Saturday 13 April 2024


I'll refrain from making the obvious "two 'puddies'
for the price of one" remark (oops, I just did) because I
don't want you to think I'm common or vulgar.  Not that
I'm saying I'm not - I just don't want you to think I am.
So, Crivvies - give a big cheer for Valerie Leon.

Friday 12 April 2024


Copyright DC COMICS

An issue of Action Comics #1 was recently sold by Heritage Auctions for a record price of £4.75 million.  Above is my very own copy, which just arrived today in a secure van.  (That big Lottery win a few years back sure came in handy is all I can say.)  Or am I pulling your collective leg, Crivs?  Well, that's definitely my comic in the above photo (and the two below) so I'll let you make up your own minds.  Let's just say I'm a very happy chappie.

Thursday 11 April 2024


I'm pushing the boundaries of what's acceptable
here on Crivens by publishing a picture of a wee bear
with absolutely not a stitch on.  I'm a rebel for sure.

Monday 8 April 2024


Copyright BBC TV and the Estate of TERRY NATION

Done it!  Finally managed to get a second copy of The Dalek Outer Space Book, meaning I now have two copies of each of the three Dalek Annuals from the '60s.  It bugged me that I had just two copies each of the first two books, but not the third - so situation now sorted.  This allows me to keep one set of the three books with the four '70s Annuals, and the other set in another room, allowing me to dig into them whenever I want to, whichever of my two rooms I happen to be in at the time.  Ah, the sense of freedom, the unbridled feeling of accomplishment, the unparalleled joy of ownership, the... oo-er, dial it down a bit, Gordie, you're getting carried away.  (Or I will be if the men in the white coats catch up with me.)

(In the interests of full disclosure, I've cheated a bit by using the above pre-scanned image of my other copy from a prior post, rather than go to the bother of scanning its recently-arrived twin.  I won't mind if you don't.)

To be honest, this is probably the weakest of the three Annuals as it has 8 pages of Chris Welkin Planeteer, a reprint of a newspaper strip by the look of it, though whether or not that was its original name is unknown to me.  Also, one could be forgiven for wondering if the book should actually be called The Sara Kingdom Outer Space Book (Guest-starring The Daleks) as she seems to almost dominate the contents at the expense of the tinpot tyrants.  Having said that, though, it's good to have 'doublers' of each of the three editions; after all, most people don't even have one copy of any of them.

Did you have any of the trio of  '60s Dalek Annuals when you were a kid?  If you were lucky enough to have had all three, which of them was your favourite - and why?  Crivens is an 'interactive' blog, so feel free to leave a comment in the you-know-where.  (No point being interactive if you won't interact, so join in.)  


I recently visited Planet KRALKA on a whistle-stop inter-galactic tour, where I spied the most amazing sight.  Believe it or not, there was the original incarnation of The DOCTOR, enjoying a quiet snifter of invigorating Kralkan air, in the company of a first-generation DALEK.  (They were obviously visiting from the 1960s as the Doctor's current manifestation is a camp chap with an effeminate accent and in desperate need of a good ol' Glasgow slapping.)  What's more astounding, however, was the fact that Doctor and Dalek appeared to be the best of pals.

Huh!  Just goes to show you can't believe everything you see on the telly.  They'll be telling us that they're only actors next.  (What do you mean, there's too much vinegar on my chips?)

Sunday 7 April 2024


Copyright BBC TV

As far as I know, there were only two Dr. Who Annuals in the '60s that bore William Hartnell's image on the covers*, the first one being for 1966 and the second for '67, though they were each issued in '65 and '66 respectively.  I've owned the first one for many a year now and it's not a difficult Annual to obtain, popping up on eBay fairly regularly.

(*There was also a World Distributors book called Doctor Who And The Invasion From Space, but it wasn't described as an 'Annual' and contained only illustrated text stories.)  

The second book is the rarer of the two as it had a much smaller print run than its predecessor and therefore usually fetches a higher price on the collectors' market.  I recently acquired one for not-a-lot-of-dosh, though it needs some 'corrective' work on it to bring it up to par, but luckily I'm quite good at that sort of thing and it's shaping up nicely.

Anyway, thought you might like to see the covers, so that's them above and below.  I've also included the covers to the first Annual just so you can see both books featuring William Hartnell - just in case you're completists who wouldn't be satisfied with seeing only one of them.  I believe the art is by Walter Howarth.  Enjoy!  (And comments welcome.)

Saturday 6 April 2024


Copyright relevant owner

As I've said on Crivens several times before, memory is a funny thing.  Case in point: I remember FRANKIE STEIN as one of my very favourite comic strips in WHAM! periodical back in the 1960s.  However, I didn't start purchasing Wham! 'til after it began reprinting MARVEL's FANTASTIC FOUR adventures, having first discovered the group in my regular weekly comic, SMASH! (which had presented FF #1 in weekly instalments, simultaneously with Wham!).

Wham! #112, cover-dated August 6th 1966, was the issue that debuted the Fabulous Foursome, and it probably took me a few weeks to discover that the team I'd first encountered in Smash! were regularly appearing in Wham!, so I'd have missed a few issues - though I acquired some of them from a neighbour in one of the rows down the street a few months afterwards.  But what's the point of all this you're no doubt wondering (if you're still reading).

Simply this.  Starting from around when the FF tales started (three issues later to be precise, as he was missing from #s 112 & 113), there were only another 34 Frankie strips until his final appearance in issue #166, cover-dated August 19th 1967 - and one of them was drawn by another artist, not KEN REID.

I find it amazing that one of the most fondly-recalled strips of my youth was present for such a brief part of it, yet I recall it as having quite a significant presence over what seemed like a lengthy period.  It feels like I was reading Frankie for years before he vanished, not just (at most) 34 strips over the course of a year.

I suppose it just goes to show how impressionable we are as children, and to what extent things that flit through our lives for such a fleeting span can leave such a disproportionate sized footprint in the pathways of memory.  As I said - funny, eh?

Are there any comic strips that you recall as being around for a seemingly large part of your childhood, only to find, when you look back, that they weren't around for very long at all?  Feel free to tell us all about it in the comments section.


(Oh, and I should add, I now have every Ken Reid Frankie Stein episode that was ever published in Wham!, so I finally got to read them all in the end.  Well done me!)

From WHAM! #114, cover-dated August 20th 1966

Friday 5 April 2024

MARVEL COMICS #1000 & 1001... (Updated)


Back in 2019, to celebrate 80 years of Marvel/Timely/Atlas, Marvel published the two comics you see before you.  I got the second one only last week from a comics shop in my town centre and ordered its predecessor from eBay a few days later to complete the set of two.  However, my failing memory is nagging me that I may already have 1000*, but none of the contents seem familiar to me.  Do you know what's even more irritating than not being able to remember something?  It's being not quite sure as to whether you remember something or not!

Anyway, some nice cover art for you to peruse, and I've even included the back covers to show you, in the case of 1000, who the contributors are to the issue.  Looking at the absence of contributors' names on the back of 1001 leads me to wonder if it was an oversight or a deliberate omission - what do you think, Crivvies?  And which of the two front covers do you prefer?  Declare your cover preferences in our easy-to-access comments section, if you'd be so good.

*Update: I do already have it - got it back in 2019.  (Just spotted it on the blog.)

Thursday 4 April 2024



Here's a brief post simply to showcase the above cover by John Buscema, who was surely the finest artist ever to draw The Avengers.  The quality of interior reproduction isn't as good as it should be and two pages have been edited out, there being only 18 altogether instead of the usual 20.  (Around 1970, Marvel mags really only had 19 pages, though by printing two half-pages with ads below each one, the numbering still consisted of 1-20.)  I can't detect any obvious 'jumps' and my Marvel Masterworks volumes are tucked away somewhere, so I can't compare this MTA reprint of Avengers #51 with a later, fuller reprint, so the editing has been executed better than was usual in such instances.

Anyway, not that it matters much as I'm only offering you the cover to appreciate, not the contents, so enjoy Big John's art at its finest. 

Wednesday 3 April 2024



Here's an interesting little mag published back in 1980 that I didn't know existed until I saw and purchased it from a relatively new comics store in my town's main shopping centre yesterday (Tuesday).  I knew about Marvel Premiere, obviously (got a few issues), but had absolutely no knowledge of this particular ish or its contents, so, curiosity piqued, I willingly laid down the enormous price of £3 for it.  (Yes, I'm being ironic 'cos I like to do what I'm good at.)

Maybe it was intended as Marvel's belated response to DC's Jonah Hex, not sure, but Caleb Hammer seems to be imbued with some kind of super strength, making him not only a cowboy, but also a superhero-of-sorts.  I haven't Google-searched his name yet so have no idea whether he ever made a return appearance, but it was an entertaining read and Caleb is obviously visually-modelled after Clint Eastwood's 'Man With No Name', though he's definitely got a name.

Anyway, maybe it's been long-forgotten as I've never heard anyone I know (or even don't know) ever refer to it before, but regardless, I thought I'd share the cover and a couple of pages with the rest of you Crivvies.  Don't you sometimes just feel totally overwhelmed (not that you could be partially overwhelmed, but I'm padding this post out here) with a sense of sheer gratitude for all I do for you?  No?  Huh!  (Well, I did ask.)

And just in case you'd forgotten - comments welcome!     

Monday 25 March 2024

Part Two Of Nostalgia Meets Modern Technology - Guest Post By Dr. Andrew May...


In a previous guest post on Kid's blog, I talked about some of the positive benefits that modern digital technology can offer, even for old-timers like myself who spend a lot of time mentally living in the past.  In particular, I love the way that, now I've got more time on my hands, it lets me engage in creative activities that I've always had a hankering to do, but lack any natural talent for.  During a recent side discussion with Kid, I remembered two other examples of this from a few years ago that may be worth mentioning.  The first concerns the Avengers issue pictured above, which was one of the first Marvel comics I ever bought, while the second relates to Fireball XL5, which was the first sci-fi TV show I ever watched.  If that isn't nostalgia, I don't know what is!

Another advantage of no longer having a day job is that I have time to write books on various subjects, and back in 2019 I did one called The Science Of Sci-Fi Music.  One chapter of this deals with the 12-tone method of writing music, which as well as featuring in the soundtracks of movies like Planet Of The Apes and Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors (not to mention various Tom and Jerry cartoons) was also used by Frank Zappa in a couple of his songs.  When I discovered this, I vaguely recollected seeing an ad for one of Zappa's albums  in a comic-book I read as a child.  I eventually tracked this down to Avengers #50 as pictured above (though I imagine it appeared in other comics around the same time), and the album in question turned out to be "We're Only In It For The Money" by The Mothers of Invention.

Having dug the comic out, I decided to do a short video of me flicking through it, complete with a specially written soundtrack courtesy of modern technology.  I scoured the internet for MIDI clips of various songs from the album (four of them: "Who Needs The Peace Corps?", "Let's Make The Water Turn Black", "The Idiot Bastard Son" and "Mother People"), imported these into a music-editing program, made various adjustments to make them fit together in a reasonably harmonious fashion, and then changed the instrumentation from a rock band to a full concert orchestra.  Here's the result:

Another chapter of my sci-fi music book deals with "algorithmic composition" - in other words, programming a computer to write music - and this led to another nostalgia-laden experiment.  One musical form that particularly lends itself to algorithmic composition, because its rules are so prescriptive and mathematical, is the fugue.  This hasn't had any great popularity since the early 1700s (because even when written by a human it tends to sound like it was cranked out by a machine), but I thought I'd have a go at a computer-generated fugue anyway.

The only real input the program needs is a starting melody, so for fun I chose one of my favourite tunes from my childhood, "I Wish I Was A Spaceman" (sung by Don Spencer) from the Fireball XL5 end-titles.  The program itself was constructed using OpenMusic, a free app that's specifically designed for algorithmic composition.  You can see it in the background to the video which follows - the "Fireball" input tune is up in the top left-hand corner, while the other inputs along the top row are lists of acceptable rhythmic units and chord progressions.  Everything below that was generated by the computer itself, and (to my ears, at least) the end result does sound like a pretty convincing little fugue!

When I originally posted this on Facebook in 2019, I invited suggestions for other tunes I could plug into the program, but I didn't get any takers.  I'll make the same offer now, although I can't promise I can still get the program to work!  In fact I love these "X in the style of Y" experiments (I've also done rock and electronic versions of classical tunes, as well as orchestrations of pop songs as in the Zappa example).  So requests are always welcome!

Sunday 24 March 2024



Ah, the memories the above cover evokes, 50 years after buying my original copy in 1974.  This one is a replacement, but I've owned it for a considerable time now, probably at least a couple of decades, if not longer.  Although cover-dated March 30th, it would've gone on sale on the 23rd, so I'm only a day late in celebrating its initial appearance half a century ago.  Got any reminiscences connected to this ish, Crivs, with which you can regale the rest of us in the comments section?  Then get typing, 'cos we're all dying to read something interesting around here.

Saturday 16 March 2024


 I don't recall giving Lynda Carter a key to my house,
but when I got home from the shops the other day, there she
was, reclining on my sofa.  I'm not one to let an opportunity go
to waste, so I got her to rustle me up a bacon buttie and a cup
of tea.  She had the same, of course, as I'm not a stingy host.
See?  Proof that I know just how to satisfy a woman!

Friday 15 March 2024


Airfix skeletons, that is.  I've got more than that if I count ones by other makers, but Airfix ones will do for now.  (After all, I have to keep something in reserve for future posts.)  The first one was bought around the late-'60s, from newsagent's R.S. McColl's in the shops across the road from me.  The manager was Mr. Smith, who'd been manager of a newsagent's called Chamber's in a previous neighbourhood in which I'd lived.  'Twas he from whom I'd purchased my TV21s in the mid-'60s, and 'twas also he from whom, a few years later in my then-current area, I'd bought Countdown, containing reprints of some of the same strips from TV21.

But that's by-the-by.  The second skeleton I bought (again from McColl's) came in a longer box as it included a metal rod by which the wall mount could be transformed into a display stand for Skelly to hang upon while resting his feet as he did so.  The first box had been smaller and mostly black, but the second version was longer and largely blue-ish, with a different illustration of 'Mr. Bones'.  I must've had 3 or 4 skeletons at different times over the next few years, but they each eventually vanished as most childhood playthings do - sometimes without you even realising they've gone until much later.  (The last one I had as a kid was in 1969.)

I bought a replacement skeleton in the late '80s or early '90s, which I've still got, but I couldn't resist the allure of them and have bought another couple in the last few years, each one being the longer box version.  Today, at Castel Crivens, a replacement arrived for the very first one I owned, the smaller black box kit, renewing my memories of when I obtained my first one.  If my powers of recollection yet serve, it was on a day when my mother, with me in tow, visited a sort of jumble sale in the Murray Hall, held by my grandparents' Darby & Joan club, of which they were members, though not in attendance that day.

'Twas there I also received a certificate for some flower bulbs I'd planted, as well as buying several unboxed Marx Dalek Rolykins, which I stored in Skelly's box until we returned home.  First, though, we visited my nearby grandparents to show off my certificate, which I still have to this day (somewhere).  The photo heading this post is of my late '80s/early '90s skeleton, which is the only one I've built - the others remain unassembled in their boxes.  The other photos I've culled from the Internet to save me having to scan my own boxes, as I'm a lazy b*gg*h who prefers taking the easy option whenever possible.

After all, there's no guarantee that any of you will actually read this post, so why should I knock myself out preparing it?  (To which you could reply "Why should we bother reading it if you don't knock yourself out preparing it, eh?"  Oh, I'm a fool to myself, giving you the ammunition with which to shoot me down!)  So, did any of you have an Airfix skeleton when you were kids?  If so, share your reminiscences of building your bony friend with the rest of us.  ("It's alive!")

Thursday 14 March 2024


Copyright DC COMICS and, more importantly, GOD

'Twas on a Saturday or Sunday in April (I think) of 1983, that a pal (by prior arrangement) roped me in to wallpaper his kitchen in his house in Irvine.  First, though, we shot into Glasgow, where among my purchases were DC's Limited Collectors' Edition of The Most Spectacular Stories Ever Told... From The Bible and Marvel's Francis Of Assisi comic.  Between hanging wallpaper and scoffing a fish supper, I browsed through my acquisitions (after washing my hands) and was particularly pleased with the DC periodical due to the quality of the art.

Well, I say 'periodical', but although it was intended as the first in a series, no other issues ever materialised, so I assume it didn't sell as well as was hoped for.  I still have my original copies of both publications, which have stood the test of time far better than I, though I haven't looked at the Marvel Francis comic in quite a few years now (at least).  Back in 2012, I noticed that DC had reissued the Bible Collectors' Edition in hardback and I thought about buying it, but didn't.

Over the years I've sort of regretted that decision, and when I saw one on eBay recently, I immediately snapped it up!  It arrived today (and there's a story about its delivery with which I may regale you one day) and I'm as pleased as Punch to finally own it after all those intervening years (12 to be precise).  Joe Kubert gets star billing on the reissue, but I'm unsure whether he drew the whole thing, with Nestor Redondo inking the main chapters, or whether they both illustrated their own individual segments.

Whichever, it doesn't seem quite fair that Nestor's name doesn't also appear on the cover, so to redress the balance somewhat, I'm showing a couple of interior pages which bear his imprint, but none of Joe's - he's 'confined' to the covers.  Any of you Crivvies ever buy this back in the day, or wasn't it your kind of 'thing'?  Regardless, what do you think of Mr. Redondo's two pages below?  Are you suitably impressed, or does the subject matter prevent them from ringing your bell?

Comments welcome (as if you didn't know).

Below: The front and back covers of my original copy, first published in 1975, but not obtained by me until 1983.  I'd only ever seen it in ads prior to that point.  The Francis Of Assisi mag (not shown here) was published in 1980, so I was a bit of a 'Johnny-Come-Lately' in these two instances.  (Story of my life.)


That Diana Rigg - I dunno what anyone
sees in her!  (Lesson 1 in 'How To Use Irony
In Everyday English'.  I'm a master!)

Wednesday 13 March 2024


Copyright relevant and respective owners

Above is a nice little book that I imagine all fans of Dan Dare would like (and will probably already have).  Got it for a mere £5.99 (RRP £16.99) mail order and it's a nice 'companion piece' for the Fireball XL5 volume I acquired recently.  It came out in 2013, but my copy is brand-new and unread, and though I'm not a massive Dan Dare fan, it's the sort of book I'll enjoy having a browse-through from time-to-time.  And look at that cracking colour illustration below by Don Harley - great, innit?

The Mekon, Dan Dare, and Frank Hampson


Copyright BBC TV and the Estate of TERRY NATION

I already own many early episodes of Doctor Who on DVD, including the first serial featuring The Daleks, but when I saw this colourised, 75 minutes-long edited version on sale, I snapped it up.  Haven't watched the main feature yet, but took a look at the 'making of' documentary and found it interesting.  The colour seems to me more like an old MGM movie than a contemporary colour TV show, though that's merely an observation, not a criticism.

I'd have thought that the best way to edit the original seven 25 minute episodes down to 75 minutes in total would be to follow the template of the Dr. Who And The Daleks movie from the '60s, so it'll be interesting to see if that's what the BBC have done when I finally view the 'film', or have they gone in another direction?  Time (most apt in the case of the Doctor) will tell.

In the meantime, here are some screen-grabs until I can tell you what I think of the newest addition to the Doctor Who legend.  Incidentally, I know 'silver' is the correct colour for The Daleks' 'waist bands', but does anyone else wish they'd rendered them gold as they were in TV Century 21 and other '60s representations (Dalek Annuals and toys), or is it just me?

Who else thinks that Carole Ann Ford looks like Valerie Singleton?

Saturday 9 March 2024


Smudges on the right of the cover, which aren't on the original.  Copyright DC COMICS  

Here's a trio of recent Facsimile Editions from DC Comics you may be interested in acquiring, if you haven't already bought them.  First up, above, is Detective Comics #411, featuring the first appearance of Talia Al Ghul.  The original of this issue has quite a hefty asking price on the collectors' market, as do the next two, so these facsimiles are a relatively inexpensive way of obtaining key issues.

Next, above, is Green Lantern/Green Arrow #87, which is where John Stewart made his debut as a new addition to the Green Lantern Corp.  I wish the facsimile had retained the sideways spine banner declaring the comic's 'bigger & better' status, but for some reason DC opted to omit it.  Why they do such things to what is supposed to be a 'facsimile' is beyond me.  (Unless it was omitted for a previous reprinting.)

In the first two mags, the reproduction of the ads are of a mixed quality; some are crisp and clear, others are obviously scanned from published original issues and are not quite as bright and colourful as the strips themselves.  However, in The New Teen Titans #1 facsimile, above, there are no such problems, as every page is presented with crystal clarity, just the way you'd expect in such an iconic number.


One of the good things about the DC facsimiles is that they've now started placing the barcode boxes on the back covers in an unobtrusive manner.  This, along with the fact that they print the interior pages on non-glossy paper, makes them handsome additions to anyone's collection.  Below, are the splash pages to the above issues.

The indicia appears on the inside cover of the facsimile, not under the splash page.  I don't
have the original to compare, but it looks like the bottom of the page has been extended

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