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.

Thursday 29 June 2017


Let's be frank here, shall we?  If you had a woman
like ELKE SOMMER at home, you'd never want to
leave the house, would you?  (Except for a rest.)


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 ignore 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 observations.  Portraying himself as some kind of persecuted martyr 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 everyone 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 manufacturing 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. 

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.


And how's this for a spooky coincidence, Crivs?  When I scanned the cover, it came up as img007.  Appropriate or what?

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 discover 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!

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. 

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 your fellow Crivvies all about it!

Monday 19 June 2017


BRIAN CANT, the voice of TRUMPTON,
one of the hosts of PLAY SCHOOL and PLAY
AWAY has died, aged 83.  Another childhood
legend gone, alas.  We shall remember him.


The above pic is a B&W copy of a colour cartoon for a proposed ad for a local restaurant, which I did some years ago.  (It's a shame I no longer have a colour copy 'cos it was quite nice.)  However, rarely does a cartoon (or any illustration for that matter) spring full-blown from the hand of its creator; it usually undergoes a process of development 'til the finished result is reached.  Let me show you what I mean.

The following picture is the original 'rough' suggesting the idea.  This is to show the prospective client what one has in mind.  (I say 'prospective client', but in actual fact I was doing a 'favour' for the owner.  You know the old saying "There's no such thing as a free lunch" ?  Well, this is the proof of that saying.)

Below is another rough of the proposed final drawing - this is essentially what I'm aiming for.

And now the finished line artwork.  I added the restaurant's logo to the tablecloth and then coloured it with acrylic inks.  The finished pic was very effective, but unfortunately I gave it to someone, so only the B&W and grey copy at the top of the page remains in my possession.  You'll just have to imagine it in colour - the guy has a blue suit and the girl has a red dress, if that's any help.  Trust me - it was nice.

And guess what?  After all that work, the idea for the ad was abandoned.  Just another day in the life of a cartoonist, eh?  (Actually, in the interests of accuracy, it was me who decided not to let it be used.)

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.

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.

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.

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.

No contest.

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 in incandescent rage.  "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.

Then silence.

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.


So there was RAQUEL WELCH doing some sunbathing out by the
pool.  Feeling bold, I asked her to take something off, and she obliged by
removing her sunglasses.  She's one smart cookie, is our Raquel.

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.

Sunday 11 June 2017


He never drinks...'vine'.  (Bet you knew that.)


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, and her womanly
essence.  Yeah, that's surely 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.


YOGI BEAR is one cool dude.  In fact, he's
way cooler than the average bear.  I wanna be just
like him when I grow up.  Well, who wouldn't, eh?
(Oops, gotta go - here comes the nurse!)


"Lets play leapfrog" said ABI TITMUS -
"you go first!"  As she assumed the position, I
spied a hotdog stand across the road and nipped
over for a bite to scoff, leaving her standing like
that in the middle of the path.  She didn't half
get some funny looks, let me tell you.

Saturday 10 June 2017


Alas, ADAM WEST, TV's BATMAN has passed away from leukaemia.  It's been a bad month for childhood heroes dying, but they'll live on in our hearts and memories.  Our condolences go to Mr. West's family, friends and fans - and, of course, to ROBIN.


The trouble with having a woman 'round the
house is that a fella just can't get the bathroom to
himself.  However, when that woman is a pure babe
like ELKE SOMMER, then I suppose I can get
used to it.  I'm prepared to try anyway.


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

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