Saturday 30 December 2023

COMICS YOU SHOULD HAVE - BUY 'EM NOW!


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Don'tcha just love comicbooks?  No?  Then what are you doing here?  Oh, you do?  Okay, that's all right then.  First up, above, is the new Facsimile Edition of Giant-Size Super-Stars #1 Featuring The Fantastic Four.  This one has the 'Continued After Next Page' lines before the ads and is a really nice item for those unfortunate enough not to own the original '70s publication.  (Relax, don't you worry about me - I've got it.)


The Daredevil #183 Facsimile Edition, above, doesn't have the '...Next Page...' lines, which leads me to wonder if different people are in charge of overseeing different issues as there seems to be no consistent policy regarding the inclusion of such things.  A minor point perhaps, but to me, it separates the men from the boys when it comes to producing these full-colour favourites from the past.

Copyright DC COMICS

DC's Facsimile Edition of The Doom Patrol #99, above, is the best one I've seen from them so far.  Crisp, clean line reproduction and, unusually for a DC replica, even the ads are bright as a bell and not like the faded, murky scans from published issues seen in previous editions.  Maybe Marvel told them how it was done, but this one is perfect all the way through, not a mish-mash of the 'old' and the 'new'.  I just hope they can stick to this standard in future publications.  In case you were wondering, the Bar Code box is on the back cover, where it doesn't obscure anything.  Oh, and the interior paper is matt, not glossy.

Copyright REBELLION

I've shown you the cover to the Smash! issue, above, before, but not the next two in the series, below, and I thought it best to show all three issues at the one time now that I have them.  They should be available in most comics shops and maybe WHS, as well as direct from Rebellion themselves, so give yourselves a treat and see what The Spider, The Steel Claw, Janus Stark, Robot Archie, Adam Eterno, Kelly's Eye, Cursitor Doom, and Max from The 13th Floor are getting up to these days.  That's your lot for this time around, Crivs.


Friday 29 December 2023

PREZ - FIRST TEEN PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.A. COVER GALLERY... (Updated)

Copyright DC COMICS

Was it in 1973 or '74 I first bought Prez #1 in Blackpool?  Not 100% sure as my family holidayed in the famous seaside resort both years and they sort of run into one another in my mind.  I tend to think it was 1973, but '74 isn't impossible, as Blackpool newsagents were famous for having comics in their spinner-racks years after original publication - in brand-new condition and at then current prices too.  On at least one of those holidays I obtained several Kirby FFs and Buscema Silver Surfers, so buying Prez #1 in '74, the year after it was first published, is by no means impossible.  Not that it matters much, I suppose.  After all, what's a year between Crivs?

I have no memory at all of ever seeing any of the next three issues of Prez.  That could perhaps be because I just never saw them, or simply didn't pay attention to them if I did as I wasn't particularly impressed by the first issue.  I obtained a replacement for #1 a fair number of years ago now, but only because it reminded me of my youth and Blackpool, and a time when I subconsciously assumed my immortality was a given.

It seems like it was only in the last couple of years or so that I learned that Prez lasted for just four issues, so I recently tracked down the remaining three on eBay and promptly bought them, the last of which arrived today.  I'm waiting for a 2016 softcover collection to arrive, which contains not only the four 1970s issues, but also subsequent comics down through the years in which the character made an appearance, so pretty soon I'll be all 'Prezzed-out'.

It's taken me 50 years to catch up on that particular aspect of my past, but better late than never, I suppose.  To celebrate my 'achievement' I've decided to have a cover gallery of all four issues, plus the 'on-its-way-to-me' collected edition.  If you have any memories of (or observations on) Prez you'd care to share, the comments section awaits in eager anticipation.

******

The Verdict: Having now read all four issues, I can say that I didn't really miss anything 50 years ago by not buying 2-4 at the time.  A comic based solely on politics would probably never have been of much interest to teenagers in the '70s, so there's a weird and wacky element to the stories to sweeten the pie for them, but it doesn't really work.  Joe Simon is clearly interested in the environment, the treatment of Native Americans, and gun control, but a comic where the characters appear to know they're in a comic just doesn't work for me.

For example, in #2, when Prez refers to something he said in #1, a character called Chessking replies "Yeah - - I remember reading it in the first issue"  and thus destroys any internal reality at a stroke.  And Eagle Free, who's supposed to be an Indian, doesn't look, to my colour-blind eyes, to be of the correct skin tone.  He's also just a bit too ready to sacrifice the animals with which he is supposed to be in some kind of mental communion, by twice letting some of his birds die gruesome deaths to help save the day.

Jerry Grandenetti's artwork is far too cartoonish, with misshapen characters and distorted perspectives, which may lend itself to the general air of unreality of the stories, but overall, that may not be a good thing.  Whatever it was that Simon & Grandenetti were aiming for with this series, sadly, they missed the target, though I suppose it was an interesting experiment.

******

I've now received my collected edition (shown at foot of post) and have read the intended 5th issue (which was published in b&w in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade #2), as well as the short tale from Supergirl #10, Sandman #54, Vertigo Visions Prez #1, and an extract from The Dark Knight Strikes Again.  The Vertigo ish had far too much swearing for my tastes (motherf*cker - in a comic?) and wasn't really up to much, but the Sandman tale was intriguing and enjoyable.  Worth having for nostalgic completists who want to remember and reclaim an aspect of their youth.




And below, currently winging its way to me as I type...  (Now here.)

Wednesday 27 December 2023

The 'GHOST' Of CHRISTMAS PAST...



Let's say it was 1970 - though it could have been 1969 or 1971.  It's hard to be precise after so long a time.  I bought a SANTA CLAUS figure containing sweets, scoffed them, and then used the figure as the Christmas ornament it was always intended to be.  I bought it from a shop called CORSON's, which still existed up until February of 2018, whereupon the owner (who I remember working in the shop as a teenager when it belonged to his parents) retired and sold the premises, though it still operates as a convenience store under a new name and owner.

But that's by-the-by.  If I remember correctly, the plastic bottom half of the Santa got heat warped (maybe I sat it too near the fire - can't quite recall anymore), and it was reluctantly dispensed with after a while.  When I was down in Southsea in December of 1978, I saw two of them in a shop window*, but they were there only to provide festive decoration and weren't for sale, being the personal property of the shopkeeper.  I tried to talk him into selling me one, but he was resistant to my offers of mucho money.

(*Thinking back now, I'm amazed at there being only a 7-9 year gap between owning my own Santa and seeing another two of them, as it seemed as if aeons had passed in between.  Then I remember it was almost half my life away at the time, which probably explains it.)  

I saw another one on eBay just a handful of years ago and considered bidding on it, but I got distracted and it was sold before I could make an offer.  However, I 'borrowed' the seller's photos and I'm sure he won't mind me using a couple of them here.  I'll keep an eye out for another and make a bid should one come up, as I continue in my quest to re-acquire things I once had and would like to have again.  (It's good to see my old Santa though, even if only in a photograph.)  

Did you ever have this particular Santa, readers, and do you have any seasonal reminiscences about it that you'd care to share with the rest of us?  If so, the comments section awaits your visit.

RANDOM COVER GALLERY OF VARIOUS DC AND MARVEL BOOKS ON MY SHELF...

Copyright DC COMICS and MARVEL COMICS respectively

While racking my brains for a post to do, I noticed some 'books' on the shelf by my side and decided to scan the covers and publish them - just for you.  True, some or all of them may have been shown individually on the blog before, but I reckon they can stand another outing in service of giving you Crivs something nice to look at, so here they are.  Have you got any of them, or have you ever had any and would like to reminisce about what you thought made them so great - or not so great if such be the case?  Then the floor is all yours!










Sunday 24 December 2023

And Now, A Yuletide Message From Our Sponsor...



A quick post to wish all Crivvies A Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year.  The tree in the photo is actually older then me so that makes it very old indeed.  This photo was taken around two or three Christmases ago, but pretty much captures the ambiance of my living-room every year.  Have a good 'un, troops.  Hopefully see you all in 2024, if not before that.

Saturday 23 December 2023

WHO ARE YOU GONNA SPEND CHRISTMAS WITH?



Seeing as it's very nearly Christmas I thought you might
all appreciate a 'festive' offering, so here's The Go Go's with
their song from the '60s.  Absolutely bonkers - but fun!

Thursday 21 December 2023

BABE Of The DAY - LYNDA CARTER...



 Here's a cheery-looking Lynda Carter to bring
a big smile to your face, Crivs.  She's a real womanly
wonder, and no mistake!  (Why doesn't she ring?)

Wednesday 20 December 2023

A TRIO OF MARVEL MASTERPIECES TO AMAZE AND MESMERIZE YOU...

Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Currently wondering what to spend your hard-earned dosh on?  Then look no further, as here's a trio of comics I recently received through the mail, which you might also like to add to your collection.  Regarding the two Facsimile Editions, the reproduction quality is superb (even the ads), but it mystifies me as to why Marvel omit the 'Continued After Next Page' line from some facsimiles, but not from others.  Both of these issues are without, which rather compromises the nostalgic and historical aspect of them to some small degree.  What think the rest of you Crivvies?


Monday 18 December 2023

YOU CAN BANK ON YOGI HAVING A DOUBLE...



Once, in Glasgow City Centre, there used to be a huge department store called Lewis's.  It was a beezer of a store and I still own several items bought there over the years until it ceased to be, sometime, I believe, in the 1990s - though some sources give much later (and inaccurate) dates than that.  Back in 1979 or '80, I purchased (and still have) a Yogi Bear bank (above) and, if memory serves, the copyright date on the poly bag's header card was 1977.  (The header card is stashed away somewhere, otherwise I'd double-check.)  Anyway, recently, on eBay, I spotted a porcelain ornament of Yogi, below, and snapped it up, as it was almost the double of the bank.  There's a 1976 date on the back of this Yogi, so it seems likely that the bank was modelled after the ornament as the similarity of pose is too close to be coincidental.  


However, things never go smoothly though, do they?  Its estimated arrival was the 4th of this month, but the Spanish postal service managed to bollox things up by somehow mistaking the sender's address for my own and delivered it back to him, resulting in eBay informing me that my parcel had been delivered - even though it wasn't to me.  This resulted in the poor seller having to post it a second time and, fortunately, it arrived today.  So being the generous person I am, I thought I'd let you cop a look at it, on its own and also with its Lewis's predecessor.  No time or trouble spared in preparing posts for you, faithful Crivvies, so I hope you'll honour me with a comment or twenty saying how much you appreciate it.  What, me an optimist?  Nah!  If you could have only one of these Yogis, which would it be - and why?  

Sunday 17 December 2023

SANTA CLAUS IS BACK IN TOWN...


Hail, the returning hero

                                                        And now a timely tale to tell
                                                        from childhood days of long ago,
                                                        with echoes deep, peal mem'ry's bell
                                                        to warm hearts with a joyous glow.

******

Raymond Bennie was his name - and still is, I presume.  He was one of my classmates in primary school, whose family emigrated to Australia around 1968 or '69.  Ironic then that our school's name was Canberra, and it struck me years later when I saw him in an old class photo that he 'looked' Australian.  That's to say, he looked just like what I assumed a typical Australian boy would look like as I've always felt that many Australians have a distinct physiognomy.  I wonder if either his father or mother might've been an Ozzie who decided to return to the place of his or her birth, hence Raymond's immigration way back then.  Not that any of that's important, but you're not being charged for any extraneous detail so no need to panic.

However, just before I get to the point, I also sometimes wonder whether Raymond ever returned to Scotland for a visit over the years, as surely he and his parents would've had friends and (assuming they were of UK origin) relatives with whom they'd want to keep in touch?  All I know is that last time I saw him was around 55 years ago when we were still primary school pupils, and 55 years is a long, long time.  To think that he may have returned on occasion yet I never ran into him is a bit sad, as he was part of my youth - and you all know how important my youth is to me.  As yours is to you also, I'm sure.

Raymond in September 1967

So what's the deal with Raymond to warrant a mention here?  Simple.  We weren't particular pals who hung about together, but one day he invited me back to his house after school.  I've no idea why; perhaps he was just at a loose end and wanting someone to talk to, or maybe he was simply trying to expand his circle of friends, but I accepted his invitation and accompanied him home at four o'clock.  All I remember of that visit is me expressing a liking for a small stuffed cloth Santa Claus lying on his room floor.  "Take it" he said, generously, so I did, and Santa returned home with me for the rest of his existence.  I assumed him to be a cat's play-toy, a notion reinforced a few short years later when I saw his double in a garden across the back lane from a friend of my mother's we were visiting that day.  I was sorely tempted to nick him, but resisted.

Poor Santa took a bit of a drubbing over the coming weeks and months (maybe even a year or two), due to the fact that my brother and me played 'dodgeball' with him.  My sibling's bed ran along one side of our shared room and my bed ran along the opposite side, so we'd hurl Santa at one another while we each tried to evade being hit by him - not that it was painful when Santa found his target as as had no weight to him.  Eventually, Santa was in a sorry state due to the rough-handling he'd received and his seams started to come apart, so I carefully undid the stitching holding him together and separated the cloth segments into their individual pieces, intending to sew him back up more securely to better withstand his 'dodgeball' adventures.

Alas, it just wasn't to be as, due mainly to the dawning enormity of my ambitions, I repeatedly procrastinated from remedial administrations until, eventually, at least one of the six cloth pieces was mislaid and never seen again.  I kept what remained for a few years, but eventually disposed of them after flitting to a new house and deciding to rid myself of childish things in an attempt to be more 'mature'.  (That never quite happened, eh?)

Seller's photo of cloth Santa

Still, I never quite forgot Santa, and while keeping an eye out for a doppelganger replacement over the years (and decades), I bought other Santas as 'stand-ins' until such time as I could locate one.  Not that any of them were ever used for dodgeball (I had my own room by then), but I'd dig them out at Christmas to brighten up the living-room in a festive fashion.  Recently, however, I saw on eBay what looked to be the same Santa I had as a kid, though with one significant difference.  My Santa had been manufactured 'ready-to-go' as a complete item, whereas the eBay one had clearly been a 'do-it-yourself' kit version that hadn't been sewn together too well.  As you can see from the seller's photo, the edges were all frayed, and it needed a bit of a clean.

No problem for the big man.  (Yes, that's me - why are you laughing?)  I carefully removed the stitching, applied a thin coating of PVC glue to the frayed ends, and then stitched Santa back together again, all the while being fully aware that I was finally completing the task I'd set for myself over 50 years earlier, but had left undone.  It felt almost like I'd simply dug out the pieces of my original Santa given to me by Raymond and picked up where I'd left off all those years before, making my feelings of accomplishment even greater than I'm probably entitled to.

He still needs a bit of a clean, but it's good to see yet another once-familiar face from my childhood back in the fold, along with all the other replacement items I've managed to secure over the years.  Honest, hard as it may be for you to believe (or appreciate), it's almost feels like they've never been away.  And, take it from me, that's a good feeling.  So here's to Raymond for being the source of happy memories of days gone by.  Hope he's doing okay for himself over in the land of Oz, though I'd be surprised if he even remembers me - or Santa.

Another snap of Santa after a little work by yours truly

Okay, this post has been a little 'off-the-wall', but feel free to comment if you so desire, even if it's only to tell me I'm bonkers.  And if any of you have ever managed to replace a cherished item you once had after so long a time, tell us all about that as well.

Saturday 9 December 2023

INSCRIPTIONS ON THE HEART (2)...


I've never been too keen on 'pre-owned' books or items with inscriptions in or on them, but I'm a bit more relaxed about it now, often finding myself wondering what the story is behind them.  For example, the box of one of my six Wade Yogi Bear porcelain figures (only four of which retain their boxes) has the following inscription inside the top lid:


Truth to tell, it was the inscription which decided me to purchase the figure as, already owning five of these Yogis, I didn't really need, nor was I actually looking for another one.  However, the inscription prompted me to ponder on the story behind Rose and John, and the circumstances under which the boxed figure became available for sale.  Had it been a gift to a child (brother to sister perhaps) or an adult to his wife, and if so, had she kept and treasured it until death, long after her husband had expired?

It was my first purchased Wade Yogi (bought around 1970 or '71, which I yet have) that, decades later, prompted the following story about George and Elsie, and I've been wondering whether I should change the names to John and Rose to tie the box in with my tale.  Do me a favour, will you, Crivs?  Take a read of it, then let me know which names you prefer.

******

A Tale Of George And The Dragon - And The Bear...

Elsie held the little porcelain figure in her hand and regarded it thoughtfully.  She'd always hated it - ever since George had first brought it home on her birthday and laid it proudly before her, like a cat presenting an expired mouse to its horrified owner.

"It's horrible" she'd growled, contemptuously.  "Whatever made you buy that?" she spat, without even the slightest attempt to season the cold nakedness of her words with a hint of gratitude for the thought behind the gift.  Elsie was the kind of person who called a spade a spade and was proud of it.

George looked pained... crestfallen... devastated.  Like a small child receiving an unnecessarily sharp rebuke for a relatively minor offence.  "I... I thought you would like it" he stammered, trying to conceal his hurt.  "Look - it's a little bear - with a hat - and a collar and tie.  I thought it was cute" he ended, lamely.

"I'm not having it in the house.  I don't want the ladies from the guild thinking I've no class, cluttering up the house with cartoon ornaments.  It's junk - get rid of it!" she ordered.  And that was that.

Or at least, it would have been... had George not been made of sterner stuff than his wife gave him credit for.  He just couldn't - wouldn't - discard the porcelain testament of the love he held for the unappreciative Elsie.  Over the ensuing months, he would tuck it away, half-hidden, behind a picture-frame or a vase until, inevitably, she would discover it and the game of 'hide-and-seek' would begin anew.  Many a time she wondered why she simply didn't throw it away or 'accidentally' drop it, but there was something about its irritating 'please love me' expression that mysteriously prevented her from doing so.  That was impossible, but she hated it - hated it with a passion.  "Blast the man!" she would say.

And so it went.  Until the fateful day she received a call from George's office.  The voice on the 'phone sounded like that of a concerned parent speaking to a little child. Was she sitting down?  They were terribly sorry.  There had been an... 'incident'.  It was so sudden.  He wouldn't have felt a thing.  If ever there was anything they could do, it said.  She put down the 'phone, slunk into the chair beside it - and let the tears explode from her soul.  She cried for two hours, then put on her best coat and went down to the hospital mortuary.  When she returned, she was clutching a bag containing her late husband's personal effects.  Along with his watch, wallet and wedding ring was a little porcelain bear which was found in his pocket when he died. For a moment she wondered why, but other concerns drove the thought from her mind.  She made herself a cup of tea, watched 'Coronation Street', then went to bed.  Elsie never cried again.

A few months later, the sum total of poor George's life lay in an assortment of boxes and carrier bags in a corner of the hall.  In one of the boxes, lying on top of George's best lambswool sweater, was the object of Elsie's loathing - smiling inanely at the ceiling as if it expected the ceiling to smile back.  "Hark at me" she thought. "It's almost as if I thought the blasted thing was alive."  She laughed at her foolishness and consoled herself with the knowledge that, from tomorrow, it would be gone forever.  Sam from next door had offered to drive George's things down to the charity shop in the town.  Then it would be time to forget the past and move on.  A new optimism had recently begun to permeate her soul and she looked forward to the future with enthusiasm.  Life with George seemed almost like a dream.

"This all there is?" Sam asked when she opened the door to his knock the next morning.  He took the carrier bags first, then carried out the boxes one by one, puffing and grunting as he did so.

"Last one" he said.  As he stooped to pick it up, Elsie's eye fell upon a small porcelain object and a strange sensation suddenly welled up within her.  Feelings of grief, loss, pain, remorse, pity - a Kaleidoscope of emotions that threatened to engulf her.  "Wait a minute" she heard herself saying as she plucked the figure from atop the sweater.  "That's it, Sam.  Thanks very much for all your help" she said, in a slightly bewildered tone.

Elsie held the little porcelain figure in her hand and regarded it thoughtfully.  She had always hated it - but - now she was astonished to find that she couldn't stand the idea of being parted from it.  She couldn't explain why, but that's how she felt.  Sometimes people are surprised to find that they are not as hard, or as heartless, or as unfeeling as they imagine themselves to be.

And so it was with Elsie.  She looked at the little porcelain bear and thought of George - and remembered how much she'd loved him - and realized just how much she missed him.  Tenderly, she caressed the small figure, kissed the top of its head, and then placed it on the top shelf of her very best display cabinet where visitors would be sure to see it.  Then she smiled to herself, made a cup of tea, and sat and thought of all her wonderful years with George.  "Bless the man!" she sighed.  From its prize position in the display cabinet, the little bear sat and smiled at Elsie.

And - wherever he happened to be - no doubt George was smiling too.

Friday 8 December 2023

BABE Of The DAY - LYNDA CARTER...



 Nah, I'm not going to bother with words,
apart from these two - Lynda Carter!

Monday 4 December 2023

BRIGIT FORSYTH PASSES AWAY...


Saddened to learn that actress Brigit Forsyth, who, among many other acclaimed roles, played Thelma Chambers/Ferris in classic BBC TV comedy show 'Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads' back in the early '70s, has died at the age of 83.  Sincere condolences to her family, friends, and fans.  For a Scots lass, she did a mean Geordie accent.

Sunday 3 December 2023

SHOWCASE - A Final Fling - 45 Years Down The Line...


Copyright DC COMICS

Did you know that New Gods was originally earmarked for Showcase #94, until it was decided Jack Kirby's new mag stood a better chance in its own title?  Showcase was therefore quietly 'shelved' with #93 in 1970, but resurfaced seven years later, in November '77 (dated for March '78) with the long-delayed 94th issue, featuring The New Doom Patrol in a three-part adventure which concluded in #96.  Interestingly, issue 94 states that #93 appeared in 1973, but I assume this is a typo as the information is erroneous. 

Next up was Power Girl, likewise in a three-part story (97-99), with the hundredth issue featuring just about every character who had ever appeared in the mag in its long history.  101-103 starred Hawkman, and #104 showcased (pun intended) OSS Spies At War.  Other stories had been prepared, but due to what became known as 'The DC Implosion'*, 104 was the last issue.  What would've been the next two issues appeared in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade, with a third strip being published in an issue of Adventure Comics.

(*Ironically, this very issue carried a 'Publishorial' by Jenette Kahn, promoting plans for upcoming new comics under the description of 'The DC Explosion'.  'Twas not to be.)

And now for the personal bit, of which all you Crivvies are so fond of (cough).  Most of the comics you see here are replacements, with only #100 being the original one I bought at the time.  I must've given away whatever remaining ones I had to a pal in the late '70s or early '80s, though I obtained replacements for 94 and 96 quite a good few years ago now, with 95 following later.  I've just recently acquired 97-99, and 101-104 via eBay, which is how I can show you the last eleven issues of the title that debuted the Silver Age Flash, Challengers Of The Unknown, and several other popular DC heroes.

However, looking at these comics now, I know I never had 104, nor am I sure about 101-103 as nothing about them rings a bell with me.  I know I definitely had 94-97, and I'm fairly certain I had 98-99, as the ad box at the end of the Power Girl story for 100 seems familiar.  Just think though, a journey begun back in 1978 has finally ended after 45 years - a journey I didn't even know I was on.  Still got there in the end, though, eh?  Do you remember any of these issues, Crivs?  Comments welcome in the you-know-where.












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