Monday, 28 February 2022

"THAT'S ABOUT THE SIZE OF THINGS..." (A FABULOUS FLASHBACK)


The Thing as he was meant to be

Not counting the cover or a head shot on the splash page, the above panels feature The THING's very first appearance in The FANTASTIC FOUR #1.  Look at the size of him!  When artist JACK KIRBY first drew him, the Thing was intended to be a huge, lumbering monster, not the small cuddly teddy bear he later became. It seems that Jack always had difficulty in maintaining the sizes of characters in relation to one another.

The Thing - reduced in stature in this early reprint

For example, in the FFBEN GRIMM as the Thing often appears far smaller than REED RICHARDS, but is sometimes shown as the towering figure he was first envisioned as.  Over time, Kirby came to identify with the character because of his own short stature, but I don't think that he deliberately intended to transform Ben into a comicbook representation of himself - it just happened.  Having happened however, I think Jack simply continued the practice once he noticed what he'd done.


It wasn't only in the FF that this problem occurred, it also happened in The HULK mag, where RICK JONES sometimes appeared to be far taller than Hulkie - even making allowances for ol' Greenskin's lurching, slumping posture.  Also, in the first issue of The AVENGERS, the last panel shows a clearly upright Hulk figure as being smaller than IRON MAN and THOR - and if you study Jack's work, you'll see many other examples of this kind of inconsistency.

Tall Thing

Stan also must've noticed the Thing's seemingly-shrinking stature over the course of monthly issues, as when the first half of the FF's origin was reprinted in their very first Annual in 1963, he had SOL BRODSKY (or LARRY LIEBER) revise some panels, particularly on the page in which the Thing first appeared.  This was obviously to bring Ben's height into line with then current issues of the monthly mag.  I have to be honest - I don't like the idea of a small Thing - I prefer him to be the towering figure he was initially drawn as.

Small Thing

Jack wasn't the only artist who sometimes made the Thing seem too small.  Take a look at the following panels by RON WILSON from the first issue of the Thing's own magazine in the early '80s - going by the height of the door frame, Ben appears to be only around 5' 4", which simply isn't tall enough for the him to be as imposing in the way he was originally intended to be.  He's a monster, not a midget!

Anyone care either way?  Let rip in the comments section.

Saturday, 26 February 2022

DC SPECIAL #1 - THE DARING AND THE DIFFERENT...


Copyright DC COMICS

Cop a gander at the above mag, not long arrived at Castel Crivens.  A few years ago I saw an ad for it in a 1968 DC comic I acquired, which makes it extremely possible I saw the ad back when it first appeared.  If I did, however, I'd forgotten by the time, many years later, I saw a b&w image of the cover somewhere and for some reason was left with the impression it was an in-house magazine similar to Marvel's F.O.O.M.  (Perhaps the art was reused for just such a publication - if anyone knows, please enlighten me.) 

As you can see, however, it's an actual newsstand comic devoted to Carmine Infantino and containing a number of diverse strips by the great man.  This comic can command a fairly high price on the collectors' market, but I lucked out and managed to acquire a great condition copy for under a tenner on ebay, so I'm a very happy chappie.  (Or a tenner dead, if you include p&p.)

No longer need I wonder about the contents of this DC Special, now I can see and read them for myself.  And you can catch a glimpse of the stories too, as I share some pages (and an ad) from this great mag I've finally managed to get my grubby mitts on.  Hooray!  (Don't worry - I washed my grubby mitts first.)

Did you have this Special back in the day, fellow Crivs?  If so (and even if not), share your thoughts on this collectors' item classic in the comments section.






PART FIFTY-EIGHT OF FAVOURITE COMICS OF THE PAST: SUPERMAN VERSUS SUPERSTAR...


Copyright DC COMICS

I first purchased my original copy of the above comic sometime back in 1973 (when I was yet a schoolboy), and though I've always remembered the interior story, I'd forgotten the cover and whether it was an issue of Superman or Action Comics, and also precisely which number it was.  Then I saw it on fellow blogger McScotty's 'That Was Then' blog and promptly bought a replacement via eBay.  (Incidentally, DC's July '72 cover-dated issues marked a return to standard comics size after their 25 cents 52-page line introduced the year before.)

Gregory Reed, an actor who plays Superman in movies and TV, was introduced in this issue and appeared again in several others.  I seem to recall seeing him in the follow-up to this tale in Action Comics #445, wherein Reed has now had plastic surgery and is a dead ringer for Superman.  (I wonder if anyone would notice his resemblance to Clark Kent should the actor ever don a pair of spectacles?)  I no longer remember if I saw any of Reed's subsequent appearances before his cameo in Superman #297, but that's the last time I recollect seeing him in a Superman mag.

So, another one returned to the fold, allowing me to step 49 years back into the past for a brief but welcome moment, and enjoy again the sublime art of Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.  If you're around the same age as myself, see if any of the following pages ring any bells in memory's belfry - and if so, feel free to share them with your fellow Crivvies.

(And as a bonus, I've included a couple of pages from the Metamorpho back-up tale.)






Tuesday, 22 February 2022

THE ETERNALS 1985/'86 COVER GALLERY... (A FABULOUS FLASHBACK)


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Believe it or not, images possess a great power - the power to return a person to the time and place they first saw them.  And so it was that I found myself transported 33-odd years into the past when I rediscovered this 12-issue series in a cardboard box back in 2018.  Once more I was in my room in the house I lived in at the time, and once again I was standing in the large cupboard that contained my black metal filing cabinet in which I kept most of my comics.  (I'd probably need around 20 filing cabinets now, and that's just a conservative estimate.)

So strongly do I associate these dozen mags with the house I was then living in that I almost feel out of place in my present surroundings, as if I've suddenly been transported into another dimension.  However, I'm sure you're not here to read my self-indulgent ramblings, you're here for the pretty piccies.  So here's 12 of them to either remind you of comics you had back in the mid-'80s, or to show you what you missed if you weren't around at the time.

The ETERNALS, of course, were created by JACK KIRBY in the mid-'70s and I have all 19 issues plus the Annual, but it was never really a major success for MARVEL.  However, such is the reverence that some fans and comic pros have for all things Kirby, it was decided to revive them in this limited series.  SAL BUSCEMA handled the internal art chores, echoing WALT SIMONSON's style on THOR, but I can't remember anything else about the run.  If I ever get around to re-reading the issues, maybe the memories will come flooding back, but if you're looking for a detailed review of the plot then you've come to the wrong blog, Charlie.

They've more than likely been reprinted in a collected edition by now, so if you're interested in finding out what the storyline was all about, you could try tracking down a copy on eBay.  In the meantime, feel entirely free to enjoy Crivens' cataclysmic cover gallery.  And if you did read these issues back in the day and have anything you wish to say about them, then you know where the comments section is - so don't be shy now. 











LIVING IN A BUBBLE...



It was when we were on holiday in Ayr (I think), around 1963, that I acquired my first Bubble Car.  I've recounted this story before, but there's a reason for me repeating myself, which will become clear in a moment.  We were in an amusement arcade, and one of those 'grappling-hook' machines had a deep red Bubble Car on view.  My father had a go or two at securing it for me, but was unsuccessful.  The manager of the place, hearing my expression of disappointment, invited me to follow him (with my family in tow) and made his way to the back of the arcade.  Pulling aside a curtain to a back storeroom, he opened a box and withdrew something, then presented me with my very own red Bubble Car.  I, of course, was ecstatic at my new acquisition.  To this day though, I can't recall if this was the start of my love affair with Bubble Cars, or it pre-existed before that particular presentation.  (I suspect the latter.)


Anyway, what's all that got to do with the price of cheese?  Simply this.  Around four years ago I acquired the above HEINKEL Bubble Car by OXFORD Diecast (1:18 scale), and though my 1963 version wasn't a Heinkel, it reminds me of the one I had in my infancy (which was a plastic, friction-drive, four-wheeled toy).  I could've got a right-hand drive version, but not in red (only 'Roman Blue'), so I plumped for the left-hand drive model.  Great, innit?  Takes me right back to Ayr in 1963.  Hey, that's some distance, so the 'miles-to-the-gallon' count is quite impressive.


Incidentally, the colour above is described as 'Spartan Red', but looks a bit orangey in these photos from eBay (probably the lighting or the flash).  The one below (also described as 'Spartan Red') better reflects what the actual colour looks like.  So, while I gaze in rapt fascination at my nice 'new' red Bubble Car, I muse in a mildly melancholy manner on the one I owned 59 years ago.  Maybe one day I'll be able to track down a replacement, but in the meantime this one is very welcome.

Monday, 21 February 2022

THOR GETS STONED (KIND OF)...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

I'll be totally honest - I bought this comic purely because of the cover 'tribute' to Journey Into Mystery #83, wherein ol' Goldilocks made his first appearance back in 1962.  I've no actual intention of reading it - or any of the rest of the five part series; haven't even bought them, got no plans to do so.  I just like the fact that it's based on the cover of Thor's debut ish and I know I'll enjoy looking at it and comparing it to its predecessor.

Take a look at that page below though.  Remember when you opened a comic and were met with a dynamic splash page that drew you in and made you want to continue reading?  The one in front of you is what constitutes a splash page these days, Crivvies, but I find it a sheer turn-off.  I reckon this sort of thing would make potential buyers put it back on the shelf without any further browsing - it certainly would me.  (Just as well I bought it on eBay and only for the cover then, eh?  Otherwise I'd send it back.)

So enjoy the latest, up-to-date interpretation of the Thunder god's first cover battle with The Stone Men From Saturn and remember when comics used to attract rather than repel.  Or am I overstating the case?  Well, why not take me down a peg or two in the comments section?!  Express yourselves!

Saturday, 19 February 2022

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSON...


Och, what can I say?  I just couldn't resist it!  Another Mego 8 inch action figure of the Frankenstein Monster, this time in his winter woollies outfit from Son Of Frankenstein.  A nice likeness of Boris Karloff for such a small figure, but I doubt there'll be a Bride Of Frankenstein one, as that would require some revision to the head (or a completely new one), as the Monster was burnt in the middle movie and had his face scarred and fringe singed.

While you're here (consumed by jealousy of my 8 incher - hee-hee), which of the three Frankenstein movies starring Boris was your favourite - and why?

Thursday, 17 February 2022

FANTASTIC FOUR 60TH ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE EDITION...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

It's an interesting idea.  Take FF #1 and Annual #3 and have a whole bunch of contemporary artists redraw these two classic tales in one issue.  Some pages are drawn by one artist, some by two, and others three, though both stories retain Stan Lee's original scripting.  One cover is a homage to the 1961 ish, the other (variant) cover is a tribute to the '65 Annual and uses the original lettering.  To be honest, I think I'd have preferred to see Jack Kirby's original pages given the modern colouring on display here, but I think they're nice little collectors' items and I'm glad to have them.  Contents are the same in both comics, only the covers differ.

Anyway, thought you Crivvies might like to see this modern take on these '60s classics, so enjoy!  











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