Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Lessons in game warfare.

"Go ahead punk, make my day!"

This brutal looking fella is a Chaplain, a man... of the cloth?, spiritual leader to the Space Marine Terminator squad, and as befits his appearance, a bringer of death! He also happens to be a dream come true to any hormonal 10 to teen year old boy, what with the skulls, chains, heavy armour, iron crosses, eagle motifs and superior fire power. Throw in some paint, glue, and a shop full of like minded geeks, a bit of Led Zeppelin and you have the perfect recipe for happy children, parents who suddenly find themselves with spare time on their hands, and this is the only negative point, a hobby that sucks up money at an alarming rate.

The figure above was my 10 year old son's latest artistic creation which he painstakingly spent a Saturday afternoon on. He's hoping that the guys in the shop will display it in their glass cabinets, I hope so because the Chaplain looks in no mood to be turned down.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Werewolf by Night

Werewolf by Night Vol.1, No.31 - 1975.

Let's just say that your whole world is gigantically pear shaped if you happen to be Jack Russell, a seemingly normal blond haired Californian 19 year old boy, who's father has been cursed by a mystical book called the Darkhold. As luck would have it, Jack inherits the curse and as a result is stuck in a perpetual Michael Jackson 'Thriller' loop.

So what do you do if a full moon is forecast? Well, in 'Death in White', Jack has planned a ski trip with girlfriend Topaz, along with Chuck and his new girlfriend, the recently widowed Elaine Marsten and her 7 year old daughter Buttons. Laughter and frivolity ensues as the two couples head off into the mountains with a teetering roof rack of suitcases. Jack's more than happy to roll around in the snow with Topaz but the precocious little Buttons has other ideas. Teasing and snowball fights aside, its wall to wall rosy cheeks and heavy duty knit wear as they settle in for romantic fireside cuddles and tankards of hot Grog until the Manager informs everyone that heavy blizzards are due to hit the following day.

Fearing that their secret plans are threatened by this turn of events, Chuck catches Jack's attention out of the girls earshot. Quick to shrug off Chuck's suggestion that they scrap their plans to leave him in the lonely mountain backwoods ahead of the full moon, Jack assures his friend that their plan will work better now as they are guaranteed not to run into anyone. The next day the boys convince the girls that Jack needs to return to the city due to work commitments, and instead of driving to the train station they head off the road and into the woods.

Jack sits and waits for nightfall as Chuck's car disappears from view. Unfortunately for Jack the little girl has run away from the ski lodge and has got lost in the woods. Wasting no time, Buck steals a snowmobile and heads off to find the Werewolf before it can get to the girl. Poor old Chuck throws himself into a fearful battle with his best friend, the Werewolf's claws slash out as the monster sees only prey in the form of a 7 year old girl and he smells only fear and blood as Chuck crawls helplessly away through the reddened snow. Putting himself between the Werewolf and the girl, not only to save her but also to save Jack from certain madness if he is to discover later that he has killed a young child. In the end Jack kills his best friend.

I really enjoyed the writing in this comic which was the work of Doug Moench, best known for his work on Batman and Detective comics in the 80s and 90s. He also did some newspaper work where he, amongst other things, interviewed The Who and The Monkeys.

Finally, from the same comic is this wonderful ad. In 1975 you could snag yourself a bathroom towel set or a big ol' beach towel featuring every one's favourite canyon jumpin', double decker hoppin' stunt man, Evil Knieval! For 5 dollars you could be drying off with some top quality Evil cotton.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Trains, Migrains and old comics

Challengers of the Unknown- no.80, 1973.

Sorry about the break in posts, I've been resting back due to a series of Migraines, 3 in the last 3 weeks to be exact. I had an interesting trip down to London for the Comic Mart near Kings Cross station last weekend, to start with there were no trains to Kings Cross on Sunday, so by way of Liverpool Street and a chaotic Underground besieged with engineering works and a fatality on the mainline between Cambridge and London, I eventually arrived at my destination at 1pm, 2 and a half hours after leaving Cambridge.

Instead of doing the sensible thing of eating lunch first, I chose instead to head straight for the comics. I'll admit that I am not very good at hunting through the bargain boxes for good deals, and most of the other stuff is too expensive for me. However, I did find a few things that tickled my fancy.

Unfortunately this trip was jinxed from the start because after only an hour and a half a migraine came on. Sickening vertigo, carpet swimming around beneath me, I gingerly weaved through the crowd, trying not to crash into anyone on my way to the foyer to sit down. I popped a Paracetamol, packed my bag and left.

The scan above is from Challengers of the Unknown, no.80, a 1973 reprint of Showcase, no.11 from 1957. The Challengers were Kirby's precursor to The Fantastic Four, and in this story they face a jolly green race from outer space, The Tyrans!

Beware the Tyrans!- interior Jack Kirby artwork.

And from the same comic is this lovely advert for kids Raleigh bikes, remember the ten speed racer? I had a blue one just like the one below. I crashed it twice, once when I swerved to avoid a car coming round a sharp bend on our estate, I hit the curb, went over the handlebars and landed in a rose garden. I spent the next hour getting thorns pulled out of me. The second time I crashed into the back of a parked car whilst looking down to change gears, once again I flew over the handlebars and landed Sweeny style on top of the car. My dad was more worried about my watch than me.

Check it out, in 1973 the cycle dealer could tempt you with 73 different Raleigh models!

Make mine a Raleigh!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Ghost birds

And still we shuffle heavily around on the cold hard earth, our movements slowed as the final gasp of winter tugs at our finger tips and the bony hands of March grab at our ankles. Birds fall away from the bare branches and leave their ghostly images on glass.

In this sluggish melting of winter, caught between the Snowdrops and the much anticipated Daffodils and Tulips, there is much bird activity round about. A few weeks ago our Jessie had the chance to help out with some bird ringing here at the college. A student of Natural sciences who we have nicknamed 'Moth Girl' due to her moth trapping activities in the Summer months, has been setting up mist nets in the grounds to get a better understanding of the local bird population. As a result we keep spotting Blackbirds with 'bling'.

Close encounters with a male Bullfinch.

Early indication that the Blue tits have turned into Zombies.

I don't know about Ghost birds, but our resident feathered friends can at times feel more like Zombie birds. In their desperate pursuit of food they have made us prisoners in our own Bothy.

Blackbirds eye us intently through the glass, Magpies hungrily wait for us, 'us' being the operative word. There is only so much bread and butter that they are prepared to endure when what they really want is gardeners flesh! The sickening rasp of crows on the cold air, cadavers steaming on the bare earth, birds ripping at bloody innards and squabbling amongst themselves like Vultures, head feathers slick with blood.

I've never read a zombie comic before, maybe I should give one a go.