Friday, 30 June 2017
Elsie held the little porcelain figure in her hand and regarded it thoughtfully. She'd always hated it - ever since George had first brought it home on her birthday and laid it proudly before her, like a cat presenting an expired mouse to its horrified owner.
"It's horrible" she'd growled, contemptuously. "Whatever made you buy that?" she spat, without even the slightest attempt to season the cold nakedness of her words with a hint of gratitude for the thought behind the gift. Elsie was the kind of person who called a spade a spade and was proud of it.
George looked pained... crestfallen... devastated. Like a small child receiving an unnecessarily sharp rebuke for a relatively minor offence. "I... I thought you would like it" he stammered, trying to conceal his hurt. "Look - it's a little bear - with a hat - and a collar and tie. I thought it was cute" he ended, lamely.
"I'm not having it in the house. I don't want the ladies from the guild thinking I've no class, cluttering up the house with cartoon ornaments. It's junk - get rid of it!" she ordered. And that was that.
Or at least, it would have been... had George not been made of sterner stuff than his wife gave him credit for. He just couldn't - wouldn't - discard the porcelain testament of the love he held for the unappreciative Elsie. Over the ensuing months, he would tuck it away, half-hidden, behind a picture-frame or a vase until, inevitably, she would discover it and the game of 'hide-and-seek' would begin anew. Many a time she wondered why she simply didn't throw it away or 'accidentally' drop it, but there was something about its irritating 'please love me' expression that mysteriously prevented her from doing so. That was impossible, but she hated it - hated it with a passion. "Blast the man!" she would say.
And so it went. Until the fateful day she received a call from George's office. The voice on the 'phone sounded like that of a concerned parent speaking to a little child. Was she sitting down? They were terribly sorry. There had been an... 'incident'. It was so sudden. He wouldn't have felt a thing. If ever there was anything they could do, it said. She put down the 'phone, slunk into the chair beside it - and let the tears explode from her soul. She cried for two hours, then put on her best coat and went down to the hospital mortuary. When she returned, she was clutching a bag containing her late husband's personal effects. Along with his watch, wallet and wedding ring was a little porcelain bear which was found in his pocket when he died. For a moment she wondered why, but other concerns drove the thought from her mind. She made herself a cup of tea, watched 'Coronation Street', then went to bed. Elsie never cried again.
A few months later, the sum total of poor George's life lay in an assortment of boxes and carrier bags in a corner of the hall. In one of the boxes, lying on top of George's best lambswool sweater, was the object of Elsie's loathing - smiling inanely at the ceiling as if it expected the ceiling to smile back. "Hark at me" she thought. "It's almost as if I thought the blasted thing was alive." She laughed at her foolishness and consoled herself with the knowledge that, from tomorrow, it would be gone forever. Sam from next door had offered to drive George's things down to the charity shop in the town. Then it would be time to forget the past and move on. A new optimism had recently begun to permeate her soul and she looked forward to the future with enthusiasm. Life with George seemed almost like a dream.
"This all there is?" Sam asked when she opened the door to his knock the next morning. He took the carrier bags first, then carried out the boxes one by one, puffing and grunting as he did so.
"Last one" he said. As he stooped to pick it up, Elsie's eye fell upon a small porcelain object and a strange sensation suddenly welled up within her. Feelings of grief, loss, pain, remorse, pity - a Kaleidoscope of emotions that threatened to engulf her. "Wait a minute" she heard herself saying as she plucked the figure from atop the sweater. "That's it, Sam. Thanks very much for all your help" she said, in a slightly bewildered tone.
Elsie held the little porcelain figure in her hand and regarded it thoughtfully. She had always hated it - but - now she was astonished to find that she couldn't stand the idea of being parted from it. She couldn't explain why, but that's how she felt. Sometimes people are surprised to find that they are not as hard, or as heartless, or as unfeeling as they imagine themselves to be.
And so it was with Elsie. She looked at the little porcelain bear and thought of George - and remembered how much she'd loved him - and realized just how much she missed him. Tenderly, she caressed the small figure, kissed the top of its head, and then placed it on the top shelf of her very best display cabinet where visitors would be sure to see it. Then she smiled to herself, made a cup of tea, and sat and thought of all her wonderful years with George. "Bless the man!" she sighed. From its prize position in the display cabinet, the little bear sat and smiled at Elsie.
And - wherever he happened to be - no doubt George was smiling too.
Posted by Kid at Friday, June 30, 2017
Thursday, 29 June 2017
Remember my post on the KENROY Auto-Caddy back in April? Well, I've now got one which seems never to have been used. It comes in its original mail-order box, posted on December 3rd 1967. The last pic is the unopened bag of wall-mount, screws, and glue (for affixing it to tiles). I doubt I'll ever be using it for tea though - maybe I'll fill it with instant coffee instead. Great, innit?
Robert wasn't sure what had suddenly made him think of his old neighbourhood and want to visit it again, but before he knew it he found himself walking along the street where he'd lived as a child. It was a beautiful sunny day, which puzzled him as he could've sworn it had been pouring with rain not too long before. He prepared himself for the shock of the changes he'd first seen around thirty years ago, on a visit twenty years after he and his family had moved to another house in another area. He'd lived in many different houses and areas since then.
But what was this? The old folks' home that had been built on the field he'd once played football on with his pals had gone, and the field was once again as it had been in his day. What's more, the new houses which had been erected on the site of his former primary school had also vanished, and a perfect duplicate of his boyhood seat of learning now occupied the space. Robert was astonished, reminded of his dreams of winning the Lottery and restoring the neighbourhood to as it had been when he'd lived there. Had someone else done that very thing?
"Let's have a look at the old house," he thought, and made his way down the back lane of the top terraced row where he'd lived from the age of seven to fourteen. He froze in his tracks as his eyes fell upon his former home, the site of so many joyous childhood and teenage memories. A man worked in the back garden, while his wife sat in a deckchair, sipping lemonade and reading her women's magazine. A boy played keepie-uppie in the corner, and the impression of domestic bliss was almost tangible. Robert rubbed his eyes, not quite believing what he was seeing. Wasn't that his father and mother, as well as his brother he saw before him - or at least their very doubles? It couldn't be them, because they'd died years ago, at different times and in different places. Was someone playing a trick on him?
Perhaps he was dreaming, but he could feel the cool breeze that lovingly caressed his heated brow and hear the musical murmur of birds twittering in the nearby trees with a greater potency than even the most seductive dream was capable of. Surely this was no delusion? He tried to recall what had prompted him to revisit his old environs. Last thing he remembered was that it was raining, and that he was about to cross the road to buy a paper from the newsagent's on the other side of the street. Was that a rapidly approaching car he saw from the corner of his eye as he stepped out onto the road...? Why did he find it so difficult to think, to remember?
His father looked over and hailed him, and his mother and brother smiled in happy surprise. "We were wondering when you'd turn up," his mother said. "Come into the house and we'll have a bite to eat." Not quite understanding, Robert glanced at his watch to see if he had time to indulge this welcome fantasy, whatever its explanation, but the watch was gone from his wrist - a wrist which now belonged to that of a young boy.
And then he understood, fully and all at once, what had happened, and with that knowledge came the realization that Paradise is precisely what we wish it to be.
Tuesday, 27 June 2017
When I received an anonymous comment submission
saying that an obsessed blogger appeared to be up to his old
tricks again, I was faced with a dilemma. Should I, or should
I not, respond to his apparent 'insinuations' on one of his blogs
about an unnamed 'someone' allegedly 'trolling' him, or just ig-
nore it. I know from past experience who his usual nominee
is, and I'll likely be damned either way whether I address
the matter or not, so I decided to meet it head on.
However, I find it hard to garner the necessary energy
or enthusiasm, so I'll content myself with a few brief obser-
vations. Portraying himself as some kind of persecuted mar-
tyr in the 'cause of comics' is perhaps this individual's way of
feeling validated, but I wish he'd get some help with that as it's
now become really quite tiresome. Maybe he thinks that if he
suggests it loud enough and long enough, eventually every-
one will believe it, and no doubt some will - and do.
I see on Twitter that he's already trying (clumsily) to
preempt any possible suggestion he might be manufactur-
ing this latest controversy himself, a notion which I suspect
is unlikely to have occurred to him unless it were true. Or am
I being too harsh and perhaps it's someone else who's stirring
the pot? Maybe he's only trying to increase blog visits or punt
something, but you'd think there's surely an easier way to do
it? Now, if only I could rid myself of a nagging suspicion
as to who submitted that anonymous comment.
Anyway, I'm off to turn my attention to more worthy
and rewarding matters. If only he'd do the same.
Posted by Kid at Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Monday, 26 June 2017
|Cover art by PAUL MANN|
Two decades ago, the producers of the James Bond movies hired legendary crime novelist Donald E. Westlake to come up with a story for the next Bond film. The plot Westlake dreamed up - about a Western businessman seeking revenge after being kicked out of Hong Kong when the island was returned to Chinese rule - had all the elements of a classic Bond adventure, but political concerns kept it from being made. Never one to let a good story go to waste, Westlake wrote an original novel based on the premise instead - a novel he never published while he was alive.
Now, nearly a decade after Westlake's death, Hard Case Crime is proud to give that novel its first publication ever, together with a brand new afterword by one of the movie producers describing the project's genesis, and to give fans their first taste of the Westlake-scripted Bond that might have been.
(From the dustjacket. Emphasis mine.)
Available now from all good bookstores. This one you gotta read, so don't deprive yourself.
How's this for a spooky coincidence? When I scanned the cover, it came up as img007. Apropriate or what?
Posted by Kid at Monday, June 26, 2017
Friday, 23 June 2017
|Images copyright MARVEL COMICS|
"The WONDROUS WORLD(S) Of DR. STRANGE!" first
appeared in The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Annual #2 in
1964. The villain, XANDU, showed up again in the '70s, '80s and
'90s, and was put out to pasture once his tale was finally told. So
it took 28 years (from '64-'92) until the saga of Xandu reached
its end and was all nicely tied up in a bow (so to speak).
However, I didn't read that first tale until 1968, in the pages
of FANTASTIC Summer Special, and I didn't read the last
one until yesterday, so for me, it took around 49 years to discov-
er the final fate of Xandu. True, I'd read one of the intermediate
stories in a U.K. reprint comic in the early or mid-'80s, but out
of context to the surrounding stories, it never made much of
an impression on me past the SANDY PLUNKETT art.
Now I feel I've completed a voyage, begun as a child and
finished as I totter on the threshold of old age, and there's a
certain satisfaction derived from finally reaching the last stop in
the journey. You can all take that same trip (and in far less time
too) in the pages of this great new book - SPIDER-MAN and
DOCTOR STRANGE: "The WAY To DUSTY DEATH".
Available from your local comicbook store today!
Posted by Kid at Friday, June 23, 2017
Thursday, 22 June 2017
|Images copyright MARVEL COMICS|
Take a look at this copy of The TITANS #39, on sale via
ebay from DTA COLLECTIBLES (as the Americans spell
it). Here's the description: Titans #179. Condition: VG. Small
piece out of back cover. Price: $54 (£42.64). Postage: $67.50
(£53.30). How can anyone justify putting such a high price on a
British b&w reprint comic, which often had dismal reproduction
and is not even that collectable in its country of publication?
(And in such a battered condition?) They even got the
number wrong in the description. Words fail me.
Posted by Kid at Thursday, June 22, 2017
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Above is my unopened LONE STAR SPUDMATIC from several years back. I think I've also got a red one, but, if so, I've forgotten where it is. (Update, April 2020: Found it!) The blue one below is the one that most people of my age will recall from the '60s & '70s, and is (or was) on sale on eBay (not my own). I do have a blue one by another manufacturer though, which I got in the late '90s or early '00s.
Did you have a Spudmatic, readers? And if so, what escapades did you get up to with yours? Do tell!
Posted by Kid at Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Monday, 19 June 2017
Friday, 16 June 2017
Okay, peeps, here's yet another guest post, this time from the commenter formerly known as Dunsade Dave (now Dave S).
American comics meant a lot to me as a kid in the mid '80s. Not only because of the mind-boggling stories and dynamic art, but also because they were a window into another world. I read literally every word of the US comics I fell in love with – and I mean every word; adverts, letters pages, indicias, statements of ownership, the lot.
To me, they were like travel agents' brochures advertising a trip to the limits of imagination and the outer edges of sanity – the heroes swung, soared and scrapped their way through vast cities full of towering skyscrapers and sinister alleys; villains struck poses, grimaced and ranted even when they were on their own in their secret labs and hideouts. It was a far cry from the British comics I'd previously experienced – as much as I loved The Leopard from Lime Street or The Visible Man, the stories always looked static to me - they never had the vibrancy and energy of The Fantastic Four or The Mighty Thor.
But that was only one of the worlds that comics let me peek into. They showed me another, almost as intriguing world too. One that flaunted itself through attention-grabbing adverts for sweets called Snickers and StarBurst, which sounded so much more alluring that dull British confectionery like Marathon or Opal Fruits. They showed me a world where you could claim prizes for selling copies of a paper called Grit – I would peer for ages at pages festooned with minute drawings of microscopes, disguise kits, baseball hats and digital watches, etc. Single-page comic strips promoting Twinkies & Hostess Fruit Pies puzzled and beguiled me – foods so tasty that even the vilest baddie would change their ways for a nibble. (I can't tell you how disappointed I was when I finally tasted a Twinkie a few years ago - it was nice, but not quite so nice as to drive every evil impulse from my mind.)
Everything in those comics amazed me – adverts for comics shops with lists of what surely must be every comic ever printed, cut- out-and-mail forms where the reader could send for sea monkeys, false beards and unnecessarily large numbers of plastic soldiers. Even the letters page was a source of fascination - addresses had house numbers in the 3000s. My brain boggled at how long the streets must be; I imagined long rows of houses stretching toward a far-distant vanishing point that not even The Flash could reach in a hurry. Names were no less fascinating. Growing up in Glasgow, the most exotic name I'd known was someone called Lloyd; now I was seeing names like Buscema, Giordano, Ditko, Salicrup, and they seemed like some kind of poetic secret words that opened the door to the magical realms they created.
The world seems a little smaller these days, and less able to surprise and enchant me as often as it once did. Although I can still sometimes look back at those comic mags and feel exactly the way I did back then – excited, intrigued, bewitched – it usually only lasts for a mere second or two, before I'm flicked back into the present day. In that brief time though, I feel elated - as if I'm at the beginning of a whole new existence, with new possibilities and an infinity of days ahead, and it always seems like I can hold on to that feeling forever.
Thanks DS. Anyone else like to write a guest post? Then let me know in the communicative comments section.
Posted by Kid at Friday, June 16, 2017
Thursday, 15 June 2017
In case anyone's interested, I've got a few 'doublers' of MARVEL MASTERWORKS that I've put up for sale on eBay in order to clear space for new books as I get them. I don't need the money, so they're priced at a very reasonable sum, and just so long as they go to good and loving homes, I'll be happy. The first three valiant volumes are up now, so if you're looking to plug any gaps in your Masterworks hardcover collection, jump over to eBay now.
Further spare copies of books may pop up for sale as I find them. Meantime, here are pics of the current three. They're all first printings and in excellent condition.
Posted by Kid at Thursday, June 15, 2017
Wednesday, 14 June 2017
|Image copyright MARVEL COMICS|
The cover is misleading because none of these characters
actually appear inside (that I can see), but it's nice to see yet
another JACK KIRBY image on a contemporary comic. I've
read it and enjoyed it, and I'm betting you'll enjoy it too. So
get yourself around to your local comicbook store and pick
up a copy of this great little mag for yourself today.
Posted by Kid at Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Tuesday, 13 June 2017
Regular reader, the bold JP, has decided to respond to my invitation to write a post, so without further ado, here it is.
As a small boy, one day my Dad said to me "Son, I'm giving you this - it's all that remains of my childhood catapult. It was a beltin' catapult, but it's all I've got left of me toys, an' I'm now givin' it to you, so look after it!" He handed me a bare, gnarled, age-darkened Y-shaped piece of a tree branch, with a bit of grubby string bound around the handle.
Now jump forward a few years and the latest craze in our village was for metal (Milbro) catapults you could get from the ironmonger's, and which could fire marbles for miles because of its really strong rubber. But they were just too pricey for me to buy, so I thought "Ah, I know! I'll mek one me sen out a that 'un me faether gimme!" (I don't know why I was talking like Kes, as I lived in the Midlands!) So I took some strong rubber off an aeroplane-launching toy, made a slingshot and threaded the rubber through it and bound it tightly to the cut-out tips with strong thin string and it was made. But would it be any good?
There was only one way to find out, so, armed with a bag of marbles, I climbed up on the bedroom windowsill, opened the window wide and let one fly! Wow! It went for miles! It was just like a bullet! But what should I aim at? In the field behind our garden was a telegraph pole, but in the next field to the right, there was a pumping station with a glass skylight.
And so I began showering the building with marbles! As it was so far away I couldn't actually see or hear if I was hitting it or not, but it didn't matter, because in my head I was - The Smasher!
After a while, I was rudely interrupted by a very angry man in a boilersuit, standing below me in the back garden. He was shaking both fists in the air and saying "Grrr!" Red fumes were rising from his even redder face and steam was billowing out of his ears! He had a huge lump on top of his head and his face was covered in scratches and crossed plasters. "What do you think you're doing?!" he yelled up at me and began pounding on the back door.
"Get down here now!" he bellowed, so I went down to the back kitchen to face the music. "He's been smashing my windows with his catapult!" Mr. Angry was yelling at my parents. "What were you doing that for?" he demanded of me, whilst little birds and stars circled the purple lump on his head.
"I didn't know I was," I lied, "I was aiming at the telegraph pole."
"Well, you're not a very good shot then!" he retorted. "You're not even supposed to have a catapult, anyway! Where did you get it?" he interrogated, with a stern look in his eye.
"Me Dad gimme it." I answered.
My Dad had turned bright red and wore a sickly grin. Sweat was pouring down his forehead. "Go and fetch it - I'm going to confiscate it!" Mr. Angry ordered, so I did as I was told. Then I was sent to my room, so I climbed the stairs, saying "Bah!"
As I closed my bedroom window, I could see Mr. Angry down below, surrounded by these strange symbols - @#*%∆$#@!!
I never knew exactly what went on downstairs after that, but for the rest of that week my Dad had strangely taken to walking around the house with his trouser pockets turned inside-out! Anyway, I stayed in my room for the remainder of that evening, and the next day, I thought it best not to mention the matter. And guess what? Nobody spoke about it again - ever!
Which was probably for the best I suppose.
Monday, 12 June 2017
Saw this on ATOMIC KOMMIE COMICS blog
and just had to share it with you. It's a 1991 pilot for a
TV series that never happened. I think it's very funny
and I'm sure you will too. And ADAM WEST is in top
form. This is one that should have been made into a
series, and why it wasn't is a mystery. See what
you think and leave a comment afterwards.
Posted by Kid at Monday, June 12, 2017
Sunday, 11 June 2017
It's at times like this that any writer worth
their salt would rise to the occasion and do full
justice to the beauty of MICHELLE KEEGAN.
A good writer would wax lyrical and eloquent over
her stunning good looks, her enchanting style, her
sartorial elegance, her womanly essence. Yeah,
that's certainly what a good writer would do.
Me? I'll just settle for Phwoooaaaar!!
|Nope, I dunno why he's wearing a deckchair either|
For those of you who don't have a blog of your own, but would sometimes like to (or even if you do), here's an invitation for you. Write a guest post for Crivens! and savour the sizzling sensation of seeing your words in print. It'll bring you such fame that you won't be able to walk down the road without being besieged by hordes of screaming, admiring females trying to touch you and slipping you their 'phone numbers. (That reminds me, I really must give some of them a call one day.)
Let me know if you're interested.
Saturday, 10 June 2017
Here's the original box for AURORA's 1960s FRANKENSTEIN kit. The art was later amended for a square box release, with the arms slightly raised and the elbows jutting out a bit more. Artist JAMES BAMA referred to a photo of GLENN STRANGE as the monster for his painting, but, curiously, he added two big forehead clamps that were only ever seen in test makeup for BORIS KARLOFF, but not used in the 1931 UNIVERSAL movie.
Now some very clever fella (or company) has created a model kit of the box art, and as you can see below, it's very nice indeed. I'd guess it'll cost a bit more than the price of a standard model kit these days, but it's a quality item that any collector will be proud to own. I don't have a link, but if you check ebay, or do an internet search, you should be able to track one down before too long.
Below is a built and painted kit, which I believe is going to be used on the box lid.
|Test makeup - without hooded eyelids|
|Square box reissue|
|Photo used by JAMES BAMA for reference|
|My own AURORA model. Face based on BORIS|
KARLOFF in The BRIDE Of FRANKENSTEIN