Sunday, 31 March 2013

HAVE A 'SMASHING' EASTER...



Easter is upon us - and this is the first one I can remember in a long
time where there wasn't at least a Cadbury's Creme Egg waiting for
me to devour when I arose to greet the day. I'll just have to pop out later
and buy a choccy egg of some description before they're all sold out - if
it isn't already too late. Of course, for many people, Easter is regarded
and celebrated as the religious occasion which founded their faiths, but
for most of the rest of us it's just an excuse to gorge ourselves on
lots of chocolate and watch a load of old movies on TV.

Once upon a time, it was also a day for a plethora of this country's
cavorting comical chums to indulge in hilarious escapades involving
giant confectionary eggs, which usually dominated the covers of paper
periodicals such as BEANO, DANDYBEEZER, TOPPER, SPARKY,
BUZZ, BUSTER, WHAM!, SMASH!, POW!, WHIZZER & CHIPS,
WOW, WHOOPEEMONSTER FUN, SCHOOL FUN, SHIVER &
SHAKE, TV COMIC and countless others I've no doubt neglected to
mention. Today, only one of those weeklies survives, to entertain us
in isolation with the Easter exploits of DENNIS THE MENACE
and his bombastic battalion of Beanotown buddies.

So, in memory of the kind of Easters I remember from my boyhood
(and up to only a few years ago too, to be honest), here's a selection of
strips from the 1968 Easter edition of SMASH! #116, which you'll
hopefully all enjoy.












Friday, 29 March 2013

NEW GODS FOR OLD? NO THANKS...(COVER GALLERY)

 
 
NEW GODS - arguably JACK KIRBY's greatest achievement at DC
COMICS - and also his biggest failure. How so? Achievement in that it
brought a whole new dimension to the DC universe which still survives
in some form-or-other to this day; failure in that it never really caught
on with the comics-buying public and was cancelled after 11 issues.
 
Being inextricably connected to Kirby's 'FOURTH WORLD'
concept, perhaps it was sadly inevitable that FOREVER PEOPLE,
MISTER MIRACLE, and JIMMY OLSEN would suffer a knock-on
effect from readers' apparent disinterest in the whole NEW GENESIS/
APOKOLIPS scenario. On SUPERMAN'S PAL, the 'King' lasted 15
issues, MARK MOONRIDER and his team shared the same fate as
ORION & Co (cancellation after 11 issues), and SCOTT FREE
changed direction and managed to escape publishing oblivion -
at least for another 7 issues.
 
I remember, one day during my school lunch hour, thumbing
through New Gods #3 in the neighbourhood newsagent's and being
singularly unimpressed by the contents. The dialogue seemed leaden,
the colours (despite the gaudy apparel of THE BLACK RACER) murky
and unattractive and the other various characters unappealing. I didn't
buy it at the time, but acquired it later when I finally entered Kirby's
Fourth World through the pages of Jimmy Olsen.
 
Although it was a brave try by Kirby to reshape DC Comics in
MARVEL's image, DC had miscalculated in assuming that Jack was
the man mainly responsible for Marvel's success. Had they also lured
STAN LEE away with Jack (an unlikely possibility - Stan was perfectly
happy with his lot at Marvel), they might have been onto something.
Unfortunately, 'free and unfettered', Kirby was not quite the force he
had been with Lee, and he returned to Marvel five years later.
 
That said, however, New Gods is now a firmly-established and
fondly-recalled part of my boyhood, so let's celebrate that ol' JACK
MAGIC with all 11 covers to the short-lived series. Kirby never really
produced a 'bad' comicbook in his life - it's just that some were better
than others. And even if New Gods wasn't one of the better ones -
let's face it - it was still well-worth reading. (Although, if I'm being
totally honest - give me THOR THE MIGHTY anytime!)
 
 



 




Thursday, 28 March 2013

SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY COVER GALLERY - PART SEVEN...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Unlike The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL, companion
periodical SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY did not have as many
feature pages and pin-ups in its early issues.  This means that the material
available is rather more limited in the case of the ol' Web-spinner's U.K.
comic, so we'll just have to make do with what we've got.

Still, the covers themselves are well-worth seeing, as are the select
pages which I graciously present for your viewing pleasure.  Just think -
SMCW cost a mere 5 new pence, and featured STEVE DITKO classic
SPIDEY stories and JACK KIRBY titanic THOR tales - an absolute
bargain in anybody's language.

(Looking at the ad below, I just can't understand why I didn't send
away for a HULK T-Shirt.  I must've been mad - or bereft of funds.)

Remember to keep your peepers peeled for Part Eight!
  






Wednesday, 27 March 2013

THE MIGHTY MARVEL COVER GALLERY - PART NINE...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

HOORAY!  Rejoice - The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL cover
& image gallery is back!  A Baker's dozen of pulsating pages from the early
months of Marvel's very first 'official' entry into the British comics market.
Just looking at these pages transports me back in time to the dazzling days
of the 1970s faster than QUICKSILVER can burp.  If you were around at
the time and buying MWOM, then I'm sure it'll be the same for you.

So cast off the shackles of current-day concerns and submit your-
selves to the intoxicating pull of the past and all of its pleasures.  Relive
the heady days of your youth once more and pretend you're a lad again
with eternity ahead of you, when the only passports required for entry
into a wonderland of action, adventure, escapism and excitement
were the three magic words - "MAKE MINE MARVEL!"












Tuesday, 26 March 2013

FOOM COVER & IMAGE GALLERY - PART SIX...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Well, lookee here - it's only FOOM #14, with some cracking CONAN
The BARBARIAN pictures and an interview with the late and legendary
ARCHIE GOODWIN.  I once had the privilege of dining with Archie and his
charming wife ANN in Glasgow one evening, after which we strolled through
the city centre, admiring the architecture and chatting.  Also in attendance
was JOHN McSHANE, famous Scottish comics historian and man-about-
town, who had invited me to meet Archie and dine with them.  I think
artist WILL SIMPSON was also present, but that could well have
been on another occasion.

The great man himself - and Archie.  (Gotcha!)

Anyway, have fun reliving whatever memories (if any) you associate
with the accompanying artwork.  And feel free to leave a word or three of
appreciation in the comments section.  You wouldn't want me to think I'm
wasting my time with this blog for a non-existent audience, now would
you?  (Hello...anybody there?)   







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