Saturday, 17 July 2021

POST FROM THE PAST: THE STEADY STRANDS OF SUN - PHEW!


Copyright relevant owner.  Art by Neal Adams

I first published this post a fortnight shy of ten years ago, and considering how warm the weather's been lately, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give it another outing.  I could easily be talking about today's climactic conditions in the paragraph below, so I'd say my timing's impeccable.

******

The past few days have been of the gloriously warm, sunny, summer kind that we imagine all our childhood summers to have been like, and as I stepped off the train from Glasgow early yesterday evening with The DEADLY HANDS Of KUNG FU #12 in my possession (bought from a back issue shop in the city), my mind drifted back to a similarly gloriously warm, sunny, summer late afternoon of 36 years before [now 46 remember], when - as a mere freckle-faced teenager - I'd first purchased my original copy of this black and white magazine. 

I'd also obtained the very first MONSTER FUN Holiday Special on the same day.  (IPC were quick off the mark with this one, as the weekly publication had only been out for a very short period - a matter of weeks, in fact.)  I remember that it reprinted the initial SAM'S SPOOK strip by LEO BAXENDALE, which first appeared in SMASH! in Jan/Feb of 1971.  It still sported the "starts today" blurb on the top left-hand side of the logo, no doubt the result of an editorial oversight as such blurbs were usually removed from out-of-sequence reprintings.


(NOTE: My memory of this was confirmed when, a week after typing the previous paragraph, I obtained a back issue of this comic also.  I've inserted the cover and Sam strip above.  Click to enlarge.  Interestingly, the page had previously been resized into two for the Smash! Annual for 1975, issued towards the end of '74.)

Art by Rudy Nebres

Back in 1975, a friend was with me when I bought these two publications, at some stage during a day out in Glasgow.  On our return, I accompanied him (still clutching my precious comics) as he visited his sister's in-laws, who resided not too far from the house I'd lived in when Sam's Spook first made his debut, and from which my family had moved only three years before in 1972.  (In fact, their house was the architectural double of my old one, so it was almost like revisiting my former home.)  It's because of this that I associate both these comics with my previous neighbourhood just as much as I do with my then (and still) current one.  Funny thing, memory, eh?

Art by George Perez, Rico Rival, and The Tribe

I'd bought this ish mainly for The MAN With The GOLDEN GUN cover art and article, having seen (with the same friend) ROGER MOORE's second 007 movie not too long before.  (It had its UK premiere on December 19th 1974, but my local cinema didn't screen it until sometime in '75.)  Reading it again for the first time in nearly 40 years [now nearly 50], I was surprised by how much of it I remembered - even down to actual paragraphs.  The mag also had SHANG-CHI, MASTER Of KUNG FU and SONS Of The TIGER, with artwork by RUDY NEBRES and GEORGE PEREZ, plus a BOND pin-up by the great GRAY MORROW.

I often think back fondly to that particular summer day - and many another day from long ago also.  (Perhaps I may even have warm recollections of yesterday in the years to come - I hope I've got at least another 50 ahead of me, optimistic as that may be.)  Little did I then realise that my friendship with the pal I'd known since I was 7 would last barely another six years, but such is life - something to look forward to in blissful ignorance of what might happen, and to look back on in fond reminiscence (hopefully) of what did.

I hope all your summers turn out to be gloriously warm and sunny - even if only in memory.

Art by Gray Morrow

24 comments:

Colin Jones said...

Kid, I'm currently reading the latest issue of SFX magazine and in the reviews section there's a book called 'Captain America - The First 80 Years' which is a 192-page hardback published by Titan Books. One for your collection maybe? I don't know how much it costs as the review didn't mention the price.

Kid said...

I'll check it out, CJ, though if it's the one I've heard about, it's quite expensive and comes with a separate facsimile of Captain America #1. Not a huge Cap fan, but I've got the Marvel two volume collection of the first 10 issues which was published in the late '80s or early '90s. I think I prefer the '60s Cap stories to the ones from the '40s.

baggsey said...

Thanks for re-publishing the blog, Kid. I remember that issue well, although at the time I do not think I recognized the tongue-in-cheek nature of the cover painting by Neal Adams.

Kid said...

Do you mean in portraying Roger's Bond as a Kung Fu expert, B? I'm looking at it, but I don't see the 'tongue-in-cheek'. Enlighten me, o wise one.

Phil S said...

Remember the summer of 76? Conserving water? Have a nice summer mate.

Kid said...

Only seems like yesterday to me, PS. Where did the time go? (Eloped with my youth it seems.)

McSCOTTY said...

I have very fond memories of the summer of 1976 which is very similar to the weather we are experiencing at present. It's strange looking back that we seem to lose contact with some of our friends as the years progress. I've had the same experiences with some old pals that got married, moved house etc that just cut off contact ( don't think I've done that to anyone myself). Deadly Hands was a really good magazine comics strip wise always loved Nebres art. Lose that Adams cover I see what baggsey means there's a slight cartoony feel to the image

baggsey said...

Yes, I'm referring to the tongue-in-cheek quality of Roger Moore as Bond, not a hair out of place, fighting off 4 assailants (one a midget with a pitchfork) with panache. Even the Shang-Chi logo on the top left looks part of the fight. I don't think that Adams is going full Mort Drucker here, but it is getting close. The strapline "A CRITICAL OVERVIEW: James Bond Invades the Martial Arts" reads to me also as taking the mickey. Of course, I'm looking at this now with a more jaundiced eye than I would in 1974/75. By that time, the Bond films were getting progressively more comedic under Moore (Sheriff Pepper returning in this film) so it was probably reflecting the tenor of the film.

MK said...

76, when I started work, retired now, all those people met, former friends, girlfriends, managers etc etc, where are they now? I'll never know. Plus, if we wanted to keep in touch we would have. Although, a few decided not to keep in touch with me!!

Kid said...

I kept in touch with one pal (who I met when we both worked in the local library) for a few years after he moved to England, McS, but then he just seemed to cut off all contact for some inexplicable reason. I recounted the tale in my post 'Superman, Bob Billings, and Me...' if you're interested.

'Twas me who discontinued the friendship with the pal mentioned in this post, and that can be read about in 'The True-Life Tale of Nicky Hunt'. The Reader's Digest version as to why is that I went down to Southsea at his invitation, was there for a few months, but the only time he came near where I lived was to check with my landlady whether I'd gone home yet, which is what he was hoping for. I decided I didn't need pals like that and jettisoned him - and I'd known him from when I was 7.

******

The midget actually appears in the movie, B, but I've never fully subscribed to the notion that the Bond films got more comedic under Moore. And if they did, that was really down to Tom Mankievicz, not big Rog. Sean getting out of a lake with a duck on his head and a tuxedo under his wetsuit? That's as absurd as anything that appeared in a Moore film. Diamonds Are Forever set the tone (because of Mankievicz's involvement) on most of Roger's films, and had Connery continued in the role, I'd venture the movies would've been the same as they were with Rog. Nah, I still don't think Adams was being tongue-in-cheek with that painting. After all, Roger looks as if he's putting some effort into his fighting and taking it seriously. I think the situation depicted is a little over-the-top though, and that may be what makes you think it's tongue-in-cheek.

******

I'm interested to know what makes you think a few decided not to keep in touch with you, MK. Wouldn't that require you trying to keep in touch with them first to know that they weren't interested? However, you don't seem to consider it any great loss, so all's well that ends well, eh?

MK said...

Correct kid. A few I recall we stayed in touch for a long time then you realise that if you don't make the effort to contact them, they are not going to. It turns into a one way thing and withers on the vine...

Kid said...

That always makes me wonder whether friendships like that were ever solid to begin with, or merely the result of our tendency to befriend (some of) those we come into contact with. Once the regular contact isn't there, it seems that, eventually, neither is the friendship. Some do survive though, despite distance.

baggsey said...

I think you're right about the influence of Tom Mankiewicz on the Bond films, Kid, being responsible for an introduction of a more light-hearted tone to the films as they transitioned from Sean Connery to Roger Moore, in my view to the detriment of the series. Once Tom Mankiewicz came on board, that frisson of danger had gone for me. I'd have really liked to have seen a Roger Moore Bond film with him in a far tougher mode, with a diabolical villain. I know they tried with For Your Eyes Only, dialling back on the gimmicks, but the reliance on going back to the same well of writers and solid, but workmanlike, direction made each of the Roger Moore Bond films just blur into each other IMHO. Whereas Tom Mankiewicz was a fantastic influence on the success of Superman I and II, I think that his impact on Bond was to send it in the wrong direction.
But hey, we all have our favourite Bond films. My first was O.H.M.S.S. , and is the yardstick against which I compare all the others.

Kid said...

I think that the need for each new movie to top the one before was the main reason why they (arguably) became more outrageous (nothing really to do with the change of actor), though Mankiewicz certainly made them more camp (to a degree). DAF set the tone for Live & Let Die (even Connery admitted that Rog had 'inherited' the tendency towards daftness), though I'd say that, the 'supernatural' aspect apart, L&LD was one of the best entries in the franchise. The crocodile farm scene was thrilling and the speedboat chase was spectacular, and were probably why Moore's debut movie outperformed DAF at the box-office.

There were conflicting accounts of what difference Rog's presence made. Initially, the spokesmen said they made Rog act tougher to offset his public image as a nice guy. Later it was said they tried to play to his strengths as a 'light comedic actor' (or similar phrase). Personally, I don't think Rog ever did anything that I couldn't imagine Sean doing as Bond, so I think Rog gets unfairly blamed for what some people saw as the movies' excesses.

Although all Bond films have good bits about them, Connery's best ones were the first three when he still had that mean, lean, hungry look about him. From Thunderball on, he looked bloated and bored, though DAF was a good romp for his swansong. He'd been the Bond for the first half of the '60s, but Rog was the man for the '70s. I always enjoyed his movies as much as I enjoyed his predecessor's.

To me, OHMSS was a bit of a bore. Too much self-parody ("This never happened to the other fella"), Lanzeby's dodgy accent, lack of acting experience and awful dubbing when posing as Sir Hilary all add up to a bit of a misfire. Great soundtrack though.

Colin Jones said...

I'm not sure I'd agree with Paul that the summer of 1976 is similar to the weather at the moment! The hot, dry weather in '76 lasted for three whole months and when we returned to school in September we finished at 2pm for several weeks to save water. There's nothing remarkable about our current warm spell and it'll probably be raining cats and dogs again by next week.

Kid said...

I don't think that McS is suggesting that the current weather is lasting (or is going to last) as long as the summer of '76, CJ, merely that, when it's been hot recently, at its hottest, it reminds him of '76. Hasn't it been a record for high temperatures recently though, with some people suggesting that it's down to global warming? Anyway, I think he was talking from a more limited perspective, time-wise, not comparing the full duration of summer 2021 with that of 1976.

Gene Phillips said...

I remember best the GOLDEN GUN review from Don McGregor. He skewered the whole thing pretty good.

Kid said...

I'd have to re-read it to remind myself what he said, GP. I could remember certain paragraphs 10 years ago, though I needed to read them again before my memory kicked in - same thing over again today.

McSCOTTY said...

Yeah Colin as Kid says I just meant the last 2 weeks have been similar to 1976, I doubt it will last as long as 76 but you never know. I think Wales and Southern England will experience major heat Tuesday to Thursday then thunderstorms

Kid said...

You're obviously trying to impress Judith Ralston with that weather forecast, eh, McS? Shared interests - good thinking.

Colin Jones said...

So there'll be thunderstorms on Friday? On Friday morning I'm due to get my second vaccine jab. I'd better take an umbrella for my walk to the local leisure centre :D

Kid said...

Or you could always take a taxi both ways, CJ (or get a bus). After all, you have so few possessions you must be rolling in 'dough'. Feel free to send some to me if the strain of having all that dosh becomes too much for you.

baggsey said...

Okay Kid - you’ve convinced me to re-assess the Roger Moore Bond films. I’ll break out the blu-rays and DVDs to see if time has mellowed my view of them. Time brings different perspectives, so I’ll start with Live and Let Die which I actually think is a pretty interesting attempt to mix Bond with the end of the blaxploitation cycle. I have that Roger Moore-written Pan paperback book somewhere where he discusses his experience of the making of the film which was a very engaging read at the time.

Kid said...

Oh, I'm not trying to change your mind about them, B - merely explaining why I enjoyed them. I've got that Pan book myself - it was reissued a couple or so years back. If you type 'Elsie' into my blog's search box, you can read about my first experience of it back in 1973.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...