Thursday, 28 February 2019

THE DALEK SEVEN...


The DALEKS copyright BBC TV & the Estate of TERRY NATION

If you're like me, when you saw the golden globed DALEK EMPEROR for the first time in TV CENTURY 21 back in 1965, you probably assumed that it was his debut appearance in comic strip form.  It wasn't until many, many, many years later that I discovered he'd previously seen print in The DALEK BOOK in 1964, which, if it followed the pattern of other Annuals, probably went on sale in August or September of that year.  Not only do I not recall ever spotting any of the three Annuals in the shops, I also have absolutely no memory of seeing them in the possession of any of my friends or classmates.  Mind, I'm not stating categorically that I didn't see them, just that, if I did, I don't remember ever having done so.

If you're not like me, and you had that first Annual (above), you'll be laughing at my then-ignorance, and perhaps even feeling a little sorry for me for the clearly deprived childhood I was forced to endure, unaware that such magnificent Annuals even existed.  Never mind though, I've got all three of them now, as well as all four of the ones from the '70s, even if, apart from the subjects, they weren't connected.  By that I mean the first three were by Panther Books/Souvenir Press (reverse the order of the names for the 2nd and 3rd books) and the next four were by World Distributors.

I've shown the covers before, but this time all seven of them are from my own collection, the 2nd and 3rd ones having previously been 'borrowed' from the Internet.  I actually repaired the first three books for someone a couple or so years back and took the opportunity to scan the complete contents at the time, but that was only a stopgap, as I much prefer having the 'real thing'.  I obtained the first book a short time later, and have now acquired the remaining two within the last several days or so.  Only one thing remains - to find the time to sit down and read them from the beginning, right through to the very end, but I can't even begin to guess when that will be.  Time just seems to race away from me these days, and I'm waking up to a new one before I've even realised the old one is over.

Anyway, enjoy the covers, but remember - they're all mine.  (The '70s books had different back covers, so I've included them here, but the the front and back on the '60s books were the same, so no point repeating them.)










Monday, 25 February 2019

HOW ARE THE MIGHTY FALLEN...



The thing that once distinguished ACTION MAN from a doll was that he was a 'fully-articulated' figure, whereas a doll was a barely poseable clotheshorse for a variety of outfits and accessories.  True, Action Man also had his own vast wardrobe, but you didn't just dress him up and look at him, you could bend him into almost any realistic fighting position - unlike girls' dolls who weren't much more flexible than shop window mannequins.

Not any more alas!  The new Action Man is a shadow of his former self, with only eight points of limited articulation, which means his main reason for existence is to showcase his different outfits.  You have a choice of three - sailor, soldier, or pilot, but the figure is really just for display, with severely limited play possibilities compared to his original '60s incarnation.  I can't really see kids of today warming to him, and collectors will be disappointed by his reduced abilities. 

Once an action figure that truly lived up to his name, he's now been reduced to that of a mere doll.  How are the mighty fallen indeed.

******

Or at least that's what I thought until I discovered that this is intended as a range for young kids to introduce them to the Action Man brand (still think he could be more poseable though).  A super-articulated version is in the works for sometime this year for older kids and collectors.  Thank goodness for that.  Take a wee look at their site:  www.actionman.com

Sunday, 24 February 2019

WANTED - NOT ANY LONGER, I GOT 'EM!


Copyright DC COMICS

I imagine that when people realise their time is running out, they start tying up all the loose ends in their lives and completing things they started but never finished years before.  Consequently, I wonder if my subconscious is trying to tell me something, as I've recently found myself trying to complete comics collections begun more than 30 or 40 years ago.

One such title is DC's WANTED: The WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS VILLAINS, the first regular issue of which I bought back around 1973.  I had a few issues of the comic, but not the full nine in the series, and in fact, it was only in the last few years that I discovered there had only ever been nine, and that it hadn't gone on for years after.  I have specific memories connected to the ones I owned at the time, and re-acquired the first three a good few years ago.

It's a comic that I associate with the house I was then (and now) living in, which is only natural as this was my abode when I first read however many issues I had of the series.  I was therefore surprised to learn that the title had first appeared as two DC SPECIALS in 1970 and '71 while I was living in another house in a different neighbourhood.  So associated is the name and logo with my present domicile that I find it difficult to even imagine the comic originating while I was yet living in my previous abode.

Not that any such trivial musings on my part will be of any interest or concern to you.  However, I recently managed to obtain the remaining issues in the run, plus the two Specials.  (In fact, the first Special - #8 - only arrived on Friday, as it came from America and therefore had further to travel.)  I wanted them and I finally got them, so mission accomplished - at least as far as this particular mag is concerned.

That's all the excuse I need to hit you with yet another cover gallery, so here are all eleven of them for your viewing pleasure.  Wanted - the world's most interesting comments, so get typing.










Thursday, 21 February 2019

MIGHTY MARVEL CHECKLIST - ON SALE NOW!!!


AVENGERS UNIVERSE #16

Copyright MARVEL COMICS,  published by PANINI

76 pages of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

‘No Surrender’ continues!  The mystery of the lost Avenger, Voyager, deepens!  The Avengers battle the Lethal Legion and the Black Order!  By Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub & Kim Jacinto!

Featuring material first printed in Avengers #679-681.

On sale 21st February.

£4.99.
__________________________________________________________

WOLVERINE & DEADPOOL #15


100 pages of Marvel’s toughest heroes!  Four awesome stories!

Wolverine, Deadpool and Honey Badger uncover a sinister plot – and come face-to-face with mutated zombie bunnies!  By Tom Taylor & Marco Failla!

Wolverine goes in search of justice – and her only ally is a woman whose father she murdered!  By Tom Taylor and Djibril Moirssette-Phan!

The X-Students come under threat as Logan gets some bad news from Cecilia Reyes!  By Ed Brisson & Ibraim Roberson!

The Punisher pays a "friendly" visit on Deadpool in ‘Suicide Kings’!  By Mike Benson  & Carlo Barberi!

Featuring material first printed in All-New Wolverine #31-32, Old Man Logan #39 and Deadpool: Suicide Kings #3-4.

On sale 21st February.

£4.99.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

PART TWO OF OMEGA THE UNKNOWN - WHO KNEW...?


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

It happened with three MARVEL comic mags I was buying at the time back in the '70s - HOWARD The DUCK, The ETERNALS, and OMEGA The UNKNOWN.  After the first five issues they vanished from sight in newsagents, leaving my collection incomplete for many years.  I later tracked down the rest of The Eternals, and #s 6-12 of Howard in the very late '80s or early '90s, but it's only in the last few days I've acquired the individual issues of Omega #s 6-10.

As many of you will know, after printing the US copies, Marvel changed the plates to include the UK price, and to substitute 'Marvel All-Colour Comics' in place of 'Marvel Comics Group' on the banner at the top of the covers.  This was done (so I read somewhere) to alert potential customers to the fact that the monthlies were in full colour, unlike the British weeklies, which were mainly black and white.  Interestingly, all five issues I received recently are US copies, so I suspect that perhaps the title was non-distributed in Britain after issue 5.  If anyone knows for sure, feel free to enlighten me via the comments section.

In around three months time, it'll be five years since I showed you the covers and splash pages of the first five issues of Omega, so it's well-past time I showed you the ones for the remaining five - and here they are.  If you'd like to remind yourselves of the preceding images, you can do so by clicking here.  Another post which might be of interest to you is this one.

It might take me a while to do things I said I'd do, but I get there in the end - whether it be comics or blog posts.  Enjoy!









Monday, 18 February 2019

JACK KIRBY'S KAMANDI OMNIBUS...


Copyright DC COMICS

KIRBY's KAMANDI - just what do I make of it?  Of all Jack's DC work in the '70s, Kamandi is the only major one that I'd never read in its entirety - until now.  I remember buying issue #29 at the time (it's possible that I'd bought #1 prior to that, but I'm not absolutely sure), and I perhaps purchased a few other issues back in the '70s, but I was never a huge fan of the title for some reason.  Nowadays, I have the first 8 or 9 in the run, plus #29, but recently I took the plunge and acquired the OMNIBUS volume containing all 40 issues that Kirby worked on.

So, what's my verdict on the series?  It's okay.  There are some poignant moments, especially the fate of KLIK-KLAK, a giant insect, but surprisingly, considering it was JK's longest-lasting '70s mag at DC, it's probably his worst drawn of the period (his '80s SUPER-POWERS issues were worse).  Dodgy perspective abounds, and the art seems downright lazy in places - though this might be down to D. BRUCE BERRY's lacklustre inking rather than Jack's pencils.  The reproduction in the Omnibus isn't helped by 'black and white reconstruction' on some pages, and some of the lettering is blotchy, while other instances seem to have been completely re-lettered.  (Not having the original issues to compare to, I can't be 100% sure, but the quality of lettering is definitely inconsistent, even when credited to the same guy.)

However, it's good to have finally read all the Kirby issues (GERRY CONWAY wrote the last three stories, and JOE KUBERT drew the last seven covers), even if it did take me 45-odd years to finally get there.  I doubt I'll ever bother tracking down the other 19, non-Kirby issues - unless they're published in an inexpensive softcover edition.  I now have every published mag that Jack produced for DC in the '70s, either in original issues or Omnibus collections, but re-reading them makes a fella realise just how much Jack benefitted from collaborating with STAN LEE.

Look at that first paragraph on the back cover below.  "After shaking the very foundations of the DC Universe in the 1970s with his classic 'Fourth World' titles..." Well, DC are trying to sell the thing, so we can forgive them a spot of hyperbole, but though Jack's arrival at DC in the '70s might've rattled a couple of windows, his initial new series never really took off with most readers and were soon discontinued.  It was their failure, in fact, that made titles like Kamandi possible, as Jack had a contract to produce 15 pages a week, so DC had to keep him working. Which is not to say that Jack's DC work was bad when judged on its own terms - it wasn't - but it just wasn't a patch on what he'd done at Marvel.

I'm sure that others will disagree, but I've now read everything he produced for both companies, and I know which I prefer.  What about you?
   

Friday, 15 February 2019

GUEST POST BY BARRY PEARL: THE ABDUCTION OF OUR INNOCENCE...



Welcome, culture-lovers, to another guest post by Bashful BARRY PEARL, where he takes a look at FREDRIC WERTHAM's (in)famous book, SEDUCTION Of The INNOCENT.  Let's not waste any more time with introductions from me, let's get straight to the meat and potatoes.  Take it away, Barry...

******

I thought this would be a good time to look back at Fredric Wertham’s attack on comics during the 1950s.  Why now?  Because his notes and records have only recently become available to scholars.

1955 brought Dr. Fredric Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent, to Senator Kefauver and his new committee looking into juvenile delinquency.  Wertham and the committee sensationalized the issue drawing attention almost solely to comic books.  They did not, at this time, bring much insight into the many societal causes of juvenile delinquency -- poverty, lack of jobs, opportunities, and lack of good parenting -- and seemed to just blame comics for all teenage evils.  Given time they would have included acne.  I know that a broken clock is correct twice a day and the same thing happens to be true for a broken doctor.

Wertham was correct, some of these stories were gruesome and should not have been available to children, but his book did not scientifically link juvenile delinquency to comics books, it just sensationalized the issue.  By scientifically, I mean using methods that were repeatable and verifiable.  Wertham found images where no one else did.  Judges, journalists and medical professionals challenged his results, but they were ignored amid all the furious cries of outraged parents and teachers.  Wertham also continued to treat the entire genre as if it consisted solely of crime comics, when nothing was further from the truth.  He also claimed that Superman, created by two Jews, was a Nazi and that Wonder WomanBatman, and Robin exhibited homosexual behavior.

There are different opinions about Wertham’s work, but many people confuse their view of his intent with what he actually published.  While people may have different opinions, we should not have different facts.  When I read his book as a teenager in the 1960’s and saw him on TV, I thought that he was trying to promote himself as an absolute authority, someone not to be questioned.  For example, in the 1960s, he still advocated the banning of comics because he said the lettering could cause blindness.


I do not have to use the polite words of a professional - Wertham made up many of his findings, distorted the truth, ignored important facts and didn't ever see many of the young people he claimed to.  The innocents that were seduced were parents and book buyers, whom he wanted to follow his lead.  Apparently Zealots don’t care about the facts as long as they can succeed in getting their views across.

There were catastrophic consequences to his book and the congressional hearings that followed.  Hundreds of people lost their jobs when dozens of publishers went out of business.  Publishers were made out to be villains.

And so, comics were forced to change and for a decade were written mostly for children.  Wertham said he was against censorship, but would also say a higher authority was needed to control comics.  If that isn’t censorship what is?  Wertham altered his speeches and changed his tune in different sections of the country.  In New York, where the major publishers were, he had said that he only wanted to ban "crime comics", which he said made up only 6 percent of the titles.  In other parts of the country he would say "crime comic books are comic books that de­pict crime, whether the setting is urban, Western, science-fiction, jungle, adventure or the realm of supermen, 'horror' or supernatural beings."  In other words, just about all serious comics.

Wertham maintained that a huge majority of the thousands of troubled children he saw read comics and that was a major cause of their problems.  Even as a teenager, this bothered me.  How could one man treat thousands in just a few years?  And he was seeing a limited sample, only troubled youths.  His patients did not include well-adjusted kids;  how did they react to comics?


Even as a pre-teen, I liked girls.  Still do.  I thought of them all the time!  Wertham suggested that reading Batman and Robin could make many boys not like girls, because Batman and Robin had an inviting gay lifestyle.  And, of course, Wertham considered gayness a terrible, infectious, affliction.  What did reading comics have to do with sexuality?

Carol L. Tilley, in the historical journal of Information & Culture (2012), presents a lot of the missing pieces in her enlightening and important scholarly work, "Seducing the Innocent:  Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications That Helped Condemn Comics".  Ms. Tilly studied the papers of Wertham that had been donated to the Library of Congress, but were unopened until 2010.

We discover that many of the children used for Seduction’s examples were not seen by Wertham, but by others, in many institutions.  Most of the children had long-term disorders, which Tilley lists as including "undesirable habits" (e.g., masturbation and nightmares), "personality traits" (e.g. daydreaming and restlessness), and "undesirable behaviors" (e.g. truancy and disobedience)".  Wertham, it turns out, had not seen all those children and relied on the reports of others.

Tilley researches the gay issue:  "In Seduction, Wertham proposed that homosexual men identified strongly with the Batman comics...  More specifically, Batman and Robin offered readers 'a wish dream of two homosexuals living together.'  Wertham shared the insights of a young homosexual man who stated, 'I think I put myself in the position of Robin.  I did want to have relations with Batman.'  The young man... was actually two men, ages sixteen and seventeen, who had been in a sexual relationship with one another for several years and had realized they were homosexual by the age of ten.  Wertham combined their statements, failing to indicate that the seventeen-year-old is the one who noted, 'The only suggestion of homosexuality may be that they seemed to be so close to each other' and omitting the phrase that followed, 'like my friend and I.'  Further, Wertham did not make any mention that the two teens had found the Sub-Mariner and Tarzan to be better subjects than Batman and Robin for their early erotic fantasies."



There are several other inaccuracies and falsification of data on this subject, such as Wertham mentioning Batman totally out of context to a subject’s statement. "Wertham’s treatment of evidence in Seduction and his responses to questions about his comics-related research were indicative of a larger pattern of spurious and questionable behaviors."

In one more example, Wertham states that strong female characters could not just ignite lesbian desires in young women but cause them to hate men and behave criminally.  He cites a 13-year old girl named Dorothy, as an example.  She writes: "Wertham commented that the images of strong women reinforced 'violent revenge fantasies' against men and possibly creates these violent anti-men (therefore homosexual) fantasies...  Sheena and the other comic book women such as Wonder Woman are very bad ideals for them."

Tilley writes: "Wertham also declined to mention in Seduction that Dorothy - in addition to being habitually truant - was a runaway and a gang member, was sexually active, and had both a reading disability and below normal intelligence… Most telling of all, however, is a key fact Wertham omitted from Seduction: Dorothy was Dr. Mosse’s patient, not his, and as she was hospitalized at Kings County Hospital, where he did not practice, he would have never spoken with or observed her."

Stan LeeWBAI radio:  "Wertham was the psychiatrist who came along and he blamed comic books for virtually every ill that has ever befallen mankind and I was very disappointed in him."


******

Interesting stuff, eh?  I'll make my own views known in the comments section eventually, but hopefully some Criv-ites will respond before then and thank Barry for his efforts on our behalf.  I'll start the ball rolling by saying thank you, Barry, for taking the time and trouble in supplying something more substantial than my usually trivial efforts.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

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



The enchanting CAROLINE MUNRO graces us with her stunning presence today, fellas.  Caroline also graced The SPY WHO LOVED ME, but I don't think she realised I was a spy when she was showering me with kisses.  (Hey, you're getting this for free, so don't expect quality witticisms!)

Sunday, 10 February 2019

MARVEL UK FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL COVER GALLERY...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Sometimes, an Annual could go on for several years, far outlasting the weekly comic that spawned it.  The '70s incarnation of KNOCKOUT is a good example, the comic lasting only two years, but continuing in Annual form for another twelve, thereby producing thirteen Annuals in total.  It's not quite the same with MARVEL UK's FANTASTIC FOUR Annuals, which, as far as I'm aware, total a mere three, and it's by no means certain that the final two (if such they were) are even tied into the weekly The COMPLETE FANTASTIC FOUR anyway.

The comic had burst forth on newsagents' counters on 21st September 1977 (dated 28th), and expired with its 37th issue on 31st May '78 (dated June 7th), so the first Annual at least (published by WORLD DISTRIBUTORS on Marvel's behalf) was almost certain to have been a direct tie-in to the weekly title.  It would have gone on sale in August or September of '78 (a couple of months after the comic's demise), but would most likely have been prepared at the beginning of the year, as, although mainly reprint, it had a new cover, and such things are usually commissioned well in advance.  (I remember working on the 1986 2000 A.D. and JUDGE DREDD Annuals at the beginning of 1985.)

Also, in its last few weeks, the comic had been reprinting The INVADERS, and the 1979 FF Annual carries a team-up tale between the World War II group and the cosmic quartet.  The Invaders first appeared in the May 3rd issue of the weekly (which went on sale on April 26th), but comics are prepared around eight weeks in advance, so the decision to include them was taken at least at the start of the year, suggesting that the Annual's team-up story was no mere coincidence, but designed to reflect the contents of the weekly.


By the time the other two Annuals appeared (for '80 & '81), they were published by GRANDREAMS (who, if I recall correctly, were situated in the same building as Marvel UK, hence the 'collaboration'), but whether or not they were intended to be seen as a direct spin-off from the now-deceased weekly title is just about anyone's guess.  They may simply have been commissioned because the first Annual sold well (I'm assuming), so it would have made sense to continue - at least until sales started to decline beyond a commercially-viable margin.

I'm puzzled by the strong similarity between the first two covers - could they both have been drawn at the same time to the same editorial description just to give Marvel a choice?  That first one is nothing brilliant - The THING is far too large to fit in his FANTASTI-CAR section if you imagine the rest of his body, and the perspective of The TORCH is decidedly dodgy in relation to his own section of the vehicle.  Even the second cover has its faults, with SUSAN RICHARDS being too small in comparison to the other three.  Also, The Thing's thumb on his right hand is lost against the detail of his arm, and should've been drawn protruding slightly upwards, the better to be seen.  This illustration first appeared on the back cover of FOOM #22 (the final issue), so I'm assuming it was reused for the Annual.  However, there's always a chance it was specifically drawn for the Annual well in advance and FOOM perhaps merely nicked it to fill a space.  Couldn't say for sure either way though.  

I only acquired the first two Annuals in recent weeks, though I've had the third one for well-over twenty years, but I decided to complete the 'set' to complement my run of The Complete Fantastic Four weekly comic.  Feel entirely free to regard this post as a follow-up to the above-named title's cover gallery series from around three years back - whether the last two Annuals were intended to represent the comic or not.  And as I said earlier, if you know of any other Marvel UK FF Annuals from around this period, then let's hear all about them, effendis.  

Saturday, 9 February 2019

SPIDEY GETS HERE - EVENTUALLY...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Yes, it contains the free gift

I usually get there in the end, and so it was in this instance.  34 years and another house and neighbourhood away, I was buying the UK weekly SPIDER-MAN comic, but managed to miss a couple of issues.  Not that I wanted to, but they were just nowhere to be found in any of the shops I looked for them at the time.  Thank goodness for ebay!  A year or two ago, I got the issue below, and today I received the issue above, thereby completing that run of comics I was buying back in 1984.

I gave both issues a cursory glance and placed each of them in the respective space that had long awaited their arrival, and maybe one day I'll give them a proper read-through.  Suffice enough for the moment that they're there when I want them, and that 1984 seems as fresh and new as if it were only a year or two away, instead of the gulf that it actually is.

So I'm glad to have them, though can't help but being slightly sad at the thought that I may not have another 34 years ahead of me to locate any new comics that escape me today.  Every rose has a thorn, eh?  

MIGHTY MOTH'S WINTER & HOLIDAY SPECIALS...


Copyright relevant owner

MIGHTY MOTH is probably one of the earliest comic strip characters I remember from childhood, maybe even the earliest.  I first saw him in the 1962 or '63 TV COMIC Holiday Special while either holidaying (aptly enough) in Ayr (I think), or perhaps only on a day trip.  The title of the comic didn't register with me, nor did the name of the character (though I was aware he was a moth) - it was artist DICK MILLINGTON's distinctive style which I remembered.  A year or two later, while thumbing through a weekly issue of TV Comic in a newsagent's, that style jumped out at me and, although I didn't become a regular reader of the periodical until the late '70s, I did buy the occasional issue over the years up until then.

It was because ol' Mighty reconnected me to an earlier time in my life that I bought the Winter Special bearing his name towards the end of 1980.  That's it above, the very same one which I've now owned for just over 38 years - wow!  I only found out a few short years ago that there was also a 1981 Holiday Special and have been trying to obtain one ever since.  (I featured an image of it in a couple of posts some years back, but it was 'borrowed' from ebay.)  I'm now glad to be able to say that my very own copy arrived yesterday, thereby completing my two-issue set.  At least, I'm only aware of two, so if anyone has any info about other issues, I'd appreciate you letting me know.


I've just read (or re-read in the case of the first one) both comics over the last couple of days, and my already huge regard for Dick Millington's talent and appreciation of Mighty Moth has increased to even greater proportions in the process.  I derived a goodly portion of laugh-out-loud moments from the strips, and Dick's deceptively simple style possesses a really funny visual quality that is quite impressive.  To get a laugh from just looking at a picture suggests that it must be good, and there are quite a few of them in these two publications.  It's possible that I never knew Dick's name until I saw it on his HAPPY FAMILIES newspaper strip, which, if so, means I was an adult (allegedly) before I could put a name to the artist.

Mighty Moth's basic premise was the same as (though preceded) the FRANKIE STEIN strip in WHAM! (and later comics), in that 'dad' was always trying to get rid of the one who inadvertently plagued (but loved) him.  In Mighty's case, he sometimes deliberately tried to annoy dad (usually in revenge for dad's hostility), but this was merely in service to a story, and, in fact, he often seemed to regard dad and his wife as actual parents.  Anyway, in celebration of me finally having both Mighty Moth Specials, below are a handful of strips to hopefully provide you all with a few chuckles.  If only REBELLION would acquire the rights to the character and do some collected editions - The COMPLETE MIGHTY MOTH.  Sounds good to me.



Look at the 3rd panel in the 3rd tier - little Mighty sits like a happy kid next to
his 'dad' on the way to the seaside.  That pic of Mighty made me laugh out loud


Hoppit from TV Terrors makes a cameo appearance in the last tier's middle pic 

An unpublished fanzine cover I drew 34 years ago, featuring Mighty Moth
 and some dude in long underwear whose name escapes me for the moment
 


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