Monday, 30 August 2021

A DIMINISHING BACKDROP OF DAY-TO-DAY LIFE...


Isn't it strange how the 'backdrop' to your life can change without you being aware of it until after-the-fact?  Example: There's a fella and his wife lived in the flats around the corner from me (same street) for at least 35 years, possibly longer.  He was there when we moved back to the neighbourhood after four years away, and for all I know he might've been there when we still lived here the first time.

The pair of us were part of the local doggie-walking club in the late '80s until either the dogs or the owners gradually died.  Out of about 14 of us, maybe only about four yet survive (all the dogs are gone), though me and Martin (as he's called) were the only two still in the area.  I'd often run into him when he was out walking his new (relatively-speaking) pooch, or when one of us was going to, while the other was coming back from, the local shops.

Anyway, last week I was sitting on a bench in the shopping area, scoffing a soft buttered roll with link sausages and fried onions (yum), when I spotted Martin and hailed him.  During the course of our chat, imagine my surprise when he told me that he and his wife had moved from their flat to a house in another neighbourhood quite a distance away around five weeks or so before.

Subconsciously, I'd yet imagined he and his dog were still traversing around the local environs when, in fact, his daily routine now unfolded somewhere else entirely, and that it was unlikely that either of us would run into the other when heading to or back from the shops.  But there was even worse news to come.  After being in their new house for only around three weeks or thereabouts, Martin came home one day to find his wife Isobel dead from a massive heart attack.

Sadly, I didn't know her very well (only saw her a handful of times in 34-odd years), but what a bummer, eh?  He's no longer in the flat where he and his wife brought up their kids and made many happy memories, but he's now in a house where he was denied the time to make any meaningful new memories before she was so suddenly and cruelly taken from him.

I prefer to think that Martin still lives around the corner from me and is yet exercising his doggie around the neighbourhood, and whenever I look out of my window, I sort of imagine I've just missed spotting him by seconds.  That way I can pretend that everything is as it's always been (for the last several years at least) and that the friendly face of a decent bloke is still out there to say hello to, instead of in another neighbourhood that I'm unlikely ever to visit.

Two more long-term residents in the street are soon to flit from it, and I'm beginning to feel isolated from friendly faces that have been part of my everyday existence for decades.  It's no fun seeing them all moving (or slipping) away, especially as I well-remember when my family was the new one 'on the block'.  That feeling is long-gone, but somehow I find myself wishing I could re-experience it - without having to flit somewhere else in order to do it though.

Any of you Crivvies ever feel the same?  Or am I just bonkers?  And spare a thought for Martin, eh?

Sunday, 29 August 2021

COUNTDOWN TO A WEEKLY COMIC'S EXPIRATION...


Images copyright relevant and respective owners

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Countdown lasted only 58 issues before being relaunched as TV Action, given the fact that, despite top-notch artists working on the comic, the extremely tight deadlines meant they couldn't always devote the necessary time or attention to the art, which was sometimes devoid of detail.  Shortcuts were taken and some of the strips occasionally looked rushed - mainly because they were.

Take a look at the panel on show below.  I find the art curiously uninvolving, and I've never liked these 'half faces' since* - regardless of whether they were as a result of stylistic choice, or because the artist had little or no time to lavish on his artwork.  Harry Lindfield (oddly uncredited) was responsible for this particular example, but though the pages were colourful and well-drawn, they lacked a certain something overall.  Not the artist's fault really, as he was working under extreme conditions, but such an approach probably didn't help the comic.

(*I say 'since', but I probably first saw this type of thing in 1966 in Frank Bellamy's Thunderbirds, which was never my favourite strip in TV Century 21.  He painted pretty skies, but his depictions of the craft weren't always accurate, and his 'half' drawings similar to the one below didn't appeal to me.)

Half page from Countdown #39

I passed on Countdown when it first came out, but started picking it up when Fireball XL5 and Stingray reprints began.  No one could quibble about the quality of Mike Noble's or Ron Embleton's art, but perhaps the fact they were reprints that some readers still remembered meant that they weren't the draw (npi) they should've been.  Especially as in 1971 Gerry Anderson-related material didn't seem to be the attraction it had once been.

So - 58 issues of Countdown, 74 of TV Action - 132 issues in all.  That's better than Fantastic, Terrific, Thunder, Jet, and other weeklies managed, yet those of us who bought them at the time still fondly recall those titles from our youth.  And it's the same with Countdown and TV Action, which despite its flaws, deserved to have been around a lot longer than it actually was.

If you were a fan of the periodical, then you may enjoy Steve Holland's book about it, which tells you everything you ever needed to know (and a few things you didn't).  You can order by clicking here.


Footnote: Incidentally, I first typed Gerry Haylock's name as the artist of the half page, as for some reason I was thinking it was from a UFO strip.  However, it's actually from The Persuaders, and when I eventually realised, I amended the artist's name to the correct one.

SALE OF THE CENTURY - TWO FOR TEN...


Copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

Have I got news for you - and it's good news too.  WHS is currently selling its Annuals two for a tenner, so I bought the above two books today (image from DCT shop).  Thought you might like to know before you spend twice that or more - so get crackin' before they're sold out!

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

A BENCH-MARK IN TECHNOLOGY? OR JUST A TERRIBLE PUN...? (UPDATED)


Between my house and the main shopping centre in town is a park, and though I usually jump in a taxi these days, I often used to avail myself of a bench there for a few minutes on the way home, as it's all uphill.  (Not as young or as fit as I was, so when laden with heavy bags of shopping, a wee rest was a welcome respite.)  The above photo is one from the '70s (I guess) that I saw online somewhere, so I copied it as that's the original bench in the pic, not the one that's there today.

Anyway, I straightened the angle in the second version, then decided to enhance the image, which you can see in the third picture, below.  Isn't technology wonderful?!  Just thought you might like to see them while I'm pondering what comics-related post I'm going to publish for your entertainment and enjoyment.  (So yes - it's a 'filler'.)  Hopefully the photo's owner gets to see it so that they can copy the 'improved' version.  So - whaddya think?


And below is how the same place appears today - different bench, and a bit more shrubbery and few more trees in the background.  (Since I typed the preceding sentence, I've replaced the photo with another one, and the high-rise flats mentioned in the comments section are no longer visible.)

Monday, 23 August 2021

IT'S A MADHOUSE AROUND HERE...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Around 1979 there was a TV show called Freddie Starr's Variety Madhouse, which soon morphed into Russ Abbot's Madhouse due to main man Freddie's unpredictability and unreliability.  I'm uncertain as to which version was on the go at the time Marvel Madhouse first went on sale, but obviously the title was 'inspired' by the TV show.  Basically, the comic regurgitated Not Brand Echh tales and I don't recall how many issues Madhouse ran for, but I only have the first three.  Is that where I stopped, or did I have further issues which I later gave to a pal?  Can't recall, is the short answer to that one.  Anyway, I showed you the cover of #1 in the previous post, so here's the remaining two in my collection. 

Saturday, 21 August 2021

MORE CLASSIC MARVEL UK COVERS...


All characters copyright their relevant and respective owners
 
Just dug these comics out of a cupboard - may have shown some of them before, but probably not all of them.  I might add them to the previous Marvel UK classic covers gallery, but while I'm deciding I thought I'd give them their own wee post so that you cavortin' Crivvies aren't delayed in getting a peek at them.  Have any back in the day?  Then you know where the comments section is!





I feel compelled to point out what a terrible logo this comic has - truly awful


FOOM'S SECOND NUMBER ONE...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Back in 2017 Marvel published a one-shot issue of FOOM magazine, mainly to promote their Legacy storyline, but it also contained some articles about the original 22 ish series of their fan periodical which ran from 1973 to '78.  I have a complete set of the original run (you'll have seen the cover gallery and membership pack on this blog a few years back if you're a regular), so I was glad to add the one-shot to my collection.

I thought I'd shown this mag at the time, but I can't find it on the blog, so here it is a mere four years later to whet your appetite.  I'll add it to the cover gallery at some stage, but it deserves a little post of its own so here it is.  Any Crivvies buy the original FOOM back in the day?  If so, what are your memories of it?  Speak now, or forever hold your piece (to quote Roger Moore as he took aim at a baddie's groin in The Man With The Golden Gun).  

FOOM was launched on Febuary 10th '73, the same day that Spider-Man Comics Weekly #1 (cover-dated 17th) came out in the UK, but by the time I had a spare 50p to join, issues 1 & 2 were sold out and the first one I received was issue 3.  I think that was the only copy I had at the time, but I acquired the full set (bit-by-bit) over the years, though I don't think I started 'til sometime in the late '80s or early '90s.

So if you were a FOOMER, feel free to share your memories in our ever-lovin' comments section.  After you've enjoyed these images of course.

******

Incidentally, I just looked at the asking prices of original FOOM issues on ebay, and the prices are sky-high!  And when I say sky-high, someone is asking nearly £11,000 for #10 because it contains a preview (and therefore first appearance) of the new X-Men.  Unbelievable!



Friday, 20 August 2021

POST FROM THE PAST: EXPEDITION TO URANITURE - TAKE TWO...


Copyright relevant owner

When COUNTDOWN comic came out in 1971, I gave the first issue a cursory browse-through on top of my local newsagent's counter, but wasn't particularly impressed by it.  Consequently, I didn't start buying it until later, when it began reprinting some FIREBALL XL5, STINGRAY, and CAPTAIN SCARLET strips from TV CENTURY 21.  (I think they reprinted some THUNDERBIRDS ones too, but that may have been later - can't quite recall offhand.)  Only six or so years had elapsed since I'd first read the Fireball and Stingray strips, but that was half my life away at that point and therefore seemed a much longer period of time.

There was one Fireball adventure I particularly loved, which takes place on URANITURE, a planet seemingly populated by living snowmen. Countdown reprinted the colour pages in black and white, two pages to one (like the MARVEL UK 'landscape' titles), but that didn't overly bother me as it was great to see MIKE NOBLE's dynamic, action-packed art again in any form.  I decided to extract these pages and assemble them in their own mini-comic, but I made a bit of a hash of it and, embarrassed by my less-than-perfect attempt, eventually discarded my homemade efforts to the dustbin of history.

However, over the years, it always bothered me that I hadn't succeeded in my goal, and though I again possess the original TV21 presentations, as well as various colour and b&w reprints of this particular tale and don't really need any more, I decided to have another crack at it.  I own quite a few issues of Countdown, but not the numbers containing this particular adventure.  I do have access to them though, so I printed them out and assembled them under a cardboard cover, and - viola - I've finally completed the task I set myself 46 plus years back. It does my heart proud to finally finish something begun so long ago.  Why, I'm almost overcome with emulsion.

Have you any similar tales to tell, frantic ones?  If so, let loose in the comments section.  And if you'd like to read this Fireball tale, click here for part one.



(Update:)  If I may be permitted a little self-indulgence, this adventure, as I said, first appeared in colour in TV Century 21 (#34, September - #39, October, back in 1965), and whenever I look at the colour version, I associate the strip with the house I lived in at the time, plus the route leading to the newsagent's around the corner from me, and the shop itself, from where I usually bought the comic.

Jump forward six years to October 1971 and Countdown #38, when the first episode of the strip was reprinted (ending in #43, December), and the black and white version has different associations for me.  I was living in a different house in another neighbourhood by this time, and purchasing my comics from another newsagent's, so obviously they're what spring to mind when I look at Countdown's monochrome mini-pages.  Remarkably though, the manager of the first shop (Chamber's) was now in charge of the second shop (R.S. McColl's), so I also associate both incarnations of the tale with him, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Smith.

I'm also astonished to realise that a mere six months after the story ended in Countdown, I was living in yet another house in yet another area, because it seems that I held on to my homemade 'collected edition' in the previous house for far longer than that. Isn't it strange that the same strip can have two separate associations with two different times and places, simply because of the different way in which they were presented?            

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

CAPER OVER TO EBAY RIGHT AWAY - IT'S COSMIC, MAN!


Anyone interested in owning a repro TV Century 21 Cosmic Capers Kit, get yourselves over to ebay where one is currently up for sale - for a song too.  Here's what it looks like, so jump over to ebay, type TV21 Cosmic Capers into the 'search for anything' box and Bob's your confused auntie.  Quick, before you miss it!




PART TWO OF TELEVISION CUTIES - WHO WAS YOUR FAVOURITE...?


Ayshea Brough - UFO

Remember when we were all little pervs growing up in the television age, taunted by those bewitching creatures that teased us with pleasures not yet quite understood?  We saw a few of them in part one, but there were many more that weren't featured in that palpitating post.  Therefore, to make up for that oversight, here's some more of those enchanting women that haunted the dreams and fantasies of our boyhood and teenage years.

Yes, there are probably loads I've missed out, but once I remember them, they can have part three all to themselves.  Feel free to express your love for your favourite babe from the bevy that now follow.

Angie Dickinson - Police Woman

Brigit Forsyth - Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads

Cheryl Ladd - Charlie's Angels

Donna Douglass - The Beverly Hillbillies

Farrah Fawcett - Charlie's Angels

Grace Lee Whitney - Star Trek

Jaclyn Smith - Charlie's Angels

Julie Newmar - Batman

Lee Meriwether - The Time Tunnel

Lyndsay Wagner - The Bionic Woman

Marta Kirsten - Lost In Space

Nichelle Nichols - Star Trek

Pat Priest - The Munsters

Sheila Fearn - Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads

Paula Wilcox - Man About The House

Wanda Ventham - UFO

Yvonne Craig - Batman

Erin Gray - Buck Rogers In The 25th Century

Jacqueline Pearce - Blake's Seven


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