Monday, 25 May 2015


Here's the lovely LESLEY ANN WARREN
to get your pulses racing - and make you think about
trading in the wife for a newer model with less mile-
age on the clock.  (Oh, I am awful - but I like me.)


By the time the TV21 Annual for 1973 hit the shops, it was a
far different yearly publication than it had once been.  For a start,
gone were all the GERRY ANDERSON related stories and in their
place were strips typical of just about any other book for boys.  The
one exception to blandness was STAR TREK, which maintained the
outer space theme once represented by FIREBALL XL5, ZERO X,
and even, to a degree, THUNDERBIRDS.  (The previous two
Annuals had also lacked any 'CENTURY 21' content.)
So, let's take a look at the first of two ST strips which appeared
in the last-ever Annual of what had, for a time, been the best-selling
children's publication to grace the counters of Britain's newsagents.
I'll present the second titanic tale soon, so keep your palpitatin'
peepers peeled for those pulse-pounding pages.


ALEXANDRA BASTEDO - ee, champion!
(I'm too tired to think of anything original.)

Sunday, 24 May 2015


Sit back, kick off your shoes and let your
troubles melt away, as one of the gentlest voices
any human ever possessed tells you the story
of The Fool's Paradise.


In light of Ireland recently 'legalizing' gay marriage and
a certain American blogger crowing about it on his blog, here
are my thoughts on the matter - for any of you who might be
interested.  If not, feel free to skip.  (It's a long one.)


The concept of 'right' and 'wrong' is a strange one.  Is it 'right'
to put your pet pig in a dress and take it dancing?  After all, what
harm does it do?  Probably none ('though the pig may disagree) - but
there are some things which just aren't 'appropriate' and that seems
like one of them.  Just why the hell would you want to?  It would be
hard to articulate exactly why you don't think it's a worthwhile
pursuit, but that in itself doesn't mean that your reservations
about such behaviour are wrong or misplaced. 

When it comes to deciding what is seemly or fitting, we usually
operate on an instinctive level, then decide on the intellectual justi-
fication after the fact.  We feel what is right or wrong, and then try
to articulate why we feel that way, which can often be difficult.  I was
once talking with a friend about teenage misbehaviour, like underage
drinking and sex (between themselves, not with adults) and he
wondered if there was any point in trying to prevent them.

He wasn't proposing that we shouldn't - just pondering, as a
point of discussion, whether there was anything to be gained from
trying.  "After all," he said, "children are there to be corrupted."
No, he didn't mean that in a sinister, paedophilic way;  merely that,
as society is going to allow children to participate in all the things we
consider 'adult vices' when they reach a certain age, is it worth pre-
venting them from indulging in habits they will one day embrace
when they're 'old enough'?  In short, is there a certain
hypocrisy at work in society's outlook?

Wouldn't it be better (or at least more consistent) if our dis-
approval of certain kinds of behaviour applied to everyone and
not just people of a certain age?  After all, if certain practices are
considered as not being 'good' for them, surely they're likely to be
just as bad for adults as they are children or teenagers?  Or do adults
not matter so much?  However, I'm in danger of drifting away from
the main point, which I'll get to soon, I promise.  I just thought
I'd throw that in there for some extra mental stimulation.

Now, this is a blog mainly about comics - or at least it's
supposed to be.  However, other blogs often touch on wider
subjects so I see no reason why this one shouldn't too, on occa-
sion.  And because it's been in the news recently (and even relates
to what's been happening in the comics world), the subject I feel
obliged to address is the vocal opposition to, and open derision
of, opponents of gay marriage.  In particular, a certain U.S.
blogger's smug, contemptuous and dismissive disdain of
any arguments against it.

Not that I'm obsessed with the subject, but other people
seem to be.  On that afore-mentioned otherwise excellent blog,
the writer is always bleating on about the topic and crowing when
yet another state across the pond gives up the ghost and caves in to
vocal, militant minorities and votes to allow gay marriage.  I feel
that someone should step up to the plate and try and provide
some balance on the subject.  Looks like it's me.

The blogger I refer to claims that there is no logical,
valid argument against gays being allowed to marry (or adopt),
and that it's bound to be legalized in states all across America be-
fore too long.  He's probably right on the latter part of that sentence,
but I wouldn't assume that it's because cynical politicians necessarily
approve of it, but because they're trying to cultivate the 'pink' vote.
There does appear to be less resistance to the idea of homosexuals
marrying, but I fear that's mainly because society has been worn
down by relentless pressure from advocates of gay marriage,
and because of a particular perception which has been
nurtured over the years.

One of the most insidious insinuations ever to rear its
ugly head is the one that seeks to suggest that anyone with a
problem accepting homosexuality as a perfectly healthy, natural
expression of human behaviour is actually a suppressed homo-
sexual.  I'm sure you've heard it more than once.  "It's a well-
known fact that anyone who has a problem with homo-
sexuals is usually one himself."

While I'm prepared to concede that it's probably true in
a few isolated cases, it's mainly bunkum.  It's simply impossible
for everyone who objects to the practice on religious or cultural
grounds (or simply a natural aversion to it) to be a great big scream-
ing wooftah in denial of his or her gayness.  However, the idea took
root because it silenced criticism from people who simply didn't
want to go through the tedious process of having to deny
what they're not.

Another effect of this myth was to suggest that, if you're
'cool' about homosexuality, it also means that you're secure in
your heterosexuality, so many people overcompensated in their
attempts to affirm their 'straightness' by embracing 'gay rights'.  I
suspect that quite a high proportion of the alleged 'support' for gay
marriage and adoption springs from some people either trying to
appear 'cool', enlightened, or attempting to deflect potential doubt
over their own sexuality.  Also, many people just don't give a
sh*t one way or the other, and this apathy is interpreted as
not being 'against' and therefore 'for'.

It's a simple fact that sexual attraction between men and
women has long been considered the norm, and that any other
kind - whether it be sexual attraction to members of the same sex,
trees, shoes, animals, children, etc. - is outside of the norm.  To say
that one thing isn't normal is not necessarily to claim that it's criminal,
or immoral, or falls into the same category as other things not regard-
ed as normal.  Therefore, when one says that both homosexuality and
paedophilia are not normal, that is not to automatically ascribe to the
former the same degree of 'wrongness' as the latter;  one is between
consenting adults and the other isn't.  However, just because a
certain form of sexual expression is consensual, that in itself
does not necessarily mean that it is normal - or 'right'.

The jury's still out on whether homosexuality is caused by
nature or nurture, or a combination of both.  People can develop
sexual appetites for particular kinds of sex, whether they were born
with an inclination in that direction or not.  The amount of same-sex
behaviour reputed to occur in many American jails demonstrates that
otherwise 'straight' people can develop 'tastes' in that direction.  It's
therefore too much of a simplification to say that "You're either
born gay or you're not!" - although some people do seem
to lean more over that side of the fence than others.
But what's the objection to it?  Where's the harm in it?
That really depends on your concept of right and wrong, good
or bad, appropriate or inappropriate.  For example, some people
think that there's no harm in swearing or using 'offensive' language.
Cuss-words are just words and everybody uses them, so who cares
if kids swear?  They're going to swear when they're adults, so what's
the point in stopping them now?  Well, if you really see no harm in
swearing, nothing I can say will ever convince you otherwise.  It
would be like trying to explain colour to someone who is 100%
colour blind - it's simply beyond their ability to discern
because they lack the necessary optical  equipment.

However, if you wince when you hear bad language, if
you think it debases those who use it as a matter of course, that
it robs human beings of the nobility to which they should aspire,
then you don't want your kids to be exposed to it - or use it them-
selves.  Therefore, the more common it becomes, you can see the
negative effect that it can have on society as a whole.  After all,
is society a better, nicer place because people can now
freely use the 'c' word on telly?  I think not.

But where's the harm you ask?  If you really can't already
see it, I could never explain it to you.  You've either got that
sense of 'propriety' or you haven't.  Same goes for gay marriage
and adoption.  Resistance to such notions are felt at an instinctive
level, and trying to articulate an objection is often difficult, and even
pointless.  Frankly, it doesn't matter if I hit you with the most logical,
well-reasoned, pertinent explanation of why such changes in society
are undesirable, if you don't want to accept that point of view,
you never will, regardless of what I or anyone else says.

So how do you convince someone of what they refuse to be
convinced by?  Are unable to be convinced by, in fact.  The
simple answer is you can't, but that doesn't mean that you
should allow yourself to be bullied into silence.

Once upon a time, gays wanted tolerance - and they got it.
Not content with that however, they then started to demand
that society bend the knee to their whims and not only indulge
their wants, but enthusiastically embrace them.  Nowadays, you're
not able to express concerns about the creeping onslaught of homo-
sexual propaganda that pervades all sections of society without being
labelled a bigot or a homophobe, or regarded as an ignorant, unen-
lightened savage who is a blight on 'civilization'  There is no tolerance
of any viewpoint that isn't in accord with the notion that being gay
is perfectly natural, perfectly acceptable, perfectly normal and,
seemingly, perfectly desirable.  And don't be fooled by those
who say that intolerance of intolerance isn't the same thing.
It's exactly the same, especially in a case such as this.

Here's why.  No sensible, decent person believes that gay
people should be taken out and shot, beaten, whipped, imprison-
ed, or verbally abused in any way.  If people of the same sex want
to live together, then that's no one's business but their own.  Society
tolerates such lifestyles.  However, that shouldn't mean that it's obliged
to endorse them.  Marriage is something that was invented for men and
women.  The concept of husbands and wives is a natural one.  The idea
that a husband can have a husband, or a wife a wife, is simply absurd.
Letting men marry men or women marry women is nothing more than
an act of mimicry - like kids dressing up in their parents' clothes and
pretending to be adults.  Letting them do it doesn't make it so.
Gays insist on being allowed to 'marry' because they believe
it 'validates' their relationships in some way.  It doesn't.

However, that's not the only reason.  Gays also insist
on being allowed to marry because it's their way of imposing
their views on the rest of us;  it's their way of clubbing us into sub-
mission and rubbing our faces in the fact that they're determined to
get their way and make us cry 'uncle'.  After all, marriage has become
less popular over the years amongst straight couples, who realised that
they don't need society's endorsement to validate their relationships.  So
why do gays  feel the need to have seeming 'approval' from mainstream
society by hijacking a diminishing tradition? "Poor is the man whose
pleasures depend on the permission of another" is the message of
singer and gay rights advocate, MADONNA, at the beginning of her
hit song, JUSTIFY MY LOVE.  It's clumsily worded, because,
between consenting adults, sexual pleasures do indeed
depend on (mutual) permission, but you get the idea.

Why can't they just do whatever they want to do, without
demanding that everyone else must think as they do in order to
validate their opinion of themselves?  It doesn't matter how many
times a husband is placed in the position of having to say "No, dear,
your bum doesn't look big in that dress!", the fact remains that a
fat arse is a fat arse.  It's an emperor's new clothes situation:  In a
pathetic desire to appear cool, sophisticated, enlightened, liberal,
tolerant, progressive, anti-oppressive, people clap and applaud
when a man takes a husband or a woman a wife, and think
"How wonderful, how brilliant, how lovely!" and feel
very pleased about how 'accepting' they are.

Meanwhile, truly sensible people, whose 'bullsh*t
detectors are still operational, whose ability to discern what
is normal and what is just plain silly, look on, scratching their
heads and wondering why others just can't see what a ridiculous
situation is being allowed - nay, encouraged - to develop.  But
how can we explain to others that the "emperor is naked" when
they're determined to see only the finest, slim-inducing, figure-
enhancing garments draped over a corpulent carcass?

No, I'm not a homophobe - nor are you if you share my
viewpoint.  As I said, if two people of the same sex want to
set up house together, then let 'em.  We can tolerate that.  We
don't hate them, nor do we wish them any ill-will.  If they want
the tax breaks and other benefits that straight people enjoy, then
they should be able to trot along to the council offices and declare
their partner as heir and next of kin.  That way, in the event of
death, the surviving partner is protected from the assault of
grasping relatives who want him or her to receive nothing
from the deceased's estate.  Problem sorted.

But marriage?  Adoption?  Marriage is for men and
women, children are the 'product' of men and women, and no
amount of social engineering and manipulation, no amount of
shifting the goalposts, of gays mimicking centuries-old traditions
and ceremonies of heterosexual couples is going to make same-sex
'marriage' truly normal.  Any more than kids smoking or drinking,
or dressing up in their parents' clothes, makes them truly adult.
Like gays, they remain grotesque caricatures of the real thing.
(To return to my earlier analogy, a pig in a dress with
lipstick on is still only a pig, not a woman.).

Note that just because I believe that gays shouldn't
be allowed to adopt doesn't mean I'm saying they should
be denied access to children.  One of the objections that gay
people have with an anti-adoption stance is that they suspect it
suggests they should be kept away from kids, therefore equating
homosexuality with paedophilia.  That's not what I'm saying in the
slightest.  Gay people have brothers and sisters, nephews and
nieces, and I'm sure that most of them are great older siblings,
aunts and uncles, and, of course, babysitters.  I just believe
that kids have the right to be brought up by a mother
and a father, that's all.  It's nature's way.

So where's the harm?  If homosexuality ever does come
to be fully regarded as normal, it's extremely likely that more
people will 'experiment' with it when they're growing up.  With
no social stigma, a drunk youth, having a gay pass made at him
or her at a party, may well succumb to such an advance.  Even if,
afterwards, they decide it's not for them, their heterosexuality has
been compromised, whether they even regard it as such or not.
Of course, if you see nothing wrong with homosexuality, you
won't regard that as a problem, but if you have reservations
about such behaviour and don't want your kids exposed
to such situations, then you're of a different view.

In the end, it comes down to a difference of opinion.
Yours may be different from mine, but mine has the weight
of tradition behind it and therefore shouldn't be dismissed so
lightly, nor should I or anyone else who shares that opinion be
dismissed as ignorant or unenlightened, bigoted or homophobic.
I don't hate gays, 'though I do have an acute aversion to LOUIS
SPENCE.  (Doesn't everyone?)  I don't think that's because he's
gay 'though, it's more to do with him being an immensely
irritating, overly-camp prat.

I'll leave you with this:  Comedian BOB HOPE once
joked that he didn't mind homosexuality being legal, just so
long as it didn't become compulsory.  It may never be that, but
make no mistake - society is being reshaped to accommodate gay
sensibilities.  One day, in the not too distant future, it may well be
considered as normal for your offspring to choose the sex of their
partners as it is for them to decide whether they prefer blondes or
brunettes.  It's a toss-up as to whether they'll be permitted  to
engage in sex at thirteen and be allowed to drink and take
drugs before or after that happens, but place your bets -
it's the world that's coming!

Agree?  Disagree!  Offended?  Delighted?  Want to
argue with me, congratulate me, insult me - or question
my parentage?  Or how about a punch-up in the pub car
   park?  I'm game for a laugh.  Fire away!    

Saturday, 23 May 2015


The first Annual to spring from weekly comic The MIGHTY
WORLD Of MARVEL was simply titled MARVEL, and was issued
in 1972 (for '73).  The next three books in the series were likewise so
christened, following the pattern established by the first one.  It seems
the initial choice of name for the weekly had been The WONDERFUL
WORLD Of MARVEL, but this was eventually changed to 'Mighty' -
although a feature in the Annual for '73 used the original description.
I suppose the final moniker was still in a state of indecision when the
first book was being prepared, hence it plumping for the simple,
single sobriquet to avoid confusing readers.

With the 1977 Annual (released in '76), its parentage was finally
acknowledged, leaving potential buyers in no doubt as to the book's
affiliation to the weekly periodical.  What took them so long?  For no
other reason than that it's good to see them, here are the covers to the
first three books to bear the name of the comic they sprang from.  My
own view is that the comics and books were both Mighty and
Wonderful, but that would've made the logo too long.

Do you remember what your first Marvel Annual was?  Leave
a comment and share your reminiscence with the rest of us.


Well, they're being pulled in the opposite direction
to what I'd prefer, but HEATHER THOMAS is still
one fit babe.  Anyone disagree?  Then you're a poof!
Back to your knitting, there's nothing for you here.


"Everyone has a special memory of BLUE PETER.
What's yours?" is the question asked on the back of the book
celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the BBC programme
for children.  My special memory is of BLEEP & BOOSTER,
but it's clearly not one shared by the BBC itself  - if the next-
to-nothing coverage the duo received  in the book's pages
in 2008 is anything to go by.

RICHARD MARSON, editor of the programme for
four years (and previously a producer), wrote the book, but
apart from a brief mention ('Artist WILLIAM TYMIN drew
the BENGO and Bleep and Booster stories...' emphasis
mine), there was no other evidence of their existence - no
pics, no description, not even an entry in the index.

The author later explained to me that there simply wasn't
enough room in the book to include everything, but to children
of the '60s, Bleep & Booster were Blue Peter.  That's the main
reason why me and my bruv watched it.  The atmospheric black
and white illustrations, with zoom-ins (and outs) on the static art
(as opposed to animation), the weird music, the well-spoken nar-
rator - all these things added up to a memorable experience
for less demanding and unspoilt kids of the time.

So, in an attempt to redress the balance, here's a story
from the Bleep & Booster Annual for 1968, in an attempt
to recapture the atmosphere from the space-spanning duo's
adventures from an earlier and more innocent era.

50th Anniversary book, published in 2008

And, finally, here's a short clip - just to give you an even
better taste of it.  Wonderful stuff.  PETER HAWKINS
provides the voices and narration.

Friday, 22 May 2015


Several posts back, I provided a link to this great story from my
youth over on KARSWELL's blog, but it's so good that I want to
feature it on my own blog as well - so here it is!  From STRANGE

Thursday, 21 May 2015


Remember the FALL GUY?  Remember waiting for that
moment in the opening credits when HEATHER THOMAS
comes through those swing doors?  Remember losing interest in
the rest of the programme until Heather appeared again?  Well,
so do I!  Anyway, here's that moment we all waited for back in
the day.  It'll save you digging out the DVD boxed set and
fast-forwarding to that all-too-brief scene.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015


" 'Must of' will get you 200 lines!"


I've just been reading the comments sections of other blogs,
and it astounds and disappoints me in equal measure to see the
way in which the English language is mangled by some commenters.
It's sadly all too common to see sentences like " must of had an
effect" thrown cavalierly around by those unaware or unashamed of
their ignorance.  "Must have" is the correct English, contracted as
"must've".  What is wrong with these people?  Having asked
the question, let me now answer it. 

They've obviously misheard "must've" as "must of" and
ignorantly perpetuate their aural error in everything they write
or say.  Say?  Yeah, because I now actually hear people say "must
of", both in real life and on television programmes.  I'm not putting
up with it anymore - it's "must've", not "must of", so stop writing it,
stop saying it, stop spreading it.  It's wrong, it's ignorant, and it's
annoying - so take a telling or the Language Police will be
around to tell you personally.  Comprende?

(And that goes for could've, should've and would've as well!)

Somebody turn off  the light - I've got a headache.


Images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

Take a luverly DUDLEY DEXTER WATKINS cover, add a
couple of interior GINGER strips - and then tack on an awful head
shot by another artist to one of them to almost ruin  the page.  Ugh!
What was DCT thinking?  At least they avoided the same mistake on
the second strip.  The BEEZER Annual for 1969 is in full colour
and is a nice little package, sure enough.  And only 8/6

The two pages below are unusual for D.C. THOMSON -
a team-up, starring SMIFFY and BABY CROCKETT - two
usually separate strips, but both regularly drawn by artist  BILL
RITCHIE.  Baby also appeared in the nursery comic BIMBO,
and then LITTLE STAR, which replaced Bimbo in 1972.

Regarding Smiffy, I remember finding a DCT adventure
comic (HOTSPUR or VICTOR) in a hedge on the way home
from school one day in 1964 or '65.  It was open at a Smiffy page
and that was the first time I recall seeing Bill Ritchie's style, which
made an impression on me.  Can anyone confirm that Smiffy did
appear in one of the adventure comics?  Perhaps it was only a
one-off, but I'm pretty sure that I did see it.

Anyway,  read on, MacDuff!


The new EAGLE was launched on March 20th 1982 (cover-
dated 27th) and the Annual (for 1983) must have been prepared
pretty much around the same time as early issues of the weekly to be
on sale in the shops by August or September of that same year.  The
original Eagle comic had 24 Annuals (not counting numerous related
spin-offs) released throughout the '50s and into the '70s ('though the
comic was merged with LION in 1969, a mere nine issues short of
its 1000th issue), but the new version could only manage ten,
plus two DAN DARE books, four years apart.

So, that's a dozen books in all for the resurrected title, which
is enough of an excuse for me to to a cover gallery featuring them
on this blog.  In the 1990s, the term 'Annual' came to be regarded
as old-fashioned for a while, and various companies started to refer
to them as 'Yearbooks' in an attempt to appear up-to-date and 'with
it'.  It didn't last for long and the old name eventually reasserted
itself, much to the delight of traditionalists like myself.

Some of these cover images are a bit lacklustre in my opinion,
but the ever-dependable IAN KENNEDY produced some good
ones, and one or two of the others aren't too bad.  In its latter stages,
the new Eagle became a monthly, featuring mainly reprinted material
(with the exception of the Dan Dare strip), and limped to a sad end in
1994.  However, the Annuals had predeceased it three years earlier.
Will we ever see the like of Eagle again, or does it belong in the
past, a relic of the time in which it was produced?

I'm sure you'll let me know what you think.