Wednesday 31 May 2023

SUPERMAN GETS BELTED...


Copyright DC COMICS

I hadn't intended on purchasing any more articulated action figures, but then I saw the above Hasbro 9 inch Superman figure on eBay and spotted something that might come in useful, so I bought it.  Y'see, the figure's belt wasn't Supes' belt, but Batman's utility belt, and I thought I might be able to adapt it for use with my Louis Marx Twistable Batman toy.  How did Superman come to be wearing Batman's belt though?  A mix-up at the factory, or did a previous owner have both figures and somehow transposed them at some point?  Who knows, who cares, but the belt might come in handy, so I took the plunge.

The figure (from 1999) was 'used' and came without box or display stand, but as it cost only a few quid it was worth it.  I checked eBay for boxed versions to see what the correct belt looked like and it was perhaps a bit too thin anyway, so I simply made one out of yellow felt that appeared more accurate to my eyes.  Sure, it doesn't have the red loops like the one seen in the comics, but neither did the original one, and very few Superman figures of around this size have them anyway.  I haven't done anything with the utility belt yet as it needs adapting (if I decide to use it) to the Marx toy, but there's no hurry.

So one more Superman figure joins the ranks, and though he perhaps looks a little odd, I'm happy enough to have him.  Yes, collecting toys is arguably a strange pastime for a grown-up (there may be debate about that categorisation in my case), but if a few more grown-ups shared similar interests, then maybe there'd be a few less wars in the world.  (I rest my case, m'lud.)  

Friday 26 May 2023

BABE Of The DAY - ZOE McCONNELL...



The beauteous Zoe McConnell gazes lovingly at me, as she can't quite
believe what an awesome hunk of man I am.  Don't believe me?  Then read
her very words... "I've never seen a man like you before in my life!"  What
do you mean, that's not necessarily a compliment?  Of course it is.

Thursday 25 May 2023

3 - 2 - 1... SUPERCAR ANNUALS...


Copyright relevant owner

Yes, 3 - 2 - 1, because I'm showing them in reverse order as, if I lead with the first one, having already shown it on the blog a while back, you Crivvies may skip tuning in, thinking it's a repost.  I bought the first Annual a couple of years ago and acquired the next two only recently, so now's the time to show all three together at the same time.

Above is the third Annual for 1964 (on sale towards the end of '63), below is the second for '63 (on sale in '62), and below that is the one for '62 (yes, you guessed it - on sale in '61).  As far as I recall, I never knew about these Annuals at the time, nor do I remember any of my pals ever having any of them, so it's good to return 60-odd years into the past and transplant them into my present (and future).

Some people regard the first of the trio as more of a storybook than an Annual, but it does contain picture strips, which outnumber the text stories by three to two.  The picture stories (or comic strips if you prefer) have small text pieces beneath the panels, but they also contain speech balloons, making the book, in my opinion, a true Annual.  It has only 48 pages including the covers, so I suspect it may've been a rush job as the show had only debuted on TV at the beginning of the year, but the next two books made up for that, being quite lavish productions (by the standards of the time).

Collins was responsible for all three books, and the last two are in the same style as the four Fireball XL5 books by the same publisher.  I'd say it's pretty obvious that the rocket ship, Super-R, is heavily based on Fireball, and it makes me wonder if it could've been one of several possible early designs for XL5 (or Century 21 as it was originally going to be called) before being rejected.  The Annual, as I said, went on sale around August or September '62, and Fireball didn't appear on TV until October of the same year.  As Sylvia Anderson was one of the book's two writers, she'd have been privy to such things.

Brian Lewis was responsible for the cover and interior art in the first Annual, and Eric Eden illustrated the endpapers in the second.  I'm not sure whether or not he also did its cover (any Crivs know?), but he definitely did the cover for the third one as it's got his name on it.  If any of you had (or have) any (or all) of these books, feel free to leave a comment about them.  In fact, even if you didn't (or don't) own them, you can still leave a comment anyway.



Tuesday 23 May 2023

GUEST POST by CHRISTOPHER NEVELL: The RETURN Of ULYSSES - Or 'Away And Back Again'...


In May 1976, at the age of 10, my younger brother James and I climbed into the family car with our dearest belongings and said farewell to our childhood home.  As we drove across town to our new house we had a sense of excitement, but our parents were subdued.  Over the 12 years prior to that day, my parents' dream home on the seafront in Sussex had transformed into an unsustainable financial burden.  They had to sell and so we crossed to the other side of town.

Looking back now, the new house we moved to was nowhere near as good as the old one, but at that age I judged it by how close my friends were and, of course, the quality of the local newsagents.  By both counts, it was positive.  I also now had my own room and soon set about unpacking my comics.  My father had bundled them up with string, and so my fledging collection of Beanos, TV Comics, Marvel UKs and more, quickly found space within reaching distance of my bed.  With a new radio next to me, this was my set-up for years ahead, and soon I was adding early issues of 2000 A.D. and Doctor Who to the weekly shop.

For me, these comics were not just reading material, they were more like souvenirs of past days.  If I picked up Avengers #1 then I was back in the Post Office around lunchtime on Friday 22nd September 1973.  The Look-In issue with the Bowie cover was a memorable walk to the shops a few months earlier.  Titans #1 in late October 1975 was the comic I was gifted on a beach walk to tell me I was going into hospital for an operation the following day.  The retained Pippin and Playlands reminded me of very early years when the Saturday morning paperboy's clatter of the letterbox sent us racing down the stairs.  James was the Pippin reader as he liked the glossy paper, I had the Playland with its matt finish as it had more of a grown-up newspaper feel.

My parents said the relocation was only a temporary situation, but after three years, the regularly-mentioned move back to the seafront 'next year' never came about.  The downgrade had stuck and my parents' own ambitions being thwarted took on a more personal meaning.  Nothing seemed quite so good now.  I'd gone to a different secondary school from my friends and the comics themselves seemed a poor pastiche of past glories, especially my favourite Marvel line.

The new home stayed in the family for decades, far longer than the first one, and in between university and jobs, I began to yearn for the old place.  We never really let go of it in our family dinner conversations and it stood there as testament to the family's own high tidemark of achievement.  Going to that part of town always saw a tweak in the journey - just to see how number 7 was.

In time I moved out, met and married Tracey, and then later we had our own family, though still living in the same town.  We created new memories and not only did my family grow, but so did my collection, up into the stratosphere.  The Pippin and Playlands were now relegated behind collectable original UK art and Silver Age Marvels, but that first house was still the 'golden age'.

Inevitably, my two children picked up on my indirect drives around town, and it became a bit of an in-joke between the four of us.

Sadly, just prior to the Covid lockdown, James passed away at short notice.  Due to a health condition his life was always going to be shorter than any of us wanted, but we never reckoned on 51.  I spent the last days sleeping over at the hospice.  It was a close time together, but he never complained and then he departed to join my already long-gone parents.  The one thing that struck me though, was he said his happiest days had been at number 7, which saddened me even further as surely he'd found more to enjoy in life after his first 8 years.  I couldn't disagree though, as I'd always known it.

Having no wife or children, James was very generous in what he left to me.  He wanted me to go and live back near the seafront and I inherited enough for Tracey and I to ponder that move.  Then one day my daughter came rushing downstairs, waving her IPad and shouting "Dad, isn't this the house you used to live in?"  Those little diverted drives had made their impression.  She was right, it was the very same house.

A viewing was arranged and, though brief, it confirmed what I'd always known - number 7's DNA was utterly etched in my mind.  I navigated the rooms at ease, even looking for and finding the chip on the banister I'd made and been scolded for, back in 1974.  I made a point of opening and standing in the larder, next to where the potato and onion stacker had been.  I leant on the small bedroom inner windowsill the way I used to.  I stood in the old nursery and breathed in the air.  The room sizes felt right, despite the fact that I'd grown.  However, it was a shock not to find the back garden as we'd left it.  I'd anticipated the trees would be more mature, but they were gone.  Everything was different - even alien.  It just wasn't the back garden I remembered.  Then I spotted the familiar immovable stone bench right at the end, an anchor all this time.  The change around it now seemed more plausible and palatable.  I sat down on it for the first time in decades.

I stepped back out through the front door and then down the driveway to the pavement.  I whispered a goodbye for the moment, not yet knowing whether it would be forever or not.

However, a deal was done and four months later, on my birthday, we picked up the keys.  As I turned the key in the lock I momentarily pretended it was only the day after we'd left.  It had taken time, but my old family (no longer here) had returned.  I took something personal into the house for each of them as if they were with me.  My father's tin box with his name printed on it, my mother's Red Rum book, and my brother's box of early toys.  Each of these consciously and carefully carried over the threshold.

The four of us had decided that we wouldn't be living in a museum.  The house needed updating and expanding to properly and comfortably accommodate the four of us.  I took the view that, had my old family never moved out, alterations and additions would have occurred anyway over the years, so it would never have been preserved 'in amber'.  However, updating requires money, so I'll have to consider selling some of my comics collection to help raise the necessary funds.  

Letting go of comics does not come easily.  For every Donald And Mickey that was never going to make the full trip, there's a Mighty World Of Marvel that was meant to.  Also, which is more important - the last issue of a set or the first merger issue the following week?  Are graphic novels or single issues the ones to keep?  I type this and stare at the wall.  Yes, I've made the return home, but sadly, to meet the cost of improvements, not everything that's come home with me will be staying.

However, some will pick themselves to stay.  They're the memory ones.  Spider-Man Comics Weekly #55, bought in town where Boots is now.  That first TV Comic bought at Teleski's near my Gran's.  Dracula Lives #1 from Watson's, which I took to school at lunchtime, and so on.  And it's with those souvenirs that the house comes alive again, with my old family now mixing in with the new.  Moments that perhaps should be remembered with new souvenirs.

Interestingly, I'd considered what would've happened if the house on either side had been available instead.  If I’d moved into either Number 5 or 9, with new folk going in and out of Number 7, that would likely have created an imbalance within me, akin to one of those Star Trek episodes when everyone is carrying on normally, but there’s one who senses that something is 'off' - and it is.

Given everything I've said, you could be forgiven for thinking that I regard this absolutely as my forever home and that I’ll be carried out in a coffin.  The thing is, my legs have felt tired since childhood and I can foresee a day when the stairs might be just too much of a struggle for me.  

So I plan to be here for 20 years, but then move into a bungalow.  It would be tragic to move back and die at the foot of the stairs.  Imagine that - as a kid running over the spot where you later die, then getting yourself away from there, and then putting yourself right back there for it to happen.  So, getting back to the point, I intend to leave on my own terms when I know my time here is properly done.  There is one alternative of course - a stairlift.  I'll make the final decision when that moment comes.

Sometimes, as I sit on the old stone bench in the garden and listen to my wife and children chatting nearby, I also seem to hear the voices of my parents and brother, whose presence yet permeates the place of my boyhood.  The past and the present combined, to accompany me into the future.  In returning here, I feel that I've finally fulfilled my parents' wish, which fills me with a sense of achievement on their behalf, as well as my own and my brother's.

"Made it, ma (and pa) - top of the world!"  

Sunday 21 May 2023

BABE Of The DAY - FAY RUTTER...



Fay Rutter is a cute wee blonde burd on the
Dickinson's Real Deal TV show.  Fay is definitely
the 'real deal' in the glamour stakes, and no mistake.
Trust me, Crivs - I'm an expert on the subject!

Friday 19 May 2023

The AVENGERS #1 Facsimile Edition...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

I'm fortunate enough to own an original issue of The Avengers #1, but I'm a sucker for the Facsimile Editions which Marvel periodically publish, so I promptly purchased one when it became available.  That's it above, and also below, alongside the actual first ish from 1963.  One critical observation: On the cover of the facsimile, the names of Ant-Man and Hulk are slightly squint, as they've been in most reprints of this cover in recent years.  I'd have thought someone would've noticed the flaw by now and fixed it, but obviously not.  On the plus side, the interiors do have the 'Continued After Next Page' lines, which aren't included in all facsimiles, not sure why.  Carelessness?  Who knows, but I wish they were more consistent.  Anyway, still worth having so grab one while you can, as some of the earlier facsimiles now have hefty asking prices on eBay.    

The INVADERS - The COMPLETE COLLECTION Vol. 1...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Well, I told you I'd bought it, and it arrived today: The Invaders - The Complete Collection Vol. 1.  This is a thick book (for a thick reader someone said - I heard you, ya buggah) and well-worth the paltry price I paid for it - a total bargain, and brand-new and unread so what's not to like?!  Looking through the contents I note that it includes far more issues of this '70s title than I had back in the day, so I'm undecided as to whether I'll bother purchasing Vol. 2 or not.  However, don't let that stop you buying Vol. 1 if you're an Invaders fan, 'cos it's a slice of the past that'll look good on your bookshelf.  Available via eBay even as I type these imperishable words, so what's holding you back?

Tuesday 16 May 2023

BABE OF THE DAY - POWER GIRL...


Copyright DC COMICS

Power Girl looks exactly like my last girlfriend.  I had
to break up with her because she was too clingy and always
wanted me to make mad passionate love to her at a moment's
notice.  After all, there's only so much a poor guy can take -
especially in the frozen food aisle of Sainsbury's.

Monday 15 May 2023

PREPARE TO BE INVADED...


Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Sometimes you see something that you just have to have - and so it was with The Invaders #8 when I saw it on eBay recently.  I owned the comic back in 1976 when it first came out (or was it 1977 before it turned up on our shores?) and seeing it again brought back welcome memories of that far-away and long-ago period in my young life.  Haven't re-read it yet, but I'll get around to it before too long.

Regarding the cover, it has the usual impact of a Jack Kirby piece, but the decline in the King's talents had well-and-truly set in.  Far too many squiggles that bear no resemblance to reality in place of accurate musculature or anatomy, making the cover look busy, but with what I call pseudo-detail as opposed to the real deal.  Anyway, I've got an early slice of my past life back and I'm a very happy chappie.

Interior artist Frank Robbins' style was always controversial, then and now, but he was a good visual storyteller and made the comic stand out among other mags of the time.  Personally, I quite like it and it really suited Batman when Robbins worked for the Distinguished Competition.

Did you have this issue back in the day, Crivvies, and if so, what did you think of it and The Invaders in general?  Do tell in the you-know-where.  Incidentally, I've just purchased the first volume of The Complete Collection, so I'll give you a look at that when it arrives.


Saturday 13 May 2023

TV COMIC ANNUAL COVER GALLERY... (Updated)


1954.  Characters copyright relevant and respective owners

TV Comic was published for an impressive 33 years, from 1951 to 1984, but it wasn't always the same sort of periodical during its lengthy lifespan.  For its first 10 years it looked more like a nursery comic with strips for infants, before eventually evolving into a publication aimed at a wider age-group of children.  The comic was started by News Of The World ('51-'57), then sold to Beaverbrook Newspapers ('57-'60), who sold it to TV Publications, which became Polystyle Publications in 1968 ('60-'84) .

The first Annual was issued in 1953 for '54, and the last in 1984 for '85, though none were published for the years '81-'83 - 29 Annuals in all.  I have a mere 11 (update: now 12), so not a complete set, but I thought you might appreciate a cover gallery of the ones I currently own as the contents are a nice glimpse of a bygone age.  I probably won't bother buying any more of the '50s series (though never say never) as it's really the Annuals from the early '60s onwards that are the most interesting.

Anyway, enjoy the covers, and feel welcome to comment. 

1957 

1963

1964

1965

1967

1968

1972

1977

1978

1984.  This edition was a 'softcover', the first ever in the series, I believe

1985

Tuesday 9 May 2023

BABE OF THE DAY - FAY RUTTER...



Here's Dickinson's Real Deal cutie Fay Rutter
making her debut on Crivens.  As an antiques dealer she's
into old things, so if she were single, do you think she'd be
interested in me, seeing as how I'm so ancient?

Monday 8 May 2023

BABE OF THE DAY - ZOE McCONNELL (AGAIN)...



Here's lovely Zoe McConnell, former Page 3 girl, who
reminds me slightly of Fay Rutter from TV show Dickinson's
Real Deal, though as far as I'm aware, Fay's never got her kit off
for the lads.  I believe David Dickinson once stripped off for the
lasses, but fortunately we won't be seeing that image on this blog.
(Whew!)  The good news is that Fay will be gracing Crivens
before too long so keep your peepers peeled.

Saturday 6 May 2023

SUPERMAN, DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, AND THE SHADOW - NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL A PARTY...


Characters Copyright DC COMICS and relevant and respective owners

I stand before you today and confess to a serious crime I committed back in the '80s.  I mutilated my original copy of the above issue by dissecting it and putting the cover and splash page up on my bedroom wall.  I have an impression of doing so in (what is again) my present abode before flitting to a new one in 1983, then adorning my new room with the pages' presence, but my memories are stronger of them in the latter than the former so I'm unsure as to exactly when I committed this heinous offence.  (I'm still guilty either way.)

Not that it matters from your point of view, but I always strive for accuracy - even if I don't always achieve it.  I still have the original pages, but I'm unsure whether or not they've ever been on the wall since I returned to this house in 1987.  So why did I use the comic for pin-up fodder do I hear you ask?  I wasn't too keen on Curt Swan's version of The Monster (though he was likely under editorial instruction not to replicate the Universal Studios/Jack Pierce look), so I decided it was surplus to requirements and decided to decorate my wall with a couple of pages.

Anyway, today (yes, Royal Mail was delivering, Coronation or not) I received a replacement for this issue, bought on eBay, and in doing so turned back the clock 43 years into the past.  It's actually not a bad little story, though I was never too keen on Frank Chiaramonte's inking of Swan's pencils, much preferring Murphy Anderson's talents in that department.  (Didn't everybody?)  It's just a shame that he wasn't utilised on this issue, as it would've made the finished pages visually more appealing.

It's a curious-though-satisfying feeling to re-read a comic in the same house in which I was living when I bought my original issue, over 40 years ago.  (Especially so, considering we moved away for four years before returning.)  The years just melt away and once again I'm in my 20s, with forever seemingly in front of me.  Unfortunately, 'forever' passes far too quickly and makes a mockery of many hopes, dreams, plans, and ambitions, but you probably know that for yourselves by now if you're anywhere near my age.

Unfortunately, there are a few colour smears on the cover (which I've disguised here via digital technology), so I'll be looking for a better condition copy in the future.

Also received today was The Shadow Annual 1987.  The previous year, Howard Chaykin had produced a four-issue limited series (which I've got) of the character for DC, and though he wasn't involved in this mag's contents, going by the masthead it's clearly intended to complement Chaykin's quartet of mags (or cash in on them, if you prefer).  Some nice art by Joe Orlando and Alfredo Alcala, though, surprisingly, no particularly memorable images.

I only found out about the existence of this issue a week or so back and deliberated for a while before finally buying it.  In doing so, I've again turned back the clock - this time by 36 years.  I'm travelling in Time so often these days (even if only in my mind), I think I'll have to change my name to The Doctor.  (Or perhaps you think I should just see a 'mind' doctor?  Ho-ho!)

Anyway, enjoy the images on display and feel free to comment if you wish.

BABE OF THE DAY - ZOE McCONNELL...



Here's former Page 3 Girl, Zoe McConnell,
who now operates on the other side of the camera
(you'll be disappointed to learn) as a photographer.
However, she'll always be a 'babe' to me.

Friday 5 May 2023

FIVE GO ON FOREVER: AGAIN - THE FAMOUS FIVE...


Copyright Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

Let me set the scene.  It's a medium-sized bedroom containing two single beds, one on either side of the room, with an old Singer treadle sewing machine between them.  The sewing machine, situated below a wide window, is usually topped with books, comics, or even an assembled model kit or toy.  A wardrobe, chest of drawers, a wooden chair, a tartan single 'bed settee' (and perhaps a small bamboo table) are the only other items of furniture present.* 

(*Incidentally, I still own the wardrobe, the chest of drawers, the wooden chair, and the bamboo table.  My parents dispensed with the other items decades ago.)

It was in this room I shared with my brother between 1965 and '72 that I first became acquainted with Enid Blyton's Famous Five.  As recounted in a previous post, I no longer recall precisely how many of their adventures I read back then, perhaps three or four at the very most.  I recently bought the first ten books in the series (in paperback) and showed you the cover artwork, but since then I've purchased the remaining eleven tales (21 in all) and now present them as well.

I've already read more of the Five's books in the here-and-now than I did in the late '60s, and when I eventually finish the remaining tales, my grown up encounters with them will far outweigh those of my childhood by an even wider margin.  Strangely, I yet associate the 'quintet' with my former home where I first 'met' them, more than I do my current one.  In my mind's eye, I seem to recall these covers gracing the top of that old sewing machine in my former bedroom.

I suppose some associations are difficult to shed (not that I'm trying to), but perhaps, with the passing of the years, I'll eventually come to view the Five in the context of my present abode as well as my former one.  Time, as they say, will tell - assuming I'm blessed with the luxury of the continued presence of ol' Mr. Fugit for a good while longer.

Anyway, once again conjuring up a vanished age, here are the remaining covers in this entertaining series of books.












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