Tuesday 31 March 2020


It was at the famous Barras Market in Glasgow one Saturday in the '60s.  If I recall correctly, one stall-holder was having an auction, and this Gemini NASA Space Capsule was one of the items on offer.  Or maybe it wasn't included in the auction and had a fixed price.  Either way, my father bought it for me, and it was a dearly-loved toy until it suffered the fate of all toys, by being replaced in my affections by another, newer, dearly-loved toy.  (Fickle, eh?  I love them all equally now though.)

Anyway, just bought a replacement on eBay earlier this afternoon, and here's a couple of the seller's pics to show off my new acquisition.  I'll replace them with my own photos when the toy arrives, and maybe engineer a photo-shoot opportunity of a visit from STEVE ZODIAC (and ZOONY) on his jetmobile.  Did any of you Crivs ever have one of these super-duper friction-drive space capsules when you were a kid?  Then wax sentimental about it in the comments section, why don'tcha?!

(And grateful thanks go to WOODSY of MOONBASE CENTRAL blog for telling me about it!)

Update: Capsule now arrived (April 4th).  Considering it came all the way from the Netherlands, that was mighty quick.  I've decided to not only add my own photos, but also retain the seller's just to have a bit of variety.  That's mine below.

Monday 30 March 2020



Another book I received today was REBELLION's 300-plus pages collected edition of The TRIGAN EMPIRE, the first of four volumes.  I'd read somewhere that the pages were scanned from DON LAWRENCE's original art, but that appears to be only partially true, going from the difference in the clarity of reproduction on various pages.  It's also been completely relettered, in a more comic strip style computer font, as opposed to the original typeset upper and lower case speech balloons and captions.  That I can live with.

However, if you have this book, compare the first two strip pages with the ones below, scanned from a limited edition series of LOOK & LEARN, which reprinted RANGER's iconic strip as it originally appeared.  I can't open the new volume wide enough to scan without risking damage to the spine, otherwise I'd show you the difference myself, but these particular two pages aren't as good in the Rebellion book as they are here.  (Especially the second panel on the first tier of page 2.)

Don Lawrence's art is impressive, and it's really on the art that the reputation of this series rests, because the stories are nothing brilliant - they merely exist to give Don something to draw.  I'm not saying they're bad, merely serviceable, and I'm not sure that any plot could ever be described as a classic, but this is still a book worth having just to linger lovingly over the illustrations.  And when the pages are scanned from the original artwork, the quality is outstanding, but it's just a shame that all the pages couldn't be reproduced this way.

However, it's at an affordable price (£19.99), and if you're a fan of British comic strips from yesteryear, you'd be mad to let this one escape you.  Available direct from Rebellion's website and all good book and comics shops.


(Update: My above assessment of the stories was based on having last read some of them in a HAMLYN hardback collection nearly 40 years ago.  Having now re-read them in this new collection, I find that they display quite a bit of imagination and are a good solid read.  The only drawback with them is that the stories are told mostly through the captions rather than the dialogue, and are therefore a bit 'copy-heavy' and lacking the easy flow of, say, a '60s MARVEL comic [by way of comparison]. This doesn't make them bad of course, but because of the descriptive nature of the captions [when you can already see what's happening in the illustrations], they can sometimes come across as a tad 'dry'.  It's a wee bit like watching a movie with a dull commentary playing over it.)   


Characters copyright relevant and respective owners

Arrived today, the TV TORNADO Annual for 1971 (which was the fourth and final one), giving me the full set after receiving the one for '70 around 33-34 years ago as a gift (15 or 16 years after it first came out), and the '68 and '69 books within the last fortnight or so.  This is easily the worst of the four, as the British-produced strips are absolutely bloody awful; amateurishly drawn and lettered, they look as if they've been scrawled by a child.  (One character has two left hands.)  Only the American reprints save the day, though there's not enough of them.  Fictitious editor ED STORM rounds off his FLASH POINT intro by saying "I hope to be with you again in twelve months time with another issue of TV Tornado.  Cheerio till then"

'Twas not to be; Ed disappeared into the limbo of cancelled comics (and Annuals), never to be seen again in any new publication.  (Though there'd been a similar character, The SKIPPER, in SUPER DC, by the same artist - MICK ANGLO by the look of it.)  I can't help but wonder whether ED might've been able to keep his word had the quality of the artwork in this book been of a higher standard than it was.  And what are three cowboys from The HIGH CHAPPARAL doing on the cover?  They don't appear in any strip or text story inside.  I assume they were meant to be included before it was decided to produce this book as cheaply as possible by getting a 12 year old kid (by the look of it) to do the interiors.

Anyway, I've shown these Annuals out of sequence, so in an upcoming omnibus post I'll place them all in their proper order, along with their back covers.  Any memories of having these books - or the weekly comic?  Then feel entirely welcome to share your reminiscences in the comments section with your fellow Crivs.  

Saturday 28 March 2020


Exterior of 5 Shearer Road

For a few months at the start of 1985, I stayed in a little bedsit at 5 Shearer Road in Fratton, Portsmouth, at the start of my long freelance comics career for IPC/FLEETWAY, and later (back home) MARVEL UK and REDAN, etc.  I had a small room, and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, but I always ate out, not being one given to preparing my own grub.  Earlier tonight I was looking at a couple of items I'd acquired while ensconced in number 5 and I suddenly realised that I kind of missed the place.  It represented a time in my life when I was less than half the age I am now, and had it ever occurred to me to project my thoughts 35 years into the future, it would probably have seemed too distant a stretch to even imagine - an eternity away in fact.

However, from this side of the span, it seems like no time at all really, and I can't help but marvel at the speed with which the years flashed past while seeming to be almost stationary during the process.  Funny that, eh?  I wish I could jump into my private helicopter (if I had one) and fly down to Portsmouth, let myself into the house I stayed in, and re-experience the sense of what it was like to live there.  I'm doing that now of course, but only in my mind - it would give it far greater clarity and closeness if I were able to do so in the place itself.  I still possess most if not all of the books, comics, and items I purchased in my few months down there, and they provide a nice reminder of a particular period in my life from long ago.  

I've also got photos of the room and area I stayed in, so if you're not busy watching paint dry, why don't I share them with you?  You'd like that?  Oh, good, 'cos I would too.  So here are some images recorded for posterity on a HANNIMEX 110mm camera (bought in Southsea on a previous stay in 1981) of where I lived more than half my life away.  If you're from the area, feel free to provide an update on any significant changes since I was there.  (For example, is there a blue plaque with my name on it above the front door of number 5 yet?)  These pics form a circular tour (left-to-right) of my room (I'm sure you can work out which one it was), starting outside the house and ending there.  I'll add some other photos of Portsmouth later.

I once saw a woman walking her cat on a lead on
the street across the road from this window

You can see the little desk I worked at, lettering
and resizing pages for the pocket library mags

I attended a service (may've been a Gospel meeting) in the Salem Baptist
Chapel one night 'cos they were serving tea and biscuits after it ended

Can't recall ever hanging anything in the 'wardrobe'

The bed was comfier than it looks.  I very soon bought two
sleeping bags (zipped them together) and two comfy pillows

My Coca Cola Radio bottle and a can of the 'Real Thing'

Kept some comics and books in the chest of drawers

H'mm, what could this be?  Ah, now I remember - it's
the door (from the inside) in to and out of my room

View from the window again

Now this looks familiar

'My' house - home sweet home (sort of)

Okay, Crivvies, next is the road to Portsmouth Town Centre from Buckland/Fratton, and the centre itself, which is very reminiscent of my town back in the 1960s and '70s.  Maybe that's why I felt so at home in Pompey.  After the shot of the fountain is the Guildhall, plus the large park just behind it.  Back on October 12th 1984, BOB HOPE arrived at the Guildhall to do a gig, only to find it cancelled due to an unexploded bomb being found the day before.  It was in the papers, and he also mentioned it at The Edinburgh Playhouse the next night (13th) - I was there.

The flats on the right (our pov) hadn't been built
when I walked into town on a previous stay in '81

This shot is just before and on the right (our pov) of the previous pic.
I've got one taken in '81 of a horse grazing here when it was a field

Portsmouth Town Centre fountain outside Lloyds Bank, out of
sight on the left from our pov.  It closed many years ago

Street on the left-hand side (our pov) of the Guildhall

The Guildhall was completed in 1890 and bombed to
bits in 1941.  The Queen reopened it in 1959

Statue of Queen Victoria seen from Library Cafe.  You might recognise
the area from a six-part TV show called 'Going Out', broadcast in 1981

Dunno what this edifice is, but doesn't it look grand?

Very futuristic-looking

The swans were absent the last time I took a photo
in 1981.  Must've been away getting repaired

H'mm, let me refer to my notes.  Ah, yes - this is a tree

Let's see, what's next?  Some assorted shots near the seafront, and one from a cafe overlooking the bus terminus.
Saw this archway in a TV drama sometime in the '80s 

Gosport on the horizon.  Only visited twice, first time at night, second during the daytime

And another shot of the same view

It was either in this newsagent's or a bookshop along to the right (our
pov) that I saw a nice hardback copy of The Wind In The Willows.
Can't recall if I bought it there, or later when I returned to Scotland

If you're a Russian agent, look away now

Below is one near the duck pond at the far end of Southsea, followed by one of me in my room in the HOMELEA HOTEL (prior to living in Shearer Road), not too far away from the pond (if memory serves).
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a duck.  (Swans, on the
other hand, I've got plenty of.  Or are they geese?)

Hairy-but-handsome, that's me.  Incidentally, I
still have that blue jumper and it still fits

Tell you what - to finish, let's jump up to London and take a look at the view from the 26th floor of KING'S REACH TOWER when I was there doing some lettering.  I used to visit there once or twice a week (from Pompey), which involved getting up around quarter to 4 in the morning so that I could catch the 6 a.m. coach.  I usually arrived about 8.30 or thereabouts, and didn't get back to Shearer Road 'til sometime after 10 at night.  Are you up for it?  Okay, here we go then.

I think I've got pics of this site when new buildings
had been erected.  (Tee-hee!  I said 'erected')

Slightly wider shot...

...and a view of the skyline above it

And that's your lot.  Hope you enjoyed this small tour 'round a snippet of my life 35-odd years ago.  No?  Ach, you're an awfy hard lot to please.

Friday 27 March 2020


Characters copyright relevant and respective owners

Right, where were we?  Like I said in a previous post, back around 1986 or '87 the 3rd TV TORNADO Annual (1970) was given to me by an old schoolfriend.  Then, nine days ago - Wednesday 18th to be precise - his best pal (another old schoolfriend) gave me the 1st Annual (1968) to add to my collection.  Today I received the 2nd Annual (1969), bought on eBay, and tomorrow (Saturday) or Monday, the 4th and final one (1971) should hopefully arrive to complete the set.  So it's taken me 33-34 years to get all four, making me feel like MAGNUS ("Ive started so I'll finish") MAGNUSSON.

But are you lot interested in any of that?  I guess not, but I always like to write something in each new post to justify including an image with it.  And be honest - don't you regard the proffered pictorial presentation as a well-deserved reward for wading through whatever dreary pish I've written?  So, that way, each of us feels validated for being here and honour is satisfied on both sides of the Bloggerland border.  Tell you what, if you like this cover, go to your front door, throw it open - then applaud as loud as you can to show your appreciation.  What's that?  No chance, you did that last night and you're not falling for it again?

Good.  You're learning.  



Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

52 action-packed pages of arachnid adventure!  All Spidey needs is a little R&R, but with the Rhino, Taskmaster and the Black Ant around you can bet that peace and quiet is off the menu!  Plus, Classic Adventure!  Spidey and the Black Widow team-up once again to take down a criminal cartel, but just who is the mysterious mastermind behind it all?!  By Nicks Spencer, Chris Bachalo, Roger McKenzie, Marv Wolfman & Will Meugniot!

Reprinting material from Amazing Spider-Man #14 & Marvel Team-Up #98.

On Sale Now!


52 action-packed pages in the Mighty Marvel Manner! The War of the Realms is coming to Earth!  Thor and the All-Mother side-by-side to save the world!  By Jason Aaron & Mike Del Mundo! Plus: Can Captain America survive being held prisoner in The Myrmidon long enough for Sharon Carter and her team to rescue him?!  By Ta-Nehisi Coates & Adam Kubert!

Reprinting material from Thor #11 & Captain America #9.

On sale Now!


(Update: These two mags have now disappeared from the Panini website, so presumably their distribution is on hold until things are back to normal.)

Thursday 26 March 2020


I'm sure we all appreciate what NHS workers (and others) are doing on our behalf during the current crisis, but having just been woken up from a much-needed sleep by people clapping out on the street (some quieter than others), I can't help but think it's a pretty empty gesture as most NHS workers won't have heard it.  In fact, of those who did, some were probably trying to get a bit of rest after a long hard shift and found their repose as disturbed as mine was. 

Whose idea was it to suggest such an action?  And why, like sheep, do we so readily fall into step with such pointless 'political' posturing?  Clapping's one thing, but when people start whooping like Americans at the Super Bowl, it's going a step too far.  Show your appreciation for the nurses, doctors, carers, etc., by doing something more useful.  Boris, give them a raise or/and pay them double-time while the pandemic is ongoing, and make sure they have the essentials to do their job with minimum risk to themselves.  Man in the street, drop a big tub of chocolates into their workplace when it's safe to do so, or make a donation to their Christmas party.

All the clapping in the world isn't going to help medical staff who have become infected (or even died) while aiding others.  It may make us feel pleased with ourselves ("Look how wonderful we are - we stood on our doorstep and clapped at empty air for a few minutes - that's how much we appreciate the NHS"), but when it comes down to it, it's like pissing into the wind.  It doesn't do anyone one real bit of good in the long run.  It's also a bit like standing at your door and applauding a play you haven't gone to see, just because you like the actors who are in it.

And call me a cynic, but some people only participate in such public displays because they're more concerned with being seen to be appreciative than just actually being so.  Sure, we should all be grateful for those who are tending the sick (and helping 'oil the wheels' of the country) at this uncertain time, but let's show our gratitude in a far more practical way.  Maybe you think I'm a miserable old git, or perhaps you agree with me?  Feel free to say so either way in the comments section.  You never know - someone might applaud you for it.


(Incidentally, I'm a carer [unpaid], and all the applause in the universe is useless to me.  It's more a case of 'hands-on' help I could do with, not mere hand-clapping.)

Update: Tonight, April 1st, my taxi driver told me that his wife, who's a nurse, regarded the clapping event as ridiculous - and that isn't an April Fool. 



Copyright DC COMICS.  Published by PANINI

Two fantastic Batman stories!  Issue #1 features the first part of the highly acclaimed 'White Knight' mini-series from Sean Murphy.  Imagine a world where the Joker is cured and demanding the arrest of Batman.  Our other story is the first chapter of Peter J. Tomasi’s 'Mythology', in which a killer goes to extreme lengths to duplicate the murder of Batman’s parents.

On sale Now!


(Update: This magazine  can be ordered direct from Panini by clicking here.)

Tuesday 24 March 2020


Copyright relevant owner

One of the problems with these DON STARR pages is that quite a few of them are 'dirty'.  What I mean is that the ink outlines from one page are imprinted on the page facing it when the comic is closed, and sometimes also vice-versa.  It would take hours to clean them up properly, and I don't have the stamina for such an arduous task nowadays, so I've done the best I can without going all out, leaving some ink 'smudges' still visible.  However, they're cleaner than they were, so hopefully the remaining imperfections won't spoil your enjoyment of the strip too much.

Having said that, it doesn't seem very popular with most Crivs, as the visits to each episode has been declining since I revived the strip on the 7th of this month after a few year's break.  To those who complain about their favourite blogs closing all over the place, then you should try supporting them more by visiting regularly and leaving a comment, as I can quite understand why some bloggers give up the ghost when it seems all their efforts are a waste of time.  I did say 'favourite blogs' so that probably leaves Crivens out of the reckoning, but hey - it's a favourite of mine!

Anyway, hopefully you'll enjoy this current episode and return for the next one. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...