Sunday 31 May 2020


Images copyright their respective owners

I was thinking earlier (I do a fair bit of that) about which full sets of comics I have in my collection, and was surprised to realise I had several more than I'd first estimated.  For example, I have a full set of SUPER DC, a UK monthly comic that lasted for 14 issues, plus I also have the Annual (described as a 'Bumper Book') that accompanied the series.  In fact, I have two complete sets of each.

Then I have a full set of KNOCKOUT from the '70s, comprising 106 issues, two Holiday Specials, and 13 Annuals.  But I'm getting them out of sequence - earlier comics were FANTASTIC and TERRIFIC, the former consisting of 89 issues, one Summer Special and three Annuals, the latter only 43 issues (no Annuals or Specials).

What's next?  All 15 issues of SCREAM!, plus five (I think) Holiday Specials  (I don't think there were any Annuals), as well as all 11 monthly issues of MARVEL UK's INDIANA JONES and its Christmas Special.  Also, all 58 issues of The TITANS weekly comic (and two Annuals), plus all 13 issues of the monthly Pocket Book of the same name, and also complete sets of The FANTASTIC FOUR Pocket Book, and also HULK Pocket Book.

Then there's 54 issues of DCT's The CRUNCH, all 50 issues of Marvel UK's The SUPER-HEROES, all 18 issues of The SAVAGE SWORD Of CONAN, all 19 issues of DC'S The SUPER HEROES, three Annuals and (arguably) two Spectaculars.  Also, not forgetting all 27 DOCTOR WHO CLASSIC COMICS and its Holiday Special.  And that's only British comics, I'll have to have a long hard think about my US ones, so that's a future post.

What have I missed?  Oh, 37 issues of The COMPLETE FANTASTIC FOUR and one Annual (issued after the comic's demise, but prepared while it was still being published).  Then there's all 95 issues of the revamped SMASH!, two (and a half) Summer Specials (the 'half' was combined with a VALIANT SS), and six (IPC) Smash! Annuals.

Oops, also forgot about all 39 issues of CAPTAIN BRITAIN (plus all 14 monthly issues from around the mid-'80s), 11 issues of The DAREDEVILS, all 17 issues (I think) of the first The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL monthly (and Special), plus every single issue (however many that is) of PANINI's MWOM.  Oh, and BIG BEN (18 issues). Anyway, do any of you Crivs have complete sets, and which one could you never part with.  Feel free to visit the comments section and tell all.



Way back in 2001, the first issue of a 12-part limited series made its debut, featuring The FABULOUS FANTASTIC FOUR.  The comic was ever-so-modestly (yes, I can do irony) christened The WORLD'S GREATEST COMICS MAGAZINE, and was a homage to the classic strips by STAN LEE & JACK KIRBY, drawn by various artists emulating (some better than others) the drawing style of Jolly Jack.  However, even the few issues that didn't exactly replicate JK's art style still managed to capture its spirit, and Stan Lee himself even scripted the last in the series.

It was collected into a hardback book in 2011 and, though I actually possess all 12 individual original issues, I've scanned the covers on view here from the collected edition simply because I'm too lazy to hunt through boxes and cupboards to find them.  However, I'm sure all you Crazy Crivs won't mind that in the slightest, so peel back your peepers and enjoy these magnificent MARVEL images in all their glory.  And if you'd like to leave a comment saying how much you appreciate them, then I won't object in the slightest.  (Go on - you know you want to.)

Update: Incidentally, having just re-read the book again, I was reminded of a glaring howler within its pages.  DOCTOR DOOM believes he's killed the Cosmic Quartet (in #6), yet later (in #8) one of his underlings says that The AVENGERS and the FF drove back SUB-MARINER's sea creatures and this elicits no surprise from Doom, who says that Richards can't stop him.  Then, in #11, Doom again says that the FF are dead, but in #12, talks as if Reed's still alive and shows no surprise when challenged by Reed near the end of the story.

Talk about inconsistency.  Maybe, if Marvel ever reprints this book, they can fix this boo-boo by revising the lettering where required.  Anyone else spot this error?

And below, if you can bear some slight repetition, are the front and back covers of this valiant volume.  Might still be in print if you'd like to track down a copy.

Saturday 30 May 2020


What do you make of Dominic Cummings?  He's one of the shiftiest-looking individuals I've ever seen so perhaps it shouldn't surprise me that he's a lying piece of sh*t.  Even if we were to accept his excuse that he was testing his eyesight when he drove 30 miles to Barnard Castle (not counting the 250 miles he drove from London to Durham), surely that's even worse?  "I'm not sure I can see properly, so I'll get in my car and drive 30 miles, potentially endangering other road users as well as my wife and son."  Tosser!  (The fact that it was his wife's birthday on the day of their Castle visit was mere coincidence.  Aye, right!) 

Boris Johnson has shot himself right up the @rse by backing him, and the other Tories trying to gloss over Cumming's indiscretion have sacrificed any remnant of integrity they may have had by doing so.  Now that Corbyn's gone, Labour's chances of winning the next general election must surely have improved because of the double-standards displayed by the government and they've only got themselves to blame.  I can't think of a more blatant instance when a government has come out with such a crock of sh*t when trying to sweep wrongdoing under the carpet.

They must think we're all a bunch of cretins if they imagine for even a second that the public can't see what's gone on here - one law for the plebs and another law for them.  They all deserve a really good kicking - especially the weaselly, odious Cummings.  Got any thoughts on the matter, Crivvies?  Then you know where the comments section is.  Incidentally, I'm not being partisan here - what disgusts me is their lying and double-standards, not their political beliefs.  It seems to me that all politicians are nothing but professional liars.

Or do you think it's all a media witch-hunt on someone undeserving of it?  Cast your verdict now! 


Dunno who she is, but she's at the
top of my list for a birthday present to
myself.  It's gonna be a scorcher today, so
the government has decreed that all women
this attractive should wear bikinis.  (Uglies
are to stay covered up.)  Honest - would I
lie to you?  (Might be SIERRA SKYE,
but I'm not 100% certain.)

Friday 29 May 2020


Let's imagine that I'm a very great artist ("Yeah, we'd have to imagine!" says someone.)  Ho-ho, but humour me, Crivs.  Pretend I've painted a magnificent landscape which is hanging in a gallery, and that I'm standing in front of it admiring the fruits of my labour and talent.  (In much the same way that I stand in front of my mirror every morning and admire my rugged, manly-man handsomeness.)  Let's just say that I'm a 'natural' and that it all comes easily to me, with no great insight as to why I'm so gifted.  (Yes, we're still lingering in Imaginary Land.)

Then you come along and stand beside me, and take in my magnificent painting at a glance.  You then proceed to expound on why it's so magnificent - the use of colour, the composition, the technique, the detail, the brushwork, etc., - all things that I recognise when I hear you say them, but wasn't consciously aware of in the form of a list when I painted the picture.  That means that you have an artistic sensibility (perhaps even greater than mine - my imagined artistic sensibility for the purpose of this post that is), but you then astonish me when I ask if you're a painter too, and you say "No, I couldn't draw or paint to save myself."

So I'd say, if I may be so bold, that I have established one important fact.  Namely, that being able to recognise what is good in a piece of art (or anything) doesn't necessarily make us capable of producing it ourselves.  I remember, many years ago in primary school, drawing a picture of the young Arthur withdrawing Excalibur from the stone.  On either side of him stood two men, though I now can't recall who either of them were meant to be.  However, I'd drawn the curve of one man's left boot in a way that I was immensely proud of.  The curve was just 'right' and I was extremely pleased with it.

A fellow pupil looked at the drawing, pointed at the boot and said "That's a good boot."  He could see it too, though wasn't able to draw himself.  (Please, no jokes about self-portraits - you know what I mean.)  Imagine the irony of being able to recognise a specific talent in others while not being a receptacle of that particular talent ourselves.  And that's the case for just about everyone. I might be better at something than you are, but you're likely better at something else than me.

Voltaire once wrote "By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property."  I like that quote, but it's true only to a certain extent.  We can appreciate the beauty of someone as much as we want, but that won't in itself make us beautiful if we're not.  We can appreciate an excellent meal, but may not be able to cook such a high-quality repast ourselves.  You get the point.  I once worked as a letterer in comics, doing it the traditional way, by hand.  Now people with no calligraphic skills themselves, by using the computer fonts of others, describe themselves as letterers when they're really not.  They're simply typists or 'type-setters'.

So you couldn't fairly describe someone who recognises what makes a good picture but can't draw or paint one himself as an artist, could you?  And then you put a camera into his hands.  He sees opportunities for great pictures all around him and snaps away all day long.  Some of the results make spectacular photographs, but does that make them art and him an artist?  I'd say not, and here's why.  A photographer uses technology in the form of a camera that he couldn't manufacture himself.  "Ah, but artists use pencils, canvases, paints and brushes that they don't make themselves" you say.

True, but at one time, all artists did make their own 'tools' and mixed their own paints (from plants, blood, excrement and other things), and their innate ability to reproduce images in front of them (or from their imagination) resided in their mind and was translated through their hand, which they manipulated in such a way as to create an image on a piece of papyrus, paper, canvas, or cave wall.  The ability to create something from nothing lay in them, not their tools, which were mere servants with no inherent 'ability' in themselves.  Same goes for music I suppose. Musicians have the ability to use instruments to make music, but the music is 'in' them, not their instruments, which merely relay what's in a musician's mind (or soul).

However, it's very different when it comes to photography.  Using an 'optical machine' to capture an image in front of its lens isn't the same as producing a tune on an instrument.  With a camera, you point and shoot, and anything of interest, beauty, wonder, or excitement pre-exists outside of the camera, independent of the photographer, who has merely recognised that it would make a good photo.  If I invented a machine that, by the press of a button, could issue any tune sounding like any instrument I chose (regardless of the absence of musical ability in me, or any effort by me), would that make me a musician?  No, of course not.  Likewise, a machine that, by the press of a button, can capture any scene or view I point it at, doesn't make me an artist.

Another example worthy of consideration is woodwork.  Once, all furniture was made by hand. For instance, someone would cut and carve and shape and sand pieces of wood until they'd made a chair.  If it was an intricate, ornately-fashioned chair, finished to a high standard, then it could truly be said that the maker of the chair was at least a highly-skilled craftsman, even an artist. That designation would entirely depend on the intricacy of the design and the quality of the execution.  Just knocking something together that can be sat on is not the same thing.

So let's explore that further.  Nowadays, furniture is made by pushing blocks of wood through machines that ejects them on the other side in whatever size and shape required.  Then someone assembles the different pieces, gives them a sanding, a coat of varnish or a lick of paint and, hey presto - you have a chair, or a stool, or a sideboard or whatever.  In both cases, furniture is being made, but in only one instance (the former) would the result perhaps deserve the accolade of being considered a work of art.  Sure, the first guy uses knives, and chisels, and saws and hammers, etc, but it's him doing the work.  With the second guy, it's the machine that does the necessary - all he does is feed wood through it.  Not quite the same thing, is it?

Okay, perhaps that's an oversimplification, but I think the truth of my point still stands.  And my point is that cameras and certain other devices fall outside of the description of being merely the 'medium' in which an 'artist' works, a popular rationalisation that many camera-buffs use to justify themselves.  It's perhaps a fine distinction, but I believe it's an important one.  Even if you have an eye for what makes a good picture, but can't draw or paint it yourself, then having a camera shoved into your hands and being suddenly able to snap photographs doesn't transform you into an artist, or your photographs into 'art'.  There's more to it than that - unless your definition of art is anything that can be framed and hung on a gallery wall.

Also, bear in mind that, nowadays, artists only buy their brushes and paints out of simple expediency.  Give an artist a nail and a surface to scratch on and he can produce a recognisable image, but a photographer would be incapable of manufacturing a camera.  Could musicians manufacture their own instruments though?  Well, I think it's worth remembering that the very first kind of musical instruments were created by those who wanted to compose and perform music, so it's not altogether outwith the bounds of possibility that they could.  I can't play the guitar, but I made one in woodwork class when I was at school.

No doubt many people will vehemently disagree with me.  After all, it's not easy to relinquish the self-deception that one is an 'artist' when one covets such elevated status in order to validate the belief that one is 'artistic' or 'creative' or 'gifted' in some way.  Mind, I'm not saying that the best photographers aren't skilled at what they do, but being skilled doesn't automatically translate into being an artist - not in my opinion anyway.  Be satisfied with being a photographer, there's no shame in it - but please - photography isn't Art.  At least not with a capital A.       

Thursday 28 May 2020


Copyright relevant owner

Here's the first episode of DON STARR's very last adventure to appear in the pages of TERRIFIC, which, over its 43 ish run, also featured MARVEL reprints of SUB-MARINER, The AVENGERS, GIANT-MAN, and DOCTOR STRANGE.  Note the reference to SPIDER-MAN in the sixth panel of the third page.  (Spidey had appeared in Terrific in an Avengers tale, as well as in a pin-up on the back cover.)

This was obviously intended to give the impression that Don Starr inhabited the same universe as the Marvel heroes, but were the story ever to be reprinted today, it would be assumed to be no more than a quip about a well-known comicbook and movie character.  Therefore, if the story does get reprinted at some time in the future, I hope the reference is left in place.

Anyway, be sure to register your insightful impressions of this tale in the oft-neglected comments section.  After all, I need all the help I can get from you Crivs to make these posts interesting.



Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

In this issue, Spidey’s got a price on his head, and Kraven the Hunter is determined to bring him in!  But he’s not the only one seeking ol’ Web-head out - Bullseye’s targeting him too!  Get set for an urban rumble which’ll shake you to the core!  Will Spidey prove his innocence and overcome the pursuers?  Plus: there's heaps of arachnid activities, factfiles, colouring and puzzles to check out!

Available now!


Wednesday 27 May 2020


Well, that's not quite true - it was an ATM, not a bank, and retrieving my own money can hardly be described as robbery (I hope).  Here's what happened for you to make up your own minds about it.

It was May 6th and I was withdrawing £250 from an ATM outside a local shop, as I didn't want to cut open another mattress.  As the money protruded from the slot, I took hold of it and pulled it towards me.  However, because modern banknotes are so smooth, the first note (a tenner) slid off the top and the remaining £240 came out partially, froze for a moment, then tipped back inside under the rollers.  Oh, you should've heard my language.

I went into the shop and asked if the ATM was anything to do with them and was told no.  "It's just swallowed my money" I said, and was told to ring the number on the machine.  I did, and was told that I'd need to speak to the RSB, so the ATM people connected me to them.  This was on a Wednesday, with a bank holiday weekend looming, but I was told that in circumstances like this, although it usually took 48 hours for money to be credited back into an account, it might take longer than usual.

However, my money hadn't been drawn back through the rollers of the ATM, it had tipped underneath them, not gone back into the bowels of the machine, so I carefully explained this to the person on the 'phone.  "Check after the bank holiday" I was told, and had to be content with that.  On the 12th, I went down to my local bank, who said they'd initiate an investigation, but that it could take up to 15 days to complete.  That 15 days expired today, and when I checked my bank account, no money had been returned to it.

So back into the bank, who told me that the ATM company had 'declined' my claim, saying that no surplus amount of £240 had  been found in the machine.  "Of course not," I said, "it didn't go back through the rollers, it slipped underneath them.  I explained all that."   I was told I'd have to talk to the ATM people again, but I hadn't kept the number, so had to go back to the offending ATM to make another note of it.  I withdrew a tenner from a second account so that I could see if my notes were still lying in the tray under the rollers.  Guess what?  They were!

Three weeks later?  Yup.  Y'see, when people are drawing out their money, the notes obscure this tray and the flap/lid closes immediately, so customers would've been unaware of my dosh's presence.  I got the manageress to come outside, withdrew another tenner from the other account, and asked her to witness that my £240 was still there, which she was perfectly happy to do.  I then went home, 'phoned the ATM people, who said they'd look into the matter, but couldn't tell me when an engineer would be out to look at the machine.  "Will it be days, weeks, or months?" I asked.  "Sorry, we can't say," I was told.

I'd been without this money for three weeks and my patience was at an end.  I went back to the ATM armed with a flexible plastic ruler, a slightly bendy plastic balloon stick, and a roll of double-side sticky tape.  I also took a small bottle with me to jam open the flap.  A guy was withdrawing money, so I asked him to hold the flap up when his money came out, jammed the bottle neck into the machine, and, one by one, retrieved £220 of my money.  The remaining £20 note slipped off to the side somewhere, out of sight and out of reach.

Luckily, one of the directors of the shop was there today and, understandably, wondered what I was doing.  When I explained the situation, he very kindly gave me my missing £20 out of his own pocket and said he would call out an engineer right away.  Turns out this could have been done three weeks ago and I could've got my money back that day, but the assistant I'd spoken to in the shop back then wasn't interested in sharing that information, saying that the machine was nothing to do with them.

Anyway, when I got home, I 'phoned the ATM company again, told them I'd retrieved most of my money and that the guy in the shop had made up the difference.  "He shouldn't have done that" I was told.  "Well, he did," I said, "so when your engineer examines the machine and retrieves my £20, give it to the shop staff so that the guy gets his money back."  "No, we can't do that" I was told.  "Well, from your point of view, it's still my £20, so if you won't give it to him, restore it to my account so that I can give it to him myself."  "We can't do that," came the retort, "any money will be returned to our head office."  (Or she might've said the bank's head office, not quite sure.)

I 'phoned the shop to explain things, but though the director had left, the engineer was now on the premises, so I trotted along to speak to him.  He said he'd been unable to find the £20, but perhaps he wasn't allowed to convey that kind of information so that the ATM people could hold onto any money found.  Just think, I'd have been out of £240 if I hadn't decided to take matters into my own hands.  My notes had been lying in the tray for three whole weeks, even though someone from the ATM company had regularly been refilling the machine during that time.

Declined my claim?  Not on their bloody life, Crivs.  Take a leaf out of my book - don't let these b@st@rds mess you about and never give up.  If I hadn't rescued my money myself, at some point it would've been discovered lying in that tray and 'disappeared' without me knowing about it, never to hear about the matter again and leaving me £240 out of pocket.

At least this time the 'good guys' won.

Tuesday 26 May 2020



My black and white variant edition of CAPTAIN AMERICA #601 turned up today, and for the £2.50 it cost me (plus £1.40 for p&p) it was an absolute steal - especially as it came in a firm cardboard mailer that would have made it difficult for even The A-TEAM to damage.  And the mag's in practically pristine condition.

Instead of just adding the b&w images to the other post, I've decided that they deserve a post of their own, so here they are.  I'll maybe add them to the first post later, as well as add the colour pages to this one so that new readers in the future won't have to jump between posts to compare the difference, but for now, GENE COLAN's pencilled pages will suffice.

So below, in their 'before' stage, are the same pages that DEAN WHITE coloured in the previous version of this comic that I showed you.  Here's a link to that other post for your convenience until I revise (if I do) both posts.  So - which ones do you prefer - the colour pages or the 'black and white'?  (More like grey, I'd say.)

This variant edition of the mag also contains ED BRUBAKER's script, so here's a little taste of it so that you can compare his panel descriptions to what Gene drew. 



Just a little reminder for all you oldies out there that the SMASH! Special is due out tomorrow (27th) and can be ordered at this link.  I see that REBELLION is using a logo based on one that only ever appeared once before, on the last ever Smash! Annual for 1976.  (Just threw that in for all those Crivvies who are interested in such trivia.)

Aside from CURSITOR DOOM, none of the characters in the new Special ever actually appeared* in either the original or revamped version of Smash!, though there's a (tenuous but very welcome) connection in JOHNNY FUTURE, who appeared in FANTASTIC back in the '60s before the comic was eventually subsumed into Smash! in 1968 (though JF had been gone for 38 issues by the time that happened).

Anyway, unsurprisingly, I've already ordered a couple of issues and just can't wait for them to arrive.  If you remember Smash! from your childhood (and if you can, you're ancient) then you might like to do the same.  ('Youngsters' are also advised to buy a copy.)  Click on that above link now!  And below is the cover of the '76 Annual for you to compare the logos.

(*I suppose you could argue the point seeing as Smash! was merged into VALIANT [becoming Valiant & Smash!] and The STEEL CLAW was a Valiant character, though I'm not 100% sure whether he ever appeared in the combined title and I'm too lazy to check.  I think he might have done though.) 

Monday 25 May 2020


I see that The OFFICIAL GERRY ANDERSON site has now restored my original review of the Special Edition of TV21 #243, so as an act of goodwill, I have removed my earlier posts about its deletion.  Hopefully, my review will remain until they sell out of stock of this particular issue.

However, my resubmitted review (which was also deleted) has also popped up again, meaning it now appears twice (but on different pages), so  hopefully they will remove the most recent incarnation.


From a very early age, it was noticed and remarked upon by my parents, teachers, and peers that I had a talent for drawing which was above the ordinary.  You may laugh and consider me deluded, but that was the general consensus of opinion among those who saw my drawings.  I'm sure if I could view my early efforts now, I'd be embarrassed by how bad most of them were and also resentful of the fact that anything good about them was dependent on the influence of others.

By that I mean I learned from Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Mike Noble, Ron Embleton, Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson and others, 'borrowing' what was good about their work and infusing it into my own.  Even a poor reflection of greatness can sometimes have at least a hint of greatness about it, and that was what others saw in my sketches and doodles - the spirits of 'giants' that even my ineptitude and lack of experience couldn't completely exorcise.

As I grew up I grew lazy.  Whenever I wanted recognition or approbation from my peers, all I had to do was acquiesce to their requests to dash off some doodle that, to them, seemed like a manifestation of magic on a scrap of paper or the back of a school jotter.  I later learned, as an adult, that I was regarded as a bit of a 'legend' (their word, not mine) by people I didn't know because of my reputation being promoted and propagated by pupils in my class among their fellows and friends in and out of school.

Sounds like I'm full of myself, doesn't it?  However, I recall meeting one fellow who'd been at my secondary school (who I didn't know at the time) telling me many years later in adulthood that my name was a 'legend' at school (remember, I'm not accountable for the perceptions or hyperbole of others) because of my ability in cartooning and also the portraits (not caricatures) of teachers I drew in my jotters instead of paying attention in class.  (Bear in mind that I was only around 12 or 13 at the time, so my efforts probably seemed disproportionately good for my age.)

I'm not going to lie to you.  I was of course flattered to learn that people held my talent (if not myself) in such high regard, and I allowed a little pride to swell within my heart, though I never really considered myself as anything special.  Having said that, however, sometime in the early 1980s, someone said something to me that, eventually, led me to think of myself in a different way.

I'd 'taught' myself to signwrite simply by doing it (and because I wanted to be able to), and one day, in a Glasgow exhaust-fitting and m.o.t. centre where I was doing a sign, a fellow called Tony Quinn (no, not the famous actor) told me that he envied my artistic abilities because they were 'special'.  "Anyone can learn to do what I do," he said, "but what you can do is a gift that can't be taught."  (Unless one already had the spark that could be fanned into a flame, obviously.)  I always remembered that, and I must confess it initiated a gradual change in the way I saw myself.

I didn't become a bighead, but whenever someone would try to put me down for drawing superheroes and comic strips (for my own amusement), I'd often find myself thinking - and even saying - "And what can you do that's so special?  All you are is a bloody biscuit salesman!"  (Or whatever.)  Of course, I'm sure that even some biscuit salesmen have talents, but for the majority of them it's probably just for selling biscuits and, let's face it - that's really not so special.

I've noticed a growing trend in society over the last few years to try and reduce what were once regarded as special (even specialist) talents or artistic abilities of gifted creative people to a lower level, so that those who could never hope to attain such heights needn't feel in any way inferior to others.  (Not that they should, but some people do.)  Where once it was perfectly acceptable to look up to and admire (even envy) those who could do things we couldn't, the new agenda is that we are all 'equalised', and your rough doodle is as much a legitimate expression of artistic ability and accomplishment as a landscape by Constable.

There's a certain kind of person who'll take a degree course in order to validate their artistic aspirations, ambitions, and - let's face it - pretensions, so that they can consider themselves part of a talented elite.  And let's not fool ourselves - there is an artistic or creative elite who are capable of things that other people aren't.  In the minds of those who covet such status but are undeserving of it, the acquisition of a degree conveys a legitimacy (pseudo as it may be) on their lacklustre, talentless daubs, and delusionally confirms their own misplaced belief in themselves.  (And let's be clear - no one is an artist, poet, writer, or whatever, merely because they wish to be.)  Incidentally, I should emphasize that I'm not accusing everyone who studies for a degree of having this mentality, only some of them.  Some jobs require a degree if you wish to pursue a career in them, but studying for a degree just for the sake of having one reeks of pretension in my opinion.

However, we're no longer allowed to make that distinction.  Primary pupils in a school sports day race are all awarded prizes so that no one need feel left out or inferior.  (No more winners or losers, merely participants.)  Perish forbid that we recognise and reward excellence, and in so doing challenge kids to reach beyond their grasp and push themselves in pursuit of improvement in their chosen field of endeavour in later years.  And if part of that is also teaching them to know their limitations, that too is a valuable and useful lesson.  Children should know that they can't be good at everything and that there's no shame in acknowledging that someone is better at something than they are.  Self-esteem shouldn't be founded on the fallacy of believing that you're good at something you're not.

According to today's way of thinking, anyone with a camera is a 'photographer', and anyone who wields a pencil or brush is an 'artist', regardless of the merits (if any) of the results.  Anyone who tunelessly tortures their vocal chords (and the ears of their listeners) is a 'singer', despite not being able to carry a tune in a bucket.  Anyone who commits a few lines of metreless, badly rhymed jottings to paper is a 'poet', whose work deserves the same kind of respect as that of Poe.

You get the idea I'm sure.  I don't know about you, but I can't help but feel offended when someone looks at a drawing I'm proud of and says "My sister's a bit of an artist too", when their sister can't actually draw and thinks that unmade beds, or tents with names sewn on them, is the epitome of artistic achievement.  As with most people, there are more things I can't do than can, but I reserve the right to feel proud of what I'm good at without feeling guilty, and resent any attempts by certain elements to elevate the efforts of the talentless to the same standard as my own by dragging me down to their level.

The world is now full of 'pretenders' who demand to be recognised for being (in their mistaken estimation) equally capable at whatever you may be naturally good at, purely because they want to be, or because of some undeserved job title or useless 'vanity-degree' (or certificate) that isn't necessarily an accurate assessment of their abilities.  I don't have a degree in art (never sought one), but having one wouldn't enable me to draw any better than I do (whatever standard you may think that is), nor does the absence of one make me draw any worse.  (I can do that on my own.)

So, do I have an over-inflated opinion of myself, or - in your heart of hearts - do you think the same when you experience it happening in your own life in regard to some pretentious, presumptuous pretender considering themselves your equal in the area you have a special talent for?  The comments section is now open - let rip!  C'mon - who's going to be brave enough to be the first?  Even if it's just to tell me that you think I'm talking mince!


Update: I see I've lost a 'follower', presumably because of this post.  Perhaps an insecure person with a degree?  I don't think I'm saying anything particularly controversial here.  We all believe ourselves to be good at something that others who aren't also think they're good at.  Just a shame that the former member didn't feel like having a conversation about what they've probably misunderstood.  Sad, also, that some people go off in a huff just because someone has a different opinion to them on some subject or other, eh?

Sunday 24 May 2020


This unfinished pencil sketch was started when I was living down in Southsea in Portsmouth back in 1985.  I copied it from an interior photograph of the author of an art book, both of which I've long since forgotten.  I never got to finish it before having to hand the book back in to the library, being too busy pursuing my career as a calligraphic artist (okay then... a letterer) in the world of comics.  I'd love to find out what the book's called and who the author is so that I can finally complete the sketch, lo, these 35 years later.  If any Crivvies can assist, I'd be much obliged.

Of course, I could just finish the drawing using my imagination, but that would leave me open to criticism that I hadn't 'captured' the original photo (if it's ever found to be compared against) so I'd much rather be as faithful to the source as possible.

At the beginning of the book was a quotation from MICHELANGELO, which I was so impressed by that I made a note of it.  Hopefully, if you harbour any artistic aspirations (and talent), it may inspire you to achieve them.

"Let this be plain to all: design, or as it is called by another name, drawing, constitutes the fountain-head and substance of painting and sculpture and architecture and every other kind of painting, and is the root of all sciences.  Let him who has attained the possession of this be assured that he possesses a great treasure;..."


Now - go forth and conquer!  But first, someone tell me who the author is and what the book's called.


Just before I pressed 'publish', I decided on a whim to Google Search the quote by Michelangelo and discovered that the book is called 'On The ART Of DRAWING' by ROBERT FAWCETT.  However, the limited preview of the book doesn't contain the photograph, so if anyone has it and can send me a scan, please let me know.

Update: Managed to find a copy of the photo by doing an image search of my own sketch.  Now, at last, I can finish the drawing when I remember where I put the original.  I'd scanned it a few years ago, and lifted the image at the top of this post from an earlier one.  That's the photo below.

Saturday 23 May 2020



I seem to remember reading somewhere that CAPTAIN AMERICA #601 was GENE COLAN's last work for MARVEL - and perhaps (private commissions aside) his last work anywhere.  Apparently it was originally intended as an Annual in 2007, but didn't appear until a couple of years later in this double-size issue of Cap's own regular monthly mag.

The version shown here is the one coloured by DEAN WHITE, and it has to be admitted that the art is very atmospheric.  There's also a black and white variant version printed from Colan's pencils, which I'm still waiting for despite ordering it (from a different seller) within minutes of the colour one on display before you.

Colan won an EISNER Award for this issue, but despite the reviews extolling his art, it isn't really the best thing he's ever done.  Dodgy perspectives, banana fingers, contorted anatomy, and stretched composition are occasionally in evidence, but remember that Colan suffered from poor eyesight so it's almost a miracle that he could even see to draw anything.  And he was also 82 when he produced this ish.

However, like I said, this mag has mood and atmosphere in spades, and no one did those qualities better than Colan.  When the black and white version arrives, I'll post some pages so that you can compare them against White's coloured examples and you can judge for yourself which ones you like best.  In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment saying just what Gene Colan's art means to you.

I'll show you the interiors soon - promise!

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