Sunday, 30 September 2018

SHUT THE BOX - THE BLUE ONE - IT'S JUST NOT FUN ANYMORE...



Just saw some of the ads for the new series of DOCTOR WHO, which starts on BBC 1 next Sunday.  JODIE WHITTAKER's Doctor wittering on inanely and sounding like BRENDA BLETHAM's irritating VERA, with lots of running around while she does an impression of an egg whisk because of her 'lady' run, and looking and sounding as if it's all going to be one big jolly wheeze.  It very much looks like the 'same old same old' and I hate it already.  Oh, and her outfit looks like that of a clown - which says it all really.  I'm more determined than ever not to watch it unless The DALEKS turn up.  And, for once in my life, I really hope they don't.

FANTASTIC FLASHBACK - THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #1...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

My senses reel as I realise that the above comic - The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #1 - came out a staggering 46 years ago today, although 'today' was a Saturday back then on the 30th September 1972.  What's that?  The date on the comic says 7th October?  Yes, I know - that was the way of things back then - most comics carried the date of the following week so that they'd have a full seven days' shelf-life before any unsold periodicals were returned.

This was a great comic, and a step up from earlier reprint weeklies that had previously presented such Marvel tales.  For a start, MWOM had a few colour pages, as well as spot-colour, to distinguish it from the black and white ODHAMS PRESS publications from a few years before.  What's more, the number of colour pages actually increased a few issues later, beating its competition hands down for visual impact.  That didn't last too long though, and the internal colour was eventually phased out well before the mag's first year had elapsed.

However, the early issues of MWOM, containing The INCREDIBLE HULK, The Fabulous FANTASTIC FOUR, and The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN were something special to British readers who bought it at the time.  Over the ensuing weeks some readers called for full colour throughtout, saying the comic could go monthly to accommodate this, but it was explained that the UK comics industry was geared towards weekly publication, and that full colour on every one of its 40 pages would be too costly.  How times have changed!  Now UK Marvel mags (published by PANINI) carry around 76 pages, and each one is in full colour and the same size of the US mags.

And what's more, MWOM is still around!  Okay, it hasn't been published non-stop since 1972, but it was revived in 2003 and has been going strong since.  (A previous revival in 1983 only lasted 17 issues.)  So enjoy looking at how it all started (and dig that crazy free gift transfer), and remember, if you were around at the time, what it was like to wake up on an autumnal Saturday morning 46 years ago, and then rushing to the newsagents to buy this brand-new comic before it flew off the shelf.

Ah, happy days! 









And if you're lucky, you may yet find the latest issue sitting on the shelf of your local newsagent's.  It's a 100 page special edition celebrating the work of the recently-deceased STEVE DITKO, one of Marvel's founding fathers.  Race 'round there now and buy a copy before it sells out, if it hasn't already.  And remember the cry - "Make Mine MARVEL!"


Friday, 28 September 2018

THE HALL'S LAST (AND FIRST) STAND...


This photo by me on a visit in June or July

Here's what I consider a touching little tale.  Sadly, the mother of one of my friends died last September and eventually her house was put up for sale - only a few months ago in fact.  The family had moved in sometime in 1970, 48 years ago, and over the course of that time, my friend's siblings had grown up, married and moved out, their father had died, and only my friend's mother remained in the house until she passed away.

When they moved in back in 1970, there was a hall-stand left by the previous owner, who didn't have the space (or the need) for it in the flat they'd moved to - which had been my friend's family's, as it was an 'exchange' when the properties were still council-owned.  (Incidentally, I've known my friend since 1965 when he lived in that flat, in the same street and just around the corner from the house in which I then lived.)

Estate agent's photo seen by the granddaughter

Anyway, one of the daughters whose mother, as a child, had originally lived in the house from the early '60s up to 1970, learned that it was up for sale and, looking at the estate agent's website, saw the hall-stand that she remembered from when she visited her grandparents as a kid.  She contacted the estate agent and asked them to enquire whether my friend's sister (who was the executor) would consider selling the hall-stand to her.

My friend's sister said that she could have it for nothing, and the hall-stand is now in the possession of the daughter of one of the children who had originally lived in the house before my friend's family moved in and 'inherited' it.  The granddaughter being reunited with a familiar aspect of her childhood that reminds her of her now departed granny and grandfather is something I find quite heart-warming.

How about you?

This photo by me on a visit in June or July

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

WHEN DEJA VU IS NOT DEJA VU...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Imagine for a second that you run into a friend while you're passing a specific shop in town one day.  A fortnight later, you run into him again outside the exact same shop and he says "Deja vu!"  Except he'd be wrong, because deja vu is when you experience something for the first time and it feels like you've experienced it before - not something that you have experienced before.  So what I'm now about to describe to you isn't deja vu, but it's like deja vu.

Back in 1981, in the VIRGIN MEGA STORE in Glasgow, I purchased my first JOHN BYRNE issue of The FANTASTIC FOUR - issue 234, "The MAN With The POWER!"  Loved it, and started buying the mag regularly from that point on whenever I saw it.  However, I missed a couple of issues, and ordered them, as well as the first two JB issues, from WONDERWORLD COMICS in Bournemouth.  I no longer recall if I ordered them all at the same time or on two separate occasions (though I'm pretty sure that I got #s 236 & 237 in the same package), but what I do remember is receiving #232, the "BACK To The BASICS!" issue, the first one of John Byrne's 62 issue run as regular writer and artist.

So today, the TRUE BELIEVERS reprint of that very issue arrived - and immediately took me back 37 years in time, when, in the very same room, in the very same bed (well, it's actually a new bed, but it has the very same headboard and it's in the very same corner of the room), I first read that classic comicbook from so very long ago.  It's a weird feeling to re-experience a moment (or one very similar to it) in the very same place where it first happened.  Anyway, I re-read the comic and marvelled (contrived pun intended) at how quickly time passes, remembering that I was far less than half the age I am now when I initially read the issue.

So, simply to give you something to read (and give me an excuse to show the cover), above is the TB version, and below is the original one.  Funny how the span between past and present can vanish in an instant on sight of something as simple as reprint of a comic, don't you think?

******

(The tale has been reprinted a few times over the years and I have at least three of them, but this is the first time [that I know of] it's been reprinted as a single issue.)

Yup, this is my original issue, purchased back in the early '80s

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

RESTORATIVE REPOST: RESTORING THE KING...


"Where's Cagney?  I'll moider da bum!"

Being incredibly talented - as well as witty, charming and handsome (not to mention modest and with a self-deprecating sense of humour) - it should come as no surprise to anyone to learn that I once inked (re-inked, to be precise) the artwork of JACK "KING" KIRBY - while he was still alive, making it even more of a thrill for me.  To see my name listed with some of the legendary greats of the comicbook biz like STAN LEEJACK KIRBYVINCE COLLETTA, etc., was a big deal for me, and one of which I'm immensely proud.  How did this monumental accomplishment occur, you are perhaps asking - so here's the scoop.

MARVEL were producing their first run of MASTERWORKS editions, when then-editor, TOM BREVOORT, asked me if I could supply some of the absent pages from their files.  As it happened, I was in a position to help out, utilising some of my comics collection featuring Marvel reprints in U.K. publications of the '60s.  However, things were a lot more complex than simply photocopying pages from old comicbooks and sending them over to the States - and here's why:

Back in the '60s, ODHAMS PRESS, publishers of comics such as WHAM!SMASH!, POW!FANTASTIC, & TERRIFIC (also EAGLE and others), made all sorts of alterations to the Marvel comic strips they reprinted.  Credit boxes were deleted, American references were changed, colloquial speech was altered, characters' names were revised, and pages were - in the case of Wham!, Smash!, and Pow! - also resized to fit the standard British dimensions.  However, rather than witter on about it let me show you.  Below is a THOR page as it appeared in issue #27 of Fantastic back in 1967.


And here's how the page looked once I had restored it to its original appearance.  What you might call 'invisible mending'.


Next is a poorly printed ad featuring the cover art from FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3, taken from an issue of SMASH! printed back in the 1960s.  As you can see, most of the linework has dropped out and a couple of characters have been deleted, but this is what I had to work with.  I later found a much sharper copy of this ad in an issue of FANTASTIC, but by then it was too late - I'd already completed all the work and wasn't willing to do it again.


And below is the finished result, a combination of re-created lettering and some taken from my own copy of the actual issue.  You'll see that I had to add two missing figures, as well as re-ink the entire page.


When I first started restoring pages, my aim was to make them as exact as I could, but then I succumbed to the temptation to leave my own 'stamp' on them.  If you look closely, you'll find occasional little deviations from the original.  However, this was accentuated by Marvel not following the original colouring of the published comics.  Nowadays, Marvel strive to make their Masterworks volumes as close to the originals as possible.  The recent softcover editions really are worth acquiring for your collection.


Above is a section from the cover - isn't that gilded frame a thing of beauty?  Below is a section from the credits page - Stan Lee's name kicks it off, I bring up the rear.


And now, what you've been waiting for - the published result.  Unfortunately, the outline of 'King-Size' in the banner at the top of the page was somehow 'lost' in the colouring process, but it was fixed when the cover was later reproduced in other publications.


Considering I used only a Marsmatic technical pen to re-ink a photocopy on cheap paper (copied in my local library), it turned out not too badly.  I also worked on Volume 26 (THOR) - the series was cancelled after Volume 27, but was revived a few years later.

Here are a few more 'before & after' illustrations for your perusal.  As you can see below, the figure of The THING lost most of his body when the image was resized to fit the larger page.  With the aid of reference as to how the page should have looked, I soon restored the missing details and returned the page to its former state.

BEFORE:


AFTER:


BEFORE:


AFTER:


And finally, a Thor pic, before and after restoration.


Remember - the images can be enlarged by clicking on them - and then clicking again on the enlarged pic to make it larger yet.  (These two are a little blurred - although the preceding pictures can be seen to their best advantage by this process.)

And that's how one restores royalty.  Simple, really - but immensely satisfying.  Altogether now - "Long live the King!"

Thursday, 20 September 2018

BABE OF THE DAY - LYNDA CARTER...



Red and gold top, blue and white pants,
tiara and lariat.  Right, that's my Hallowe'en
costume sorted out - now let's ogle at the
luverly-wuverly LYNDA CARTER.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

BABE OF THE DAY - CLAUDIA CARDINALE...



CLAUDIA CARDINALE has just finished
reading my 14 chapter book on Crivens! - The
JANUS DILEMMA - and says she'd buy a copy
if it ever gets published.  Said she'd leave it in her
toilet just in case she ever runs out of loo roll.
H'mm.  Whatever can she mean by that?

Friday, 14 September 2018

COVER ME - I'M FADING FAST...


Images copyright relevant owner

So there I was, sometime back in 1981 or '82, sitting in my local cinema (now gone 30 years) watching DRAGONSLAYER.  The movie was okay, nothing brilliant, but a pleasant enough way to while away an hour and a half or so.  I'd bought the MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL MAGAZINE (#20), though I no longer recall with certainty whether I got it before or after seeing the movie, but I think it was before.  At some (again forgotten) stage, I got the two issue regular comicbook size versions of the mag, which I still have after all this time.

As for the magazine, at some point in the '80s I inadvertently inflicted some damage on it, so I removed the front cover and used it as a pin-up on my bedroom wall.  I have an idea it was while I was still living in my present abode, before my family moved to another house for just over four years, though possibly it happened in our new residence.  Then again, it may not have been pressed into service as a poster until we returned to our previous (and my present) home in 1987.  It's hard to remember after all this time, and I must confess that my fading memory sometimes gives me cause for concern.  At one time I could recall such trivial details with startling clarity, but no longer, alas.  Not with everything anyway.

As regular readers will perhaps remember, I've been replacing old, faded, rippled and mottled posters and pin-ups that have adorned my bedroom walls for up to 43 years in some cases, with new, freshly printed replicas.  With some, I've scanned the original images and then restored them by means of digital technology, but that can be extremely time-consuming and the results can be variable.  With others, I've scanned duplicate editions that were purchased at the same time as the issues I mutilated for use of their covers, and in some instances I've just recently tracked down replacements to scan and print.

Such an example is the issue that sits at the top of this post.  A few days ago, I noticed that the Dragonslayer cover on my wall was looking a bit faded, so I removed it, scanned it, tweaked it, and then printed out a fresher copy.  However, after affixing it to the wall, I decided to buy a replacement copy of the 1981 magazine to add back to my collection.  I got it from QUICKSILVER COMICS and they lived up to their name.  I ordered it on Wednesday and it arrived today, so well done them.  However, I was surprised at just how colourful and vibrant the cover was, compared to my original cover and even its home-produced enhanced facsimile.

I knew the cover that had been on the wall was faded, but I hadn't realised just how badly until I laid eyes on the mag that arrived today.  Take a look for yourself.  That's the replacement above, the original I bought back in '81 is below.  Well, there was only one thing for it - I immediately scanned the cover of the new mag and printed out a copy to replace the one I put on the wall only two days ago.  What a difference it makes.  Incidentally, the contents of the mag were illustrated by the recently departed MARIE SEVERIN, so it's good to have it for that fact alone. 

The cover (and my memories) may fade, but the lustre of the legend that is Marie Severin never will.


And in case you were wondering, below is the 'enhanced' copy I made from my original.  As you can see, it's still a poor copy in comparison to the almost pristine one which opens the post.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

BABE OF THE DAY - CLAUDIA CARDINALE (AGAIN)...



So there was I, waiting for CLAUDIA to get up and make me
my breakfast, and all she wanted was a "roll in the sheets" she said.
"That's all I want too," I answered, "but make mine with bacon on
it."  Huh!  Modern women, eh?  They just don't know how to keep
a man happy.  I'm considering trading her in for a new model.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

BABE OF THE DAY - CLAUDIA CARDINALE...



When you're blessed with such manly-man machismo like I am, there are few places you can go without being met by hot women in their underwear looking to catch your attention.  What's that?  It never happens to you?  Must be a right ugly b*st*rd then, mustn't you?!  So here's a piccie of CLAUDIA CARDINALE to cheer you up.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

BABE OF THE DAY - LYNDA CARTER...



The leggy LYNDA CARTER shows why
she's such a wonder woman.  Well, why not?  If
you've got it, flaunt it!  (I've been fined three
times for 'flaunting' it in the last month.)

Monday, 10 September 2018

FABULOUS FANTASTIC FOUR FIRST ISSUE FACSIMILES FROM DOWN THROUGH THE YEARS...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

The first issue of The FANTASTIC FOUR has been reprinted quite a few times since it was published in 1961, in books like ORIGINS Of MARVEL COMICS, MARVEL MASTERWORKS, FANTASTIC FIRSTS, MARVEL FIRSTS, MARVEL OMNIBUS Editions, MARVEL EPIC Editions, FANTASTIC FOUR KING SIZE ANNUALS, plus various UK weekly and monthly comics - and that's only the ones I know about.  (No doubt there were foreign versions as well.)

However, forget full or partial reprints that were included in other publications -  the only ones I'm interested in for this post are single issue facsimiles, of which the earliest was the 1966 GOLDEN BOOK & RECORD Set that came with an LP containing a dramatisation of the comic's contents.  That's it above, and as you can see, it sports what's known as the 'missing man' cover (though there are other differences), which is the cover as JACK KIRBY originally drew it before changes were made prior to publication.  (The cop has been drawn in to make it look more like the 1961 issue.)  Some of the line-work had dropped out in several interior panels, but at least it was spared the clumsy retouching that later presentations suffered from.  (See examples at foot of post.)

Next one up (as far as I know) was the 1991 MARVEL MILESTONE Edition (below), which also featured the cover as originally drawn by Kirby.  The contents were marred by some dreadful 'retouching' of the missing line-work I referred to in the previous paragraph, but it included all the original ads from the 1961 mag, giving readers a taste of the context of the times.  It was recoloured and didn't match the 1961 original.

In 2001, Marvel released the top 25 of The 100 GREATEST MARVELS Of ALL TIME, number two being FF #1, having been robbed of the top spot by AMAZING FANTASY #15.  (I demanded a recount, but as usual, nobody listened to me.)  Once more, the 'missing man' cover was used, though the caption was replaced by a neater version. 

Then, in 2005, yet another reprint appeared, this time included in a package containing a TOY BIZ articulated figure of The THING as he appeared in the debut issue.  Again, this didn't follow the original colouring and even differed from the Milestone and 100 Greatest mags.  The only reprints that follow the original colouring of the contents are the 1966 Golden Book version and the recent deluxe facsimile edition, but even then, due to the vagaries of printing, they're not an exact match in every instance.

Anyway, enjoy looking at the covers and join me again after the 2018 issue and we'll compare a couple of examples of what I referred to earlier.      





Okay-dokey, look at the two examples of the same page below (click to enlarge).  The first one is from the 2018 facsimile and is how the page should be.  In the second version (from 2001, but also used - with different colouring - in 1991 and 2005), The INVISIBLE GIRL's outline has been clumsily retouched - obviously by someone who shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near it.  It looks as if it's been done with a felt-tip marker.


Now cop a gander at the panels below.  The first is as it appeared in the 1966 reprint which suffered from missing detail, the second is how it was presented in subsequent retouched versions in 1991, 2001, and 2005, and the third is from the recently published facsimile, which matches how it first appeared in 1961.  Click each one to enlarge for closer study. 




So there you go!  Hasn't that been interesting and informative?  Eh?  Whaddya mean no?  Hey, just remember, pal, you got in here for free, so there's no refunds if you're not satisfied.  (Tourists!) 

Thursday, 6 September 2018

(BOND) BABE OF THE DAY - CAROLINE MUNRO...



Let's be honest - any words from me are
superfluous with photos like this.  Suffice to
say - CAROLINE MUNRO!

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

COLOUR OR BLACK AND WHITE...?


Images copyright their relevant owner

I published this post before a couple or so months back, but then removed it to accommodate a publisher who felt it detracted from a project he was then working on.  That project has now reached fruition, so I feel the question raised in the post is a valid one, hence me now offering it up again for your consideration.

******

Which of these versions of the same strip do you prefer, readers - the original colour strip or one of the black and white (or grey-scale) offerings presented below?  I have to declare my preference in favour of the colour strip, but if I had to pick one of the non-colour offerings, I'd lean towards the first one as, in my view, it captures more of the essence of the page than the washed out incarnation below it.  Tastes will vary of course, but the closer a reprint collection is to the original appearance of the contents, the better, as it captures more fully the visual impact the strips had on their initial printing.

Feel free to contribute to any discussion that may ensue. 


Note that the little fine-line visual effects around Davy's head in the last panel
are extremely faint, as a direct result of converting the page to 'black & white'
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