Friday, 23 December 2022

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HO-HO-HO!



Merry Christmas to all Crivvies everywhere.  This will probably be my last post of the year, but hopefully I'll be back in 2023 with a little more vim and vigour than I've had recently.  I also hope Santa brings you everything you wish for.  Below is a little extra treat for Christmas - Silent Night.

Tuesday, 20 December 2022

IT'S A DATE - OR IS IT?


Copyright relevant owner

Heads up, heroes.  As almost everyone and their granny knows, UK weekly comics are usually dated up to seven days in advance in order to give them a week's shelf-life (or close to it) until the next issue goes on sale.  Sometimes, though, it was only a few days, and to confound matters further for historians, the above issue (as an example) is cover-listed as going on sale on Wednesday, but the cover-date of the 13th was a Saturday.  Confusing, eh?

So here's a question for serious comics historians,  TV Century 21 #1 is dated January 23rd, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that it went on sale around the 18th or 19th, which isn't a full week.  Number 43 is dated November 13th, but I recollect buying it on or just before the 8th, which, if so, would mean that the comic had by then adopted a longer delay between its on sale date and the cover date.

I'm trying to pin down precisely which house I was living in when I first bought it, so is there anyone out there who knows (or knows how to find out) whether this issue went on sale before or after November 8th?  I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can assist.

Thursday, 8 December 2022

MEN OF ACTION (WELL, TWO OUT OF THREE AIN'T BAD)...

ACTION MAN copyright HASBRO

Above are three Action Man figures, the one on the left from 2018, the middle one from 2016, and the one on the right from 2022.  The lefthand figure is often referred to as the T-Rex Action Man because of his stunted arms, and to be honest, despite my previous protestations that AM is not a doll, because of this figure's severely limited points of articulation, it is actually nothing more than that.  The elbows, waist, wrists and ankles don't move, the head doesn't go up or down, and although internal joints in the knees allow the legs to bend, it's only by around a few millimetres, so the joints are rendered useless for all practical purposes.

The middle figure is the same as the classic 1966 version, though incorporates the flocked hair and gripping hands of '70s AM (which were first introduced by Palitoy, not Hasbro), making it a composite of the best of the '60s and '70s.  One flaw I've found is that the legs don't stay in position when raised in a kicking gesture (perhaps the elastic isn't tight enough), but as this incarnation is made for adult collectors and not for children (the box actually declares this), it perhaps doesn't much matter.  Why did I buy a footballer?  It was the only version in stock in the shop from which I purchased it a few years back.

The righthand figure is the latest Action Man available, being released only in October of this year.  It's claimed that it has 30 points of articulation, but I can't see as many as that.  Depending on how you count, it seems to have only between 20-25, but the arms and legs are far more poseable than any previous version.  What lets it down slightly is that the head can't really be posed looking up or down beyond a millimetre or two either way (so no sharpshooter posing), and despite having two joints in the torso, the waist doesn't move much up or down either.

However, it's a great-looking toy display item manufactured by Art + Science (under license from Hasbro), but I'm unsure as to whether they're still active as the item isn't listed on their site, and, despite having a 'contact' option, nor do they appear to respond to any enquiries.  I had to buy the newest figure through an online shopping site (Booghe), and it was sent in a box an inch shorter than AM's box, which resulted in some damage to it, though the figure was unscathed.  I'm currently awaiting a replacement box which will hopefully be in pristine condition.

Anyway, just thought I'd let you know that ol' Action Man is still alive and well in the 21st century.

Monday, 28 November 2022

"YOU'VE BEEN FRAMED..." (UPDATED)



Thought I'd show you just what can be done with a scanner and printer, plus some inexpensive frames from Poundland.  The pictures are A3 and look great up on the wall, adding a nice touch of colour to any room they adorn.  There's another one which I haven't hung yet, but I'll add it here once I find a space in one of my rooms for it.  So, whaddya think, Crivvies?



And below is the fourth poster, now up on my wall.  I'm not even slightly interested in John Dillinger, but I had the bigger sized version of this back in the early '70s, a 'free gift' with Kirby's 'In The Days Of The Mob' #1 (and only).  So it's yet another indulgence in nostalgia, nothing more.  There's a fifth poster, Christopher Reeve as Superman, but the Christmas tree is blocking the view of it at the moment, and I'm not going to risk dropping decorations all over the floor by attempting to move it.  I'll add a photo of the poster in the New Year.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

PAST POSTINGS - THE MIGHTY WORLD OF YESTERDAY...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

They say that when you're dying, your life flashes before your eyes - but there's a far less drastic (and not so final) way to achieve the same effect.  Simply flick through the pages of the comics you got as a kid (if they're still in your possession) and you'll find yourself transported back in time to when you first acquired them, with such clarity that you not only remember the past, but can see, feel, smell and taste it as well.


Such is the case with The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #51.  Look at the cover.  See the stars twinkling in the night sky?  One look, and I vividly recall the September evening when myself and one of my pals found ourselves crawling over the slated rooftops of a centuries-old public house in search of adventure.  I can remember the sudden thrill when, underneath us, someone suddenly emerged from the backdoor of the bar to obtain a fresh keg, while we hugged the roof and hoped that they wouldn't glance upwards.  Surely 'twas the exact same stars that shone down on us that night as sparkled from the cover of this comic from childhood, which I had bought the self-same morning in 1973?


Looking again at an old comic is much like rereading a half-forgotten diary entry, in as much that it invigorates the memory and spans the bridge between past and present, allowing us - for however brief a period - to revisit times and places from so very long ago.
 
The slates at left belong to the pub.  The photo is
taken from where we gained access to the roof

Monday, 21 November 2022

KENNER AND McFARLANE SUPER POWERS SUPERMAN FIGURES...


Copyright DC COMICS

You're looking at my very own Kenner Super Powers Superman figure (above) from 1984.  I bought it in John Menzies in my hometown, along with a couple of Brainiac figures, one for me and one for a friend's son, both of whom were with me at the time.  We then repaired to Baird's tearoom on the top floor of said establishment, whereupon my pal's boy, on seeing my Superman, wanted it instead of his Brainiac and started to cry bitter tears over it.  I assuaged him by saying that Superman was a wimp compared to his foe, and that Brainiac was the toughest guy in creation.  That did the trick!  He was soon engrossed in the silver figure, and I'd managed to avoid having to give him my Supes in order to shut him up.

Curiously, some areas of Superman's blue costume have darkened over the years, and I'm not quite sure why.  I took a look on eBay at other figures and noticed that a few of them had likewise suffered the same discolouration in the same places.  I was also astonished to see some of the asking prices for the 1984 Super Powers range, especially Superman.  Battered and blootered ones go for around £15, right up to several hundreds for unopened ones in their blister packs.  My original blister pack is in a box up in the loft somewhere, so I've borrowed an image from eBay to show you what it looks like.  The second figure is a recent release by McFarlane Toys, again harking back to the Super Powers range, but with the figure 'paying homage' to the original without being an exact duplicate of it.  Once again, the carded image is from eBay.

In case you're wondering, the difference in the density of the blue of the costumes between the two toys is due to a switch from lighter to darker in the comics sometime around the '90s, I think.  Why?  I can only hazard a guess, but I assume it might have been simply to give Supes a more dramatic impact on the printed page.  Anyway, funny how things come around again after so long a time, isn't it?  Having bought the original Super Powers Superman figure (which, contrary to the claims of some, is not a doll simply because it has points of articulation) in 1984, I felt compelled to buy the 2022 incarnation of the toy, very nearly 40 years later (38 to be precise).  I almost feel like I'm 25-years-old again.  (If only!)

Like I said, for the sake of convenience, both pics of the figures in their blister cards are from eBay, though the unwrapped figures are my very own.  Which figure would you say was best, the '84 or '22 version, or don't you have a preference?  And if you see this, McS, don't try and fool your fellow Crivvies - we all know you'll be running out to the shops to buy the second version of the toy the moment you've read this post, ya big wean.  (Incidentally, Crivs, the string you see around Kenner Superman's waist loops up under the neck of his cape; I attached it years ago so that I could hang him on a pin to display on my wall.)

Sunday, 13 November 2022

GUEST POST BY JP - TV2000 - THE DUTCH TV21...


Copyright relevant owners

My favourite UK comic of all time is TV (Century) 21.  I cut my milk teeth on the early Gerry Anderson puppet TV shows for children and enjoyed the comic strip adaptations of Torchy the Battery Boy in Harold Hare's Own Paper and then Four Feather Falls, Supercar and Fireball XL5 in TV Comic.  So when, in January 1965, a new publication went on sale, featuring all of the Gerry Anderson shows in strip form together in one tabloid-sized glossy comic to rival the Eagle, it was an absolute 'must' for me!  The icing on the proverbial cake was that The Daleks were also included in this comic set mainly in the imaginary Century 21 universe!

On its first anniversary in 1966, Thunderbirds joined the comic and Lady Penelope exited to star in her own title.  This was probably the greatest year for my favourite comic, but on its second anniversary in 1967, we were to find that The Daleks were to leave the weekly to join Doctor Who in TV Comic and, for me, this year was a disappointing lull in its history until Captain Scarlet was added to the line-up.

Anyway, another event happened between 1966 and 1967, unbeknownst to we kids until many years later!  Over in Holland they published their very own version of the comic called TV2000, featuring reprints from both TV Century 21 and Lady Penelope.  This periodical has become highly sought after by collectors of Gerry Anderson comics and although many of you will have heard of it, I wonder how many have actually seen its interiors?  So, for your delectation I would like to share with you an example copy in its entirety from the early years of the publication, which lasted for 174 editions.

In the early days of its run, it closely resembled its UK counterpart, but later on the format was changed to American comic book size and these closely resembled the UK's Top Sellers comic books of the 1970s, like Tarzan.
 
So feast your eyes on the images below and join in with me in thanking our host Kid for allowing me to guest post on his renowned blog!  

******

(Cheque's in the mail, JP.)  I'm sure all you faithful Crivvies would like to leave a comment expressing your appreciation for all JP's hard work in scanning the pages for this post.  Go to it, tigers! 







Click on image to enlarge, then click again for optimum size



Click on image to enlarge, then click again for optimum size

Or, as we Brits knew him, Special Agent 21


Friday, 11 November 2022

KEVIN O'NEILL PASSES AWAY...



I meant to mention the untimely death of Kevin O'Neill before now, but my energy levels have been a bit low these last few days.  I can't be 100% sure, but I think I met him - or at least saw him - around the 2000 A.D. offices at least once, and have the impression I saw him again when he brought in his resized pages of Metalzoic to Irwin House for reprinting in 2000 A.D.  Talented artist, and a sad loss for comics, even though I read he'd retired from the medium.

Other blogs will have more detailed accounts of the man's life and career, and there are bound to be lots of heartfelt tributes from those who knew and worked with him, and deservedly so.  For my own part, although I never knew him and only maybe met him, it's a sad loss all the same, so R.I.P. Kevin.  The above cropped photo is from Ally Sloper #2, taken at Comics 101 in 1976 (I think).  That's Kevin on the left, and the bespectacled man on the right is Frank Hampson.

So I'm a bit late with this, but I didn't want Kevin's passing to go unacknowledged on Crivens!

Saturday, 5 November 2022

CONAN IN COMIC AND BOOK FORM...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS and CPI

With the recent arrival at Castel Crivens of Conan the Barbarian Epic Collection Volume Six, I've now read more issues of the mighty Cimmerian in reprint form than I ever did of the original colour comics published back in the '70s.  For some reason, I once had the impression I'd bought more than I actually had, so I was surprised when I first started purchasing this series of volumes to discover I probably never actually owned much more than a handful.  Funny how the memory plays tricks, eh?

Copyright CPI

Another Conan book I acquired a couple or so days ago is the Centenary Edition of The Complete Chronicles of Conan, which includes every Conan tale ever written by Robert E. Howard.  It's a fourth printing, which means it doesn't have the colour frontispiece that was only included in the first edition, so can any Crivvie who has the book supply me with a scan of it so I can add it to my copy?  If so, leave a wee message in the comments section.

Two Conan publications for the price of one in this post, Crivvies.  I'm spoiling you again.  (And now for the back covers...)


Friday, 4 November 2022

CLOUD OF A BILLION LIGHTS...


Copyright relevant owner

Remember the great Century 21 mini albums that used to be around in the '60s?  To celebrate Fireball XL5's 60th anniversary, Anderson Entertainment has just released a new addition to the series, as you can see above.  An all-new voice cast has been assembled who, while they don't do precise impersonations of the originals, manage to capture the spirit of those who went before. It's good to hear Gerry's son Jamie follow in his father's footsteps by assuming the role of Robert the Robot, thus bestowing a nice touch of 'continuity' to this well-produced collectors' item, limited to only 1,000 pieces.

You can order one from The Official Gerry Anderson Store at this link.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

FOR FAWKES' SAKE - (Too good not to use again)...


Images copyright their respective owners

What can match the thrill, as a kid, of one of your favourite comics having a free gift every so often?  I never used to be able to sleep properly the night before the 'big day' and would be up around 8 a.m. to run over to my local newsagent's (handily located just across the road from me) and plunk my money down on the counter to pay for the anticipated paper periodical and its treasure within.

Talking of paper reminds me of the heady aroma of all the newly arrived daily newspapers, as well as whatever comics came in on that particular day, that pleasantly caressed my nostrils.  I loved it!  Then back across to my house to savour the delights of comic and gift, before either getting ready for school or jumping back into bed if it was a Saturday. Ah, unparalleled, intoxicating memories of yesteryear - long may they linger.

Whizzer & Chips #3 had a cardboard Guy Fawkes mask within its pages, which I assume was intended to double-up as a Hallowe'en mask too, as the November 1st cover-dated issue actually went on sale on or around October 25th 1969.  Yeah, 53 years ago - shocking, innit?  (The same mask had been given away in a 1965 issue of Buster, but I only discovered that fact a few months back.)  A year later, DCT's Topper comic #924, cover-dated October 17th (on sale on or around the 10th), gave away a Splodge, Last of the Goblins glow-in-the-dark mask.

Thinking about it now, I wonder why, in those two instances, the publishers didn't coordinate the gifts closer to the actual occasions they celebrated?  Never mind, we'll let them off with it seeing as how it was so long ago, eh?  Anyway, Hallowe'en may be over, but we still have Guy Fawkes Night to come, so I'm going to give you the best of both worlds by presenting, for your perusal, both masks in the one post.

If you have any reminiscences about the times they represent, feel free to record them in our comments section.  Oh, one more thing - "Penny for the Guy?"  (Nowadays, it would be "Fiver for the Guy?", which is probably why we don't see that particular practice being perpetuated in present times - nobody would pay it.)

Oh, before I forget, below is a Guy Fawkes mask from a 1997 issue of Buster.  If I recall correctly, Buster presented this mask on the centre pages every year for quite a few years, though it may have started life as a cardboard giveaway to begin with.  (Anyone know?)  It's perhaps ironic that though we presumably celebrate Fawkes' failure to blow up the Houses of Parliament every November 5th, there's probably a sizeable proportion of the population nowadays that wishes he'd succeeded.  (Hands up if you're one of them.)

Monday, 31 October 2022

TV21 #242 - THE FINAL ISSUE...


What a boring cover.  Copyright relevant owner

I recently purchased the last issue of the first series of a comic which had started its publishing life as TV Century 21 and ended its second series as just TV21.  Not that I needed it, as, truth to tell, I have every ish of the celebrated periodical on data disc (for easy access to images for the blog, rather than having to dig out individual issues), but I also own numerous original numbers of its various formats, including the first full year's worth, when it was still a title to be reckoned with.  However, with the passing of time, how the mighty fell - and then some!

The last issue (242) is pretty dire, to say nothing of dull, as it no longer contained as many colour strip pages as in its heyday.  (Only Thunderbirds is in colour [2 pages], other colour pages being used for features and ads.)  When artists of the calibre of Mike Noble, Ron Embleton, Eric Eden, and Richard Jennings were drawing full-colour strips for the comic in its early days, it was hard to beat and had real impact, but with their departure, it went into decline.  True, Frank Bellamy was still drawing Thunderbirds right up to the end, but though his art remained competent and professional, it was now uninspired and wasn't enough on its own to maintain the comic's popularity (in my humble opinion).

I've seen it stated that TV21 eventually 'lost' the rights to do strips based on Anderson shows (which suggests that permission was withdrawn from them), but that's probably just a shorthand way of saying that it relinquished the license as, with the waning interest in Gerry and Sylvia's TV shows, the publishers (now IPC instead of City Magazines) simply thought it no longer warranted the expense of paying for something that failed to attract readers in large enough numbers to make it worthwhile.  This would perhaps explain why the disappearance of GA strips in the comic was a gradual and not a sudden one.

Never has Captain Scarlet looked so dull - bring back Embleton or Noble

I said that the last issue was dire - and so it was, but it'd been like that for quite some time so wasn't unique to the final ish.  The second series, renumbered from number one, lasted for 105 issues, with the last of the Anderson strips (Joe 90 and Thunderbirds) ending in #36 and #38 respectively, whereupon the weekly became, for a while, more like a standard comic in the vein of Valiant or Lion.  Before it finally 'died' (merged into Valiant, ironically), the comic had started to reprint Marvel tales of Spider-Man and The Silver Surfer, along with some of their western and humour strips.  (At least Mike Noble had returned as one of the artists on the Star Trek strip, which survived the merger, though now drawn by John Stokes.)  

It had started with a bang, but finished with nary a whimper.  A sad end to a once-fine comic, but the 'real' TV21 had died long before its final issue went on sale.  Just look at the unimpressive headline font and underwhelming photo-illustration on the cover.  Pretty disappointing, eh?  Comments welcome.

Incidentally, despite what I said in the first paragraph, these pages are scanned from my newly acquired issue of the comic, not sourced from my data disc.  (Can't remember where it is for the moment.)

At least it's in colour, but it's hardly Bellamy's best work

"THREE WEE WITCHES ON THE GREEN..."



Just for fun, here are three frightfully fiendish iconic images suitable for Hallowe'en.  First up, an AURORA ad from any number of DC COMICS mags from the 1960s - followed by the box art (painted by JAMES BAMA) of ol' FRANKENSTEIN's and DRACULA's plastic model kits by the selfsame company.  (AURORA, that is - not DC.)

Don't you just wish you had these two little beauties in your collection?  (I have.)

Okay, so I lied about the witches - sue me.

Sunday, 30 October 2022

FAVOURITE COMICS OF THE PAST PART FIFTY-NINE - FANTASTIC FOUR #55...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Behold The Silver Surfer on the comic's cover above.  Assuming that I purchased my original copy of this issue of Fantastic Four in its proper numerical sequence (which I can't 100% swear to due to the erratic nature of distribution back in the '60s), I suspect that this was my very first exposure to the erstwhile sky-riding herald of Galactus, who I next encountered in FF #s 57-60.  Having said that, it's always possible I had the latter four issues (or some of them) before #55, due to some US comics turning up on UK shores months, sometimes even years, after they were first published.  However, in an attempt to keep things simple, we'll give events the benefit of the doubt and assume I acquired this issue within its proper time frame.

There were two nearby shops from where I could've purchased this issue.  One was R.S. McColl's across the road from my house, and the other was Corson's*, a little further up the road in a different street, but I'm pretty sure it was from Corson's I acquired the title under consideration.  Bear in mind the significance of this ish; it was the first time the Surfer had made a return appearance since his debut in the 'Galactus Trilogy' (FF #48-50), so it's now regarded as a pretty hot comic among collectors, and the cost of obtaining one in a condition as good as the one featured here certainly reflects that.  Y'know, I've got several reprintings of this tale, but I simply had to own an original again to replace the one I had as a kid, which is why I recently reclaimed it into my possession.

(*Funnily enough, there was also a branch of Corson's next to the newsagent's across from my house, but that Corson's didn't have a spinner-rack of US comics for me to browse through, so I had to trek slightly further afield.)

Back then, I remember looking through the comic (after buying it) as I approached my house, and certain interior images now trigger memories of the street and surrounding environs as they were in my day.  Once again, the view of the horizon as it then was from the top of the road where stood my home meets my gaze, and long-departed (flitted, emigrated, or deceased) neighbours and friends yet live there, and go about their daily doings as they did so long ago when I was a mere boy.  Truly, comics can be a doorway into the past in such a tangible way that I'm glad I fell under their spell so many decades ago.  (I just wish it weren't quite so many decades.)

Anyway, that's more than enough self-indulgent guff from me, so enjoy the pretty piccies and remember your own personal recollections of this classic from yesteryear.  And if you feel like sharing them with your fellow Crivvies, then you know where the comments section is.






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