Sunday 31 January 2021


Long time passing...

September 1967 - I'm in 2nd back row.  4 dead, 7 moved or emigrated that I know of

It's strange, but when no great changes have taken place in your own life, you tend to subconsciously assume that none will have occurred in the lives of anybody else you know - unless, that is, you've been specifically informed to the contrary.  To me, who's never moved away from my home town, I'm always surprised to learn that some people emigrated abroad or flitted to other parts of the country decades ago, as I just assume they're still around - even if I haven't seen them in some time.  I may think it's been months since I last saw them, then find out it's been years.  In fact, some of them moved to pastures new a whole other century ago.

I just learnt tonight that someone who lived not too far from my former house (and was also in my primary school class) has lived in Sweden since 1986 - around 35 years.  Steven Ferguson is his name, and the last time I recall seeing him was back in the late '70s.  If I ever saw him after that, I just don't remember.  There are others, too, who I didn't know had left the town in which they grew up until decades after the fact, and it's an odd feeling to think that people you thought were 'still out there' not too far distant, now live on the other side of the country or the world.  Either way, I'm unlikely to bump into them any time soon.  (If at all.)

I suppose there are still plenty of people I used to know who yet gad about the local environs, but it's strange to consider that others, who were once so familiar to me, are unlikely to revisit the town in which they spent their formative years, and that I'll never see them again between now and Doomsday.  And then there are those who have died.  Covid-19 has already claimed one former neighbour and classmate, and I just learned today that one of my friends has tested positive, so obviously I'm hoping that he comes through it okay.  Although it wouldn't have occurred to me when I was younger, I think a lot of people regard those they knew in their youth as kind of an 'extended family', and when they're no longer around either in body or in spirit, we feel 'diminished' to some degree.

I'm not really one for reunions, but I sometimes think I might not mind one that brought together everyone I knew from the age of, say, 5 to - I dunno - 30, just to see them one more time and reminisce about our youth.  The faint (and by no means compulsive) 'appeal' of such a prospect fades even further, however, when I think of all those who have departed this mortal vale and would be unable to attend - except perhaps in spirit.  I'm not sure it would be the same unless everyone was there.

Stirred any thoughts, fellow Crivvies?  Is there anyone you've not seen in years who you wouldn't mind catching up with for at least one more chin-wag?  If so, feel free to express yourself in the comments section.    

Friday 29 January 2021


People say I'm so ugly, I should wear a mask - so here it is... 

Copyright D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd

This is mainly the same post as one first published in December 2019, though it's been revised and updated to include new information of an event that happened only recently.  So if it seems familiar to regular readers, that's why.  This time it has a happy ending, so give it a read and rejoice with me in my celebrations.

I couldn't say with absolute certainty when I first bought #924 of The Topper, because a comic's cover date can be confusing.  Some comics were dated the week after they went on sale (to give them a longer shelf-life), some maybe only 3 or 4 days - or were they?  Some, like The Topper, might say 'every Thursday' on the cover, but (though I don't know in regard to The Topper itself) come out before then, so being absolutely sure of precisely what day a periodical hit the shops can be a bit of a problem so many decades after the fact.

Presumably, the Splodge, Last Of The Goblins glow mask was intended for Hallowe'en, but it was a bit early.  Or maybe it wasn't meant for All Hallow's Eve at all, and the mask and the celebration were just coincidental, though it seems to me unlikely.  Looking back, I at first thought, in memory, that I was yet a primary school pupil when I bought this comic, but I'd actually been attending secondary school for around a couple of months - certainly several weeks.

I wonder if I was off school that day due to some minor ailment, because I remember lying in bed after purchasing the comic, fascinated by Splodge's luminous goblin features.  I'd have been across to the shops over the road for just after 8 a.m. to buy The Topper (so I must've known about the free gift in advance), unless, despite saying every Thursday on the cover, it actually went on sale on a Saturday.  (Anyone know for sure?)  Or maybe I was buying another comic and spotted it by chance.  I don't suppose it matters, and I know you probably don't care, but I would've once been able to recall every detail.  Age, alas.

Anyway, the mask came up for auction recently, and I bid on it and won.  It's taken me over 50 years to acquire a replacement for my original, and even though it was a wee bit expensive for what is, essentially, a piece of card, the memories it renews and refreshes are worth the price.  Last time, my image of the mask was borrowed, this time it's my very own.  Surprisingly, it still glows in the dark, which I didn't expect, thinking its ability to do so would've faded over time.  I've included a pic of it glowing away, which I took on 'idiot-proof' mode on my camera, but as you can see from the result, I'm not even smart enough to use it in that setting.

Splodge was a great wee strip, drawn by Charles Grigg originally, and then later by Ken H. Harrison.  I suspect I didn't read The Hobbit until after this issue came out (though it could've been before), because I always imagined Bilbo Baggins as looking a lot like Splodge (despite Tolkien's illustrations), but perhaps that was a retroactive impression.  I wish The Beano would reprint the strips, 'cos I'd buy it if they did.

Ah, Splodge - how have you been all these years?  Good to have you back.

This is from a different ish, but still a belter


The voluptuous Valerie Perez...

Now this is the way to get more people to use the
subway.  Thing is, with Valerie aboard, nobody would
ever want to get off at their station before she did.

Thursday 28 January 2021


I may have the answer...

Here's a great little 1:50 scale collectable I received today, a Hotwheels Elite One 'toy' by Mattel.  (Incidentally, anyone else noticed that the Post Office now spells 'collectables' the American way - 'collectibles'?)  Strictly speaking, it's not really a toy, it's too good for that, but kids would be able to play with it I suppose, while adult collectors would simply appreciate it as a thing of aesthetic beauty that reminds them of their childhood.

But why's it called a Flintmobile?  I always understood that its name was a Flivver, which is the way merchandise of the car was described in the '60s.  I might have a plausible explanation.  See the two pics of the box at the foot of this post?  On the front illustration, the car is a single-row seater, whereas on the back, it's morphed into a double row, family-sized seater.  Same thing happened in the TV show.

Now, the most obvious explanation is that this was simply a result of the car being drawn to suit different scenarios.  If it was only Fred, or Fred and Barney, for the sake of expediency it would be drawn as a single-row seater; if it was the full Flintstone family, or a combination of the Flintstones and the Rubbles, it was rendered as a double-row seater to accommodate them.  In short, it was whatever it needed to be to suit the situation.

However, another possible explanation is that the Flintstones have two cars of a similar design - one (the Flintmobile) for Fred or Wilma to gad about in, and another, larger, family model (the Flivver) for when they do their weekly shopping or go to the 'drive-in' along with Pebbles and Dino.  Having said that, my Marx Toys Flinstone Flivver from the '60s only has a single-row seat, but that might purely be down to Marx wanting to save on tin.

Yeah, I know - I'm overthinking things again, aren't I?  Anyway, did you watch The Flintstones TV show when you were a kid, and was it your all-time favourite Hanna-Barbera cartoon?  If not, what was?  Be sure to let all your fellow Crivvies know.

Wednesday 27 January 2021


Classic comics for you to salivate over...


Everybody here?  Okay then, let's get on with part two of this particular Alpha Flight cover and splash page gallery, which I know you've all been eagerly anticipating.  (Er, that's right, isn't it?)  I could pad out this intro by pretending I'm saying something pertinent and worthwhile, but we all know that isn't true and that you're dying to get to the pictures - anything to get away from my weary waffle, eh?  Well, no point hanging around then, get to it.  And if you have a favourite story (assuming you read them back in the day), be sure to tell us all what it is in the comments section.

Monday 25 January 2021


Thank goodness for that - the edit button's back!  Hooray!!!


 Even when you're a little horse...

I guess it must've been around 1968 or '69 - possibly even '70.  I was out in my back garden with two friends, Alex and John, one a primary school classmate, the other a slightly younger neighbour from two doors along, who took a shine to a beat-up tin truck my father had brought home one day after finding it abandoned by the side of a road a few months earlier.  It might've been a Tonka truck, not sure, but John coveted it mightily, which surprised me, as it was hardly in pristine condition.  It had a little lever that, when you pushed down on it, lifted the back of the truck at an angle so that it could deposit whatever load its owner had chosen for it to carry.

Anyway, John offered me his Marx Toys Johnny West Palomino horse (called Thunderbolt) as an inducement for me to part with my truck, and I accepted.  It was his idea, absolutely no pressure from me, and he seemed delighted with the swap.  Truth to tell, I half-expected him to chap my door at some stage and say that his parents demanded that he get his horse back, but it never happened.  However, there was no denying that I got the better end of the deal.  I think this occurred on a weekend, so imagine my surprise then, at school on the Monday morning, when Alex had a verbal go at me in front of a few other classmates for 'swindling' John out of his horse in exchange for my battered old tin truck.

Of course I denied his accusation, pointing out that he was wrong and that it had been John who had initiated the swap, even insisted on it, but he remained unswayed in his conviction - even though he had been there and witnessed the actual course of events.  I was completely mystified by his attitude, and I've occasionally pondered it over the years, wondering if it was simply jealousy that I'd got such a great deal and he hadn't, even though he'd evinced no desire to own the horse himself.  What took me aback about his attitude is that Alex was (and still is) as fine a person as you could hope to meet, so his 'outburst' was uncharacteristic, hence my surprise.

Anyway, I still occasionally run into Alex, so the last time it happened (at the beginning of December) I asked him whether he remembered the incident with a view to solving the 50-plus year mystery that had always so perplexed me.  No joy - he simply had no memory of it happening at all.  Something that I didn't previously know though, and only found out while talking with him, was that his younger brother was once a friend of John's, though I'm not sure whether that was the case at that particular time or didn't happen until later, in teenage years perhaps.  However, back home, it started me speculating, so here is a possible scenario for Alex's ire back when we were kids.

Let's consider that Alex's brother and John were indeed friends at the time this incident transpired.  Perhaps Alex's brother had himself coveted the horse, and had either heard of the swap from Alex, or had been told by John himself.  "What?! Are you mental, swapping your horse for that battered old thing!"  Maybe Alex had adopted his disgruntled brother's attitude by the time school rolled around on Monday morning and that's why he was suddenly so annoyed at a swap that didn't seem to perturb him in the slightest on the day it happened?  He was merely showing loyalty to his brother and his sense of aggrievement.

I guess I'll never know, but the above imaginary scenario is quite a reasonable one, don't you think?  I moved to another area in 1972 (3 or 4 years after the swap, maybe even earlier than that) and lost contact with John, but we ran into one another in 1978 or '79 (maybe '80) and I invited him back for a coffee to catch up on old times.  I still had Thunderbolt, which I showed to him, but he seemed completely uninterested in it; he certainly had no desire to retrieve it from me.  And guess what?  I've still got Thunderbolt, as well as another two Palominos and a sort of 'Piebald' horse from the same mould as Thunderbolt.

I've even got Johnny West and Chief Cherokee to go with them, plus Cowboy Kid and Cherokee Chief, which were released by Dapol around the early '90s or so, made from original Marx moulds.  I paid cash for two of the other horses, plus the latter figures, so at least no one can accuse me of swindling anyone out of them.  My conscience is clear.

Funny the things we remember, eh?  Or don't, in Alex's case.  But guess what - I wish I could find a replacement for that old tin truck.  It's taken more than 50 years, but I suddenly realise that I miss it.

No, this isn't the exact same truck I had as a kid, but it's kind of similar.  I borrowed the
pic from the Internet just to show you what mine was (sort of) like.  I can't recall whether
it had 6 wheels or 4, and I think the cabin was higher than the 'container' at the back

Sunday 24 January 2021


Two going spare...

I'm lucky enough to own three 1960s 45 rpm record singles of the theme from Fireball XL5 - two black label ones, plus the original blue label version.  Originally, they were released in standard HMV sleeves, but I wanted something a little more fancy.  (Incidentally, these singles aren't to be confused with the recent reissue on orange vinyl by Silva Screen Records, which I also have.)  Many years ago, sometime in the '90s, someone very kindly lent me their EP version of the theme so that I could tape it and make a replica of the cover.  That was farsighted of me, as I recently managed to obtain a copy of the actual EP itself, but without its sleeve.  You'll be happy to know that the two are now united.

Anyway, around 8 months back I scanned my replica cover, made a few adjustments (removing mention of the two extra tunes that aren't on the single), and had a go at making paper covers for my three original records, which I successfully did.  There was a bit of trial and effort involved before I was more-or-less satisfied with the results, and I have two of these 'trial' versions available to anyone who would like one.  (Only one per person.)  So if you have the '60s single and fancy a nice sleeve (though not as nice as mine) to store it in, just let me know and I'll send you one at my own expense.  First come, first served.

The way to do it is send your name and address to the comments section, which has comment moderation so nobody will see your address because I won't publish it.  I'll send out a cover and your address will be deleted from my computer.  It won't be sold on, given to anyone, or used for any other purpose, so you can relax.

The pic above shows the two sleeves side-by-side - the back of one, the front of the other - so no assembly required.  Like I said - only two available so better be quick!  And remember - the record isn't included.  


Canada's coolest super-team (spot the pun)...

Back in the early '80s, John Byrne was a hot property as a writer and artist at Marvel.  In that dual capacity on The Fantastic Four, he had made the FF 'The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!' again and it seemed like there was no stopping him.  When his newest title at the time (Alpha Flight) hit the stands, I leapt aboard, and stayed with the mag for all of Byrne's 28 issues.  In fact, I stayed beyond that when a new creative team took over and The Byrnester jumped ship over to The Hulk for 6 issues, but most of my non-Byrne issues are up in the loft somewhere and it's only his run that I keep relatively handy.
I no longer recall for sure, but I may've been living in my current house when the first ish came out, but had probably flitted before the next couple of them went on sale.  The first issue is cover-dated August, which means it would usually go on sale on or around May, and that was the month in which I moved.  It therefore depends at what point in May it was available as to whether I was living in one house or the other; not that it's important to you.  (An added difficulty in determining the precise date is that I think comics sometimes hit shops in advance of their usual 'on sale' date, so #1 of AF might've been released before May.  I could be mistaken on that, and perhaps it's only the usual 3 month 'lead-in' time I'm thinking of.)
Anyway, as regular readers know, I returned this house just over 4 years later, but I've never looked past these comics' covers in the 33 years I've been back, so it's well-overdue for me to refresh my memory as to why John Byrne could once seemingly do no wrong for so long and I plan on re-reading these mags first chance I get.  In the meantime though, I thought I'd treat you Crivvies to a look at his covers and splash pages from the first 10 issues, with the remainder to follow in two parts in the very near future.  At last you have something to look forward to and your life is once again meaningful.  Am I a great guy or what?
Did you buy Alpha Flight back in the day?  What are your memories, and why do you think that John Byrne was so popular at the time, but eventually seemed to fall out of favour with readers and comics publishers alike?  Or is that an unfair assessment that does him an injustice?  Thoughts, theories, and observations are welcome in the comments section.  

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