Tuesday, 17 January 2017


"Any spare change, guv'nor?"  The above character would sure
give you a fright if you chanced to encounter him in a bright alley,
never mind a dark one.  Not quite sure how MARVEL got away with
this one, as zombies and the undead (or are they both the same thing?)
weren't supposed to be allowed by the COMICS CODE, but it gave
Big JOHN BUSCEMA the chance to turn in a spectacular splash
page.  And hey - that's what this series is all about! 

Monday, 16 January 2017


The most accurate TB2 model I've seen

Okay, I've dusted down my THUNDERBIRDS models and
taken a few new photos, so here's the results.  TB1 was difficult
to do justice to, because the silvery surface tends to reflect the
light (the daylight that is, I didn't use my camera flash), so this
is the best I can do with this one for the moment.  Enjoy.

The wings pull out.  It looks far better than the photo suggests 

Third up is TB4.  I'll show 3 and 5 another time


For the life of me, I can't think of any-
thing to say that does KATE UPTON's
beauty justice.  Apart, perhaps, from...

Sunday, 15 January 2017


As it's the 50th Anniversary year since POW! first went on
sale in 1967, it's the perfect excuse for me to take the lazy route
andreprint a post which includes not only the cover of the first ish,
but also the first issue covers of the rest of the Power Comics.
And guess what?  I'm even thrown in the very first instalment
of The CLOAK!  How's that for generosity?


The first two didn't begin life as 'POWER COMICS' - that happened
somewhere along the way after they'd started reprinting MARVEL strips,
but the next three began their runs with the big bold badge emblazoned on
their covers.  For a while, all five weeklies were published concurrently, but
eventually WHAM! merged with POW!TERRIFIC with FANTASTIC,
then Pow! with SMASH! and, finally, Fantastic also merged with Smash!,
which became the sole surviving Power comic until it was revamped
and relaunched (without Marvel reprints) in March of 1969.

Here then are all five first issue covers for you to drool over.

THE CLOAK first appeared in POW! #18 on May 13th (dated 20th)
1967, drawn by Birmingham-based artist MIKE HIGGS.  It had a different
look to other strips in the comic and, given its spy/mystery/horror-themed
stories (albeit in a comedy vein), proved popular enough to last nearly two
years.  It started in Pow!, continued in POW! & WHAM!, then SMASH! &
POW!, and finally ended in SMASH! (Incorporating FANTASTIC#162,
March 1st (dated 8th) 1969.  I remember the strip mainly because I fancied
LADY SHADY, the Cloak's EMMA PEEL-style sometimes sidekick.
(Wotta bod!  Makes me want to marry a drawing.)

Anyway, for all you Cloak fans out there, here's his first appear-
ance  from the swingin' '60s.  He's turned up at least a couple of times
in recent years - first in the back of a self-published comic by a former
assistant of Mike Higg's, and then in the pages of CRIKEY!, a (now
defunct) mag devoted to British comics and their creators.


Something I noticed only recently is that a panel from the very
first appearance of The CLOAK (POW! #18, cover-dated May
13th 1967) was clearly based on the front cover of MAD #1 (cover-
dated October-November 1952).  Or could it be no more than mere
coincidence?  Doubt it, but as it took me nigh on 50 years to spot
it, I don't suppose I'll be getting a BLUE PETER badge for my
keen observational skills anytime soon.



It was MARGARET NOLAN's gold-painted,
undulating body in the credits of GOLDFINGER,
not SHIRLEY EATON's.  Credit where credit is
due - especially in the credits in this case, eh?

Saturday, 14 January 2017


couple or so years ago I became, for a brief time, a
member of a British comics forum.  The forum had an 'edit'
option on its comments page, which meant that, however care-
ful the writer had  been during composiition, any errors in spel-
ling, punctuation or grammar he'd missed could be corrected
after submission.  Naturally, it would be stated that the
comment had been edited, and precisely when.

It's a handy thing having such a facility, and I've
never tried to hide the fact that, on this very blog of mine,
I continually edit and revise my posts - not only for the sake
of clarity and conciseness, but also to make the overall shapes
of paragraphs more aesthetically-pleasing to the eye.  In fact,
I've seen myself revising a sentence and thereby reshaping
a paragraph, more because it makes the result look
better than because it makes it read better.

Most changes are mainly of style rather than
of content.   When it comes to corrections, it varies.  If
I notice a mistake, I usually just amend the text, rather than
adding an updated footnote.  This is simply because any future
readers might bail out halfway through a post, taking the error
with them as fact.  If anyone draws my attention to an inaccu-
racy, I'll fix it, and acknowledge the contribution in the com-
ments section.  I've even been known to do all those things
at once:  fix the goof, add a footnote saying I've fixed
it - and mention it in the comments section.

So back to the afore-mentioned comics forum.
If I spotted a typo or grammatical error in one of my
comments, or just saw a way of saying the same thing in a
clearer way, I'd sometimes 'edit' my comment.  Not to alter
the meaning, but to polish the presentation.  I'm sure I wasn't
the only one.  There was one lengthy comment I kept refining
as, no sooner did I think it finished than something else occur-
red to me to say.  However, as it was in the early hours of the
morning, it was unlikely to have been read (and it certainly
hadn't been replied to),  so I continued to sculpt and to
mould it 'til I was satisfied.  However, I didn't alter
its tone or intent - no back-pedalling.

Now, as I was later advised by the site-owner,
one of the moderators had never wanted me to be al-
lowed to join in the first place, and was prejudiced against
me.  He suspended the edit facility for every member,  then
tipped off another member that he'd done so because of me.
When I enquired about the missing edit facility, the favoured
member jumped in to say it was because I 'kept changing my
comments', thus demonstrating that he had inside ('though
innacurate) information.  The site owner later conceded
it appeared obvious that the individual was being
privately supplied with internal info.

Regular readers know what eventually happened
next, so I'll skip past all that to avoid repeating myself.
(Details can be found here.)  No doubt you'll be wondering
why I'm airing the topic again  Well, about a year or so ago, I
received an email from a comics-blogger who'd once been an
editor at a prominent publishing company.  He explained that
he objected to something I'd written and had taken the 'pre-
caution' of taking a screen-grab, as I was 'well-known' for
'editing' my blog posts - 'something we all do', he later
stated, seemingly unaware of the glaring absurdity
of his inconsistent double-standards.

When I challenged him and asked him to provide
even one example in support of his claim, he recanted
and apologised, 'though his subsequent attitude caused me
to doubt the sincerity of his apology.  However, I was left to
wonder whether there was a link between his mistaken per-
ception that I altered my posts for the unethical purpose of
misdirection or deception, and the malicious misinfor-
mation promulgated by a disgruntled, disingenuous
moderator on that other comics forum.

So, I freely admit (and always have) that, in my
fruitless quest for 'perfection', I edit, revise, correct,
update and polish my blog posts, to make them as factual,
informative, entertaining, and as visually appealing as they
can possibly be, but I don't alter them to say the opposite
of what I'd originally published in order to escape any po-
tential embarrassment, consequence, or legal penalty
which might ensue from anything I'd written.

And yes, I may well edit this post - if it occurs to
me how to convey the exact same 'content' in a better,
smarter, funnier (and shorter) way than I have.  However,
the purpose of the post and the message contained therein
will remain intact.  Improvement of expression is no bad
thing - so long as the original spirit or intention isn't com-
promised.  Some people would do well to bear that in
    mind before making unfounded  accusations.


(And indeed, I've now pruned it back, as there was
 too much repetition of details provided in the link.) 


KEN REID was among the cream of the crop of British cartoonists,
and, looking at the above strip, all the exquisite detailing for which he
was justly renowned is still evident.  However, although this is a lovely
page, I think I see a hint of the beginning of the later decline in Ken's art,
in that the panel compositions are mainly 'side-on', making the charac-
ters appear one-dimensional.  The inevitable result, alas, of being
drawn mostly in profile.  As I said 'though, still a lovely page.

Friday, 13 January 2017


It was the long, hot Summer of 1977.  (Ever noticed how all
Summers seem long and hot in the hallowed halls of memory?)  40
years ago, but (astonishingly) as fresh and alive in my mind as a lover's
whispered goodbye.  Myself and two friends were making our way to the
local YMCA, where one of them was moving into for a few months before
relocating to Cornwall to begin his training for a (short-lived) career in the
Royal Navy.  The sun beat down upon us, a gentle breeze caressed our
heated brows, and, from the speaker of a small radio one of us carried,
came the 45 rpm version of BOND '77 by MARVIN HAMLISCH,
who had written the soundtrack of the soon-to-be-released
blockbuster biggie, The SPY Who LOVED ME.

I purchased the single (which I still have) that same day, from
the record department of my local BOOTS The CHEMIST (the
shop whose employ I'd left only a few months before), and my next ac-
quisition was the original soundtrack LP the instant it became available.
At the appointed time, I also dutifully trotted along to the local cinema
(called, unsurprisingly and unimaginatively, 'The CINEMA', which
had the largest screen in Scotland) to see the 10th JAMES BOND
movie in the 15 year-old series which had started in 1962.

Bond girl Caroline Munro
Back then, in the days before
home video had become the latest
'must have' possession, the only way to
see a movie more than once (not count-
ing repeats on TV) was to trot back to
the cinema for another screening, which
I usually did - again and again and again
- 'though only with movies I'd enjoyed,
obviously.  I no longer recall exactly how
many times I went to see The Spy Who
Loved Me, but I know I saw MOON-
RAKER four times two years later, and,
in between, I'd seen SUPERMAN The
MOVIE a staggering seven times (five
in the ABC in Glasgow's Sauchiehall
Street, twice in my local cinema)
before I was fully sated.

Anyway, on my last visit to see The Spy Who Loved Me,
I spied (no pun intended) the manager, Mr. BOB JOHNSTONE,
in the foyer as I made my way out.  On a spur-of-the moment whim
(and what other kind is there?), I approached him and politely asked if
I could have the poster as the movie was at the end of its run.  Much to
my surprise he acquiesced, and duly set about taking it from its display
case before pressing it into my eager  hands.  I still have it to this day,
'though, sadly, Mr. Johnstone has 'retired' to that great cinema club
in the sky and 'The Cinema' is now a Bingo hall (and has
been for longer than its 20 years as a cinema).

So, here's to the Summer of '77 - long since vanished into
history, but the spirit of which yet lingers and is only a thought
and sometimes merely a dream (or even just a movie) away.


MICHELLE KEEGAN smoulders in
her slinky black dress, looking sultry as all
get-out.  Now that's what I call style!


Dr. WHO copyright BBC TV

There's a great free gift available with the February issue of
DOCTOR WHO MONTHLY (#508) - a complete adventure of
the good Doctor, first published in weekly instalments back in 1972.
The mag also contains an extremely interesting and entertaining in-
terview with TERRENCE DICKS, script editor during perhaps
the most popular decade in the BBC TV show's history.
Was it really 45 years ago I read these stories in the pages of
COUNTDOWN?  I guess so, but it only seems like a couple or so
years ago at most.  I've read them since then of course, in MARVEL
U.K.'s DOCTOR WHO CLASSIC COMICS, published monthly in
the 1990s.  In this new reprinting, they're described as being 'cleaned
up', but whether it was done for this outing or the previous one isn't
stated.  The pages do look good, but, oddly, the original spine
crease is still visible in the magazine's centrespread.

A minor oversight however, and don't let it put you off pur-
chasing this ish and reliving one of The Doctor's greatest comic
strip adventures featuring his greatest foes - The DALEKS!
Available now in FP, WHS, and all good newsagents.

Thursday, 12 January 2017


Images copyright DC COMICS

I tend to think of  JIM STARLIN as a MARVEL artist,
probably because I first saw his artwork on the cover of The
MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #2, and, with an occasional
exception, it's been mainly Marvel mags I've seen his art in ever
since.  However, here's a 1978 DC comic I picked up just a few
weeks back which features Jaunty Jim's take on SUPERBOY

but below is a trio of pages by Jim Starlin himself.  I'm bound
to say that the cover masthead is the most boring I can recall
ever seeing on a DC mag - or, in fact, any mag by any U.S.
publisher.  Anyone think I'm being too harsh?

Anyway - on to the pretty piccies...

Wednesday, 11 January 2017


From the same issue of BUSTER & JET as last time, here's
another strip drawn by REG PARLETT, who was a superlative
cartoonist.  Everything he drew looked funny!  Remember to
watch out for more comic antics soon, Criv-ite chums!


Now isn't that a face to wake up to?
And the rest of her ain't bad either!  Okay,
CANDY, go and make me a wee cuppa tea,
there's a good girl.  (What, me sexist and
condescending?  Never!)

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


I'm sitting here feeling miserable 'cos I've fallen victim to
another cold, not too long after having just got over one.  Can't
stop sneezing, and my nose is like a hosepipe that can't be turned
off.  What I need is a chuckle or two to try and cheer myself up, so
with that in mind, here's a strip from BUSTER & JET, published
almost 44 years ago in September 1973.  It's RENT-A-GHOST
Ltd. (not the TV show), drawn by REG PARLETT.  You
can read it too, 'cos I like to share.  Enjoy!

(And no, I've never heard of ghosts who eat real food
 either, but I guess anything can happen in a comic.)


I've told these women before - they don't need a gun.
A nice, home-cooked meal will suffice, ladies.  Anyway,
here's JORDAN CARVER fancying her chances.


My original Microtee T-square bought in 1985

You've no doubt read me wittering on before about
the passage of time and how the quickness of it surprises
me.  32 years ago, I sat in a Portsmouth cafe with one of my
pals, Dougie, and examined a Microtee non-drawing board
T-square I'd newly bought from a bookshop and stationers just
around the corner.  I was at the start of my freelance career and
staying in Southsea, and Dougie had accompanied me for the
first week of my few months' stay to try and take his mind
off the then-recent break up of his first marriage.

My 'new' Microtee T-square bought in 2017

The Microtee slid down the side of a sheet of paper,
helping the user draw parallel guidelines without the need
for a drawing board and T-square, and was quite a neat idea,
although I never fully exploited its potential and merely used it
as a standard ruler.  I suppose I was more interested in the nov-
elty of the design than its actual usefulness.  I still have it to this
day, although it's showing its age after 32 years.  One look at it
and I'm back in that Portsmouth cafe in 1985.  (I recently ac-
quired a slightly 'fresher' one from eBay, as my original
one has a couple of hairline cracks that could curtail
its lifespan if I'm not moderately careful with it.)

Anyway, seeing as how I'm thinking about Southsea
and Portsmouth, I decided to show some photos of myself
and Dougie from our time in Pompey.  And no need to worry
about the bold Dougie - he 'copped off' with a gal he met while
I was seeing him off at Victoria Coach Station, thereby restoring
his waning confidence in his ability to pull the 'burds'.  He's now
been happily married (to a different lady) for the last 27 or so
years, and, whenever we happen to meet up (as we did just
last month), we enjoy reminiscing about our time in the
home of HMS VICTORY back in the mid-'80s.

Now, if you're like me and enjoy poking about in
other people's photo albums, then you might find this post
interesting.  If not, there must be some wet paint somewhere
that you can watch dry and thereby pass a bit of time.  (Hey,
where'd everybody go?  Fair weather friends indeed!)  But I
digress.  Did anyone else ever have a Microtee T-square
and do you know if they're still made today?

And, in case you were wondering, this is how
 Dougie and myself looked about a month ago.

Monday, 9 January 2017


The delectable MARGARET NOLAN
graces any wall she chooses to lean against.
Think I'll put on my 'brick wall' costume and
hang around at the bottom of her street.
You never know - I might get lucky.


Dr. WHO copyright BBC TV

When I was a mere lad back in the 1960s, my brother one
day acquired from somewhere the very first paperback adventure
of Dr. WHO - in an exciting adventure with The DALEKS no less.
The grim and moody illustration of WILLIAM HARTNELL's Doc-
tor looking out at the reader from the cover transfixed me - and set the
pattern for how I think the character should be portrayed.  To me, The
Doctor should be an enigmatic, mysterious figure that nobody is quite
sure of.  Is he good or bad?  Where does he come from?  Who is he?  I
rue the day when the powers that be at the BBC decided he should be
a babbling idiot who looks like he's having heaps of fun in what-
ever adventure he currently happens to be explaining aloud
as he runs from one darkened corridor into another.

The paperback contains 6 illustrations

A few years ago, I managed to obtain a replacement for the
1965 ARMADA paperback I'd owned as a kid.  Due to insufficient
packaging it was severely damaged in the post, which meant I had to
completely re-glue the spine and repair the cover.  (Don't worry - the
spine work is undetectable.  You'd never know unless I told you - which
I just did.)  I could have returned it, but these books tend not to turn up
too often so I decided to hold onto it in case I never got the chance of
one again.  It's enough for me that the mood of the cover is intact
and that one glance is enough to return me to an earlier time.
(Rather apt, considering we're discussing Dr. Who.)

The hardback contains 12 illustrations

The hardback was first published by FREDERICK MULLER
in 1964, but it's the paperback edition issued the following year that,
to me, is the definitive edition - cover-wise at least.  When TARGET re-
printed the paperback in the '70s, they ignored the interior illustrations
by PETER ARCHER from the Armada edition and instead opted for
the original ARNOLD SCHWARTZMAN ones from the Frederick
Muller hardback.  And guess what?  This 'exciting adventure' is
still available from BBC BOOKS.  It's well-worth reading.

Sunday, 8 January 2017


Images copyright DC COMICS

With this instalment in our SECRET ORIGINS series,
I'm cutting the number of internal pages on show and restricting
them mainly to splashes.  Why?  Simply because it's getting more
difficult to find truly outstanding (or even interesting) images that
are worth scanning.  The pages seem to consist primarily of talk-
ing heads, and even 'though they're competently drawn, I have
to be honest and say most of them are pretty boring.

However, when there's a page I think is worth looking at,
I'll include it for you, so that you don't feel I'm depriving you
of anything purely out of laziness.  I have all 50 issues in the run,
but I've only ever read the first few, presumably because I wasn't
particularly enthused by them when I first got them back in the
day.  Maybe I'll get around to remedying that before I fall off
the twig, but it's still satisfying to have a complete set of
these mags - even 'though they're mostly unread.

Perhaps you disagree with my lacklustre assessment?
If so, then fight your corner in the comments section.