Wednesday 27 September 2023



On Saturday, September 30th, it will be 51 years since The Mighty World Of Marvel #1 went on sale.  I've celebrated the event several times on this blog over the years (usually with a repeat of an earlier post), so on this occasion I'll simply show you the front cover - just to remind you (if you were around back then) of what a good job Big John Buscema made of it.  As far as I know, it was the first, last, and only time he produced an original cover for a UK weekly, so it's worth owning just for that fact (if it is a fact) alone.

Ah, 51 years ago - how is it possible?  It seems nowhere near that long to me, just a few short weeks at the very most.  This post, therefore, has a two-fold purpose - to celebrate and remember MWOM #1 - and also my youth, when it seemed immortality was a reality and no mere elusive illusion.  So join me in raising a glass to a true comics classic - I wish it were still around today.  And if you'd like to record any reminiscences you might have of this great mag, you can share them with your fellow Crivs in the comments section.

(It's okay, Crivs, I spotted and corrected my typo of 31 years [instead of 51] almost immediately, as you'll see if you refresh your browser.  No one has commented on it, so maybe I fixed it before anyone noticed it.)

Tuesday 26 September 2023


Just learned that Man From U.N.C.L.E. actor David McCallum has died at the age of 90.  Another part of my childhood gone, alas.  Condolences to his family, friends, and fans.


I should mention that David was a fellow agent of mine.  Don't believe me?  See my badge and I.D. cards (not signed them yet) for proof.

And below is David's badge...

Monday 25 September 2023



Here's a nice book I picked up the other day.  (Just as well I could run faster the the security guard.)  I already have every story contained within, but it has interesting bonuses which make it worth adding to my collection.  (Only kidding about the security guard, by the way.)  And besides, I've got the equivalent one about Spider-Man so the Fantastic Four one complements it nicely.  Now you've seen it, run out and buy one.

And I've just remembered that I forgot to show you the Spidey volume which I got a few months back, so here it is for your palpitating peepers.  There are also Captain America, Avengers, Black Panther, and X-Men volumes, though I haven't got them and don't think I'll bother.

Saturday 23 September 2023

ROM SPACEKNIGHT #1 Facsimile Edition...


I can't remember whether I ever definitely bought a ROM comic or not.  I have a feeling I may've bought either the last issue or an Annual, but I couldn't swear to it.  If I did, I'll still have it, so maybe I'll find it tucked away in a cupboard one day.  I also have an inkling that I may've read some of his adventures reprinted in b&w in a Marvel UK mag, but can't recall which one. 

One thing I do know is that I never bought the first issue, but now, thanks to Marvel's superb series of Facsimile Editions, I own it now as it popped through my letterbox this morning (Friday).  Haven't read it yet, may not do so for a while, but good to have in my collection nonetheless.  (And it's got the 'Continued After Next Page' lines before the ads.)

So why not run around to your local comicbook store and obtain a copy for yourself?  You'll only regret it if you don't. 

Wednesday 20 September 2023

A.A.B. - IN MEMORIAM - TEN YEARS LATER... (Updated Yet Again - See Bottom Of Post)

Me, as Best Man, 15th December 1978.  The marriage was short-lived

On Monday 14th January 2013, I published a post about someone I once knew.  (Click here for details if you're interested.)  Little did I know at the time (only having found out on Sunday just gone) that a Facebook comment on Sunday 13th January 2013 - the day before the post - had expressed sadness at news of his demise sometime the previous week.  Well, what a shocker!  (Thing is, if he's dead, who subsequently amended some of the things on his Facebook page that I alluded to in my 'piece'?  But that's for pondering on another day, perhaps.)

When I recently did a 'Google Search' to again find his FB page, among the selections offered (though only when I used one particular browser out of several available to me) there were some photos and comments that aren't on his site, but apparently in the comments section on someone else's FB page.  (That's how I discovered the comment about his passing, though I was only able to access that link twice - it seems to have now disappeared.)  The photos show a ravaged man who looks far older than the 52 or 53 years he was at the time, likely as a result of him being an alcoholic, something he admitted when he visited our home town sometime in the late '90s or thereabouts (he'd lived 'down south' since late 1977) to a woman he called 'Auntie Margaret'.  

In case you're wondering how I know this, the woman herself told me when I ran into her around 1999 or 2000 and she mentioned that he'd been up for a visit a year or two before.  She'd attended the same church as him, his sister and parents (as in the same denomination, though maybe a different congregation) and was therefore a friend of the family, but he regarded her as an 'aunt-type' figure so that's how he referred to her.  Whether she minded or not (or was actually flattered) is something I'm not privy to, not that it's important.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the news of his passing (if information that's ten years old can accurately be described as 'news' - though it was certainly news to me) as I now wouldn't have crossed the road to pee on him if he were on fire (as I said somewhere before).  However, this guy was once one of my best friends (if not my very best friend - when I was young enough to subscribe to such a notion), so for the sake of our childhood friendship I felt a little sad on learning he'd passed away.  (I'd met him on my first day at my second primary school, on Wednesday 10th November 1965.)  Strange, now, to think that while I'd subconsciously assumed he was yet gadding about somewhere, he'd embarked on the 'long sleep' more than ten years ago.

Sadly, he was a compulsive liar and inveterate fantasist who never seemed to realise that the 'tall tales' he told were so completely unlikely that many people who knew him as an adult regarded and dismissed him as a pathetic object of silent ridicule.  Who knows what made him like that - a need for attention, perhaps?  So the person whose death I'm sad about is the 6 (going on 7) to 21/22 year-old I once knew and liked, not the person he later became (or perhaps always was, but I just never noticed at the time).  Undoubtedly, a large part of my small sadness is related to the reminder of my own mortality that his passing begets, but it's also to do with a life he wasted and a potential he never fulfilled.

In previous posts I've referred to him as Billy Liar, which is probably more apt than Walter Mitty as there was an element of pathos to Billy Liar's predicament, whereas Walter Mitty's was more humorous, being played for laughs more than anything else.  I also called him 'Adam Cowie' on my blog, but his real name was Alan Bowie, which, long after I jettisoned him he amended to Alan Bowie-McDonald - though don't ask me why.  When we were teenagers he lamented the fact that he didn't have a 'middle' name, so I suggested Adam and he became for a good long while Alan Adam Bowie.  (Or A.A.B. when he was writing it on lampposts and walls with a broad-tipped ink marker pen.)

Anyway, unless reports of his death are 'greatly exaggerated' (and if they are, he'll probably be behind it) that's him gone from this softly-spinning green and blue globe which hangs upon nothing, and I'll never see him again this side of doomsday.  Except in memories and old photographs of course, when I still held his friendship in some regard before his slow-but-seemingly-certain slide into decadency and despair.

So here's to the memory of Alan Bowie - though not the Alan he became, but rather the Alan I believed him to be before the scales finally fell from my eyes and I saw him for what he was.  However, the end of our friendship was as a result of his unacceptable attitude and bewildering behaviour, not that of mine.  

Ah, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

The 10 year-old Facebook comment about his death, which I only saw this Sunday (17th)

(Update:) On his Facebook profile are numerous lies that bear little or no resemblance to reality, but one is so easily checkable that I'm surprisingly surprised (after all, none of his lies should ever have surprised me) at the audacity of it.  He claimed to have a rare form of Motor Neurone Disease called ATOL, but it's so 'rare' that it doesn't exist.  I checked with the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) and they've never heard of it, even asking me what the initials stood for.

Now, I very much doubt that he actually had MND, but if he did, you'd have thought that was bad enough without having to invent a 'rare form' of it, wouldn't you?  Or perhaps he just had to be different from your 'average' MND sufferer.  All I can say is that I'm extremely glad I don't suffer from his overwhelming compulsion to tell great big obvious stonking whoppers.  Now, you'll have to excuse me - I've got to take my new spaceship out on a trial trip to Alpha Centauri, but don't worry; thanks to its nuclear-powered warp-drive I should be back before teatime.

What do you mean you don't believe me?  Cheek!

A.A.B. in the back garden of his bedsit in St. Andrews Road, Southsea, December 1978 

Stop The Bus Dept: I've just found a recent email from the MNDA in my Junk file, which made me wonder for a moment whether I might've been doing my former friend an injustice in regard to his 'ATOL'.  Here's a 'cut and paste' of part of its contents...

There is a form of MND called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS):  This is the most common form of MND, with weakness and wasting in the limbs, muscle stiffness and cramps.  Someone may notice they are tripping when walking or dropping things.  Life expectancy is usually two to five years from the onset of symptoms.

I don’t know if this is perhaps what your friend had, but it may be that he was using an incorrect acronym.  There are many variations of MND but I am not familiar with ATOL.

However, according to my ex-pal ATOL is a rare form of MND, whereas ALS is the most common so simply getting the acronym wrong wouldn't really account for the discrepancy.  I'm therefore disinclined to be charitable and give him the benefit of any doubt - especially as there's no doubt all his other lies were definitely just that.

(Yet another update:) I 'phoned a couple of funeral directors near to where he'd lived and one was able to confirm his death as they'd arranged proceedings.  He died on January 10th 2013 and was cremated on February 1st (16 days short of what would've been his 54th birthday).  Strange to think that he left our home town in 1977 and that for most of his life he'd lived elsewhere.  I wonder whether he ever missed the place where his parents had brought him up?  Also, he left this world under another name, not his birth name, which, to me, seems incredibly sad.  Was that his wish or was it something he hadn't even considered?  I'll never know, but he'll always be Alan Bowie to me, not Bowie-McDonald.  I never knew that man.

P.S. I've just been messaged by one of his FB friends who informed me that he died of cancer.  Surprisingly, he made no mention of that particular illness on his FB page.  I hope his demise wasn't too painful and that he met it peacefully.  Marge, the woman with whom he lived (not his wife), predeceased him, but I don't think it was by long.  Perhaps, along with his illness, he just lost the will to live after she died?  A sad end indeed.

Again, outside Portsmouth Register Office, 15th December 1978.  In case
you're wondering why I'm the only one looking at the camera, there were
two (one in front, one on the left), both taking photos at the same time

(And another one:) The Cornish Gazette kindly provided me with a copy of his funeral service notice and I was surprised to see only the name of McDonald used, not Bowie-McDonald.  The latter double-barrelled name was the one I supplied to the funeral directors when making enquiries, and the dates of his death and cremation - as well as his age and where he'd lived - are a match, so there seems no reason to doubt it's the same person.  His second wife left him (just like his first) and he and his daughter were estranged (her decision) so the 'much loved husband and father' is likely only following the usual 'etiquette' employed in such situations.  After all, no-one who dies is ever a "wrong 'un", are they?  Still, it's a sad situation, all things considered.  (Though I suppose it's always possible there was a reconciliation of sorts if they learned he was dying.)

I've printed out his death notice and affixed it inside a notebook he gifted me back in December of 1980, which is quite appropriate and also somewhat ironic I suppose, in that the details of his funeral service are now recorded in the pages of the book he gave me over 40 years earlier when he was very much alive.  And here endeth his story - a whole 10 years and 8 months after he died.

Update, 10-1-'24: I've now also added an 'In Memoriam' notice which appeared in my local weekly newspaper today.  For the story of that, see here.

Alan around the age of 7 or 8, I'd guess.  He gave me this
photo when I was down in Southsea/Portsmouth in 1978

Monday 18 September 2023


I have several photos of me as a child, most of which I recall being taken.  I often wonder, though, whether I would remember them were it not for the fact that I saw the prints not long after they'd been developed.  If you see a photograph within a couple of weeks or so after it was snapped, it's really no great feat of memory to remember the occasion it was captured on camera as the print is a reminder of the event.  However, if I were to see a photo for the first time 20 or 30 years after it was taken, I'm uncertain as to whether I'd remember my presence or participation when it happened.  What I'm suggesting is that memories of some things often need reminding of at an early stage, otherwise they 'shrivel and die' on the vine without ever 'flowering', never having been 'watered'.  (Figuratively speaking, that is.)

That may mean, of course, that every subsequent time after the first that we look at a photo and remember it being taken, we're not actually recalling the event itself, but rather the memory of having been reminded of it the first time we saw the photo, then the second, then the third, etc.  In other words, the 50th time you look at a photograph and remember, you're remembering the 49th recollection of the event (which was a memory of the 48th), not the actual event itself.  A 50th-generation memory, so to speak.  Has the memory deteriorated in the same way that a 50th-generation copy of a video would, or am I pushing the analogy too far?  

Any thought, Crivvies, or am I talking my usual load of old pants?

Hang on, I've just remembered an exception.  In my post Field Of Dreams, I show a couple of photos which I remember being taken even though I didn't see the prints until at least 40 years later.  Why those two and not others?  Haven't a clue.   

Sunday 17 September 2023


The lovely Valerie gazes adoringly at
me across the room as I snap this photo of
her.  It's amazing just how irresistible a man
becomes in a pair of Yogi Bear pyjamas.
(I think my luck's in tonight, Crivs.)

Friday 15 September 2023


When I look back on my childhood, there are some aspects of it which seem to have made a disproportionate impression on my memory banks in relation to their actual duration.  For example, when I think of comics like Wham!, or Fantastic - or any of the Power Comics in fact - it feels like they were on sale for years and years, whereas the reality is that Wham! lasted for only around 3-and-a-half years and I bought it for probably less than half its lifespan before it was merged with Pow!

Fantastic lasted for 89 issues - a mere year-and-9-months - yet, again, to my mind, it was part of my life for 3 or 4 times that.  Thunder?  Jet?  Each only survived for 22 issues, but in the misty mazes of my memory, seem to have extended way beyond their far-too short lifespan.  Another example from my own experience is the first issue of the revamped Smash!  I sold my copy to a classmate after only 4 days, but the images of its contents were so seared into my consciousness that when I obtained a replacement 15-and-half years later, I remembered every page as though I'd last laid eyes on them only a day or two before.

And it's the same with toys.  There will be many a toy that I probably owned for weeks or months (perhaps even days or hours in some cases) that I still recall with startling clarity as though they accompanied me through life from childhood to adulthood.  And isn't it strange how we seem to retroactively remember each toy as though we owned them all at the same time for the same duration, when in fact, some will have been dispensed with before others ever came into our possession?

Strangely, that illusion still holds sway even when we know that one particular toy was bought in 1965 and another in 1969 after the '65 toy had been swapped, given away, or thrown out.  The two (and others) survive in memory as contemporaries, even though they weren't.  It's even the same with people.  I had friends and acquaintances who never made it into their 20s (or who just got their foot over the threshold) who still seem relevant and current to me as if they yet lived and hadn't bowed out of life's race (not that it was their choice) two-thirds of my life away.

Sometimes, when I look back on yesteryear, my life seem to have consisted of one single large tapestry 'woven' together from various experiences; at other times, lots of separate, individual, unconnected 'pieces', each one occupying its own private space in my mind.  Though when it comes down to it, is it all ultimately the same thing?  If that makes any kind of sense to you (and that'll depend on whether I've managed to convey my thoughts with even a hint of clarity or coherence), feel free to add your own musings in the comments section.


Update: As is typical of me, I knew where I intended to go when I started writing this post, but soon forgot in which direction I was headed not too long into it.  (The ol' 'brain fog', alas - I just can't seem to maintain my mental focus for long these days.)  One thing I meant to say was that it seems strange to me that moments in my youth which were relatively short periods of time in the scheme of things, whether they be days, weeks, months, or a couple or so years, feel like they lasted for a far longer span than succeeding decades.  For example, the last 35 years or so don't seem anywhere near as long or as memorable as much shorter 'episodes' which preceded them.  Go figure, as the saying goes.

Thursday 14 September 2023


Picked up these two little 3-and-a-half inch (approximately) figures in a charity shop yesterday for 50p each.  The one on the left is Thor (obviously), but I don't know who the one on the right is supposed to be or whether he's even a Marvel character.  An out-of-proportion Frost Giant perhaps?  If anyone knows anything about them (name of manufacturer or whether they're home-made, etc.), feel free to enlighten me.

Sunday 10 September 2023

Heavenly Hauntings By The GHOST Of STAN LEE - Part Six: The UNCANNY X-MEN...


Hi, true believers, Smilin' Stan Lee here again, inhabiting the form of a Mego 8 inch action figure through which I communicate with you earthbound fans from my comfy cloud in the Heavenly Hills.  Thus far, we've looked at ThorIron ManSpider-ManDoctor Strange, and the good ol' Fantastic Four, so let's now turn our attention to The Uncanny X-Men.

Sometimes I just can't win.  Back in the '60s I gave writer Arnold Drake a crack at writing the X-Men, only to later learn that he thought I'd ripped-off his Doom Patrol series for DC Comics.  Both mags featured a wheelchair-bound leader of strangely-powered misfits, and each team had a group of baddies they fought on a regular basis.  In Doom Patrol's case it was The Brotherhood of Evil, and in the X-Men's case it was The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  Doom Patrol debuted around 3 months before X-Men, but it usually took around 6 months to put a new comic together, so the timeline doesn't really allow for Arnold's claim.  He tried to get around that fact by claiming I must somehow have learned of his idea before it appeared in print - perhaps in a tip-off from someone at DC.

Then there are those who claim it was Jolly Jack Kirby who dreamed up the X-Men and all I did was dialogue his pages based on his margin notes - yet Jack is never accused of ripping-off the Doom Patrol, only me.  So if I had nothing to do with creating the X-Men, how can I have ripped-off the Doom Patrol?  And if Jack came up with Marvel's merry mutants, why does he get a pass on having plagiarised DC's team?  See what I mean?  I lose out either way - it's no wonder I suspect there are some people who just plain don't like me.  Anyway, contrary to those calumnious claims, I, along with Jack, created the X-Men, and the Doom Patrol had nothing to do with their birth.  It was simply one of those curious coincidences that occur from time to time in the world of comics.

I was the first scripter of the X-Men, followed by Roy Thomas, Arnold Drake, and almost countless others since then.  I gotta say I'm proud of Roy, who took on the mag without missing a beat and continued in a style almost indistinguishable from my own.  If it hadn't been for the credits, I'd probably never have been aware that I wasn't still writing the strip.  (I've got a terrible memory y'know - can't recall whether I've mentioned it before.)  Good on ya, Roy.  Incidentally, Arnold's up here too and I've forgiven him for his rash claims, so panic ye not, Merry Marvel Maniacs - harmony reigns in these here Heavenly Hills.

Excelsior!  And may your amulet never tickle!

Incidentally, if you're interested in reading an informed take on the old 'who did what' debate, Amiable Al McKenzie has published a well-researched post over on his blog, which can be found by clicking this link.

My very own ish of DP's debut.  Copyright DC COMICS

Saturday 9 September 2023


I was giving my kitchen's woodwork a fresh
coat of paint when there was a knock on my door.
It was the voluptuous Valerie Leon, offering help
in my decorating tasks.  And as you can see from
the photo, Valerie's a wonderful 'decorator'.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

The BEANO & The BROONS - Not Forgetting Oor WULLIE...

Copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

Who among us of a certain age ever thought we'd see The Beano Annual priced at £11.99, or Oor Wullie & The Broons (combined) Annual at £15.99?  That's £28 for two Annuals, for crying out loud!  Fortunately, WHS are selling any two D.C. Thomson Annuals this year for only £12, meaning that, essentially, you're getting Oor Wullie & The Broons Annual (if that's one of your choice of two, that is) for virtually nothing.

The Beano is celebrating its 85th Anniversary this year and this milestone is highlighted in the Annual, which contains all-new material.  The Oor Wullie & The Broons book must surely just be regurgitating (again) pages that have already appeared in previous books in this series, but that won't matter if you haven't seen them before, I guess.  Regular Crivvies may remember me speculating a few years back whether the Dennis who appears in the modern Beano is the original Menace or the son of the original, and now it seems official - he's the son of the one who first appeared in 1951.

I base this on the fact that when the modern Dennis's grandparents are seen in flashbacks to when dad was a boy (and the spitting image of today's Dennis) they're the doubles of mum and dad as they appeared in the '50s right up until a few years ago, when a 'new look' was suddenly introduced.  It may well be that this has been an established fact for a while now, but not being a regular reader of the weekly comic, I missed the precise moment if or when it happened.

However, there's no doubting it in the Dennis stories in the book for 2024, though whether Gnasher and Gnipper are the originals (and therefore really old - though Gnipper would no longer be a pup) or whether they're supposed to be the offspring off the originals is something I'm still unsure of.  I've taken a quick look through The Beano book and it all looks top-notch, art-wise (except I still don't like the cutesy, smiling Dennis as opposed to the surly, frowning one I read as a boy), and Oor Wullie/Broons volume has some classic Dudley D. Watkins art, as well as pages by Ken H. Harrison, Robert Nixon, and others.

So, unless you're prepared to wait and see whether the books will be further reduced around Christmas or New Year, I'd advise that now is the time to buy them before stock runs low.  You could spend your £12 in far worse ways, so run down to WHS at the earliest opporchancity and plonk your pounds on the counter and give yourself a treat.  (Cover images borrowed from DCT shop to spare me the hassle of scanning my own copies.)

Sunday 3 September 2023


Seeing as it's Sunday, vivacious Valerie
Leon thought she'd dress up in something nice
for yours truly.  The gal done good, eh?

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