Saturday 27 April 2024


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Back in 2015 and 2016 I recommended the first two volumes of The Complete Howard The Duck, containing every issue of Howard's monthly colour comic mag, plus the first issue of his b&w magazine.  At the time, I didn't bother getting the third volume in the set, but that situation has been rectified and the titanic tome is now added to my collection.  I acquired it in brand-new condition via eBay, so if you're a Howard who doesn't yet own this mighty Marvel masterpiece, I heartily recommend it - along with the first two volumes if you don't have them either.  (A belated recommendation of this third volume to be sure, but better late than never!)

Tuesday 23 April 2024


Copyright DC COMICS

If I bought the above book in its year of publication (2008), I've now owned it for 16 years.  However, it's possible I may've got it within the first year or so after it hit bookstores, but whatever the case, I've now had it for a fair amount of time.  I always intended to get around to buying the subsequent three volumes, but only managed to do so fairly recently.  I never bought Wonder Woman at the time the comics reprinted in these volumes first appeared (1969-'72/'73), though I picked some up a number of years later, including the first two or three in Diana Prince's new direction as a 'Cathy Gale/Emma Peel' type adventuress with no Amazonian superpowers whatsoever.

I was always intrigued by this new direction in her career from her few appearances in other mags (Superman, The Brave And The Bold, Lois Lane, World's Finest, etc.) so I'm glad to now be able to read the complete series of all 27 issues from 178 to 204, though 191 was mainly a reprint issue with 5 pages of new material 'bookending' the reprint.  (Issues 197 & 198 were also reprint issues - maybe the artist got behind schedule.)  The first three books present all the covers as full page images, though the fourth one presents most of them as two (reduced) covers per page, with the exception of The Brave & The Bold #105, where Diana guest-stars with Batman.

At a quick count, Denny O'Neil wrote 7 issues of the series, Mike Sekowsky wrote (and drew) 17, with Robert Kanigher and Bob Haney handling whatever Denny and Mike didn't write.  I'm not counting the few other heroes' mags that appear in the collection so as not to spoil the surprise should you ever decide to buy them.  Mike Sekowsky's scripting could do with a bit of polish (or editing) in some places, as the following example from 'The House That Wasn't' shows.  "Stepping into the main room is like stepping back a hundred years in the past as they enter the large main room and see the giant fire place warming the lovely old-fashioned room."

The word 'room' appearing three times in one sentence is too repetitive and would read better with something like... "Entering the large, old-fashioned main room with its giant fireplace radiating a comforting warmth is like stepping a hundred years into the past."  Another aspect of these stories that could stand improvement is the placement of several speech balloons, which seem completely arbitrary.  Some cover faces and parts of figures when there is absolutely no need for it, there being sufficient room elsewhere without obscuring certain parts of the art.

Anyway, I'll spare you further opinions from 'How To Do Comics The Robson Way' and cut straight to the covers of the four volumes.  After all, that's really what you're here for.

Another groovy item (below) I picked up only recently is one from 2011 - Retroactive (1970s) Wonder Woman, written by Denny O'Neil.  Just thought I'd include it as it relates to the tales above and because I liked the cover.  (I wonder why, as I'm as pure as the driven snow, so I am.)

And below is an example of poor placement of speech balloons.  Both of them could've been positioned without obscuring so much of Diana's forehead and face, especially the second one.  That's lazy lettering.  You'd never have caught me doing this sort of thing during my 15-year career in the world of comics (he said, virtuously - if also a little smugly).

Saturday 20 April 2024



Another couple of Marvel classic collectables added to the fold, Crivvies.  I've already got Journey Into Mystery #83, but it's the one with the UK price on it and without the month in the number box.  Now I'm spoilt for choice.  I wish Marvel would hurry up and do a JIM Facsimile Edition, as it would be nice to see this issue in a pristine presentation.  (Even though I already have brand-spanking new reprints of Thor's origin story in various publications.)

Talking of being spoilt for choice, what should I do with myself now?  Gaze lovingly at my Scalextric FAB 1, or luxuriate in the glories of some of the other goodies I've acquired recently?  Just how do I decide?  (Eeny, meeny, miny, moe...)


Copyright relevant owners

It's been many years since I owned a Scalextric set - decades in fact, way back in the '60s - and I have no plans to buy one any time soon, if ever.  However, when I saw this new FAB 1 car from Thunderbirds, I simply had to have it.  I'm content for it to stay in its display case and just enjoy looking at it from time-to-time.  It's definitely the best model representation of Lady Penelope's Rolls Royce I've ever seen, and the detail on her ladyship and Parker is amazing.

It's also quite a bit bigger than the Dinky and Corgi versions, and if there's a finer one to be had than this one, I'd be surprised.  Scalextric also do a TV Batmobile and an Aston Martin D.B.5 (as well as other character cars), but I'm probably over-subscribed in those departments so I'll likely give them a miss.  (Never say never though.)  So whaddya think, Crivvies?  Is the Scalextric FAB 1 the bees-knees or what?  All I can say is "Scalextric - well done!"

To see the first two images at their best, click to enlarge - with the third photo, click to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.

The DOCTOR WHO ANNUAL That Never Was - But IS!

Copyright BBC TV

A few years ago I read somewhere about a privately-produced 'fan' Annual of Dr. Who featuring William Hartnell.  The idea was to make it look as if it'd been published in the '60s and I must confess the idea rather appealed to me.  However, I never got around to ordering one until recently, when semi-regular commenter JP reminded me of its existence.

I think I got the very last one the publisher still had (unless he's printed some more) and I've enjoyed browsing through it.  It's not perfect though, with some decidedly 'dodgy' amateur illustrations, and the lettering and speech balloon shapes on one of the two picture-strips is pretty dreadful, it has to be said.

However, overall, it's a very slick and professional-looking piece of work and most of the art is around the standard of the two genuine Bill Hartnell Dr. Who Annuals for 1966 and '67, so this one makes a nice addition to anyone who has them in their collection.  I think there are other 'faux' Annuals for other years (and Doctors), but I won't be bothering with them.

Anyway, thought you Crivvies might like to see a few images from my newest acquisition, so here they are - enjoy!  (And welcome back to the '60s.) 

This isn't the strip I referred to in my intro - this is the 'better' lettered of the two

Wednesday 17 April 2024

The MARVEL AGE Begins - FF #1...


Newly arrived at Castel Crivens, the latest addition to my burgeoning collection of comicbook classics, without which my life would be incomplete.  Two more arriving tomorrow for any of you who might be interested - if so, check in then.  Ah, I'm wishing my life away, fool that I am.

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 what is now regarded as the first illustrated original Dr. Who novel, or perhaps more accurately, novella.)  

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!     

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