Monday, 1 February 2021

THAT'S A LOAD OF OLD BULL, JOHN...

 And you can put it in print...

Before we look at the third and final part of John Byrne's Alpha Flight Cover & Splash Page Gallery, let's take a slight detour and cop a gander at something I acquired recently to replace the original one I had back in the '60s.  Namely, the John Bull Printing Outfit.  I say 'I' had, but 'twas actually my father who brought it home one day, possibly bought from Glasgow's famous Barras market.

To be honest, though I said the '60s, there's a chance it wasn't obtained until the start of the '70s, which is when I remember using it to name-stamp my comics, though it could have lain dormant for a year or two before I pressed it into service.  Into a single-tier red plastic holder, I carefully set my name - G. ROBSON (it only had upper case) - and stamped the top right-hand corner (from my pov) with my awesome (in my mind anyway) appellation.

One of my pals at the time was in hospital with a broken leg, and I remember taking up a pile of my old comics for him one day during visiting hour.  Imagine my surprise when, weeks or months later, I saw some of them in a cardboard box in my local newsagent's, marked at half price.  One of the comics was the first combined issue of Valiant & Smash!, and there was my printed name on the cover.  I'm still not quite sure how they ever got there.

When we moved house in 1972, my stamp was again utilised to mark my Mighty World Of Marvels, but eventually I gave up on the practice.  For years afterwards, little rubber letter blocks and red holders could be found at the back of the drawer of my father's writing bureau, reminding me of earlier times.  The bureau moved into my bedroom in the early '80s, but whether any rubber letters still inhabited its confines prior to that point, or whether they had been cleared out long before, is lost to the mists of history.

As you can see from the photos, I now have two sets - No. 8 and No. 12, the smaller of them being (I think) the one we owned originally.  The two were sold on ebay as one item, which is the only reason I bought the pair.  Interestingly (to me anyway), the writing bureau yet resides in my bedroom, and I may well decide, space allowing, to store them in its single drawer, which my original set called home for many years.

Time has been reset to an earlier period once more, and things are yet again as they used to be - well, at least in regard to John Bull and my father's writing bureau.  (Incidentally, I remember the day the bureau was delivered to our first house in the town, around 60 years ago.  That's some amount of correspondence it's seen written in that time, I'd imagine.)

Anyway, do you remember having a John Bull Printing Outfit when you were a kid, and if so, what did you think of it?  Share your personal reminiscences in the Crivvies comments section.  That's what it's there for.

21 comments:

McSCOTTY said...

Oh that is a indeed a blast from the past. I had forgotten all about these but your post has jogged the old memory and I do indeed remember having a John Bull printing set. I also recall having a set that printed animals (squirrels etc) but I have no idea how I used them but I remember loving playing with them as a child.

Kid said...

There were other John Bull sets that also contained picture stamps, with which you could stamp little pictures (obviously), so it might've been one of them, McS. I've just re-created my name stamp so I'm about to try it out. What fun.

Dave S said...

I'm sure I've told this tale before, but when I was in primary school, a friend and fellow comics fan was in hospital in Glasgow and his dad took some comics to him, carefully writing his name across the logos before doing so.

About 15 years later, I was at a comic mart and while looking through box of very cheap comics, saw an issue of X-Factor with my friends name written across the logo! The dealer was based in Blackpool too, and I marveled (no pun intended) at how this comic had traveled so far! Unless the dealer had only bought it earlier that day, of course.

Phil S said...

Is John Bull still a thing ? Do cartoonists still use him to represent Britain or do they use whatever PM is in office? Because I don’t think I have seen him since the 70s.

Kid said...

I think you might've told it before, DS, but I'd forgotten until you reminded me. It's such a fascinating tale that it stands repeating. I'd love to know the story behind its travels. You bought the comic, didn't you?

******

I don't think John Bull exists today, PS, as there's simply no need for such a thing anymore, what with computers and the like. All you need to do nowadays is type out something and then press 'print'.

Kid said...

Oops, meant to say, PS - I don't think John Bull is used to represent Britain anymore, as he's seen as a symbol of the 'Empire', which doesn't really exist nowadays. There might be the odd occasion though, when he's used, but I couldn't give you a specific example.

Terranova47 said...

I remember having what was probably the smallest of the John Bull sets as I only wanted it to mark my books with my name. Just two days ago I was looking through some books and one had my name, which shows I've owned the book since the late 50's.

Kid said...

On reflection, T47, I'm not quite sure which outfit number we had - it might've been 9, 10, or 11, but I won't know unless I ever get to see the contents of them. I know the one we originally owned had a single-tier stamp, but I thought it had more than just one. The No. 8 I've now got has only one single-tier stamp, and a double-tier stamp, whereas the No. 12 has three triple-tier stamps. I've got a vague memory of our original one having at least a couple of all three stamps, but perhaps I'm misremembering. I've re-created my name stamp - now all I have to do is resist the temptation to stamp the replacement comics of ones that originally bore my name back in the early '70s.

Colin Jones said...

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I'd bought the novel "Shuggie Bain" which is set in Scotland in the '80s and Dave S asked for my opinions once I'd finished it. Well, if you like reading about a woman drinking herself to death this is the book for you! But seriously, I thought it was a good read and I'm glad I bought it. I feared it would be unremittingly bleak but there's plenty of humour in this novel too, mainly provided by the attitudes and opinions of Shuggie Bain himself. This isn't the sort of novel I'd normally read but I saw it on sale in Tesco and I knew it had won the Booker Prize so I thought what the hell, let's try it.

I next read (or re-read) Robert E. Howard's two King Kull stories "The Shadow Kingdom" and "The Mirrors Of Tuzun Thune" - quite a contrast from Shuggie Bain's exploits.

Kid said...

I've never read the Kull stories, CJ - any good? Don't really fancy Shuggie Bain.

McSCOTTY said...

I quite fancy reading "Shuggie Bain" myself so thanks for the review Colin.I wasn't keen if was going to be another of those relentlessly bleak book on alcohol abuse in the West of Scotland (we're a not all on drugs and booze, we have a fried food addiction as well !) . Never read a Kull book either although read loads of other R E Howard sword and sorcery books - love 'em.

Kid said...

I've read the first Conan book and thoroughly enjoyed it, McS, so I imagine Kull would be good as well. I'll maybe see if I can get them in my local library once lockdown is over.

Colin Jones said...

Robert E. Howard only wrote two King Kull short stories, not books. I have them both in a collection called "Conan's Brethren" which also features all the Solomon Kane stories and Bran Mak Morn (a tribal chieftain in Roman Britain) plus various other REH stories.

Kid said...

Did he ever write full novels, CJ? The Conan book I have is a collection of short stories, not a full-length single one.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, "The Hour Of The Dragon" was written for publication as a novel in the UK but the publisher went bust so the novel was printed in parts over several issues of Weird Tales magazine in 1935 (the magazine where all the Conan stories first appeared). "The Hour Of The Dragon" was eventually published as a novel in the 1950s under the title "Conan The Conqueror".

Kid said...

Ta for that, CJ. I think I'll re-read the Conan book I've got first (when I remember where it is), then track down some others.

Dave S said...

Thanks Colin, it sounds like a good read. Glad you enjoyed it, I might add it to my re-read list!

Kid, I'm sure I did buy that comic with my friend's name on it, but I've no idea where it is now. It certainly wasn't there when I had a look through my comics last week to see how I could trim down the collection a bit!

Kid said...

Can you remember which issue number of X-Factor it was, DS?

Colin Jones said...

I hope I didn't give the wrong impression of "Shuggie Bain" - it's a story about a family falling apart due to alcoholism so be prepared for it to be rather depressing overall but it has humour too and I found it quite a page-turner.

Kid, if you were a reader of e-books you could buy all the REH stories you ever wanted without even leaving your house!

Dave S said...

Not exactly, but it was around #16 or #17. It had a Walt Simonson cover, I remember.

Kid said...

Where would be the fun in that, CJ. Sounds like being a prisoner to me. Besides, I prefer to read actual books.

******

I think most of them did, DS, once he took on drawing the mag. I feel it may be time for an X-Factor cover gallery.



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