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.


1988: 2000AD'S THE BALLAD OF HALO JONES ON STAGE

From 1988: Does anyone remember the stage production of THE BALLAD OF HALO JONES?

i'd completely forgotten about it (and certainly never saw it) until I was flicking through the 1988 2000AD SCI-FI SPECIAL and fond this photo-feature.  It certainly looks cool... in a very 1980s sort of way.

Did anyone see it?  Do you have any other material - or reviews - related to it?






Friday, 16 June 2017

STAR TREK THE ORIGINAL SERIES FINAL VHS

More from the VHS Years: The last of the original CIC STAR TREK TOS TAPES, featuring the final three episodes of the third and final season of the Sixties TV show.

The Three Episode format was unusual for the run.  All the previous tapes had included two episodes (which roughly equate, duration-wise, to a short movie) but, because of the odd number of episodes in the original series (79), they either had to chance releasing a tape with just one episode (although surely they could have padded it out with some documentaries or other filler from the vaults) or chuck three episodes onto a longer tape.  I don't recall whether they bumped up the price for this one... maybe by a couple of quid.

Prior to the coming of Amazon, Play.com and others, shops needed a lot of shelf space to carry a long-running series like this (which must have amounted to roughly 39-40 tapes).  Long-runners must have also tied up a lot of capital to keep a deep inventory on the off-chance that someone would want to pick up - say - tape 23 in the run.  Our Price even set up a chain of stores just selling tapes... although they didn't last for more than a few years


CAPTAIN MICRO'S ELECTRONIC COMIC

This is an interesting bit of diversification for IPC (unless they were simply acting as an agent/ mailing address for a different company... and the not-King's-Reach-Tower address and lack of IPC characters/ input suggests that's possible)... CAPTAIN MICRO'S ELECTRONIC COMIC.

I've never seen this (has anyone?) but i assume this was a compilation of anything-that-is-free-or-cheap that the producers could license for home video.  The You Tube of the age.


1996: THE 5 TIMES BABYLON FIVE UK FAN CLUB FANZINE ISSUE 11

From the Autumn of 1996: the 11th issue of THE 5 TIMES, the fanzine published by the UK BABYLON FIVE FAN CLUB.

Apologies for skipping a few issues.  I'm not quite sure how that happened but it probably means I have a few issues buried in a box somewhere waiting to be rediscovered at some point in the future.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

AIRWOLF UK VHS

Another VHS tape with material from the golden age of the Televenture Action Factory: an AIRWOLF tape from a three-tape boxset released in the UK towards the end of the Tape Years.


1997: STAR VOYAGER ISSUE 1

From May 1997: Probably one of the most 'out there' of the wave of SF mags that cluttered newsagents in the 1990s boom: STAR VOYAGER.

Edited by Chris Martin and published by Roma, it appears to have never made it past this first issue.


1982: UK FANZINE FANTASY ADVERTISER ISSUE 71

From January 1982: FANTASY ADVERTISER issue 71.


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

1996: THE ADVENTURES OF SNAKE PLISSKEN AND MARVEL PRESENTS PARAMOUNT COMICS

From late 1996 (with a January 1997 cover date): THE ADVENTURES OF SNAKE PLISSKEN, another 'non-core' (IE non-STAR TREK) offering from the MARVEL PRESENTS PARAMOUNT COMICS imprint.

It was, of course, a spin-off from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and the belated 1996 follow-up ESCAPE FROM L.A.

This was another one-shot.  The line was active from 1996-98 before ending during the Marvel bankruptcy.  Management probably decided that the benefits of being allied to a major studio (they were probably hoping that paramount would eventually step in and buy the publisher) wasn't sufficient compared to soft sales and high licensing costs at a time when Marvel were scalling back their output and their bloated cost base, alongside selling (sometimes at knockdown prices) parts of the over-extended business.

The core of the MPPC line were the various STAR TREK titles, unifying a franchise that had previously been split between DC Comics (Star Trek and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION) and (now Marvel owned) Malibu Comics (DS9 and Voyager, although it never appeared under their banner).  Marvel kick-started things with an X-Men crossover (this was a time when such stunts still created a 'huh?' reaction) and then ploughed forward with a whole bunch of ongoing Trek books.  Amongst the least obvious: THE EARLY VOYAGES (starring the crew from the unsold pilot 'The Cage'); UNTOLD VOYAGES (filling in that murky period after ST: TMP) and STARFLEET ACADEMY.  VOYAGER and DEEP SPACE NINE had their own ongoing series but TOS and TNG were shoehorned into a bumper-length UNLIMITED book.  Various one-shots helped pad out the schedule.

The line ran into trouble pretty quick, probably partly because Marvel had flooded a weak market with too much product.  Trek had been a good - but not great - seller for its previous publishers and there is no reason to think that more franchise fans would have started buying the Marvel version.  Marvel's cash-strapped status also made it far less willing to support 'vanity' projects that it didn't own outright and couldn't bank all the cash. Some of the more marginal titles were shuttered after fairly short runs and replacements didn't appear.

Another problem, perennial with licensed titles, was getting studio sign-off promptly enough to stick to a publishing schedule.  The biggest problems lay with the shows that were still in production because they still had active creative teams working on the lot.  Marvel's solution was to close the ongoing DS9 and Voyager books and replace them with a series of back-to-back mini-series which could be planned and prepared further in advance of press dates to build in a bigger contingency for West Coast delays.

Plan B didn't have time to play out before Marvel ditched the line completely.  The last titles of ongoing books to appear had June (Early Voyages, Starfleet Academy) or July 1998 (Unlimited) cover dates.  Starfleet Academy, at 19 issues, was the longest-lived of the line numerically.  

The end of the line, and the state of the market, meant that Marvel didn't get any trade paperback collections out the door.  IDW have reissued some material in book form but the bulk - at the moment - have never been reprinted.  The current series of hardback reprints will - one assumes - get to this stuff eventually (they've done an Early Voyages edition thus far) but they have been much more willing to publish recent IDW series (probably because they are technically of a higher standard and require less production work to ready them for print) than dip into the DC or MPPC vaults.

Probably the line's greatest claim-to-fame? Publishing an issue of DS9 in Klingon.  With an English 'translation' also available.  Make sure you buy the right copy when diving into the 50p bins!

Like the previous MIGHTY HEROES post, Snake Plissken was a MPPC title that I had no idea even existed until I stumbled across a copy in a 50p box.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

1995: THERMAL LANCE ISSUE 22

From January 1995: Mulder and Scully inevitably make it onto the cover of THERMAL LANCE issue 22.  Because THE X-FILES sold.  A lot.  And it was cool.  Briefly.

What was the big deal about THE AVENGERS PROGRAMME GUIDE?  It was another in the run of unofficial Virgin-published paperback episode guides from this this period (Series covered included THE WEST WING, RED DWARF, THE SIMPSONS, BUFFY, ANGEL, START TREK, DAWSON'S CREEK, GERRY ANDERSON shows, BABYLON FIVE, NEIGHBOURS... I have a shelf full of them) but it ran into a spot of bother.  From memory, the first edition rather unwisely suggested that one of the leading actors on the show got the gig by bedding the incoming producer.  Dave Rogers, publisher of assorted Avengers fanzines and books (and -  crucially - not involved with The Programme Guide) got wind of it, told the performer and the lawyers were called.  Cue some hasty recalling and pulping of early copies that had already hit the shelves.

The book was later reissued - as THE AVENGERS DOSSIER - in 1998 with the offending text removed.


1996: MARVEL PRESENTS PARAMOUNT COMICS - MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ISSUE 1

From 1996: another of the I-can't-believe-it's-not-STAR-TREK one-shots that snuck out of Marvel's tie-up with Paramount Pictures... MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE.

This one officially launched the line and was timed to coincide with the release of the first of the ongoing movie series and is - therefore - set in the continuity of the film rather than any of the previous TV versions.

It seems that there are two variations of this comic (I've not checked mine but considering I paid 50p for it I'm guessing it is not the valuable one) because of a last-minute request from Tom Cruise to make his character more butch (which is a tadge overkill as Marvel didn't have likeness rights to the actor anyway... as the Liefield cover demonstrates) which required a few changes to the interior art.  But not - it seems - before the presses had started to roll.  The run was pulped... but a few 'first editions' snuck out the door and into (oddly) the UK distribution system.  I don't remember any hoopla around this at the time (maybe WIZARD were asleep at the PC that month) so maybe no-one noticed.  Or cared.  

Despite the film being a hit (many more followed), the sales obviously weren't enough to tempt Marvel to do a follow-up.  By the time the movie sequel rolled around in 2000, the Marvel/ Paramount joint-venture was defunct.


Monday, 12 June 2017

1997: PARAMOUNT COMICS PRESENTS: THE MIGHTY HEROES ISSUE 1

From 1997 (but with a 1998 cover date): Everyone (who cares to remember) remembers the numerous STAR TREK titles published under the MARVEL PRESENTS PARAMOUNT COMICS imprint but often overlooked are several other one-shots that also snuck out of the tie-up before a cash-strapped Marvel called it quits.

I think this - THE MIGHTY HEROES - is probably the most forgotten.  I only found it by chance in a 50p box a few years ago.  The characters are from a 1966 Terrytoons animated series, created by Ralph Bakshi.  The company was aquired by Viacom in 1971.  Viacom went on to purchase Paramount in 1994, hence their (brief) appearance under the Paramount imprint.

UK Star Warriors may remember seeing the cartoons (which probably cost next-to-nothing to buy) during the early years of TV-am before management twigged they could get better ratings (but annoy the IBA) by airing shows based on the latest toy lines.

I'll cover some of the other non-TREK Paramount comics in future posts.


BLAKE'S SEVEN VHS VOLUME 1

From the Age of VHS: the first regularly-scheduled BBC VIDEO BLAKE'S SEVEN tape.

The BBC had previously dabbled with some hack-and-slash compilation tapes (initially prepared for the rental or overseas markets) but - I guess - the success of DOCTOR WHO and STAR TREK convinced them to get into the game with proper, (mostly*) uncut releases.
This was an expensive time to be a telefantasy fan in need of a regular fix.  The Beeb were churning out their telefantasy shows (which also - briefly - included THE TRIPODS, STAR COPS, THE SURVIVORS and others), CIC were TREKING (a lot), Lumiere were doing THE AVENGERS, Video Gems were doing THE NEW AVENGERS, MOONLIGHTING and others and WARNER HOME VIDEO were doing V: THE SERIES.  ITC entered the market with a big selection of old ATV and ITC shows including some, like SAPPHIRE AND STEEL, that had previously been assumed to be 'lost' (IE locked in the vaults) forever.  About the only studio not in the game was Universal (bound up in the CIC joint distribution deal with Paramount). And each tape was priced around the 11 quid mark.  Daft folks like me were spending a fortune and filling a lot of shelf space.

* From (faded) memory, the first episode has a small cut to remove a weapon that the BBFC had subsequently deemed too naughty for a PG VHS.  Or - possibly - any VHS.  It seems they were cool with the overall dark tone and subject matter of the first episode of what was supposed to be a family-friendly primetime space romp.    



Thursday, 8 June 2017

1983: PALITOY ACTION FORCE ADVERT

From the summer of 1983: Timed to coincide with the ACTION FORCE IPC mini-comics promotion (free fortnightly inserts in EAGLE and BATTLE which - I think - also went out as giveaways to toy stores) Palitoy also ran a multi-buy promotion on the figures.

Unfortunately, the ad's designer or typesetter didn't think through the font size and colour combination very carefully.  The artwork isn't up to IPC standards either.  Maybe it was an advertising agency jobbie...

Once again, someone has been briefed to make heroes-of-the-moment the SAS the main part of the image.  But there's also an attempt to capture the more futuristic elements of the range (Buckethead not withstanding) which is more than BATTLE ACTION FORCE usually did when it got going later in the year.


1983: JAMES BOND: OCTOPUSSY EAGLE/ SHREDDED WHEAT PROMOTION

From August 1983: a two-page promotional tie-in between EAGLE and SHREDDED WHEAT promoting the Roger Moore JAMES BOND outing OCTOPUSSY.

Has anyone still got the in-box stickers?



1995: STARLOG MAGAZINE PREVIEWS SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND

From 1995: SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND, FOX's one-season-wonder, is previewed by STARLOG MAGAZINE.

After a lousy opening night, the show settled down to be pretty good stuff.  It never quite managed to capture the TOUR OF DUTY in space vibe that i think it really needed (the writing wasn't quite good enough) but it put together some strong episodes played out by a good cast.  The world-building and back-story was also pretty interesting with lots of opportunities to explore various facets of the war with the aliens further had the show been renewed.  It did - however - pass out with a cracking two-part conclusion with unresolved cliffhangers aplenty.  It's on DVD (and the UK edition comes with some exclusive new material including a documentary).







Wednesday, 7 June 2017

1995: MAXIMUM PRESS REVIVE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA COMICS IN STARLOG MAGAZINE

From 1995: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA returns to comics (for the first time since the Marvel years over a decade earlier) as reported in STARLOG MAGAZINE.

Mximum Press (a bolt hole for publisher/ industry villain Rob Liefield when things got too hot at Image Comics) enjoyed some success with their take on the long-slumbering franchise, eventually publishing a bunch of mini-series (and booking a slot in the company's anthology), before stuttering to a hallt.

Most of it is hard to find unless you stumble across a dealer who has some in stock.  They don't tend to sell for much... there just wasn't much demand for them so copies are few and far between.  Only the first four-part series, set twenty yahrns after the TV show... and ignoring GALACTICA 1980... was ever collected into a trade paperback.  Which is - of course - decades out-of-print as well.

The complete run was:

  • BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (4 issues + the trade paperback reprint)
  • THE ENEMY WITHIN (3 issues)
  • STARBUCK (3 issues)
  • APOLLO'S JOURNEY (3 issues.  Written by Richard Hatch)
  • JOURNEY'S END (4 issues)
  • ASYLUM (a BG strip appeared in 1-5, 7-8, 10. A single-page pin-up appears in 6)
  • THE COMPENDIUM (collects the BG strips from ASYLUM 1-4, 10)
  • SPECIAL EDITION (collects the BG strips from ASYLUM 4-5, 7)
ASYLUM 6 also included a SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN/ BIONIC WOMAN story, the first outing of what was intended to be an ongoing revival of the Universal franchise.  





RETURN OF THE SAINT ITC VHS

From the VHS Years: A RETURN OF THE SAINT ITC tape.

The series has never really emerged from the shadow of the Roger Moore version from the previous decade and - as such - is one of the most underrated shows in the ITC canon and - indeed - one of the better action shows of the decade.

Ian Ogilvy is a likeable star (be sure to catch his recent movie 'We still kill the old way', it's great fun.  The sequel is not quite so good and suffers from a rather obviously small budget) who can certainly hold his own.  The luxurious budget certainly helps things as well.  There's plenty of location filming (including a lot of European locations... especially Italy as they were backers) which is a marked contrast from the interiors-backlot-stock combos that defined the ITC shows of the 1960s (best ever no-budget moment: the DEPARTMENT S team running on the shot whilst some ropey back projection of a running track plays behind them).  Even the London lensed episodes are a delight for location spotting.  And there are guest stars galore.

I once had a cheap and cheerful Alcatel phone which - pre proper ringtones - allowed you to somehow download (or programme?) a simple ringtone.  Amongst the slim pickings: a beep-beep-beep version of the RotS theme.  Loved that phone.


1996: BABYLON FIVE: THE FIVE TIMES ISSUE 9

From the summer of 1996: the 9th issue of THE FIVE TIMES, published by THE BABYLON FIVE UK FAN CLUB.


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

THE EQUALIZER UK VHS TAPE

From the VHS age: One-third of an EQUALIZER 3-tape boxset, issued in the UK by Universal-Playback during the dying days of the tape format.  

I've always thought this one-time ITV mainstay (partly because of the CALLAN connection) was one of the best of the 1980s adventure shows, breaking free of the production line nature of Universal's west Coast TV factory by making New York much more than a location... it was an essential character.  Indeed, maybe even more so than Robert McCall himself thanks to Woodward's extended absence from the latter seasons after suffering a heart attack during the filming of swanky international Cold War pot boiler CODENAME: KYRIL in July 1987.


1983: ACTION MAN TOY ADVERT

From 1983: a Palitoy ACTION MAN promotion, as published in EAGLE.

I was never much of an AM fan (indeed, I never owned one) but this must have marked the dying days of the big-doll-for-boys.  He was being out-maneuvered on the toy shop front line by two other Palitoy products: STAR WARS and Action Man spin-off ACTION FORCE.  The line was shuttered the following year as part of a General Mills (yup, the food people also did toys) restructure which saw Palitoy as surplus to requirements.

It's interesting to note that the 'space' and SAS figures are front-and-centre, reflecting the ongoing interest in science fiction as the Star Age continued and the popularity of the SAS in British pop culture (see also: ace action movie WHO DARES WINS) following the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege in West London.

SAS FORCE, along with traditional land army Z-FORCE, were also the major players in ACTION FORCE, particularly in the pages of BATTLE ACTION FORCE.  The more 'out there' Q-FORCE and obligatory SPACE FORCE were only drafted in when Palitoy's marketing and sales departments had some products to shift.


1988: UK FANZINE SPEAKEASY ISSUE 58

From January 1988: SPEAKEASY issue 58.


Monday, 5 June 2017

1981: MARVEL UK'S STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK MONTHLY ISSUE 147

From July 1981: Luke Skywalker takes on an AT-ST 'Scout Walker' in a memorable issue of MARVEL UK's STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK MONTHLY.

The Scout Walker had been a blink-and-you-miss-it ILM bonus (no doubt one that Kenner and Lucasfilm appreciated as it allowed them to shift more toys) in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK so this reprint (although publication dates were so close this may have actually hit just ahead of the States) of US issue 51 is the first time we really see one in combat.

This issue also kicks off, under the new creative team of Walter Simonson (previously of Marvel's BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) and David Michelinie, one of the most memorable story acs of the era.  Pre-empting ROTJ, the comic book Empire decide that the Death Star, despite a little design flaw, was actually a jolly good idea and construct a stripped-down replacement.  A mobile super weapon called the 'Tarkin'.  I still think the producers of THE FORCE AWAKENS missed a trick by not borrowing that name for their own Death-Star-in-all-but-name super weapon.  Which would have also looped nicely back into ROGUE ONE a year later.

It seems like Marvel originally pitched the construction of a second Death Star, a storyline they assumed the film series would not revisit.  When they got notes asking for changes, they began to piece together the still-top-secret plot for the 1983 sequel.

This issue also featured Gundarks, another nice nod to the movie series itself.


1997: COMICS INTERNATIONAL ISSUE 83: JUDGE DREDD AND PREDATOR

From July 1997: A very eyecatching franchise mash-up cover for COMICS INTERNATIONAL issue 83, promoting (from memory) a JUDGE DREDD/ PREDATOR crossover event.


THE BEST OF THE BIG BREAKFAST VHS

From the VHS era: THE BEST OF THE BIG BREAKFAST.

Channel Four's BB is probably the only British breakfast TV show to ever commercially release a clip-show tape. TV-am had been occasionally known to try and bolster the depleted bank account a decade earlier by releasing the odd tape of Roland Rat or Mad Lizzie.

I think we can safely say there was no DVD re-release.


Friday, 2 June 2017

1984: ON SALE THIS WEEK: EAGLE

Onsale this week way back in 1984: EAGLE.

I thought it would be fun to take a little more time and look at all the strips that appeared in the copy of EAGLE that went on sale on this date way back in 1984.

For copyright reasons I've only included the first page (or pages in the case of Dan Dare) of each story... just enough to bring the memories flooding back.  I hope.

The Happy Families done-in-one-pager is a little grim... and a little unusual.  It's the sort of thing you probably wouldn't get in a kids comic today without a flurry of compaints from parents, a social media storm and someone turning-up in the paper complaining of "traumatized' kids and demanding some compo from the publisher.  It seems better suited to SCREAM!, which was still just about in business at this point.












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