Thursday, 29 September 2022

IF THE SHOE FITS, WEAR IT...


The year was 1978, the month and day are lost to history.  It was, as they say, 'chucking it down', and by the time I arrived at my place of employment, I was drenched to such an extent that it looked as if I'd been for a swim in the sea fully dressed.  I worked in the warehouse of a large department store, so the display dressers gave me some dry clothes to change into, plus a pair of moccasin-style shoes from a store dummy.  (From one dummy to another you're thinking, right?  Cheek!)  I was allowed to keep the shoes, which I mainly used as slippers back home as they were so comfortable, though I occasionally wore them outside.

Sometime in the mid-'80s I had them resoled and reheeled, but when that was done and even before I had a chance to wear them, I noticed that the stitching which gave them a moccasin-style appearance (and kept the tops on) was a little the worse for wear, so I removed it with the intention of redoing it myself.  Trouble was, I couldn't find a suitable replacement for the original stitching and the shoes were consigned to the back of my wardrobe until such time as I could find a thread, cord, or lace which would do the job.  Every so often I would remember the shoes, but my attempts to source a suitable stitching material remained unfulfilled.

36-odd years passed - faster than a fart from The Flash (to use my patented catchphrase) - until a couple of nights ago I decided that, more than half my life later, it was time to restore my 'moccasins' to somewhere approaching their former glory.  I decided just to use ordinary string and, a couple of hours later, my shoes were whole once more.  Then I saturated the string with brown shoe polish, gave the shoes a good buffing, sprayed them with a shoe protector and then rested from my labours.  And Kid saw the result of his work and it was good.

As you can see in the photo below, the new soles and heels from 36 or so years back have no wear on them, so this is likely the first time I've actually worn them since 1985/'86 or thereabouts.  It doesn't feel that long to me, so I've essentially wiped nearly four decades off my personal life clock and returned to an earlier time, at least in my mind.  Honestly, it feels like only around a week or so since I last wore them in their slipper capacity around the house and I'm filled with such a sense of accomplishment in finally managing to complete an unfinished task from so long ago.

So, here's a question for the rest of you Crivvies.  What's the longest it's taken you to finish something after you started it?  Days, weeks, months, or years?  And what was it, and why the reason for the delay?  Tell all in our comments section now (if you'd be so mad good).  Update: Since first publishing this post I've bought a darker polish to apply to the stitching as, on reflection, I thought the medium brown I used was too light.  However, you'll just have to imagine what the shoes look like now as I can't be bothered taking new photos.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

BABE OF THE DAY - SUE STORM...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

The lovely Sue Storm graces our Babe spot today, Crivvies.  Okay, she might be only a 'drawing' (by Alex Ross, no less), but she certainly 'draws' my attention and adoration.  What man alive could fail to be bowled over by her charms?  (Graham Norton and Alan Carr get a pass.)

Friday, 23 September 2022

WANT SOME MORE FANTASTIC FOUR...?


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's the last of my recent FF acquisitions that I never bought (or even saw) at the time of publication (with the possible exception of #363, can't quite recall), just to round things off on this theme for the moment.  (Though if I did buy 363 back then, I'll still have it somewhere.)  Take a look at #224 below - nicely drawn cover, but still not without its glaring flaws.  Firstly, ignore the guy at the back as he's meant to be extra-tall, but take a look at The Thing.  Even allowing for his 'slouching' posture, he's far too small in relation to both Reed and Johnny.  In fact, if Johnny were to stand up, he'd dwarf even Reed, so Bill Sienkiewicz, talented artist though he is, fumbled the ball on this occasion.  Dynamic pic of Doctor Doom on #330 by Buckler & Sinnott - very Kirby-esque.  Got a favourite?  Then let's hear it, Crivvies.




Thursday, 22 September 2022

PART TWO OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR MAGS THAT NEVER WERE (COVER GALLERY)...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  An okay cover from Kirby, but not one of his best

As explained in part one, these comics 'never were' (in my house) only in the sense that I never actually owned (or even saw) most of them when they were first published all those dim and distant decades ago.  It's only in the last few weeks that I've managed to fill in the gaps in my existing FF collection, which in itself consists of replacements acquired years ago of the original mags I bought back in the '70s.  So part of that decade (comics-wise) which I never experienced at the time has now, retroactively, been absorbed into my memories of those halcyon days of yore.    

Now, I hate to admit it (so, luckily, hardly anyone ever reads this blog), but I was always a bit of a 'paper pin-up perv', in that 'good girl art' was, for me, often the deciding factor when it came to choosing a comic from the teeming ranks which graced the spinner-racks of my hometown newsagents.  I had an instant crush on Susan Storm, alias The Invisible Girl (first one who asks what I saw in her can leave now) when I first laid eyes on her in b&w in UK weekly comics Smash! and Wham!  For the historians among you, sequentially, Wham! came first, but the FF's origin was published simultaneously in both papers, and at the time, I was buying Smash! on account of the Batman strip it also featured.  (I soon started getting Wham! as well when I realised the FF appeared weekly.)

It will therefore come as no surprise to anyone that one of the reasons I decided to plug the gaps in my FF run was because of some of the covers featuring Susie in all her alluring feminine beauty.  She still rings my bell, even in my current condition of decrepit old f*rt, who's too past it to draw even a first look from a real-life female, never mind a second one.  Anyway, see if you can spot the covers in which Susie specifically attracts my attention and say if you likewise feel her allure tugging at your heartstrings - or any other part of your anatomy.

So, yeah, it's perhaps a bit odd to find line drawings of a 'four-colour' female attractive, but it could've been worse.  It might've been Ben Grimm's lumpy orange epidermis that made my heart beat a little faster and that would've been seriously weird.  Anyway, I now declare the comments section open - may God bless her and all who sail in her.  (Eh?)



The perspective of the buildings on the left-hand side is wrong, Ben's too small and Thundra's
body is far too distorted.  It pains me to say it, but this is substandard fare from Jack Kirby

The car looks as if it's parked on the pavement and Ben's too high in the air.  Also, the
 sizes of the bystanders in the background aren't consistent with the space they occupy
 









Yet another Kirby-Klunker.  The figure of the Torch is poorly drawn and once again Ben
is too small in relation to the figures behind him.  Kirby's talent had deserted him










This cover certainly has 'impact', though could've been better.  I think this was Jack's final
cover for the FF's regular monthly mag, but if you know of any others be sure to tell me



John Byrne spotted a flaw in this tale's concept.  The Thing is a monster, so how can there be
a monster version of him?  He realised Ben had become too much of a cuddly 'teddy bear' in
appearance over the years, and 'roughened' him up when he became writer/artist on the mag

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

THE SINS OF THE SON...


I don't remember the precise year - or even the month, come to that.  June or July perhaps?  Whether I was yet a schoolboy or had left my educational environs is another thing beyond my ability to recall.  At a guess I'd say it might've been around the mid-'70s upwards, but I couldn't swear to it.  I do remember it was a sunny Saturday, maybe late morning or early afternoon, and I was making my way down to the local town centre, which took me past a church in between my house and the shops.

On the path leading from the church, I saw my father, coming in my direction and carrying a stool-type piece of furniture he'd just acquired from a jumble sale in the church hall.  He asked me if I'd carry it home for him, but I was eager to get to the shops and so resisted his invitation.  It would mean retracing my steps home and starting again from scratch, and as I was already at least halfway to my intended destination, it wasn't a delay I was prepared to undergo.

The stool wasn't heavy, but my father wasn't exactly what you'd call a healthy specimen, so had I been a good and dutiful son, I'd have obliged him.  But no, I was eager to be off on my adventures, so my father had to carry his burden home by himself.  Yes, I was a bit of a b@st@rd, wasn't I?  Anyway, my father survived his trek, and the stool ended up in my bedroom, though whether he'd bought it with that intention or had just succumbed to a whim with no thought as to where the item would go is lost to history.

Over quarter of a century ago, I re-upholstered the 'lid' of the stool with a material that matched the original and restored its appearance to that which it had before it came into my possession.  It still sits in my bedroom and whenever I look at it, I feel a pang of guilt at my callous cold-heartedness in not being prepared to (slightly) inconvenience myself by carrying it home for my father.

Funny the effect time has, isn't it?  I'd like to think its passage has made we wiser and even kinder (though I doubt the latter), and that, were I to have that moment again, I would acquiesce to my father's request and spare him the effort of trudging home with the load on his own.  True, he could have stopped and rested whenever he felt the need to and taken the weight off his feet by sitting on the stool, but I take no comfort from that realisation and still feel like a bad 'un for being so selfish.

Decades later, the 'sins' of the past yet haunt me and hold me to account.  And perhaps that's just how it should be if there's to be any kind of justice in the world for missed opportunities of acts of kindness and decency.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

THE ONE AND ONLY (I THINK) BLUE PETER YEARBOOK...


Copyright BBC TV

The above magazine seems to be something of a unique publication in that I think this was the only one ever published.  I've now added it to the post I did about the 1976 Blue Peter Holiday Special (another one-off), which you can read about by clicking this link.

RUMINATING REPOST: OVER THE HILL (AND FAR AWAY)...



One of the odd things I've noticed about myself as I get older is that my sense of distance is greater, and that places seem farther away from me than they once used to.  I don't mean visually, but geographically.  For example, the environs of my old neighbourhood once seemed, in my subconscious mind, to be so close that if I looked out of my window, there they would be for me to gaze upon as though I actually still lived there.

This feeling was no doubt made more acute by the fact that, when I first moved from my previous abode, I returned every weekday to attend the school across from my former home.  After school, once I'd had my tea, I would visit pals in the area and, truth to tell, I was along there so often that it probably never quite registered that I no longer lived there and was merely a visitor.

The distance between the two neighbourhoods seemed practically non-existent back then, and, to me, was no greater walk than the local shops at the end of my street.  It was the same with most locales I was familiar with - they seemed no farther away than the time it took me to think of them.  My house was like the TARDIS - outside its doors was any location I wanted to visit.  All I had to do was walk through them and I'd be there.

Nowadays my perceptions are strangely different.  My old neighbourhood seems as distant as MORDOR, and a lifetime away to reach.  What was once a brief walk now stretches before me like an arduous trek from which I may not return.  Whereas I never before felt far removed from any familiar childhood place, I now feel remote and isolated from them, and they seem to be as difficult to reach as the fabled BRIGADOON

I suppose that's as good a definition of 'over the hill' as it's possible to get.  Funny how I never before realised how literal a description of advancing years it actually is.  When you're over the hill, once-familiar 'places' on the other side are far more difficult to access - and it's an uphill struggle to even attempt the task.

******

"Ah, sweet boyhood, how eager are we as boys to be quit of thee, with what regret do we look back on thee before our man's race is half-way run!"  J. Meade Falkner.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

THE FANTASTIC FOUR MAGS THAT NEVER WERE - (COVER GALLERY) PART ONE...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Okay, the title is slightly misleading in order to attract your attention and pique your curiosity, but there's a strong element of truth to it - from my perspective.  You see, out of 54 Fantastic Four mags whose covers you'll drool over in this two-part post, I never bought, owned, or read most of them when they were first published back in the 1970s.  I started to acquire the previously unknown issues (unknown to me, that is) only recently in order to fill in the gaps in my existing collection, none of which are the original copies I had at the time, but replacements I've mostly had for decades now.

That perhaps requires qualifying.  For instance, I originally bought FF #126 on Friday 6th October 1972 from a newsagent's shop in Hamilton, Scotland, but the three replacements I own today were purchased (separately, by mail order) probably around 30 or so years ago.  I acquired 127 and 128 around the same time, though never had them when they were first published or anywhere near to it.  The ones I did own as a teenager, starting from #126 (which was the first then-current issue I bought while living in my current abode), were 133, 150-153, 158-176, and perhaps, maybe, possibly 200 - though I suspect I got that as a back issue long after the fact - possibly around the time John Byrne became writer/artist on the title.  (Sadly, my memory's not what it was - today that is, though it might be less vague on another day.)

Anyway, not counting #200 due to my uncertainty, that's 25 issues of the FF that I bought brand-new when first published (or at least when they turned up in Britain), which isn't a lot of comics in the scheme of things.  And I have to take my failing memory into account and consider the possibility of there being the odd issue in that lot that I didn't actually own (but think I did because I've confused the original covers with those of the UK Complete Fantastic Four weekly reprint comic), as well as there being one or two I did own, but don't remember doing so.  (Yeah, confusing, isn't it?)

Luckily, I possess the first 14 or 15 issues of the Marvel Masterworks FF volumes (as well as quite a few original issues featured in them), which takes me up to #150 (and a bit beyond perhaps), so I decided to acquire any missing issues between 150 and 200, plus 201-203, which amounts to 54 issues in all, 23 of which I once owned back in the day and had since replaced.

I should add that there were times in the '70s when I bought earlier issues of the FF drawn by Jack Kirby, but although they were purchased 'brand-new' from spinner-racks at cover price, they were mostly obtained in seaside resorts, which always seemed to have a plethora of older issues not available elsewhere.  Whether they'd had them in stock for years or they were recent warehouse finds of what had once been ballast on ships I couldn't say, but they were welcome acquisitions nonetheless.  However, I'm not including them here as I think I covered them in a previous post or two.  (Never say never though; I might feature them again someday.)

Anyway, that's my usual long-winded fashion of preparing you for a visual treat.  Before you get to the 'meat and potatoes' though, I feel bound to point out that the Jack Kirby covers are the weakest of the bunch when it comes to quality - though they still retain a certain visual impact.  Sadly, Kirby's skills had deserted him by this stage of his career and there's a lot of 'dodgy drawing' going on in his covers, which even the inking of Joe Sinnott couldn't quite dilute or disguise.  A shame, but there it is.  I'm sure you'll enjoy seeing them (again) anyway.

Right, pull back the curtains and let's look at the first 27 covers - the remaining 27 will be seen in part two once I receive a pair of replacement copies for ones that went missing in the post a couple of weeks back (had to buy them again from elsewhere, should be here in a day or two).  Comments welcome if you can be bothered.






















Looks to me like Sue's head might've been redrawn or heavily retouched by other hands






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