Saturday, 17 July 2010

Because the past resides in a house with frosted glass windows.

Blue Peter Appeal, John Noakes, Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton
I don't think it takes a master psychologist to work out the reason I inflict this blog on the world is nostalgia for a time long past, a time so much better than we have now, one where we had loads of great things kids today can only dream of. We had oil shortages, paper shortages, sugar shortages, toilet roll shortages, sugar shortages and tea shortages. We had Love Thy Neighbour on our TVs, Robin Askwith in our cinemas and an eighteen month wait for a telephone. It was a time when, to save electricity (of which there was a shortage), the TV companies took to only broadcasting the middle third of the picture, meaning we only ever got to see the actors' midriffs. And, of course, at one point even the days ran out and we had to have three day weeks. Although we gave them up, to my knowledge we never got the sacrificed days back, meaning the government must, even now, have a day-of-the week stockpile from the early 1970s that it's refusing to release.

Highlight of this era had to be that dread year when it was all over the news there'd be no toys for Christmas because the country'd run out of that scarcest of resources plastic. Happily, not for the last time, the media were lying to us and there were indeed toys that Christmas.

But it's not all tea and crumpets when it comes to the past. Why? Because the past has one big failing.


That's what today's appeal is all about. Like Blue Peter appealing for your unwanted socks and plugs, I'm asking for information in the hope you can help me identify some of the earliest American comics I ever bought. This was long before I started collecting them, and, after reading them a couple of times, I'd merrily throw them in the bin. Sadly, the bin shortage that would've prevented this never happened.

Needless to say the gods have punished my recklessness by taking away my memories of what exactly some of these comics were. So, if anyone can ID the following issues, I'd love to hear from you.

The first - and probably earliest - is a Superman comic from a jumble sale at my local community centre. It didn't even have a cover, which doesn't exactly help when it comes to me identifying it. All I remember about it, apart from Superman being in it, was that at one point, for some reason, Lois Lane hides in a piano. I'd have got it, I think, in the very early 1970s but, as it was clearly second-hand, it could've come from several years before then.

Next is an issue of The Flash that begins with a heftily major reference to Jerry Lee Lewis who I'd never heard of. I must come clean and admit that, at the time, I thought it meant the comedian of a notably similar name. It may also have involved an incident on a roller coaster. I bought this in summer 1972.

Next there's a Batman comic. All I remember is that, at one point, Batman throws some Bolas at someone. This was the first time (and possibly last) I'd ever heard the word "bolas". Granted, this isn't a lot to go on but if anyone has any ideas what it might be, I'd love to hear them. Again, I got this in the summer of 1972.

An issue of the Teen Titans in which they have a caveman in the back of a van. At the end of the tale, the caveman bursts out of the back of the van, no doubt causing all manner of trouble in the following issue. Yet another bought in summer 1972. (NB: I 've now located, acquired and reviewed this comic - Teen Titans #33.)

Finally, an issue of either the Justice League or Justice Society of America in which some (though possibly not all) of the team finish the tale on an alien planet, in a cave, looking out at the sun, which may or may not have been setting. Dr Fate may have been in it and I think this may have come into my possession in the autumn of 1972.

Granted some of these tales may be easier to recognise than others and I can't guarantee my memories are as accurate as they could be but if anyone can fill me in I'd be delighted to hear from you.

By the way, while I'm here, for our British readers, I recall a children's TV show from the late 1960s that starred two Scottish comedians, one of whom often played the mother of the other. The "Mother" seemed to have a catchphrase of, "I don't know what to say," which she'd utter while doing things like cutting bread. I remember them being mentioned on 5-Live about ten years ago but was so excited to discover I wasn't the only one who remembered them that I promptly forgot their names again. If you know what they were called, I'd not only be amazed but happy to hear from you.


cerebus660 said...

Hi Steve! I know how frustrating it is to half-remember some mad old 70's comic. I think I've managed to track down most of my "lost" comics over the years - the ones that were traded, permanently "borrowed", or just nicked.

The only one I can help you with here is the Teen Titans issue. That's TT no. 33, "Less Than Human", a typically groovy and right-on Bronze Age story that introduced the wonderfully-named Gnarrk. He was a caveman that the Titans brought back from some crazy, time-travelling caper and tried to educate. Sample dialogue:
"Why is my hair short? Hair is a man's strength in my tribe! Would you want me to be like a weak woman?"
Great stuff!

Steve said...

Hi, Cerebus. Thanks for the info. I had a suspicion it might be that issue. Being very sad, I've been going through the GCD site to see if I could recognise any of the covers and, from its title, that seemed the most likely candidate - although the creature on the front seems to be more of a demented skeleton than a caveman. Now all I have to do is wait for the right time to pounce on eBay.

cerebus660 said...

If trawling the GCD is sad, then call me a saddo!

Er, you'd probably be right, actually :-)

Kid said...

That catchphrase sounds familiar, but I can't quite place it. Are you sure they were Scottish? I seem to remember an early 70s incarnation of Old Mother Riley, but they were Irish, I think.

Scots comedians: Francie & Josie (Jack Milroy and Rikki Fulton), Jimmy Logan, Stanley Baxter, The Krankies, Lex McLean - ring any bells?

Steve said...

It definitely wasn't any of the above I'm afraid. It's driving me up the wall, as unimportant things often do. Still, I live in hope that, one day I'll once more find out who they were. And no doubt instantly forget again, like I did last time round.

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