Saturday, 14 December 2019

THE FOX MEETS THE HOUND AS THE PAST BECOMES THE PRESENT...



Here's an interesting (I hope) tale of how dreams can bridge the gulf between the past and the present, as experienced by myself several nights ago.  Let me set the scene.  Having a large back garden, local foxes tend to use it as a playground, sitting up on the bench and sunning themselves (when it's sunny), and sleeping under the bushes.  I feel sorry for them, and sometimes put out a little bit of dog food so that they don't starve, even though I no longer have a dog.  Now, before continuing, I first have to take a small detour which will seem unrelated, but trust me - it's relevant to the theme of this story.

I have an old YOGI BEAR squeaky toy (bought from ebay) whose squeaker didn't work, so I bought a pair of squeaky pet toys from a local pound shop and removed the squeakers from them.  I put one into Yogi, who, I'm sure you'll be overjoyed to know, now works as good as new.  (No?  What's wrong with you lot?)  Then I threw the squeakerless dumbell shaped toys out in the back garden for three young fox cubs to play with.  (This was in the summer.)  One toy soon disappeared, but the other remained under a bush where a fox had taken it to gnaw on, and it's still there as I type.  (The toy, not the fox.)  I see it when I'm out filling the bird feeders, and sometimes wonder where the other one got to. 

So, a few nights ago, I had this dream where my dog ZARA is running about the back garden, when a fox appears.  Zara chases the fox through a hole in the fence (which, as in 'real life', is in a state of disrepair) into the garden of the flats at the back of my house, then the fox chases her back - they're actually playing, not fighting, so I have no concerns.  Then the fox runs back through the fence and sticks its nose into the side of a wooden pallet lying in the flats' garden, and pulls out - guess what?  It's the other squeakerless pet toy, the twin of the one still in my back garden.  "So that's where it got to" I think.

I must've awoken then because I don't remember anything past that point, but I was amazed that, if only in my dream, I'd resolved a current minor mystery, though in reality there is no pallet in the other garden and I still don't know where that second toy disappeared to.  In the dream however, my dog who died 21 years ago, was playing with a present-day fox who retrieved a missing toy purchased only a few months back.  And thus the past and the present merged, and for a short while at least, Zara once again played in the garden where her ashes were scattered just over two decades ago.

Well, I find that amazing, how about the rest of you?  No?  Ach, you're a hard-hearted lot, so you are!  Why not squeak up and voice your underwhelmed reaction in the comments section?  Or better yet, if you've ever dreamt of anyone/anything from your past as if they/it were still part of the present, then let's hear all about it.   

GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS #3 FACSIMILE EDITION...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

I've 'borrowed' this image from ebay 'cos my scanner's not connected to my computer yet, which may take a while as I haven't received a router from my new provider.  (They sent me a mini-hub which plugs into my computer, but I can't plug anything into the hub.)  Anyway, once I've got everything back to normal, I'll replace it with an image of the copy I received today of GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS #3.

Again, as in one of the previous issues in the series, one of the ad pages is reproduced too large in relation to the others, but that minor glitch aside, it's good to be able to revisit this comic from the '70s and experience how things were done in comics-land back then.  Nice to see that they've left the COMICS CODE stamp in place this time. (D'ya think MARVEL have been reading Crivens?)

As well as the main tale, the original 1950s BILL EVERETT SUB-MARINER and '60s STEVE DITKO Dr. STRANGE back-up stories are also included.

Friday, 13 December 2019

I AM A NUMBER - AND ALSO A FREE MAN...



I was probably the last person in my age group out of everyone I know (and likely also everyone I didn't) to get a mobile 'phone - and then only because someone gave one to me.  I could never remember my own number (and, having changed providers two or three times, my number changed with them), and it never really bothered me because I didn't consider the number important.  If anyone asked me for it, I got them to give me theirs then called it so that they would have mine.

It's strange to realise that I regarded the number so casually, because some numbers are very significant to me, especially my landline 'phone number, which has been in the family since 1960, and which has been in every New Town house I've ever lived in.  At the beginning of November, I changed my provider from TalkTalk to BT and lost my 59 year old number.  After nine days I've now got it back, and that sense of continuity leading right back to 1960 is extremely meaningful to me.

Odd as it may sound, being deprived of my number was like losing part of my identity (and a piece of my personal history), and I felt bereft - like a loved one had suddenly died.  It was originally a GPO one, then a BT one, then went through a couple of other providers until it ended up at TalkTalk.  Listen - if you want a major headache every month querying your bill and talking to foreign TalkTalk agents on the 'phone or in 'Live Chat' on the Internet for up to three hours at a time, and being no further forward at the end than you were at the beginning, TalkTalk's the provider for you.

That's my sarcastic way of saying that if you value your sanity, avoid TalkTalk like the plague.  I'm quite prepared to accept that when/if everything works smoothly then they're fine, but the trouble is that things seldom seem to work smoothly with them.  You might get a few extra features for free that you pay for with other providers, but they're just not worth the hassle you get along with them.

Are you attached to your 'phone number, or wouldn't it bother you if you suddenly lost it and were given another?  Which, I suppose, is my way of trying to find out if I'm the only person in the world who thinks like I do when it comes to things that supply a sense of continuity and a link to the past, which my 59 year old number provides.  Or, out of all the weird posts I've written over the years, is this one just too weird for you?

Thursday, 12 December 2019

MIGHTY MARVEL COLLECTORS' EDITIONS CHECKLIST - ON SALE NOW!


DEADPOOL UNLEASHED #8

Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

76 pages of Marvel’s hottest hero!  Three great stories!

It's our Christmas special!  How are we celebrating?  With a death-match between Deadpool and Santa Claus, of course!  By Skottie Young & Nic Klein!

Deadpool infiltrates the sinister Gorgon organisation in ‘Secret Agent Deadpool’!  By Christopher Hastings & Salva Espin!

Are you ready for Dogpool?!  By Victor Gischler & Phillip Bond!

Featuring material first printed in Deadpool #7, Prelude to Deadpool Corps #3 & Secret Agent Deadpool #4.

On sale NOW!

£4.99.

 ******

ESSENTIAL X-MEN #22


76 pages of mutant mayhem!  Two awesome tales!

Magneto has travelled to the future and seen the desolation his actions have caused – but the X-Men have no intention of letting him return to his own time!  By Cullen Bunn & Marcus To!

Storm returns to her village in Kenya to face the dreaded Uovu!  But is he a god of evil – or the saviour of humanity?  By Marc Guggenheim & Michelle Bandini!

Featuring material first printed in X-Men: Gold #33-34 & X-Men: Blue #34-35.

On sale NOW!

£4.99.

BABE OF THE DAY - NICHELLE NICHOLS...



"KLINGONS on the starboard bow, Captain!  Should I increase our speed to warp factor seven and take the ENTERPRISE out of danger?"

"Don't bother me now, SULU - I'm ogling UHURA in her civvies while she's on shore-leave on planet KRAK-OFF!"

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

BATMAN HAND PUPPET FROM THE '60s...


Copyright DC COMICS

Here's the way I remember it.  I was in the playground of my second primary school and saw a fellow pupil by the name of IAN ROBBIE holding a BATMAN hand puppet.  It was made of polythene and had recently contained the most disgusting 'confectionery' ever invented, but it was Batman merchandise and I coveted it.  A deal was soon struck, and in exchange for 3d and a pack of KP salted peanuts (maybe two packs), Batman became mine.

However, there's more.  Being made of polythene, Batman was prone to the ravages of handling and soon became crimped and worn in places.  Perhaps a few weeks later, my family was in Glasgow's KELVIN HALL for some event, and the selfsame Batman hand puppets were on sale.  I bought one immediately (and just as immedi-ately deposited the nauseating contents into the nearest bin), and if I recall correctly, my brother also bought one.

I wish I still had mine, but he's just a memory, alas.  However, at least I've got this photo 'borrowed' from ebay, which will tide me over until the time an actual replacement should come my way - if one ever does of course.  Do you remember this item from the '60s, fellow Crivs?  Then share your recollections in the comments section and spread the joy.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

'NEW' GUEST POST BY BASHFUL BARRY PEARL...


All images copyright their respective owners

Bashful Barry Pearl sent me this post to celebrate me being back on the Internet, but the content was part of an earlier guest post by Barry.  Obviously, in his desire to be helpful, he'd forgotten he'd already submitted it previously, but what does it matter?  I republish some of my posts all the time, so a partial repeat of one of Barry's won't go amiss.  Ready?  Off we go!

******

Winsor McCay was the brilliant creator of one on my favorite and most influential comic strips, “Little Nemo in Slumberland”.  In 2016, Taschen published a complete set of his illustration along with a separate book (shown here) by Alexander Braun.  Braun shows how McCay influenced many artists (Ditko, Kirby, Meskin and others) and many publishers.  Here is an excerpt from his book, where he is discussing Winsor’s son, Robert, and his experiences in the comic book world of the 1950s and 1960s.


Robert McCay's career path, working for different publishers and in various kinds of jobs, was winding, and none of his jobs lasted very long.  He even worked for DC Comics in the first half of the 1940s, but only as a production assistant and colourist

By the early 1950s, Sigmund Freud's teachings on psychoanalysis had arrived at the center of society, more so in the United States than in Europe.  The idea of depicting the analysis of dreams in the form of a comic practically seemed unavoidable - especially after the pictorial creations of the Surrealists: Dali's motifs, in particular, enjoyed a great deal of popularity.  To do so, it no longer had to be in the same tradition as McCay's work.  Rather, illustrators sought to come close to medical plausibility.  They wanted to tell "true" stories from the unconscious mind and to decode these for their audience.  In 1952, the studio of Joe Simon (1913-2011) and Jack Kirby (1917-1994), together with their closest colleagues, Mort Meskin (1916­-1995) and Bill Draut (1921-1993), launched the strip The Strange World of Your Dreams for Price Publications.  Mort Meskin, in particular, was a driving force behind the project.  He had read Freud's writings, had been a patient in a sanatorium, and practiced a form of ther­apy developed by the Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), who had fled from the National Socialists in 1939 and immigrated to New York, where he then continued his work.


As dream experts, the team surrounding Jack Kirby introduced the char-acter Richard Temple, to whose New York address readers could send their dreams to be analyzed.  If a dream was chosen to be adapted into a comic story, the submitter would receive $25.  Whether the money was ever actu­ally paid out, and whether there really was a Richard Temple, has never been determined, but seems rather doubtful.  It soon became clear that the comic-book series that appealed to an adult readership would not find enough readers.  After just four issues, the experi­ment was brought to an end in 1953.  The target audi­ence had simply been too imprecisely defined.  With the cover artwork, the creators flirted with the style of the extremely successful horror comic books of the time, but they could not and did not want to be as explicit.  Aside from this, they had had women readers in mind while launching this topic, but women preferred the romantic comic books that had been launched by the Simon/Kirby studio itself beginning in 1947.

(After) The 1954 passage of the Comics Code… Robbed of its basis of existence, EC Comics, in particular, tried to develop new topic areas for comics.  Thus the publisher William Gaines (1922-1992) - who had experience with therapy himself - made an attempt with the comic-book series Psychoanalysis in 1955.  This endeavor to make the decryption of dreams useful for comics did not find a large enough audience either and was also cancelled after only four issues.


It is likely that, through his frequent change in employers, Robert McCay also met Steve Ditko (1927-), who, in terms of age, could have been his son.  After graduating from art school, Ditko first worked in Jack Kirby and Joe Simon's studio beginning in 1953, then for Charlton Comics, and finally for Atlas Comics, the precursor to Marvel Comics, where he developed The Amazing Spider-Man with Stan Lee beginning in 1962.  A very remarkable story for the 26th issue of Tales to Astonish dates back to December 1961 - five months be­fore Robert McCay's death (see above):  A man dreams that he floats out of his bed and his window.  Startled, he awakes only to discover that, once again, he begins to float - yet again trapped in a dream, and so on:  Can we be sure that we wake in reality and not just in another dream.  This kind of fantasy exposition that is not concerned with the cause of decoding the dream but carries the absurdity of dreams to an extreme for its own sake is in keeping with the spirit of Winsor McCay.

Monday, 9 December 2019

CRIVENS FINISHED? BURGER OFF!



Crivens is back!  No doubt a few of my critics will think I was disconnected from the Internet for not paying the bill, but such is not the case.  No, I changed providers, but because I had two 'phone lines in my house, it led to problems.  I changed one number to one provider, emphasizing that it was only one number I was switching to them because I was going to move the other number to a different provider, but they misunderstood and cancelled the second number - the one with Broadband.

What's more, the number that was cancelled is one that's been in the family for 59 years, which I took over around 27 years ago.  The new provider is currently working to restore it to me, but they sent me a mini-hub on temporary loan so that I have Internet access until I get my number back, which should be, touch wood (taps head), around a week at the most.

The photo above?  Just grabbed the first one I saw in my files to save time looking for something more relevant.  (Don't worry, it's one I took myself.)  This is an eaterie in the Old Village area of a Scottish New Town, and when this burger place was being fitted and the old sign from the previous traders was removed, the original CO-OP hand-painted sign from at least the '50s or '60s was revealed.  I guess they've decided just to leave it as it is.  (History, innit?)  Funnily enough, there are only about four (maybe five) shops in this row, and the one on the other end is - The Co-Op.

Anyway, hopefully things are now back to normal around here (barring any unforeseen occurrences), so I'll see you all in the next post.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

TEMPORARILY (?) OUT OF BUSINESS...

Sorry to all commenters who I haven't replied to.  I switched Broadband providers and have been lost in Limbo.  I'm using my neighbour's computer to do this post, and will be unable to respond to any comments or emails until I have this problem sorted out.  Please visit old posts to help keep the blog alive.

Monday, 2 December 2019

TOM & SYLVESTER - AND I'M NOT TALKING PUSSY CATS...


Copyright REBELLION

I'd always assumed that TURVILLE'S TOUCHSTONE was a longstanding strip when I saw it in the first combined number of LION & THUNDER in 1971.  If I'd seen it prior to that in an earlier issue of Lion, I don't think I remember it.  (I didn't buy Lion before it teamed up with Thunder, but I'm sure I must've read at least an issue or two at some stage.)  Imagine my surprise then, when I recently acquired the first merged issue of LION & EAGLE and found it contained the debut story of TOM TURVILLE and the alchemist SYLVESTER.  That means the strip was less than two years old when I first saw it, but I somehow had a notion it was far older than that.  Okay, that might've been a later impression, but for many years, possibly after the fact, I had the idea that the strip had originated long before 1969.  Just shows what I know, eh?

Anyway, the above preamble is just my sly way of paving the way for the strip you're now about to read, because I'm sure you lot don't give two hoots for any mistaken impressions or assumptions of mine.  Here, just for you pantin' Crivs, is the very first episode of a true classic of British comics, drawn by GEOFF CAMPION.  I'll tell you what - should REBELLION ever decide to publish a reprint collection of this supernatural series, I'd definitely buy a copy.



And just in case you didn't see it the first time round in a previous post, here's the cover again so that you know what it looks like.  Do you have this comic?  Then get in touch through the comments section, because my copy has four missing pages and I'm looking for scans so that I can complete it.  Can you help?

Friday, 29 November 2019

ODDBALL OATES...


Copyright relevant owner

I may previously have heard the name of ODDBALL OATES from commenters on the blog, but I don't remember ever seeing it prior to recently acquiring the first combined issue of LION & EAGLE in which the strip first appeared.  Semi-regular reader McScotty will be pleased, because I believe it's one his favourite strips from his youth. Disappointingly, my copy of the comic had four missing pages (don't worry, I got a full refund), so if you have this issue and can help me out with scans of them, then let me know in the comments section.

TWO SHORT AT THE TABLE...



I received a text message from a pal almost a week ago, telling me that someone we both knew had died.  He'd had cancer, but at only 58 he was taken far too soon.  He was one of a group who used to hang around with me on occasion, either all together or in smaller divisions.  There were six of them altogether, and one of me, so I suppose, had I been clever enough to think of it at the time, I would probably have considered us my town's equivalent of The Magnificent Seven.

There was me, Stuart, Alex (or Alec), Dougie, Tony, Laurie, and Ricky (aka 'Britt'), and I was odd man out I suppose, in that they all knew one another (four of them being two sets of brothers, so it wasn't hard) before I arrived on the scene.  In a previous post, I recounted the story of how I acquired the nickname of 'Kid' in my teenage years (which you can read by clicking here), and three, perhaps four of the lads alluded to in that post were from the above-mentioned group.

Because I was a year or two older than the others, they tended to regard me as the 'leader', which wasn't a position I aspired to, but it usually just naturally falls on the shoulders of 'the elder of the tribe', doesn't it?  Nowadays they'd probably laugh at the very idea of such a thing, perhaps even deny it, but when a trio of neds started a fight with three or four of us one night, I was the one expected to defend the group's honour, while they stood quite a distance behind me.  It fell on me to take the blows and return them, though actually I was only hit once before I swung into action.

Anyway, 'Britt' died a good number of years ago, and I only learned of it long after the event a handful or so years back, and Tony died on Friday or Saturday.  There's only a couple of the guys I'm still pally with, but as one of them lives in England somewhere, I haven't seen or heard from him in years.  It's sad to see the ranks diminish, even when they've moved on, married, had kids, and left their old lives behind.  Nothing in my life has really changed in 35 years, so I sometimes feel frozen in time, while everyone else has climbed several other rungs up the ladder of life.

It all seems like only yesterday to me, so clear and fresh are the escapades we got up to and the happy times we shared as teenagers.  Hard to believe that the old group is now two members short at the table, and I can't help but morbidly wonder who might be next.  Is it wrong to hope that it isn't me?  Do you ever think of departed friends and keep their memory alive in your mind, or have they faded over time like the scent of summer carried off on the evening breeze?    

Thursday, 28 November 2019

MIGHTY MARVEL COLLECTED EDITIONS CHECKLIST - ON SALE NOW!


WOLVERINE AND DEADPOOL #7

Copyright MARVEL COMICS

76 pages of Marvel’s toughest heroes!  Three great stories!

Logan discovers a deadly web of deceit in Alaska – and starts slicing through it! ‘The Long Night’ continues, by Benjamin Percy & Marico Takara!

Plus: X-23 and Gabby face a new challenge: ‘The X-Assassin’!  A new story begins by Mariko Tamaki & Diego Olortegui!

Also: ‘Night of the Living Deadpool’ continues as Wade Wilson fights to survive a zombie apocalypse! By Cullen Bunn & Ramon Rosanas!

Featuring material first printed in Wolverine: The Long Night #3, X-23 #7 and Night of the Living Deadpool #2.

On sale NOW!

£4.99.

******

AVENGERS UNIVERSE #7


76 pages of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

The team-up you never thought you'd see is here – the Avengers travel back to the Hyborian Age and meet the legendary Conan the Barbarian!!!  Don't miss the shocks as the awesome ‘No Road Home’ saga continues!  By Al Ewing, Jim Zub, Mark Waid & Paco Medina!

Featuring material first printed in Avengers: No Road Home #6-8.

On sale NOW!

£4.99.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

BABE OF THE DAY - JEAN GRAY...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

I remember buying this comic as a kid and being fascinated by the figure of JEAN GRAY on the cover.  Even though The ANGEL is arguably more prominent, I still find my gaze being drawn exclusively to Jean.  Now she's what I call a babe.  So the cutie on the cover is today's offering of womanly wonder, fellas - enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

EXTRA! EXTRA! JANUS STARK ESCAPES FROM THE TREASURY VAULTS...


Copyright REBELLION

My JANUS STARK book from REBELLION's TREASURY Of BRITISH COMICS arrived today and it's a very nice product indeed, with crisp, clear reproduction that is likely superior to the content's original printing in SMASH! comic back in the '60s.  It's a slim volume, being more a 'bookazine' than an actual book, so perhaps Rebellion are testing the water to see if it sells before committing themselves to the expense of producing a more substantial tome.

In the inside back page are brief bios of TOM TULLY (writer) and FRANSISCO SOLANO LOPEZ (artist), but Tom's bio claims that his portfolio of work spans over 'forty decades'.  If so, he must be ancient, so that should obviously rather read 'forty years' or 'four decades', an oversight that should have been caught at the proofreading stage.  Also, most of  the comic titles that the two men worked for are rendered in bold, with the exception of SCORE 'N' ROAR, so chalk up another error, admittedly a minor one.

Surprisingly, other artists - TOM KERR being one - aren't credited, perhaps because Lopez is the primary one, but it would've been nice to see them get a mention.

Unfortunately, I can't open the booklet wide enough to scan without risk of creasing the cover and pages, but trust me, it's worth having.  It comes wrapped in a flimsy Polyethylene envelope, so if you're a collector who wants a pristine copy, it might be worth mentioning it to Rebellion.  Luckily, mine arrived with no major impair-ment, only some minor faults I can sort myself, but I have long experience of receiving inadequately wrapped and badly blemished comics and books from ebay, so this 'free-from-significant-damage' occasion was a miraculous exception.

Order your copy today (if you haven't already) from this link

DAREDEVIL #181 FACSIMILE EDITION...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

I'll say one thing for MARVEL's Facsimile Editions - despite the shiny paper instead of newsprint, their reproductions of the original ads are usually first class, unlike the ones in DC COMICS equivalents.  The ones in the above issue of DAREDEVIL #181 look as fresh and as sharp as the day they first appeared, and if DC could attain the same standard, I'd be a very happy chappie as theirs look washed out and faded.  Obviously some computer technology is at work, so DC should send a spy into the Marvel camp to find out what the process is, as they'd benefit from the knowledge.  Anyway, this one's a belter, so get around to your local comics shop right away and buy one.  Or if you're lazy like me and have a mattress stuffed full of cash, get one on ebay.

Monday, 25 November 2019

VALIANT JOINS VULCAN - IN A JOURNEY INTO OBLIVION...


Copyright relevant owner

You'd have thought IPC's VULCAN would've been more of a success, emulating, as it did, a style very similar to US comics, but the national edition of Vulcan ran for only 29 issues.  However, as it had tallied up another 30 in a trial run in Scotland six months previously, if I'm not mistaken (and knowing me, I very well could be), the total count (remember to be extremely careful in your pronunciation of that when speaking to someone) was 59.  It also had a Holiday Special and an Annual, the latter usually being listed on ebay as 'rare', despite it popping up for sale extremely regularly.  (For 'rare', read 'more expensive than it should be'.)

When its time came, it was merged into VALIANT as a 'mini-mag', which, as far as I know, was the only time this was done to an absorbed title.  I'm not sure it was successful, as it meant some adventure strips were given only one page, and The TRIGAN EMPIRE's colour art didn't reprint too well in black and white.  A mere six months later, Valiant was swallowed by BATTLE and I can't help but wonder if it was the awful typeface lettering that was being use in IPC comics at the time which led to circulation dropping on so many titles.  I won't even bother showing you any examples, because they're so bad it's painful to look at them, but the overall effect was, to use the Glasgow technical term, pure pish.

Sure, D.C. THOMSON used typeface lettering in their comics too, but it was done with more finesse that IPC could manage.  When a comic looks dreadful, it surely doesn't help it retain a loyal following.  It's merely speculation on my part, of course, but maybe there's something in it.  Anyway, here's the Vulcan Mini-Mag #1 and some humour pages (hand-lettered thankfully, so they're most likely reprints) to give you a small taste of a comic weekly that had only around six months to live.  Shame really.  Still, that said, Valiant's 14 year lifespan is hardly to be sniffed at.







BABE OF THE DAY - SYBIL DANNING...



Here's the super-sexy and sophisticated siren SYBIL DANNING to kick-start our pulses this Monday morning, fellas.  One look at Sybil and I remember that life is worth living.  And I'm sure she feels the exact same thing about me.  (Er... why are you all laughing?)

A LOAD OF OLD BULL...



My family lived in the house prior to the one in which I currently reside between November 1965 and June 1972 (when we flitted), but because I still attended the secondary school across the road and hung out with pals in the evenings at the neighbourhood shops a stone's throw away, I didn't really miss it (didn't have a chance to I guess) until around a dozen or so years later, after we had again moved to yet another house in 1983.

Hold on a minute, you say.  If we moved to another house in 1983, how can I yet be living in the one we were in prior to moving?  Easy - we moved back (sans brother) just over four years later, as regular readers will doubtless be sick fed up reading by now.  However, I still knew a few people in the area of my '65-'72 house, and during the '90s would occasionally visit one of my old boyhood pals, who'd lived two rows behind me when we yet stayed there.  He'd left the family home for a few years, but returned when a relationship had ended, living there with his father and sister.

In 1997, upon the death of his father, he and his sister had to move, but a couple or so weeks before, he'd given me an ornament of a Highland bull, I think.  (Judge for yourselves from the photo above - excuse the dust.)  It's horns were broken, so I took it home and repaired and repainted them.  My father had recently had two or three spells in hospital, but on one of his returns home (not that he knew it would prove temporary) as he cast his eye around the room taking in familiar objects, he spotted the repaired bull sitting atop a display cabinet where I'd placed it.

"Where did that bull come from?" I heard him ask my mother while I was in the kitchen, who informed him that I had brought it in.  I think he had only been back in the house a few days, possibly a week, when he was again hospitalised for the final time, never making it home again.  I appreciated my pal giving me that bull, because it was a link to my old neighbourhood, likely having sat in my pal's living room while I yet lived in the area as a child - it connected me to the place in a tangible way.

Now it has another significance, in that it was the last 'new' household item my father ever laid eyes upon before he passed away.  I doubt that he would've viewed it in the same way as me, as a link to the past, and though I never got to explain to him where it had come from, I'm glad he got to see it and sort of 'welcome' it into the house before he himself left it for the final time.

So I look at that old bull now and again and it reminds me of my old house, my old neighbourhood, my old pal (and his old house), and my old dad.  Funny the sig-nificance an ornament can have, isn't it?  Do you have any old ornaments or items that hold any special significance or associations for you, Criv-ite chums?  Feel free to share in the comments section.

******

For another nostalgic tale involving this boyhood friend and my old neighbourhood mentioned above, click here.  And you may also find this tale interesting.    

Sunday, 24 November 2019

CRIVEN'S CLASSIC COMIC COVERS: THE EAGLE HAS LANDED... WELL, MORE LIKE BEEN BROUGHT DOWN TO EARTH...


Copyright relevant owner

Above is the cover of the first combined issue of LION & EAGLE, dated 3rd May 1969.  The week before had seen Eagle's final solo issue, though there seems to be some ambiguity as to precisely what number it was - either 987 or 991.  You'd think the 'powers-that-be' would have allowed it to reach it's 1,000th issue, eh?  Alas, 'twas not to be, and after a long run of just over 19 years, Eagle was no more, relegated to a supporting act (with second billing) to the comic that had been created to directly compete with it.

Lion may have won that particular circulation battle, but ultimately it lost the war when, a mere 5 years later, it was subsumed by VALIANT, which compared to Eagle and Lion, was a relative newcomer, having first appeared in 1962.  Valiant didn't have long to go itself, being merged into BATTLE in 1976, thus breaking the last link in the chain connecting back to MARCUS MORRIS's and FRANK HAMPSON's vanished dream.

A new version of Eagle took flight in 1982, but although it managed to survive (barely) into 1994, it was never the comic that its predecessor had been.

ONE FOR SORROW, TWO FOR JOY - THREE FOR A 'FULL' SET...


Copyright relevant owner

One thing I've noticed as I've grown older is that things that didn't particularly mean anything to me when I was younger have now taken on a significance that I couldn't possibly have foreseen.  For example, the kids TV show MAGPIE was one that I watched occasionally (probably to drool over SUSAN STRANKS and, later JENNY HANLEY), but I'd hardly describe it as classic television.  The BBC's BLUE PETER on the other hand, sometimes could be, and with the likes of a full-size, real-life ACTION MAN in the form of JOHN NOAKES risking life and limb for our entertainment, it was certainly superior to its THAMES TV rival, which was naught but a pale imitation.


So I surprised myself when I saw a Magpie Annual several years back and promptly bought it.  It was the second Annual in the series, and as the years passed, I found myself wanting to obtain the first and third to sort of complete the 'trilogy'.  Not that there were only three (11, I think), but I have this habit of wanting at least the first three of a series, even when I know I'm not going to continue with it.  It's an offshoot to me of the first three issues of a new comic traditionally being free gift issues (which I'd always buy), and I've tended to apply that to Annuals too - even though they're usually 'giftless'.  (There have been exceptions in recent years.)


Anyway, at the beginning of the week I bought the first and third Magpie Annuals from ebay, which arrived yesterday (Saturday morning) so my collection of them is now complete as I doubt I'll purchase any further ones.  One of the later presenters was a fellow called MICK ROBERTSON, and I note that he's listed as a researcher in Books 2 & 3, which at least meant he had a foot in the door when a new presenter was required.  Reminds me a bit of ALIAS SMITH & JONES in that, when actor PETE DUEL committed suicide, ROGER DAVIS, who voiced the show's intro, replaced him in the role of HANNIBAL HEYES.


Anyway, if you'd like to see what sort of contents these Annuals contained, click here, and you'll be taken to "one I made earlier" (to nick one of rival BP's 'catchphrases'), but in the meantime, you'll have to content yourselves with the first three covers.  Even though I was never a regular viewer of Magpie (which was broadcast from 1968-1980, only 12 years), I now derive a poignant pleasure in owning these books, as they remind me of (and connect me to) a far earlier, more carefree time in my life.  Is it the same for you with anything?  Do tell.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

PSST! WANNA BUY SOME DRUGS? THESE DC FACSIMILE EDITIONS ARE ADDICTIVE...


Copyright DC COMICS

The latest DC Facsimile Edition arrived at Castel Crivens this morning, thus adding yet another classic title from yesteryear to my vast collection.  The interiors are scanned from an actual published issue of the original comic, and the colours are therefore muted and occasionally slightly out of sync as per the 1971 edition.  Shame they couldn't print from brand-spanking new proofs, but it's better than nothing.

So, as a slice of the past, it serves its purpose adequately, and semi-regular reader McScotty revealed that he also acquired this replica reprint as his original '70s copy is falling to bits.  It's printed on newsprint paper inside (unlike DC's new line of Dollar Comics, which have that shiny paper that MARVEL also uses), which helps capture the mood of the period in which the mag first appeared, 48 years ago. (I suddenly feel very old.)

The 1962 GREEN LANTERN back-up story is complete, but the main tale is continued, so it'll be interesting to see whether DC do a facsimile edition of the follow-up issue.  Let's hope so!

Friday, 22 November 2019

CRIVENS - WHERE THE ACTION IS...


Copyright DC COMICS

Here's my other LOOT CRATE facsimile edition - ACTION COMICS #1.  It's almost the same as the US POSTAL SERVICE's facsimile from back around 1997, except that the interiors are on newsprint paper as opposed to the glossy stuff used on the USPS issue.  Unfortunately, the 10 cents price box is missing, having been removed for earlier facsimiles, but I wish DC had restored it.  Curiously, the price was left on The BRAVE And The BOLD #28 edition, even though it was removed from previous reprints.  (Spare proofs must've been retained with the price intact.) 

I've seen the same thing happen before; on the three volume NEAL ADAMS BATMAN collection, most covers still had the price, except for a few where it had been deleted for single issue reprints.  You might think I'm nit-picking seeing as how this reprint isn't exactly the same size as the original 1938 comic (which was shorter and wider like all comics of the time), so what does it matter if the price is missing?  I just think it helps recapture the era in which it was first printed.  That's why I wish MARVEL would leave the COMICS CODE stamp on their facsimiles (which they've removed from recent ones), as it helps retain the spirit of the period.

Anyway, although I've got several reprints of this same issue, it's nice to have yet another to add to the collection.  You'll find this (and the previous one I showed earlier) on ebay, should you be interested in acquiring them.  And should you want to see some other reprints of this iconic comic, click here.

PUT MY LOOT IN A CRATE...


Copyright DC COMICS

Just arrived at Castel Crivens - LOOT CRATE's 2017 facsimile edition of The BRAVE And The BOLD #28, The JUSTICE LEAGUE Of AMERICA's first appearance.  Looking at the cover, it's easy to believe that it could be the original, but though the story pages inside are as clear as a bell ('cos DC have reprinted the tale a number of times from top-quality sources), the ad pages, etc., which have never been reprinted before, are scanned from an actual published edition of the 1959 comic.

Looks great though, eh?  And the good thing about it is that the interiors are printed on newsprint paper, not that shiny stuff that MARVEL use.  Coming up next - Loot Crate's facsimile edition of the one that started it all.  Don't miss it!

IT'S BY SIMON & KIRBY, SO IT MUST BE SPECIAL - BOY COMMANDOS (UPDATED)...


Copyright DC COMICS

When I bought DC's BOY COMMANDOS #1 (my original copy that is, not the replacement I now own) back in the early '70s, I suppose I just assumed it was a one-off (a 'one-shot' as they're called today), because I never saw any further issues.  It was only a couple of years or so ago that I learned there'd been a second ish, and it's only in the last week that I got around to buying it from ebay.  That's it above, finally acquired a whopping 46 years after it first came out.  I can now bathe in the satisfaction of owning a complete set, even if it consists of only two copies.  (That's the first ish below, just to keep its 'sibling' company.  Incidentally, the hands holding the guns aren't by either SIMON or KIRBY, but are a '70s addition to this cover.)

A caption at the end of the second story says that it's the last issue, which leads me to an interesting speculation.  On sale around this time was MISTER MIRACLE #17, the second-last Kirby issue.  Did DC know that Jack was considering returning to MARVEL when his contract ended, and decide there was no further point in promoting any minor comic mag by him?  This was 1973 and Jack's last issue of KAMANDI went on sale around January 1976, but it would have been turned in a few months before that.  Truth be told, none of Jack's DC mags had really set the world on fire, with Kamandi being his longest-running title, but the honeymoon period of JK and DC had been over for a good while.

Remember the DC house ads in advance of Jack's first DC mag?  'The Great One Is Coming!'  Well, the 'great one' came, stayed for a bit, then left, but hardly made much of a mark at the time.  His comics certainly didn't have the impact on sales that DC had anticipated.  It fell to others at a later date to more fully incorporate Jack's characters into the DC Universe and exploit them to (arguably) greater effect.  Or am I reading far too much into it?  It's likely that issue 2 of Boy Commandos had been prepared before the sales figures for 1 had come in, and when they did, DC saw that the demand wasn't great enough to continue the title, so a new end caption box was inserted at the last minute announcing the fact.  Maybe it's as simple as that?

What do you think, Crivs?   

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