Friday, 31 December 2021

CONAN THE BUSCEMIAN...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS and CONAN PROPERTIES, Int.

Collectors are a strange breed, aren't we?  For instance, despite owning at least three or four reprints in various books and/or magazines of Conan The Barbarian #25, I recently bought the actual original issue from 1973.  John Buscema had been first choice for Marvel's new title back in 1970, but he was on a higher page rate than some other artists at the House Of Ideas, so the gig went to newbie Barry Smith instead of Big John.  CTB must've been selling well by the time Buscema took over the reins with its 25th ish, making it viable for Marvel to pay his higher rate per page, as I doubt he would've worked for less.

Anyway, I decided to buy it, as John Buscema's first ever Conan mag is a true collectors' item and it now resides in the caverns of Castel Crivens.  Being the generous sort of guy I am, I elected to share some of the images from my new acquisition with the rest of you, 'cos I like to spread joy and happiness amongst ordinary mortals other people.  (Someone once said I can do that just by leaving a room - what on earth could they mean?)  Anyway, scanned specially for you, here are some pages from John B's Conan debut.  I've also included John Severin's Kull flashback pages (I think he inked over Buscema's pencilled layouts), as they're absolutely exquisite - so get stuck in!





Wednesday, 29 December 2021

THARG'S CHRISTMAS SHOCKS...


Images copyright REBELLION, poem text copyright me

When I was a younger man, I not only looked forward to, but also used to prepare for the coming of Christmas.  I'd buy a copy of The Radio Times and TV Times, and scour their pages, mentally noting what shows, films and radio programmes I'd want to watch or listen to in the run-up to (and on) the big day.  It suddenly occurred to me earlier tonight that, perhaps an occasional issue apart if it had a special cover I liked, I haven't done that in around 20 years, maybe longer.  I find I just don't bother much with whatever's on telly these days - either Christmas or at any other time of the year.

The only thing I decided to watch this year was the 'lost' Morecambe & Wise episode, and even then I forgot about it and only caught it by chance after seeing a TV ad for it on the night.  It made me wonder about what it is that makes us lose our enthusiasm for things that one thrilled or enthralled us when we were younger, and why we so easily lose our once-youthful zest for life.  I'm not saying we want to walk out in front of a bus or anything, but there just seems so very little to get excited about these days when it comes to entertainment on the box in the corner (or on the wall above the mantelpiece) in our living-rooms.  Is it just age, or do we feel that we've seen it all before and nothing much moves us?

Christmas no longer charms me like it once did, though I still like to see decorations lit up in people's windows when I'm out and about.  That aside, I deplore seeing Christmas stock in shops before Hallowe'en has even passed, and I hate the rank commercialism of a season that one seemed so magical when I was younger.  Is it the same for you, or do you still embrace, with joy and enthusiasm, this festive time of year?  If you'd care to, explain why Christmas yet means so much to you, or doesn't, as the case may be.  Before that though, a quick story for you, relating to the Tharg's Future Shocks two pager at the bottom of this post.  (It only just now occurred to me to include it, as it reflects what I was alluding to above.  The post's title came last.)

One day back in the late '70s or early '80s I was browsing through some old Reader's Digest mags stored up in the loft and happened to read an article by someone lamenting the loss of magic from their adult Christmases in comparison to those of their youth.  It struck me as being a good theme for a poem one day (when I could be bothered), but I never got around to writing it until, weeks or months later, one of my pals 'phoned me and said he was writing a poem, but was stuck on how to end it - could I assist?  Sure, I said.

He popped along and showed me what he'd done - a poem about how grown-ups perceive Christmas compared to when they were kids.  The last verse was incomplete, lacking either two or three lines to draw things to a close.  I therefore made a few suggestions, including the title, and he was delighted, incorporating my contributions into his poem, and off he eventually went, pleased with the result.  However, his meter wasn't exactly perfect in places and his rhyme was a bit forced at times, so I essentially rewrote the poem overnight and made what I considered improvements in those areas.

When I 'phoned him the next day and read him the result, he said "Huh, it's not my poem any more, it's yours!" and I suppose he was right.  My version was inspired more by the Reader's Digest article, but there's no denying that my friend's poem was also an influence.  I typed 'Inspired by lines of verse written by MC' on any copies I made so that he wasn't completely deprived of acknowledgement.  Several years later, when I submitted my version to 2000 A.D. specifically as a Future Shock, the credit boxes didn't allow for more than one name at a time in the space allocated to each contributor, so my pal never got a mention.

I've still got his version somewhere (with my original assistance), and when I find it I'll let you see it so that you can compare their merits.  His first verse is punchier than mine, but unfortunately, his meter wasn't consistent, which is why I rewrote it.  Because he'd said it was now my poem, I subsequently made further amendments so it reflected my 'voice' rather than his, but his incarnation will forever belong to him.  Unfortunately, editorial tinkering altered my original metre by removing some words, so the published result isn't exactly how I wrote it. 

Incidentally, I didn't submit an invoice for the poem so was never paid for it.  The copyright on the text is therefore still mine, though the art rights belong to Rebellion.  (Click to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.)

CONAN THE BARBARIAN - EPIC COLLECTIONS...


It's a wet and windy day outside and I've not long taken delivery of Conan The Barbarian Epic Collection Volume 3.  I finished reading Volume 4 last night and very much enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to it's predecessor, purchased out-of-sequence, and perhaps even published that way.  (The Epic books tend not to appear in chronological order.)  That's me now got the first four volumes in the series, and it's made me all too aware of just how few Conan colour mags I actually bought and read back in the day - a mere handful at most, as that's all I seem to remember while looking at them in reprint form.

Of course, I read most of the Barry Smith illustrated tales when they appeared in the UK weekly Savage Sword Of Conan in the '70s, and the US monthly Conan Saga from the mid-to-late '80s, but they were in black and white.  I also bought the UK Savage Sword of Conan monthly, so I'd previously read more b&w stories than colour ones when I was younger, though I'm now starting to catch up (if I haven't already).  They're an extremely entertaining read, though I'm not entirely sure that I like Conan as a character, perhaps just preferring the solid storytelling and scripting abilities of Roy Thomas, whether based on Robert E. Howard's tales or not.

Anyway, thought you might like to see the covers of the first four books so that you know what to look for should you decide to acquire them for yourselves.  I'll present them in reverse order just to make things interesting.  But before you study the pretty piccies, were you a fan of Marvel's Conan mags way back when, and are you still today?  If so, tell your fellow Crivvies what you liked about the mags, and say if you intend getting any of the reprint volumes.  Ready?  Then let's go...

(Note: Don't worry - Nemedian gremlins accounted for Volume 3 being repeated, instead of Volume 2.  Now fixed.)

THE NEW AND IMPROVED SUPERMAN...


Copyright DC COMICS

Did you know that the Mego Superman articulated figure can do impressions?  In the right-hand photo below, it's doing an impression of Christopher Reeve - take a look.  Now, let me tell you something you probably already knew about Mego action figures if you had one as a kid - they weren't really all that poseable, and tended not to stay in the positions they were placed in.  They were held together by rubber-bands and hooks, just like Palitoy's Action Man and Pedigree's Tommy Gunn, though the Mego shoulder and thigh joints were more basic, resulting in the arms and legs sticking out at angles and limiting their 'poseability'.

Modern reissues of Mego figures are made for collectors aged 17 and up, not for kids, which is probably why their play value isn't considered a priority; they're not for play, but for display, so if the arms and legs don't hold their pose beyond a limited point, it's no big deal it seems.  The figures issued by modern Mego themselves are a little better than the ones from Figures Toy Company, even though the latter manufacturer reissues the superhero characters originally produced by Mego.  I don't know if there's a connection between the two companies, so if anyone knows, please enlighten me.

However, Figures Toy Co. produces Mego-style bodies which can be bought separately, with improved points of articulation that don't rely on rubber-bands.  There are two versions, a 'type S retro style' (pic on left, below) and a 'deluxe type S retro style' (pic on right), which are huge improvements on the originals, with far more versatility when posing.  (The latter's elbow and knee joints afford a more comprehensive bend.)  So why don't they reissue the Mego figures with the improved joints?  I'd imagine it's all down to cost, as they'd probably have to charge more, which might deter potential buyers who only want the items to look at, not play with.  (I've just noticed they do sell some of the superheroes with type S bodies, and they do cost a bit more.)

Anyway, when I recently purchased my 2016 reissue of the '70s Mego Superman, I was a little disappointed to find that the arms were a bit slack and were extremely restricted in what positions they could be placed in.  As the original 8 inch toy I bought in 1974 was the very first (and only for a good many decades) Mego figure I ever owned, I wanted its replacement to be a cut above the standard 'run-of-the-mill' ones available nowadays, so I bought the 'deluxe type S retro style' via eBay.  However, a short while after paying I realised it was more articulated than I really needed it to be and that I'd have been better buying the 'type S retro-style' body.  (Which is still more articulated than the original one.)

Luckily, they sent the wrong one, which was the very figure I should've bought to begin with.  Okay, it was a couple of pounds cheaper than the one I paid for, but I can live with that, as it saves me returning the other one for a replacement.  I've put the Mego Superman head onto his new body and now I have a choice as to exactly which position I can display him.  For example, look at the photo of him with his original body, compared to his new one.  I can even pose him with one foot resting on his other knee if I wanted - not something you could do with a '70s figure.  I'll put the spare Don Blake head which came with my Thor reissue onto Supes' old figure, thereby adding yet another character to my collection.

The new figure (above left) allows me to place Superman's arms by his side as well, whereas the old one (above right) doesn't, as the bands on the arms are attached to the legs, pulling them out from the body.  Like I said, the new body doesn't use rubber-bands, so is far more poseable - and even though I didn't buy it to play with, I still prefer it to be as good as it ought to be, hence the 'upgrade'.  Now I realise this won't be of much interest to most of you, but perhaps there might be the odd Crivvie (and when I say 'odd', I don't mean 'weird') who used to collect Mego figures as a boy, and who'll  appreciate this post as a prompt for their own reminiscing of their long-gone childhood.  Hopefully, there'll be more than just one of them.

Some positions the type S allows that the basic figure doesn't

Monday, 27 December 2021

BABE OF THE DAY - IMOGEN HASSALL...



The lovely Imogen Hassall is our Babe of the Day today, fellas.  Just the job to warm the cockles of any man's heart during the colder weather.  (That's a nice toast rack, even if it is for only one slice at a time.)

Sunday, 26 December 2021

NO TIME TO DIE - LITTLE CHANCE TO HEAR...


No Time To Die is the first James Bond 007 movie that I was far from enthused about going to see in a cinema (in fact, I felt entirely disinclined, and not because of Covid), so I didn't.  Casino Royale aside (and even it wasn't perfect), Daniel Craig's previous Bond films have failed to score with me, despite one or two good bits in each offering.  Craig's Bond is humourless and charisma-free, which isn't necessarily down to the actor, but maybe just the way the character has been written for Craig's tenure in the role.

Anyway, bought the DVD double-disc edition and was appalled on account of it being a 'mumble-fest', with me not being able to make out what the characters were saying throughout almost the whole movie.  I turned up the volume, adjusted the various sound-settings on my TV, but all to no avail.  Mumble, mumble, mumble.  And the movie looked too dark as well.  First time I've ever seen Jamaica looking like a wet afternoon in Skegness.

Remember when you could actually understand what actors were saying in movies, and when they were lit in a way which made everything clear and recognisable at first glance?  Those days are over it seems.  Bond movies once had their own style, what with Ken Adam set designs, John Barry orchestration, and a quick-fire pacing that never seemed to abate.  Nowadays, Barbara Broccoli seems to want Bond films to look like almost every other movie out there.

She really needs to take a leaf out of the Mission Impossible cinematic outings, which are imaginative, humorous, action-packed, fast-paced, and far more engrossing and exciting than Bond's recent lacklustre efforts.  There are rumours that Bond is going to be rebooted again, with his adventures set in the '60s, but let's hope that now the seemingly dead* secret agent has a daughter, we aren't going to be subjected to 'Jane Bond' - or even a female carrying her father's first name.  (Broccoli has dismissed the likelihood of the last part of that idea.)

Anyway, we're assured that James Bond will return, but in what form, shape, colour, or inclination remains to be seen.  Let's hope it's the real McBond, and not one from a parallel universe like Daniel Craig's seemed to be.

Verdict?  An emotional ending, but far from a memorable journey getting there.  There was one 'innovation' this time though; instead of just regurgitating ideas and stunts from previous films, this time out they 'borrowed' one of the songs from an earlier movie in the series.  Thankfully, it was a good one.  Oh, tell a lie - two innovations.  The 'secondary' Bond Girl doesn't get killed as a result of helping Bond fight the baddies.  Perhaps three innovations - I don't think Bond even makes love to her.  (If he did, I must've dozed off during it.  Let's hope she didn't.)

Have you seen the movie?  What were your thoughts on this latest offering from Eon Productions - hit or miss, or halfway in between?  And could you make out what they were saying?

*Incidentally, despite assurances of Bond's death, it should be remembered that author Ian Fleming killed him off at the end of From Russia With Love (the novel), but relented (no doubt after some pressure from his publisher) and returned him to life in another book.  (Same thing happened, more or less, with Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional hero Sherlock Holmes.)

JIM REEVES CROONS A COUPLE OF CLASSIC CHRISTMAS CRACKERS...



Two-for-one today, Crivvies - ain't you lucky!  Jim Reeves sings White Christmas and Silent Night, two of the most popular festive tunes around.  Chill out by listening to this pair of classics by the greatest balladeer of the 20th Century, who's still popular in the 21st.  Not bad going for a guy who died 57 years ago.

WHAM-A-LAM-A-DING-DONG (MERRILY ON-HIGH)...


Copyright REBELLION

Ah, memories!  Here's the last ever Christmas WHAM! (#185) from 1967.  Little did I know when I purchased this from my local newsagent 54 years ago that there would be only two more issues of this classic title before it was merged with its weekly companion paper POW!  LEO BAXENDALE's creation, The TIDDLERS (not sure if he drew this one though), adorned the Festively-themed cover, although they had evolved into more of an imitation of The BASH STREET KIDS (also by Leo) over the years since their first appearance in '64.  Bax, of course, was also responsible for The SWOTS And The BLOTS over in SMASH!, so he was no stranger to strips about riotous schoolkids and their teacher.


The above GREETINGS From The FLOOR Of 64 page was in all five POWER COMICS that year, which is why it features characters from all of them.  Wham!'s forthcoming merger had doubtless been determined weeks (if not months) in advance, but the text on the page gives no indication of its imminent demise.  And small wonder - why spoil Christmas for Whamsters by spilling the beans at this stage?  Best to leave it to the New Year, when there was a sense of optimism in the air with which to counter bad news.  I must confess to never being too impressed by the combined POW! & WHAM! (not quite sure why), and was actually glad to see it incorporated (as junior partner) with SMASH! around eight months later.

So... raise a glass of lemonade or soda pop to that classic Christmas comic of yesteryear - WHAM!

Saturday, 25 December 2021

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM BIG BAD BO' AND CRIVENS...



Here's my very own Christmas card, starring Big Bad Bo' (short for Boris), to all you Crivvies.  Hope you had a great day and that Santa brought you everything your heart desired (or your wallet could afford).  Merry Christmas everybody!

HAVE A BUSTER CHRISTMAS...


Copyright REBELLION

Here's Buster from 1969 - 52 years ago!  Sadly, the comic is no longer published (and hasn't been for over 20 years), but perhaps one day Rebellion will publish collected editions of the '60s and '70s strips to satisfy all us Buster fans.  In the meantime, while we're waiting, enjoy this Christmas tale from the past.  Merry Christmas, Crivvies!

Friday, 24 December 2021

CHRISTMAS WISHES FROM T47...



Here's an email Christmas card from Stateside reader T47 for all you Crivvies (and me).  Isn't that nice of him?  (Also a handy way of avoiding slipping a tenner into an envelope.  Wish I'd thought of that.)  Merry Christmas right back at ya, T47.

DO YOU STILL HAVE THAT LOVED ONE'S OLD CHRISTMAS CARD?



Hankies at the ready as you prepare to listen to Jim Reeves sing and talk about An Old Christmas Card.  This is actually 'an old Christmas song' (see what I did there?), but to my ears, it sounds as fresh and new as a daisy - and as apt as it's ever been at this time of year.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

BRINGING THE HOUSE DOWN - PART TWO...


Another thing that super-strong superheroes shouldn't be able to do is lift buildings or ocean liners, etc., because such things would collapse under their own weight.  John Byrne got around this with his character, Gladiator, by revealing that although he clearly possessed super-human physical traits, much of his power was actually psionic in nature; in short, he had mental powers like pyrokinesis, telekinesis, and levitation.  (Byrne may have used this to explain some of Superman's abilities too, can't quite recall.)

I hinted at this before in the following post first published in 2019, which I generously re-present for all you pantin' Crivvies now.  It repeats a little of what I've already said in this and the previous post, but I'm sure you won't mind that at all.  Ready?  Away we go...

EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT SPIDER-MAN IS WRONG... 


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Y'know, something about SPIDER-MAN's origin that never really gelled with me was the idea that he had the proportionate powers of a spider - simply because he was bitten by a radioactive one.  He certainly manifested similar abilities, though didn't possess the natural physical 'equipment' to produce his own webbing, making the first movie ridiculous in that respect, despite STAN LEE saying that he thought it was an improvement.

Therefore, if (for the sake of discussion) we accept the original notion that he got his powers from the spider, he could obviously only replicate its abilities in as much as his own human make-up would allow him to.  But if that's true, then how did he manage to walk up walls while wearing gloves and (originally) thick-treaded boots?

Furthermore, whenever he was crawling on a ceiling, wouldn't his weight have brought it down - especially in offices where polystyrene ceiling tiles hid the electrical wires for air-conditioning and overhead lighting?  It doesn't really make much sense.  (I hear you - does any superhero concept?) But we're not stuck with the 'official' explanation if we don't want to be.

My own opinion (despite what the comics may now suggest) is that it was simply the radiation that imbued PETER with enhanced powers, not the spider - it was merely the 'messenger'.  The radiation allowed him to transcend his human limitations and do things that he otherwise wouldn't be able to.  Walking up walls? That was as a result of Peter having some kind of 'psionic' force that allowed him to defy gravity.

You see, in my view, because Peter saw the spider, it had a psychological influence on the way he understood and 'rationalised' his enhanced abilities.  Potentially, if he hadn't been limited by his own perceptions of what a spider can do (disproportionate strength and speed, the ability to cling to surfaces), he might have manifested even greater powers - like being able to fly for example. (Even his so-called 'spider-sense' is merely a form of ESP.)  

What I'm suggesting is that the spider was merely the conduit for the radiation that gave him his powers, not the source itself.  The radiation affected his metabolism, increased his strength and speed, and also imbued him with the ability to develop just about whatever enhanced attributes he could imagine (within reason).  Now, though, his powers have become established and can't evolve further.

Anyway, I think there's great story potential in my idea.  I'd love to see a tale where Peter discovers he's a 'child of the atom', not the spider, and that the arachnid merely influenced how he interpreted his radiation-induced powers, and wasn't the genetic source of them itself.  What say the rest of you Criv-ites?  Let loose the dogs of dissent in the comments section.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

SPIDEY BRINGS THE HOUSE DOWN! (WELL, THE CEILING ANYWAY)...


When you think about certain things in comics, you realise that they don't really work.  For instance, Spider-Man crawling on ceilings.  Crawling up exterior walls I can buy, but interior ceilings is a different matter.  Why?  In modern office blocks, most ceilings are false - mere cosmetic coverings of ventilation, air conditioning and lighting systems, and all sorts of wires, tubing, and pipes.  In houses, the ceilings are usually thin coatings of plaster on hardboard or some other relatively flimsy substance.  Were Spidey to attempt to crawl along ceilings, his weight would surely bring them down.

Office ceiling tiles would collapse once he attached himself to them, and the plaster on home ceilings would come away on his fingertips, depositing him on the floor faster than a fart from The Flash!  (Yeah, I know, different universe.)  Funny how we never think of such things when we read our comics, isn't it, and how readily we suspend our critical and logical faculties simply because we want to believe in the impossible?  Or am I too analytical and have it all wrong?  Is there a way in which ol' Webhead could scuttle upside down on a ceiling without it coming away because of his own weight?

If you can think of a good explanation, deposit it in our comments section.  And where's once-regular commenter TC these days?  He hasn't commented in a while, so hope he's okay.

SILVER BELLS BY JIM REEVES...



Are you tired, worn out, exhausted from frantic Christmas shopping?  Then kick off your shoes, put up your feet, and relax to the velvet tones of Jim Reeves softly singing Silver Bells.  They don't come any better than this, effendis, so click that arrow and feel all your mental and physical aches and pains melt away.

Monday, 20 December 2021

THE MARVEL COMIC THAT ISN'T A MARVEL COMIC (UPDATED)...


Copyright DYNAMITE COMICS and CONAN PROPERTIES, Int.

Well, as nobody was brave enough to comment on the previous post, let's try another one.  Here's a recent purchase, a facsimile edition by Dynamite Comics of Red Sonja #1, originally published by Marvel Comics in 1977.  I still remember buying my original copy from John Menzies at the time, but for some obscure reason I no longer recall, I didn't keep it.  Must be honest and confess I'm not altogether sure whether I even knew who Sonja was back then, but it was my appreciation of 'good girl art' that induced me to buy it.

Anyway, it surprised me that Marvel didn't do a facsimile edition of the mag, so I can only assume it's to do with some copyright thingy-do.  If Marvel ever does get around to doing their own reprint, I'll be sure to buy that too, 'cos I'm a greedy boy.  Whaddya think, Crivvies - does this cover ring your bell?  It does mine!  Ding-dong!  (To be read aloud in your best Leslie Phillips voice.)

Note that Sonja says the exact same thing Conan said on the cover of his first issue.

******

Footnote: The Marvel version of this comic contained only the main story (above), but the Dynamite incarnation also includes what appears to be a coloured version (below) of what might've originally been a monotone strip from one of their b&w mags.  It also looks like it's been relettered by computer font, and a spelling mistake has crept in on the last page.  However, this second story is an apt inclusion as it reveals in more detail events alluded to in the first tale. 


Update: Below is the page as it first appeared in Savage Sword of Conan #1, 1974.  The merest glance makes it pretty obvious that the page above has been relettered with a computer font.

POST FROM THE PAST: THE GREAT PRETENDERS...


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 KirbySteve DitkoMike NobleRon EmbletonCurt SwanMurphy 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 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.  There are jobs which 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!


******

Incidentally, when I first published this post, I lost a 'follower' - presumably 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?

Saturday, 18 December 2021

SUZY, SUZY, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN FOR NEARLY THIRTY YEARS?


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Some of you will know ('cos I've mentioned it before) that as a kid I was in love with Susan Storm.  Okay, she's married now and called Richards, but it's not a union I recognise so she'll always be Storm to me.  My ardour faded for a while when Jack Kirby changed her original hairstyle to something less glamorous, but arose, phoenix-like, when he restored her long golden locks somewhere along the line.  I've fancied her for many a year now, so when I saw the above cover on eBay a few days ago, with sultry Suzy looking all sexy and sensational, I just had to buy it - so I did!

By rights, I should've already had this comic in my collection, 'cos I had a standing order for the title with a Glasgow comics shop at the time, but occasionally they failed to fulfil my order, meaning it was sometimes necessary for me to acquire the odd issue from other sources.  I don't know why, but I'd never even seen this number's glorious cover prior to spotting it on the Internet some days back, but at least I've finally managed to add it to my vast accumulation of stuff.  Okay, it might've taken very nearly 30 years to find it (not that I was searching), but as I've surely said before, better late than never, eh?

So here's a question for all you crazy Crivvies.  Which comicbook costumed cutie were you in love with (or simply just lust over) when you were a kid, and why?  Was it the Wasp, Marvel GirlScarlet Witch, Supergirl, Saturn Girl, Suzie, ZatannaPower Girl, or some other sensational siren that stirred your heart and made your pulse beat a little faster?  The world deserves to know, so reveal all in our comments section now!

Failing that, you can say what a great looking cover #382 has.  Except for Ben's legs being far too thick and his head being disproportionately small.

Suitably named.  My heart is 'captured' whenever I look at this pic - aptly placed on Page 3

Friday, 17 December 2021

G'DAY - IT'S A MEGO MONSTER...



As promised, faithful Crivvies, here's the Mego figure I alluded to in a previous post, newly arrived from a seller in Australia.  Had it existed in the '60s, this is the sort of toy I'd have died for when I was a kid (which is a silly saying, as what good would that do me?), as I was (and still am) a big Boris Karloff fan, and nobody ever managed to match his peerless performance as the pathetic, patchwork Frankenstein Monster.

The good thing about this figure is that it actually has built-up boots, so it's taller than other Mego figures - just as it should be.  Brilliant, innit?!  I think this one draws my Mego collection to a close, but you know me - never say never!

Thursday, 16 December 2021

IT'S HERE - CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 FACSIMILE EDITION...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS and CONAN PROPERTIES, Int.

I told you about this facsimile edition several weeks back, but it's finally arrived at Castel Crivens today, meaning I can show it alongside my original copy from the '70s.  The difference between this and the True Believers version from a couple of years ago is that this one has all the original ads, so if you can't find (or afford) the first printing of CTB #1, then this one will do you nicely.  Well, what are you waiting for?  Rush out and buy one at your local comicbook shop today!  (Or buy it on the Internet, like I did.)


YOGI BEAR - A SLIPPERY CHARACTER...


Anyone who has ever acquired a replacement for a much-missed toy or comic from their childhood knows the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing so.  I've been lucky enough to obtain quite a number of doppelgangers of items I owned when young, but sometimes I've had to settle for the same type of item, rather than an exact 'duplicate' - simply because some things are so rare, it's almost impossible to easily locate them.

Before I managed to find (or afford) a JR21 TB2 toy, I purchased other plastic TB2s in a quest to replace my original with something very similar.  First there was an Imai model kit, then there was a Matchbox TB2 playset, followed a few years later by a Vivid Imaginations version.  All three had one thing in common - they were actually larger than the JR21 incarnation, and were probably better-made toys.

Same goes for my Dinky TB2.  Before I acquired a replacement for my original, I bought the Matchbox diecast toy from the early '90s to fill that TB2-shaped space in my life.  Had I never been able to replace the Dinky one, the newer version would have sufficed (I suppose), because it was replacing one diecast toy with a very similar one, even if not exactly the same.

I sometimes have to admit defeat though (and hope it's only temporary), two examples being a Yogi Bear Hallowe'en mask ('shaped', not flat) and Yogi Bear slippers, which I had when I was about 3 or 4 years old.  The mask was Papier-Mache (but looked and felt like cardboard), and I'd be surprised (though delighted) if many (even any) survived today, as they were very fragile.  The slippers looked like normal slippers, but had Yogi's head on top of each one.  I don't mean a picture of Yogi, I mean actual 3D-shaped heads sitting on the front top of each slipper.

I've been searching on eBay for years, but never been fortunate enough to locate them.  Similar ones, yes, but not the same as my originals.  So I've had to settle for a plastic Hallowe'en mask of Yogi from the '90s, and a pair of relatively modern-day slippers which are definitely and unmistakably Yogi, though nothing like the ones I had as a kid.  However, at least I can say I had a Yogi mask and slippers as a bairn, and have a Yogi mask and slippers as an adult (allegedly).

I've shown the mask before, so you'll have to settle for a couple of the seller's pics of the slippers, which are winging their way to me.  I don't know if they'll even fit (update: they do), but as long as I can hang them on the wall just to look at from time-to-time, I'll be happy.

Has there ever been an item from your childhood that you've been unable to replace and had to settle for a 'stand-in', or would you rather do without if you couldn't have an exact example of the original you once owned?  If so, let's hear all about it.


The ebay photo below is slightly closer, slipper-wise, to the ones I had as a kid, except for the fact that these ones have 'flat' representations of the bold bruin, whereas mine had actual rubber Yogi heads, as if lifted from a model, and didn't have furry trims.  Also, mine weren't like moccasins, being just ordinary traditional slippers.



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