Wednesday, 31 July 2019

WANNA SEE A MONSTER?



Way back in 1976 or '77, I bought a 45rpm single of HONEY MONSTER singing a cover version of SUGAR SUGAR by The ARCHIES.  I still have it, but as SUGAR PUFFS seems to no longer exist, I've found myself being attracted to various bits of tie-in merchandise from when it was one of the UK's favourite breakfast cereals.  One of my most recent acquisitions is this colourful mug, from which I'm drinking a nice cup of tea as I type.  Thought you might like to see it, so here it is. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

CALLING ALL ACTION FIGURE COLLECTORS...



Here's a question for any collectors of action figures out there.  In the above photo is a recent replacement for a REDBOX figure I originally owned back in 1971.  I remembered his face as being the exact same as PALITOY's ACTION MAN, but without the scar, but as you can see, it isn't so.  Perhaps I'm confusing him with a different figure I bought the year before (in 1970), but what I'd like to ask you all is this:  Did any of you ever have a cheaper version action figure with a face that was the double of Action Man, but like I said, without a scar?  If that rings any bells with you, please let me know.

Incidentally, that's the same figure in both sides of the photo (achieved via computer trickery), before and after I'd painted the hair and eyebrows and given him some clothes.  I thought I'd done him proud, but he'd the cheek to ask me for 50p for a cup of tea (guv'nor), too.  Never happy, are they?  

BABES OF THE DAY - CHARLIE'S ANGELS...



I was going to post a pic of TANYA ROBERTS for today's Babe, fellas, but then I decided that three are better than one.  So here's a photo of CHARLIE'S ANGELS instead.  The other two cuties are JACLYN SMITH and CHERYL LADD, and I suddenly find myself spoiled for choice.  Who's your favourite out of this terrific trio of lovely ladies?

Monday, 29 July 2019

STAR TREK - WHAT HAPPENED NEXT...



Here's WILLIAM SHATNER, again playing CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK in this amusing clip from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.  Way to go, Bill.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

X-MEN #137 FACSIMILE EDITION...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's yet another issue in the MARVEL Facsimile Edition series that all you True Believers out there will be sure to want to add to your ever-burgeoning collections.  One of the great things about these mags is that they contain all the original ads, which helps to capture the era in which they were first published.  In this case the year was 1980, and (you know I'm going to say it, don't you?) it only seems like yesterday to me.  I never had the original ish of this classic, but I think it was reprinted (probably in instalments) in one of the UK b&w monthlies like MARVEL SUPERHEROES, so the artwork seems familiar to me.  Some great JOHN BYRNE art in this mag, so if you're a fan of his, this one is right up your street.

Don't delay - buy it today! 

Friday, 26 July 2019

GUEST POST BY BARRY PEARL: THE FIRST ORIGINAL COMIC BOOK!


Images copyright their respective owners

I promised you a post by the mighty BARRY PEARL, and as a promise made is a debt unpaid, here it is!  Thanks to Barry for all his hard work.

******  

I know this sounds contradictory, but there are no "firsts" in comics!

Many concepts thought to be original when used by the major publishers, may have first appeared earlier in the more obscure publications, not available on the local newsstands.  Also, comics were published internationally and American historians tend to not to consider them.  Many publishers did not widely distribute the comics. Treasure Chest comics distributed in parochial schools in the U.S. from 1946 to 1972.  March of Comics and Buster Brown comics were distributed free to retail customers.  So someone is often able to find an exception to any "declaration" about "comics".


My favorite story about this is Stan Lee telling an audience at the New York Comic Con in 2003 that he had just produced the first Hispanic super-hero!!!!  He got thunderous applause.  Except he forgot that Marvel did that in 1974 in "Sons of the Tiger" (In Deadly Hands of Kung Fu) and Latin American countries had produced Hispanic super-heroes for decades!


But is it a comic?

Funnies on Parade (1933) is regarded as one of the first publication to feature comics.  In this case they were reprints of comic strips.  Funnies on Parade was not a comic book, but a big newspaper size page folded down to eight pages.  It was used as a promotion for Proctor and Gamble products.  Previously, Dell Publishing in 1929 had produced a 16-page publication entitled the The Funnies which was a tabloid insert.  Neither was available on newsstands.

Famous Funnies (1933) is often called the first comic book.  It was available on the newsstands and  featured reprints of comic strips.  It really was not a comic "book" but a "magazine."  But ever since then we have called "comic magazines" "comic books."  (Or as Stan called them, "comicbooks" - one word.)


Before Famous Funnies, Couples & Leon, beginning in 1903, produced several small books with cardboard covers, featuring reprints of over 100 comic strips including The Katzenjammer Kids, Alphonse and Gaston and Happy Hooligan.  Most famously, they went on to reprint Little Orphan Annie, among other titles.  Technically, I guess, they were really the first comicbooks!

In 1934, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, owner of National Allied Publications, published New Fun #1 (Feb. 1935).  It is often described as the first comic book containing all-original material - but was it?


Enter: Dan Dunn, Secret Operative 48.

Dick Tracy and the crime genre had become popular in both the pulp magazines and comic strips of the times.  Dan Dunn was, obviously, influenced by Dick Tracy. Dunn made his grand entrance in the story, "The White Cat Murder", a 32 page ORIGINAL story that appeared in the short lived Humor Publications.  Like the Couples and Leon books, this story appeared in a book featuring cardboard covers and newsprint interiors.  In was a true comic BOOK, but not a magazine.


It was only a one-shot appearance but its creator, Norman Marsh, retooled it for a comic strip that began on September 23, 1933.  It was slightly retitled: Dan Dunn, Secret Operative 48.

So you can debate among yourselves exactly what a comic book is and, therefore, what came first.  I think Dunn did it.

******

Thanks once again to Barry for taking the time and trouble to grace this humble blog with the fruits of his labour.  Don't be shy now, Criv-ites - leave a comment and show him that you appreciate his efforts.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

AWESOME ANNOUNCEMENT!

For all you fans of BARRY PEARL's great guest posts, just to let you know that he's written another one for this humble blog, which I'll be publishing at the earliest opportunity.  Just so you know that you've got something worthwhile to look forward to.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

COMIC COVERS 'SNAP'! PART TWENTY-THREE - LION & THUNDER HAVE GOT IT COVERED...


Copyright REBELLION

One of my favourite covers is THUNDER Annual (below) for 1972 (issued around August or September 1971), which I first bought in December of '71 from the proceeds of a 50 pence Christmas tip given to me by an elderly couple on my paper round.  (The book cost 60p so I added the remaining 10p myself.  Considering I only got paid £1 for delivering papers in all weathers seven days a week, that 50p was extremely generous - half my week's wages in fact.)  

However, I've only just discovered that it was a 'homage' (to put it nicely) to the cover of a 1965 issue of LION comic weekly (above).  I think there's little doubt that, sequentially-speaking (in order of publication), the former 'inspired' the latter, eh?  It's interesting to note that Thunder weekly was merged into Lion after only 22 issues, several months before the Annual even went on sale (though it would've been commissioned long before the merger).

Incidentally, I was unsure whether the bird was an Eagle or a Vulture, but having now looked at the text story inside, it's actually a Condor (part of the Vulture family).  Award yourself a prize if you knew that from the first.  Also of interest is the fact that the above Lion comic contains an episode of a serial called The GARDEN Of FEAR, and the complete tale (though probably edited to omit recaps) is reprinted in the very Thunder Annual below.   


Got a preference, folks?  And why?  The comments section awaits your welcome presence - don't disappoint it.

Monday, 22 July 2019

NAKED MAN ALERT - AND VALIANT & SMASH! SUMMER SPECIAL 1971 (UPDATED)...


Copyright REBELLION

It was June or July (or maybe bits of both) 1971 that my family holidayed in Largs for the third and final time.  I'd arisen early on the Saturday morning on the day of departure and taken a quick trip along to my former neighbourhood to top-up my sense of nostalgia, intended to sustain me through the coming fortnight.  In the same newsagent's where I'd regularly purchased TV CENTURY 21 in 1965, I saw the VALIANT & SMASH! Summer Special and bought it immediately.  (Strange to think that TV21 - in a vastly different form - was still on sale in 1971, though it would be only another few months before it too was merged with Valiant.)

Here's the curious thing.  Although I remember the cover clearly, when I recently acquired a replacement for my original copy, I realised that I had no memory of the contents.  Sure, I remembered the characters themselves, but not the stories, nor any specific images from any of the strips.  That's unusual for me, and I can only assume it's because I haven't seen the contents since they were first published, hence my memory of them was never refreshed in the same way as other comics I'd replaced only a few years after first having them - not 48 years as in this instance. And perhaps, also, they weren't particularly memorable to begin with.  (Had JANUS STARK been among the contents, that would definitely have registered with me.)

KNOCKOUT hadn't been out for very long, and I purchased an issue or two during our stay in Largs, but there are two items in particular that I remember buying in the same shop, maybe even on the same day.  One was a little plastic deer (see here) and the other was a REDBOX action figure, which, if I recall rightly, was outfitted in a deep-sea diving suit. I seem to remember his face being extremely similar to PALITOY's ACTION MAN, but when I received my replacement today (the figure itself, unclothed), there wasn't much of a resemblance.  Perhaps I'm remembering the face of the action figure I'd bought in Rothesay the year before, or maybe I later contrived a means of attaching an Action Man head to the Redbox body, but whatever, that's the way I remember it.

Courtesy of computer trickery, the same figure - before and after

The figure itself is just as I recollect, and it's good to be reunited with yet another item from the past (two, counting Valiant & Smash!), almost 50 years after the fact. Funny how I sometimes think it's impossible for me to be that old, yet at other times my youth feels like it was centuries ago.  The Redbox figure was quite a decent imitation of Action Man, in that the level of articulation almost matched that of AM. The main differences were that the hands and feet didn't rotate, and the waist and neck joints didn't allow the upper body and head to move up or down, but that apart, and given the difference in price, it offered tremendous play value.  Unlike other cheaper figures, the arms could be positioned outwards from the body (allowing him a hands on hips pose), not simply moved forwards or backwards like inferior imitations.

Also, the swivel joints just above the thighs (under the ball-joints which fit into his lower regions) allowed him to (almost) sit with either foot resting on the opposite knee, something that even PEDIGREE's TOMMY GUNN (AM's closest top-quality rival) couldn't do.  Okay, 'Redbox Man' was made of far softer and lighter plastic, but he was still a good toy, and only Action Man, Tommy Gunn and IDEAL's CAPTAIN ACTION outshone him.  Considering all the cheap inferior knock-offs that sprang forth in the '60s, that's no mean achievement. 

So, two more replacements for past items have joined me, which makes me happy and sad at the same time.  How is that possible you may be wondering.  Well, I'm happy to have them 'back' again, yet I'm sad that the time they represent was so very long ago.  As I said, sometimes it feels like it, other times it doesn't - a paradox that I don't think I'll ever be able to get my head around.  How about you?  Anyway, I'd better go and find some clothes for Mr. Redbox before he gets arrested.  (Now done.)

Just think - I last stood in these premises way back in 1971.  Wow!

Footnote:  I returned to Largs for a day's visit (see here) in June 2014, a full 43 years later.  The above shop was once the very newsagent's from which I'd bought my Redbox figure and plastic deer.  The newsagent's  now sits across the road (I took the above photo just outside) and is still run by a member of the same family, who, if I recall correctly, still owned the lease on the other premises, but were trying to sell or let (through estate agents) to interested parties.  Again, if I remember rightly, it had lain empty for only a few years, after having been a hair & beauty salon.

Update:  I've now painted Mr. Redbox's hair and eyebrows.  (I'd only touched up the brows with a marker pen in the 'before' side of the pic.)  As is common with these figures, the hair was only lightly sprayed, mainly on the top, with the sides and backs left bare.  The original colour looked black to me, but on closer inspection, I thought I could detect a hint of a dark brown.  I tried black at first, but it didn't look right, so I removed it and used a brown colour that I mixed myself (from brown and black). Looks quite good, if I say so myself.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 FACSIMILE EDITION...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's yet another in the MARVEL facsimile editions series, Giant-Size X-MEN #1, and if you don't have the original, then this version will do as a nice stand-in until you win the Lottery or that rich uncle pops his clogs.  Once again, the COMICS CODE box has been omitted, which irks me slightly, as I prefer facsimiles to look as much like the originals as possible, and the Code box is integral to the feel of the period the mag was first published.

Anyway, if you've been buying any of the mags in this series, this is one you might like to consider adding to your collection.  Unlike the TRUE BELIEVERS version, it contains the back-up strips of the original, and is better than the MARVEL MILESTONES EDITION from the '90s.  'Nuff said.

******

I see this ish is already up on ebay for ridiculous prices.  One seller is asking £15.99, another £19.99.  Crikey, it only just came out a few days ago.

LEO BAXENDALE'S SWEENY TODDLER...


Copyright REBELLION

Received a complimentary copy of LEO BAXENDALE's SWEENY TODDLER today, the latest release from the TREASURY Of BRITISH COMICS, and let me tell you - it's an absolute belter!  Containing 90-plus pages (not counting the full-colour endpapers and Leo's son MARTIN's introduction, etc.) of one of IPC's most popular strips from the '70s (and beyond), it belongs on the bookshelves of every true fan of UK comics.  Hardback, at only a paltry £14.99 (according to the back cover), it's available in better bookshops and also direct from REBELLION at this link.  (It's listed at £19.99 on the site, but I assume that includes p&p.)

First-ever Sweeny strip

My copy contained a special print (#83 of 100) of Sweeny at his menacing best, suitable for framing and turning my study/studio into a much more colourful and interesting place to be.  So thanks to those nice people at Rebellion/Treasury Of British Comics for their generosity.  Incidentally, the quality of reproduction is first class - probably better than the strips' original printing in SHIVER & SHAKE and WHOOPEE! back in the day, so it really is a 'must have', especially if you're a Baxendale fan.  There appears to be a few strips by a fill-in artist(s), but it's mainly Leo's art at its hysterical best.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

IT'S ONLY 34-ODD YEARS LATE, BUT IT FINALLY GOT HERE...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

In what sometimes seems like another lifetime, in a place that can be accessed only in dreams and memory, I started to again collect a weekly comic that I'd bought as a young teenager.  The comic was called SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY, and in 1979 it shortened its name to just SPIDER-MAN COMIC.  At some stage I gave up on it, but then, in 1984, I started buying it again, probably (I assume) because it featured the first instalment of a comic strip adaptation of INDIANA JONES And The TEMPLE Of DOOM.  By this time ('84), it was called simply SPIDER-MAN, and it was printed on good-quality paper and was quite a handsome publication.

I restarted with issue #590, but #601 was the last to feature the better printing, as the following week, it started using slightly cheaper paper for the insides, and what's more, the height of the comic shrunk by nearly an inch.  However, it now had more pages (36 as opposed to 32) and more of them were in colour, so I suppose it was a fair trade-off.  For some unaccountable reason, I missed three issues (there may have been more, but if so, I acquired them so far back that I've forgotten not having them), which I finally managed to track down nearly 34 years after the fact.  (In case you're wondering, they were #607, 610, and #615.)

The last issue I purchased in this particular run was #621, which I took a look at last week while emptying a cupboard full of comics in a search for some specific numbers of SMASH! from the '60s.  (Didn't have them in loose form.)  I was surprised to see that all three stories in Spidey were continued, and assumed (as with the other formerly missing numbers) that I just couldn't find the next ish in the shops at the time*.  So I looked for it on ebay, found it going for a paltry sum and bought it on the spot.  It arrived today, and I'm glad to see that the wrap-up for all three tales reaches their natural conclusion, so I can now regard this run of comics as complete.

(*Just remembered that I was living down in Buckland, Portsmouth in 1985, from January to around April, so that's maybe why I didn't see it in the shops.  My routine down there wasn't exactly the same as it was back home.)

It may have taken me nearly 35 years, but I'm glad to say that I eventually got there in the end. There's an old saying (which I'll paraphrase) - 'it's better to travel hopefully than to arrive', and in many instances that may well be true, but this case is the exception.  It's good to finally reach the end of this particular 'journey' and write 'close' to an unfinished chapter in my life - when I was less than half the age I am now. What amazes me is that it went by so fast, but that's a song you'll be fed up hearing me sing, so I better not batter the subject over the head again this time around in case you bail out on me for another blog.

When I get time, I'll scan all 32 issues and do another cover gallery for you.  Is that something you'd like to see?  Then say so in the comments section, frantic ones.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

AGAIN - STAN LEE'S LITERARY LAPSES...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's another little belter from the backyard of bygone bloopers in what I like to call STAN LEE's 'literary lapses'.  This one's from X-MEN #19 where The MIMIC has kidnapped JEAN GREY and is driving her out to his father's old laboratory in a deserted mine.  Take a look - Jean (in her MARVEL GIRL costume) is blindfolded, yet manages to 'see' that they're at a deserted mine and that CAL RANKIN's wings have gone.  What makes that last observation all the more remarkable (if there can be anything more remarkable than being able to see with a blindfold on) is the fact that he's behind her, so that's not something she could have noticed anyway, even with her eyes uncovered.

Also, he says that he wants the X-Men to follow him, so why blindfold Jean at all?  It matters not a jot if she sees where she's going if The Mimic wants to be followed, does it?  What's that you say?  Maybe she's blindfolded to prevent her using her telekinesis?  After all, she can't attack what she can't see.  Well, whether that's true or not, she's unlikely to use it to attack Cal while he's driving in case he crashes, 'cos then she'd be injured as well.  And besides, she could always use her telekinesis to remove her blindfold, just like she did in X-Men #3.  She doesn't need to see to do that.  It just doesn't add up on so many levels.

Stanley, you ol' rascal - you weren't paying attention again, were you? (Probably dialoguing the FFTHOR, and The AVENGERS at the same time as this one.  Hey, maybe that's why Rascally ROY 'The Boy' THOMAS took over writing the mag with the very next issue?)

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

HEY, HEY, WE'RE THE DALEKS...


My babies - I'm so proud

Here we come, 
gliding down the street,
ex-ter-mi-nating
everyone we meet.

Hey, hey, we're The Daleks,
better not get in our way,
'cos we're The Daleks from Skaro
and we got something to say...

"EX-TER-MI-NATE!"

(Sung to the tune of The MONKEES theme.)

REVEALING REPOST: SHOCK! HORROR! FORMER COMICS CONTRIBUTOR IN BROTHEL SCANDAL...



Yes, it's true.  Your genial host was once in the position of being in a brothel for all of half an hour, surrounded by scantily clad lovelies and two guys wearing nothing but the skimpiest of towels.  Admit it, you're intrigued, aren't you?  Some people who visit this blog under cover of various proxy servers will even now be think-ing "Doesn't surprise me what depths of depravity that disgusting troll will sink to!", but they'll  read on in the hope of finding some nugget of info with which to metaphorically batter my already scurrilous reputation (in certain circles anyway).

So here's what happened.  A pal 'phoned me one night to say that he'd hurt his back at work and was looking to get some remedial attention on it.  He'd rung up a couple of physiotherapists (or whatever they're called) and was appalled at what they wanted to charge for a consultation on account of being a bank holiday weekend.  So he'd looked up Yellow Pages and discovered a massage parlour in the West End of Glasgow and wanted to know if I'd go in with him as I was familiar with the area.

The parlour, known as Aquarius, was situated in Park Quad, just around the corner from a B&B in Park Circus, where I and a young lady had stayed the night a few years before.  (It's all right, I knew her.)  Parked outside, I took one look at the place and said "Are you mental?  It's a brothel!"  He was philosophical about the matter.  "I should still be able to get my back massaged!" he replied.  So in we went.

He was charged £20 entry, given a drink and told to go and take a shower.  I explained that I was merely waiting on him and was advised that for £8 I could use the 'facilities'  (the bar and the pool room).  "Nah, it's all right, I'll just wait here at the desk," I said.  Some girls stood around the desk in their negligees, chatting, and rubbing moisturizer into their thighs and over their bodies.  I had to stoop for a while, and it occurred to me that they'd missed an opportunity in not charging me for the show.

Eventually, my friend reappeared, picked a lady, and was escorted to a room somewhere.  "You can use the pool room if you want," one of the girls said, so I wandered in, then immediately wandered out again on sight of two Chinese guys playing pool, wearing only the smallest of towels around their nether regions. Perhaps it was a unisex brothel, I thought, and they were there to cater to women or gays.  What did I know?  I'd never been in a brothel before (or since).  Turned out that they were two punters, taking a breather between sessions.

So I returned to the desk, where an affectionate black cat decided to make friends with me.  And yes, it was the nearest I got to any pussy that night.  (Thought I'd better say it before one of you did.)  Eventually my pal returned, looking more than slightly embarrassed.  As he informed me after we'd left, the woman had massaged his back for ten minutes, then enquired of him which services he wanted, telling him what was available and the costs involved.  When he explained that he was really just looking for a back massage, she became indignant.  "I'm not here to rub your back!" she said.  "I only make money from what I do in this room, I don't get a cut of the entry fee."  (The door entry fee, that is.)

So that's the story.  A small drink and a ten minute back rub cost my pal 20 smackers - he'd have been better going to a physiotherapist to begin with.  See what can happen when you take the cheapskate route and try and save a few pounds?  Anyway, now that you know the facts, The SUNDAY POST can go ahead and publish their expose on my shady time in a Glasgow brothel - I beat them to the punch and they can't hurt me.

(Let's just hope they don't uncover the story about me and that stuffed giraffe.  I'd never live that down!)

In case you're wondering, a couple or so years later, the place was raided and shut down, so it no longer exists.  Just thought I'd mention it in case anyone hurts their back at work and is looking for a massage parlour where they prefer not to do massages.  My friend could probably have sued them under the trade descriptions act, but then he'd have had to explain the situation to his missus, who wouldn't have been too happy about his little excursion into the seedier side of life.

Now where can  I can get this pain in my groin seen to?

Monday, 15 July 2019

BABE OF THE DAY - ANGELA BODWORTHY...



To be completely honest, I don't have the faintest scooby what this awesome babe's name is, so I just made one up based on her being 'hot' enough to  be a BOND GIRL. (Well, her bod is certainly worthy, and her face is a perfect match.)  At first I thought I'd seen her face somewhere else, but then I realised I couldn't have as it's most likely always been on top of her neck.

Update:  I'm informed that her actual name is DENISE MILANI, but ANGELA BODWORTHY works just fine for me.  In fact, who the hell cares?  (Apart from the lady herself, obviously.)

Sunday, 14 July 2019

TRUE BELIEVERS - AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #258...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

At the risk of you all groaning in despair "Oh, no - not again!", I simply can't help myself from marvelling at just how quickly time seems to fly by.  For instance, I bought the original issue (ASM #258) of the above new TRUE BELIEVERS mag back in 1984 - a whopping 35 years ago.  I can remember reading it in my then-new bedroom in another house in a different neighbourhood as if it was a relatively recent event.  (Yes, you guessed it - I'm trying to avoid saying "as though it were only yesterday".)  As most regular readers will know, my family lived in that other house for just over four years before returning to our previous (and my current) abode, but one glance at that cover (of either printing) and I'm back in that other residence (here it comes) "faster than a fart from The FLASH!"

Seeing it again is like saying hello to an old friend, even though I still have my original issue bought back in 1984.  So I guess I now have two old friends - who just happen to be twins.  (You were expecting me to type something sensible?  This is Crivens! remember - you want sensible, you shouldn't be here!  And besides, at's nearly 20 past 2 in the morning.)  Anyway, if you're not buying this series of comics, you should be (well, most of them anyway) - it'd cost you far more to buy the originals, and some of these new presentations are absolute crackers.  (Below are the two mags side-by-side so that you can compare them.) 

Saturday, 13 July 2019

DO YOU KNOW YOUR DALEKS?


DALEKS copyright BBC TV & the Estate of TERRY NATION

Okay, Criv-ites, here's a question for you all.  In the above photo of two 4 inch friction-drive DALEKS, one is an original '60s MARX toy (procured recently on ebay for an extremely reasonable price), and the other is a late '80s/early '90s DAPOL reissue, produced from the original Marx moulds.  Can you tell which is which?  Go on, hazard a guess - but remember, things might not be quite as they appear.  (And yes - that's the back page Dalek strip from TV CENTURY 21 #1 that they're posing against.)

******

I got my first Marx Dalek in 1967.  Eventually, I had two silver ones, a black one, and a red one.  By the time I started secondary school in late 1970, I don't think I had any of them anymore, meaning my ownership of them was relatively brief.  However, in memory, it seems like I had them for years and years, far longer than their replacements purchased from '88/'89 onwards.  (Must have around 30 of them, if not more.)  That means I've now owned them for around 30 years, yet that period feels far shorter than the three-odd years I had the originals.  Funny that, eh?

Thursday, 11 July 2019

X-MEN #1 FACSIMILE EDITION - (UPDATED)...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's one I pre-ordered back in May, and it popped through my door today - which rather amazed me as I don't have a letterbox.  Ho-ho, relax, of course I do, just joshing - about the letterbox, that is.  X-MEN #1 facsimile edition is something that I don't really need as I have the original issue, plus the TRUE BELIEVERS reprint, but I just can't resist these little beauties.

However, I have a few bones to pick with this one.  For a start, I wish they'd left the COMICS CODE box on the cover, as they have with the other mags in this series. (And for some reason, the indicia is in the wrong place inside.)  Also, one of the ads is reproduced at too large a size, resulting in it almost bleeding off one side of the page, and another ad is slightly different from the original.  That's it below - see if you can spot the two main differences.  (I won't mention the missing 'em dash' in another ad as that's perhaps being a tad too pernickety.)


Another thing is that I miss the 'continued after next page' lines at the bottom of the pages preceding any ads,  and I wish that MARVEL would print the interiors on matt paper instead of glossy stock.  Those minor observations aside, however, it's an issue worth having, as it's as close as you're ever likely to get to owning this classic comic. Unless, of course, you already have it, or you win a substantial amount of moolah on the Lottery.

Anyway, below is the facsimile alongside the original.  If you don't have the 1963 ish, buy the 2019 one and just make-believe.


Update:  It seems that Marvel have taken shortcuts with this issue.  I checked my 1991 MARVEL MILESTONE EDITION of the comic, and the re-created ad used therein has been utilised for the facsimile edition.  I hope they don't continue in this vein with future releases, as some of the reconstructed ad pages in the Milestone mags were poor imitations of the originals.   

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

MIGHTY MARVEL CHECKLIST! ON SALE 11TH JULY...


AVENGERS UNIVERSE #2

Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

76 pages of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

The Avengers face a force that can’t be stopped – the Celestial menace known as the Final Host!  By Jason Aaron & Ed McGuinness!

Featuring material first printed in Avengers #5-6, 8-9.

On sale 11th July.

£4.99.

 ******

WOLVERINE & DEADPOOL #2


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

The X-Men find the resurrected Wolverine – but this isn't going to be a happy reunion!  By Charles Soule & Declan Shalvey! 

Plus: X-23 and Gabby uncover the horrifying plan of the Stepford Cuckoos – just a little too late!  More intrigue from Mariko Tamaki & Juann Cabal! 

Also: Deadpool heads back to Wakanda to tackle the Black Panther! By Daniel Kibblesmith & Ricardo Lopez Ortiz!

Featuring material first printed in Return of Wolverine #3, X-23 #2 and Black Panther vs Deadpool #2.

On sale 11th July.

£4.99.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

STAN LEE'S LITERARY LAPSES...


Bottom tier, page 3.  Copyright MARVEL COMICS

If you read BARRY PEARL's guest post about the MARVEL METHOD, then you'll be aware of how the 'House of Ideas' produced their comics back in the 1960s.  (Perhaps you even knew before reading Barry's article.)  However, writing the captions and dialogue after the art had been drawn sometimes resulted in the occasional continuity blip, and this new 'now-and-again' series playfully and affectionately takes a look at some of STAN LEE's howlers - when his script didn't reflect exactly what was happening in the pictures.

Top tier, page 4.  He could never have made it home that quick

One example is The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #13, where PETER PARKER is sitting in a deserted classroom one moment, and mere 'minutes later' is in the kitchen of his AUNT MAY's Forest Hills home.  Stan obviously wasn't paying too much attention to the background scenes in the preceding panels (though to be fair, he'd have dialogued them in their pencil form).  Had the caption read 'Later, back home...' then there would have been no problem, but Stan's oversight managed to sneak through into print undetected.

In your local comics shop now

Hardly an earth-shaking revelation, but it just goes to show that even the mighty Stan Lee wasn't exempt from the odd boneheaded boo-boo from time to time.  Apart from that, it's a nice little tale, reprinted in the above TRUE BELIEVERS if you'd like to refresh your memory.

Monday, 8 July 2019

REVIEWS FROM THE FLOOR OF 64 - WHERE THE PAST IS PERFECT...


Copyright relevant owner

One of my chief faults (among many) is that it takes me forever to get around to doing things - decades even, in some instances.  It's not uncommon for me to have taken 30 years or more to acquire missing comics to plug gaps in my collection, not because of their scarcity, but simply because I was too lazy or distracted to actively seek them out.  (I've got model kits from 20 or more years ago still in their boxes, plus three [for someone else] I've not yet finished months after starting them.)

Such was the case with REVIEWS From The FLOOR Of 64, a fanzine initially devoted to FANTASTIC and TERRIFIC which I saw advertised quite a number of years back.  I meant to buy it, contacted the fella who produced it to say that I would - and then, before I knew it, the years had rolled by without me ever having done anything about it.  Until a couple or so months back when I finally purchased the first three issues via ebay.

Let me tell you, this is one of the very best (if not the best) fanzines of its kind that I've ever read.  Diligently-researched, intelligently and amusingly written, well illustrated, and displaying the writer's obvious love of the subject matter.  If you're around my age and remember the ODHAMS POWER COMICS, then this is a mag that you should seriously consider buying.  Back numbers of every issue are still available from the email address at the foot of the post.

The mag changed its name to PAST PERFECT when it widened its interests a good while back (#42) to include American comics, and other British titles like TV21, MWOM, SMCW, TV TORNADO, and WHAM!, SMASH!, and POW! (as well as others I've probably forgotten).  Super-thick (the current issue has 76 pages, many of them in full-colour), each A5-sized ish is a comics nostalgist's dream and would make a wonderful addition to your regular reading material.

For further details, dash off an email to editor, writer, and compiler PAUL WARE at pd.ware@hotmail.co.uk - go on, give it a try - I'd be surprised if you weren't glad you did once you've seen what a labour of love it is.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

THE RETURN OF JOHNNY FUTURE...


Copyright REBELLION

A good while back, around the time that REBELLION started releasing their collected editions under the TREASURY Of BRITISH COMICS imprint, I emailed them and politely suggested that they should consider publishing the MISSING LINK/JOHNNY FUTURE strips first printed in FANTASTIC back in the late-1960s.  The standard reply I received saying that they had no plans to do so, but might consider it at some stage in the future (npi) didn't give me much hope for the prospect.

However, now, with the news that just such a volume is being planned for release in 2020, I'm claiming credit for giving them the idea.  Well, why not?  I even suggested on this blog that other Criv-ites should contact them and make the same suggestion, so that they could determine the level of interest in such a collection.  So, in my usual modest, understated way, I'm saying that it's all down to me.  (Humility is my middle name.)

One of the things that always puzzled me when I was a kid was that, when the Missing Link first stumbled out of the jungle, he was wearing a pair of gents trousers.  Now you and I both know ODHAMS PRESS could hardly have had him gadding about naked, but they should've given him a loin cloth, not an item of clothing from BURTON The TAILOR.  As an (alleged) adult, I set my mind to contriving an explanation for the way he was attired, and the following idea is what I came up with. (Well, okay - perhaps it wasn't my chief motivation, but it was something I wanted to address.)

******

It's really a rather obvious connection to make when you think about it.  The clue is in the names - JOHNNY FUTURE and The MAN Of TOMORROW!  So - what's the 'missing link' between the two awesome appellations?  SUPERMAN!  Here's how it happened in the fevered depths of my imagination.

JOR-EL, concerned about the impending demise of KRYPTON, has been observing our Earth through a space-time warp for many months.  It seems like the best choice of planets to which he can send his infant son - if and when he perfects the hyper-drive of the spaceship he's working on.  He's already built a prototype, but needs to test it before he can risk using it as a space ark for little KAL-EL.

So, donning a replica suit of 20th century Earth-style clothes, he rockets to our planet with the intention of confirming that it would be a suitable environment for his young son.  He crash-lands in the African jungle, but although uninjured, a small radiation leak from the ship's hyper-drive power unit transforms him into a hulking brute of incredible strength and limited intellect, who comes to be known as The MISSING LINK.  Exposed once more to leaking radiation from a nuclear power plant, he returns to normal, but with no recollection of who he is.

If you're familiar with the Johnny Future strips from reading them in Fantastic back in the '60s, then you already know the rest.  However, what you didn't know (until now) is that, after his 'career' as a superhero on Earth for many months, Jor-El's memory returns and he makes his way back to the jungle to repair his ship and return to Krypton mere seconds after he left.  (Due to that ol' space-time warp, remember?) The rest, as they say, is history.

However, there's more.  Writer JERRY SIEGEL originally envisioned Superman being rocketed to Earth, not from Krypton, but from a doomed Earth far in the future.  Similarly, in my version of events, Earth is Krypton (having evolved over thousands of years and - due to an ever-expanding universe - now occupying a different place in the heavens than it used to).  The globe has been renamed and our once bright yellow sun has succumbed to the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) and is now a fiery red, affecting the gravitational pull of the planet.

So - Earth's first 'superman' is actually Superman's father.  Johnny Future sired The Man of Tomorrow!

Anyway, that's how it happened in my little world.  Bear it in mind when you finally get your hands on the eagerly-awaited upcoming collected edition of this fondly-recalled strip, written by ALF WALLACE and illustrated by the astounding LUIS BERMEJO - it may make you view the character just a little bit differently.

Below is what's probably only a temporary 'working' cover for the purpose of facilitating pre-orders on AMAZON.  Click here for details.

THE FIRST GRAPHIC NOVEL - GUEST POST BY BARRY PEARL...


All images copyright their respective owners

The Mighty BARRY PEARL has done it again - but this time he has surpassed himself.  Barry examines the origins of what is known the 'Graphic Novel', and his diligently-researched post may well surprise you.  Don't take my word for it - read it and see for yourselves.

******


What was the first Graphic Novel?

The first illustrated or "picture" stories were probably done in hieroglyphics thousands of years ago and signed by Stan Lee.  The term Graphic Novel,  as it applies to the "long-form comic book", was coined in November 1964 by Richard Kyle in Capa-alpha #2, a newsletter published by the Comic Amateur Press Alliance.  As with the term "Film Noir", Graphic Novel is a term applied retroactively.  Since the 1970s the term Graphic Novel has often been used to mean comic books for older people.


It is interesting that Classics Illustrated, which adapted novels into comics, is not a factor in the Graphic Novel's development, although they could have been its logical first step.  And so could have Milt Gross' He Done Her Wrong! from 1930.  But while Gross's book does tell a story graphically, he uses no words whatsoever, so it is graphic, but really not a novel.


The Graphic Novel came into its own in the mid-1970s.  These novels would no longer be orphans at the newsstands when comic book stores began to flourish.  In the mid-1970s readers could see that Marvel's creators were looking for something more than an episodic comic.  By this time, Jack Kirby was outgrowing the comic book medium and seemed to be searching for something more complex and less collaborative.  Steve Ditko, in his 170-page story arc starting in Strange Tales #130 (Mar 1965), also seemed to be distributing a Graphic Novel into his ten monthly Doctor Strange pages.  Jim Steranko's story, "Dark Moon Rise, Hell Hound Kill!" in Nick Fury #3, was also a forerunner, showing the format, but not the length, of what could come.  When Steranko created his first true graphic novel, "Chandler", he had to find another publisher.


Comics, like TV shows, had mostly been episodes in a series, each edition or each comic having a beginning, middle and an end.  A novel does not have episodes, it has chapters that seamlessly build on previous chapters and they cannot exist separately as an episode does.


What is a Graphic Novel and what should we look for in one?  We need to go back to the mid-1800s, when Rodolphe Topffer, a Swiss innovator of the comic strip, described the essential nature of a picture story.  Topffer understood that the drawings and the text must be symbiotic:

"The drawings without their text, would have only a vague meaning;  the text, without the drawings, would have no meaning at all.  The combination of the two makes a kind of novel, all the more unique in that it is no more like a novel than it is like anything else."  In 1837, Topffer published what many consider to be the first comic book, The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck (Les Amours de M. Vieux Bois) which he wrote and drew.  In America it was published as a newspaper supplement.


A Graphic Novel should be both graphic and a novel.  The Oxford English Dictionary says that a novel is:  "a fictitious prose narrative or tale of considerable length (now usually one long enough to fill one or more volumes), in which characters and actions representative of the real life of past or present times are portrayed in a plot of more or less complexity."  Therefore, a Graphic Novel should contain illustrations that help tell a longer, involved and complete story.  However, The Oxford English Dictionary defines the Graphic Novel as a "full length story published as a book in comic strip format."  It demotes "novel" to story and illustration to "comic strip" because that is the way we use this term.  I do not know why some of their significance is lost when both words are combined.

Jim Steranko and many others claim that a graphic novel cannot contain word balloons.  As such, Steranko calls them "fat comics".  He has a point that, many times, publishers put out trade paperbacks filled with long or collected comic book stories and call them "graphic" novels, when they are just fat comics.  But for me, whether the text is in balloons or at the bottom of the page (as Hal Foster did in Prince Valiant), what is important is that they are dependent on each other to tell the story.  We should recognize the difference between a fat, well-bound comic and a Graphic Novel.  A Graphic Novel should be self-contained, and not a "collected" edition of several short stories.


In 1976, Bloodstar (Morningstar Press) gave us an early indication.  The cover said the book was "a science fiction/fantasy adventure in words and pictures."  In addition, Bloodstar "is a new, revolutionary concept -- a graphic novel, which combines all the imagination and visual power of comic strip art with the richness of the traditional novel."  The story was illustrated and adapted by Richard Corben from an original story by Robert E. Howard.


Many feel that the modern graphic novel was born in 1950 when "It Rhymes With Lust!" by Arnold Drake, Leslie Waller and Matt Baker was published by Archer St. John.  It was described as a "picture novel."  Even in 1950, Arnold Drake saw the medium as one for adults:

"As we worked with the comics form, we reasoned that for the ex-GIs who read comics while in the services and liked the graphic style of storytelling, there was room for a more developed comic book -- a deliberate bridge between comic books and book-books.  I… came up with the logo that would adorn the cover: a paintbrush and a pencil crossed over a book cover and the letters PN, for Picture Novels. What we planned was a series of Picture Novels that were, essentially, action, mystery, Western and romance movies ON PAPER.  The trouble came when it was time to market it.  There would be no space on the stands for this one odd-ball-product.

This (and the cover sketch above) is Arnold Drake's
layout for 'It Rhymes With Lust'.  (Originally called
'One Man Too Many' in its draft stage)

"I don't think there is much question that "It Rhymes with Lust" was the first graphic novel.  It wasn't a stumbling, accidental creation.  Les and I knew exactly what we set out to create.  The fact that it was essentially a ‘B Film’ on paper, rather than the more sophisticated products that came 25 years later and called themselves ‘Graphic,’ speaks to the change in the readership over those years.  The sons and daughters of the veterans who went to school on the GI Bill were a very different market than the one that Les and I dealt with back then.  I have no idea what the first Picture Novel would have been had we had that broader, deeper audience."

St. John also published a second Graphic Novel, "The Case of the Winking Buddha"but sales of both were weak and the line was discontinued.


In 1955, EC published Picto-Fiction which was inspired by Big Little Books.  It was another example of illustrated stories, not novels, trying to reach an older audience.

Let us not confuse the Graphic Novel with the format that it was originally presented in.  When Charles Dickens wrote many of his books they were published as serials, chapter by chapter, in magazines.  This approach to marketing novels was common in the nineteenth century.  If we keep this fundamental point in mind, then it is not very difficult to accept that Kirby's pre-history of the graphic novel begins with Tales of Asgard which started in Journey into Mystery #97 and ended in issue #145.  It is 245 pages.


Gil Kane would publish two stories that had great influence in developing graphic novel concepts:  "His Name is... Savage!" (1968) and "Blackmark" (1971).


The first, full, graphic novel that I read was "Chandler: Red Tide" by Jim Steranko in 1977.  It was a hardboiled detective story intended for adults. It was exciting and extremely well written, drawn and designed.  Like Lust, it had the look and feel of a film noir movie.  Its look, form and subject matter have helped jump-start the genre and obviously influenced the creators of "Sin City" and "The Road to Perdition".  Jim Steranko observed:  "When the book appeared it was not embraced by the comic-book community because it didn't have word balloons or captions."  In other words, it was not a comic book, it was truly a graphic novel.  Steranko did not create the Graphic Novel, he merely perfected it.


Byron Preiss, Chandler's publisher: "RED TIDE was an original, mass-market adult crime novel created to retail at American newsstands alongside hundreds of other paperback offerings… It supported its claim to be a graphic novel by adopting the use of continuous text and chapter breaks in traditional literary fashion, with all story pages featuring two panels, the size of which remained constant throughout the volume.  Standard comic-book devices, such as captions and dialogue balloons, were not employed.  The unique text-and-image format was used here for the first time.  Rather than using typical comics' storytelling, Steranko developed a narrative approach that mirrored the noir films of the 1930-40s and an illustration style that utilized both a hard and soft-edged treatment (without an inkline or feathering) that approximated cinematic photography, a technique that took RED TIDE another step away from comics.


Fiction Illustrated had earlier published two books that might easily be mistaken for graphic novels.  The first, "Schlomo Ravenby Tom Sutton was a light-hearted detective novel.  It had a style reminiscent of Will Elder's work in Mad.  A second book, "Starfawn" by Stephen Fabian, was a science fiction comic book for adults and was told in a traditional comic book style, complete with dialogue balloons.


The term Graphic Novel appeared on the title page and on the dust jacket.  Will Eisner's "Contract With God" (1978) is an enjoyable, absorbing tale that is a big step toward serious, adult graphic stories.  It was written soon after the tragic death of Eisner's own daughter.  It is not really a graphic novel - it wasn't long or detailed enough, it was a graphic memoir or short story.


"Maus: A Survivor's Tale" is a memoir by Art Spiegelman and is a great example of what a Graphic Novel can be.  It tells the story of Spiegelman's father who survived the Holocaust, but he uses cats and mice as the central characters.  In 1992 it won a Pulitzer Prize Special Award.  A small part was reprinted by Marvel in a black and white magazine, Comix Book in 1977.


Could Marvel and DC have produced graphic novels, or comic series?  We have a hint with Kirby's Eternals and New Gods.  I'd like to feel that the medium has evolved and has grown in the last few decades.  When I see the term "graphic novel" I hope to get more than just a long comic book story.  I would like to see stories "in which characters… are portrayed in a plot of more or less complexity" where the pictures and text are both necessary to tell the story.  There should be more experimentation as we have seen in Chandler and Maus.


Captain Marvel is correctly regarded as Marvel's first Graphic Novel.  It dealt with death in an adult manner that removed it from the typical comic book demise, albeit not without the comic book melodrama that goes hand in hand with any serious topic.  It had a beginning, a middle and a conclusion that you usually don't find in comics.  The Graphic Novel must take us to places we cannot go in a comic book.  As our expectations mature we anticipate more.  Yes, there are bad Graphic Novels and they should not be confused with "fat" comics.

So what was the first Graphic Novel?  Other than satisfying a creator's ego, it probably does not matter.  There are no "Firsts" in Comics.  Many concepts, thought to be original when used by the major publishers, may have first appeared earlier in the more obscure ones, not available on local newsstands.  Comics were published internationally and American historians tend not to consider them.  So if you read and enjoy "a fictitious prose narrative or tale of considerable length… portrayed in a plot of more or less complexity" it's a Graphic Novel.

So the first Graphic Novel is the one you read first - whether it had dialogue balloons or not!

******

Okay, Criv-ites, don't let me down.  Barry has put a lot of work into this post, even supplying the images, so be sure to leave a comment showing your appreciation.  Just think - if not for Barry, you'd be stuck with reading something by me!  (Yeah, doesn't bear thinking about, does it?)
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