Tuesday, 13 October 2015


Image copyright DC COMICS

Here's a BATMAN mask from the '60s that was
probably given away with something-or-other.  Why
not print it out and make your own Bat-costume for
Hallowe'en?  Won't be long now.


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I originally posted this back in 2012, but not everyone trawls
through previous posts to see what they missed.  So, seeing as it's
relevant (and with a little updating), here it is again, frantic ones.


Tomorrow, October 14th, it'll be exactly 43 years ago that the
above ish went on sale in Britain.  Featuring a fantastic JIM STARLIN
(I think) and JOE SINNOTT cover, this weekly was the third issue of
The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL which had been launched only
a fortnight earlier.  Let's look at the contents, which reprinted classic
tales from Marvel's history - at that time merely eleven years old.

First up (above) is The INCREDIBLE HULK, with some great
KIRBY and DITKO art, and ol' Greenskin looking as much like BORIS
KARLOFF's FRANKENSTEIN monster as was possible without being
sued by UNIVERSAL.  (Trust me - it's far more apparent in later panels.)
I recall writing to editor PIPPA M. MELLING to tell her that the art had
been wrongly attributed to Jolly JACK KIRBY as it was patently the work
of Sturdy STEVE DITKO.  She replied, apologizing for the mistake, which
demonstrates that she knew as much about Marvel artists as I did (at that
time).  Nowadays, in my more enlightened state, it's obvious that Kirby
pencilled it and Ditko inked it, but back then, SD's style was so
prominent that it confused my still developing spider-sense.

And above is yet another Kirby-Ditko collaboration - the art to the
cover of the first issue of SPIDER-MAN - transformed into a pin-up for
all frantic followers to put on their bedroom walls.  I never did at the time;
it wasn't until years later when I had extra issues to spare that I mutilated
these collectable items by depriving them of their interior mini-posters.  I
know - it's akin to pulling the legs off spiders or the wings off flies (not
something I ever did, I hasten to add).  I hang my head in shame at my
unthinking vandalism.  (Saved a fortune on wallpaper 'though.)

Here's something you thought you'd never see - the THING - with
ears.  Except it isn't really Benjy of course, but rather one of those nasty,
shape-changing alien SKRULLS impersonating him.  Some nicely drawn
waves from Kirby here, but I'm not convinced about the perspective or the
horizon.  Never mind, I'll learn to live with it.  I'd read this story a few years
before, in MARVEL COLLECTOR'S ITEM CLASSICS #1, but it was
good to see it again and refresh my memory.

The middle spread (below) utilized a Kirby Hulk drawing with
amended arms by another hand (so to speak).  Both appendages are
too long, even allowing for the margin between the pages, making
him look like a bit of a monkey-boy.  Who's gonna tell him?  

And here's ol' MOLEY (below), not quite as sweet and lovable as
his namesake in The WIND In The WILLOWS, but I'm sure his
mother thinks the world of him.  This page isn't a former cover, but an
'actual' pin-up from FF Annual #1.  I've often/sometimes/seldom (take
yer pick) wondered just how cheap these U.K. Marvel weeklies were to
produce (given that they were mainly reprint), compared to the other
British comics (consisting of mostly new material) available at the
time.  Anyone care to hazard a guess? 

And here's PETER PARKER again (below), demonstrating just how
negligent the U.S. government could be by allowing rubber-neckers to get
close to a fuel-laden rocket about to blast off.  No wonder folks in Marvel-
land were frequently having accidents that transformed them into power-
charged beings (or char-grilled pedestrians) - health and safety obviously
hadn't been invented yet.  (Nor common-sense, it seems.) 

We Brits had to put up with getting our stories in a combination
of black and white, spot-hues - and an occasional page in full-colour,
of which the one below is an example.  On reflection, I wouldn't have had
it any other way.  There was just something about these bombastic British
Marvel weeklies that was truly magical, but difficult to explain to those
brought up on a steady diet of four-colour monthlies.  (I'm talking about
Americans, Melvin.)  I wonder if these relics of yesteryear are as
sought-after by U.S. Marvel collectors as they are by U.K.
readers of a certain age,

 I noticed a Stateside dealer asking for nearly £450 for a copy of the
1974 Marvel Annual on eBay recently, so he clearly thinks it's highly
collectable.  I doubt he'll get his asking price, but if he does, I have a big
tower in Paris which I'll gladly sell to any interested Americans for
an absolute steal (and it definitely would be).   

Oh, but look below - a free gift as well as a comic!  Weren't
we spoiled?  Nowadays, buyers have to wade through newsagents'
shelves overflowing with bagged issues full of cheap plastic tat in an
effort to find our favourite periodical.  (Those of us who still have one
in this increasingly cynical and commercial age.)  Back then, however,
comics normally only carried gifts for the first three issues - and usually
ones which slipped discretely within the pages.  (With an occasional
exception, obviously.)  Surely I can't be the only person who
wishes things were still like that? 

Well, that's yer lot for now - hope you've enjoyed this look back to
43 years ago.  Be sure to tune in again soon for something that will
hopefully tickle your thistle and put a smile on your sporran.


To be honest, I don't know who this Babe
is, but isn't she lovely?  Fortunately, Steve
can identify her - JESSICA SULECKI.

Monday, 12 October 2015


Here's a goody.  Long, long ago (but in the same galaxy), I
toiled in the warehouse of my local BOOTS The CHEMIST.
In the pharmacy department worked a young lady by the name of
ELIZABETH (surname withheld to spare her blushes in case she
ever reads this, unlikely as it is), on whom I had a bit of a crush.
A mild crush - not one that would ever have compelled me to
ask her out, but enough of one that would make me want to
impress her, should the opportunity present itself.

Guess what?  It did.  Sitting in the canteen one day, I was
engaged in a bit of casual conversation with Elizabeth and some
of her pharmacy colleagues.  I no longer recall what we were dis-
cussing, but at some stage the extent of my knowledge of the sub-
ject was called into question.  "You don't know everything!" one
of them said, which was like a red rag to a bull to me.  "Perhaps,
but anything I want to know, I can find out!" I stated.

They called my bluff!  "Okay then, what's Elizabeth's
mum's maiden name, and what hospital was Elizabeth born
in?" one of them asked, rather smugly.  They had flung down
the gauntlet and I had to accept or lose face.  "I'll find out!"  I de-
clared to loud jeers and derision.  Now, on the face of things, I was
in a bit of a bind.  Just how could I possibly uncover such obscure
information unless I was psychic or had access to Elizabeth's and
her mum's personal information files, kept in some secret gov-
ernment facility somewhere?  (I know, I know - watched
too many JAMES BOND films.)

This was on the Tuesday or Wednesday, and they gave
me until Friday to accomplish the task or admit defeat.  Any
one else would have given up (scratch that - no-one else would
ever have gotten into that situation to begin with), but your bold 
host is made of sterner stuff.  I triumphed in my mission, wiped
the smiles from their faces, utterly astounded them, and firmly
established a reputation for being someone who didn't
make idle boasts.  Intrigued?  Of course you are.

Okay, here's how I did it.  I'd heard that the lovely
Elizabeth's birthday was near, and she'd once mentioned
which area of the town she lived when we were having an idle
chat one day, so I obtained her 'phone number from Directory
Enquiries and rang her mother.  Pretending that I was one of the
managers, I told her that the staff were planning to throw a sur-
prise party for Elizabeth's birthday, and that we were going to
stage a "THIS IS YOUR LIFE" segment so I needed a few
trivial background details to cover her life from birth to the
present day.  Did she buy it?  Of course she did - and
even gift-wrapped it for herself too.

I asked a few innocuous questions, like what her
daughter's favourite colour was, where she'd been born,
best friend at school - and "Oh, what's your maiden name?"
Armed with the required knowledge, I waited 'til I had to take a
package around to the pharmacy.  As I was leaving, I casually
turned, seemingly like an afterthought, and said "By the way,
Liz, your mum's maiden name is Blackstock and you were
born at Rottenrow Maternity!"  My!  You should have
seen their jaws hit the floor - in unison, too.

I 'phoned Elizabeth's mother back shortly after and
explained my ruse - not out of guilt, but because I'd always
intended to anyway.  She was highly amused at the daring of
my subterfuge, and said "She should be glad someone would
go to all that bother!"  (What can I say?  I had a tremendous
'telephone voice'.)  Elizabeth took it in good humour too, and
I believe she was actually quite flattered.  I still never
asked her out 'though.  Foolish youth that I was!


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

One of the most dramatic covers ever drawn was the one
in 1968/'69.  In 2007, that tale was reprinted in two parts in The
MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #s 57 & 58 and the cover was
given a superb, up-to-date re-colouring job that I'd say made it look
better than ever.  However, don't take my word for it - there it is
above in all its pulse-pounding glory.  The right foot is perhaps
turned in a bit too far, but that apart, it's a spectacular pic.

Sunday, 11 October 2015


Image copyright BBC TV

So, last night's DOCTOR WHO, how was it?  Tedious,
uninspired sh*te is the honest answer.  The Doc breaking the
fourth wall and addressing the viewers, playing his guitar again,
lots of racing around corridors, much incomprehensible babbling -
the programme is suffering from trying far too hard to be wild, zany,
witty and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, STEVEN MOFFAT's
idea of thought-provoking is deliberate vagueness rather than clear
and proper storytelling, in the hope that viewers will ascribe any-
thing they don't quite comprehend to profundity, not poor
narrative and lack of story structure.

Do you recall the 1960 film, The TIME MACHINE,
and the '67 STAR TREK episode, CITY On The EDGE Of
FOREVER?  That's how stories involving time travel should be
done, not the banal, pretentious, repetitive, wearisome claptrap
that Doctor Who has regularly offered up since Moffat took over
from RUSSELL T. DAVIES.  It all seems to be a 'jolly wheeze',
with The Doc ever-ready with a comic one-liner - even in what
are supposed to be moments of drama and deadly danger.
Last night's story failed to involve or intrigue me, and  I
must have nodded off at least three times.

Well, I'm fed up up with it.  I want something that can
deliver on its promise of cosmos-threatening peril and space-
spanning adventure. I'm off to dig out my CLANGERS DVD.  At
least those little woolly astro-creatures know how to take things
seriously.  Wait till I put the disc into the player - oh s*d it,
the bloody thing's stuck again!  (Let's try BAGPUSS!)

Agree or disagree with your genial host's views?  Then
share your opinion of The Doc in our comments section.


It was subtitled "The Junior TV TIMES" and contained articles,
competitions, comic strips, posters, interviews and crosswords - as well
as TV listings for programmes appearing on the ITV regions.  LOOK-IN
lasted for just over 23 years, and was helmed by former TV CENTURY
21 editor ALAN FENNELL for the first four years of its existence.  Art
editor COLIN SHELBOURN took over when Fennell departed.

The mag sported some great covers throughout the '70s, painted
by London-based ARNALDO PUTZU, an Italian artist who had been
responsible for many cinema posters in the '60s, including designing ones
for the 'CARRY ON' movies, two of the MORECAMBE & WISE films,
and also some from the HAMMER stable.  He died in 2012, but all those
who bought Look-In back in the day will never forget the spectacular
covers he produced for one of Britain's finest-ever magazines.

The final issue was published in 1994, after a 1981 revamp and a
later change of publisher (and direction) failed to reverse a dwindling
readership lured away by glossier publications aimed at teens.  Look-
In had fallen out of favour, alas, and the mag had had its day.  Hard
to believe it's been gone for almost as long as it was around.

Saturday, 10 October 2015


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

As I was preparing the covers for this post, I was
listening to a radio programme about something-or-other and
heard someone say "That's the crunch of the matter!"  How apt
is that, eh?  And so we return to The CRUNCH Cover Gallery,
featuring the DCT comic which lasted for 54 issues from 1979
to 1980.  Similar in some respects (if you squint a bit) to IPC's
2000 A.D. (especially its use of the term "thrill-power"),
you'd have thought it would've lasted  longer.

Some people no doubt think I don't include enough info
about the comics I feature, but comics are a visual medium,
and I prefer to let the images speak for themselves.  Whenever
I'm perusing other blogs, I'd rather see good-quality pictures of
comics from the past, and bring my own thoughts, memories and
associations to the table, than have someone witter on about
things I already know.  Besides, sometimes there's no new
facts I can add, so I tend not to bother trying.

Anyway, here are some nice covers for you to look at.
Wanna see more?  Then let me know, frantic ones!


More TOM KERR artwork from 1969 & '70, in the form of
KIT CARTER'S CLARKS COMMANDOS, a strip used to advertise
a popular brand of shoes.  The ads appeared in various weekly comics for
boys, and probably other types of periodicals as well.  If you're around my
age (clue - radio carbon dating methods are required to determine just
how old I am), then this will whisk you back in time faster than you
can blink.  Six more episodes still to come in part four, chums!


RAQUEL was having a quick sniff of her
armpit as I was about to snap this pic.  I yelled
"Smile!" and she looked up just in time to avoid
being caught in an unflattering pose.  (Try using
some deodorant, luv, then you needn't be so
insecure about your personal hygiene.)

Friday, 9 October 2015


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

For all lovers of TOM KERR's artwork, here's a little stop-gap to
tide you over until I get around to featuring the contents of LITTLE
STAR (in particular, The MAGIC BUS strip that Tom illustrated
inside the nursery title).  Five, count 'em, five covers all by Tom.


Superhero images copyright MARVEL COMICS

In case you were wondering, ol' SPIDEY's web is attached to an
overhead helicopter - unfortunately however, he's been hanging on since
Glasgow and he's now over Blackpool, so his arms are tired.  What
a great cover 'though, I'm sure you'll agree.

This was a cracker of a Summer Special, featuring SPIDER-MAN
MEETS Dr. STRANGE, the origin of DAREDEVIL (abridged), The
BRIAN'S BRAIN, full-colour pin-ups, plus a few other things I've doubt-
less forgotten.  I only have to look at this and I'm back in 1968.
Ah, happy days.

Unfortunately, 'though I little knew it at the time, the POWER era
was coming to an end.  A mere three or four months later, FANTASTIC
was incorporated into SMASH!, which itself only lasted in its then-present
form for another four or five months - before being relaunched in March
'69 as a more traditional type comic in the VALIANT vein.  That meant no
more weekly MARVEL heroes (not counting TV21's dabbling with a few
of them) until The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL was launched
on the very last day of September, 1972.

Anyway, enjoy these awesome images from the only ODHAMS
PRESS Summer Special ever to feature the sensational superheroes
from the Mighty Marvel stable.  It's a genuine collectors' item.



In 1983, The MAN From U.N.C.L.E. returned in
a TV movie called 'The FIFTEEN-YEARS-LATER
AFFAIR'.  ROBERT VAUGHN reprised his star role of
as sidekick ILYA KURYAKIN.  However, there was a little
surprise in that GEORGE LAZENBY also turned up as
'J.B.' - trying to sound a bit like SEAN CONNERY
if my aged ears aren't playing tricks on me.

That means there were three actors playing 007
that year - MOORE in OCTOPUSSY, Connery in
NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, and Lazenby on the
telly.  In case you're wondering what the connection is,
JAMES BOND creator IAN FLEMING also came
up with the name of Napoleon Solo.

Watch the clip and have some fun!


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

The above cover is another one that I first saw on the original
American edition of the FF (#164, which I re-acquired a good few
years ago), but I didn't obtain the above issue until several years after
it first went on sale.  The reason being that, try as I might to find a copy,
it just wasn't available in any of my local newsagents at the time.  I seem
to have a notion that, when I finally tracked one down, it wasn't in the
best of condition, and that I later replaced it with a superior copy.
However, I could be confusing it with an issue of the X-MEN
weekly, so couldn't swear to it.  Ah, fickle memory!

Another missing ish was #35, which, again, took me several
years to find, so my collection of The COMPLETE FANTASTIC
FOUR was (if you'll pardon the pun) 'incomplete' for around six or
seven years.  It's always good to fill those missing gaps in a series -
it's almost like winning the Lottery.  (Well, a tenner anyway.)

As you can see, issue #32 started reprinting The INVADERS,
which, to be honest, seemed like an odd fit for a mag dedicated to
the FF.  I'm surprised they didn't choose The THING's adventures
from MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE, but perhaps it was felt that a bit of
variety in content might attract new readers.  It didn't work, as the
mag folded a mere five issues later.  We'll take a look at them
in the next (and final) post in this series.

Don't miss it, or your life won't be (wait for it) complete!