Monday 18 April 2022

Nostalgic For My Childhood - Yet More Comic & Magazine ads

For the fifth installment of this long-running occasional feature (you can read the previous entries from 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021 on these links), here's another selection of print ads from comics and magazines, for the toys and sweets, books, games and badges of our youth.

I still think, as always, there's a certain amount of charm on display here - the ads are often hand-drawn and with muted hyperbole - as well as a lovely sense of wistful innocence, though that might be more the reminder of stamped, addressed envelopespostal orders and things costing pennies.

Here, then, are a few more ads of our childhood, I hope they spark some memories for you...
I liked these a lot, though the fighting action was never as described.  The wooden leg hidey hole was also great, though you didn't get a lot of room in there...
An electronic calculator in 1976 would have been a big deal - I wonder how many got nicked during lessons?
One of my childhood heroes (as I've written about here), I always wanted the repair station but never got one.  I did have the figure though and treasured him.
42 years ago, as I write this and apart from The Wombles, Furry Friends and Paddington Bear, all of those products are still sold.
These ads were little (half-page) ongoing adventures, running across a range of comics.  I always thought they were really cool.
My parents bought me this Star Wars annual (which I still have) before we went on holiday (my sister & I were always bought a magazine to read on the way, usually the Summer Special of whatever comic we liked at the time).  I loved it.
Ah, Corgi Superkings, James Bond and the wonderful The Spy Who Loved Me (which I wrote about here).  Bliss...
Skateboarding was huge in 1978 and so, clearly, were Tom & Jerry.
"Seriously son, we're not going anywhere near a National garage..."
Not the most obvious connection, obviously...
Ah, the Sinclair Spectrum and the Commodore Vic 20, fondly remembered (and rightly so) by people of a certain age.  Now sure how far you'd get today with 16k though...
I remember the advertising push for this film (which was competing with Connery's rival Never Say Never Again) and gleefully picked stuff up like this.
Choose Your Own Adventure books were a big part of my childhood reading and one of the first things we teens programmed when home computers became a reality.  I often wrote an adventure in the morning, plotting out the lines and making sure everything linked properly, only to discover - more often than not - that it didn't save properly so I'd have to start again from scratch the next day.  Happy days...
As video tapes began to take a hold (and the whole VHS/Beta battle unwound), lots of places turned into video libraries (especially corner shops).  I remember going into Our Price and checking the rental racks, because to buy your own copy was prohibitively expensive (as you can see here).  That Spider-Man film, by the way, is cobbled together from two episodes of the Nicholas Hammond series, first shown in the late 70s.
You mean we can take our music wherever we like?  Wow, the future truly is here...
The Sony Walkman was expensive, most of us made do with cheaper versions (mine was made by Alba).

If you're interested, more of my Nostalgic For My Childhood posts can be found here

Monday 4 April 2022

Visions Of Ruin is out now!

I'm pleased to announce that my horror novella, Visions Of Ruin, was published on March 30th by NewCon Press.

A week in a seedy caravan at 'The Good Times Holiday Park' is not exactly the holiday sixteen-year-old Sam has been dreaming of, but he knows his mum is struggling and doing the best she can. At least he meets someone his own age to hang out with – Polly – but neither of them is prepared for the strangeness that ensues. 

Beautifully paced and full of deft touches that bring the 1980s setting to life, Visions of Ruin is set during a rainy weekend at a caravan park on the edge of rundown seaside town. 

Me, on a Surrey bike, just outside Holimarine Corton, summer 1986.
Picture by Nick Duncan, who shared a lot of seaside adventures with me back then.
Having spent the last four years writing three mainstream thriller novels (the first two of which, DON'T GO BACK and
ONLY WATCHING YOU, have now been published by The Book Folks), I've only dipped a toe back into horror when people have asked for short stories.  But the genre is in my blood and when Ian Whates asked if I'd like to write a novella for him, I jumped at the chance - I like and respect him a lot and I'm proud to be associated with NewCon Press.

I started writing this just after I finished DON'T GO BACK and the idea took a little while to come together until I realised I could combine two of my apparent obsessions - teenagers in the 80s and a rundown east coast British seaside resort. Once that had clicked in my head I was off and running and the writing process itself (as well as drawing several maps of the caravan park central to the story) was hugely enjoyable and brought back a lot of good memories of holidays in the 80s.

The book is available as ebook and paperback editions and there's also a 60 copy Limited Edition  hardback which I thoroughly enjoyed signing the book plates for.
pictures by Dude
Being published by two companies has meant a bit of a "it's like buses" situation at the moment with my writing but I was really happy to see the early response to this and was thrilled when it hit Number 1 in the Hot New Releases (Teen & YA Ghost Stories) Amazon chart.
Amazon - 31/3/22

When he announced it in the NewCon Press newsletter, Ian wrote: "I am delighted to welcome Mark West back to NewCon Press' publishing schedule. Mark's short fiction has appeared in several of our anthologies over the years, including Ten Tall Tales and Hauntings, but this time he contributes a longer piece, Visions of Ruin, which will be the 9th entry in our NP Novella series. I rate this as Mark's most accomplished work to date, and was bowled over by it on first reading."

“A taut ghost story that transported me back to the 80s, with plenty to intrigue and unsettle along the way. A pleasure to read, with a terrifically neat ending.” 
 Alison Littlewood

Visions Of Ruin can be ordered directly from the NewCon Press website here.

£3.99 (ebook)
£9.99 (Paperback)
£19.99 (Signed Hardback, LTD ED)

Thanks to Ian Whates for both asking for and then enjoying the story enough to want to publish it, Nick Duncan for sharing all those adventures with me on the east coast in the 80s, Teika Marija Smits who helped push me to start, Alison Littlewood for her kind words and, as always, David Roberts & Pippa for the Friday Night Walks and the mammoth plotting sessions.