Friday, 31 January 2014

WHAM!, POW!, & MARVEL - AN ANNUAL EVENT...



Wouldn't it be great if Annuals were kept in print the same as most
other books?  Just imagine going into a bookshop and being able to buy
the latest printing of the 1958 EAGLE Annual for boys, or the 1968
FANTASTIC Annual - or any Annual you please, in fact.  I don't know
if he was joking at the time, but LEO BAXENDALE once claimed in the
pages of one of his WILLIE The KID Books (second, I think) that they
were going to be kept in print forever.  If this was indeed the intention, it
must've been dependent on the books being a huge success, which, sadly,
didn't seem to be the case as there were only three of them.  (Must've
had a three-book deal, I guess, which would've been renewed at
regular intervals had they been bestsellers.  It was not to be.)


One of my favourite Annuals was the MARVEL Annual for 1973,
which went on sale late, in November of '72, as opposed to August or
September.  I first saw it in the window of a great shop that used to be in
my town - W & R HOLMES - and I bought it at the earliest opportunity.
It 's odd that it was released later, so could it, perhaps, have been an after-
thought in the minds of Marvel?  Although it's always possible that it was
published at the same time as the other Annuals and held back a bit, on
account of some of the stories also appearing in the early issues of its
weekly counterpart - The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL.


On reflection 'though, it seems likely it was prepared prior to
the release of the weekly as, inside, it refers to (according to DEZ
SKINN in a 1979 magazine article) the comic's proposed title, The
WONDERFUL World Of Marvel, which was probably changed for
any one of three possible reasons.  Firstly, that it was too long;  secondly,
to avoid any problems with DISNEY who had a television programme of
a similar name (ironic in that Disney now owns Marvel);  and thirdly, that
'Mighty' just sounds better!  (It seems that there was still some indecision
over the name when the cover was prepared, as the book was simply
called Marvel Annual.)  Although ads in the comic showed a picture
of the cover with a 1973 date on it, the actual published
cover was undated.


Funnily enough, that same year ('72), another Annual was on sale
WHAM! & POW! - whose weekly comics had once featured some
of the very same characters as the Marvel Annual.  Considering that the
title had been Pow! & Wham! when the comics combined back in 1968,
perhaps the '73 Annual (and the subsequent '74 one) was only released to
redress the injustice of the superior Wham! being subsumed by its lesser
stable-mate, Pow!  The combined weekly had expired in 1968, and given
that the contents of the later Annuals bore absolutely no resemblance
to their parent comics, one wonders why they were produced at
all.  (Presumably, the previous Annuals sold well.)


Curiously, the Marvel Annual bears the FLEETWAY symbol,
although I'm unsure if it would've featured in any brochures of Fleetway
books for '73.  Obviously it was produced at the behest of Marvel, as IPC
had the means to publish and distribute Annuals, whereas, at that time,
Marvel didn't.  (IPC/Fleetway also produced the '74 Annual, still bearing
only the name Marvel - "The Mighty World of" part of the title finally
turned up on the edition for 1977, issued at the end of '76.)


It's interesting that both the Marvel and Wham! & Pow! books
had 128 pages (including covers), but that Wham! & Pow! had 30 in
full-colour whereas Marvel was mostly black and white with 16 pages
of spot-colour.  As both Annuals were priced at 65 pence, I can't help
but feel that readers were being a little short-changed in regards to the
Marvel book, which would certainly have benefitted from the inclusion
of full-colour.  Marvel must have supplied brand-new proofs to IPC
for the book, because I once saw some of the original ODHAMS
proofs from the '60s in the IPC art vaults and they were all
resized two pages-to-one, unlike the '73 Annual.


Perhaps keeping Annuals in print in perpetuity is nothing but a
pipe-dream, but, with the advent of the internet, while actual print
editions might never be republished (although it's been done with the
RUPERT Annuals), there's no reason at all why online versions of
them couldn't be made available (at a modest price), allowing readers
to print their own copies.  What do the rest of you think?  Don't be
shy about having your say in the Criv-ites' comments section.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER...



I'm feeling fair chuffed with myself.  Here's why.  About 33 years ago,
I bought a pack of 'Heritage Library' book covers, the purpose of
which was to transform paperbacks into hardbacks to make them look
more impressive on one's bookshelf.  I duly performed the operation -
which involved removing the backing from the adhesive interiors of the
covers and inserting the books - on three or four paperbacks I had.


The results were not quite so impressive as I had imagined and I
immediately regretted my rash action.  Too late. alas - the new covers
could not be removed from the books without inflicting major damage,
so I just had to live with them.  One of the volumes was a paperback of
The Wind In The Willows, which I vaguely noticed was now the
precise dimensions of an actual hardback edition of the book I also
possessed, but it was to be quite some time before my mighty brain
'joined the dots' and came up with a rescue plan.


Anyway, to cut a long story to a slightly shorter (but still too long)
one, the other day I rediscovered said transformed book and decided
to restore it to some semblance of normality.  I dug out my copy of the
'genuine' hardback and scanned the dustjacket, and then printed off a
replica of it, resulting in a perfect fit for the compromised edition.  All
I need do now is obtain a clear protective sleeve for the dustjacket,
and the book's integrity will be fully restored.

Don't believe me?  See for yourself in the accompanying
photos.  Not a bad job at all, if I say so myself.

JOURNEY INTO HISTORY - PART TWENTY-FIVE OF FAVOURITE COMICS OF THE PAST...


Images copyright DC COMICS

JIMMY OLSEN was never a regular buy for me when I was a kid,
'though that changed when JACK KIRBY took over for 15 issues back
in the '70s.  One issue that sticks in my mind however, is the above one -
#97 - bought by my brother during our holiday in Largs in 1968.  He also
purchased FANTASTIC #70, featuring the first half of the origin of The
INCREDIBLE HULK.  This was the first time ODHAMS had reprinted
the tale, having begun with issue #2 when the strip debuted in SMASH!
in 1966.  As far as I know, they never printed the GARGOYLE part
of the story, regarding it as redundant for their purposes.

(Update:  Actually, it had appeared in Smash! #27, cover-
dated August 6th 1966, as a self-contained story, out of sequence
 with, and seemingly unconnected to, The Hulk's origin tale.)


To digress for a moment, this was a peculiarity of Odhams:  They
didn't bother with SPIDER-MAN's origin from AMAZING FAN-
TASY #15, instead starting with ASM #1 when the series appeared in
POW!  Nor did they commence with DAREDEVIL's origin in Smash!,
reserving an abridged version of the tale for the 1968 Fantastic Summer
Special.  I'd have to check, but I don't think they published the first-ever
AVENGERS story either, although I could be wrong on that one.  As
far as I remember, the only characters they definitely printed from
the very beginning were The FANTASTIC FOUR, THOR,
IRON MAN, X-MEN and DOCTOR STRANGE.


On that '68 holiday, I acquired a bendy CAPTAIN SCARLET
figure and a STEVE ZODIAC & ZOONY The LAZOON on a jet-
mobile toy.  Whenever I look at my replacements of either the Jimmy
Olsen or Fantastic comics, or the Steve Zodiac toy (I haven't got 'round
to replacing Captain Scarlet yet), I'm instantly transported back in time
to our holiday residence for that year, which was the ground floor flat
of what was essentially a Glasgow-type tenement, complete with
the 'luxury' of an outside toilet in the back courtyard.


One day, my brother bought a trick dog-poo, which we placed
on the pavement outside the front of the building, then stood around
trying to look nonchalant so that we could register the looks of disgust
on the faces of passers-by.  It went largely unnoticed, to the extent that
somebody accidentally kicked it as they passed, sending it skiting along
the path.  'Twas my idea to pour some water over it, to give it the ap-
pearance of a more realistic, freshly-deposited doggie-jobbie, but
that failed to attract any more attention than before.


We were to return to Largs two more times, in 1969 and '71.  No
doubt I'll regale you with the background to some of the comics and
toys I bought on those occasions at a future date.  (You lucky 'Criv-
ites', you!  I really shouldn't spoil you so much.)

Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Since first posting this, I've been back to Largs, and below is an
example of the type of tenement we stayed in, where me and my
brother perpetrated our doggie-poo trick.  Ah, memories!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

FROM THE ARCHIVES - UNPUBLISHED COMIC STRIP...



My first-ever strip appeared in my local newspaper around 1975
or '76, I think.  (I'm sure it pre-dated my GORDIE GOOSE full-page
strip in the BOOTS NEWS.)  It was called EK KID, consisting of a single
tier of three panels, and earned me £5.  To be honest, it wasn't very good,
but hey, a fiver back then wasn't to be sniffed at.  Mr. ERIC BARR (now
sadly deceased) was the discerning editor who tried to encourage a
relatively recent school-leaver in developing his talents.

By 1984, my latest creation - PERCY PROON - EK's No 1
LOON - had already made a couple of appearances in the local rag,
so I produced a third helping for possible publication.  It was rejected for
being "Too verbose and too violent", 'though this could simply have been
Mr. Barr's coded way of saying it just wasn't very funny.  I never got a chance
to do any more, for later that same year I met IPC's STEVE MacMANUS
at a Glasgow comic mart, who promised me some lettering work on 2000
A.D.  A couple of months or so later, at the beginning of '85, my full-
time career working for the 'big guns' had begun.

However, that wasn't the last to be seen of Percy.  When I was
re-sizing strips for the WHIZZER & CHIPS and BUSTER comic
libraries, I would often draw in 'EK's No 1 Loon' to fill up space.  (There
are a few examples below).  Regarding the above strip, it was drawn with  a
felt-tip marker and lettered with a fountain pen, and is a nice, clean, nothing
brilliant drawing.  If I were doing it today, I'd vary the thickness of the
outlines and give the characters circles around their eyes, because
'dots' alone restrict facial expression to some degree.

Anyway, the above strip has finally made its debut after thirty
years of languishing in a cupboard.  Hope you like it.  (First one to
say "You should've left it in the cupboard" gets slapped!)




KID KLASSICS - THE STARTLING SECRET ORIGIN OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR...


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

(Today's post is taken from Roddy Weed's blog and is
published with full permission - take it away, Roddy...)

******  

Hi, fans - I'm RODDY WEED and I'm back yet again with a few
fascinating facts (that you already know) and loads of fantastic throw-
away theories to amaze & astound you ('cos they're so far-out) on
this, the world's greatest blogazine - DIAL 'B' For BULLSH*T

Think you know the origin of the FANTASTIC FOUR?  Well,
IRoddy Weed, am about to give you the real, honest-to-goodness
lowdown on the true origin of the fab foursome created by STAN LEE
and JACK KIRBY in 1961.  For instance, did you know that the actual
prototypes of the FF were ROBIN HOOD & His MERRY MEN?  Hard
to believe?  Well, IRoddy Weed, writer of the greatest blogazine in
the history of the world, am going to prove it to you right now.

ROBIN Of LOXLEY, also known as the outlaw ROBIN HOOD,
had four main comrades in his band of SHERWOOD FOREST fol-
lowers.  Namely, LITTLE JOHNWILL SCARLETFRIAR TUCK,
and MAID MARION.  Pay attention now, while I exclusively reveal
the astounding, irrefutable conclusions of many minutes of pains-
taking research and several seconds of convoluted contemplation
on the pertinent points which prompt my cataclysmic claim.


REED RICHARDS is clearly based on Robin Hood because
he's the leader of the group in the same way that Robin is chief
of his merry men.  Also, his stretching ability mirrors the expanse-
spanning reach that Robin's arrows allow him in his quest for
justice, enabling him to smite his enemies from a distance.

BEN GRIMM is obviously an amalgam of Little John and
Friar Tuck;  John is grim-meined (hence Ben's surname) and a
man of great strength, while Tuck, despite his ungainly appearance
(just like Ben's) has a heart of gold and is possessed of a noble spirit
that echoes his modern-day counterpart.  Likewise, Ben's orange-
hued epidermis is reminiscent of Tuck's ruddy complexion.

JOHNNY STORM is undoubtedly Will Scarlet - the colour
of his fiery alterego being the living embodiment of Will's surname.
Just like Will, Johnny is sometimes a bit hot-headed (willful even),
further confirming the uncanny similarities 'twixt the two men.  No
doubt Will often used flaming arrows to lay his enemies low just
as Johnny has done when tossing fireballs at the bad guys.

SUSAN STORM is inarguably the modern-day equivalent of
Maid Marion.  Firstly, she's the only permanent female member
of the group (like Marion) and, furthermore, she eventually wed
the group's leader, providing persuasive proof that the FF were
(perhaps - maybe - probably - oh, what the hell - definitely)
inspired by and based upon Robin and his outlaw band.


Unconvinced?  Consider PRINCE JOHN then.  Patently the
archetype on whom the FF's arch-foe, DOCTOR DOOM, is based.
Just like John, Doom lives in a castle;  just like John, who conceals
his true persona under the guise of benign ruler of a country, Doom
hides his true visage under a mask.  And in the same way that John
hates Robin and his band and tries to kill them, Doom's mission
is to wipe Reed and his team from the face of the Earth.

The similarities are simply stunning, and 'tis only IRoddy
Weed, who - despite all these glaring clues staring everyone in the
face for years - has recognised their significance and pieced them to-
gether using my highly imaginative and creative cranium (and a few
reefers) to educate and enlighten your dull and dreary lives and
save you from the tedium of your vapid, pointless existence.

This is IRoddy Weed, creator of the world's greatest blog-
azine, signing off for the foreseeable future - so that you'll all miss
     me and pine for my return.  (What will you do without me?)     

Monday, 27 January 2014

WELL, IT SURE AIN'T CLUEDO...



It's amazing what one can find whilst digging through cupboards.
Case in point, the set of cards which now adorns this page.  I must've
been 19 when one of the drivers (I think) for the BAIRDS department
store stockroom I worked in, asked me to draw a set of cards for a
game he'd come up with designed to teach kids road safety.

I can no longer recall if I gave him copies before I left the store
to work in my local library, or if he ever pursued his idea, but I was
quite proud of the pencilled prototypes which you see before you.  I think
I've still got the rules of the game, so perhaps I should approach a games
company and see if I can get them interested.  Of course, then I'd have to
try and track down the game's originator, and I'm not sure if he's still
alive after all this time or, indeed, even what his name is.

Where's SHERLOCK when you need him? 



KID'S MIGHTY MARVEL MAILBAG...


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

For those who may be interested, I finally managed to find
the photocopy of my letter published in The MIGHTY WORLD
Of MARVEL back in 1977 - so, as promised, here it is.  I'd forgot-
ten the number, but I also uncovered a copy of a later letters page 
eply which identified the particular issue - #226.  Now all I need
to do is discover in which number the reply was published
and I'll be a very satisfied man.

Unfortunately, the copy of my missive is far too faded to re-
produce well, but I managed to discern what it said and retyped
it so you can read what my younger self was saying in 1977.

******

TOO REAL?

                Dear Marvel,

                It is well-known by comic fans today that Marvel is the world's largest
                and most popular comic book publishing company compared with all
                the other companies in this field of artistic endeavour.  It is also well-
                known that Marvel characters are supposed to be more realistic than
                characters portrayed by competitors.  In Marvel the characters have
                money problems, romantic hang-ups, feelings of inadequacy, vanity,
                jealousy, fear, etc.  In Stan Lee's best-selling book, "Origins of Marvel
                Comics" he comments about the role comic books play in our society 
                today.  He says, "Or call it (the comic book medium) perhaps a rem-
                edy, a pictorial tonic to relieve the awesome affliction that threatens
                us all, the endlessly spreading virus of too much reality in a world
                that is losing its legends, a world that has lost its heroes."

                Well, it is my opinion that "the endlessly spreading virus of too much
                reality" has finally infected the media which was originally created to
                provide an escape from it.  Or, if you prefer, to offer relievement from
                it.  Let me digress for a moment.  You meet a friend who has just been to
                the cinema and when he starts to relate how the hero, who was wrongly
                imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, escapes from jail, overpowers
                two guards, hijacks a truck and finally brings the real criminal to
                justice, you immediately think it's a film worth going to see.

                But what happens when you see the film and find out that this action
                only takes up forty minutes out of two and a half hours viewing time,
                and that the rest of the film is concerned with the hero's mother taking
                a heart attack, his father running off with the next-door neighbour's
                wife, his brother joining the army, someone feeding poisoned milk to
                his cat and finally strangling his budgie?  You'd probably go looking
                for your friend with a double-barrelled shotgun.

                Now, if that was reversed, and there was two hours of exciting car
                chases, cliffhanger exploits and other death-defying feats, with the
                hero's personal  life only taking up a half-hour scattered throughout
                the picture, then perhaps you'd think it was a really enjoyable picture,
                and you'd  probably invite your friend out for a drink the next time
                you meet him.

                And now, in case you're wondering what all this has to do with Marvel
                comics, I'll explain.  It used to be, in Marvel, that the story was con-
                cerned with the hero trying to capture the villain who set out intriguing
                traps, made sinister schemes and plotted the hero's downfall.  Occasion-
                ally, the personal lives of the characters would be hinted at in order to
                inform the reader that, although it was a superhero mag, the people in
                it were normal, with faults and follies the same as we ourselves.

                Nowadays, I have noticed a growing tendency in your mags (especially
                American) to have the story centered  around the heroes' personal lives,
                with an odd super-villain or two thrown in to provide a bit of action, and
                to remind us we're reading about superheroes.  Don't misunderstand me,
                I'm not saying cut out private lives altogether, all I'm asking is don't play
                them up so much.  A bit of soap-opera is okay once in a while in an odd
                magazine or two, but when you pick up at least ten or twelve mags
                regularly every month and you read nothing but  "O Henry" type of
                stuff, it gets kind of boring.  After all, what would YOU rather watch,
                a James Bond movie or "Crossroads"?

                                                                                                                             Gordon Robson,
                                                                                                                        Glasgow, Scotland.

                We-e-e-ll, from time to time we've had criticism tossed at us, hurled
                at us or gently pushed across the table at us.  But to you, Gordon,
                goes the distinction of being the very first critic to suggest that we
                have too much REALISM in the mags.  That "realism" is one of the
                cornerstones of Marvel.  How do we defend it without defending
                Marvel itself?  So at this stage we're gonna wait for the reaction
                from Marveldom.

******

And here's the reply from LANCE HANSON a few issues later::

BACK TO REALITY

                Dear Sir (and Gordon Robson),

                I absolutely disagree with Gordon Robson's letter in MWOM 226
                about comics having "too much reality".  He wrote, "Which would
                you rather watch, a James Bond movie or Crossroads?"  I would
                watch  James Bond.

                Well, it is my opinion that "the endlessly spreading virus of too
                much reality has finally infected the media which was originally
                created to provide an escape from it, " he wrote.  Very silly.  If I
                wanted laughable comics I would buy them.  But I don't, I buy
                comics to think about what I am reading.  I buy my comics for
                reality.

                If Mr. Robson wanted reality in Marvel, why not buy "Howard
                the Duck"?  Take peter Parker, student at a university.  The death
                of Gwen Stacy shook him, but he soon got out of it..  His friendships
                and hardships with Mary Jane Watson.  His super-hero career does
                not affect him in any way.

                Gordon, make a choice.  Either take a risk of embarrassment and
                read "Funny" comics or read comics filled with signs of reality.
                Think it over again.  You might feel differently.

                                                                                                                                 Lance Hanson,
                                                                                                                   Dudley, W. Midlands. 

I'm sure I replied to Lance's letter, but no longer recall whether
it was published or not.  Going by his response to my James Bond
comparison, it seems plain that he didn't quite get what I was saying.
In fact, I'm far from convinced that he quite got what he was saying
either, as his logic lacks cohesion, based, as it is, on a misunder-
standing of my basic point.

Looking at my letter all these years later, I can only wonder why
I used an obsolete word like 'relievement' instead of 'relief', but apart
from that (and using the word 'media' instead of 'medium'), it wasn't
too bad, considering.  So, how do I wrap this up?  Ah, I know...
"Make Mine Marvel!"

******

UPDATE:  Since first posting this, I've now acquired a
replacement copy of the actual issue.  It's like holding a little piece
of history in my hands, which helps roll back the years to 1977 as if
it were only a couple or so years back.  Incidentally, I now realise why
the photocopy of my letter was so faded - the letter itself as printed
in the comic wasn't too sharp to begin with.  Still good to have the
'original' back in my possession 'though.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

THE ORIGINS OF THE BROONS...



Today's THE SUNDAY POST has another giveaway magazine -
THE BROONS FAMILY TREE - with another to follow next week.
Featuring strips by the talented KEN H. HARRISON telling the 'origins'
of the Broons, this free mag will be sure to delight fans of the only artist
since DUDLEY D. WATKINS to do full justice to the afore-mentioned
Scottish family and OOR WULLIE, who first appeared in the paper's
FUN SECTION way back in the '30s.

Unfortunately, the designer has gone for the cliched option of
making the pages look as if they're part of a family album, which is
slightly intrusive and distracting. The first and last pages would've been
fine - but all the way through?! When is D.C. THOMSON going to learn
that 'less is more' and stop compromising the integrity of a comic page with
needless clutter. Some of the pictures also look like they've been resized,
and the guttering between panels - as in last week's magazine - is far
too large, lending a disjointed look to the finished result.

Still, it's Ken H. Harrison, it's the Broons, and it's free -so
despite my few critical reservations, well-worth having. Rush
out and buy your copy of The Sunday Post today!  


Just look at Maggie Broon - no wonder I fancy her! Well done, Ken

Saturday, 25 January 2014

THE 'CROPPER' STRIKES!


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Amazing, isn't it?  "What is?" you ask.  I'll tell you.  I recently pur-
chased the SPIDER-MAN volume in the series of HACHETTE part-
works featuring MARVEL stories, and was pleased to see a recoloured
printing of Spidey's debut story from AMAZING FANTASY #15.
(I told you about it here.)


This version had originally appeared in a 2012 reprint of AF #15,
which had been released as part of the ol' web-spinner's 50th Anniver-
sary.  I'm a sucker for such publications, but it seems to have slipped
under my radar at the time - because I knew nothing about it until I
saw it in the Hachette edition.


Well, I just had to have the actual issue, not only because it also
contained a recoloured reprint of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
#1, but because it's simply a great little addition to the collection of any
true Marvelite.  So I tracked one down on eBay and sat back to await
its arrival, which happened to be this very day.  Guess what though?  The
splash page art of AF #15 has been slightly cropped to accommodate
the rather lengthy indicia, to my mind somewhat compromising the
story's presentation.


That means that the Hachette version is more complete than the
Marvel issue it's reprinted from, which is a strange state of affairs to my
way of thinking.  So, if you have the recent partwork and were thinking of
obtaining the 2012 issue, the former is actually a better presentation than
the latter.  One thing the comic has going for it 'though, is, as I said, a re-
coloured reprint of Spidey's first issue of his own mag, so it's worth
getting it for that.

Cropped splash page, alas!  Stan and Steve's names are missing

Anyway, here are a few pages from my newly-arrived acquisition,
just to let you see what delights you're missing.  Surely my generosity
knows no bounds?  (Unless you're asking for my very last ROLO -
push off, it's all mine.) 

PLEASE FEED THE BEAR...



STEVE HOLLAND's site BEAR ALLEY BOOKS always has
something worth reading, as well as many fine publications relating
to British comics which you're bound to find interesting if you're a fan
of the genre.  Still got unwanted Christmas cash to get rid of?  Then
why not visit Steve's site now and see what's on offer?  Just click
on the link in the first line to be whisked straight there!

Friday, 24 January 2014

THE BROONS CELEBRATE ROBERT BURNS...



If you missed out on THE BROONS magazine in THE SUNDAY
POST recently, my local newsagent was supplied with a stack of them -
but no newspapers to go with them. I'm sure I could negotiate an acceptable
price with him (including post & packing) for anyone desperate for a copy,
so contact me via the comments section if you're interested. I use comment
moderation, so your details will remain private. All dosh will be going to
the newsagent's, not me, so relax - I won't be seeing a penny of it.

Containing poems by ROBERT BURNS, features, and comic strips
(by DUDLEY D. WATKINS, KEN H. HARRISON and PETER
DAVIDSON), it's a nice little collectors' item, so grab one now!




Thursday, 23 January 2014

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

MOBILE MADNESS...



Mobile 'phones?  Mobile ruddy 'phones?  Don't get me started!
Am I alone in considering them to be the most irritating, infuriating,
antisocial invention of modern times?  Help me salvage some rapidly
fading remnant of my hard-pressed sanity and tell me that I'm not
the only person on the planet who thinks so.

Don't get me wrong 'though.  Mobiles are all very well - in
their place!  And that place is for making or receiving important
calls which, if missed, could leave us knee-deep in the soft, smelly
brown stuff.  The trouble is, however, that very few calls or texts
actually fall into that category.

The telephone, once a practical and useful tool, has now been
demoted to a mere toy - an idle distraction for the easily bored and
the feeble-minded, who can never be content to simply be alone with
their thoughts on account of not having any to begin with;  who have
absolutely nothing to say worth saying, but, thanks to the workings
of a perverse fate, now have the technology with which to say
or text it anyway.

Example:  "wot r u up 2  did u c big bruv last nite  c u l8r"

Just think - all over the world, literally millions of people are
exchanging such pointless, badly-spelt and punctuation-free drivel
countless times a day.  And simply because they can, not because
they actually need to.

"But if people are using their mobiles to keep in touch,
then in what way are they being antisocial?" you might ask.
Pay attention the next time you see a group of people anywhere.  It's
not uncommon to see friends or partners oblivious to one another as
they gab or text away on their mobiles to someone else.  Why not just
go out with the person on their 'phone if they'd seemingly rather
talk to them at the expense of whoever they're with?

That's why they're antisocial.  They drive a wedge between
actual physical company and divert the attention of those who
should be interacting with each other, as opposed to some ethereal
voice or illiterate text on a mobile.  If you were out with some friends
who barely spoke a word to you because they were engrossed in
deep conversation with one another, it's a safe bet that you
wouldn't be too impressed by their manners.

So in what way is it any less rude to ignore those you're with to
talk or text on a mobile to someone else?  That disembodied master
or mistress whose imperious summons (heralded not by a heavenly
fanfare, but rather a tacky and irritating ring-tone) must be an-
swered immediately and cannot be ignored.

Well, excuse me, but I've always thought that technology was
supposed to be at our disposal and for our convenience, not the
other way around.  Hear that mobile ring - see its slave give a convincing
impression of someone who's just had a tub of itching powder dumped
down the back of their neck as, seemingly in the throes of spasm, they
frantically check every pocket or aperture that fashion provides in
order to obtain their regular fix of 'mobile madness'.

This madness, however, isn't confined only to adults.  Children as
young as 11 or 12 are falling victim  to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI),
brought on by continually texting their friends. RSI?  That's got to be
one hell of a lot of texting!

How sad.  Where kids once merrily played together in fields and
parks or each others' gardens, they now spend a disproportionate
amount of time in their rooms texting (or emailing) their pals, instead
of interacting together face-to-face.  And, just like 'adults', when they
are with their pals, they often ignore them while they text friends
who are elsewhere.

"A fool and his money are soon parted" runs the old saying.
Considering the obscene profits reaped by mobile 'phone compa-
nies from the exchange of  unnecessary communications between
simpletons, it's plain to see that this maxim is true many millions
of times over.

So, let me ask you a question.  Do you possess a mobile
 'phone?  Or does a mobile 'phone possess you? 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

ASTERIX THE GAUL COVER GALLERY...



It was 1976 - I was 17 years old and working in the warehouse of my local BOOTS The CHEMIST.  On my day off one Saturday, having been paid the day before, I treated myself to some ASTERIX The GAUL softcover books, which have been in my possession ever since.  I've long meant to upgrade to hardback, but, somehow (aside from an Omnibus or three), have never quite gotten around to it.

I'd decided to purchase them because I remembered looking through a French edition in my school library one lazy, hazy, summer afternoon in 1973 or '74, which already seemed like the dim and distant past to me by the time I came to be a working lad with a bit of spare cash to spend.  I recall being much impressed by the artwork, so I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually buy copies for myself when I spotted them in my local branch of JOHN MENZIES while browsing in their book department one day.  

In the mid-'80s, when I was commuting to London every week during my freelancing days at IPC, I was given some file-copies of RANGER magazine (which I still have) by one of the editors, and was surprised to see that it had reprinted Asterix in 1965 under a different title:  BRITONS NEVER, NEVER, NEVER SHALL BE SLAVES.  The setting was changed from Gaul to Britain and Asterix was renamed BERIC The BOLD, and OBELIX became DORIC, the son of BOADICEA.  Their shield-riding leader, CHIEF VITALSTATISTIX, was called CHIEF TUNNABRIX, which I happen to think is actually a far better name.

I was equally surprised to later learn that, just over a year earlier ('63), popular boys comic VALIANT had reprinted the first Asterix adventure under the title of LITTLE FRED - The ANCIENT BRIT With LOADS Of GRIT.  It would be 1969 before Asterix landed on these shores speaking English under his own name, and his full-colour books have enjoyed immense popularity ever since.  If memory hasn't failed me, I bought nine albums on that afternoon back in 1976, got another one not too long after, and acquired six more over the next three years or so, completing the first 16 in the series.

As you'll all doubtless already know, Asterix the Gaul was created by RENE GOSCINNY and ALBERT UDERZO and first appeared in the French magazine PILOTE in 1959.  The art is simply superb and I can think of a few cartoonists working in British comics today who'd be well-served by following Uderzo's example of how it should be done.  The English versions were translated by ANTHEA BELL and DEREK HOCKRIDGE, and later, I think, by Derek himself, although I've no idea who currently performs the task.

Here then, in honour of the plucky little Gaul, is a cover gallery of those 16 books in my collection.  I've probably got a few other tales in my Omnibus volumes, but one day I really must get around to getting the full set.  If you don't have any Asterix books of your own, run out and buy some today!















  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...