Saturday, 9 December 2017

RECOMMENDED READING - DC KIRBY KLASSICS...


Images copyright DC COMICS

DC COMICS are producing some nice softcover collections of JACK KIRBY classics at the moment, very much in the mode of MARVEL's EPIC volumes.  The ones I'm aware of ('cos I have 'em) are CHALLENGERS Of The UNKNOWN, MISTER MIRACLE, and The DEMON, but there may be others and there's certainly bound to be more.  Well worth having if you're a Kirby fan.





For some reason the yellow on this cover scan isn't reproducing
properly, so you'll just have to imagine how it should be

Friday, 8 December 2017

SCREAM! IT'S THE DRACULA FILE...


Images copyright REBELLION.  Cover art by CHRIS WESTON

REBELLION (publishers of 2000 A.D.) are releasing some great reprint volumes at the moment.  I've got The LEOPARD From LIME STREET, MARNIE The FOX, FACEACHE, and now also The DRACULA FILE volume.  I've already got all 15 issues of SCREAM! plus all the Holiday Specials, but there's something about having the stories in a handy single edition to browse through whenever I want.

Take a look at the page below though.  The writer obviously didn't know his vampire lore, as he has Dracula casting a reflection.  Everybody and his dog knows that ol' Vlad doesn't cast a reflection (well, everybody except the director of ABBOTT & COSTELLO Meet FRANKENSTEIN), so how the error sneaked past the editor back in the day is a mystery.  Dracula does cast a shadow (as far as I remember) so I'd have made that the giveaway of his presence in this particular tale.

Anyway, The Dracula File contains some great art by ERIC BRADBURY (I lettered his work at least once for 2000 A.D.), so pop along to your nearest comics shop or bookstore and snap up your copy today.

I think the artist here is KEITH PAGE, but I'm not 100% sure

"DARE TO BE A DANIEL" - THE FIRST DAN DARE...


Images copyright relevant owners

Contrary to what you've been led to believe (especially if you're British), the original DAN DARE is not a spaceman who appeared in the first issue of EAGLE in 1950, but a private detective who debuted in WHIZ COMICS #2 (but was actually the first issue), cover-dated February 1940.  (Though it may've gone on sale around November 1939.)  This means that a Dan Dare was featured in comics a whole ten years before his admittedly more iconic namesake first saw the light of day.

'Tis said that our Dan was named after the Sunday School song "Dare To Be A Daniel", but I wonder if MARCUS MORRIS and FRANK HAMPSON were aware of their hero's predecessor and simply 'borrowed' the name?  The fact that it so appropriately tied in with the mood of the song (as well as the ethos behind the character) could've been the deciding factor in them using it for their own comic strip creation.  After all, both explanations aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, though admittedly the possibility of there being a connection is pure speculation on my part.

Anyway, enjoy the first Dan's debut instalment from another century - and millennium.  (Click on images to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.)     




BABE OF THE DAY - MICHELLE KEEGAN...



Using the keen deductive skills for which I
am renowned, I detect that the above elegant
creature is a woman!  Nothing gets past me.
Her name?  MICHELLE KEEGAN.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

CHRISTMAS IS A COMIN'...


Single frame from WINKER WATSON - The DANDY Annual 2004

Received a Christmas card from comics legend TERRY BAVE and his wife SHIELA this morning.  It's great to be so honoured by someone whose work I was reading and enjoying as a kid, from the days of WHAM!, SMASH!, WHIZZER & CHIPS, COR!!, SHIVER & SHAKE, MONSTER FUN, and many more comic publications.  It was a thrill when I got to letter some of Terry's pages back in my freelancing days - and it's still a thrill when I think about it today.  Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year (when it comes) to two sterling stalwarts of some of Britain's finest comic periodicals.

FACEACHE VOLUME ONE...


Images copyright REBELLION

I already have every FACEACHE strip by KEN REID ever published (plus a copy of the strip he was working on at the time of his death), but it's still good to see this new volume from REBELLION, reprinting the first hundred pages of RICKY RUBBERNECK from JET and the combined BUSTER & JET, when the former was merged with the latter after only 22 issues.  Looking for the ideal Christmas gift for that someone you love?  (In my case, that's me!)  Then rush out and buy a copy of this tasty volume today.

KID'S KLASSIC (KIRBY) KOVERS...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Take a look at these these two beauties, frantic 'King' KIRBY fans.  Originally splash pages, they've been pressed into service as alternate covers on recent issues of The HULK and SILVER SURFER.  Did you miss 'em?  If so, it's a good thing you've got enough good taste to visit this 'ere blog then, ain't it?  Otherwise you'd have had to do without seeing them, thereby impoverishing the quality of your life as far as your comicbook experiences go.  Hell, no - don't thank me - I live to share!  (But buy your own copies.)

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

THE DANDY'S 80TH ANNIVERSARY (UPDATED)...


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

The DANDY first appeared 80 years ago in 1937 and ended its run 5 years ago in 2012.  There's no arguing with the fact that a 75 year life-span is a great achievement for a comic, but why did it die?  Forget what you read elsewhere from people determined to rewrite history - The Dandy came to an end because it eventually failed to appeal to a large enough readership to sustain itself.  Simple as that.  But there's more to the story.

Immediately after its 2010 relaunch, it actually increased its circulation for a short time before dissatisfied readers simply lost interest and stopped buying, leaving newsagents with no option but to reduce their orders accordingly.  Sales had been in general decline for years, but what killed the comic at that specific point in time was that it failed to deliver the goods.  A few exceptions aside, bad art and poor stories meant that readers old and new abandoned the comic in droves.  You can forget talk about all those who enjoyed the new Dandy as proof it was great.  Remember, they were in the minority - the majority voted with their feet (and their wallets) and walked away.

Yet still a few deluded former contributors persist in perpetuating the myth that the relaunched Dandy was absolutely brilliant and deserved to succeed, and that other factors were mainly responsible for the comic's cancellation.  (Being hard to find on the shelves apparently.  Well, not in any WHS I was ever in.)  The facts speak for themselves.  The 'great save' designed to rescue the comic from oblivion failed.  That's the important thing to remember here - the relaunch ultimately proved to be inadequate and the wrong direction in which to go.  DCT themselves never denied that the comic lost around half its readers - only some  disgruntled contributors and fans have tried to put a different spin on the facts.

If you're a singer and only manage to sell a fraction of the available tickets - and then half the audience walks out during the show, to deny that the songs you sing and the way you sing them is most likely the primary reason for such a sorry situation is ludicrous.  Yet that's what the apologists for The Dandy's failure claim - it wasn't the content, it was everything else but, they say.

Anyway, you can safely ignore their deluded witterings, secure in the knowledge of the facts.  However, let's not dwell on The Dandy's demise - let's take a look at some pages from its very first issue from 80 years ago.  It was still to achieve the greatness for which it became acclaimed in its heyday, but it's interesting to see it take its first steps on that journey into legend.




Monday, 4 December 2017

YOGI BEAR & THE DALEKS...



My room/study/studio is in some disarray at the moment and I've been picking things up from the floor and placing them on the nearest available space to get them out of the way.  That sometimes leads to some strange and random scenarios, as this completely unstaged scene demonstrates - YOGI BEAR being surrounded by The DALEKS.  (Probably just want his autograph.)  Now that's an episode I'd watch. 

IT'S A DOG'S LIFE...



It was 19 years ago last week that my dog ZARA had to be put to sleep and I'd meant to post a photo in memory of her.  Better late than never they say, so here's a nice pic of her in my front garden, taken in 1987 or '88 when she was still only a young doggie.  Ain't she braw?

Friday, 1 December 2017

BABE OF THE DAY - ANNA BOR...



The beautiful ANNA BOR.  That's all the info
you need.  (Well, her 'phone number would be
nice, but that ain't ever gonna happen.)

JIM'S GOING TO HAVE A BLUE CHRISTMAS...



Say what you like, but Elvis's version of this song is one that makes you want to tap your feet - or even dance to it.  Jim sings the song the way it's meant to be sung - slowly and sincerely.  Give it a listen and see if you don't agree.

DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE...



Following on from my recent post about the 1966 BATMOBILE, let's return to the Riverside Museum in Glasgow to take a look at a few more snaps.  First up is my pal, IAIN, posing in a re-creation of an old street.  I'll pretend that you're interested and explain the rest of them as we go along.  (Though be aware that some captions might not reflect reality.)

Iain posting a letter.  (It'll never get there)

The subway - not the eaterie

Caught on camera vandalising the carriage

"Hello, sailor - do you come here often?"

"I'm just ignoring you.  Now feck off or I'll tell your wife!"

Drowning his sorrows in the bar. 

Me - leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street... 

And just to round things off, below is a couple of random snaps.  Right, that's yer lot.

Remember CHOPPERS?

Is that car taking off?

Thursday, 30 November 2017

SPECIAL EDITION OF TV21...


Images copyright relevant owners

Imagine this:  It's your birthday, and your other half presents you with her gift - a hideous, hand-knitted multi-coloured monstrosity of a pullover that even NOEL EDMONDS wouldn't be seen dead in.  The sleeves are too long, the trunk too short, and it hangs off you like an unsecured straitjacket that someone's vomited over.  Then she asks "Well, what do you think of it?" while fixing you with that puppy-eyed look of expectation, relying on you to validate her knitting 'skills'.  Not since she asked you "Does my bum look big in this?" have you found yourself in such an awkward spot.  Do you give her an honest assessment of her handiwork, or do you lie through your teeth to spare her feelings and ensure your own peace and quiet?

I now find myself in a similar situation.  I recently acquired the special 'universe edition' of TV21 #243, which was originally produced for inclusion with a Blu-ray boxed set of GERRY ANDERSON puppet shows a few years ago, and which is now available on its lonesome.  The verdict?  Well, while not in the same category as the above-described item of knitwear, I find myself divided in my reaction to it.  How can one be so thrilled and disappointed by something at the same time?  It's a joy to see, to hold, to own, but - compared to TV21 as it was in its heyday, it's hugely disappointing.  The artwork, with the exception of the LADY PENELOPE, THUNDERBIRDS, MARS SPACE PROBE, and (go on, Gordie, force yourself) ZOONY The LAZOON pages, is nowhere in the same league as days gone by, and the shape of some of the speech balloons is dire.  I find myself wondering how they could get it so wrong, while at the same time feeling grateful that they did at at all.

Even GERRY EMBLETON's art on STINGRAY falls far short compared to his work on the strip back in the '60s when he took over from his brother RON.  However, allowances can be made for the fact that he must by now be an old man, so perhaps it's unfair to expect the standard of work he used to deliver.  MARTIN BAINES' art is really nice, though his TB2 shape isn't too accurate, and the difference in size between TB1 & 2 is unclear in one panel, leaving both craft looking more or less equal.  BRIAN WILLIAMSON's art is okay, but doesn't capture the mood of the original AGENT 21 strip.  The FIREBALL XL5 strip, while not bad, cries out for the hand of MIKE NOBLE, and one wonders why he wasn't offered heaven and earth to produce the one page required.  As for MARTIN CATER's and MARTIN ASBURY's art on the ZERO X and CAPTAIN SCARLET pages - leave it out boys, you're 'avin' a larf.  Cater's art is amateurish, while Asbury's betrays his later career as a storyboard artist for movies.  Only the colouring (by 'SPECTRUM') saves it from looking like not much more than a 'rough' layout. 

And yet... and yet... this is a collectors' item and you should grab one while you can.  Despite my reservations with some aspects of the comic, it's still a thrill to see TV21 resurrected for one more issue.  (Though FANDERSON beat them to it in 2010 with their own version of the 'next' ish - see below.)  So ignore my negative reaction to parts of this special edition and order your copy from this link today.  (If they'd only put The DALEKS on the back page, I'd have been a very happy man.)  If you're a fan of the original TV21, then you'll be thrilled to hold this issue in your hands - though I reckon you won't be able to shake off a measure of disappointment at the same time.  Still, don't let it get away.

Already got this comic?  Agree?  Disagree?  Let's read your views in the comments section.  Insults and questioning of my parentage are most welcome.

THE 1966 BATMOBILE IN GLASGOW...


Now that's what I call a car!  Impressive, eh?

A friend and myself had been planning to go and see the 'original' BATMOBILE at Glasgow's Riverside Museum next week, but on a spur-of-the-moment decision we shot in yesterday afternoon to view the classic car from the '60s TV show.  Well, to be more accurate, it was a replica car we saw, but it was still quite impressive, as you can see by the photos.  And yes, that heroic, handsome manly-man in the last photo is none other than yours truly.  Someone give him a TV show - the women of the world deserve it.

(Click on images to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.  The last three only enlarge once.)

Here's my pal, trying to look as if he's leaning on the car

I'm sure I saw the Joker prowling about.  Hope the keys aren't handy

Who wouldn't like this car sitting out in the drive, eh?

I wonder if the parachutes actually work?

Check out the interior - but what do B & R do when it rains?  (Get wet)

Same again from the driver's side

Oh, look - the Bat Signal.  That can only mean one thing...

...yup, the Dynamic Duo (or not-so-close facsimiles) are bound to show

Say what you like - I think I cut more of a dash than the above pair
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