Wednesday, 28 June 2017

1997: STAR WARS HEROES POSTER MAGAZINE from TITAN MAGAZINES

From 1997: As part of the STAR WARS 20th anniversary celebrations (read: marketing opportunity) the UK's Titan Magazines published two POSTER MAGAZINES: HEROES (see below) and VILLAINS (future post teaser).

I skipped these at the time (I've never been much of a Poster magazine fan) but spotted both recently whilst out-of-town and decided to grab them for STARLOGGED.


1984: TRANSFORMERS/ INDIANA JONES MARVEL UK HOUSE AD

From October 1984: two new launches from MARVEL UK: The soon-to-be-very-successful THE TRANSFORMERS and the cancelled-within-the-year INDIANA JONES MONTHLY.

It is safe to say that September/ October '84 was a big month for Marvel readers in the UK... the launch of the new CAPTAIN BRITAIN monthly, these two new arrivals, the end of MWOM (see the previous post) and the reboot of SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN as a (partial) colour monthly with a movie adaptation and the post-CB leftovers from the MIGHTY WORLD...

The pain of going Back To School was also reduced by the sport of hunting the various bookshops and newsagents (and even Boots as I recall) to spot that year's must-have annuals.


1984: LAST ISSUE ALERT: THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL (SECOND SERIES) ISSUE 17

From October 1984: the finale of the second (not to be confused with any of the Panini-era reboots) run of THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL, published - of course - by MARVEL UK.

This was an underwhelming I-wonder-why-they-bothered last hurrah which seems to have been published simply to set up the merger with - of all things - THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN THE BARBARIAN the following month.

MWOM had suffered from a weak start (thanks to an all-reprint line-up and colour printing so poor the strips were a chore to read) but had settled down nicely after the merger of DAREDEVILS to become a best-of-both-worlds mix of US reprints (hard-to-find in the UK limited series), original UK strips (notably Captain Britain) and features (including fanzine reviews and the Night Raven text stories).

Unfortunately the British Bullpen seemed to have lost faith (or interest) once the CB strip shifted across to headline his own anthology book and this issue has more than a whiff of if-we-must.

The page count is reduced and there is no interior colour... and yet the cover price remained the same.  Sneaky.  Kicking of the four-part Magik reprint (an X-verse strip with fantastic elements well suited to... you get the idea...) looks purely like a way to tempt some of the MWOM readership to sample Conan for the first time.  You can't imagine the overlap in audience was massive... and it is hard to imagine the SSOCTB readership being too impressed with having the mainstream Marvel universe suddenly imposed on them.  Maybe colour interior pages and the start of the CONAN THE DESTROYER movie adaptation softened the blow.  At least for a few months.  Savage Sword was cancelled within the year.


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

1983: TV GUIDE KNIGHT RIDER COVER

From June 1983: The Hoff, and K.I.T.T turbo boost onto the front cover of a slightly battered copy of TV GUIDE magazine.  

The Glen Larson creation had made its debut on NBC the previous September.  

The series ran for four seasons, wrapping in April '86.  CODE OF VENGENCE was a blink-and-you-missed-it (especially in the UK where it was never imported) spin-off that aired sporadically in 1985-86.  Two TV movies (KNIGHT RIDER 2000 and the all-but-unrelated KNIGHT RIDER 2010) hit screens in the following decade.  Universal's first-run syndication people figured 'more is more' by launching TEAM KNIGHT RIDER in 1997.  Viewers on both sides of the Atlantic chose to look the other way.  Another TV movie aired, to greater fanfare, in 2008 followed by a weekly series which couldn't keep the viewers coming back.

Various movie revivals were mooted by Hasselhoff, Larson and others over the decades but - to date - nothing has actually gone in front of the cameras.  Yet another small-screen version is apparently currently in production... demonstrating that a thin premise ('car talks so that the actor doesn't need to really act... and can be replaced if thay ask for a rise') really can go a long way.  


1983: LOOK-IN'S STAR FLEET STRIP: EPISODE 1

From January 1983: the first installment of the weekly STAR FLEET strip, published in LOOK-IN.

The strip ran for 32 weeks, reflecting the lifespan of the 24-part TV show which had debuted on ITV the previous October (the day before STAR WARS had its TV premiere... making it a big STARLOGGED weekend).

The series has - unusually - pretty much a single story arc divided into an episodic format.  It is probably not worth trying to figure out where the Look-In strips fit into that extended adventure.

The art is by British comics - and Look-In - mainstay Mike Noble, who first entered the business in the early 1950s.  He's well known for his work on assorted Gerry Anderson-based strips and, from 1970, the British STAR TREK strips.  In the following decades he kept busy with Look-In's numerous TV adaptations (TIMESLIP, THE ADVENTURES OF BLACK BEAUTY, KUNG FU, THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, SPACE: 1999, THE MAN FRM ATLANTIS, THE FAMOUS FIVE, ROBIN OF SHERWOOD and others)

The series (known as X-BOMBER in its native Japan) has been out on DVD for a few years now and is well worth revisiting.  The puppets are more clunky than you remember and the effects are old school (no motion control CSO shenanigins herein) but the drama is surprisingly intense for a kids show (regular characters die) and the plots engaging enough.  And you can't beat the nostalgia burst.  The DVD comes with a small booklet which reproduces some - but, I think, not all, of these Look-In strips.  A nice bonus feature.




1999: APESFAN PLANET OF THE APES RODDY McDOWALL SPECIAL EDITION

From 1999: A special 'Farewell to Roddy McDowall' edition of the American PLANET OF THE APES fanzine APESFAN.

This title - other than this issue - didn't seem to have much - if any - distribution here in the UK.  This was the only issue I ever spotted, in London's Forbidden Planet on New Oxford Street.  I don't think I ever saw it plugged in PREVIEWS so I assume it wasn't carried by Diamond.

McDowall, of course, appeared in all the original POTA movies (he sneaks into BENEATH - which he otherwise skipped - thanks to footage from the first film) and the live-action TV series.  He also hosted the excellent (find it on the DVD or BR boxsets) feature-length documentary BEHIND THE PLANET OF THE APES.  His other STARLOGGED-centric work included FANTASTIC JOURNEY and the weekly series (not the pilot) of TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY.  He could also be relied upon to spice up any TV Movie or guest spot that he was booked for.

The next in the modern cycle of POTA films is out this summer and - across the year - there are several paperbacks and - finally - reprints of the old Marvel strips planned or already published.

fans of the original cycle should also look for the several, mostly unofficial, retrospectives that appeared alongside the 2001 reboot.  The quality can be patchy but - across the board - they are a good little nostalgia hit.




Monday, 26 June 2017

1987: ALL-ACTION MONTHLY ISSUE 6

From July 1987: ALL-ACTION MONTHLY issue 6, another cheap-and-cheerful raid on the IPC archives.

This short-runner (8 issues) dredged up old strips from the likes of TIGER and ACTION.  It looked pretty dated (Splash is the only man who can out do Jason King in the facial hair stakes) back in '87 so it isn't much of a shocker that it didn't find a readership.

Even the coverline 'The best of boys' adventure comics' was curiously old-fashioned.  Maybe they were pitching to an older, nostalgic readership (much like - ahem - STARLOGGED) but overlooked the fact that they wouldn't be browsing the bottom shelf in Martins the Newsagent anymore.

These reprint mags were a bit hit and miss in the success stakes.  MISTY and EAGLE also flopped but 2000AD (and, later, the JUDGE DREDD spin-off), WHIZZER AND CHIPS, WHOOPIE and BUSTER did much better.

The various humour mags (all of which outlived their parent weeklies) eventually consolidated into BIG VALUE COMIC (BVC) in 1995.  It didn't last long.


1997: STAR WARS OFFICIAL 20th ANNIVERSARY MAGAZINE

From 1997: the official STAR WARS 20th ANNIVERSARY MAGAZINE, a one-shot published by Titan Magazines.


1995: COMIC WORLD REPORTS THE PANINI TAKEOVER OF MARVEL UK

From August 1995: COMIC COLLECTOR issue 42 (the last one) reports on the beginning of the end of MARVEL UK.

Panini, best known at the time as the sticker people, were another part of the swelling Marvel empire following the rapid expansion of the early 1990s.  No doubt it made sense to consolidate all of Marvel's European operations under one roof (and - following the boom-and-bust growth of the UK operation with the US line and magazines - bring some financial rigor to the business).

It didn't take the new management long to purge the ranks of M-UK staff and streamline the business.  The changes killed any hopes of re-entering the US market as well as most of the magazine line.  Only DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE survived the cuts but even that long-runner lost its spin-offs.  The editorial to the left lists the early casualties.  Who's next?  COMIC WORLD as it happens.  Oops.

Unfortunately for Marvel London, Marvel's dire financial situation meant that the recently purchased Panini had to be flogged-off pronto to keep the faltering empire afloat.  And Marvel UK were bundled-up with the package.  I've always assumed that Marvel sweetened the deal to speed the sale by granting Panini the European rights to publish Marvel material as soon as the existing market-by-market license expired.  An arrangement that survives to this day.


1995: COMIC WORLD ISSUE 42: THE FINAL ISSUE

From August 1995: the final issue of UK magazine COMIC WORLD, with JUDGE DREDD movie tie-in cover.

The magazine (which started life as COMIC COLLECTOR) shuttered suddenly (a victim of falling sales, increasing print prices and the bottom falling out of the comics market... robbing it of the essential advertising it needed to survive) so - unlike the current (and final) issue of GEEKY MONKEY (sad to see you go... you were great) - there was no opportunity for a farewell.


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