Tuesday, 31 March 2015

CLUB BY NAME, CLUB BY NATURE...


TO TOE THE PARTY LINE AND NOT HAVE
OR EXPRESS AN OPINION OF YOUR OWN

An interesting development to my recent post about discrimination
is a comment from someone called IAN ELLERY, who is apparently
the chairman of THE CARTOONISTS' CLUB OF GREAT BRITAIN.
I think I've heard of it (unless it's a similarly titled club I'm thinking of), but
I've certainly never heard of Ian Ellery.  You've read the comments I left on
TONY ISABELLA's blog - polite, civil, mild-mannered, non-offensively
stated (unless you're the kind of person who'd take offence at the list of 
ingredients on a tin of soup) - certainly not what you'd call a "rant".
Let's look at Mr Ellery's comment on that other blog, shall we?
  
"He is a well known Troll.  You are better off ignoring him and
not giving him a forum for his deliberately provocative rants."

So, completely impartial and fair-minded then.

I'm not sure why someone I've never heard of and with whom
I've had no previous dealings, would seek to malign my name for no
justifiable reason in a public forum, but it's a shame he should violate
what I'd  hope is the ethos of his club by bad-mouthing me for merely
expressing an opinion.  By not contributing anything meaningful to the
topic on that other blog and resorting to malicious comments about the
character of someone completely unknown to him (me), he surely epit-
omises the definition of the very word with which he attempts to sully
my name.  Now perhaps you understand why I so robustly defend
myself  when other detractors seek to do the same.  The reason
is simple - lies spread quickly when not cut off at the root.

Shame on you, sir!  Shame on you!

******

(UPDATE:)

Never one to take things lying down, I
sent Mr. Ellery the following email:

"I take exceptiom to you describing me as a well-known
troll on Tony Isabella's blog.  I may be well-known (debatable),
but expressing an opinion that you or anyone else may disagree
with does not qualify me as a troll.  Be assured that I will be
exploring my legal options to make you accountable for
publicly maligning me."

Mr. Ellery didn't reply, but later left this
comment on Mr. Isabella's blog:

"And now he's trolling me by email and on his own blog."

Now, I'm not quite sure how sending a civilly-worded
email to someone who has publicly defamed me equates with
trolling, but Mr. Ellery clearly isn't interested in accuracy or the
truth.  However, now I'm trolling on my own blog?  Doesn't
seem to be connected to reality either.  Some people, eh?

Monday, 30 March 2015

'IS A BELL A' BELL WHEN ITS CHIME RINGS HOLLOW?



Advisory:  Controversial subject ahead.  If this isn't your
cup of tea, please feel free to sit this one out until something
more up your street comes along.

******

Did you know that, in Scotland, a shop can refuse to sell
you any of its goods for any (or no) reason at all?  Just because
they're offering an item (or service) for sale, they're not legally
obliged to accept your offer to purchase it.  I think it might be the
same in the rest of Britain, but I'm not 100% sure.  However, un-
less the law has been changed recently and nobody told me,
that's the way things are.

At times I've tried to buy an item on display in a shop, only
to be told I can't have because it's the last one and needed for
display purposes.  "Why display something that you don't have
to sell?  Why not sell me that one, then put another on display
when you get more in?  Otherwise, you're going to be pestered
by folk trying to buy something that you don't have, and
waste time explaining why they can't have it."

My words usually fell on deaf ears 'though, mainly because
the staff were simply too lazy to disturb their display in order to
make a sale.  Madness or what?  The point I'm making however is
that shops are allowed to discriminate in this way and there's not
lot that you or I can legally do about.  And that's the point of
this particular post, people - discrimination.

Discrimination is a neutral word; you can either discriminate
in favour of someone or against them - whether it's positive or
negative depends on its context.  And we all discriminate to some
degree or other all the time, whether it's refusing to sell alcohol to
a drunk in an Off-licence or pub, or simply because we don't
like someone's attitude or the mere look of them.

There was a case in Britain somewhere (might even have
been Scotland) not that long ago, where the proprietors of a
Bed & Breakfast establishment refused to rent a double-room to
a gay couple, as homosexuality is against the proprietors' religious
beliefs.  The gay couple were offered rooms, but not a double room.
Now, whatever you or I might think of this attitude, whether we re-
gard it as bad business practice, small-minded, prudish, ridiculous,
or whatever, if your place of work is also your home, shouldn't
you be allowed to set the rules of behaviour for guests,
however much others may object to them?

You have a choice, you see.  If you don't like the way some-
one conducts their business, you're free to go elsewhere.  Or you
can bite the bullet and observe the 'rules of the house'.  You have the
freedom to take your custom elsewhere, and they have the freedom to
refuse your custom if they so wish.  In this particular instance, I think
the courts found against the B&B when the couple sought redress for
offended feelings, although, given the law as it applies to similar situ-
ations when a business declines to accept an offer to buy goods
or services on sale, there seems to be a double-standard
operating in the court's ruling.

(Just as an aside, if a prostitute declined to 'entertain' some-
one on the grounds of the would-be patron's ethnicity or gender,
would they be liable to prosecution under the same principle as
above?  I'll let the lawyers work that one out.)

Anyway, as some (if not most) of you will know, the U.S. state
of Indiana recently passed 'religious freedom' leglisation that is in-
tended to ensure that if, for example, you're a minister, priest, rabbi,
or deeply religious person, you can't be compelled to conduct/facili-
tate/indulge a gay marriage ceremony (for example) that goes against
your religious beliefs.  As with most legislation, there are probably
ways in which this can be applied in instances where it wasn't in-
tended or envisioned.  The law can always be misused by
those determined to do so.

However, whatever you may think of someone's religious
beliefs, is it unreasonable to allow them the freedom not to par-
ticipate in something with which they disagree?  To ensure that
they can't be compelled to participate, in fact.  (Okay, I know that
we run the risk of new religions popping up, where their adherents
claim it's against their beliefs to pay taxes, and part of their faith
to take as many drugs as they can get their hands on, but
let's keep things manageable at this stage.)

Here's what TONY ISABELLA (a comicbook writer,
for those not in the know) had to say about the matter on
his blog recently:

"I just made a very painful decision.  Because the governor
of Indiana and its state legislature have come down on the side
of bigotry and discrimination, I cancelled what would have been
my first convention appearance in that state in a decade or
three.  Sometimes a writer has to walk the walk.

I will have more to say on this in the near future."

Now, I freely admit that I'm taking the new legislation (which
many states in the U.S. have adopted) at face value, based on a
cursory reading on the internet, but ignoring for the moment any
ways in which it can be misused or abused, the basic core of this
legislation (the principle upon which it's based) is simply to ensure
that you can't, by law, be compelled to participate or facilitate
something which goes against the tenets of your religion or
conscience.  (Within reason, I would hope.)

Here's the comment I made on Mr. Isabella's blog:

"Is it bigotry or discrimination 'though?  If people who
don't support or endorse a certain kind of lifestyle don't want
to cater to it (which is I suppose is what you're referring to), surely
they shouldn't be compelled to if it's against their beliefs, religious
or otherwise.  Isn't that freedom?  Bigotry often appears to be too
handy a word to describe anyone with a different opinion.  The
world is full of people who don't see things the same as us - on a
variety of topics.  Should we refuse to be served at our local
supermarket by the guy who has a different view to
us on something?"

And here's Mr. Isabella's response:

"I'm calling complete and utter bullshit on your comments,
Kid.  What Indiana is doing is clearly bigotry and is clearly dis-
crimination.  A business does not have the right to refuse service
to a customer because of the customer's sexual orientation.  The
one and only places where these faux-Christian bigots gets to dis-
criminate are in their homes and their churches.  A customer can
choose not to patronize a business for any damn reason they want.
A business cannot choose to deny service to someone because they
are gay or black or even a ridiculous right-wing asshole.  That's
how America works.  If your next response is to complain that I
am intolerant of intolerance, don't bother.  I'm a grumpy old
man who doesn't have patience for such nonsense."

I replied, pointing out the same things I mentioned in
the opening paragraphs of this post, so to avoid repetition,
I'll skip past them.  I opened my response thus:

"Well, I was actually asking a question more than
making any kind of a statement, in an attempt to under-
stand your point of view.  (Skips.)  However, I think you're
perhaps missing the point slightly, if you don't mind me being so
respectfully bold.  Obviously, if you see something one way and
someone else sees it another way, there is always going to be disa-
greement.  If it's against your beliefs (again, religious or otherwise),
and you just cannot see any sense to their point of view, then it will
seem unreasonable to you.  (And vice versa in the case of the person
you oppose.)  It's a bit like Algebra, which is a total mystery to me.
However,  just because can't comprehend it, I wouldn't say it
was bullsh*t.  That's because I'm smart enough to know
that I'm not smart enough to understand everything.

To me, 'bigotry' is usually accompanied by hatred -
total and unreasoning.  We now live (mainly) in a society
where people of a different sexual orientation are no longer
persecuted or prosecuted, villified, abused or shunned.  (We'll
forget the Westboro Babtist Church for the moment.)  That's be-
cause we practice tolerance, even when a thing might be some-
thing with which we disagree.  That disagreement in itself does
not constitute bigotry 'though (in my view).  However, in some
cases, although people are prepared to tolerate certain views
or behaviour, they may feel that, in all good conscience, they
cannot themselves become involved in sanctioning it by
doing something that furthers that with which
they disagree.

Now, perhaps I misunderstand what's going on in the
state of Indiana, but it appears to me that the legislation
only protects people from being forced to participate in some-
thing they (politely, non-violently, perhaps even usually silently)
oppose.  That's what freedom is, surely?  People not being forced
to do something which is against their conscience.  Isn't that the
American way?  So if you're gay you can get married (you'll al-
ways find someone who will oblige you in a diverse society), but
if the notion sits uncomfortably with you if you're a priest, min-
ister or rabbi (or whatever) you can't be forced to do some-
thing that isn't in accord with your beliefs.  Whether or
not those beliefs seem sensible or not to others is
another discussion.

Incidentally, I'm also a grumpy old man, but I believe
in trying to be polite, even in the face of seeming hostility
for expressing a point of view with which others might
not agree.

Pax Vobiscum."

Mr. Isabella responded thus:

"That was your last say on this, Kid.  All you've done is
try and make excuses for bigotry and discrimination.  If you
know anything about me or my work, you know I have little
patience for such.  Your future comments on this matter
will not be approved for publication."

Knowing that it wouldn't be published, I sought to
address what I saw as Mr. Isabella's misperception.

"Nope, that's not what I've tried to do at all.  What I've
tried to do is explain to you that what you see as bigotry and
discrimination is what others may see as religious or personal
freedom.  There's always at least two sides to every situation and
just because you (or anyone) doesn't, can't, or won't see the other
side's point of view on any given matter, it doesn't necessarily mean
that they're bigots, homophobes, @ssholes or scum.  However, it's
your blog and you can publish what you like, but I'd appreciate you
not characterising my comments as something they're not.  Thank
you.  I'll probably be addressing this topic and your attitude to it
on my own blog, seeing as how you have no patience or respect
for any view that isn't in accord with your own.  Unreason-
ing hatred of another's point of view, eh?  Sounds pretty
much like bigotry to me."

(Or at least something just as ugly.)
Mr. Isabella saw fit to reply:

"I gave Kid - Why do guys like him never actually sign
their comments? - one more minute of his fifteen minutes so
that you can read his implied threat of - yawn - exposing me as
a bigot.  I think I can stand on my record of supporting equal
rights and inclusion.  Heck, my record is a public record on
account of I actually sign my name to my comments
and columns.

I make no apology for limiting Kid's further appear-
ances in the comments.  He's had his unconvincing say.  I
see no benefit in allowing him to say the same thing over and
over again.  Let him post what he wants on his own blog.  If
worried about that sort of thing, I wouldn't write what
I write."

I objected to Mr. Isabella misrepresenting my comment,
and said so in a reply that will doubtless never see print:

"Actually, Kid's my longtime nickname, and the name I
worked under when I was a full-time comics contributor (IPC,
Marvel) for 15 years.  As anyone can find out (along with my
surname) by clicking on my avatar.  So once again you distort the
reality of the situation in your unreasoning hatred of those with a
different opinion to yours.  And there was no 'implied threat' to
expose you as a bigot on my blog.  (Whatever you are is plain
for all to see on your own site.)  I was merely advising your
readers and yourself that I would cover the topic on
my blog and correct your misrepresentations."

Now, I'm not interested in changing anyone's mind on the
matter.  All that concerns me is that people should be allowed
to hold and express a dissenting point of view without being called
names over it, or characterised as a backward, unthinking, primitive
savage whose opinion is motivated or inspired by unreasoning hatred 
of another group of people.  Admittedly, I'm kind of fed up of society
being battered and bullied into submission by vocal minorities who aren't
satisfied with us tolerating them, and who seemingly won't be happy until
the rest of society is re-modelled in their image to accommodate their
 likes and dislikes over everyone else.  (For example, lesbian couples
insisting that the words 'mother' and 'father' be removed from an
NHS booklet on childbirth because it made them feel
excluded.  And their demands were met.)

It's a shame that Mr. Isabella prefers to portray anyone
with a different opinion to him in such a negative light all the
time, but I suppose it's easier than accepting the possibility that
the other side may just have a point after all, and addressing the
actual topic.  Those who seek to dismiss dissent by demonising
their opponents (on whichever side of the divide) clearly have
no reasoned argument to offer, and are no better or wiser
than the folk they look down on.
   
I believe I'm a reasonable man.  Read the above comments
again, and tell me where you see hostility, rudeness, and a lack
of respect or consideration for the other guy's point of view.

I don't think it's mine.

PART TEN OF GERRY ANDERSON'S TV CENTURY 21 COVER GALLERY...



The eagerly-awaited new series of THUNDERBIRDS is on ITV next
Saturday night (April 4th) at 5 p.m., so while we're all waiting, here's a
look back at when the original incarnation was at its peak - in the pages
of Britain's best-selling comic, TV CENTURY 21.

It'll be interesting to see whether the amount of associated merchandise
which hits the toyshops will match that of the '60s, but I'm not sure I'll be
buying any this time around.  My house is restricted for space and I need
to conserve what little I have left for collectables from my childhood.  I'll
wait and see the quality, however, before I make up my mind for sure.

Personally, I always preferred FIREBALL XL5, and I wish they'd
colourise the episodes and re-broadcast them on TV.  That way, if the
show was a hit with the kids of today, I could look forward to loads of
cracking new retro-style 'must-have' goodies to add to my collection.

Anyway, will you be watching the new Thunderbirds to see if it's as
good as the one you remember from your youth, or will you be down
the pub with the lads, talking about fitba' and wummen?  Before you
decide, glance over these ten classic covers from childhood and re-
immerse yourself in the innocent joys of yesteryear!
  








(BOND) BABE OF THE DAY - MARTINE BESWICK...



MARTINE BESWICK is an absolute corker of a
BOND BABE, as you can see for yourself in this still
from THUNDERBALL.   Don't you just hate SEAN
CONNERY for all the cracking burds he got paid to
snog in his movie career?  S'not fair! 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN - PART THREE...



When I first saw the cover of UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-
MAN #15, I did a double-take.  "What am I doing on the cover of
that comic?" I asked myself, seeing as how I had a double-breasted suit,
hairstyle and beard just like GORDON SAVINSKI.  (To say nothing of
the same first name.)  And believe it or not (shock, horror) there are some
who'll tell you that, just like him, I'm a bit of a b@st@rd.  (It's not true of
course - I'm the epitome of niceness.  (Ask my good buddies - SADDAM,
ADOLF and VLADIMIR.  Two of them are dead, but it shouldn't be
a problem if you can reach a happy medium.)

Anyway, that's enough guff from me, enjoy part three!


















Saturday, 28 March 2015

WHIZZER & CHIPS ANNUAL COVER GALLERY - PART ONE...



WHIZZER & CHIPS came out in October 1969 and lasted
one week past its 21st (uncelebrated) birthday issue in 1990.  The
first Annual came out towards the end of 1970 (for '71), and the last
one came out in 1993 (for '94) - making a total of 24 Annuals in all.
However, there was a  25th Annual in 2014 (for '15), with material
reprinted from earlier books in the run.  (What a comeback, eh?
A whole 21 years after the previous Annual.)

Here then, is the first instalment in a four part series of Whizzer
& Chips Annual covers, which, hopefully, you'll all enjoy.  Have
you any happy memories of receiving one of these bumper books
for Christmas when you were a lad?  Then the comments section
awaits your joyous reminiscences.

******

It's just hit me on re-reading this post that the weekly Whizzer
& Chips will have been absent from our newsagents' counters for
25 years come October.  That of course means that it's been gone
four years longer than it lasted.  Gone for a quarter of a century!
Where did the time go?  I'm numb at the thought.





THE CRUNCH COVER GALLERY - PART SEVEN...



So here we are again, with yet another instalment of THE
CRUNCH cover gallery - despite there seeming to be little or no
interest in this D.C. THOMSON title from the late 1970s.  I guess
it was exactly the same back then, otherwise the weekly periodical
would've been around for longer than it was - a mere 54 issues.  Still,
if you've nothing better to do, it won't kill you to take a moment to
cop a gander at these pulsating piccies from yesteryear.  Is there
anyone out there who remembers this comic?
   







NEVER BE WITHOUT A BEANO - ESPECIALLY ONE FROM 1954...


All images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

Thanks to a generous benefactor, I now own issue #646
of THE BEANO from 1954.  Just think - WATKINS, REID,
BAXENDALE and LAW - all in one comic.  Things seldom (if
ever) got better than this, and I'm sharing these masterpieces
of art with all you Criv-ites!  So - where's my BLUE PETER
badge for unselfish generosity?

And just think - The BASH STREET KIDS weren't
even called that then.  A slice of history, or what?!