Friday, 23 June 2017

RECOMMENDED READING: THE WAY TO DUSTY DEATH...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

"The WONDROUS WORLD(S) Of DR. STRANGE!" first
appeared in The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Annual #2 in
1964.  The villain, XANDU, showed up again in the '70s, '80s and
'90s, and was put out to pasture once his tale finally was told.  So
it took 28 years (from '64-'92) until the saga of Xandu reached
its end and was all nicely tied up in a bow (so to speak).

However, I didn't read that first tale until 1968, in the pages
of FANTASTIC Summer Special, and I didn't read the last
one until yesterday, so for me, it took around 49 years to discov-
er the final fate of Xandu.  True, I'd read one of the intermediate
stories in a U.K. reprint comic in the early or mid-'80s, but out
of context to the surrounding stories, it never made much of
an impression on me past the SANDY PLUNKETT art.

Now I feel I've completed a voyage, begun as a child and
finished as I totter on the threshold of old age, and there's a
certain satisfaction derived from finally reaching the last stop in
the journey.  You can all take that same trip (and in far less time
too) in the pages of this great new book - SPIDER-MAN and
DOCTOR STRANGE:  "The WAY To DUSTY DEATH".
Available from your local FORBIDDEN PLANET store
and other good comics shops.  Hitch that lift today!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

RIP-OFF CITY STARTS HERE...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Take a look at this copy of The TITANS #39, on sale via
eBay from DTA COLLECTIBLES (as the Americans spell
it).  Here's the description:  Titans #179.  Condition: VG.  Small
piece out of back cover.  Price:  $54 (£42.64).  Postage:  $67.50
(£53.30).  How can anyone justify putting such a high price on a
British b&w reprint comic, which often had dismal reproduction
and is not even that collectable in its country of publication?
(And in such a battered condition?)  They even got the
number wrong in the description.  Words fail me. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

THE LONE STAR SPUDMATIC...



Above is my unopened LONE STAR SPUDMATIC
from several years back.  I think I've also got a red one,
but, if so, I've forgotten where it is.  The blue one below is
the one that most people of my age will recall from the '60s
& '70s, and is (or was) on sale on eBay (not my own).  I
do have a blue one by another manufacturer though,
which I got in the late '90s or early '00s.

Did you have a Spudmatic, readers?  And if so, what
escapades did you get up to with yours?  Do tell!



Monday, 19 June 2017

BRIAN CANT PASSES AWAY...



BRIAN CANT, the voice of TRUMPTON,
CHIGLEY, and CAMBERWICK GREEN, plus
one of the hosts of PLAY SCHOOL and PLAY
AWAY has died, aged 83.  Another childhood
legend gone, alas.  We shall remember him.

RUMINATING REPOST: EVOLUTION IN ACTION...



The above pic is a B&W copy of a colour cartoon for a proposed
ad for a local restaurant, which I did some years ago.  (It's a shame I no
longer have a colour copy 'cos it was quite nice.)  However, rarely does
a cartoon (or any illustration for that matter) spring full-blown from the
hand of its creator;  it usually undergoes a process of development 'til
the finished result is reached.  Let me show you what I mean.

The following picture is the original 'rough' suggesting the idea.
This is to show the prospective client what one has in mind.  (I say
'prospective client', but in actual fact I was doing a 'favour' for the
owner.  You know the old saying "There's no such thing as a
free lunch" ?  Well, this is the proof of that saying.)


Below is another rough of the proposed final
drawing - this is essentially what I'm aiming for.


And now the finished line artwork.  I added the restaurant's logo to
the tablecloth and then coloured it with acrylic inks.  The finished pic
was very effective, but unfortunately I gave it to someone, so only the
B&W and grey copy at the top of the page remains in my possession.
You'll just have to imagine it in colour - the guy has a blue suit and
the girl has a red dress, if that's any help.  Trust me - it was nice.


And guess what?  After all that work, the idea for the ad was
abandoned.  Just another day in the life of a cartoonist, eh?

Friday, 16 June 2017

CRIVENS! GUEST POST: WINDOWS TO ANOTHER WORLD...



Okay, peeps, here's yet another guest post, this time from the
commenter formerly known as Dunsade Dave (now Dave S).

******

American comics meant a lot to me as a kid in the mid '80s.  Not
only because of the mind-boggling stories and dynamic art, but also
because they were a window into another world.  I read literally every
word of the US comics I fell in love with – and I mean every word;
adverts, letters pages, indicias, statements of ownership, the lot.


To me, they were like travel agents' brochures advertising a trip
to the limits of imagination and the outer edges of sanity – the heroes
swung, soared and scrapped their way through vast cities full of towering
skyscrapers and sinister alleys;  villains struck poses, grimaced and ranted
even when they were on their own in their secret labs and hideouts.  It was
a far cry from the British comics I'd previously experienced – as much as
I loved The Leopard from Lime Street or The Visible Man, the
stories always looked static to me - they never had the vibrancy and
energy of The Fantastic Four or The Mighty Thor.


But that was only one of the worlds that comics let me peek
into.  They showed me another, almost as intriguing world too.  One
that flaunted itself through attention-grabbing adverts for sweets called
Snickers and StarBurst, which sounded so much more alluring that dull
British confectionery like Marathon or Opal Fruits.  They showed me a
world where you could claim prizes for selling copies of a paper called Grit
– I would peer for ages at pages festooned with minute drawings of micro-
scopes, disguise kits, baseball hats and digital watches.  Single-page comic
strips promoting Twinkies & Hostess Fruit Pies puzzled and beguiled
me – foods so tasty that even the vilest baddie would change their ways
for a nibble.  (I can't tell you how disappointed I was when I finally
tasted a Twinkie a few years ago - it was nice, but not quite so
nice as to drive every evil impulse from my mind.)


Everything in those comics amazed me – adverts for comics
shops with lists of what surely must be every comic ever printed, cut-
out-and-mail forms where the reader could send for sea monkeys, false
beards and unnecessarily large numbers of plastic soldiers.  Even the let-
ters page was a source of fascination - addresses had house numbers in the
3000s.  My brain boggled at how long the streets must be;  I imagined long
rows of houses stretching toward a far-distant vanishing point that not even
The Flash could reach in a hurry.  Names were no less fascinating.  Grow-
ing up in Glasgow, the most exotic name I'd known was someone called
Lloyd;  now I was seeing names like Buscema, Giordano, Ditko,
Salicrup, and they seemed like some kind of poetic secret words
that opened the door to the magical realms they created.


The world seems a little smaller these days, and less able to
surprise and enchant me as often as it once did.  Although I can still
sometimes look back at those comic mags and feel exactly the way I did
back then – excited, intrigued, bewitched – it usually only lasts for a mere
second or two, before I'm flicked back into the present day.  In that brief
time though, I feel elated - as if I'm at the beginning of a whole new ex-
istence, with new possibilities and an infinity of days ahead, and it
always seems like I can hold on to that feeling forever.


Thanks DS.  Anyone else like to write a guest post?  Then
let me know in the communicative comments section.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

MIGHTY MARVEL MASTERWORKS FOR SALE ON EBAY...



In case anyone's interested, I've got a few 'doublers'
of MARVEL MASTERWORKS that I've put up for sale
on eBay in order to clear space for new books as I get them.
I don't need the money, so they're priced at a very reasonable
sum, and just so long as they go to good and loving homes, I'll
be happy.  The first three valiant volumes are up now, so if
you're looking to plug any gaps in your Masterworks
hardcover collection, jump over to eBay now.


Further spare copies of books may pop up for sale as
I find them.  Meantime, here are pics of the current three.
They're all first printings and in excellent condition.


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

RECOMMENDED READING: THE DEFENDERS #1...


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

The cover is misleading because none of these characters
actually appear inside (that I can see), but it's nice to see yet
another JACK KIRBY image on a contemporary comic.  I've
read it and enjoyed it, and I'm betting you'll enjoy it too.  So
get yourself around to your local FORBIDDEN PLANET
store and pick up a copy for yourself today.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

CRIVENS! GUEST POST: CHILDHOOD CAPERS - DOWN IN THE PITTS! FATHER FACILITATES SKYLIGHT VANDALISM...



Regular reader, the bold JP, has decided to respond to my
invitation to write a post, so without further ado, here it is.

******

As a small boy, one day my Dad said to me "Son, I'm giving
you this - it's all that remains of my childhood catapult.  It was
a beltin' catapult, but it's all I've got left of me toys, an' I'm now
givin' it to you, so look after it!"  He handed me a bare, gnarled,
age-darkened Y-shaped piece of a tree branch, with a bit
of grubby string bound around the handle.

Now jump forward a few years and the latest craze in our
village was for metal (Milbro) catapults you could get from the
ironmonger's, and which could fire marbles for miles because of its
really strong rubber.  But they were just too pricey for me to buy, so
I thought "Ah, I know!  I'll mek one me sen out a that 'un me faether
gimme!"  (I don't know why I was talking like Kes, as I lived in the
Midlands!)  So I took some strong rubber off an aeroplane-launch-
ing toy, made a slingshot and threaded the rubber through it and
bound it tightly to the cut-out tips with strong thin string
and it was made.  But would it be any good?

There was only one way to find out, so, armed with a bag of
marbles, I climbed up on the bedroom windowsill, opened the
window wide and let one fly!  Wow!  It went for miles!   It was
just like a bullet!  But what should I aim at?  In the field behind
our garden was a telegraph pole, but in the next field to the
right, there was a pumping station with a glass skylight.

No contest.

And so I began showering the building with marbles!  As it was
so far away I couldn't actually see or hear if I was hitting it or not,
but it didn't matter, because in my head I was The Smasher!

After a while, I was rudely interrupted by a very angry man in a
boilersuit, standing below me in the back garden.  He was shaking
both fists in the air and saying "Grrr!"  Red fumes were rising from
his even redder face and steam was billowing out of his ears!  He had
a huge lump on top of his head and his face was covered in scratches
and crossed plasters.  "What do you think you're doing?!" he
yelled up at me and began pounding on the back door.

"Get down here now!" he bellowed, so I went down to the back
kitchen to face the music.  "He's been smashing my windows with
his catapult!" Mr. Angry was yelling at my parents.  "What were
you doing that for?" he demanded of me, whilst little birds and
stars circled the purple lump on his head.

"I didn't know I was," I lied, "I was aiming at the telegraph pole."

"Well, you're not a very good shot then!" he retorted.  "You're
not even supposed to have a catapult, anyway!  Where did you
get it?" he interrogated, with a stern look in his eye.

"Me Dad gimme it." I answered.

Then silence.

My Dad had turned bright red and wore a sickly grin.  Sweat
was pouring down his forehead.  "Go and fetch it - I'm going to
confiscate it!" Mr. Angry ordered, so I did as I was told.  Then I
was sent to my room, so I climbed the stairs, saying "Bah!"

As I closed my bedroom window, I could see Mr. Angry down
below, surrounded by these strange symbols - @#*%∆$#@!!

I never knew exactly what went on downstairs after that, but
for the rest of that week my Dad had strangely taken to walking
around the house with his trouser pockets turned inside-out!  Any-
way, I stayed in my room for the remainder of that evening, and
the next day, I thought it best not to mention the matter.  And
guess what?  Nobody spoke about it again - ever!

Which was probably for the best I suppose.

BABE OF THE DAY - RAQUEL WELCH...



So there was RAQUEL WELCH doing
some sunbathing out by the pool.  Feeling
bold, I asked her to take something off, and
she obliged by removing her sunglasses.
She's a smart cookie, is Raquel.

Monday, 12 June 2017

LOOK WELL AT LOOKWELL...



Saw this on ATOMIC KOMMIE COMICS blog
and just had to share it with you.  It's a 1991 pilot for a
TV series that never happened.  I think it's very funny
and I'm sure you will too.  And ADAM WEST is in top
form.  This is one that should have been made into a
series, and why it wasn't is a mystery.  See what
you think and leave a comment afterwards.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

HE'S A BIT OF A COUNT...



He never drinks...'vine'.  (Bet you knew that.)

ANOTHER BABE OF THE DAY - MICHELLE KEEGAN...



It's at times like this that any writer worth
their salt would rise to the occasion and do full
justice to the beauty of MICHELLE KEEGAN.
A good writer would wax lyrical and eloquent over
her stunning good looks, her enchanting style, her
sartorial elegance, her womanly essence.  Yeah,
that's certainly what a good writer would do.
Me?  I'll just settle for Phwoooaaaar!!

PSSST! WANNA WRITE A GUEST POST?


Nope, I dunno why he's wearing a deckchair either

For those of you who don't have a blog of your own,
but would sometimes like to, here's an invitation for you.
Write a guest post for Crivens! and savour the sensation of
seeing your words in print.  It'll bring you such fame that you
won't be able to walk down the road without being besieged by
hordes of screaming, admiring females trying to touch you
and slipping you their 'phone numbers.  (That reminds
me, I really must give some of them a call one day.)

Let me know if you're interested.

BEAR OF THE DAY - YOGI BEAR...



YOGI BEAR is one cool dude.  In
fact, he's cooler than the average bear.
I wanna be just like him when I grow up.
Well, who wouldn't?  (Oops, gotta go -
here comes the nurse!)

BABE OF THE DAY - ABI TITMUS...



"Lets play leapfrog" said ABI TITMUS -
"you go first!"  As she assumed the position, I
saw a hotdog stand over the road and nipped
over for a bite to eat, leaving her standing like
that in the middle of the path.  She didn't half
get some funny looks, let me tell you.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

ADAM WEST PASSES AWAY...



Alas, ADAM WEST, TV's BATMAN has passed
away from leukaemia.  It's been a bad month for child-
hood heroes dying, but they'll live on in our hearts and
memories.  Our condolences go to Mr. West's family,
friends and fans - and, of course, to ROBIN.

BABE OF THE DAY - ELKE SOMMER...



That's the trouble with having women around
the house - a guy just can't get the bathroom to
himself.  However, when that woman is ELKE
SOMMER, then I guess I can get used to it.

BOXING CLEVER - NEW FRANKENSTEIN MODEL KIT BASED ON 1960S PAINTING BY JAMES BAMA...



Here's the original box for AURORA's 1960s
FRANKENSTEIN kit.  The art was later amended
for a square box release, with the arms slightly raised
and the elbows jutting out a bit more.  Artist JAMES
BAMA referred to a photo of GLENN STRANGE as
the monster for his painting, but, curiously, he added
two big forehead clamps that were only ever seen in
test makeup for BORIS KARLOFF, but not
used in the 1931 UNIVERSAL movie.

Now some very clever fella (or company) has
created a model kit of the box art, and as you can
see below, it's very nice indeed.  I'd guess it'll cost a
bit more than the price of a standard model kit these
days, but it's a quality item that any collector will be
proud to own.  I don't have a link, but if you check
eBay, or do an internet search, you should be
able to track one down before too long.
  

Below is a built and painted kit, which I
believe is going to be used on the box lid.


Test makeup - without hooded eyelids

Square box reissue

Photo used by JAMES BAMA for reference

My own AURORA model.  Face based on BORIS
KARLOFF
in The BRIDE Of FRANKENSTEIN

THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE...



Back around 1978, I bought a twirly straw in SAFEWAY.
I've had it ever since, and whenever I look at it, I can't help but
think of how my home town used to be in the '70s.  It also brings
to mind the contingent of pals I used to have, the comics I used to
buy, the TV shows I used to watch, the books I used to read, and
the music I used to listen to.  Not forgetting the movies I used to
go and see.  It also reminds me of how young I used to be.  (I'd
like to be able to say how handsome I used to be, but that'd
be stretching the truth.)  Hey, that's a lot of 'used tos'.

All that from the above twirly straw.  That's pretty amazing,
don't you think?  Have you got one single item that prompts
so many memories?  Please share in the comments section.

Friday, 9 June 2017

BABE OF THE DAY - ELKE SOMMER...



Here's ELKE SOMMER sweeping BOB
HOPE off his feet.  And here I thought she
only had eyes for me.  (The fickle bint!)

WHEN YOU GET TO A BIT THAT MAKES ANY SENSE, GIVE ME A SHOUT...


Why this illustration?  See footnote

Having lived in 7 houses in my life by the time I was 24,
and 5 of them while I was still a kid, I've often felt that I've
had more than one childhood.  (Due to the fact I associate a
separate section of my childhood to each domicile.)  This has
prompted me to occasionally wonder if my childhood perhaps
feels more varied and eventful than it otherwise would have
had I lived in the same abode for all my early years.  I also
wonder whether those who only ever lived in one house
as a kid had a different perception of time to mine.

However, with the death of ROGER MOORE, I'm now
starting to get a sense of what it must be like to have stayed
in the same place for any significant period.  That's because I
was in my current house when Big Rog was a mere 45 years
young and had just taken over the role of JAMES BOND -
and now he's departed this mortal vale while I yet inhabit
the same domicile I did as a callow 13 year old youth.

Hell's bells, it's gone by in a flash!  Next Wednesday will
be 45 years to the very day since my family first moved to
this address, but it doesn't seem possible to have been quite
that long.  And yet, when I think back to the comics and toys
I had as a child, it feels as if I had them for lengthy periods of
years and years - and all at the same time.  (Regular readers
will be used to my meandering streams of thought by now,
but if you're a 'newbie', bear with me as I ramble.)

As you'll know from your own experience though, many
of the goodies we had as kids weren't concurrent with each
other and never saw the interior of the same toybox or cup-
board.  Some we may only have owned for weeks or months,
others for a few years at most, but in memory, it seems as if
they all cohabited for equal duration.  Our TEDDY BEARS
may never have made the acquaintance of our ACTION
MEN, yet we recall them as being contemporaries.

Many of the replacements I've acquired over the last 35
years or so of toys, comics, or books of my youth, I've now
had for many more years than I ever possessed the originals.
One example is the first ish of the revamped SMASH! from
1969.  I had it for 4 days at the most before selling it to class-
mate BILLY MONTGOMERY.  I'd intended to buy another
copy before #2 hit the shops, but it was sold out, and over 15
and a half years elapsed before I managed to replace it.  That
was 33 years ago, but, incredibly, it doesn't feel like I've had
the replacement copy any longer than I had the original.

Which brings me on to this.  When I was a kid and got
a new toy, there seemed no reason why I wouldn't have it
forever.  Children sort of have the impression that they're
immortal and that nothing is ever going to change.  Not that
they believe so on a conscious level, but the opposite scenario
is an absent concept that never really occurs to them.  Or, if it
does, it seems like such a far-distant prospect that it's not one
to be concerned with until many years in the future - a future
that seems centuries away.  That disappears as we age, and
there comes a time when we become only all too painfully
aware of our limited time on this spinning sphere.

I'm now at the stage where if I buy something today that
I'll have for 20 or 30 years, my enjoyment is palled by the
knowledge that, even though that span dwarfs any length of
time I owned many of my childhood items, it'll still seem like
only a mere fraction compared to the illusory lengthy periods
of yesteryear.  The fact that I'm now aware (unlike my teen-
age self) that the clock is counting down, casts a shadow over
my pleasure in acquiring a new (or replacement) object, be-
cause the illusion of 'forever' is no longer part and parcel
of the package.  (Reality can be difficult to deal with.)

Anyway, once more I've indulged in off-the-wall streams
of thought which may seem only tenuously connected, but
hopefully you can get something worth contemplating out of
it all.  Let me know if you do, eh?  It might help me to  better
convey what I'm trying to say.  I often feel like I start out on a
definite path, but then wander off into the woods on the way
and never quite get back on track and complete the journey.
Still, better to travel hopefully than to arrive, as some wise
wag once said.  (Robert Louis Stevenson I think.)

******

Footnote:  The DALEK record is an example of what
I'm talking about.  I derive such enormous pleasure from
simply owning this magnificent item, but it's a bitter-sweet
experience because I'm all too aware that, even if I have it
for the rest of my (hopefully long) life, it's still going to be
all too-brief a time.  Do any of you relate to that at all?

A POWER HOUSE PIN-UP - THE MIGHTY THOR...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

From the back cover of TERRIFIC #6 comes this JACK KIRBY
pin-up of The MIGHTY THOR.  And that's all I really need to say,
isn't it?  Unless, of course, you want me to witter on a bit more and -
what's that?  You don't?  Oh, okay then.  (Mumble, mumble, sulk!)
  
I threw in the cover too.  (Not that you deserve it, you ungrateful lot!)

Thursday, 8 June 2017

BABE OF THE DAY - VICTORIA VETRI...



Here's the valiant VICTORIA VETRI
flashing her gnashers at you.  Okay, they're
actually a big dinosaur's gnashers, but they
belong to her now, so why quibble?

45 YEARS AND COUNTING (DOWN?)...



There was a moment in the '70s that I thought would
last forever - and me along with it.  However, that moment
eventually passed, and any illusions I had of immortality faded
like the dying rays of the sun - as perish most of our hopes and
dreams before life's fleeting journey has run its course.  I'm re-
minded of this every time I see yet another part of my past
vanish from my life, suddenly and without warning.

On June 14th, which is a Wednesday, it will be 45
years since I first moved into the house in which I currently
reside.  However, I've lived here for only 41 years, because 11
years after moving in, we flitted to another home in a different
neighbourhood.  Just over 4 years later we returned - and I'll
have been back here for precisely 30 years come August 1st.
(The official tenancy commencement date is Tuesday 4th,
but we moved in 3 days early on the Saturday.)

Anyway, with the approaching anniversary of having
first moved into this abode, I decided to take a trip along
to my former neighbourhood, the one from which we moved
in 1972.  On the way there, I noticed that 14 trees had been cut
down, and when I arrived at my destination, I saw that another
couple at the bottom of the street where I'd lived had also been
removed.  To my mind, it was like discovering that 16 child-
hood friends had suddenly expired, and been disposed
of before I'd had a chance to pay my respects.

I resent change.  Sometimes I feel as if I no longer
live in the town I grew up in, but rather one that bears a
bit of a resemblance to it.  It's almost like living in an alter-
nate universe, wherein I spend my time wondering if I'll ever
be able to figure out a way to return to my own.  I wish I were
The MOLECULE MAN, because then I could revert every-
thing back to how it all used to be.  Once more I'd be able to
visit vanished buildings and places I knew as a youth, and
feel as if I belonged again, instead of (just like MEL
TORME) a stranger in my own home town.

There's a time in life when we feel 'in-sync' with the
world, that it's there for us and dances to the same beat
that we do.  Then, one day, we suddenly realise that we no
longer recognise the tune and that it's best to 'sit this one out'.
It's then we know that 'our' moment has come and gone, and
that we've now become spectators, as opposed to the partici-
pants we once were.  Other dancers have taken to the floor,
and we can only observe and wonder what happened to
the melody and lyrics.  For us the dance is over, and
willingly or not, we must accept our relegation.

There was a time when I felt at home in this neigh-
bourhood.  It was mine (or, at least, as much mine as
anyone's), and I was one of its younger inhabitants, and an
inheritor of what the future would bring.  Now, however, I'm
one of the rapidly diminishing 'old guard', and a brash, new,
fresh contingent of youngsters overrun the place, treating it as
their own.  I often find myself feeling like an intruder who's
invading their space (much as I feel like they're intruders
invading mine), and I realise the gossamer nature of the
sense of 'belonging' we humans feel in relation to our
surroundings, and just how transient it can be.

Anyway, to be honest, I never really had a clear
idea of where I was going with this when I started, and
it's now become a bit meandering so I'll draw it to a close.
If it's prompted any thoughts or observations of your own,
feel free to record them for posterity in our contemplative
comments section.  We may get something worth read-
  ing out of this post yet, so don't be shy now.  
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