Thursday, 27 July 2017


From 1974: The first issue of Marvel's PLANET OF THE APES magazine.

It's safe to say that Marvel, along with most other Apes merchandisers, were very late to the Apes party.  FOX really started to push the franchise when reruns of the movies became a TV hit, leading to the launch of the short-lived POTA live-action TV series.

The show was something of a missed opportunity.  The weekly format left the door wide open to further explore the future but - instead - the producers (imported - rather tellingly - from Saturday morning animation) opted to graft the familiar FUGITIVE formula (beloved of Seventies SF shows for no good reason and with little success) onto a neutered version of the first film.

Ironically, despite being tempted by the ratings bonanza promised by an Apes ongoing series (it didn't happen... the show was cancelled after only 14 episodes... and there has always been some question about whether all fourteen ever played... officially they didn't), Marvel's license covered strip adaptations of the movies, and new stories set within their universe, but not the TV show itself.  Although they covered that in text features within the magazine.

The strips and articles that appeared in the US magazine were - of course - ported across to the British weekly edition.  Publishing the two editions created all sorts of deadline headaches with the British edition always running close to exhausting the supply of unpublished US strips.  Some material appeared in the UK before the States (and individual pages were sometimes reworked - with panels cut - for the US edition) and - infamously - Apeslayer was created, from old Killraven pages, just to plug a gap for a few weeks.

The American magazine ultimately ran to 29 issues between 1974-77.  It spun off a regular colour comic, ADVENTURES ON THE PLANET OF THE APES, which coloured and reprinted the adaptations of the first two movies, in 1975.

The British weekly clocked up 123 issues, also between 1974 to 1977.  It absorbed the British edition of DRACULA LIVES from issue 60 and continued as a double-header for the rest of the run.  The POTA strip then moved across to THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL (from issue 231) where the remaining US material ran through to 246.  At which point Marvel surrendered the license.

Malibu Comics picked up the license in 1990 and mixed some Marvel reprints into their publishing schedule.  They reissued Marvel's adaptations of the first three movies (ESCAPE is interesting as it opens with a deleted scene that doesn't appear in the finished film but was - it seems - filmed and subsequently lost) and a four-issue limited series that reran the TERROR ON THE PLANET OF THE APES storyline.  All of the Malibu editions are now pretty hard to find.

This year should see the first reprints of the Marvel strips in book form... and I'm looking forward to finally seeing them widely available again.

The Marvel magazine always boasted the most wonderful covers.  These were mixed into the British run alongside a lot of specially-commissioned, and mostly not-as-good, new covers.  STARLOGGED has published a full UK POTA Apes gallery in the dim-and-distant past.

The Apes returned to British newsagents in 2001 for a brief run of a tie-in magazine/ comic pegged to the Tim Burton revival.  The terms of the licesne restricted any crossover with the classic Apes saga.  The lackluster response to the movie quickly sealed the fate of the tie-in.


From 2001:  More fan-produced location spotting goodness... THE DOCTOR WHO LONDON LOCATIONS GUIDE, published by the DOCTOR WHO APPRECIATION SOCIETY.

Vintage WHO was, of course, based on BBC TELEVISION CENTRE in West London (although the production offices were down Wood Lane in Union House on Shepherd's Bush Green) so ost location filming needed to be as close to the Centre as possible.  The new series is all about making Wales look like anywhere... the original series was all about bringing alien threats to West London.


From March 1993: A GUIDE TO AVENGERLAND, a spin-off from TIME SCREEN magazine.

Avengerland, as the back cover explains, is that oh-so-familiar part of England in close proximity to London and - more importantly - Elstree studios.  That location and ease of access (plus: it gives a mix of rural and urban locations and productions can nip into North London if necesary) means that the area has been heavily featured in TV shows and films for decades.  They heavily featured in THE AVENGERS and the various 'action factory' ITC shows of the Sixties and Seventies.  Which is where this book comes in.

I love location spotting so this is the sort of publication that is right up my street.  Other books and publications along similiar lines have included a professionally published book dedicated to AVENGERS locations by Chris Bentley (which i have just looked up on Amazon... copies seem to go from around the 46 quid mark... which is nuts as I picked up my copy from Borders back in the day!), a fan-produced guide to DOCTOR WHO locations and a professionally published equivilant (priced today at a more reasonable 15 quid).  The latter two published before the series went back into production.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


From January 1998: A bit of James Bondage from now-defunct movie magazine NEON.

TOMORROW NEVER DIES co-star Michelle Yeoh is now starring in the new STAR TREK series, DISCOVERY, which is due to hit screens in September.  The trailers certainly look spectacular... but it remains to be seen whether it has the heart and soul of the franchise at its best.  And the Klingons do look a bit silly.

There's also been much moaning in the social media sphere that the new show - at least in the States - is going to be on the CBS paid platform.  And fans ain't happy that they are going to have to splash more cash for their Trek.  I think the lack of new TV Trek for over a decade is a sure sign that the old ways are dead and gone.  And certainly not capable of bankrolling a new series.


From 5 June 1982: the MAGNUM P.I. strip from LOOK-IN.

Watersports - Check!
Verdant facial hair - Check!
Luxurious chest hair - Check!
The car - Check!
Short shorts - Check!
Mild violence - Check!
Palm trees - Check!



From October 1988: Last Issue Alert: the sixth issue of THE BEST OF EAGLE MONTHLY, reprinting the Bloodfang strip from the weekly.

The 'Not for the nervous' cover flash has been nicked from SCREAM.

Management didn't seem to have much luck with their branded EAGLE spin-offs... the creaky PICTURE LIBRARY run didn't amount to very much either... although at least BEST OF... had strips that regular readers of the weekly might recognise and remember.  And the pick-ups from SPEED, TIGER and SCREAM might even have been new to them.

The EAGLE annuals and holiday specials, much more traditional brand extensions, did a lot better... for longer.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017


From November 1995: COMICS INTERNATIONAL issue 61... just because it has a STAR WARS cover.


From January/ February 1996: Another issue of the US fanzine THE TREKKER, found in a dealer's box of random magazines... which is always the place to find the best and most obscure stuff.


From August 1989: another EAGLE landmark... the return of the original DAN DARE.

It's safe to say that the new Eagle was ever quite sure what to do with their biggest brand.  The relaunch started with Daniel Dare, action-packed gandson of the original Pilot of the Future.  The reboot was partly down to the fact that a TV version of the character was in pre-production (the ATV series went nowhere because of changes within the ITV system... possibly a lucky escape as the plan seemed to be along similar lines to CAPTAIN ZEP: SPACE DETECTIVE) and partly down to trying to put some clear blue water between the incarnations.  As if kids actually cared... as long as the strip was good.

They even decided to mess around with the original from afar by suddenly making him a WWII pilot who was sucked into the future (ala the plot of the BIGGLES movie) by a Treen mishap.  Thus the Mekon accidentally created his own greatest foe.  Bad day in the office.

After The Return of the Mekon played out, the character and the strip seemed to get a little lost.  Subsequent stories couldn't match the epic scope of the first outing and it all became a little average.  They even teamed New Dan and Old Dan together for one adventure.  I forget how they did it.  One ill-advised reboot saw the character sporting a lot of Magnum-esque chest hair as a 'Space Commando'.  Surely Starfleet would not have approved.  Which might have been the point.

This particular reboot not only saw the original character return but also one of the original art team with Keith Watson taking over the strip.  It's unlikely, beyond novelty value, that kids cared but maybe Fleetway were hoping some nostalgic dads might grab an issue... and some nostalgic journos would devoite some time to the oft-overlooked weekly.

This is also the cover that the Dan Dare copyright holders are mostly likely to turf out whenever a Dare revival is mooted... and the press are happy to run with it.

Monday, 24 July 2017


From November 1995: A copy of TREKKER, a US news-based fanzine (watch out!  Watch out!  The internet is coming!) which - despite the lawyer-baiting masthead - actually covered a bunch of current US telefantasy shows.

I found a few issues of this lurking in a dealer's back issue box.  I seem to recall seeing copies in comic stores back-in-the-day so this must have had reasonable distribution.  I think I considered it poor value for money compared with the British magazines.  And left it right there on the shelf.

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