Thursday, 31 October 2013

TRICKIN' OR TREATIN'? NOT WHEN HE'S EATIN'!

 
 
As it's HALLOWE'EN tonight, here's a little treat from the
pages of WHAM! back in October 1965.  The story doesn't have a
Hallowe'en theme as such, but FRANKIE STEIN himself fits right
in with the mood of the evening, so I'm sure you'll all still enjoy his
madcap escapade, as drawn by the mighty KEN REID

THUNDERBIRDS: 100 F.A.B. POSTCARDS - ON SALE NOW!

 

Along with my THUNDERBIRDS book that I received the
other day from the generous people at EGMONT, was the above
boxed set of 100 F.A.B. Postcards - and something else. Let's look
at the postcards first, which are excellent. (Remember to click on
the images to see them larger. Then click again for larger yet.)
 
 

The cards feature different high-quality images from the TV show,
including snapshots of the credits sequence at the beginning of each
programme, as well as Tracy Island, Thunderbirds machinery,
the Hood, the Tracy family and Lady Penelope. Contained in a
sturdy and attractive gift box, this makes the perfect gift for all
fans and collectors of GERRY ANDERSON's iconic show.
 
 
There's one major problem with them 'though - which is that
they're simply far too good ever to use as postcards. I certainly
won't be sending any of them to anyone. They can buy their
own - which is what you should do right away.

Available now for £14.99.

******

 
 
Also enclosed with my goodies was the above signed A3 print by
GRAHAM BLEATHMAN (limited to 500) to celebrate the launch
of the Thunderbirds book and Postcard box. (That's getting framed,
that is.) Many thanks to Egmont and Graham.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

THUNDERBIRDS: THE COMIC COLLECTION - A REVIEW...


Images copyright Egmont Publishing Group

It's always exciting to receive a book in the post and when my
review copy of the new THUNDERBIRDS volume arrived today,
courtesy of those extremely nice people at EGMONT, it was no ex-
ception.  I already have all the stories in one form or another, either
in their original TV CENTURY 21 printings, or their reprintings in
THUNDERBIRDS The COMIC, RAVETTEREYNOLDS &
HEARN or SIGNUM editions, but a sturdy hardback book is
always very welcome to this particular bibliophile.


Nothing, of course, can compare to the actual artwork or
original printings, but this is a very handsome edition which is sure
to inspire memories of many a childhood, not only in the 1960s and
1970s, but also 1991, when GERRY ANDERSON's premier puppet
programme enjoyed a resurgence of interest all across the U.K. after
being networked by the BBC for the first time in the series' history.
Featuring strips by FRANK BELLAMY, FRANK HAMPSON,
ERIC EDEN and JOHN COOPER, the book is an absolute
delight for all lovers of action and adventure.


One of the disappointing aspects of previous collections is that
the centrespreads never fared too well, often having word balloons
or captions split in two (and the parts not quite matching up) on account
of being printed on two separate pages instead of just one double-pager.
This book sensibly avoids that problem by presenting stories consisting
mainly of individual pages rather than double-page panoramic spreads.
Fortunately, GRAHAM BLEATHMAN's cutaway centrespreads
aren't too affected by being divided by the binding method.


Talking of Graham Bleathman, his work is right up there with
the very best artists who ever illustrated Gerry Anderson-themed
comic strips, and it's a shame that no such high-quality periodical like
TV21 is around today to give artists of Graham's calibre the oppor-
tunity to dazzle the current crop of youngsters, who would surely
lap up such fantastically detailed 'video-grams'.

Now that's what I call an endpaper

Thunderbirds:  The Comic Collection is a heavy, extremely lavish
book, which would make an ideal present for anyone who enjoyed
the programme or experienced these strips the first time around.  With
Christmas fast approaching, it could save you the headache of trying to
decide what present to buy for the big kid in your life.  In fact, it'd make
an ideal gift at any time of the year.  With an informative introduction
(and, alas, art credit errors in the list of contents - but, hey - no-one's
perfect) it deserves pride of place on any true Thunderbirds
fan's bookshelf.  Yours for only £25. F.A.B.

******

Coming next:  The THUNDERBIRDS POSTCARDS review.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

THE 'LOST' KIRBY 'SPIDER-MAN' PAGES...


Page from The Fly.  Art by Jack Kirby

Okay, this is a difficult one, so bear with me.  Everyone knows
that STAN LEE has a pretty poor memory, something which he
himself readily acknowledges, so I'm not saying anything with which
he'd disagree.  Stan's not the only comicbook icon who suffered from
this 'handicap' 'though, as his long-time collaborator JACK KIRBY
was similarly afflicted.  This, of course, has sometimes led to dis-
crepancies between both men's accounts in the 'who created
what?' arguments that have raged for decades.

I'm of the opinion that Stan is basically an honest man, who -
whenever his memory fails him - fills in the dots with whatever seems
probable in order to make sense of events.  True, in the best storyteller
tradition, he sometimes hyperbolically embellishes his reminiscences
to make them more entertaining, but I don't believe he deliberately
distorts anything out of a selfish intent to deny others credit.

Page from The Fly. Art by Jack Kirby

That doesn't mean, 'though, that distortion doesn't sometimes
inadvertently happen.  Case in point:  SPIDER-MAN first appeared
in AMAZING FANTASY #15, which was the final issue of the mag.
It now seems clear that, at the time of preparation, it wasn't intended
to be the last issue, but rather the first of a 'new direction'.  Publisher
MARTIN GOODMAN, however, noticed the low sales figures for
previous issues of AF and ordered its immediate cancellation -
despite Stan's 'rescue' plans for the title.

In Stan's mind, looking back after the fact, all he remembered
was that Spidey appeared in AF's final issue.  Relating events years
later in ORIGINS Of MARVEL COMICS, Stan tells what seemed
to him at the time the most likely account of why things happened as
they did, perhaps even unknowingly confusing the details with a
similar situation involving another character and title.

C.C. Beck's earlier pencils for The Silver Spider.  Compare to Kirby's page
at the top of the post

We've all done it - remembered things as we think happened,
rather than as they actually occurred.  A good example of this, as
related in a recent blog post, is that I recall two RONNIE HILTON
songs from my childhood as being sides A & B of the same 45 rpm
record.  When I decided to hunt down and re-acquire the record
a few weeks ago, I discovered that they were, in actual fact, two
separate singles - not the one, as I'd seemed to recall.

Now consider the creation of Spider-Man.  In Stan's account,
he came up with the character, gave it to Jack Kirby to draw, saw
the first few pages - then thought "Nah, not what I'm looking for!"
So he turned the job over to STEVE DITKO and the rest is history
 Jack's recollection of events is different, but first, let's backtrack a few
years.  According to JOE SIMON, he and his brother-in-law, JACK
OLECK, had come up with a hero called Spiderman (no hyphen),
later changed to the SILVER SPIDER, which was given to former
CAPTAIN MARVEL artist C.C. BECK to pencil.  (Before the
name change, Simon had already lettered a large Spiderman
logo for the proposed strip.  This was around 1953.)

Spiderman/The Silver Spider.  Art by C.C. Beck

 The idea never got off the ground 'til around six years later,
by which time the insect-hero had metamorphosed into The
FLY, drawn by Jack from Simon's original Spiderman script,
and published by MLJ/ARCHIE COMICS in 1959.

Now, here's where it gets interesting.  Steve Ditko recalls
seeing Jack's first few pages of 'Spider-Man' and noticing that
they bore an amazing resemblance to The Fly.  He informed Stan
of the fact, who jettisoned JK's version and reworked the concept,
which he then had Steve draw.  For years now, fans have dreamt
of seeing Kirby's rejected Spidey pages so they could compare
them to Ditko's, but so far, they remain undiscovered.

Or do they?

Logo by Joe Simon

In Jack's account, he took Simon's Spiderman logo to Stan
and suggested the idea for the character.  The pages he showed to
Lee may well have been redrawings of the Spiderman/Fly pages, as
they were essentially based on the same script, which may have been
why Ditko mentioned to Stan that they were too close to Archie's The
Fly, resulting in the reworked concept that became MARVEL's very
own Spider-Man.  (It's interesting to note that, if Jack did indeed take
the idea to Stan, in later claiming that he had created the character,
he never mentioned Simon's, Oleck's or Beck's involvement in
the original process, thereby stealing their rightful credit.)

So - have we actually already seen versions of the Kirby Spider-
Man pages of which legend tells?  And if so, does it discredit Stan's
account of the creation of the ol' Web-spinner?  Not necessarily.  Even
if Jack had suggested the name to Stan and shown him some pages, the
finished product by Lee and Ditko bore no relation to the character that
Jack may have presented (and which was dreamt up by Simon & Oleck,
remember).  And, of course, Stan may have come up with the idea, and
Jack submitted uninked stats or redrawn pencils of his earlier pages,
thinking that they would serve what Stan had roughly in mind.

Apparently, Kirby's Spider-Man looked similar to the above figure

Alas, it seems that nobody will ever know for sure.  Even if Kirby
were still alive, his memory seems to have been no more reliable than
Lee's, so the issue would doubtless remain unresolved.  However, it's
an intriguing notion, don't you think?  Regardless of whether Stan first
approached Jack, or Jack first approached Stan with the idea, you may
now be looking at something very close to the rejected pages which
Stan himself mentioned in his Origins book back in 1974, and for
which comics historians have been searching ever since.

Feel entirely free to register yout thoughts, theories
and fancies in our ever-lovin' comments section.

Monday, 28 October 2013

EAGLE PICTURE LIBRARY COVER GALLERY...



At the same time that the BUSTER and WHIZZER & CHIPS
Comic Libraries were on sale, so too was the EAGLE Picture
Library.  Just like W&C, it lasted 14 issues, and the covers are re-
produced on this very post for you to peruse at your leisure.  It was
good to see JANUS STARK again, even if (as far as I know) he
never appeared in any other Eagle-related publication.

If you've enjoyed seeing these classic covers of yesteryear,
then feel free to leave a sentence or two of appreciation in the
comments section.  You know how insecure we bloggers are.






Sunday, 27 October 2013

GORDIE GOOSE - IN COLOUR...



In a previous post (here) I explained the background to this strip I
drew when I was only 17.  I thought it might be good to see it in colour,
so I dug out my acrylic inks and gave it a go.  Unfortunately, I'm handi-
capped by being slightly colour-blind, so I freely admit my limitations
in that department.  Also, I was working on an A4 photocopy, which
I found rather limiting when applying my brush.

Anyway, hardly the finest example of a comic strip you'll ever see,
but for a 17 year old lad working in a warehouse (as I was at the time)
who hadn't yet developed any kind of style of my own, I'm sure that
most impartial commenters will agree that it ain't too bad at all.

Or am I being unrealistically optimistic?

******

And below is the black & white copy, obviously.

WHIZZER & CHIPS COMIC LIBRARY COVER GALLERY...



Well, you've already seen the BUSTER COMIC LIBRARY
covers, so let's now look at the WHIZZER & CHIPS ones - all 14
of them.  These first came out in early 1985, and I was one of the re-size
artists to work on the digest-sized periodicals.  Guess how much I got paid
for each issue, which took about a day, day-and-a-half tops, to do.  £100
per issue.  That's good money today, never mind 28 years ago, and I had
my lettering work on top of that.  If that's being a 'failure', as some bitter
and misguided visitors to this blog occasionally seek to imply, then
give me excess of it.  Yup, it was a nice little earner.

You'll note that each title was issued as a separate publication,
unlike the weekly comic.  Both went on sale at the same time 'though,
sitting alongside one another on newsagents' shelves.  Obviously a cun-
ning marketing ploy designed to shift twice as many copies.  (What
true fan would ever buy Whizzer without also buying Chips?) 

One good thing about working on the comic libraries (apart from
the financial aspect) was in getting to 'connect' with strips I had first
read as a child and leaving my mark on them in the process of adapting
them to a smaller page size.  I also got to indulge my artistic sensibilities
by adding my own art whenever any panels needed extending in order to
fill the space.  (There are examples elsewhere on the site.)  Anyway, I'm
sure you're not interested in what I was up to  nearly 30 years ago, so
let's stick to the script.  Here, for your pleasurable perusal, are
the covers of which I spoke.  Hope you enjoy them.






PART THREE - JOHNNY FUTURE VERSUS THE OPPOSITE MAN...

 
 
LUIS BERMEJO ROJO was born in Madrid in 1931 and worked
for many companies as a book illustrator and comic artist throughout
his long career, including U.S. publishers WARREN and DC COMICS.
His work appeared in U.K. comics such as EAGLE, TELL ME WHY,
ONCE UPON A TIME and FANTASTIC, where he drew the fondly
recalled (by people of a certain age, obviously) JOHNNY FUTURE.
 
(See? Who said this blog wasn't educational?)
 
Right, that's the introduction out of the way - now let's get
into the power-packed action! And away we goooooo!
 

Friday, 25 October 2013

THE FABULOUS FANTASTIC FOUR COVER GALLERY - PART THREE...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I have to confess that I was never much of a fan of GEORGE
ROUSSOS's inking on JACK KIRBY's pencils for FANTASTIC
FOUR #s 21-28 - with the exception of issues #25 & 26, that is.  For
some reason, George (working under the surname of BELL) managed
to lift his game for the two-part adventure, wherein The HULK and
The THING have one of the best 'knock 'em down, drag 'em out'
battles ever seen in the pages of a comicbook (or two).

However, that's another post for another time, perhaps.  For
the moment, we're more interested in the 10 cataclysmic covers
that graced these classic issues - so here they are!  Peel back your
peepers and simply enjoy, frantic one!  Got a favourite?  Then
let's hear all about it in the comments section.
    








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