Super-Duper

July 19, 2010

This comic is more Duper than Super !!! It was published by Cartoon Art Periodicals in the UK during that no man’s land period between the end of the Second World War and the beginning of modern recorded history (which as we all know was 1956 !!!). Along with similar companies like Gerald G. Swan Ltd they churned out incredibly cheap looking, unbelievably unsophisticated, comics that (from a distance, squinting with one eye closed ) were imitations of the (then poorly distributed here) American comics of the time.

I don’t own a copy of this comic alas, so thanks to the original scanner for making it available to the world at large. The artwork varies from “interesting” to “sub-fanzine standard”. This crumbling artefact is beyond parody and of interest only to a handful of comics historians. The recent weighty “Great British Fantasy Comic Book Heroes” edited by Mike Higgs is the best place (nay, its the ONLY place) to see more of this type of forgotten comic art from the late 1940s/early 1950s.

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What is DCC ?

July 15, 2010

Perhaps that should read “What was DCC ?”. Introduced by Philips in 1992 as the digital successor to the (then still immensely popular) compact cassette, it never caught on and was history by 1996.

Perhaps the main reason DCC never caught on was the pricing of the tapes. Pre-recorded ones (when you could find a shop that sold them) were almost £20 each (ie: the same price as CDs) and blank tapes weren’t much cheaper. When I bought my DCC seperate to add to all my other hifi it was the potential for digital recording that attracted me. In 1993 mp3 files were in their infancy. Windows 95 was yet to be released. I probably still had a computer running Windows 3.1 so recording music to its meagre hard drive would have been unthinkable.

So digital recording at CD quality when recordable CDs for domestic use were somewhere in the future sounded a good idea. In practice I hardly ever used the machine for recording. Although DCC tapes were different in appearance to the standard compact cassettes, DCC machines still played (very well actually) the older format. DCC tapes ran at the same 1 7/8″ per second speed as the standard compact cassettes but used a different quality tape similar to video tape.

Philips must have lost £millions in developing this format only to meet such limited interest. In 1998 I found a mail order company that were selling boxes of 100 different pre-recorded DCC tapes for £10 each box. A couple of years earlier they would have cost you approaching £2000. Of course I had to buy a box full, not that I ever played them. They’re filed away with a few Betamax tapes and my 78rpm records !!

More loose ends

July 10, 2010

ITEM:    I thought that Marvel Comics (or should we call them the Disney Corporation now ?) had purchased the rights to Marvelman so they could quietly bury a character with a similar sounding name to their own. Yet here we are in 2010 with a 6 issue limited series and a book. Who’d have thunk it ? Only reprints though. Perhaps new material may not be too far away ?  And lets hope that Mick Anglo is receiving some belated financial reward for these characters he created over 50 years ago.

ITEM :    When I said there has only ever been one Honey West comic (by Dell Comics in 1966) I didn’t realise a new series by Moonstone Comics (and written by Trina Robbins) was beginning next month. Watch out for that ocelot Honey. It bites.

ITEM:      One of the useful things about Amazon is pre-ordering stuff and then completely forgetting all about it. A nice surprise in the post this week was Series 2 of  “Chance in a Million”. This time we learn the reason why Tom doesn’t have a job. He constantly wins money on the Premium Bonds. How many Premium Bonds does he have ?? Ten !!  He is even considering cashing in 4 of those as it is the other 6 that win every month. Wish I could be so lucky…………

ITEM:    Back in those far off days when I was young and naive (30th of November 2009 to be precise) I thought it would be a good idea to post a simple/quick music quiz here. I don’t know if it was deemed too easy or too hard. More than 50 people listened to the audio file yet nobody even attempted to answer any of the questions or even ask who it was singing.  Once again my finger hovered over the “delete entire blog” button. Heck, I was even depressed when a mere handful showed the slightest interest in downloading this (to me) classic….. I decided few shared my sense of humour.

But as I am tying up loose ends, at last, here are the answers to the quiz no one did (although they aren’t necessarily in the right order): Two nice girls, Fever in my pocket, Kim Wilde, VU, Three, Maureen Tucker, Ricky Wilde, Guess I’m falling in Love, Marty Wilde, Love and Affection, Sweet Jane. There were no trick questions…..apart from the socks….

ITEM:     The best thing about digital music is the id tags. I’ve too many cassette tapes where I’ve no idea who is singing. Often they are mix tapes given to me by other people years ago. For example, this catchy tune. I know who recorded the song originally but it doesn’t sound like him. It sounds like ______ so I looked up his discography but couldn’t see this song listed. Similarly, last year I puzzled over this. I’m still puzzled now.

ITEM:    Despite saying I don’t like the One from the Heart film, at £2.99 it seemed worth another viewing. In fact it will make an ideal (cheap !!)  birthday present for _______ next week. I was amazed to discover that the DVD box held 2 discs. As well as the film there is Audio commentary by the Director Francis Ford Coppola, 4 Documentaries, 10 deleted scenes, The Tom Waits Score Alternative tracks, 4 found objects (??!!??), 4 rehearsals, 2 Trailers, Photo gallery and 4 Easter Eggs (??!!??).  So if they can do all that for £2.99 don’t you think it’s time they started selling all music CDs for 99p each. It would end piracy at a stroke and re-vitalise the music industry. 

ITEM:     After almost two years of silence the Dorktones have returned !! Their Podcasts are back. (see the right hand column for the link)……. “If it ain’t Dutch it’s not much” was one of their catch-phrases…..hopefully they won’t play quite as much Frank Zappa music this time though. Their own garage rock is worth a listen too.

ITEM:    And talking of Podcasts. The UK band Stackridge always puzzled me. They weren’t funny like the Bonzos, they weren’t particularly heavy rockers or folk or blues. They probably liked not to be fitted into one catagory. They only ever did one song that I liked but that could be my problem, not theirs. Even despite not liking their music I never miss their monthly Podcast. Presented by “Fatty Fudge” it is about as English and as civilised as you can get. Stackridge music is enlivened by music from friends/other bands. A pleasant hour by the fireside with a nice cup of tea is had by all. Lummy Days is here.

ITEM:    A final thought. I wonder if you can still buy these ? I’ve just buried one (along with a few other things) in the garden inside an old cigar tin. Future generations/Time Team 3010 can puzzle as to what they are. (Of course all computer hard drives will have been wiped when the sun goes semi-nova in 2750 !!! …………………….

Ranger

July 8, 2010

The UK comic Ranger was published for a mere 40 weekly issues beginning 18th September 1965 before merging into Look and Learn in June 1966.

It is most remembered for the epic “The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire”. It also introduced Asterix the Gaul to the UK in re-titled, translated one page strips.

I must have purchased the first few issues of Ranger at least as, although I may not still have the comics I recently discovered that the free gift from Ranger No 2 was still on my bookshelf, slipped between the pages of a Ranger Annual (actually called The Ranger Book 1967……….funny how they still issued Annuals months or even years after the comic of the same title had already finished). You got 4 stickers along with Issue 2. You had to buy Issues 3 and 4 to get the rest of the stickers to complete the booklet. We must have been easily pleased in those days !!

Donald Campbells book of Record Breakers

Nuff Said 20

July 6, 2010

This drawing was in an old UK Fanzine many years ago. I don’t know if it was original or copied from somewhere else but I’ve always liked the symmetry it shows of some of the big two comic companies’ different-yet-similar heroes.

One from the heart

July 2, 2010

The world seems divided on Tom Waits between those who think he’s great and those who think he’s a genius. I don’t subscribe to either camp. Although I admire his single-mindedness and disregard for fads and trends, his affected, increasingly-gruff-over-the-years voice can irritate.

Yet saying that, the soundtrack he recorded for the 1982 film “One from the heart” is quite magnificent. Back in 1981 he hadn’t completely adopted his “deep voice” persona. The songs have a timeless beauty to them, some graced with the gorgeous voice of the gorgeous Crystal Gayle. When the film was released I paid some stupid price to get an imported LP of the soundtrack which I played repeatedly. Of course as it was an american pressing the quality of the disc was diabolical with hisses and clicks during the quieter parts. It was one of the few records I was pleased to duplicate with a CD version (although the CD ought to have had a few more “extras” for the money).

As for the “One from the heart” film, it was a sprawling over-long mess. Why on earth did the director, Francis Ford Coppola, feel the need to spend $$$thousands on a stage-set of Las Vegas when he could just have gone there and started filming ???  Terri Garr was in the film though as a consolation. Conclusion: Film 3 out of 10. Soundtrack CD 9 out of 10.