Aug 26, 2010

I find the current crop of identikit monthly car magazines available in the UK to be boring in the extreme. Where today are the likes of “Jalopy” ?? In the early 1990s this little book (edited by Rod Ker who now seems to be on two wheels…) was a must-read.

Even the “Banger Buyers Guide” at the back of the book was fascinating. I never did find an Italian “Contradini Lambrusco” (1967-1974 789666cc side valve twin turbo Diesel single.) And I lusted after the Yorkshire-made “Earnshaw Diamond” (1955 only 666cc Gumby radial 7) with its unique diamond wheelbase configuration giving unprecedented manoeverability !!)

The Final Issue

Aug 23, 2010

I was beginning to think Overstreet was over. I’m sure in previous years the famous Comic Price Guide was released in May. The 40th edition didn’t appear until August. It seems that I’ve purchased every price guide since the 4th one. This will be the final one I bother with. It’s a perfect example of how the Internet has now completely occupied the ground once held by books and magazines.

I was sad (but not surprised) to see the final issue of “Crikey”. Perhaps they may return with some form of on-line version at:-  


Numerous special interest magazines can no longer generate enough readers to remain viable. I wonder how many hundreds (or thousands ??) of magazines and comics I’ve seen reach their final issue. In the case of comics, sometimes there would be an announcement. Sometimes they would disappear overnight mid-story arc.

I have already given up buying CDs. My magazine habit has declined to “The Spectator” and “Back Issue”. Books are next on my “to stop” list. In fact there is still one more book I am awaiting delivery of…actually more of a luxury than a book…the Taschen edition of 75 years of DC….which has a recommended price of £135 !!

So-called Comics

Aug 19, 2010

I’ve only recently been alerted to the existence of this book which was originally published as far back as 1984. “A Haunt of Fears” goes into forensic detail about the Children and Young persons (Harmful Publications) Act of 1955. As might be expected this was a knee-jerk reaction to the similar Act passed in the USA. As might also be expected there was more to it than that. Many laws find their way into the statute books after intense lobbying by a small number of people with very strong convictions. This was a case in point. A handful of people enraged by a handful of comics were involved. Their initial desire to ban “American” comics by necessity had to adapt to a campaign to ban “Horror” comics. (Let’s face it… a lot of American comics were of the “funny animal” variety.) Their real ulterior motive seems to have been an attempt to stem the tide of American pop culture, with their dislike of teenage trends, teddy boys, rock and roll and the idea of the “juvenile delinquant”.

The main flaw in their argument centred on there being no definition of “Graphic Novels” or comics for adults in the early 1950s. A comic MUST by definition be aimed at an 8 year old. Therefore Crime and Horror comics must be being bought and read by 8 year olds. They did not grasp that those comics were most popular with adult USA servicemen rather than little children. Hence their describing Horror and Crime comic books as “So-called Comics”. Surely that was just their description. The books were written and drawn by adults and aimed squarely at adults…. (I recall when I first found a shop selling back issue comics in 1965. I thumbed past the “boring” horror/monster/crime books in my search for Superman Family fare.)

There weren’t actually that many “Horror” comics unique to the UK anyway. It was far easier to find the Beano or the Dandy. EC comics weren’t available in every newsagents !! Miller and Thorpe and Porter did reprint a handful of pre-code horror comics (from Avon, Prize etc) as black and white anthologies. Arnold published three or four  comics reprinting EC horror material between 1952 and 1954 and it was these issues that were waved around repeatedly at the few meetings that were held by the pressure groups that instigated this act. Mostly though, it was copies of american comics that were waved about even though they were not regularly distributed in the UK !!

The only other book I have found which deals exclusively with British comics 1945 – 1955 is this. (Another one involving Mike Higgs.) It’s interesting to learn that many Canadian comics arrived in the UK at this time as well as the Australian comics. There’s not an awful lot of text, but there are lots of pictures of those British comics from the odder end of the spectrum. It’s got a big 68 pages (Don’t take less !) so it must be alright.

Fresco Le Raye

Aug 17, 2010

To find out all about J. Edward Oliver visit http://www.jeoliver.co.uk/


Aug 14, 2010

The Marine Broadcasting (Offences) Act came into effect at midnight August 14th 1967. I think there were only two offshore pirate stations that continued right up to that final midnight deadline before calling it a day, namely Radio Scotland and Radio 270. Big L (Radio London) had already closed down at 3pm. Radio 227 (formally Radio England), Radio 355 (formerly Britain Radio) and Radio 390 had closed down a few weeks earlier. Radio City had closed in February 1967 and BBMS in December 1966, but they were broadcasting from wartime forts rather than boats and already subject to different legislation. Radio Caroline South and Radio Caroline North had always promised to defy the act and would continue for another 6 months until financial problems silenced them.

The internet is a wonderful place these days to hear offshore radio from the 1960s. Many 1000s of hours of radio taped by “anoraks” has been uploaded to Rapidshare and the like. When I first became interested in the subject many years ago the only way to hear these “exotic” defunct UK radio stations was by purchasing tapes like this one.

Of course it was only after I’d spent a couple of hours transferring this tape to mp3 files that I thought to look around the web. It seems these recordings are already available elsewhere, but having owned this tape for 40 years and after spending all this time I may as well add them to my audio archive.

Radio Essex August 1966

Radio 270

Radio Tower

Offshore Radio clips

WABC 77 New York

PS: The pirate Radio Essex broadcast from the (rather tatty looking) Knock John Fort circa 1966. Radio Tower was a station that never got any further than testing. WABC isn’t an offshore station of course. This american fast and furious pop format was evidentally the kind of thing that many pirate stations tried to copy with varied degrees of success. Radio 270 broadcast from the Oceaan 7. Anchored off Bridlington their main audience was the Yorkshire area. They are the offshore station I remember the most as the signal was very strong in Filey, Scarborough and Whitby which were popular family holiday destinations when I was a child.

When my computer crashed last year I lost all my “favourite” sites and have never missed a single one. Places like Friends Re-united. It must be 10 years since I visited there. Didn’t ITV buy the site for £millions and fail miserably ? Then there was Bebo, MySpace and numerous others. I wonder why Facebook has succeeded where so many have failed ? Facebook has 40 million accounts in the UK alone. And this is a company/idea that didn’t exist even five years ago. Although, 40 million accounts doesn’t mean 40 million individual people. Every shop and business right up to the BBC1 TV Breakfast show has adopted a can’t beat em so lets join em attitude and signed up to Facebook. Not me. I’ll just persevere with this blog. The alternative is to visit Poundland to buy a scrapbook and go back to sticking newspaper cuttings into it. …..

I’ve only just discovered “Planet Blue”, Dory Previn’s fascinating eco album from 2002. It’s a very early example of music available not on CD or DVD but just as a free (and legitimate) download from http://dory.willcurtiss.com/. If by some chance you have missed this curiosity/work of genius (delete as appropriate) it gets a highly recommended from me. So perhaps there still is something to be found on the Internet if you search hard enough….

Lucky Dice

Aug 10, 2010

During the 1940s and early 1950s a number of publishers in the UK decided to fill the void provided by the temporary unavailability of the thicker and more colourful imported comicbooks that had begun to appear here alongside the  american pulps and paperbacks. Gerald G. Swan is perhaps the most well known “small” publisher from these times as he also produced a number of hardbacked Annuals which have a better survival rate than the newsprint comics.

The contents of these comics were often as poor as the quality of paper they were printed on. Which was pretty much any paper they could get their hands on when rationing was still in place. Usually consisting of 16 pages, but sometimes a mere 8 pages long, with prices ranging from 2d to a head-spinning 6d each. No dates (and sometimes no numbers) increased their shelf life. They must have sold but you’d think that given the choice most children at the time would have preferred to spend their money on a Dandy or a Beano, a Comic Cuts or Radio Fun or by 1951 an Eagle.

This un-numbered, undated comic was published by Funnibooks of Glasgow. I don’t know if this was an offshoot of Cartoon Art Productions (CAPtoons) also of Glasgow who were responsible for the “Super Duper” comic I mentioned recently. They were certainly using some of the same artists. The last two strips in this comic are signed by Dennis M. Reader (1927 – 1995) who would often be found within the pages of these types of comics, often drawing infamous characters such as Phantom Maid and Electro Girl. Although I don’t intend to make a habit of scanning old comics I thought this was obscure enough to make an exception.

Lucky Dice Comic  as a cbz – date unknown 

If nothing else at least this second panel made me smile….

Nuff Said 21

Aug 6, 2010

Fantasy and Adventure

Aug 2, 2010

If you ever go on a giant holiday (as opposed to a normal-sized holiday I presume) these telephone-directory-sized books are ideal. One on top of the other makes a useful seat for a small child….or I suppose you could even read them…….

These two “comic albums” were edited/compiled by Mike Hugg Higgs, ex Manfred Mann creator of “The Cloak” etc etc and published by Hawk Books in 1989. I don’t know the criteria involved in the selection of material. It seems an odd/random assortment to me. The entire contents were evidentally originally seen in comics (Lion, Valiant etc) and pocketbooks (Thriller, Sexton Blake etc) published by Fleetway in the 1950s and 1960s.

We are often told that vast amounts of UK comic artwork has been destroyed or lost after companies closed down or amalgamated with no thought to the potential value of their inventories. The artwork in these books is so muddy I suspect that it was taken from old comics themselves rather than the originals.

As Marvel and DC continue to flood the market with stacks of “Essentials” and “Showcase Presents” it is a shame that here in the UK we can’t manage to package a few of the more interesting comic characters from the second half of the C20th into reasonably priced books…or even magazines……. All that seems to be available are expensive coffee table volumes collecting Dan Dare or newspaper strips like Modesty Blaise. I suppose there wouldn’t be enough people eager to buy a “Fleetway” version of D.C. Thompson’s “Classic Comics” monthly. I’ll have to content myself by re-reading these 576 pages…….until Mr Higgs’ much-anticipated collection of “The Cloak” is published……