Friday 27 November 2020
Wednesday 25 November 2020
|Copyright BBC TV & the Estate of TERRY NATION|
Finally, my local WHS got two copies of The Daleks Special in today. One was gone by the time I arrived, but I snagged the other one, thereby adding to my collection of this very desirable publication. (Ah, but how do I know there were two? Simple - I asked how many copies they'd got in.) No, I'm not going to put spare copies on eBay at extravagantly-inflated prices, I'm just so bowled over by this magnificent Bookazine that I want as many issues as I can get.
The strips within have been reprinted before, one story appearing in a Mighty Midget Doctor Who free gift in the first issue of Mighty TV Comic in 1976, then in the '77 and '78 Dalek Annuals (one tale was in b&w). Also The Amazing World Of Doctor Who '77 'Annual', then Doctor Who Magazine in 1980, first in b&w, and again in colour in the early '90s, before switching to Doctor Who Classics. All 104 strips were also collected in a 1994 Special, but this latest presentation is by far the best yet.
I happened to be lettering some Doctor Who strips for Marvel back in the '90s, at the same time as The Daleks were being reprinted, and it was a thrill to see pages that I remembered from childhood in the same mag that had my name inside. So vivid were my memories of them that I could actually recall at which points along my route to school I'd originally read many of the early pages, and it was almost like I was 6 years old again.
And that's the same sensation I had while reading this Special - I was mentally retracing my journey to my first primary school, having bough the latest TV Century 21 from a newsagent's called Chambers, just around the corner from my house. What's odd is that after about 42, possibly 43 issues, my family moved to another house in a different neighbourhood and I started a new primary school, yet whenever I look at the pages, I seem, in memory, to associate the remaining 61 or 62 Daleks pages with the previous house and neighbourhood, even though I was no longer living there when they were published.
Perhaps that's because the living-room of our new house, although slightly smaller, was the same layout as our former one, so any difference wasn't pronounced enough to register as a different place, and also because the initial impression the strips made on me was so great that I find it difficult to associate even the later pages with anywhere else. But why am I unsure as to whether I read 42 or 43 strips before moving house. I'll tell you, because maybe someone out there will be able to supply the information I need to work things out.
The first issue of TV Century 21 was cover-dated January 23rd, though it's often reported to have gone on sale on January 19th. That seems odd to me, because it doesn't give it a full week's shelf-life in shops. However, jumping ahead, #s 40-43 carried a 4 part Fireball XL5 story (illustrated by Frank Hampson) and I'm pretty sure the story ended before we moved, which was on November 8th. Number 43 was dated November 13th, which means that if the same dating procedure was followed as with #1, it went on sale on the 9th, the day after we moved.
If that's true, then I couldn't have read the fourth and final part in my old house as I seem to remember, but must've read it in my new one. Unless, of course, by then, the comic was going on sale earlier to give it a full week's shelf life before being replaced with the next issue. (If so, it would've gone on sale on the 6th.) Would anyone out there have access to that info, so that I can finally determine what number of issues I read before my family flitted? It might not mean anything to you, but I'd love to know.
Anyway, another self-indulgent personal memory, but hopefully you'll overlook my selfishness.
I don't think so - what about you...?
John Maynard Keynes once said that "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking." Know what? I tend to agree with that, so this post is sure to do at least one of two things - possibly even both. It will either greatly offend some people who will want to give me a piece of their mind (particularly those who can't really spare it), or it will cause others to ignore it on the grounds that "Oh, he just wants to argue!"
While I readily confess that I love a good discussion - mainly because it can generate illuminating light (though sadly often accompanied by less-welcome heat) and give my brain some much-needed exercise into the bargain - I wouldn't say that I love to argue. And while I don't believe that I ever start an argument, I'll certainly never run away from one. Bloggerland is a funny place, filled with people who use it to state their opinion on any given subject, but who seem reluctant to explain the reasons for their point of view or defend their beliefs. "I have said, therefore 'tis true" appears to be their motto. Ask them why they think as they do, however, for no other reason than to understand them better, and they do a runner.
So racism has been a lot in the news in recent times, and what a bunch of bastards white people are for all the ills they have bestowed upon the world. George Floyd was killed and shouldn't have been, but was it really because he was black? Has that been established beyond all reasonable doubt? I'm only asking because I don't know either way. Cops shoot or beat white people too, but colour is never mentioned in the news reports in those instances. And white people never stand up and accuse the police of racism because they shot a white guy, even if one (or more) of the policemen happens to be black.
It just seems to be that the people who shout racism whenever something happens are black people - or other ethnic minorities - never white people. Black people (and I mean some, not all) ask why aren't there more black actors being awarded Oscars, as if they're specifically not being given them because they're black. Here's something a lot of you will already know. Centuries ago, when some black tribes conquered others in neighbouring villages, not only did they kill their rivals, they made those they didn't murder their slaves. The point being that it wasn't only white people who took slaves. We were the first to gave it up though.
Not good enough, cry our critics. So we're supposed to ignore all the white people who died in the fight to abolish slavery because it doesn't fit in with the 'white people are trash' mantra that some people want to propagate. There are no black people alive today who have ever been slaves in the way we think of slaves - as unpaid servants or butlers. Sure, there are people of all colours - and ages - who are what are called sex slaves, or are made to work against their will in factories by crooks who smuggled them into the country (take your pick) with the promise of a better life, then did the dirty on them. Those kind of 'slaves' exist, but like I said, they're not restricted to any one colour or ethnicity so they're not the ones I'm discussing here.
Black people are slaves though - slaves to the idea that they're slaves who are victimised or oppressed purely because of the colour of their skin. It's only when they realise that they can't claim the wrongs done to their ancestors as their own, or pin the crimes of white people's ancestors on their descendants, that they'll ever truly be free from their own prejudices. Black people prejudiced? (Some, not all, remember.) You betcha! Let's say you're a white celebrity and you see a news report about starving children in war-ravaged or disease-ridden countries and decide to front an appeal to assist them (out of a genuine desire to help, not to rejuvenate your flagging career by raising your profile) - well, now you shouldn't - because you're white.
Why? Well, apparently because you're presenting whites as 'saviours' rescuing poor little black babies, and in doing so you're being a racist. Run that past me again. Surely the reverse is true?! You're trying to help disadvantaged people with no thought as to what colour or ethnicity they are, but you're being told you shouldn't lead from the forefront because you're white and it gives the wrong impression to the world? Your skin colour is being held against you! Surely that's where the racism lies?
It seems obvious that there are those within the black community who have a vested interest in perpetuating the notion of blacks being oppressed by whites. (And I'm not saying it never happens, probably more than I'm aware of, but I don't believe it occurs as often as they imagine.) There are some blacks who hate white people and are looking to demonise them, the better to present themselves as champions for black rights. If there's no conflict they have no purpose, so they stoke the fires of conflict at every opportunity. From their point of view, anytime anything bad happens to a black person, it's for no other reason than the fact he's black. That's one helluva chip they're carrying on their shoulder.
Then there's Lenny Henry, who used to be an ordinary British guy before he decided to be a leader to 'his' people. Willingly took the wages for being part of The Black & White Minstrels Show, but now says he was just a kid who didn't know what he was doing and was just trying to provide for his family. Now he's ashamed of it, you see. Well, there's certainly a convoluted and controversial history to white people 'blacking up', and some sources say some of it was malicious and racist and others say it wasn't necessarily so, but one thing's for sure, and it's this.
At the time the show was on TV, it didn't make fun of black people, didn't try to demean them, and wasn't negative about black people in any way. The British public loved the Minstrels and took them to their hearts, and the show perhaps even helped alleviate any latent or overt racism in this country at the time. But no, it was wrong and evil cries Sir Lenny, conveniently ignoring the fact that he 'whited up' in his one and only (that I know of) Hollywood movie, which did sod all for his career. They say converted former smokers are the worst, and that seemingly also goes for duff British comedians (allegedly) who are trying to reinvent themselves as relevant, when their 'best' work was nearly 40-odd years ago. And no, I don't say that because he's black.
Anyway, what I'm getting at is that the section of our community who is subject to racism more than any other is white people. They get it from all sides. Want to have an Afro hairstyle? Can't, that's cultural appropriation. Want to wear something that is (or resembles) the traditional garb of some ethnic minority? Can't, that's cultural appropriation - in short, racism. Yet for decades, many black women straightened their hair to match their white colleagues or neighbours, some of them even applying skin lightening lotions in an attempt to appear less black. And not necessarily, as some will claim, because they were made to feel ashamed or embarrassed about being black, but only because they wanted to appear more like their favourite actresses or pop stars, who - by a sheer accident of birth - happened to be white. Surely it should also work in reverse. Don't wear jeans and a tee-shirt if you're black - that's cultural appropriation.
Yes, of course that's a stupid thing to say, but that's the point! It's every bit as stupid when said from the other side of the fence too. Any excuse to beat whitey over the head though, eh?
What you have to remember if you're white, my friends, is that, according to some, white people were and are responsible for every evil ever inflicted on the globe, back in the past and also today - and no doubt tomorrow as well. You should be ashamed at your ancestors for merely living in a time when things weren't as they are now, even though there was little chance they could do anything about it even if they'd wanted to. No other 'race' ever did everything even remotely wrong and were the epitome of goodness and light, so they have nothing to be ashamed of. Everything is whitey's fault.
Black Lives Matter? Why even bring skin colour into it? Surely all lives matter?
What's your view?
(Update:) And here's the very thing that proves my point. There's currently an ad on Scottish telly where a black guy is talking about racism and says that a sign of it is when he's followed around a supermarket by a security guard because of the colour of his skin. Excuse me? How could he know that? Marvel at the ease with which he readily assumes he gets followed because he's black. Hey, it's happened to me, and thousands of other white people, due mainly to the fact that it's a security guard's job to be suspicious, it's nothing to do with colour.
Am I carrying a shopping bag from another store into which I might be stuffing items, or do I just look like a dodgy character who's up to no good? Might it be because I've already been in the store and gone back because I forgot something and that's attracted attention? Nah, it's nothing to do with that, it's just because I'm white! See how paranoid it sounds when I say it? You see, that's part of the problem: Too many black people are far too quick to attribute every problem they encounter as being simply because they're black. Lose the chip, fellas - it's wrong and it's boring. Look for racism and you'll see it everywhere, even when it's not there.
Sunday 22 November 2020
And he's a secret agent man...
Picked this up in WHS a few days back and it's a fairly well-written reprint collection of two tales of British agent John Steel, which, going by the first story, is written with Raymond Chandler in mind. I could drone on, but I don't want to put you off, so here's publisher Rebellion's official spiel about this nice publication.
Sharper than Bond, cooler than The Saint – the indefatigable British spy John Steel is back!
The John Steel Files collects two Steel stories from the golden age of spy fiction, featuring stunning art from legendary artist Luis Bermejo (Creepy, Vampirella).
Re-presented for a modern audience, these never-before-reprinted comics have been coloured by breakout colourist Pippa Bowland (2000 A.D.) and feature a brand new cover by V. V. Glass (The Last Witch).
The 128-page comic book special features the stories 'Bullets in the Sun' (from Thriller Picture Library #371), where a British MP turns to his old WWII comrade, John Steel, after being blackmailed by sinister forces to keep him quiet about an international double-cross; and in 'Play It Cool' (Thriller Picture Library #379), while investigating the disappearance of Senator Harding's son in France, Steel discovers a link to what seems to be a murder on the streets of Paris!
Originally a secret service agent during World War II, Steel first appeared in Super Detective Picture Library #157 in September 1959 and became a regular in the pages of the publisher Fleetway’s popular Thriller Picture Library from November 1960, a line of 64-page digest-sized black and white comic books that ran serialized stories, usually consisting of two comic panels per page.
Steel’s exploits helped make Thriller Picture Library one of the best-selling titles on the newsstand and it featured a variety of war, spy, and detective heroes such as ‘Battler Britton’, ‘Spy 13’, and ‘Dogfight Dixon’.
Bermejo took over the series in 1960 and may have influenced the decision in early 1961 to transplant Steel from World War Two into the Jazz Age. Gone were his spying exploits in favour of life as a private detective.
Influenced by the contemporary sophistication of the early James Bond novels, Steel found himself in a world of jazz cafes and shady deals. This switch was reflected in the title of Steel’s stories too – this collection features the classics ‘Play it Cool’ and ‘Bullets in the Sun’.
Luis Bermejo Royo’s diverse career spanned Spanish, British, and American comic book industries and his style is instantly recognisable on series such as Adventures of the FBI, Apache, Tarzan, John Steel, Johnny Future, Vampirella, Captain Thunder, and his adaptations of Lord of the Rings and books by Isaac Asimov and Raymond Chandler. He passed away on 12 December 2015.
Oor Wullie & The Broons...
|Copyright D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd|
For all lovers of Dudley Dexter Watkins, there's a free, complete (all 8 pages) facsimile of the very first Fun Section starring Oor Wullie & The Broons (and more) in today's Sunday Post. Quick - run out and buy one now!
Oo-er! It's Doctor Who & The Diabolical Daleks...
Stuffed his face before he landed
Delbert's Dalek-heart was loving,
such a gentle, friendly soul.
Didn't go for people-shoving -
cosmic conquest not his goal.
All the other Daleks plotted,
didn't want him in their ranks.
With his single eye he spotted
their approach from all four flanks.
Although Delbert was a softie,
he got quickly off his mark.
Never mind pretens'ons lofty,
scarpered off into the dark.
As he cowered all a-tremble,
hidden by concealing rocks,
something started to assemble -
an imposing big blue box.
Doctor Who had come to rescue
Delbert from the Dalek throng.
Del had not and never would do
anything remotely wrong.
"Quickly, Delbert, I will save you,
jump in to my time machine."
So he did and off they both flew,
rescue's seldom been so clean.
Delbert now lives down in Southsea,
has a cottage all his own.
In his garden he sips green tea,
green tea he himself has grown.
All the neighbours really love Del -
wave when passing his front gate.
When the postie rings his doorbell,
it chimes out "Exterminate!"
So for Del a happy ending,
let's give credit where it's due:
It's all thanks to that time-bending,
Dalek-saving Doctor Who.
Oh, silly me! When I cut and pasted this from a previously published post, I inadvertently missed out the last verse, which I've now restored.
Friday 20 November 2020
Comics, bigotry, and school shootings...
Here's a book that some of you might find interesting. It was given to me by the author, famous man-about-town and talented Glasgow artist Tom Campbell, and though I couldn't say I agree with all of Tom's observations or conclusions on the subject, it's a strangely-compelling and sometimes disturbing read which offers several fascinating insights and theories as to perhaps why some ostracized loners resort to violence in disproportionate and seemingly indiscriminate ways in order to settle scores with those whom they believe have persecuted them. (And they're not always wrong in that perception.)
That's the 'Reader's Digest' version of the book in my own words, but there's more to it than that. Tell you what, take a look at the back cover below and read what no less a personage than Alan Moore has to say about Tom's autobiographical work, which is handsomely illustrated (in black and white) by the author and available from Waterstones, Blackwell's, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. For more info, visit http://www.sparsilebooks.com
Thursday 19 November 2020
The answer is there in black and white...
|Images copyright respective owners|
Well here goes:
It's not usual for me to mention my own blog here, but I recently put up something that's of great interest to me, and may be to you, too. I published a Silver Age chronology of black characters who'd appeared in American comics, which you can see by clicking here.
One thing I noticed was that in the Gold Key Star Trek comics of the 1970s, there was barely a trace of Uhura on the covers or in the stories. Even when the rest of the crew were on the bridge of The Enterprise, she wasn't shown.
Yet, at the same time, she was prominently featured in the British Star Trek comic strip series.
Can anyone tell me when black characters appeared in comics in Great Britain in the 1960s and 1970s? I also have James Bond's Dr. No from the 1960s British newspaper comic strip. Black people are featured in that.
I feel obliged to point out (seeing as readers will be visiting BP's post via the link on my site) that he has his facts wrong in at least a couple of instances. I've told him about them several times now, but so far he hasn't corrected them. For details, see my comment over on his post.
Tuesday 17 November 2020
At least, they have in MY house...
|Copyright BBC TV & Estate of TERRY NATION|
By all accounts this has proved a tricky publication for a lot of people to get their hands on, with it not having appeared in many (if any) WHS shops that I've heard of. Thankfully, a few Sainsbury's stores have had them, but there must be thousands of readers looking to add this great mag to their collections who have thus far been disappointed. So popular was the demand for it, it sold out within hours (or was it minutes?) of it appearing on Panini's online comics shop on the 11th, though apparently it will be available from other online outlets on the 18th.
Anyway, what's all the hoo-hah about and is it worth its £9.99 cover price? You're darn tootin' it is - and then some! All 104 back page Daleks strips from TV Century 21, the majority being sourced from the original art boards and the remainder being scanned from good quality issues of TV21 itself, all digitally cleaned up and restored where necessary. The result is the best presentation of these strips ever - possibly even better than their original appearance back in the '60s. (You can read the interesting article about their restoration for yourselves to see how such a thing is possible when you finally track down a copy. There's also a feature on the strips' background, as well as an interview with Ron Turner.)
However, that doesn't mean you'll be seeing these strips exactly as they were originally presented in the pages of TV21. Why? Let me explain. Having worked on some Marvel Masterworks volumes back in the '90s, where I utilised black and white UK '60s reprints to re-create and restore pages, one of the things I noticed was this: Perhaps because of the roller method used to print them at the time, or maybe because of the photostat technology by which images were copied to supply foreign publishers - pages were stretched either height-wise or width-ways - and sometimes even both, but never proportionately.
This meant that, years later, when I reduced an image to its original page width, the height was out of proportion to it - and vice versa. So, taking the cover of Fantastic Four Annual #3 as an example, my finished re-creation was either slightly taller or wider than its original presentation. Nowadays I'd be able to compensate for that particular problem and bypass it, but I didn't have the necessary digital-manipulation technology at the time.
So what's that got to do with The Daleks Special? I'll tell you. Because original art was being used in most cases, the Daleks opening panel containing the logo, as well as the 'stop press' box in the final panel, had to be copied from printed issues (as the originals had been removed or gone missing over the years), then cleaned up and replaced onto the art, either digitally or physically (not sure which). This has resulted in the gutters around those panels not being of exactly the same width as they were originally, meaning that not all of those particular panels precisely fill the space they occupied back in the day. Consider the following examples above.
The higher panel is from my own copy of TV21 #1, and the lower one is from the Special. Note that the gutter is slightly wider on the latter example. That said, the width is more in accord with the other panels, as in the original printing it was perhaps a bit tight. Whether the new gutter width is by accident or design I couldn't say, but on some other pages, it's a bit more noticeable, and in some cases it's an improvement, on others it isn't. (Though not a detriment either.) Admittedly, had this one been reproduced slightly larger, it would've filled the original space more precisely, but the same can't be said of other instances, where they're too high in relation to their width for the space provided, or vice versa.
But of course, that's a very minor quibble, and overall the magazine is a sterling accomplishment. A few pages seem to be marred by slight colour 'splurges' and 'blotches' in places, but this is a printing flaw and not as a result of the restoration process, and I'm sure it won't spoil your overall enjoyment. One eBay seller is currently asking around £125 for the 1994 publication of the same material (unrestored, with page ripples and other defects), but I can't see him getting that price for it now, as this new edition effectively renders it obsolete. Grab a copy (if you find one) while you can.
So let's give thanks to Panini/Marvel for publishing this magnificent Bookazine, and also praise all those individuals involved in its production. All we want now is a hardback edition the same size as the TV21 pages, with every strip sourced from the original art boards - and the few scuffs and flakes which are evident in places digitally repaired. That's not too much to ask, is it? Get cracking boys and girls - but don't take another 26 years!
Monday 16 November 2020
Grab 'em while they're going...
|Copyright MARVEL COMICS|
The Facsimile Edition of X-Men #4 arrived today, along with True Believers reprints of FF #52 and Avengers #83. Perhaps it's an oversight, but the original 12c price is still in the cover corner box, whereas previous FEs have substituted the current cost of the mags. I wonder if future FEs will follow the same route? Time will tell. One quibble I have is that the indicia has been placed under the splash page, whereas, in the original, it appeared under the ad inside the cover.
Next up, below, is the TB version of Fantastic Four #52, featuring the debut of The Black Panther. No real complaints with this one and although I have a prior 'facsimile edition' (scanned from an original ish), the reproduction here is far superior, having been sourced from pristine new proofs.
Next is another little beauty of a TB - Avengers #83. While I'm not crazy about the 'pc' corner caption on the splash, I don't mind it so much on the True Believers, but they did something similar with the facsimile of Tales Of Suspense #39. On a facsimile, it compromises the historical integrity of the mag, and should be relegated to a line in the indicia where it wouldn't be so intrusive.
Saturday 14 November 2020
Now these are what I call Comics...
|Copyright MARVEL COMICS|
Dunno about the rest of you Crivvies, but most new comics do nothing for me. I'd much rather revisit the glories of yesteryear and live again the four-colour superhero adventures that thrilled me as a youth. Two new comics that fulfil that purpose for me are the True Believers reprint of The Avengers #48, and the Facsimile Edition of The Avengers #57, just recently released (and only newly arrived at Castel Crivens).
I'm not sure what Marvel's doing that DC isn't, but even the old ads in the Marvel mags look clean and new, whereas with DC, they're faded and ancient-looking, merely having been scanned from original published issues with all their printed defects. Anyway, I don't know if DC are still doing their facsimiles, but if so they should ask Marvel for advice on how to do them properly. (Though I prefer the paper that DC uses.)
Available now, though I suppose that most of you have already bought 'em! Smart move.
Friday 13 November 2020
Starting off with the BIG one...
|Images copyright respective owners|
As every Crivvie is sure to know, I'm a hugely-respected artistic figure within the comics community, being every bit as talented in one aspect of the field as another. Writer, artist, letterer - you name it, I can do it - but one thing I'm even greater at is my ability to type sh*te with my tongue in my cheek and a straight face*. So getting back to the real world, I thought I'd show you some of the books in my collection that are designed to help aspiring artists fulfill their potential, as well as their dreams and ambitions. (In my case, they made an exception.)
No further comment from me is necessary, as I've included the back cover spiel so that you can read for yourselves what they're all about. I've got a couple more lying around somewhere, which I'll add whenever I stumble across them (now done). Incidentally, the ripples on Will Eisner's book are on the clear protective sleeve over the dustjacket, not the dustjacket itself. Wouldn't want you to worry that I've got a less-than-perfect copy (autographed too) on my bookshelf.
Now - unleash the books of art!
(*Slightly amended as I don't think readers got the humour in the opening paragraph.)