Saturday 31 October 2009

Steranko Saturdays: Halloween Edition

Steranko is more known for spies and superheroes than the supernatural, but here are a few pics of Jaunty Jim's more spook-tacular outings, just in time for All Hallow's Eve. First a lovely, atmospheric cover painting from Warren's Eerie no. 25. The contents of Jim Warren's 1960's horror mags may have been variable but you could nearly always count on a knockout cover illustration and Steranko certainly delivers.

Next, a couple of covers from Marvel's Supernatural Thrillers, a short-lived title which featured great adaptations of classic horror stories. Unfortunately, Steranko was only producing covers at this time. If only he'd been enticed to draw some actual stories for this mag.....

And I couldn't miss out Steranko's signature character: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD. Fury's a little out of his element here in Steranko's homage to The Hound Of The Baskervilles, but what a great cover!

And finally, from Captain America no. 111, the companion-piece page to last week's psychedelic horror show: Rick Jones is still struggling with his subconscious in a gruesome dream sequence.

Happy Halloween everyone! Sweet dreams!

Friday 30 October 2009

Favourite Gig Fridays: Ash

Last Tuesday night, Gloucester Guildhall, Ash: what a great gig! Instantly pushing past the queue and into the Fave Gig Fri front row. I don't know why I've never seen Ash live before, but as they were playing our local rock 'n' roll mecca, Glenn and I just had to get our asses down there to see Northern Ireland's finest do their thing.

This was the 7th gig of their A-Z Tour, a series of shows taking an alphabetical route through some of the UK's smaller venues, hence Gloucester Guildhall rather than Birmingham NEC or some other soulless cowshed.

Support band the Panama Kings were uninspiring: they had the sound, the ability and the attitude but ( for me anyway ) not the songs nor memorable tunes. Ash, however had the lot, except for one thing I'll mention later.....
Following in the tradition of Blondie or The Buzzcocks or The Jam ( yeah, I know, very dated references ), Ash are a brilliant singles band, banging out great song after great song. ( They've actually announced that they won't make any more albums, because less and less people buy music that way, and will only release singles from now on. To coincide with this tour they're putting out 26 singles in a year, 1 every 2 weeks. )
And they fired out most of these great songs on Tuesday night: from early classics like Kung Fu and Girl From Mars ( both played at Ramones-like tempos ) through big hits such as Shining Light, and on to future favourites like Joy Kicks Darkness ( a cracking new song! ), they played a blinder with not a dull moment in the set. And the band obviously enjoyed it as much as the crowd, Tim Wheeler especially having a great time, grinning from ear to ear and charging around the stage like the teenager he was when he formed the band. ( He's now at the advanced age of - gulp! - 32. ) They finished with a fantastic Burn Baby Burn and a funky Return Of White Rabbit, an epic new song that stands tall amongst their older classics. I'll definitely have to see 'em again for more top tunes and Flying-V action!
Oh yeah ( cue for a song? ), my one regret is that I never saw the band when Charlotte Hatherley played second guitar for them. She's a damn good singer and songwriter with her own solo career on the go. And she's a babe.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Feeling lucky ( Steam ) punk?

Hi to new Follower, Rachel, author of the blogs Handmade By Rach555 and Rach's Media Opinions.

Rachel's steampunk name is apparently Baroness Delphinium Badger. Honestly. I've just googled mine and it is Commander Peter Brownsmith.....

Check out

Famke Janssen / Jean Grey

Just a few pics of Famke Janssen for my mate Glenn. Enjoy.....

Soundtrack: Burn Baby Burn by Ash ( saw 'em live last night and they ROCKED! )

Monday 26 October 2009

Bond Babes: Britt and Maud

I watched The Man With The Golden Gun yesterday for the first time in years.
Not one of the better Bond movies: too much lazy humour and cheesiness ( especially from Roger Moore, of course ). The film's saving graces for me were the legendary Christopher Lee, as suave and sophisticated as ever, playing extra-nippled master assassin Scaramanga, and also the following two gorgeous actresses:
Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight
"I like a girl in a bikini - no concealed weapons", Scaramanga

Maud Adams as Andrea Anders
Is that a ridiculously obvious phallic symbol in your hand or are you just pleased to see me?

Ms. Ekland and Ms. Adams with Herv Villechaize as Nick Nack. Say no more.

Soundtrack: Lovely Head by Goldfrapp
Lust For Life by Iggy Pop

Sunday 25 October 2009

New blood

Welcome to new Follower, Mandra, from beautiful Barcelona, home of the fang-tastic Draculand blog!

Gene Colan's Dracula

As Halloween is nearly upon us I thought I'd give the John Buscema Avengers banner a rest for a while and go with some lovely Gene Colan Dracula art. And as a bonus here's another pic of Drac, giving it the full Lord Of Vampires treatment.

Despite all the great actors to have portrayed Vlad the lad over the years - Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Jack Palance, Gary Oldman, Louis Jordan, er, George Hamilton - when I think of Dracula I automatically think of the Marv Wolfman / Gene Colan / Tom Palmer version from Marvel's Tomb Of Dracula. For my money it was the deepest, most complex examination of the character since Bram Stoker, a major achievement for a humble comic book. I just might have to post more on the subject later.....

Saturday 24 October 2009

Steranko Saturdays: Captain America 111

I haven't posted enough comic artwork on this 'ere blog lately, so I thought I'd start another semi-regular feature, spotlighting the work of Jaunty Jim Steranko.

Today's image is page 9 of Captain America 111, March 1969. Rick Jones, Cap's would-be sidekick, is in the throes of a Comics Code - approved bad trip after being poisoned by the hordes of Hydra.

I liked this piece of artwork so much that I shamelessly ripped it off for my Art O-Level: Dali-esque infinite perspective, giant eyeballs, ruined temple, the whole kit and caboodle. If you're gonna steal, steal from the best I always say.....

Friday 23 October 2009

Favourite Gig Fridays: Poison Idea

So, here's a band I only ever saw once ( at TJ's, Newport ) and whose records I've never owned, but they still make it into the ranks of Fave Gig Fri. The mighty ( and physically massive ) Poison Idea, a hardcore band from Portland, Oregon, whose late guitarist pictured above went by the delightful nom de rock of Pig Champion. They played the kind of loud, aggressive hardcore/metal that really only works in a live gig situation.....

As a special treat/torture I'm going to quote my gig review from my diary for July 1991 - yep, long before t'internet all we had was pen and paper to record our twisted thoughts; how prehistoric! Let the quotation commence, with 2009 comments in italics:

"Poison Idea lumbered onto stage: probably the most hideously obese Americans ever to thrash guitars and roar drunkenly on stage. ( Nice repetition of the word 'stage' ) Despite their whale-like bulks ( sensitive! ) they played blindingly fast and f***ing LOUD. The crowd went, as they say, wild. I went down the front, with Mark and Jon, which turned out to be a bad decision when someone accidentally smacked me in the face and cut my cheek.
( Poor baby! ) It didn't seem like much at the time, but when I got home and looked in a mirror, I realised I had quite a good cut - and it's still visible now. ( This was written 4 months after the gig for reasons of pure laziness ) Wow, rock 'n' roll, eh? Poison Idea were actually very good ( Don't hold back with the praise! ) and made it all worthwhile, even though their set fell apart at the end as the singer 'escorted' a too-abusive member of the audience outside for a little chat. Got home late, crashed out, thud!"

I was obviously more concerned with recording a very minor injury than talking about the actual music. That could be why I never ended up writing for the NME.

Soundtrack:The Badge by Poison Idea ( via the miracle of YouTube )

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Many legs, many names

Hi to new Follower, mickey_ glitter / mickelodian / michele, from Strange Cousin Susan, all the way over there in the alternate universe of Wordpress :-)

Monday 19 October 2009

Music to wash up to...

I've just been listening to Husker Du's hardcore classic, New Day Rising, whilst wading through humongous piles of washing-up. I'm sure when Grant Hart and Bob Mould wrote such songs as Books About UFOs and Powerline they didn't imagine they'd one day be the soundtrack to my attempts to scrape congealed cheese sauce out of a mixing-jug. Or maybe they did imagine that: Husker Du were always ahead of their time. Just ask the Pixies. And Nirvana.

Soundtrack: New Day Rising ( best "dogs in the sea" album cover ever )

Saturday 17 October 2009

Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in...

Hi to new Follower, Senski.
Check out his blog, Heart In A Jar, for plenty of spooky stuff.

Friday 16 October 2009

Favourite Gig Fridays: The Ramones

Hey ho! Let's go! Hey ho! Let's Go!
It's a bitterly cold October night in 1987 and, unlikely as it may seem, New York cartoon Punks are rocking the grimy Hummingbird Club in downtown Birmingham. Birmingham UK that is...

The support bands ( Flesh For Lulu and the Sex Gods - who? ) have left the building, everyone's been to the bar and come back, the house lights go down and dry-ice fills the stage. A powerful drumroll starts up, the stage lights flash on, and there are da brudders Ramone, standing on top of the amps and powering into the instrumental, Durango 95.
And the crowd goes wild. Well, actually the crowd goes 100% batshit mental.

The Ramones speed through their set with no let-up between songs, only enough time to count in the next anthem: 1 2 3 4 Rockaway Beach! 1 2 3 4 Blitzkrieg Bop! 1 2 3 4 Too Tough To Die! 1 2 3 4 Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, you get the picture.....

I dive into the seething mass at the front with Ade, Mark, Jon and Steve - Christ, it's rough! And HOT! At one point I get knocked over and about 7 or 8 bodies fall on top of me, Ade hauls me back up, then we're both knocked over again. ( And we do this for fun?! ) All this frenzy is unsurprising: The Ramones are excellent, very together, very loud, still banging out the classics with a freshness unheard of in most bands of their longevity. They sing about being sedated, going to a rock 'n' roll high school and something about a warthog. Joey doesn't move much but looks demonic, Dee Dee pounds his bass like he's trying to kill it, Johnny is dressed for an undertakers' convention but churns out lightning-fast riffs, and the drummer (whatsisname) the drums. It's over all too soon, we call them back for a couple of encores, including Let's Dance, during which I get horribly mangled but just about emerge with all limbs intact. We stagger out into the freezing bloody cold Brum night, sweat and steam pouring off our knackered bodies, my hearing and voice shot to hell - a sure sign of a good gig :-)

Thursday 15 October 2009

Steve Cole book signing

James met one of his heroes today: Steve Cole, author of the Astrosaurs and Cows In Action children's books. Steve was signing copies of his new novel, Z-Rex, at our local Waterstone's. Below are pics of Mr. Cole and his Number One Fan, in super low-fi quality, courtesy of James' Granny Wendy.

Saturday 10 October 2009

A day in the life

Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late

8:30 am woke up, fell out of bed etc. Sarah feeling rough with chronic toothache, ringing out-of-hours dentists ( £75 call-out fee! ) and unhelpful NHS help-lines, no joy there

10:45 am take James swimming, Sarah already gone to work, suffering, Sophie going to town with airhead friend

11:15 am James struggling with four lengths backstroke, says there's "too much chlorine" in the water, teacher exasperated ( but cute )

2:00 pm Sarah, James and I catch bus into Gloucester, walk through docks, shop unsuccessfully for clothes for me, nose around HMV - Battlestar Galactica boxset back up to full price - bugger! Lattes are drunk at Caffe Nero ( yes, spelt with 2 "f"s ) in comfy leather seats, this is indeed the life

6:00 pm return home to find Edward has delivered comics ( cheers mate! What's happened to the blog lately? ) - Spider-Man, Conan, Spirit ( Nick Cardy cover! ) and bugger me sideways.....
The Last Issue of Planetary!!!!! Check outside for porcine aviation activity, pinch myself, ouch, pinch somebody else, ouch again, yep it's really true and really happening, Planetary no. 27 has finally arrived, I'm gonna have to read the damn thing now.....

Rest of the evening: food, conversation, TV ( Doctor Who, Peep Show ), trying to figure out paperwork from local education authority, net-surfing, cats scrapping, still haven't read Planetary yet

Thursday 8 October 2009


Happy Birthday to Sigourney Weaver, 60 today.
Hang on! 60?
Bloody Hell!!

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Sunday 4 October 2009

Random drivel

Firstly, welcome to new Follower Mark from Bad Librarianship Now! I've been aware of Mark's great blog for some time but haven't got round to Following until this weekend. I'm slow on the uptake sometimes. Anyway, Mark's returned the favour and Followed this here blog, so here's a pic of the ever-lovely Jenny Agutter just for him. ( Alright, and for me too..... )
Help, me shelves are collapsing! Who would have thought a few dozen magazines would have some kind of avalanche effect on my bookcase? Well, obviously anyone else but me would have sussed that. I just let 'em pile up until they go kablooie! Now I've got to find another dark corner to stuff in Comic Book Artist, Alter Ego, Back Issue, The Spirit, Will Eisner's Quarterly, The Jack Kirby Collector, Mojo, NME, Q, Doctor Who Magazine, Death Ray etc. etc. Phew! I'm knackered just thinking about it!
On a sadder note, today ( October 4th ) is the 20th anniversary of the death of Graham Chapman. He was a comedian, actor, writer, alcoholic, public speaker and Python. But not the Messiah.....
Jasper posing with sunflowers. "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille."

Cave Dweller

Hi to new Follower Geof C. from Enter The Man-Cave.

Check out Geof's blog: he brakes for awesomeness!

Saturday 3 October 2009

History repeating

So I missed Favourite Gig Fridays again. Which is a shame 'cos I was going to mention that time I saw that one-off Supergroup of Elvis, Hendrix, McCartney and Bonham. On Mars.
Maybe next time.....

( Note to self: get bloody organised! )

Thursday 1 October 2009

King Of Cool

Steve McQueen, photo courtesy of Life magazine archives.


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