over the years, and, at my bold request in the position of assistant editor of The ILLUSTRATED COMIC JOURNAL back in the '90s, supplied an article for publication within its pages.  True, it had appeared elsewhere first, but Leo didn't think the readership of both 'venues' would overlap, and we were glad to have it. 

With each passing day, another little piece of our childhood is eroded away, and with Leo's passing, quite a large chunk has been chipped off in one fell swoop.  For what it's worth, if anything, I'm sure readers of this humble blog extend their condolences to Leo's family and friends at this sad time.  We're frowning at the moment, but we'll all laugh again after an appropriate interval, especially when we read again some of Leo's comic creations that we enjoyed as kids, teenagers, and adults.

Rest in peace Leo Baxendale.  He may be gone, but he'll never be forgotten as long as unruly kids indulge in mischief and mayhem in any school playground.

And below is the cover of Leo's autobiography, which every fan of British comics should read.

And now, a gallery of various images.  Click to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.

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