March of time

March 1, 2013

old

Who knows where the time goes. Here is another audio file exclusively for the select few who have previously shown an interest in these things. Adults only as it contains mild blood and mild/strong language depending on how easily you may be offended. On the plus side it also contains one of the best songs I’ll hear this year.

M

This time it will definitely be deleted in 30 days (if not before). All the earlier ones have been removed.You’ll never know what you missed.

more doors

Having just been in the loft to put the xmas decorations away (?!?) I thought I’d better bring something down to throw out at the same time. An old suitcase seemed an ideal candidate. Heavy. Full of magazines from the 1970s. Amongst the Sunday Times magazines (full of quaint adverts for cigarettes and Triumph Toledos) were a number of D.C Thompson comics.

Due to their size, and the fact they were “read to death” by my brother and his friends these issues haven’t survived in very good condition. I think the Beezer was the only comic my brother had or showed any interest in. After 5 years and approx 250 issues one day in 1972 he announced that he wanted the newsagent to deliver the Angling Times instead! The sturdy Beezer Book annuals however have survived in quantity….. even on my bookshelves there must still be a dozen.

Beezer cover

The Beezer was the companion to the similarly sized Topper. The Beezer ran from 1956 until (surprisingly) 1993 and the annual survived a further 10 years!!. This issue is pretty typical of what entertained my brother every tuesday from age seven to twelve……

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Nuff Said 36

March 1, 2013

If we can have Magic Robots there obviously must be Magic Computers too.

Superhombre

March 1, 2013

304 cover

My (tatty) copy of Adventure 304 cover dated January 1963 carries an odd addition to the left top of the cover. In fact EVERY Adventure 304 carries the same logo so it is not a variant cover for Spanish speaking areas as I first suspected. A quick check on all the other DC covers from January 1963 shows no more occurrences of this logo. It was never seen again before or since. Or was it.

304

409

20 years later Superman 409 featured a larger more colourful “Superhombre”. After some research I found that there had been a few black and white “ashcan” copies of a “Superhombre” produced by National/DC in 1944/1945. This was evidently to copyright the name in case they ever wanted to start producing “Superhombre” comics, or more likely, to prevent anyone else producing a “Superhombre” comic that readers might confuse with Superman. They were already having enough trouble with Fawcett and Captain Marvel.

409 cover

So Adventure 304 and Superman 409, being roughly 20 years and 40 years on from the original “ashcan” were probably necessary to preserve the copyright by showing in some minute way that “Superhombre” comics were being published (albeit very irregularly) by DC. The odd thing is why did they pick Adventure 304 which wasn’t even a Superman comic as such. Although a “red kryptonite” version of Superman did appear in this particular issue for the previous 15 or so years it had featured Superboy. (If they wanted to trademark a Spanish version of Superboy the name would have to be something like “Superchico” ?!?). Anyway soon the back-up feature in Adventure would be promoted to the covers and The Legion of Superheroes would become my favourite comic characters for the next 5 years.

Young Love

March 1, 2013

You know you’re getting old when dept:       I realised I was getting old when Country and Western music started to make perfect sense. When all the policemen suddenly looked younger than me. When I began making groaning noises as I got out of chairs. When I found myself enjoying “romance” comics much more than the current Batman or Whistling Skull nonsense.

yl cover

Throughout the 1960s Thorpe and Porter/Top Sellers had a steady output of their own publications as well as being the distributor for the majority of american comic books we received in the UK. There is no date on this comic. A popular trend at the time to extend shelf-life in your local newsagents. The back cover shows a photo of the “Searchers” pop group circa 1964. And 1964 is mentioned in one of the strips.

Young Love No 6 Top Sellers mid 1960s

And whilst I’m still in the mood for Romance comics……. Many years before she became Mrs Hellstrom, Patsy dated her future husband’s father (!?!) or was it an “imaginary story”? But aren’t they all? Can you spot the difference.

For the “landmark” issue No 50 of “The Sensational She-Hulk” Jennifer took time out from her battle for Truth, Justice and Personal Injury Claims to try and decide who should replace John Byrne. Ten artists each did a few pages. Nine were dismissed and she decided that Todd Britton’s final 8 pages in the comic were the best. It was announced that he would be the regular artist on the book as from No 52. Indeed Todd Britton pencilled the whole of issue 52. And that was it! One and a quarter comics and he never worked for Marvel Comics again before or since!!

So what did happen to Todd Britton? Well, actually I’ve only spent 2 minutes on the Interweb looking for him. I’ve not checked the Electoral roll or hired a Private Eye so hopefully he’s still out there but just not in the public eye.

52

sh

Those 2 minutes on the Interweb did help me discover that Todd Britton was the colourist on a handful of Valiant comics in the early 1990s and then it looks like he gave up with comics for good which is a shame as the artwork in “The Sensational She-Hulk” No 52 is as good as if not better than most of the dozens of other artists who have been involved with Shulkie.

ben

I particularly like Todd’s renditions of Ben and Reed. Not too realistic but not too cartoony. Talking of cartoons it appears that Todd left comics behind and moved into animation. I’m sure it paid better.

reed

Yet more small print

March 1, 2013

404

Apologies to the three people that still use desktop PCs rather than phones/tablets to surf the net. If I printed it the “right” way round the print was too small to read. Ah but nobody reads the small print anyway. Except me. This small print was in DC’s “Adventure Comics” 404 cover dated March 1971 and is referring to an issue of Adventure from a few months earlier. Supergirl was the current regular feature in Adventure then and she had been “rebooted” a few months earlier with a variety of sexier/bizarre costumes which changed each issue. She was also being drawn by the late great Mike Sekowsky which ought to have given the comic a few extra readers.

small print 2

So the print run was over 600,000. Yet only 350,000 were sold. A massive 250,000 were “left over”!! And only 511 people subscribed. I would have sacked the whole subscription dept immediately or begun a new campaign to increase the number of subscriptions taken out. DC was missing a trick. I read somewhere that Charlton’s “left over” comics found their way to the UK. I read somewhere else that for stores in the States at that time to get their money back on unsold magazines they had to tear the front cover/logo off for proof. So what did happen to those 250,000 unsold/returned issues? Were they pulped? Were future production runs amended to reflect how many issues per month were actually required?

Who buys this stuff??

March 1, 2013

Well, apart from me obviously. Books are supposed to be dead or dying with more and more people moving to eReaders. That may be ok for stuff like 50 shades of Grey but for these massive “coffee table” “art” books you just wouldn’t get the same impact on a 7 inch screen. All the same, I do wonder just how many of these minority-subject books are actually sold. A thousand? A hundred? Ten???

Someday Funnies

This book deserves to succeed but I suspect sales will be sluggish. The reviews are very mixed. After many months of hard graft by the editor and contributors this massive book was about to be published 40 years ago when the company went bust. The project was shelved until quite recently.

4

A few months ago I asked the question who needs another copy of FF1. Evidentally I do. Just bought this for the novelty value of seeing FF1 enlarged to one frame per massive page. Actually this book is a perfect example of how NOT to do things. I’d be ok with one frame per page if they were all the same size. Some frames are huge. Some are sideways. Some are small with loads of white space around them. Some cross two pages. Some even fall off the edge of a page. Rubbish really. At least it comes with a giant poster of that first November 1961 issue. Not that I’ve anywhere to put a giant poster……

The art of Betty and Veronica

If Betty wore a dark wig and Veronica went blonde could you tell which was which?

Hugo Tate

The collected works are finally available after a 20 year wait.

The Origin of Marvelman

Slim yet full of interesting information. But enough about me. What’s the book like?

DS

This book collects just about everything from Dave Stevens (1955 – 2008) that hasn’t been printed already from rough sketches to complete strips. He drew the most beautiful girls and some of the best comic covers of the 1980s.

Planet01

TV viewers in 1960 must have thought they were hallucinating if they watched “The strange world of Gurney Slade” on ITV in October of that year. I’ve managed to sit through the whole DVD and I’m still none-the-wiser. Supposedly written by Sid and Dick but I think Anthony Newley was just given free reign to be as bonkers as he liked. The series started off promisingly enough. Newley as a character in a sitcom who decides he doesn’t want to be in a sitcom any more and just wanders off set into the “real” world much to the bemusement of the rest of the actors and crew. The other 5 episodes are even more peculiar than the first one.

strange world