Monday, 29 February 2016

A DIFFERENT KIND OF COMICS CODE...


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

If American comics still operate the same way today as they've
always done, the June cover-dated monthly mags will be coming out
in March.  That said, there was usually a delay in the United Kingdom,
before the advent of specialist comicbook shops speeded things up for
the British consumer.  Forty years ago, I'm not quite sure when we'd
have had access to mags bearing the month of June on them, but one
thing I do know is that the bar-code box made its first comic-
book appearance on all mags bearing that date.

Forty years!  I can hardly believe it, mainly because that little
box still seems like a relatively recent interloper on the covers of my
favourite comics.  Can it really be the case that it's now existed for the
majority of my comics-buying life?  Tell me it isn't so.  You'd think that
after all this time I'd be used to it, but no - it still leaps out at me like a
spot at the end of someone's nose, demanding my undivided atten-
tion and preventing me from being able to properly focus on the
actual cover art itself.  "Out, damn'd spot!  Out, I say!"

Forty years, eh?  I don't even feel like I'm old enough (most
of the time) to have forty years behind me.  Yet for some strange
reason, I find myself fervently hoping that I've got at least that length
of time ahead of me.  If it passes half as fast as the previous forty, my
life will be over before I even know it, a thought that affords me no
pleasure.  Anyway, I'll try and be gracious and wish that little bar-
code box a Happy 40th Birthday.  And from now on I'll try
 not to stare.  No point in making it self-conscious.

AMAZING FANTASY #15 - FACTS VERSUS FICTION...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

It's surprising just how many people still think that SPIDER-
MAN was thrown into AMAZING FANTASY #15 because it was
the last issue, just so that STAN LEE could get the character out of
his system while assuaging MARVEL publisher MARTIN GOOD-
MAN's reservations about the teenage hero by the fact that, hey,
it was the mag's last ish, so what did it matter?

As you can see from the above lower cover caption box (and
if that's not a contradiction-in-terms, I don't know what is), there
was "An important message to you, from the editor - - about the
new Amazing!"  And what was this message?  Read it below.
(Click to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.)


So there you go - AF #15 was never intended to be the last
issue.  It was meant to be the first in a new direction for the mag, so
clearly the decision to cancel it was made after it had been prepared
for (or sent) to the printers, and maybe even after it had gone on sale.
(See the final caption below for further proof.)  When later recounting
Spidey's debut, Stan remembered that it had appeared in the final ish
of AF, joined two and two together - and came up with five.  Which
is not to suggest that he set out to deceive, only that much of his
'reminiscence' belonged more properly to what he believed
had most likely happened than what actually did.


Regular readers will be aware that I've covered this subject
before, but this time I decided to include the actual pages to show
that I ain't just whistlin' Dixie.  So, yeah, AF #15 was the last ish,
but that's not why Spider-Man appeared in it.  Excelsior!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

BABE OF THE DAY - JORDAN CARVER (AGAIN)...



"How do you get into that dress?" I asked
the lovely JORDAN CARVER.  "Well, buying
me a drink would be a good start!" she said, with
a mischievous glint in her eye.  Now that's what I
call my kinda woman.  Schwiiiinnnggg!

Saturday, 27 February 2016

THE ACT OF CREATION - FACT OR FICTION...?



As an occasional writer of poetry, I can tell you that only
a very small proportion of them were about subjects I set out
to write.  Although I'd occasionally decide on a poem's theme be-
forehand, the majority of my writings resulted from a line popping
into my head from nowhere, then following its own course with not
much direction or assistance from me.  My main contribution was
to juggle some rhymes and then polish the finished poem into a
composition that seemed to be the result of someone who'd
had something specific to say and said it.

Thing is, someone will then ask what your inspiration
or motivation was, and you find yourself relaying a perfectly
convincing account of why you wrote what you did.  A poem
about a fear of the dark?  Well, that was because you recognized
that such a fear was common to a lot of people and you wanted to
make a statementt about it, and...blah, blah, blah!  It's only much
later (if at all) that you may recall it was a random line that jump-
ed into your head, and that you merely followed in its wake.
Honest, take my word for it - however ridiculous that
may sound, that's often simply the way it is.

There's no conscious desire to deceive anyone over
the origins of what you've written, but in being asked what
your motivation was, your mind is misdirected into thinking that
you had one, and it automatically produces a rationalization that
seems entirely likely and reasonable.  If it isn't what actually hap-
pened, it should've been.  You even believe it yourself as you re-
late the creative genesis of your poem or story to your inquisitive
enquirer.  You simply accept it as fact and it may never occur
to you to question or doubt it.  Then, whenever you're asked
about it in future, your mind goes into automatic mode
and you trot out the same old story.

Which brings me to STAN LEE.  Where did he get
the idea for SPIDER-MAN?  Did JACK KIRBY give him
it, did he recall the '30s pulp hero The SPIDER, or was he in-
spired by watching an anarchid crawl up a wall and then decide
to base a comic strip on a character with spider powers?  I don't
think even Stan remembers for sure.  I think it's not unlikely that,
when asked years later what had prompted the idea, his memory
searched itself for a logical explanation and produced one which
seemed the most probable.  And you know what?  It may even
be the true one, with a little creative embellishment
to make it more interesting.

I don't believe Stan has ever consciously lied in an at-
tempt to steal credit for other folk's creations.  I think that
he genuinely believes his accounts of the origins of MARVEL
COMICS and, like I say, they may well be true.  If his version
of events has occasionally strayed from historical fact, it's likely
due only to the fickleness of memory and its ready capacity to
construct order and reason for that which is often the result of
sudden, random impulse and not the deliberate and con-
trolled act of conscious creative endeavour. 

        What think the rest of you?        

RECOMMENDED READING: DK III - THE MASTER RACE...


Images copyright DC COMICS

Here's a new title I think you'll like, Criv-ites.  DARK KNIGHT
III - The MASTER RACE, by - well, you can see the talent listed
on the covers of the first three issues on show here.  Each ish contains
a separate mini-comic, connected to the main tale, but best read after it.
I don't know which version of the DC Universe this story takes place
in (I haven't been buying DC titles for quite a few years now), but it's
shaping up into an intriguing and compelling epic.  Money to spend?
Then give this titanic title a try-out, Criv-ite comic chums!
      




THE ASTONISHING SNIDER-MAN...



This is a page I drew a few years ago, based on the splash
page of AMAZING FANTASY #15.  PETER PORKER is
based on an actual person in Glasgow who lives up to his comic
counterpart's name.  I'll have to try and finish this strip one day
- there's a story that's worth the telling.  In the meantime, have
a chuckle or two at this parody page.

Friday, 26 February 2016

BABE OF THE DAY - JORDAN CARVER...



The only thing I know about JORDAN
CARVER is that she's stunning - but that's
more than enough for superficial me.

"SEE YOU IN YESTERDAY..."


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I've just returned from the mid-'70s after accomplishing
something I should've done forty years ago.  I finally read all
31 issues of HOWARD The DUCK's monthly full-colour comic-
book, something I never managed to do at the time.  You see, back
then, I purchased the first five issues (which I still have), and for
some reason, never got the rest.  In the late '80s or early '90s, I
acquired #s 6-12 from a back issue dealer, but I can't recall
whether I actually read them or not.  Well, I have now!


When I obtained the two volume set of The COMPLETE
COLLECTION of the famous fowl's '70s adventures, I sat
down and read them all in their entirety, several issues at a time.
There's something so quintessentially '70s about these stories, and
so strongly do I associate Howard with that era, that it was almost as
if I'd returned to the period to complete a task I'd begun back then.
It was like long-gone neighbours still inhabited their former homes,
long-vanished shops still thrived, and the long-shrivelled sense
of optimism and eternity still inhabited my once-youthful
soul.  I felt as if I was only 16 or 17 again.


That feeling passed when I finished the last story and
reluctantly returned to the here-and-now.  The illusion was
nice while it lasted, but reality always stalks such brief excur-
sions into the past, waiting to reclaim you for its own once again.
However, don't let that deter you.  If you'd like to feel young and
vital once more, I suggest you revisit a comicbook series that you
associate with a dearly missed time in your life and plunge right in.
The water's lovely, so make the most of it before it evaporates
and you find yourself beached on the dry sands of the pres-
ent.  It's a bitter-sweet experience to be sure, but no
 less worth it for all that.  See you in yesterday.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

RECOMMENDED READING - THE JACK KIRBY OMNIBUS VOLUMES ONE & TWO...


Images copyright DC COMICS

If you're a JACK KIRBY fan (and who isn't?), you're sure to
enjoy these two handsome volumes in DC COMICS' OMNIBUS
series, spanning Jack's DC career from the 1940s right up to his last
comicbook work in the '80s.  It has to be conceded that some of  his
later work wasn't quite in the same league as when he was firing on
all cylinders, but anything by Kirby is always worth a look.

The first volume came out in 2011 and the second in 2013, but
both editions should still be available in your local FORBIDDEN
PLANET store or relatively decent bookshop with a graphic novels
section.  I acquired them only yesterday, but I like them so much I
thought I'd give all you faithful Criv-ites the heads-up so's you can
add them to your own collections if you haven't yet done so.

Read the details on the back covers by clicking on
them to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.



BABE OF THE DAY - PARIS HILTON...



Rich, beautiful, female - and rich.  (Did I
mention that she's rich?)  PARIS HILTON
sure is a catch!  (She's rich you know.)  I've
always quite fancied spending some time in
Paris - but I don't think she's up for it.

RECOMMENDED READING - HOWARD THE DUCK: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION VOLUME TWO...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS 

If you're a smart cookie, you rushed out and bought Volume
One of HOWARD The DUCK:  The COMPLETE COLLEC-
TION when I recommended it to you all a little while back.  So it stands
to reason you'll want to add Volume Two to that space beside it up on the
bookshelf.  Then you'll have every issue of Howard's full-colour monthly
comicbook from the mid-'70s, as well as all sorts of other bonuses.  But
don't take my word for it - read the spiel on the back cover, then get
'round to the nearest FORBIDDEN PLANET store and buy a
copy as soon as you can.  You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

KID'S KLASSIC KOMIC KOVERS - CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1...


Image copyright ROBERT E. HOWARD ESTATE

With CONAN The BARBARIAN #1, British comics artist 
BARRY SMITH had at last begun to divest his art style of the
KIRBY influence and was finally forging ahead with a look more
his own - and thank goodness for that!  As a mere Kirby-clone
he was second-rate, but as himself he was simply first class.

******

(Oh dear, I've done it again!  I've already featured this cover
in a previous post in this series.  Never mind, it's worth seeing
once more, but I need to get myself some memory tablets.)

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

BABE OF THE DAY - SUZANNE DANIELLE...



Crikey!  I'm all a-quiver at the sight of
the delectable SUZANNE DANIELLE!  If
you're not similarly affected then your name's
obviously Graham Norton!

INSCRIPTIONS ON THE HEART...



I got this battered book from eBay a few years ago, and, like
most collectors, I prefer my books to be inscription-free.  However,
lately, I've started to find inscriptions fascinating, as they prompt me to
wonder about the people mentioned in them.  For example, just who was
Bryan, is he yet alive, was he still the apple of his daddy's eye as an adult
as he was as a child?  Did he give the book away, lose it, was it stolen - or
did his mother donate it to a jumble sale when teenage Bryan was out at
school one day?  Did he even give it a second thought, miss it, or was
it he himself who put it on sale on eBay, quite indifferent to the
token of his father's love for him that he was discarding?

Do you ever wonder about the people who originally owned
the second-hand books you've picked up in charity shops, jumble
sales, or eBay?  What's the most touching inscription you can remem-
ber, and do you ever wish that you could have an inscribed book you
received as a child from a now-deceased friend or relative, but
which you later gave or threw away, back again?  Do tell.
  

Monday, 22 February 2016

YOGI BEAR GETS TRANSFERRED...



As regular readers will know, I'm a sucker for just about any
form of YOGI BEAR merchandise.  Why?  'Cos the bold bruin
was a prominent feature of my early childhood and reminds me of
those far-flung days.  Just received these 'dabitties' from the '60s,
and 'though I can no longer recall if I ever actually had them
when I was a mere kidlet, I'm glad to have them now!

"But why are they called 'dabitties'?" some of you may
be wondering.  Because you'd lick (or wet with a sponge) the
back of your hand, place a cut-out transfer onto it, then dab on it
'til it had dried and the image had been 'transferred'.  (I'm sure you
divined the 'transfer' part for yourselves.)  I don't know whether
this was just a Scottish term or it was used across Britain -
what were they called in your neck of the woods?

Now if anyone has a set of DALEK dabitties from the
1960s that they want to sell, I'd be a very happy man!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

THE CLOAK IS - A MAD MIMIC...


Art by MIKE HIGGS

Something I noticed only recently is that a panel from the very
first appearance of The CLOAK (POW! #18, cover-dated May
13th 1967) was clearly based on the front cover of MAD #1 (cover-
dated October-November 1952).  Or could it be no more than mere
coincidence?  Doubt it, but as it took me nigh on 50 years to spot
it, I don't suppose I'll be getting a BLUE PETER badge for my
keen observational skills anytime soon.

Art by HARVEY KURTZMAN  

BABE OF THE DAY - COTE DE PABLO...



"Get yer 'cote' luv - you've pulled!"

KID KLASSICS: THE POWER OF COLOUR - PARTS ONE & TWO...


Art by Walter Simonson.  Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

What a difference colour makes.  Not convinced?  Take a look at these
basic, flat-coloured examples of JACK KIRBY & VINCE COLLETTA
THOR stories from the TALES Of ASGARD 1984 Special (Vol. 2, No.1).
Alongside are the newly coloured, multi-hued MATT MILLA pages from the
hard-cover edition of the same tales.  (First available as a 6-part mini-series.)
The pages are given a whole new dimension, enabling them to go toe-to-toe
with many contemporary offerings available in comics shops today.


Not wishing to labour the comparison, but the difference is similar
to that of an old POPEYE or BETTY BOOP cartoon compared to the
almost 3D effect of the animation in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?
Last year, I bought the computer-coloured reprint of MARVEL COMICS
#1 and the effect was the same.  The pages seem to have become imbued
with a vitality lacking in their original printing and don't appear quite as
dated in contrast to more modern presentations.


A while ago, the U.K. mag AVENGERS UNITED reprinted the Tales of
Asgard series in its original form, and it was generally met with an indifferent,
sometimes even hostile reaction.  It seems that kids of today have been spoiled
by the photo-realistic, more complex colour-art in contemporary stories, and
couldn't quite take to the four-coloured classics of yesterday.  I'm pretty sure
that, had MARVEL/PANINI been able to present the Matt Milla versions
(which hadn't yet been done), the response would've been more positive.


I think it can only be a matter of time before Marvel start colouring all
their stories from yesteryear in this same fashion and then re-presenting
them as 'definitive versions'  in deluxe, hardcovered volumes.  As I said, it
certainly gives them a whole new dimension and might help them to appeal
to younger readers not yet steeped in the company's glorious history who
seem to have an aversion to older material.  (Hard as it is to believe.)

ISBN # 9780-7851-3921-8

The Complete TALES Of ASGARD is available now from all good
comic shops (and has been for some time).  And here, for completists,
is the cover to the original 1968 TOA Special.  (Vol. 1, No. 1.)

Art by Jack Kirby & Frank Giacoia

******

Pencils by Jack Kirby

Following on from the previous post, here are a few more examples
of the difference that colour (or, to be more precise, choice of colour)
can make to a printed page.  The first example, above, is how the cover
of JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #83 would have looked (more or less)
back in 1962.  Compare it against the much brighter, recoloured version
from the first printing of MARVEL MASTERWORKS Vol. 181991/
'92.  (Note:  A superior version, more faithful to the original, appears
in the recent softcover edition of THOR MASTERWORKS.)

Inks by Joe Sinnott

Now compare both of them to TOM CHU's version (below), repro-
duced in the TALES Of ASGARD hardcover volume, which also re-
prints J.I.M. #83's origin.  (Unfortunately, despite the superb colour-
ing, the art has been retouched in places, having been restored from the
reprint in THOR #158.  For a more faithful reprint of this classic story,
see the softcover MASTERWORKS edition, referred to above.)

Colours by Tom Chu

Saturday, 20 February 2016

TALK ABOUT DELUDED...



Is this guy seriously deluded or what?  Giving me a dose of
my own medicine?  What a loser!  It gives me immense satisfac-
tion to know that, without even trying, I can get under the skin of
some frustrated inadequate to such an extent that he feels compelled
to vent his frustration in such an impotent way.  He's obsessed with me
to such a degree that he's glued to my blog every day, according every
post a level of attention that surely marks him out as someone with too
much time on his hands.  Obviously doesn't have a girlfriend or wife
(unless she's inflatable) because he's clearly got no balls - as testified
to by the fact that he hides his real identity behind mine.  Or per-
haps he wants to be me, hence him using my name and face
in the performance of his 'tribute act'?

So let's look at the 'truth', shall we?  I don't impersonate
people, I don't set up fake accounts with the intention of malic-
iously maligning anyone, I don't spread lies about folk, and I'm not
and never have been a 'troll'.  Yet this sad d*ck does all of that and
believes he's got the moral highground?  If anyone's laughing, it's me -
my very existence is the bane of his life and he's so tormented he feels
compelled to express his rage, even if it's only in this childish, pathetic
and laughable way.  (He's clearly of low intellect.)  I've become the
focus of his life and he's on a mission to make people hate me.  As
if anyone gives a sh*t!  I never knew I was so important.  Hey,
I've got my very own 'mini-me', an obsessed stalker -

"Made it, Ma!  Top of the world!"

 Feel free to join me in laughing at the sad bell-end.

******

Just seen his latest tweets - says I 'angrily' say I'm not a
'troll'.  I'm not dealing with 'Brain of Britain' here, am I?  I
laughingly said I'm not a troll - 'cos  I'm not the one im-
personating somebody and telling lies about them, am I?
What a tit!  Thanks for all the extra hits, dobber!

******

His latest tweet is extremely revealing.  Says he's
never used his real name online or the same alias twice.  If
it's a lie, he's a liar, and if it's the truth, he's admitted to being
a 'troll'!  Wotta dobber!  Sounds like someone desperately
trying to cover his tracks.  The boy's a joke. 

ANDY PANDY'S ANNUAL...


ANDY PANDY copyright relevant owner.  Art by PHIL GASCOINE

Hard though it may be to believe, ANDY PANDY first appeared on
TV in June or July of 1950, in the FOR The CHILDREN slot.  Astonish-
ingly, the episodes were first broadcast live, until it was realized that filming
them meant they could be conveniently repeated.  26 episodes were recorded
in 1952 and repeated continuously up until 1970, whereupon 13 new episodes
were filmed.  In 1953, the WATCH With MOTHER name was adopted and
Andy alternated with The FLOWER POT MEN ('52) and RAG, TAG And
BOBTAIL ('53).  PICTURE BOOK and The WOODENTOPS (both 1955)
were later added to the line-up and the 15 minute, 1.30 p.m. slot expanded
from three to five times a week, with other programmes added to the mix
over the following years.  (The Watch With Mother name was finally
dropped in 1975 on the grounds that it sounded dated.)

Surprised as I was to learn that new Andy shows were made in 1970, I
was even more amazed to discover that Andy Pandy Annuals (published
by PURNELL) were issued every year from at least the '60s right into the
early '80s.  Who ever knew Andy was so popular with the Annual-buying
public?  Anyway, I only have one in my collection, dated internally from
1974, so here's two-pages to show you what you've been missing.  (He
also had a strip in the weekly ROBIN nursery comic.)

Anyone got a full set?  (Anyone brave enough to admit to it?)



And here's an extra bonus - the opening and closing credits.


PART FOUR OF TALES OF SUSPENSE COVER GALLERY...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Hah!  Thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?  No chance, Charlie,
the old brain-box may not be as sharp as it once was, but I always
get around to things eventually.  So here's the latest offering in our
sizzlin' TALES Of SUSPENSE cover gallery, so that you cavortin'
Criv-ites can track the early issues of IRON MAN & CAPTAIN
AMERICA's MARVEL-lous adventures in the '60s.

There!  Who said intros have to be long-winded?