Friday, 28 April 2017

A SUDDEN GUST OF WIND BLOWS IN WITH SOME SAD NEWS - LEO BAXENDALE 1930-2017...



Well, what can you say and how do you say it?

As most of you will know by now, LEO BAXENDALE
passed away recently.  Leo was an influential creator in the
world of comics, but due to leaving mainstream comics in the
mid-1970s, is known mainly to diehard fans who read his stuff
in the '50s, '60s, and '70s.  News of his sad demise will bring him
a wider recognition among the great British public, but it's a poor
trade-off at the end of the day.  Some people you think will live
forever, some people deserve to live forever, and Leo probably
deserved it more than most.  True, he has attained a kind
of immortality through his comics creations, but even
that seems a lesser reward than it should be.


Anyway, there's little point in me repeating facts
and figures about his career;  that's already been done
on other blogs, in far more detail than my tendency to the
superficial can match.  Suffice to say that, when it comes to
comics, Leo was a lion.  There have been other lions of course,
and there'll be others again, but he was among the first.  Sadly,
I never met him, but he very kindly replied to several of my fan
letters over the years, and, at my bold request in the position of
assistant editor of The ILLUSTRATED COMIC JOURNAL
back in the '90s, supplied an article for publication within its
pages.  True, it had appeared elsewhere first, but Leo
didn't think the readership of both 'venues' would
overlap, and we were glad to have it.


With each passing day, another little piece of our
childhood is eroded away, and with Leo's passing, quite
a large chunk has been chipped off in one fell swoop.  For
what it's worth, if anything, I'm sure readers of this humble
blog extend their condolences to Leo's family and friends at
this sad time.  We're frowning at the moment, but we'll all
laugh again after an appropriate interval, especially when
we read again some of Leo's comic creations that we
enjoyed as kids, teenagers, and adults.


Rest in peace Leo Baxendale.  He may be gone, but
he'll never be forgotten as long as unruly kids indulge in
mischief and mayhem in any school playground.


And below is the cover of Leo's autobiography,
which every fan of British comics should read.


And now, a gallery of various images...




Thursday, 27 April 2017

BABE OF THE DAY - BRIGITTE NIELSEN...



The SHE-HULK that never was - BRIGITTE
NIELSEN.  That might have been an interesting
movie - then again, maybe not.  I wonder if she'll
turn green with envy when another actress in-
evitably lands the role in the future?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

MY HEART IS STILL A FIREBALL...


Image copyright relevant owners

When I was a kid living in the first house I remember,
in the woods at the top of the street there was a fallen tree 
that I imagined was FIREBALL XL5.  I'd sit on the front of it,
pretending it was Fireball Junior and that I was pilot STEVE
ZODIAC.  When I was around five and a half, we flitted to a
bigger house a few minutes away in another street, but I
often returned to those woods to play on my tree.

One day my big brother came in and told me that work-
men had turned the tree around while doing something in the
woods (no, they weren't bears, so it wasn't that), so at the first
opportunity I ran up to see for myself.  I was disappointed, not
being a fan of change of any kind, but there wasn't anything
I could do but accept the cold hard fact of the situation.

When we moved again, I visited 'Fireball' often, even
taking some of the loose roots from the upturned base of the
tree as mementos of my childhood.  At some stage in the '70s
(mid-to-late, I think - can't quite remember) old 'XL5' was re-
moved and I never saw it again.  (Wouldn't it be weird if there
were a wooden ornament in my house made from that tree
and I didn't know?  I mean, I'd know there was an orna-
ment, but not that it was made from the tree.)

Anyway, fade out the 'TWILIGHT ZONE' theme.
I don't have a photo of the tree to show you (took some,
but never had them developed), so I thought I'd show you
a piccie of Fireball XL5 itself.  Don't know who the artist is,
but it's a pretty neat illustration.  Always loved those jet-
mobiles - anyone know where I can buy a real one?

******

(Yeah, some of my posts are pretty weird, ain't they?
Thing is, I just wanted an excuse to show you this image
of Fireball XL5, hence the personal reminiscence.)

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

ANOTHER BABE OF THE DAY - NICOLA BRYANT...



NICOLA BRYANT is so happy, she's
jumping for joy - assisted by actor COLIN
BAKER, who can't believe his luck.  Nor can
the photographer come to that, as he's got
a much nicer view than poor Colin.

BRITISH ADS FOR MAJOR MATT MASON...


Characters copyright MATTEL Inc.

Those of a certain age will recall MAJOR MATT MASON,
MATTEL'S MAN IN SPACE, and the ads that appeared in
U.S. comics at the time.  However, it appears that the U.K. had
their own series of ads, which I've never seen reproduced any-
where else before.  Which doesn't necessarily mean they haven't
been, just that I've not seen them.  So, without claiming that the
following ads are comprehensive (there may have been more),
here are the ones which appeared in SMASH! in 1969.  No
doubt they appeared in other U.K. comics as well.

Did you have any Major Matt Mason toys, readers?
Why not reminisce about them to your heart's content in
our scintillating comments section?  And if you want to see
just a few Matt Mason items from my own collection,
you can make yourself jealous by clicking here.





And below are two ads which appeared in U.S. comics...

IT TOOK 33 YEARS - DID I SMASH A RECORD?



A staggering 33 years ago, in a shop in Edinburgh,
I laid a claim on 73 issues of the relaunched version of
SMASH!, 13 years after it had ceased being published
as an individual weekly periodical.  (It was merged into
VALIANT, as all readers of a certain age know.)  I took
#1 home with me that night, and the rest were either
posted to me, or I picked them up when the seller
later came through to a Glasgow comics mart.

There were 22 issues missing from the set I pur-
chased, and it took me over 30 years to finally track
them all down. To be fair to myself, 'though, it wasn't
really until the latter few years of that period that I ac-
tually attempted to find them in any determined way,
but eventually I did.  I found the last one I needed
only a year or two ago, completing the set.

Anyway, last year, I decided to finally read them,
and worked through the first 12 issues before tucking
them away again.  A couple of weeks back, I dug them
all out once more and continued from where I'd left off.
I'm now up to #30, but I'll be giving them another rest
for a while soon, as I don't want reading them to be-
come a dreary chore rather than a pleasure.

But that's mere incidental detail I suppose.  The
thing that astounds me is that it took me so long to
finally get around to reading them.  Having said that,
it sometimes feels like that day in Edinburgh was only
a little while ago, as opposed to the 33 years it actually
is.  Time really has flown, and it seems as if I did a
'RIP VAN WINKLE' and fell into a deep sleep
that lasted even longer than his 20 years.

So readers, that prompts a question.  Do any of
you ever look at some item in your possession that
you remember buying with such clarity that it seems
not too long ago, only to be amazed when it suddenly
hits you that it was 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years ago?
How does that realisation affect you, if at all?  Go
on, share all with your fellow Criv-ites.

(BOND) BABE OF THE DAY - JULIE EGE...



The temperature's still a bit uneven
and there's a bit of a 'nip' in the air today
(in more ways than one).  When it's chilly,
JULIE tends to forget her name for some
odd reason, so I kindly wrote it on the
back of her chair to remind her.

PART FIFTY OF FAVOURITE COMICS OF THE PAST - SUPERMAN'S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE #105...


Images copyright DC COMICS

I well remember the day I purchased this mag (along
with various others) from a local newsagent's, and sitting on
a bench in the Old Village quarter of my town to read it.  If it
wasn't on a Saturday I bought it, it would've been on a week-day
during the school summer holidays, and I find myself annoyed at
now no longer being able to recall with my customary precision.
Once, I could also have told you what comics I got along with it,
but, alas, no longer.  I have a notion that an issue of MISTER
MIRACLE might have been among the pile, but I could be
mixing two different days together, as I often sat in the
same spot to peruse my comics when I got them.

It goes without saying, of course, that I immediately fell
in love with The THORN.  Might have been her outfit, but
she fully captured my adolescent adoration and was instantly
added to the lengthening list of my favourite 'comicbook cuties'.
The newsagent's where I bought this four-colour treasure exists
only in memory these days (like so many hallowed haunts of my
youth), but in my mind, I'm still able to revisit its cool interiors
and relive happy moments from the past.  If there's an after-
life, perhaps all our cherished places will be there waiting
for us, like old friends we haven't seen in an age.

Does this mag hold any memories for you, dear reader,
and does it take you back to a moment in time you'd love
to live again?  If so, share your pleasant reminiscences with
your Criv-ite chums in our comments section.  A memory
shared is a memory spared from oblivion, so get your
typing fingers tapping now.  We await your input.



Monday, 24 April 2017

I'LL SEE YOU IN THE MORNING...



Like poems?  Maybe you'll like this one.
Hankies at the ready, three, two, one - go.


            I'll See You In The Morning.

            And so to bed my little lad, I'll see you in the morning.
            There's new adventures to be had with each new day aborning.
            'Though not for me alas, my son;  my days on Earth are fading.
            The doctor says I'm nearly done and Death comes 'serenading'.
        
            I'll not be here to watch you grow in each new bright tomorrow,
            I must confess I'm feeling low and in the grip of sorrow.
            I won't be here to hold your hand each time you trip and stumble,
            'though not exactly what I planned it does no good to grumble.

            I stand and watch you as you sleep and nearly cry a river.
            You've given me a joy so deep, but now I feel a shiver.
            My time is short, but I'll give thanks as long as I am able,
            'though soon enough I'll join the ranks of 'one short at the table'.

            So many things I want to say before I have to leave you,
            it's not my fault I cannot stay, but you'll have mum to cleave to.
            Be strong for her my little man, she'll need you in her sadness,
            give mummy all the help you can and be a source of gladness.

            Perhaps in time she'll wed again;  if so my little laddie,
            should that occasion happen, then - please don't forget your daddy.
            I'll keep an eye out from above, I'll see your joys and sorrows,
            you'll always have your daddy's love throughout all your tomorrows.

            Goodnight to you my little lad, I'll see you when you waken.
            And I will always be your dad - you will not be forsaken.
            I've stood and watched you for a week since I learned I was dying,
            Each night I've stooped and stroked your cheek and couldn't keep from
            crying.

            Tomorrow I will play a game - pretend that I'm immortal;
            that things will always be the same and I won't pass Death's portal.
            So rest your head my little lad, I'll see you in the morning.
            A bit more time to know your dad - another day's aborning.

BABE OF THE DAY - JERI RYAN...



JERI RYAN reminds us what a stunning
woman looks like.  Not a moment too soon in
my case.  I'd better call Fred and tell him our
date's off.  His long hair confused me for a mo-
ment.  Phew, lucky escape - for both of us!
(He's not gay, 'though his boyfriend is.)

REGRETS? I'VE HAD A FEW - HOW ABOUT YOU...?



In a recent post, I showed you the cover of
The FANTASTIC FOUR #126 ('though they'd
dropped the 'article' by then), and mentioned that I
purchased it at the same time as a 2nd copy of The
MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #1.  This was
on Friday, October 6th 1972.  However, I have
a regret about that day, which is this.

In the window of a little toy shop, which, if
memory serves, resembled The TINKERER's
repair shop (The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2),
was a DALEK Money Box by toymaker COWAN de
GROOT.  It was clearly based on the MARX Dalek,
but was even less accurate.  In fact, in profile, it re-
sembled the redesign on the DOCTOR WHO
TV show a few years back.


Therefore, not being terribly impressed by
it, I didn't buy it, 'though I could have.  Now I
wish I had, and whenever I see a photograph of it,
I regret not purchasing it when I had the chance.  It
commands a small fortune nowadays, but that's not
what fuels my regret - it's simply the 'time travel'
aspect of the item - apropos considering where
the Daleks made their TV debut.

So, readers, do you have any regrets like
that, where you recall having the opportunity of
acquiring something, but chose not to?  However,
don't let me hold you back in any way;  feel free to
air any regrets you may care to share.  You'll feel
far better for it.  Hey, trust me, I'm a doctor.
(Of all things related to nostalgia.)

******

And yes, there's a plate with a picture of
 a Dalek on it, clearly based on this one.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

WISH I'D THOUGHT OF THAT NAME FIRST...


Wing Commander GUY F. RODNEY, DFC, AFC

Believe it or not, there's another blog
called Crivens!  Or, to be more precise, its
BLOG'.  I saw this old photo on it recently, and
couldn't resist the temptation to try and tidy it
up a tad.  Below is the result, with another
version without the inscription.

Not too shabby, eh?  I enjoy doing this
sort of thing, as it restores photographs from
yesteryear to as near as possible their original
pristine condition.  Visit the other Crivens by
clicking on its blog name in the above par-
agraph.  Go on, check it out today.



CRIVENS' CLASSIC COMIC COVERS: HAUNTED #1...


Image copyright relevant owner

Sometimes I forget that there's more to comics than just
MARVEL and DC.  So, here's a CHARLTON comic cover,
HAUNTED #1, drawn by STEVE DITKO.  Natty design,
don'tcha think?  There's a great post about Ditko's Charlton
work over at Nifty NICK CAPUTO's blog, which you can
access by clicking here.  Don't forget to return to this one
'though.  You know how I hate talking to myself.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

CRIVENS' CLASSIC COMIC COVERS: FANTASTIC FOUR #126...


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

I bought my first copy of this comic on October 6th 1972.
It was a Friday, I was off school, and I purchased my second
copy of The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #1 at the same
moment.  Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and relive that
day, all of nearly 45 years ago.  Well, in a way I can - whenever I
gaze upon this sensational cover of FANTASTIC FOUR #126
by Big JOHN BUSCEMA.  I wish they still made comics like
this today, don't you?  Then leave a comment saying so.

BABE OF THE DAY - JENNIFER BEALS...



Did you know that JEN's uncle was a
coal miner in Britain?  That's when we had a
coal industry that is, which we don't anymore.
"But," you cry, "coal was for heating and elec-
tricity, etc., and we've still got them, so we
must still have a coal industry!"

No, we still have an energy, or power in-
dustry, which does essentially the same thing
without actually using British coal, so we don't
have a home-grown coal industry any longer.
H'mm, seems I've read a similar 'discussion'
fairly recently.  Now if only I could recall
where.  Any ideas anybody?

Cheer up, Jen - we'll get around to
ogling you in a moment.  Honest.

******

(And no, I don't have the faintest clue
what Jennifer's uncle did for a living.)

TROTTERS' INDEPENDENT TRADING 'INDUSTRY'...



To my great amusement, I'm advised that, over
on some blog, a self-confessed 'wannabe writer' is still
trying to talk up a British comics industry that no longer
exists (by misrepresenting the views of those who are of
a different opinion), and making specious comparisons
to the music, movie and TV industries that yet retain
a significant presence in this country.

As I've previously gone to great pains to explain,
when I say 'comics industry', I'm referring to published
paper periodicals (of either weekly, fortnightly, monthly,
or even yearly frequency) containing mainly comic strips,
as the word was defined and accepted for decades in the
minds of the general public, and as yet defined on Wiki-
pedia and in most dictionaries.  If he could only grasp
the difference between the carton and the content,
he'd be a less angst-ridden little malcontent.

Books, DVDs, digital platforms, etc., containing
comic strip content, are not 'comics' in the traditional
sense of the word, but a different ('though admittedly re-
lated) animal.  When something 'evolves' into something
different, it ceases to be that which it was before.  And,
when it 'evolves' into something less than it was before,
then it's no improvement.  If a giant evolves into a
dwarf, he's not a giant anymore, is he?

Anyway, there's no point covering every aspect
of this discussion again, as it's practically been done to
death.  Here's one important aspect to consider 'though.
See these self-published and/or digital products that some
people tout as proof of today's 'evolved' comics 'industry' ?
Were there really an industry (as I understand the con-
cept), they wouldn't exist, because there'd be little need
to go down that particular route.  The existence of such
things only serves to prove just what dire straits
the so-called industry is really in.

The main difference is, I suppose, that these
people view any and all comic strip material as being
'comics' in themselves, and they're entitled to that view.
I, however, see comic strip material as something within
a comic (a published paper periodical), and although the
word has been and is sometimes used interchangeably,
I prefer to draw (npi) a distinction between the car-
ton and the content.  (Like we used to do.)

Anyway, who can blame that other blogger for
leaping on the bandwagon in a new attempt to stir up
controversy, thereby attracting attention to his site?  If
only he'd avoid being so embarrassingly ingratiating to
those whom he thinks might be able to help 'grease the
wheels' of his hoped-for comics career in the process,
we'd be spared having to witness the sad spectacle
   of a sickening bit of 'brown-nosing'.  

THE INVINCIBLE GENE COLAN...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's a great book I acquired recently.  It's a great
book that really should have been even greater, but I'll get
to that presently.  If you're a genuine comics fan, you'll know
of GENE COLAN.  Gene was a master of light and shade, and
one of the finest contributors ever to freelance for MARVEL.
IRON MAN, SUB-MARINER, DAREDEVIL, HOWARD
The DUCK, and DRACULA are just a few of the titles he
drew for 'The House Of Ideas' in the '60s & '70s.

There are some great images in this 132 pager, but,
alas, also some not-so-great ones.  It's always somewhat
disappointing to read what a sublime artist someone is, and
then see art which doesn't quite bear that out.  Case in point is
the example below.  Nice pencil work, superb texturing, but that
apart, it's a dreadful drawing.  The figure is too squat, the head's
too big, the body's too small, and the legs aren't right in any way.
 And the fact that ol' DOOM's left arm appears to be sprouting
from the middle of his torso all result in a less than perfect
illustration.  (And the right arm is seriously dodgy as
well.  Where exactly does the elbow bend?)


For all the excellent examples of Gene's artistic ability,
there's a few I wish they'd just left out, because they don't
do his reputation any favours at all.  It's not the first time I've
found myself wishing that compilers of books like this had been
just a little more discerning in their choices, and, unfortunately,
this is another such occasion.  It also suffers from several areas
of over-printing, where one caption has been printed on top of
another, resulting in something that's practically unread-
able.  Don't they have proofreaders any more?

However, it would be remiss of me not to put things in
context by mentioning that Gene suffered from glaucoma
for many years (being almost blind in one eye and having tun-
nel vision in the other), and had to draw with his face practically
pressed up against the page.  This no doubt explains the instances
when his art wasn't at its best, and makes it all the more amazing
when it was.  So despite its few shortcomings, this tome should
be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of any devoted fan of
'The Dean'.  Published in 2010, it may yet be available.
Try your local FORBIDDEN PLANET first.

Friday, 21 April 2017

BABE OF THE DAY - ELKE SOMMER...



ELKE SOMMER whirls in surprise as I
sneak up on her with a box of MILK TRAY.
She's even more surprised when she discovers
that I've scoffed most of them and there's only
two left.  She's surprised even further when I
eat 'em.  Ach, she can bloody well buy her
own box of chocolates, the cadgin' bint.

CRIVENS' CLASSIC COMIC COVERS: THE AVENGERS KING-SIZE SPECIAL #3...


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Big JOHN BUSCEMA demonstrates why he was JACK
KIRBY'S natural successor with this simple-but-effective
cover from The AVENGERS KING-SIZE SPECIAL #3.
This one's an absolute belter in my view - how about you?

Thursday, 20 April 2017

BABE OF THE DAY - COTE DE PABLO...



COTE DE PABLO hangs over the rail-
ings, wondering where I've gotten to on our
date to the cinema.  I'd told her I was going to
get her a choc ice, but then decided to nip out
for a fish supper for myself.  That was three
hours ago, but it's not my fault that there
was a long queue at the chippie.

Think she'll be angry with me?

CRIVEN'S CLASSIC COMIC COVERS: FANTASTIC #51...


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

I recall lying on the living-room carpet scrutinising this cover
back in 1968, and that's where I find myself in memory whenever I
look at it today.  Many years later I acquired the original U.S. issue of
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY (#119) it first adorned, but somehow
that comic mag doesn't have quite the same nostalgic appeal as the one
above, probably because this is the ish I associate with my childhood.
This was quite a momentous number of FANTASTIC, as it was the
last one in which JOHNNY FUTURE appeared.  The very next
week, TERRIFIC was merged into Fantastic, so this was also
 the last edition to feature the comic's name on its own.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

RIDICULOUS REPOST: TWO 'KIDS' ARE BETTER THAN ONE...



You're looking at a screen-grab from a video I made in 1991 of
a house I once lived in nearly 20 years before.  Helping me that day
was my identical twin brother, GEORGE, who, thanks to my mum,
dressed exactly the same as me from a young age.  "You're identical
twins - so you should dress identical!" she'd say, with less than
perfect grammar.  (That's me at the front, incidentally.)

It came in handy whenever we got up to individual mischief
as teenagers, because the police could never charge either of us as
they simply didn't know which one was the culprit.  Ah, what fun!  I
remember once challenging six guys to a fight - then running 'round
the corner of the lockups (where George was waiting) when three
of them chased me.  Me and my brother then set about them, and
they staggered back to their pals, saying "It's an ambush -
there's two of them!" 

Of course, the above is all a total figment of my imagination
(apart from making a video of my old house), invented purely for
the purpose of seeing how much nonsense I can write and hopefully
provide a chuckle for you in the process.  Next time, I'll relate how I
single-handedly saved the world from the threat of destruction by a
megalomaniac bent on global domination - and let my best pal
JAMES BOND take all the credit.

  Hey!  Where'd everybody go?

******

(Okay, so I lied about the twin.  Would you
believe he's my Life Model Decoy?)

BABE OF THE DAY - SAMANTHA FOX...



That's the problem with wearing contact lenses I'm told;
there's always one popping out onto the floor, meaning you
have to scrabble about in a half-blind state, feeling for it on
the carpet.  That's what the stunning SAMANTHA FOX is
doing.  Perhaps I should tell her I'm standing on it.  (Nah,
don't think I'll bother - I'm enjoying the view.)

WAYFINDERS MOONSHOT SHOES...



Okay, hands up if you ever had a pair of WAYFINDERS MOON-
SHOT shoes back in the late '60s or early '70s.  I did, and it's amazing
how excited one can get over seeing one's footprints in the mud.  If any-
thing, kids walked in mud more often, just to see the imprint of their shoes
in it.  The good things about these shoes (apart from the undersides) were
the free LETRASET transfers and the lunar space capsule with a magnet
on the back, enabling you to make it glide above the moon's surface on a
backdrop printed inside the box.  I wish they still made these shoes
today, 'cos I for one would definitely buy a pair.

Do you remember these shoes, readers?  If so, reminisce away
to your hearts' content in our scintillating comments section.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

ANOTHER BABE OF THE DAY - IMOGEN HASSALL...



The lovely IMOGEN HASSALL has just
invited me to sit down beside her, but there's only
one chair.  Just what can she be thinking of?  Hold
on, I think I know.  She's obviously spotted the bag
of Jelly Babies poking out of my pocket and wants
me to give her one.  Huh!  Cheek!  As if I'd give just
any woman a baby.  Er, wait a sec - that doesn't
sound quite the way I meant it to, so any in-
nuendo you think you see is your own.
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