Saturday, 30 November 2013

MAKING A BOLT FOR IT...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's a nice little mag that all fans of The INHUMANS -
and NEAL ADAMS' art in particular - are sure to love:  Mighty
MARVEL's one-shot collection of AMAZING ADVENTURES
 #s 5-10 and The AVENGERS #95.  With art by Adams and MIKE
SEKOWSKY (inked by TOM PALMER, JOHN VERPOORTEN,
BILL EVERETT and FRANK GIACOIA), it's 104 blockbusting
pages of Merry Marvel Magnificence, contained within a
 cataclysmic cardboard cover to rock your socks.

Here are just a few random images to whet your aching
appetite, frantic ones.  So what are you waiting for?

Sorry about the spine-crop - that's the way it is in the mag



Friday, 29 November 2013

UNDERGROUND, OVERGROUND - BUT NOTHING TO DO WITH THE WOMBLES...



I have to be honest and say that I'm not really a fan of underground
comics, the only one I ever purchased being COMIX BOOK #1 back in
1974 or '75.  I'm unable to give the precise year due to the fact that, as U.S.
comics and mags came over here as ballast on ships, sometimes they could
lie around in warehouses for months - if not years.  (Although, on occasion,
they reached newsagents' spinner-racks on or around the actual month on
the cover - don't ask me how.)  I don't suppose it much matters to you, but
as I tend to use comics as a calendar to chart my life, I prefer to be
able to pinpoint events with unerring accuracy.

I yet recall the long-gone little newsagent's shop on the far reaches of
my home town's old village quarter where I bought the above periodical -
as well as quite a few other fondly-remembered comicbooks and magazines.
I browsed through it and saw that it had a STAN LEE connection, 'though,
truth to tell, I wasn't too impressed by it.  It was a 'compromise' comic - in
that it didn't really feature the same kind of content as 'real' underground
comics (or 'comix' as they're usually called), but it looked like one
even if it didn't quite read like one.


I bought it mainly because it was a first issue, but I soon decided to
ditch it, first extracting the only strip I considered worth keeping - the
four-page ALICE In WATERGATELAND - which you can read below
as I was savvy enough to hang onto it for the last 38-odd years.  Just as well
I did, because it's not featured in the new tome, The BEST Of COMIX
BOOK, a collection of the 'best' strips from the five issue run of the '70s
mag - the first three of which were published by Marvel.  I only ever
saw #1, not knowing that there were others until fairly recently.

If you're into underground comix, then you'll more than likely
enjoy this little piece of history.  I bought it because I wanted to see
the cover again, the better to lose myself in memories of yesteryear, and
a much-missed shop that could always be relied upon to provide me with
some four-colour treasures in which I could lose myself in the magical
realms of fantasy for a few fanciful hours.  However, I plan on actually
reading the stories contained within this handsome volume, just to
see what I missed all those many years ago.
  




And below is the cover of the new book, featuring the work of ART
SPIEGELMANJUSTIN GREEN, ALEX TOTHMICHAEL PLOOG,
S. CLAY WILSONHOWARD CRUSE, HARVEY PEKAR,  TRINA
ROBBINSBASIL WOLVERTON - and many more!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

TEENAGE TALES: TEATIME TREATS - OF THE UNRECIPROCATED VARIETY...



As regular readers of this blog will know, I spend an inordinate
amount of time looking back on my early years, and one of the things
that recently struck me was just how differently some of my friends'
parents treated me when I was a teenager, as compared to how my
parents treated most of my pals.

For example, whenever any known member of my motley crew
came to the door for me, they were invariably invited in, and quite a
few times my mother would feed the fortunate individual if they called
when she was just about to make something to eat.  If I was having fish
and chips then whatever pal had been fortunate enough to drop in
was also treated to the same culinary delight as myself.

However, it seems to me that, whenever I called in to visit
certain pals, I was kept waiting at the door if it was answered by a
parent - and one time, calling in on one particular pal at a prearranged
time in order to go somewhere, I was told "He's still in his bed!" and
had the door closed on my face.  Sorely tempted as I was to say "Well,
get him out of bed then!", my somewhat lame "He's expecting me!" as
the gap in the door narrowed had no effect.  On the other hand, if ever
I was in my bed when a friend called, they were still invited in and
I would be told to rouse myself as quickly as possible.

I can't recall, with one possible exception, any of my friends'
parents ever feeding me if I should mistime my visit and chap their
door when they were fixing on getting around to eating.  Usually I'd
be told "He's just about to have his tea!" and find myself staring at a
door.  And I'd imagine it was the same for any other friends that called,
not just me - although I can't prove it, so maybe I just gave off the
wrong vibes.  Can't see how 'though - I was never a ned and
certainly didn't dress (or behave) like one.

Of course, this doesn't apply to everyone I know, as some
pals never called at food-times - or vice-versa - but it happened
in the case of a few long-term regulars.  I guess I'll just have to put
it down to my parents being better-mannered and more welcoming
than those of some of my pals.  Names are withheld, of course,
to spare the blushes of the guilty parties.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

DC LEGEND AL PLASTINO PASSES AWAY...

 

Sadly, veteran comic artist AL PLASTINO passed away on
November 25th at the age of 91. Plastino drew SUPERMAN,
BATMAN and various other DC COMICS characters through-
out his long and illustrious career, even redrawing JACK KIRBY's
Superman in FOREVER PEOPLE #1. Another legend leaves
comicbook fans the poorer for his passing.

R.I.P. AL PLASTINO

DECEMBER 15th, 1921 -
NOVEMBER 25th, 2013

 

PART TWO OF THE SOUND OF BOND: SOUNDTRACK COVER GALLERY...



Believe it or not, ROGER MOORE is almost three years older
than SEAN CONNERY and was 45 when he took over the role of
JAMES BOND 007 in LIVE & LET DIE.  I find that surprising,
as Rog could have passed for at least five years younger than his age,
whereas, in an interview given in 1971 to promote DIAMONDS ARE
FOREVER, big Tam looked at least ten years older than he actually
was.  Of course, time has levelled the field and they both now look
as if they'd blow over in a strong wind, but let's all hope that the
two actors have a good many years ahead of them, for all the
cinematic enjoyment they've given us over the decades.

Anyway, to Roger goes the honour of being the longest-serving
Bond so far, with a whopping seven movies under his belt.  Sean
also made seven Bond films, but NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN
was a remake of THUNDERBALL, with a twelve year gap be-
tween it and his previous outing as 007, and wasn't an 'official'
EON production.

So, without further ado, let's take a look at all seven Original
Motion Picture Soundtrack album covers from Roger's thirteen
year career as BOND...JAMES BOND - shaken, but not
stirred.  (Just had to get it in somewhere.)













CADET DALEKS SWEET CIGARETTE CARDS - PART SEVEN...




Be honest - you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?  But no, never
fear - here, at last, is the next instalment of DALEKS sweet cigarette
cards by confectionery manufacturer CADET, released back in the
1960s when DALEKMANIA was still reverberating around the
cosmos.  (Well, Britain anyway.)

You've now seen 35 out of 50, which leaves only 15 of
them still to go.  So keep your eyes peeled - they'll turn up
when you least expect 'em - promise!








Monday, 25 November 2013

SUFFERIN' SHAD! THE SEEMINGLY NEVER ENDING SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY COVER GALLERY - PART ELEVEN...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Issue #33 of SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY ushered in the
JOHN ROMITA era of Spidey, with the Jazzy one breathing new life
into the ol' web-spinner.  Romita's style was arguably more 'commercial'
and, in the States, where these tales had first appeared some years earlier,
sales reportedly increased after STEVE DITKO departed.  It's unrecorded
whether the same thing happened here, 'though it's unlikely as, with #35,
the 40 page issues came to an end, with #36 onward sporting 8 fewer
pages than before.  When the mag went glossy covered with #48, the
page count went up to 36, but so too did the price - to 6 pence.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy another look at the covers and some
of the pin-ups from the last 40 page issues of SMCW.  If you had any
of these comics at the time, feel free to share your memories of them
in the comments section.  Go on - you know you want to.






Sunday, 24 November 2013

HAS THE DOCTOR HAD HIS DAY?



So - the much trumpeted The DAY Of The DOCTORS - any good,
 or the usual pile of old pants that STEVEN MOFFAT has delivered since
he took charge of the programme?  Some nice bits - especially at the end,
where WILLIAM HARTNELL's Doctor stood behind and above the
line of other incarnations - but, overall, it failed to deliver.

It's interesting that Moffat, who wrote some of the better scripts
when RUSSELL T. DAVIES was the main man, has been unable to
attain his former heights since he's been at the helm.  The trouble is (in my
opinion) that - as the ultimate example of a Doctor Who fan-boy geek him-
self, his self-indulgent revelling in his own vision of what the programme is
about - while doubtless leaving other geeks in convulsions of ecstasy at the
pseudo-scientific gobbledygook and non-coherent nonsense presented on-
screen - tends to leave more sensible, level-headed viewers feeling alien-
ated (apt word, considering the topic) by the lack of clear, linear
storytelling presented in an intriguing and compelling way.

As I've said before, the impression given is that he starts from an
idea of what he imagines will be an 'in your face' series of images - and
then tries to weave a story through them in order to tie them all together in
some way - rather than have an idea for a story first and then work out the
best way to tell it.  I could well be wrong of course, but there has to be some
explanation as to why a more mainstream audience remains unimpressed
by his efforts, while viewers who love the show don't have any pals who
aren't Doctor Who fans and have never had a girlfriend.

JOHN HURT gave a stellar performance of how the Doctor should
be portrayed, while the smug comedy double-act of MATT SMITH and
DAVID TENNANT reminded me of why I'm glad to be seeing the back of
Smith.  This was meant to be drama, remember, but at no time was there any
real sense of menace or danger;  instead we were subjected to Moffat's limited
repertoire of cliched, by-the-numbers, well-worn nods in the vague direction
of something slightly resembling (but not too much) suspense.  Yawn.  And,
nice as it was to see TOM BAKER subsidising his pension, his cameo
appearance made absolutely no damn sense.

A wasted opportunity in my view, and the fact that Moffat reportedly
wrote extra-tough, convoluted dialogue for PETER CAPALDI's audition
doesn't bode well for those who'd hoped to have seen the end of confusing,
illogical stories where the Doctor breathlessly explains what's been happen-
ing and how he's going to solve it in a panting paragraph of dreary and un-
convincing exposition before pressing a button on his sonic screwdriver
in the last five minutes and making everything right again.

Personally, I'd rather see DAVID BRADLEY given the chance to
revive Hartnell's Doctor in a series of 'untold tales' TV specials - now
that would be worth watching.  Who's with me?  (Pun intended.)

Agree or disagree, folks?  The comments section
is open for business - don't disappoint me!

FIFTY YEARS OF DOCTOR WHO - WITH FIRST-EVER COMIC STRIP...


 

Doctor Who & the Daleks, Morecambe & Wise, Abbott & Costello,
and, er... Fish & Chips... are name-pairs that somehow seem to belong
together.  Don't ask me why - they just do.  Never was that more true than
in the good Doctor's case, as - if it hadn't been for the sensation created
by the metal-cased mutants - Doctor Who's popularity probably
wouldn't have survived for anywhere near as long as it has.

And I was there when it all started.  I sometimes think that the '60s
were the best-ever years in which a child could grow up.  Just think of
all the Gerry Anderson and Hanna-Barbera programmes that kids were
privy to back then, to say nothing of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission
Impossible, Batman and Star Trek.  Were we lucky or what?  And then
there were the comics, chief amongst them TV Century 21 which, along
with strips based on the afore-mentioned (and recently departed) Mr.
Anderson's puppet programmes, also featured the dreaded and
deadly despotic demons known as The Daleks!

The Daleks were everywhere;  on mugs, badges, games, jigsaws,
toys, models - you name the merchandise and the Scions of Skaro
had lent their name and shape to it.  Apparently, Christmas of 1964 was
christened 'Dalek Christmas', so popular was the Louis Marx 'Tricky
Action' (bump 'n' go) Dalek, as well as every other kind of plaything in
which the mutated Kaleds' appellation and image could be cast.


The Doctor, along with his two grandchildren John and Gillian,
appeared every week in TV Comic, published by Polystyle Publica-
tions.  The grandkids (exclusive to the comic in place of Susan) had dis-
appeared into limbo by the time the Doc had moved over to another comic
in the Polystyle stable, Countdown (later to be retitled TV Action), in ad-
ventures aimed at slightly older readers than its predecessor.  However,
eventually the Time Lord and his first periodical were reunited (when TV
Action fell victim to declining sales) and remained firm friends until Dez
Skinn lured the Guardian from Gallifrey over to Marvel U.K.
with the promise of his very own weekly publication.

I had occasionally read the Doctor's adventures in TV Comic
around 1964-'65, but - truth to tell - they were nothing special and
failed to exploit the 'unlimited budget' uniquely available to the comic strip
medium.  After all, whatever fantastic premise the writer can dream up can
potentially be portrayed as realistically as anything the artist is capable of
drawing, so the sky's the limit.  Not in TV Comic's case, alas, but the full-
colour Dalek strip on the back cover of TV Century 21 was something
else entirely.  Here, the incredible came to life, and the 104 episodes
which ran for the first two years of the comic's span are still fondly
remembered today by readers who devoured them at the time.

And, as I said, I was one of them.  I still remember making my way
to school some mornings as a mere six-year old boy, oblivious to every-
thing around me as I lost myself in the photogravure pages that depicted
the exploits of the metal-clad mutants bent on universal domination of all
sentient life-forms.  I'm not sure why, but I don't think I ever regarded the
Daleks as the bad guys in these tales;  I always took their side and wanted
them to win.  If I should ever find myself up in court someday, accused of
some anti-social act, I'll be sure to blame the insidious influence of the
good Doctor's diabolical adversaries for corrupting me.  (I knew that
Fredric Wertham's theories would come in handy one day.)


You can imagine my delight when, years later (as a professional
lettering artist), I was invited to work on a few strips for Doctor Who
Magazine, the first issue of which (in its weekly incarnation) I had pur-
chased back in October 1979.  As it happened, one of the strips I letter-
ed was published in an issue which also featured a full-colour reprint of
a TV21 Daleks page, and it gave me a strange-but-welcome sense of
reconnection to my childhood.  By some odd quirk of fate, my name was
appearing in a magazine which had pierced the veil of time and space
and plucked a page from my past - a page that I particularly recalled
reading on one of my trips to school nearly 27 years before.  For a
moment I was a kid again, wishing my life away until the next ex-
citing chapter in the mysterious, white-haired stranger's
Saturday evening adventures on BBC TV.

And that brings me to the Doctor himself.  Doctor Who?  Yes,
that's right.  Sure, it's an old 'joke', but it illustrates an important as-
pect of the character.  The Doctor was originally an enigma;  a mysteri-
ous stranger who nobody knew anything about.  Who was he?  Where
did he come from?  Was he good, bad, or simply amoral?  No one was
quite sure, and I have to be honest and say that I thought the Doc-
tor was all the more interesting for this approach.

Anyway, as the 50th anniversary of the Doctor's '60s debut on
television and in comics is celebrated, long may he reign - and may
the dastardly (but loveable) Daleks never be far behind him.

  
******

As an added bonus, here's part one of the very first Doctor Who
comic strip, featuring William Hartnell, ever published.  Originally pre-
sented in black and white in TV COMIC #674, dated November 14th,
1964, and reprinted in colour in DOCTOR WHO CLASSIC COMICS
#2, dated January 6th, 1993.  Enjoy!


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