Thursday 25 July 2013

Marvel Annual 1972

There's a whole bunch of annuals/comics that I've treasured ever since I read them, either one's I've kept since they first came out:

Or that I've still to track down for my collection:

And occasionally, VERY occasionally, I come across something that i'd loved dearly, but had totally forgotten about.
And that's the case with this here annual:

I was at a friends second-hand bookshop in Margate, having a natter while leafing through a bunch of british annuals, when I came across the cover above.
Time stopped.
Suddenly I was 10 years-old again, staring and staring at the Hulk lifting up that cannon against a vivid red background.
"I know this" I sort of stammered.
"Yeah, that's a great one" says my friend.
I turn the first page and, like Mr Ben in, er, Mr Ben i'm transported back in time, to be discovering the book for the first time, again.
SO many stand=out images that used to entrall and fascinate me, its untrue.
On page 3, we have this classic view of the Hulk that I remember well:

But its the depiction in the first story that I recall being fascinated and a bit horrified by. At this point, the classic Universal horror films were becoming known to me, but don't know if I made the Karloff connection by then:

That shot, and this, I still remember as being subject of much scrutiny:

And this shot of the Toad Mens underground escape I know I focussed on a great deal:

Reading again the Conan strip, the masked bad guy sent me some echoes from the past:

And Conan himself, with his natty spiked helmet and medallion, I thought cooler than cool:

On to Spider-Man now and, like all the characters here, i'm guessing was my first exposure to Marvel characters, being a tad before the Mighty World Of Marvel first issue.
The strange, red only colour palette I didn't find too jarring as I was used to that in British annuals alreay, and The Tinkerer's look was straight out of anything in Lion, Thunder, etc:

Spider-man I was fascinated by. I was already used to Batman, Superman the JLA and the Flash through the American imports in my local newsagents, but the way this guy was handled was VERY different.
The split-face affair was a very new device to me:

As i'd never seen anything like it before and I loved it, especially when we got a full-length shot:

And his nifty under the arm webbing I found especially intriguing:

Out of the other tales, the Fantastic Four one I remember responding to, not for our heroes or anything they did, but the final sad fate of the bad guy:

Lastly, an image of a character I knew nothing about at this point, but the image had me wanting to know more:

To sum up, a true classic of an annual, one i'm totally mystified as to why I forgot all about it. Won't make that mistake again.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

The Tinderbox

Words can't ever get across here the effect this tale by Hans Christian Anderson had on me.
The story of a soldier tempted into descending into the bowels of a tree to retrieve a tinderbox resonates to this day.
The story is pretty standard, but the elements of it had a marked effect on me, so much so that, even now, it envokes a deep, emotional pull thats hard to describe.
Whether its the notion of descending underground into another world - something i'm sure made me respond the same way to "The Secret Garden" and "The Pied Piper" - or the idea of the bizarre creature that is the dog with saucer-sized eyes, i can't get across how much this story affected me.
Out of everything from my childhood, this is the one thing that strikes a deep, visceral chord whenever i think about it.
And i wonder what my children are experiencing now might have the same effect.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Ghost Train

Coming in at number four in my "Top Five Holy Grail Childhood Toys", i've finally nabbed one off the 'Bay for a VERY good price, considering it was near mint. As it was on its way, i wondered if i'd be let down as my memory cheated. My memory of it is of a set of turntable's with some nifty artwork and cardboard ghosties trying to knock the plastic kids on train carriages off the tracks. And, upon getting the package, that's exactly what i got. But, the art is still fantastic and the box is fab and the memories didn't fail and its brilliant to play it 40ish years later and to play it with my Sprogs, who get the same amount of fun i did all those years ago, well... Typing out any amount of words can't do what i feel justice.

Friday 18 January 2013

Scaring the crap out of a Sprog - part 6

I've just watched the Doctor Who tale "The Deadly Assassin" for the first time since its transmission back in '76. I remember two things about it from back then: (1) Not liking it because there were no spaceships or aliens in it, just a bunch of old Thesp's wandering round in dodgy makeup, (2) Being very disturbed by the Master in it. Not only by his hideous visage, but that it wasn't (and couldn't be) Roger Delgado. Looking at it now, its a terrific story and that makeup is just as horrendous as i remember it. I mean, really, thats pushing it for a kids show now, let alone back then:

Watching it now, its quite striking how elements in the tale would appear elsewhere later> Biggest of course being "The Matrix" - a cyber reality that a person can be put under and enter, a cut-down Mauser pistol as a blaster - coincedece surely as Han Solo's must've been made and filmed at the same time, and the make-up for the Master's rotten face had a sort of American cousin shortly after with "The Incredible Melting Man":

Saturday 15 December 2012

Top 5 TV Openings - #2

Oh, how i wanted to be Steve Austin. Didn't matter that the show was pretty naff and dull, with hardly any action. When it did, i WAS him, when i read the Look-In comic strip, i WAS him. I wanted that busted nose, i wanted that natty red tracksuit, i wanted that hair-do. When i was growed up, i wanted to BE him. And that was reinforced every single time i watched these incredibly evocotive openings:

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Georges Melies

This is one of those odd occasions where i was massively affected by something when a child - but never actually saw it until and adult. Back in the 70's, one of the constant staples in the huge amount of books put out of the subject of horror or Sf films (usually by Denis Gifford)were stills from the films of Georges Melies. I'd already been growing up on a diet of Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chaplin films and part of the appeal, other than the comedy, was the rather disturbing feel to the silent one's - the B&W photography, the sets, the very scratched prints and the strange, strange support casts (typified by Eric Campbell in the Chaplin films) went towards giving the shorts an unsettling feeling of menace throughout. So i was used to that. But these still? Well, i'd never seen anything like them. Far, far more distburing than anything i'd seen up to that point, with incredible ideas making for incredible, iconic imagery. Boy, i was fascinated. When i finally got round to seeing them, they still had that sense of menace wrapped up into the fantasy and they hold up brilliantly well today - something you can't say for CGI films made only a few yaers ago. Georges Melies is rightly acknowldged now as not only a pioneer of special effects, he was the first to use so many of the techniques still in use today, but also for pushing the boundries of film making - realising before many others that scenes could be edited together to create a story. Was so pleased to finally see him and his films up there on the Big Screen in the excellent "Hugo" but, if you're a fan, i urge you to track down the compliation DVD of his works on the Arte Video label, which is just stunning.

Monday 19 November 2012

Marwood coffe shop

Bit of an aside here, but we were in Brighton yesterday and popped into Marwoods, a cafe my Sister has been on at me for ages to visit as "its right up your street". Boy is it - great food, great staff and great atmos, brought about by the tons of retro goodies strewn all over the place. Real fun to eat my Ken Dodd fry-up while reiminiscing over this toy, that toy, that phone, that picture etc etc. And a nice bunch of comic art too. Highly recommended if you're down that way.