Saturday 31 October 2020


 Ground Control To Colonel Nick...

Images copyright respective owners
Time yet again for another entry in our occasional series of Comic Covers 'Snap'!, wherein we compare covers with the very ones they're based on.  This time it's Nick Fury getting ripped-off by Superman, but if Nick's not going to complain about Supes pinching the layout of S.H.I.E.L.D. #6's 1968 cover then neither am I.  Sequentially, the third cover on show here was actually published between the two above it, when it was reused on the second issue of a two-part reprint limited series in 1983.  The Superman version is from 1989.   


 Things That Go Bump In The Night...

Getting back to the Hallowe'en theme, here's a couple of Aurora model kits I built and painted some years ago (approximately 1983 and '96 respectively), followed by two I built and painted for someone else two or three years back.  Plus, two versions of the same drawing of the Frankenstein Monster that I drew around '82 or '83.  The first one is the inked version of the head, followed by a photocopy of the original pencil version.  Not too shabby, eh?  (He said, fishing for compliments.)


 But Legends Never Truly Die...

Well, that's it now, isn't it?  Just about all the celebrity heroes we considered family friends when we were growing up are gone, aren't they?  Leslie Crowther, Peter Glaze, Johnny Morris, Rodney Bewes, Adam West, John Noakes, James Garner, Roger Moore, Bobby Ball, and a whole host of others... which sadly now also includes Sean Connery, the big screen's first James Bond.

When Big Tam first played Bond, he was in his early 30s; when he gave it up, he was in his early 40s - and when he reprised the role one more time, he was only 53 or so, several years younger than I am now.  And yet each of these landmarks in my life seem like only the recent past to me, so how can the man who was Bond... James Bond, seemingly only a short time ago, be old enough to have died?

I'll leave it to others to cover his life and career; I just didn't want to ignore his passing as Sean's Bond was, and I'm sure it's the same for many others, a fixture of sorts in my life for the last 48 years.  Think I'll play a Bond soundtrack and make believe that Sean's still around - which, in so many ways, he still is and always will be.


 Conan The Savage...


Conan The Savage was a 10 issue series by Marvel Comics, published in 1995-'96.  I own the first 5 issues, but not only had I forgotten I had them, I'd also forgotten the mag ever existed 'til I found them in one of my cupboards while looking for something else.  Well there are no flies on me (apart from of the zip variety), so I immediately thought "Hey, I should scan them and do a mini-cover gallery!" so that's exactly what I've done.  Aren't you lucky I'm so full of great ideas? 


Images copyright relevant owners

Here's a question for all your cavortin' Crivvies - what age were you when you last went out guising at Hallowe'en?  I guess I was about 10, though it may just have been to a Boys' Brigade party (I was a member) in the church hall over the road from me.  That means that it's been over 50 years since I was an active participant in the Hallowe'en tradition, which seems strange to me as I can remember those dark nights of my childhood as if they were far more recent than that.  I've never been to an adult Hallowe'en party, but I'm sure many of you have, which means you got to dress up annually for many more years than I ever did.  Except for weekends and only to unwind - but that's another story.  (Joking.)

Incidentally, I hate Hallow'en parties for grown-ups (any parties in fact) - let the kids have their fun for goodness' sake without trying to imitate them.  Seeing adults making tits of themselves while dressed up in ridiculous costumes and smashed out of their brains makes a mockery of the innocent pleasure that should be the sole province of children (apart from the getting drunk part obviously).  If you must have a party, then have a party (though I'd advise against it, as I hate seeing people enjoying themselves, especially when the ensuing noise encroaches on my peace and quiet), but you shouldn't be copying kids in order to get your jollies.  Grow up!  (Says the man who still buys toys and comics!)

Ah, I feel much better now, doctor - can I be discharged?  Anyway, as it's Hallowe'en tonight, I though I'd share with you a few relevant images of the age-old tradition, culled from Whizzer & Chips #3 back in 1969 (which was actually a Guy Fawkes issue, though it came out before Hallowe'en, probably on October 25th).  I won't tell anyone if you decide to click on the image of the mask and print out your own copy.  In fact, I've included another couple of masks just in case they'll float your boat as well.  Just don't wear them to any parties if you're over 10!

Guest Post By Barry Pearl...

On The Shoulders Of Atlas...

Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I've done five types of "submissions" to Marvel, and I bet the fifth group will surprise you.  (No peeking!)  First let me say that Marvel is a pleasure to deal with; they are very friendly, cooperative and helpful when I need something.  But that's been true of all the companies I've scanned for.  I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it. Marvel wants the scans to be 600dpi saved as a TIF file.  I am told that DC scans at about 300-400dpi.

It's true that the early Masterworks, (1990-2005 or so) were not printed well at all, suffering from poor and redrawn images with bad colouring.  Boy, are they working hard to make sure that the newer volumes are done right.  They've redone a bunch of earlier books to bring them up to the standard of ones published now.

I don't want to get into the issue of whether they should follow, exactly, the original colour, as I've had enough of that argument.  Originally the books were published on cheap yellow newsprint with 12 colours derived from four main ones.  Now they are printed on white paper with a million colours so it's bound to look different.

1.)  Rarities: Marvel published a volume of "Rarities" featuring, well, rare items from the Marvel Universe.  They came to my house to see what I had, which included an MMMS membership card and also an actual No-Prize, which I won.

2.)  Marvel has asked me to provide scans of covers and comics that they don't have.  Marvel doesn't use the original artwork (where would they get it anyway?) and prefers to use the actual film used to take pictures of the artwork.  Marvel has been owned by several companies over the years and, apparently, not everything can be found.  Sometimes the film is no longer in usable shape.  I just scanned in Brother Voodoo (above) and you can see my scan on the cover of their new BV Masterworks volume.

3.)  Reprints: The more current covers for reprint issues. For example, Fantasy Masterpieces (above) published stories form the 1940s and 1950s but with new covers.
4.)  Marvel asked me to write an introduction (above) to the Tales of Suspense Masterworks, Volume 3.  As you may know, Marvel was originally called Timely then Atlas.  Since this was a volume that transitions from the last era to the Marvel age I entitled the intro The Shoulders of Atlas.  Marvel sent me their black and white scans of the stories so I could discuss them.
5.)  In-House ads and Letter Columns.  That's right, Marvel may have the film of the stories, but not the letters columns or In-house ads, both of which they add to the Omnibuses.  Here are a couple of requests.
Barry, I forgot to ask you, did Monsters on the Prowl #9, 11 or 13 have letters pages?  If so, would it be possible to get 600dpi scans of them?
Marvel was not sure if those comics even had letter columns.
Hi Barry, Captain America #228 has a full-page Doctor Strange house ad.  Any chance I could score a 600dpi scan of it from you?

Often I have to look and see if the issues contain what they ask for, but I'm always happy to help when I can, and I get a real sense of pride from seeing my name in print, knowing that I've helped preserve and promote Marvel history for future generations.

Friday 30 October 2020


Copyright relevant owner

I know what you're all thinking - "Kid's gone loopy and is now going to preach to us."  No, not at all - there will be no religious content in this post about what you should believe, how you should live, or anything else pertaining to the subject of theology.  The only reason I've used the above picture is because there's a story behind it; not much of one I grant you, but, hey - I have to fill this blog with something, otherwise you'd have nothing to read.

There was a time when I was a teenager that I became interested in religion.  I think at some stage in all our lives we go through the "Who am I?, Where did I come from?, Why am I here?, Where am I going?" phase and it was no different for me.  Some of us investigate it and some of us shrug it off, but I think those questions chap at the door of our minds at some point or other if we have any degree of intelligence.  So I investigated for a while, and reached my own conclusions, none of which I'll bore you with (you'll be glad to hear).

However, the preceding preamble is just to set the stage for this book - or to be more precise, its cover.  Back in the late '70s, a friend at the time lent me a copy of this book.  He was no longer living in my home town, and I assume that he wouldn't have bothered to bring it all the way up from down South on one of his infrequent visits, so I suspect it resided in his sister's house (who did still live in my home town at the time) and that was where he acquired it to lend to me.  Whether it was actually his to lend is another matter, though it could well have been.

Anyway, there was a chapter which interested me, so I lent the book to a minister I knew to ask his opinion about it.  (I think I asked my friend if it was okay to do so, but I couldn't swear to it.)  When, after a suitable period, I enquired after its return, he'd 'mislaid' it, leaving me to explain to my pal what had happened.  He expressed disappointment, because, he said, it had belonged to his mother and father who were by then both deceased, but he wasn't angry about it.  His parents were Baptists, so I was surprised that they'd own a Seventh-day Adventist book, but maybe it had been lent to them by someone and not returned.  (If so, that seemed to have become a habit.)  Of course, there's always a chance that he was lying about it being his parents' book just to make me feel guilty.  He was that kind of guy.

Anyway, in the course of time, I eventually cut this particular friend loose because of his tendency to tell whopping-great lies of a humongously absurd nature, but being the nostalgist that I am, I still think back fondly to the time of our childhood and teenage years when we were yet pals.  Which is odd, I suppose, because I wouldn't cross the road to pee on him now if he were on fire.  Anyway, it was only in the last few days, while browsing through eBay, that I noticed that this book was written by the same author (Arthur S. Maxwell) as the Bedtime Stories book I've owned from my earliest days, so I bought one just for old times' sake.

Why?  There was always something about the cover that fascinated me; the cozy 'home and hearth' scene of domestic bliss, peace and tranquillity, that spoke to me of what life could and should be like.  My image of how the world should look is based on Ladybird book illustrations of the '50s and '60s, and the cover and internal illos are of a similar nature, so how could I fail to be entranced by them?  There's more to it than that, though.  The cover also reminds me of a vanished time, a former friend, and my deceased youth, which crept away to die without me noticing, while I erroneously believed it was still alive and very much a current companion.  (I just turned around to look at it one day and found that it was gone.)

So now I have one more aspect of the 'long-ago' back in the fold, another part of my past to warm me as the already far too rapidly advancing winter of my life seems to speed up its approach.  Hopefully, though, it'll take a lengthy 'pit-stop' on the way.

Do any of you Crivvies remember (or yet own) any books with illustrations that evoke fond memories of happier times, or which, when younger, pointed forwards to happy days as you'd like them to be?  Tell all in the comments section.

Thursday 29 October 2020



Here's another True Believers ish, this time reprinting The Avengers #111, available from your local comicbook shop now.  And it costs only a fraction of what you'd probably pay to buy the original issue in pristine condition.

Y'know, I'm a big fan of Don Heck's artwork in general, but there's a point in his career where he went off the boil - sometime in the '70s, I'd say.  His figure-work became a bit loose and 'floaty', by which I mean that his characters didn't appear to be planted firmly on the ground, or looked as if they were just on the verge of floating upwards.  In his later days, Don himself blamed the inkers as the reason for any negative criticism of his work, but I think the blame lay closer to home.

Take a look at the splash page (below) for example.  Anyone else see that Wanda's right leg is shorter than her left?  That wasn't the inker's fault, that's the way Don drew it.  Still, his '60s Iron Man and Avengers tales were a delight, so let's hope that Marvel gets around to reprinting some more of them as TBs.



Take a look at the first of the above two panels from page 4 of The Avengers #43.  Can you spot the mistake?  Well, it'd be hard to miss, wouldn't it?  Surely, though, the writer (Roy Thomas) who scripted the dialogue also indicated what the 'sound-effect' should be?  Wait, I've got it - it's a doorbell that chimes like a door-knock.  That's surely worth a 'No-Prize' if anything is, eh?  I'm a certified genius.  (Certified anyway - I may have imagined the 'genius' part.)  

Tuesday 27 October 2020


For all those of a nostalgic bent, there's a new and exclusive post on my other blog, Mild & Mellow Melancholy Musings.  Click here if you're interested.

Saturday 24 October 2020

75 Years Of Marvel - Barry Pearl's (And Pals) Pertinent Part In Its Pulse-Pounding Publication...

In 2014, Roy Thomas was writing the main essay for Taschen's 75 Years of Marvel.  Taschen contacted me, Mike Vassallo, and Nick Caputo to work on the book and contribute the images from our original comics for the sections on the 1930s up to around 1977.  Others had to do the years after that.  We did the biographies and timeline, and helped select which pages or panels of art to use.

There are no 'traditional' scans here.  They came to each of our houses with enormous equipment and used a powerful camera, focusing not through the lens manually, but on a computer.  After the artwork was selected, it was placed as it would appear in the book, then sent to us as a PDF.  We wrote the captions for it in Word on a separate 'page', and they were later added to the PDF, underneath or beside the pictures.

Note the picture where they have Spider-Man #1 set up.  Their cover picture, from Avengers #4, is also from my collection, as is Hulk #1 on the rear.


I suppose I was around 3 or 4 years of age when I first became aware of the Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories book in my bedroom.  Well, I say 'my' bedroom, but I shared it with my brother.  (It would be another 9 or 10 years before I finally got a room of my own.)  I was always dimly aware of its presence in our first three houses, but it was allocated to the attic along with a pile of other stuff in our fourth house, and was there for years before I rediscovered it one day and moved it into my bedroom cupboard.

It was written by British-born Arthur S. Maxwell, a Seventh-day Adventist and published in the UK, and is one of a series that lasted for quite a few years.  In fact, for all I know, they might still enjoy regular reprintings today.  The stories, purporting to be true, are a bit twee, and looking at them now, they paint a picture of a vanished age - or at least the perception of an age which may never truly have existed except in the minds of a certain 'class'.  I only just started reading the stories and am now around halfway through the book. They're reasonably well-written, though the children featured in them don't speak like any children I ever heard (far too keen to pray), not even when I was a nipper. 

The book was hardly in pristine condition, with scuffs and scrapes to the boards, and part of the spine was missing in the middle, plus a little bit of the cover where the absent piece of the spine folded over.  It may always have been like this, but it's hard to say with any certainty as I don't think either my brother or myself ever read it.  If we ever picked it up out of boredom, we soon put it down again the moment we remembered it was a Sunday School-type book and therefore of no interest to us.  We were both made to attend Sunday School (reluctantly), but I recall at least one occasion when me and a pal skived off and spent our 'collection' money on sweets.  (Villains!)  Where did the book come from?  Jumble sale, church, a relative?  Its source is lost to the mists of time, but it could've been 'secondhand' when we got it.

For many years, neither me nor my brother were allowed beyond the confines of our back garden on a Sunday (apart from visiting our grandparents along with mater and pater) as my mother was religiously-minded (Church of Scotland), though more from a superstitious perspective (it seemed to me) than an insightful or pious one.  She believed people shouldn't exert themselves (as kids are prone to) on a Sunday as it was the 'day of rest', not realising that, to the Jews, the Sabbath was a Saturday and the admonition to 'rest' was only for them, not Gentiles.  We were in our third house before she eventually relaxed a bit and we could get out to the field across the street to play for a while.  I'm not sure exactly when - could've been when I was 7 or 8.

Anyway, digging through my cupboard the other day, I spied the book and decided to effect a repair job on it, to sort of make up for its many decades of neglect.  I gave it a colour touch-up in places, just to make it look neater, and replaced the missing piece on the spine.  I'm slightly colour-blind so can't swear to the efficacy of my work in that department, but the book is now more secure (a touch of glue in places along the spine sorted out any looseness), and is certainly much better in appearance than it was previously.

Look at the back cover below.  One glance at that seal and I'm a child again, and the shape and dimensions of my room shift in my mind - first one room, then another, then back again, swirling through time and space like my own personal TARDIS.  To be honest, in the natural course of events, had the book not been quarantined in the loft for decades, it would likely have been dispensed with long ago by my parents or brother for being surplus to requirements.

However, I'm glad it wasn't, as it goes all the way back to my earliest days, and to be without it would be like being without some old friend from childhood who I never quite realised meant so much to me 'til I set eyes on them again after a long period, and was reminded of how far back we went before I cruelly and selfishly forgot about them on my day-to-day sojourn through life.  It's ironic to think that had Uncle Arthur still been alive, he'd probably have turned that into a quaint little morality tale for one of his books.

Any of you Crivvies own any books that you've had from infancy?  Spill the Heinz 57 in our ever-lovin' comments section. 


Lovers of John Romita's art will appreciate this latest True Believers issue, featuring The Black Widow in her new costume for the first time.  Romita was a master visual storyteller and his panel-to-panel layout was always easy on the eye and crystal clear to follow, which is something that some of the modern crop of comicbook artists would benefit from emulating.  Anyway, below is a few pages to show you that I ain't just whistling Dixie.  Available now from where comics are sold.

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