Thursday, 19 October 2017


JORDAN CARVER really shouldn't lie down in the middle
of the road to sunbathe like that - she's liable to cause an accident.
And I don't just mean in my trousers.  (No, I don't know what I'm
  alluding to either.  I'll have to ask a grown-up.) 


It's funny the things we remember and the things we forget.  I remember buying this paperback from JOHN MENZIES in my local town centre, either in 1974 or '75.  I can't say with certainty precisely which year, because I no longer recall if I bought it prior to seeing the movie or afterwards.  My local cinema usually got the 'big' movies several weeks after the Glasgow cinemas, so I suspect it would've been 1975 before myself and one of my pals trotted along to see it, returning again not long after to repeat the experience.  I remember also that I treated my parents to a viewing of it, though I'm unsure whether it was on either of the same days that my friend and I attended.  (If it was, it would've been on the second occasion.)  I repeated this treat for them in 1985 (at the same cinema) when ROGER MOORE's final 007 film, VIEW TO A KILL, was screened.  Three years later, that cinema began the process of being converted into a Bingo hall, which it's now been for quite a while longer than it was a cinema.

The scans you're looking at are of the actual book I bought back then.  I've just finished re-reading it, 42 years after I first read it back in the mid '70s.  Although I've looked after it, I'm slightly disconcerted to see that in the first and last few pages, some discolouration has set in along the edges.  I hate it when this happens, but must accept it as part of the aging process that all things succumb to over time.  It's no great consolation, but the book has probably withstood the passing of the years better than I have.  The story bears little more than a superficial resemblance to that of the movie of course, but it's a cracking read and, if you're a BOND fan, I heartily recommend it to you.  Funnily enough, although I'd forgotten, a Glaswegian by the name of Mr. ROBSON, otherwise known as 'The HARD MAN', makes a brief appearance in the first chapter.  (Any of my friends reading this will be laughing at the very idea.)

It's strange but comforting to have re-read the story on my bed in the same room of the same house I first experienced it back in the day.  Not the same bed, but in the same corner of the room where my original bed was once situated.  (If you want to keep score, my current bed in this room is the fourth, although I once had another bed in another room of the house.)  Regarding the movie, I thought it was a belter when it first came out, but it isn't generally regarded as one of Roger's best nowadays.  I think one of the reasons for this is because, at SCARAMANGA's remote island hideaway, the lone technician working in the reactor plant (or whatever it is) detracts from the impression of the usual 'big budget' scale associated with Bond films, though I think it was intended to suggest that Scaramanga's solar-powered technology was low-maintenance.  Whatever, I still think it's an entertaining film, though LIVE & LET DIE was better.

Anyway, it was nice to revisit the '70s for a while, though on returning to the present, I find myself quite saddened by the realisation that Sir Roger Moore is no longer with us.  However, for most of us, he's only a DVD or a Sunday afternoon repeat away, so his Bond will always be around.       

Monday, 16 October 2017



I've shown this MARX TOYS TWISTABLE BATMAN before on the blog, but I thought I'd let you see him with his new Bat-emblem.  See, in the early or mid-'90s when I first acquired this replacement for the original ones I'd had as a kid (that's right, I had more than one), he came without his utility belt, Bat-a-rang, and Bat-sign.  He still had his original cape with copyright label attached, but it was a little the worse-for-wear.  So I promptly made him a new cape (using the original as a template), new utility belt, and new Bat-a-rang.

His original cape was a darker blue than his mask, boots, and gloves, so I used a darker blue for the replacement.  Eventually, I made another one that was closer to his blue plastic parts, but still just slightly darker.  I created the Bat-a-rang from a piece of perspex, the belt out of felt (hey, a poem), and I photocopied the Bat-emblem from the official one at the time used on merchandise.  Later on, I replaced it with one copied from the '60s AURORA Batman model kit, and last night I made one copied from ADAM WEST's Batman costume.  Sure, I could've copied the original Marx one (got a photo of it in a book), but West is best (hey, another poem), so that's what I've gone with.

These figures are quite hard to come by in any condition and command a pretty penny when they occasionally turn up, so I'm extremely glad to have one.  He's been a work in progress over the years, but at last I'm satisfied with his overall appearance.  (However, if there's anyone out there with a spare original emblem, belt and Bat-a-rang, get in touch.)  Below is a photo of someone else's toy with the original emblem and belt, followed by an earlier photo of the above figure with the first emblem I made.  And, following my response to TC in the comments section, I dug out my BATMAN COLLECTED book by CHIP KIDD, and the final pic below comes from his esteemed and fairly comprehensive publication.


GIRL, don'tcha think?  Competition time:  Think
up a typical Bond girl name for Michelle and give
us all a laugh.  Try and keep it clean now.


COUNTDOWN TO TV ACTION is a splendid volume, published by BEAR ALLEY BOOKS (in 2014), and is sure to delight all fans of this iconic comic from the early '70s.  The amount of research author STEVE HOLLAND puts into his work is astonishing, and this tome is packed with facts and figures.  In fact, perhaps it has far too many facts and figures, as I felt disinclined to read all the lists contained in the back of the book.  However, it's good to know it's all there and that if I ever need to know who drew a strip and what colour of trousers he was wearing on the day he drew it, I know where to find that info.

I jest of course, but sometimes it felt that some aspects the book were included more to pad out the contents to an acceptable length than because they really needed to be there.  However, that's the minor quibble of a pedant, so don't let it put you off buying this excellent softcover edition and reliving the heady days of your youth if you read this comic during its 132 issue run.  It would've been nice if at least some of the illustrations were in colour, but even that absent aspect doesn't really detract too much from what a worthy addition to your bookshelf this tome would be.

You can order copies here, and with Christmas fast-approaching, now might be the time to grab a copy - either for yourself, or for a friend or relative who remembers Countdown/TV Action with fond affection.   


Images copyright relevant owners

Several posts back, I showed you the cover of TARKAN #1 and a few interior pages, but have now decided to go the full hog and let you all read the complete 1st issue.  Normally I'd crop the margin off each page and present them singly, but this time I've decided to try something different.  I thought it might increase the sensation of reading an actual comic if I featured the pages as if the actual mag were in your hands, so here it is as nature intended, two pages at a time.  You can let me know in the comments section if you prefer this style of presentation or my usual way of doing things.  Remember that the left-hand page above is the back cover, and should be read last after you've read the rest of the mag.  Now, forward...!


(You'll notice that the dialogue on page 15 suggests the opposite of what's actually implied in the pictures, but obviously things had to be toned down from the original as the publishers wouldn't want to lose younger readers by incurring the wrath of their parents with blatantly salacious content.)

Sunday, 15 October 2017


This is the sight that met me when I came home last
night - JANE RUSSELL in her scanties, alluring as all
get out.  "Make me feel like a woman" trilled Jane in her
trademark sensual way.  Well, I'm only human, so I did
what any other red-blooded man would do in the same
situation.  I tossed her my shirt and said "Wash and
iron that, luv, but first make me a cup of tea!"

See?  I'm a man who knows how to treat a woman.

Saturday, 14 October 2017


I've likely shown these covers before, but these scans are new, improved versions from my own personal copies of these half dozen TV CENTURY 21 Specials.  The back page below was used again on the next two comics so I've not repeated it, and the final three comics each had different back cover ads.  If I remember correctly, I had the first three issues back in the '60s, but I don't recall having the three THUNDERBIRD ones - not that it matters, 'cos I've got 'em all now!

It's a shame there's a smudge on the back cover ad of the final Special, but that's the way it was when I bought most of these replacements many years ago.  Funnily enough, I got #s 2-6 all at one go, so the very first issue was the last one I acquired a good 20 years after the others (and around 50 years since I'd bought my original copy back in 1965 - or 2065 if you prefer TV21's dating).

Did you have any of these Specials back in the day, Criv-ite chums, and if so, what (if anything) do you remember about them?  Also, did you have any of the toys featured in the ads, and if so, which ones - and what were your favourites?  The comments section eagerly awaits your visit.

Thursday, 12 October 2017


Oh, that reminds me - I need to park my
bicycle and post a letter.  Thanks, IMOGEN.
(She's been watching 'Give Us A Clue'.)


All 14 issues of SUPER DC (see here) were copyright dated 1969 in the indicia and priced at one old shilling, despite not going on sale until September or October of 1970.  (Confirmed by the fact that the free calendar watch strap labels were for November and December of 1970, and January of 1971.)  ROGER MOORE had given up playing The SAINT in 1969, yet there it is being reported in the first issue's centrespread as if it's just happened, even though the news was a year old by the time the comic went on sale.

This would seem to confirm my theory that all 14 issues were printed before the first one appeared in newsagents, and for some reason (maybe copyright fees or distribution problems), were held back until matters were resolved.  Not that such a thing need concern us a whopping 46 years after the periodical's demise upon its fourteenth and final issue, as this post is actually about the articles that appeared in the comic's centre pages.

Most of them appear out of place in a mag about superheroes, but space has to be filled in some way, and this was the easiest way to do it, while at the same time giving the comic a British 'feel' to offset the overwhelming presence of American costumed crusaders.  Readers had the best of both worlds with this approach, and I thought that Super DC was a great little monthly mag back in its day.

Here, perhaps for the first time anywhere since their initial appearance in the early '70s, are all 14 centrespread articles to help whisk you straight back to your long-vanished youth.  Ah, "Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end" - but, alas, they did.  So thank goodness we can always revisit them, eh?  Even if it is only for a short while.   

This issue appeared in shops at the start of 1971, so the article is well
out-of-date, indicating publication far in advance of going on sale

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


CONAN copyright Estate of R.E. HOWARD

Must've been back around 1971 I guess.  I was sitting on the back step of a friend's house, going through a pile of comics his neighbour had given him.  Among them was the first issue of a mag about a barbarian hero, in which one of the villains had a vision of space travel, oddly incongruous in a sword and sorcery tale set in forgotten ancient times I thought.  (Many years later, the story's writer, ROY THOMAS, came to the same conclusion.)

Yes, it was CONAN The BARBARIAN #1, and I read the tale again four years later when it was reprinted in MARVEL UK's weekly comic, SAVAGE SWORD Of CONAN.  That short span somehow seemed like an immense gulf to me back then, but I immediately 'saw' myself in my mind's eye, sitting on that very same back door-step.  Around five years or so ago, I was in the house once more (for the first time in nearly 30 years) and took quite a few photos of the front and rear gardens, essentially unchanged since my friend had moved into the house in the late '60s or beginning of the '70s.

Not long after my visit, the back garden was remodelled and changes were instituted, making me glad I'd had the foresight to pictorially capture its appearance as it had been in 'my' day.  Sadly, my childhood friend's mother died recently, meaning that I'll probably never see the inside of the house (or stand in its garden) again, as it will be sold and the proceeds divided among the family, as is the way of things under such sad circumstances.  (He himself had moved out many years ago and his mother lived alone.)

You may be wondering why I'm telling you this as if you're at all interested.  Well, it's simply because I recently acquired a copy of that first issue of Conan, and whenever I look at it, I'm once again back on that step, looking through a bunch of comics as if there's no end of tomorrows, in an age when each new day seemed to last... well, perhaps not forever, but at least far longer than 24 hours does nowadays.

And yes, that's the cover to my very own issue of CTB #1 at the top of the post - isn't it a beauty?!  (Incidentally, I know the post's title makes no real sense, but hey - it captured your attention, didn't it?)

And would you believe it - the very back garden (and step) itself

Tuesday, 10 October 2017


Images copyright LOOK And LEARN MAGAZINE Ltd

LOOK And LEARN was created by LEONARD MATTHEWS, editorial director of the juvenile department of FLEETWAY PUBLICATIONS, and was a weekly educational periodical designed for children.  It ran from 1962 until 1982, which means that it's now been gone from newsagents' shelves for 35 years - almost twice as long as it's 20 year run.  I never bought it back in the day, though I was aware of the magazine as it always seemed to lie around in doctors' and dentists' waiting rooms, and I'm sure the schools I attended also used to have issues of it dotted around the classrooms from time to time.  (I did start buying it around 1977 for a few months, and I still have those issues tucked away in a drawer somewhere.)

Probably Look And Learn's most famous strip was one that originated in RANGER, jumping over to the former publication when the two titles merged in 1966 - namely The TRIGAN EMPIRE by MIKE BUTTERWORTH and DON LAWRENCE.  The magazine featured the cream of the crop of British artists, names such as RON and GERRY EMBLETON, ERIC PARKER, OLIVER FREY, and far too many others to mention.  (There were also some foreign artists whose work appeared in its pages I believe.)

Look And Learn eventually became too expensive to produce for the declining number of readers who bought the magazine, and it ceased publication with issue #1049, cover-dated April 17th 1982.  Enjoy looking at the following select pages from the very first issue, cover-dated January 20th 1962, and I've even included the cover of the free gift, which you can see at the bottom of the post.  Did any of you Criv-ites buy Look And Learn in the '60s and '70s?  If so, feel free to share any reminiscences you may have of this quality magazine in our cultured comments section.


(I don't believe it - I originally said Bernard Matthews instead of Leonard, even though I had 'Leonard' in my mind as I typed.  The decay has definitely set in.  No comments on it however, so perhaps no one noticed.)        

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