Thursday, 31 December 2020

THE WIND ON EAST WILLOW...

An adventure starring Toad, Badger, Ratty, and Mole - and, of course, Miles...

 
 
Regular reader Terranova47 wrote a story for his grandson and has graciously allowed me to publish it here on Crivens.  Hope you enjoy it as much as T47's grandson did.

Plotted and written by BRIAN BERKE
Visualised and illustrated by CARMEN CERRA
(Expanded and edited by G. Robson)

Toad and his three friends, Badger, Ratty and Mole, sat in wicker chairs placed on the magnificent manicured lawns of Toad Hall.  Each sipped a cooling and refreshing drink of lemonade and chatted idly about nothing in particular.   Then a look of sudden remembrance came over Toad's countenance and he addressed his companions.

"Just remembered something, you chaps.  Heard from the baker's boy that there's been something going on in the Wild Wood that has even the stoats and weasels scared.  Fancy going on a little hunt to see what all the fuss is about?"

"I'd heard the same myself," said Badger.  "It started around a week ago, but let's not rush into anything without being suitably prepared.  I happen to know that there's a fearsome hunter living nearby that we'd be wise to have join in our venture."

"An excellent idea, Badger, the sooner the better," said the adventurous Ratty.

"We'll need all the help we can get if what we've heard is true," added Mole.

Toad's three chums, fortified by the lemonade and selection of cakes and biscuits they'd recently consumed, headed to Toad's armoury to gather shotguns, clubs, knives, and a large net.  They made their way around to Toad's garage, where they found him sitting on a huge picnic basket.  "Just in case we require a little sustenance later," explained Toad, who never liked doing things by halves.  They had soon loaded everything into the car, and drove to a nearby village, wherein East Willow Street was situated.

 
Badger got out and, as he walked up the driveway of a house, the door opened and a fierce Chihuahua, alongside a little boy, barked at him.  "Quiet, Zazi!" said the little boy, and the dog stopped barking immediately.
 

"My sources tell me that you're the fearsome hunter of East Willow," said the Badger.  "Is that true, little boy?"

"Yes.  My name is Miles and I'm a big boy," replied the cherubic child.

"In that case," responded the Badger, "would you like to join us for a picnic in the Wild Wood, before we hunt for a fearsome beast that's scaring even the weasels and stoats and other animals of the forest?"

"Yes.  Let's get started right away," said the brave Miles, eager to be off on the hunt.  First, though, Badger cleared things with the boy's parents, who knew of Badger and what an upright, trustworthy sort he was.  They also knew there was no stopping their son once he'd got an idea in his head.

The group soon found a nice spot in the woods, and, leaving their mighty assortment of weapons in the car, they unloaded the picnic basket and prepared to enjoy their repast.  Suddenly, from somewhere nearby in the forest, a tremendous crash was heard as a tree fell to the ground.   The five crouched behind a hedge, ready to evaluate the situation from a safe vantage point.

A huge dinosaur lunged out of the woods and Toad jumped up with joy, enthusiastically saying "Look!  What a wonderful pet he'll make.  I must have him."

"Quiet, Toad," urged Ratty, cautiously.  "That's a carnivore... I don't think they make good pets!"

"A... a... a... d-d-dinosaur!" stammered Mole.

"Not to worry," soothed the fearless Miles, "I'll take care of this."  So saying, he stepped forward and stared the lumbering behemoth straight in the eyes, before letting out a mighty "ROAAAARRRR!"

The dinosaur, not used to being met with such courage, turned tail and ran away, crashing through the trees until it could no longer be seen or heard and silence had once again descended on the Wild Wood.  The animal had escaped down a tunnel (filling it in behind it) to a forgotten prehistoric land at the centre of the earth, from which it had dug its way up a week before.  Miles had given it such a fright that it would be too scared to ever return to the surface.

"Time for something to eat," said Miles, surveying the feast laid out at his feet.  The five friends soon made short work of it and started packing up the picnic basket.

"How did you do that?" asked the incredulous and impressed Mole.  "You didn't even need a weapon."

"It was nothing," replied Miles, modestly.  "All dinosaurs are scared of Milesosaurus REX!"

"ROAAAARRRR!"

The End.

The hero of the story

Saturday, 26 December 2020

WHERE DO YOU FEEL MOST AT HOME...?

 Would you be able to answer...?

As I was dozing on top of my bed earlier tonight, an interesting scenario materialized in my mind.  I saw myself as an old man of 90 (still with my own teeth and hair of course), who for some mysterious reason was a bit of a celebrity. ("Yeah, that would be a mystery!" I hear you say).  Because of this, a documentary film was being made about my life, and I was therefore taken back to revisit every house I'd ever lived in before fame and fortune enabled me to inhabit a large mansion.  I was filmed in my old abodes, and my reactions recorded as I stood out in the front and back gardens, surveying these once familiar scenes from my long-ago youth.

And then I was asked this question: "Of all the houses which were once your home, which one do you feel most at home in?"  And I found myself unable to answer, as I simply didn't know how to.  As I'd stood in each house, it was like being home again, so how could I choose one over the others?  Maybe on one day, I might feel more at home in one particular house, but on a different day, it might be another.  I'm still pondering how I'd answer if I were able to, but it occurs to me ask the question of all you Crivvies who have lived in several houses in your lifetime.  Were you to revisit them all, which (if any) would you feel most at home in?  And why? 

Thursday, 24 December 2020

I WISH I WAS A SPACEMAN - DO YOU?

 Wish YOU were a Spaceman I mean...

Look what I treated myself to recently - a limited edition orange vinyl 45rpm single of the theme song to Fireball XL5, sung by Don Spencer, B-sided by Zero G, the "great Fireball music" (to quote the kid - voiced by Sylvia Anderson - from the Journey To The Moon mini-album) that ran through the '60s Gerry Anderson TV puppet show.  This is the official photo, saving me the bother of having to scan my own copy.  If you're quick you might still be able to get one for yourselves, so don't dilly-dally.  (Google it for where it's available from as prices vary.)

And once again, a Merry Christmas to all Crivvies everywhere!

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

A CHRISTMAS CARD FOR ALL CRIVVIES...

('Carol' From The Wind In The Willows...)

                                             Villagers all, this frosty tide,
                                             Let your doors swing open wide,
                                             Though wind may follow, and snow beside,
                                             Yet draw us in by your fire to bide;
                                                      Joy shall be yours in the morning!

                                              Here we stand in the cold and sleet,
                                              Blowing fingers and stamping feet,
                                              Come from far away you to greet -
                                              You by the fire and we in the street -
                                                      Bidding you joy in the morning!

                                               For ere one half of the night was gone,
                                               Sudden a star has led us on,
                                               Raining bliss and benison -
                                               Bliss tomorrow and more anon,
                                                       Joy for every morning!

                                                Goodman Joseph toiled through the snow -
                                                Saw the star o'er a stable low;
                                                Mary she might not further go -
                                                Welcome thatch, and litter below!
                                                        Joy was hers in the morning!

                                                 And then they heard the angels tell
                                                 'Who were the first to cry Nowell?
                                                 Animals all, as it befell,
                                                 In the stable where they did dwell!
                                                         Joy shall be theirs in the morning!'

Merry Christmas to all Crivvies, and have a great 2021.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

YOU AIN'T NUTHIN' BUT A SPACE BLIMP, FLYIN' ALL THE TIME...

 
 
 
It may surprise all you captivated Crivvies to know that although you're reading this post on the run-up to Christmas, I actually typed it in the fading days of September.  You see, had I waited until December rolled around, I may well have forgotten my intention to write it.  (In fact, I had to keep 'refreshing' the draft so that it remained atop my posts, lest I forgot it once it vanished down the line.)  So what's so important about it that I took the precaution of preparing it well in advance?  Good question.  Do I have a good answer though?  I can but try.  (No promises, mind.)

This will be the first Yuletide that my 'new' Space Blimp Of Christmas (bought in June, delivered in July) has spent with me since it replaced its original long-gone twin, purchased back around the late '60s while I was yet a primary school pupil.  The first one was bought from Woolworth's one dark December early evening, before my parents and myself retired to a nearby cafeteria for a cuppa, maybe even a snack.  Unless I'm combining two separate but similar memories that occurred in the same location, I also had a copy of Smash! with me as well as my new toy.

Why is it called a 'space blimp' though?  Apparently, the Chinese word 'Feichuan' translates as either spaceship, airship, dirigible, or blimp, so presumably the foreign manufacturers (LP Toys) picked the wrong word when they were deciding what to call it in English.  Spaceship would've been slightly more accurate, and then they could've indulged in a bit of alliteration (big fan, as you know) - Santa's Space Ship (if they insist on making it two words) Of Christmas.  (Or perhaps Santa's Space Sleigh would've been better?  Whaddya think?)

My original blimp didn't last too long as it was a bit fragile, but I had the Santa figure right up into my early or mid teens.  I'd been wanting a replacement for decades, but was hampered by forgetting the toy's actual name.  Then, one day, I saw a photo and description of it on Moonbase Central, and armed with that vital information, I did a post asking if anyone had one they'd be prepared to sell.  (I'd done the same for a Marx Toys Yogi Bear friction-drive scooter, which led to a result.)  Moonbase also made a plea on my behalf a little later, and someone eventually contacted both Crivens and Moonbase to say they were putting one up for auction on ebay.

I messaged the seller and asked him to name his price, but he preferred to take bids, resulting in me getting it for far less than I'd have been willing to pay outright.  Surprisingly, for such a rare toy, there was only one other bidder, and I can imagine his disappointment when he discovered that he hadn't won.  (There was absolutely no way he was ever going to top my bid.   Another example of this very rare toy might never come up for sale again so I was taking no chances.) 

The thing that appeals to me though, is that the toy appeared never to have been opened since the '60s (apart from the seller to take photos for his listing), and it had certainly never been played with as the 'appendages' (reindeer head and tail, Christmas tree and Santa's sack) were still sealed in their little poly bags.  Once attached to the blimp, they'd be practically impossible to remove without breaking them (apart from the sack) and it's definitely not something that I ever intend to try.

So that means that I'm the very first person to assemble and hold this toy in its complete form* since it was first made back in the '60s - almost as if it was waiting for me to buy it - like it had my name on it you could say.  It had lain neglected in its box for decades, unseen and unloved (apart from a collector's love of ownership perhaps) until it passed into my possession, whereupon it became one of my most prized pieces, re-igniting happy childhood memories of so many Christmases ago.  I love a happy ending, don't you?  (Which is why I decided to write about it.)  And to think that this is also the very first Christmas the toy has been out of its box - wow!

(*There was also a pre-assembled version of the toy in a larger window display box, which was the one I had in the '60s.  That apart, they were identical in every respect, though the blimp sometimes had a variant colour scheme (red top, blue bottom), probably regardless of whichever box it came in.  I suspect that my replacement's box is the earlier one, and that it was later changed so kids could see the actual toy and not just an illustration, which was retained as a header card on the second version of the box.)

Incidentally, you may think that Santa's sack isn't big enough to hold all the toys and gifts that are delivered every Christmas Eve, but leaving aside any possible magical TARDIS-type attributes it may have for the moment, my explanation is that he uses the sleigh pulled by Rudolph and his chums to deliver the majority of presents, then uses his blimp to deliver any last minute items that people forgot to put on their main list, which is why the sack is smaller.  Or am I taking all this just a little too seriously perhaps?  (Answers on a postcard...)  Merry Christmas when it comes, Crivvies, and God bless us, every one!  (Don't worry, there'll be another post or two before Christmas.)

Sunday, 20 December 2020

SUNDAY'S BABE OF THE DAY...

Valerie Perez...

The astounding Valerie had a cute little rabbit in her hand just a second ago, before she made it disappear.  Where did it go?  Who knows, but it sure doesn't look like it's up her sleeve.

Saturday, 19 December 2020

PONDERINGS ON PERCEPTIONS...

Or: The things that make up our lives...

I was having a little think earlier through the week.  Big thinks tire me out, so little thinks are easier on my mind, I find, and are much more manageable.  I was thinking about how our lives, or perceptions of them at any point - are so inextricably linked to lots of variable factors that surround us at the time.  For example, your perception of a certain time or place in your life is influenced by the comics you read, the TV shows you watched, the friends you hung around with, etc.  

Yeah, granted, I'm stating the obvious, but the thing about the obvious is that we don't always pay attention to it.  It's right in front of us, so we tend to look past it while trying to see the wider picture.  The things that influence your perception of a place - a house or neighbourhood for example - alter over time, and as those things change, so, gradually, might your perception of it.

Should you then move from one domicile to another before your perception changes, and are still watching the same TV shows, buying the same comics, and still have the same furniture as in your previous home, then a sense of continuity and consistency in terms of mood, ambiance, perception, exists from one house to the next.  (It'd probably be different if you emigrated to another country, but I'm talking about more local flits.)

However, as time passes, new TV shows come and old ones go (and the same for comics and furniture) and the 'timbre' (figuratively speaking) of your home, hearth - and, indeed, life - gradually changes, and becomes different to what it had been, taking on almost another 'personality' that may not always be an improvement on the original (though sometimes it might be).  It's then that dissatisfaction may creep in, as your home and neighbourhood no longer supplies the sense of the familiar that you were once so comfortable with.

Sure, these days you can still watch repeats of all the classic TV shows (on Freeview channels) that you watched in your youth, but you're now aware that they really belong in a different 'universe' (the past) which you can tap into every so often if you wish, but are no longer contemporaneous, current, new, now, in the way that they were when you were growing up with them.  Once you reach a certain age, a partition seems to come down and separate you from your past, whereas, up to that point, that partition was imperceptible and always open - if, in fact, it even existed.

As most regular readers will know, after living in my current house for 11 years, my family moved to another neighbourhood, then moved back to our former house four years later.  At first everything was pretty much the same, but gradually things started to change, affecting the 'mood' of the place.  Neighbours flitted, extensions were built (on other houses, not mine), lampposts, pavements, and street signs were replaced, green areas in front of houses were turned into car parking spaces, buildings on the horizon were demolished and replaced, as well as other changes, like local shops disappearing.

So now the 'ambience' of the place is different to what it used to be, and I find myself yearning for how things were when we first flitted here back in 1972.  That'll never happen of course, but sometimes I lie on top of my bed in the room that was mine when I was yet 13 (and a half), with a book or comic that I owned back then (or a replacement copy) and pretend that everything outside the closed curtains of my bedroom window is still the same as when I was much younger.  It's my way of trying to re-create the 'perception' of the house and area I had when we first moved in.

It's an illusion of course (some might say a delusion), and one which I can't sustain for any great length of time, but perhaps the more I exercise the fantasy, the easier (and stronger) it will get.  Any Crivvies do anything similar in their quest to relive the 'atmosphere' of pleasant moments from the past?  Or did you let it escape years ago and never bother to try and recapture it?  The comments section awaits your input - if you're interested.

REFERENDUM? THAT'LL BE THE DAY!

Nothing new under the sun...

Copyright relevant owner

Regular reader T47 sent me some scans from a 1975 IPC publication concerning the Common Market.  As Brexit lingers in its final stage of negotiations, I thought they may be of interest to other Crivvies - so here they are.  Click on images to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.  (The third image enlarges only once, but once is enough.)  Comments welcome.





Friday, 18 December 2020

ADRIFT IN THE STRATOSPHERE...?

Adrift in pointlessness more like...

I've recommended a few books on the blog before now that are usually regarded as 'children's classics', the main reason for them inhabiting such a youthful category being that they contain no sex scenes, swearing, or gory descriptions of gratuitously-detailed violence.  However, they're gripping, exciting, imaginative, as well as extremely well-written, and no adult need ever hang their head in shame for admitting to enjoying them as grown-ups.  I'm talking about novels like Treasure Island, Moonfleet, The Ghosts, Tom's Midnight Garden, Kidnapped, The Hobbit, The Wind In The Willows, etc.

Then there are the others - books that are both juvenile in their scope and execution and that no one over 12 or 14 would surely ever admit to reading.

Such a book is Adrift In The Stratosphere by 'Professor' A.M. Low.  He wasn't entitled to call himself a professor as he didn't occupy any academic chair, but he was an inventor and ideas man, who would've been much more highly regarded in the scientific community had he followed his ideas through to the end, instead of others developing them due to his lack of commitment and resulting inability to bring them to fruition.

If you want to know more about him, click here, but it's the above-mentioned book I want to talk about today.  I remember sometime back in the late '60s my brother enthusing about Low's book, and I mentally made a note to read it someday.  That 'someday' didn't happen 'til many years later when I rediscovered the book in a box in the attic.  Oddly, although I can recall starting the book, I no longer remember finishing it, but that may be down to the fact that it just didn't live up to my brother's enthusiastic estimation of it.

Anyway, still got the book (still up in the loft I think), but because its dust-jacket disappeared many years back (in our previous house), not long ago I bought a dust-jacketed replacement from ebay.  My plan was to make a replica of the dust-jacket to adorn the original copy, but before that, I decided to re-read it.

Dearie me.  Bit of an ordeal.  It was first published in 1937 so perhaps I'm being uncharitable, but it's the kind of story written for kids as text episodes in the story papers (comics) of the '30s and '40s.  (Rover, Wizard, Hornet, Hotspur, etc.)  Just as with his inventions, he doesn't seem to follow through with aspects of the plot, either because he doesn't know where to take it or because he's too eager to get onto the next chapter and explore something else.

Or perhaps, despite being far from positive about the book, I'm giving him too much credit.  The story reads as if he's simply making it up as he goes along and hasn't really thought things through.  He has Martians subjecting the three main protagonists to various tribulations in their spaceship via long-range rays, with the intention of destroying them, when it would be much simpler to blast them out of existence with some Martian missiles.

At the end of it I was left wondering what the point of it all was.  It was unfulfilling and unsatisfying, and a bit of a waste of time to be honest.  Had I been a kid perhaps I would've thought much more of it, but I'm not totally convinced by the possibility.  My brother is obviously much more easily impressed than I am, but I'd say that, should you ever feel inclined to test its SF qualifications, you'd be better devoting your time to a Bleep And Booster Annual.

Verdict: One you can avoid, with no feelings of guilt or loss.

Anyone ever read it?  What did you think?    

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

PESTERED BY PUSHY PROMOTERS...?

Wish they'd give us all a break...
 

I don't know how you feel about this, fellow Crivvies (though most people I mention it to tend to agree with me), so have a read and then feel free to weigh in with your opinion.  Whenever I'm out shopping and see any of those temporary promotional stands with their attendant staff in my local shopping centre, I tend to hug the nearest wall or shop window, stare fixedly ahead (or into the window) and try and sneak by without getting pestered by some prowling sales agent trying to interest me in whatever he or she is flogging.  My view is that if I were interested in what they were punting, I'd approach them to ask for some info about it, but the second they try and give me the 'hard-sell', it puts me right off.

It's the same with door-to-door salesmen - or hawkers if you prefer.  Going around chapping doors to get someone to buy something is a sign of desperation in my view.  If your business is successful, then people will come to you, not the other way around.  To me, there's no more surefire sign that business is bad than when salesmen (or women) chap your door and try to flog you whatever goods or services they're offering.  And if business is bad (pre-Covid), then there's a reason for that - they're probably not very good at what they do.

But shopping centre hawkers are the worst.  They hail you from a distance even when your demeanour and attitude should be enough of a hint that you don't want to know.  They jump out in front of you, waving their arms, and try to impede your progress.  They interrupt you when you're in the middle of a conversation, either in person with someone or on your mobile, invading your personal space with no regard for your privacy.  Sure, you can just ignore them (and I do), but I don't like being placed in the position of being rude to someone, and then there's the surly muttering and barely whispered insults when you fail to acknowledge their existence.  Or there's the facetious and loud "Have a nice day", which you know really translates as "Hope you get hit by a bus!"

"Ach, they're only trying to make a living, give 'em a break!" you say.  No, they're also making a nuisance of themselves in the process.  The staff of WHS or BOOTS (or any other shop you care to name) don't stand in the doorway trying to entice you inside to buy anything, so why should these sales agents be allowed to prowl beyond the confines of their stands in a predatory fashion, targeting anyone within (or beyond) earshot?  Here's a scoop - they're not!

I'm advised that there are conditions under which these promotional units are supposed to operate.  Firstly, the staff are not permitted to stray too far from their base, and they're not supposed to raise their voices or jump in front of you to attract your attention.  Ideally, they're meant to remain in close proximity to their units and enquire in a normal voice of those who pass nearby whether they can interest them in their product or service.  What they shouldn't be doing is straying yards from their stands to intrude on shoppers on the far side of the mall.

The fact that they do suggests that they're either ignoring the conditions of their company's contract, or that shopping centre management are deliberately turning a blind eye, however much it results in your personal inconvenience as a shopper in having to run the gauntlet of pushy salesmen - sometimes every few yards.  Don't know about you, but I prefer to go shopping without having to participate in an obstacle course in the process.

Anyone got any thoughts on the matter?    

FANCY A FESTIVE POEM? TOO BAD - YOU'VE GOT ONE...

It's Only Once A Year...


                     So Christmastime's upon us once again
                     And all our hearts are filled with love and cheer.
                     We show goodwill towards our fellow men
                     But thank the stars it's only once a year.

                     We push our way through crowds and stand in queues
                     To find that 'special gift' for one held dear.
                     And some of us fall prey to 'Christmas blues'
                     So thank the stars it's only once a year.

                     We eat, drink and make merry to excess
                     And overdo things 'til we feel 'quite queer'.
                     We promise that next Christmas we'll spend less
                     And thank the stars it's only once a year.

                     And far above the raucous sounds of fun
                     God wishes Happy Birthday to His Son.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

TWO NEW TRUE BELIEVERS FOR YOU...

Mighty Marvel Strikes Again...

Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Yet another couple of True Believers mags that I should've received weeks ago, but which only just arrived yesterday.  I bought the original FF ish of the one above sometime around the first half of 1983 in a newsagent's in Glasgow.  It was a few issues old, but I'd missed it when it first came out.  I was helping out a signwriter I knew that day and he expressed surprise that someone of my age was still buying comics.  Maybe he thought it was a comic for girls because of Sue Richards on the cover, but I didn't care.

Never had and don't have the the original ish of the Spidey TB, but I doubtless read the story when it was reprinted in one of the UK weeklies so it'll be good to finally read it in colour.  Jumping back to the FF, I always liked the fact that John Byrne restored the thick black collars that the team had for around three issues back in the '60s as I always preferred them over the subsequent thinner versions.

Anyway, if you don't already have these beauties, you might want to consider adding them to your collection.



Sunday, 13 December 2020

RAINY REPOST: WINDOW ON THE PAST - TAKE TWO...

It's raining memories...

It's pouring of rain outside (well it is where I live), so I thought it an appropriate time to dust off this old post from 2017.  Even if you've read it before, you've probably forgotten it by now - so refresh your memory.

******
 
You're looking at my current screen-saver, which is a photo taken in 1991 from the bedroom of the house I'd moved from 19 years before.  I'd previously returned to the house 3 years earlier, which was the first time I'd been back since flitting in 1972, but on that occasion the day was sunnier.  However, there's something about rain which I find relaxing, and though the house across the back didn't have an extension when I lived in the area, the picture captures, mood-wise, exactly how it would've been on a similar day when I occupied the room.

The toys on the sill are mine, taken with me to 're-connect' them to the home in which I'd first obtained the originals.  The owl is from the Aurora BATMAN model kit, and was painted and affixed to the model when I finally assembled and painted the rest of it around 1993/'94.  (I'd obtained it in 1984/'85, as a replacement for the one I'd owned in the '60s.)  The photo below is taken from a slightly different angle, and you can glimpse my old school, which was demolished in 2014.  Houses now occupy the spot.


When these photos were taken, the original windows were still in use, though they were replaced around 1992 with new PVC ones.  I'm glad to have got the chance to look through the same windows I'd known as a child, and see again my reflection staring back at me as it had done when I was a boy.  I wonder if the panes recognised the taller, older face that stood before them as the one it had once been familiar with - or was I just a stranger who meant nothing?  I'd like to think otherwise.

Click on the images to enlarge - then just relax as you look at the rain on the glass - just as I often do when I want to relive the past.  Remember, the droplets you see are 26 years old - so, in a sense, you're reliving the past too.  Just thought I'd share the moment with you.   
   

PSSST! WANNA SEE A PRETTY PICCIE?

Then cop a gander 'ere...

Copyright BBC TV & the Estate of TERRY NATION

Twenty-six years ago I wandered into my local branch of John Menzies (four years before it was taken over by WHS) and spied a magazine I simply had to have - The Dalek Chronicles, published by Marvel UK.  I bought three just to have spares, in case my selected reading copy ever became damaged by my incessant handling.  I loved poring over its pages and remembering rabidly devouring the strips when they first appeared on the rear cover of TV Century 21 back in the '60s.  Unfortunately, they got a page out of sequence, but that apart, it was a valiant attempt to make these strips available to a new audience, as well as to those who had read them as kids.

I've still got those three Specials, and even though I now also have a trio of Panini's recent deluxe re-presentation of the same material (though digitally restored and remastered, mostly from the original art boards), I won't be parting with my 1994 incarnations anytime soon.  (Or ever, in fact.)  Why?  Just one look at them takes me right back to 1994 in a heartbeat, that's why!  What I find hard to believe though, is the fact that more than a quarter of a century has elapsed between the two editions.  Cliched as it is to say, it seems like only yesterday since I purchased my three copies of the first, primitive (scanned from published issues of TV21) collected edition of those strips from childhood.

Now, I know I've bored you all to tears on multiple previous occasions, warbling on about the complexities and paradoxes of time, but it simply staggers my senses when it hits me just how many years have passed between now and when that first collection was published.  It's a mere three years shy of the same period of time since the debut instalment of The Daleks first appeared in 1965, and it's all gone by (spoiler alert - Gordie's catchphrase coming up now) faster than a fart from The Flash!  But that's not quite accurate when I think about it.  1965 seemed like quite a large span away from 1994 back then, but 1994 until now seems like no time at all.

Ach, I just can't get my head around it!  Sometimes, looking back today, the '60s seem like centuries away, sometimes much more recent than that.  How is such a thing possible?  Tell you what, while you're thinking about it (unless you just skipped past this post without reading it) feast your eager eyes on ace artist Ron Turner's wraparound cover to that 1994 sensational Special!  Click to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.

No, I don't really know what I meant to say with this post either, but who cares as long as it's accompanied by a pretty (and pulse-pounding) piccie like the one above?!  True, Ron's depiction of The Daleks isn't exactly accurate (then again, neither was the Marx Toys version), but it still has its own charm.     

Saturday, 12 December 2020

IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (OF IDEAS)?

A few... but this one's name is... Samson!

Copyright MARVEL COMICS

I should've received this particular issue of True Believers a few weeks back, but it only turned up yesterday (Friday), which is why I'm a bit late featuring it on the blog.  Well, this one surely doesn't need the hard-sell.  It's The Hulk, as depicted by Trimpe & Severin and written by Roy Thomas - and it introduces Doc Samson to the Mighty Marvel line-up.  If you haven't grabbed it already, don't hang around - it's a belter!


 
Below... my own original issue's cover to compare with the TB, which features the original at the back of the mag.

Friday, 11 December 2020

THE CHRISTMAS BEANO...

Festive Fun For... Everyone?

Copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

I bought my 'first'* Christmas Beano back in 1978 (still got it too) - down in Southsea if I recall correctly, when I was best man at the wedding of a now long-jettisoned friend, who was 'sent off' the pal-pitch three years later for being a compulsive and outrageous liar.  (And having looked at his Facebook page a few years back, he still is.)  However, this post isn't about him you'll be glad to hear - no, it's about the Yuletide ish of last man standing (as far as long-running UK humour comics go) on the newsagents' shelves - The Beano.  (Yeah, I know it's just Beano now, but that was a pointless change, wasn't it?)

(*When I say 'first', I mean the first of what became a yearly purchase thereafter, though I may well have had a Christmas issue or two when I was a kid.)

So let's get to the point.  Professionally produced, does what it says on the tin, younger readers are bound to love it, but - to this old fart - it no longer seems like The Beano anymore.  Too many 'filler' pages (as I regard them) and ads, and despite being in full colour and printed on glossy paper, I prefer the way it used to be when it was printed on loo roll, with only four pages of colour and the rest being b&w or spot colour.  It just had more 'atmosphere' about it, though obviously I wouldn't want to apply that criteria to movies and have them all made in monochrome.

Anyway, if you consider yourself too old or too 'grown-up' to be buying The Beano, your kids, nieces or nephews are sure to appreciate it if you spring for a copy for them.  As usual, it comes with a load of ol' tat and costs £4.99, but I had to have it as I've bought every Festive number since 1978.  (As far as I remember; must check to see if I inadvertently missed one.)  This is the last Beano 'til sometime in the New Year, so you can either fork out almost a fiver, or nip around to Home Bargains and see if they have any of the 2021 Annuals left for a mere £2.99.

Below is the pack to look for if you prefer to buy the comic, though obviously it's not a case of one or the other as, finances permitting, you're allowed to purchase both.


POIGNANT POST FOR POETRY LOVERS...

 I'll See You In The Morning...


Like poems?  Maybe you'll like this one.
Hankies at the ready, three, two, one - go.


            I'll See You In The Morning.

            And so to bed my little lad, I'll see you in the morning,
            there's new adventures to be had with each new day aborning.
            Though not for me alas, my son;  my days on Earth are fading,
            the doctor says I'm nearly done and Death comes 'serenading'.
        
            I'll not be here to watch you grow in each new bright tomorrow,
            I must confess I'm feeling low and in the grip of sorrow.
            I won't be here to hold your hand each time you trip and stumble,
            though not exactly what I planned it does no good to grumble.

            I stand and watch you as you sleep and nearly cry a river,
            you've given me a joy so deep, but now I feel a shiver.
            My time is short, but I'll give thanks as long as I am able,
            though soon enough I'll join the ranks of 'one short at the table'.

            So many things I want to say before I have to leave you,
            it's not my fault I cannot stay, but you'll have mum to cleave to.
            Be strong for her my little man, she'll need you in her sadness,
            give mummy all the help you can and be a source of gladness.

            Perhaps in time she'll wed again;  if so my little laddie,
            should that occasion happen, then please don't forget your daddy.
            I'll keep an eye out from above, I'll see your joys and sorrows,
            you'll always have your daddy's love throughout all your tomorrows.

            Goodnight to you my little lad, I'll see you when you waken,
            and I will always be your dad - you will not be forsaken.
            I've stood and watched you for a week since I learned I was dying,
            each night I've stooped and stroked your cheek and couldn't keep from
            crying.

            Tomorrow I will play a game - pretend that I'm immortal;
            that things will always be the same and I won't pass Death's portal.
            So rest your head my little lad, I'll see you in the morning,
            a bit more time to know your dad - another day's aborning.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

RICHARD CORBEN - R.I.P.

 Quoth the Raven... "Nevermore!"

Copyright relevant owner

One of my favourite poems is The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, and here's an interesting take on this rhyming masterpiece, illustrated by Richard Corben and first published in Creepy #67, December 1974.  Sadly, Richard died today, so I thought I'd re-post this strip in tribute to his amazing talent.








And below is the cover (not by Corben) for all you completists.



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