Wednesday 27 March 2013


BIG K was IPC's entry into the burgeoning 1984 computer magazine market.  Judging from these adverts, it attempted to be all things to all people by catering for a myriad of different tastes and hardware platforms.

The magazine benefited from IPC's vast size and unusual synergies by being plugged in the boys comics line (notably EAGLE) where all the scans below came from.

I was pretty indifferent to computers at this time so I was never tempted to buy an issue.  Indeed, I don't think I ever saw one on sale nor did I ever meet anyone else who owned a copy.  Nor have I ever found one since.  All this may indicate why, despite some spirited cross-promotion (including the four-page 'supplement' in October 1984), Big K didn't last long (some internet sources say a year).

Apparently, the latter issues reprinted the SHATTER computer-created comic strip that was published by First Comics in the States.  It's notable for being the first computer-generated comic... and virtually unreadable too.

Launch Ad
Eagle 10 March 1984

Issue 2 House Ad
Eagle 14 April 1984

Issue 3 House Ad
Eagle 19 May 1984

Four-page insert (EAGLE, 20 October 1984): 


Here's another month of EAGLE covers as we approach the end of 1984.

The big news during November, other than a free 'stinky sticker' was the arrival of the ROBO-MACHINES, only weeks after the rival giant robot franchise THE TRANSFORMERS opened for business across the river at Redan Place.

Friday 22 March 2013


Tony Attwood's BLAKES SEVEN: THE PROGRAMME GUIDE (no apostrophe.  Official) was an essential part of many a geek's library in the early 1980s.  First published by Target Books in 1983 (the cover scans below come from a latter edition, although I don't think there were any changes or amendments except - possibly - the cover price), this represented pretty-much the only serious guide to the show (Marvel's B7 monthly not withstanding).

The "fully illustrated" cover splash was shamelessly misleading.  The paperback was text-based with only a few centre pages of black & white photos on glossier paper.

Attwood's guide might seem superficial by today's demanding geek standards but - for the time - this was detailed stuff.  Conspicuously lacking were the behind-the-scenes accounts of production which we'd demand today.

I only started watching the show from the beginning of the third season (although, for some reason, I already owned the Corgi Liberator toy) so reading about event's in the first two seasons (and - indeed - this bloke called Blake.  Not to mention Travis) was intriguing stuff.  I only had a chance to see the show from the beginning when I acquired (at a cost that seems inconceivable now) the full release of VHS tapes (26 of 'em) in the nineties.  

Blake's Seven has benefitted from a number of subsequent books, of varying quality, although nothing has come close to reaching the quality of behind-the-scenes research in the two Marvel UK specials penned by Andrew Pixley and published in 1994-95.  Click here for the more.

1994: GENE CARDS 15-16 (Marvel UK)

The second, and final, issue of the DEATH METAL VS GENETIX limited series (cover-dated January 1994) closed-out the Marvel UK Gene Pool line and came polybagged with the final two cards in the sixteen-card GENE CARDS set.

The notable difference on these final cards is that artist Kev Hopgood FINALLY got a back-of-card credit.

Front cover inside printed bag.

Front cover with bag removed.

Back cover.

1993: GENE CARDS 13-14 (Marvel UK)

The Marvel UK GENE CARD trading card set, presented as free bagged inserts with the GENE POOL sub-line continued with DEATH METAL VS GENETIX issue 1, cover-dated December 1993.

This broke the 'rules' established by the earlier Gene Pool books: this time the first issue came bagged with only two cards.  Another two cards were bagged with the second issue of the two-part limited series (which I'll post in a mo).  Only the first issues of the previous Gene Pool titles were bagged with cards.

Cover inside printed plastic bag.

Cover with bag removed.

Back cover.

Thursday 21 March 2013


An illusion shattered!

This rare DOOMLORD colour pic appeared in the EAGLE HOLIDAY SPECIAL (frustratingly undated) and shows either the Servant of Nox mid-transformation, or that he was just the EAGLE office junior in a fright mask.  You decide.

This hold-over from the photo-strip era (raising the possibility that a lot more colour photos were taken during the various location shoots) shows how slap-dash this one-shot spin-off is: there isn't even the usual publisher information (and all-important copyright details) buried at the bottom of one of the pages.  Which is why I've struggled to date it.

It includes a Storm Force strip which places it after BATTLE's merger with Eagle in January 1988, and a full-page plug for the weekly which means it appeared before the shift to a monthly frequency in 1990.

Just a reminder... My past posts include Doomlord's first 13-part mission to Earth (beginning here) and a long-running set of cover scans (beginning here). 


This is an editorial page, from GENETIX issue 1, with some background information on Marvel UK's GENE POOL line.  Similar pages ran in the other launch issues.

1993: GENE CARDS 9-12 (Marvel UK)

Here are four (actually five) more long-forgotten Marvel (UK) characters, as featured on cards 9-12 of the GENE CARDS set given away with selected issues of Marvel UK's Gene Pool line.

These cards were polybagged free with the first issue of GENETIX, cover-dated October 1993.

The front cover in the original printed bag.

The front cover with bag removed.

The back cover

1981: STAR TREK US MONTHLY - PART TWO (Marvel Comics)

Giant space serpents... A topless Kirk going Egyptian... Gnomes... It can only be the second half (ish) of Marvel Comics crack at taking the crew of the Enterprise on their second five year mission.

In a sure sign of impending cancellation, Marvel cut STAR TREK's frequency to bi-monthly from the 13th issue and pulled-the-plug with the 18th.

These shouldn't be confused with the whole line of Star Trek tie-ins (including a couple of crossovers with, of all people, The X-Men) that Marvel rolled-out after they formed the Paramount Comics imprint  for a few years in the nineties.

February 1981

March 1981

April 1981

June 1981

August 1981

October 1981

December 1981

February 1982

Wednesday 20 March 2013

1993: GENE CARDS 5-8 (Marvel UK)

GENE POOL was a sub-set of the US format Marvel UK line (which I've dubbed the GENESIS 92 line), published with cover dates spanning late 1993 and early 1994.

Marvel used a tried-and-tested ruse to bolster sales: bagging trading cards (GENE CARDS) with the first issues of each of the GP titles: GUN RUNNER; GENE DOGS; GENETIX and DEATH METAL VERSUS GENETIX.  This might have been a relatively new innovation stateside but - of course - cheap paper freebies were an old favourite of British publishers looking for a sales kick.

The thinking was that collectors would buy two copies: one to open and one to keep bagged.  Exclusive trading cards would also pull-in card collectors, another hobby area that was booming (thanks to speculators) during this period.

Cynics might also ponder that bagging copies prevented readers from flicking through the contents before buying... and quite likely returning it to the shelf.

Unfortunately, the Marvel UK 'miracle' was pretty much over by this point and the British comics were getting lost in the tide of new launches that were swamping overstretched retailers.

Inevitably, the comics and the new characters they introduced have been all but forgotten today. Which probably means they are due a revival... just to maintain the copyrights.

Cards 1-4 came polybagged with issue one of GUN RUNNER (cover-dated September 1993).  Unfortunately, whilst I have that issue I've yet to find a copy with the bag and cards still attached.  If I ever do, I'll scan and post them.

The cards below, numbers 5-8 in the Gene Cards set, came free with issue one of GENE DOGS (cover-dated October 1993).

The art is by Kev Hopgood (I think).  He's not credited on the cards themselves but he gets an editorial nod in some of the internal publicity for the Gene Pool line.  It's an oversight that's fixed on the final cards in the set.

I've posted previous sets of Marvel UK trading cards before, notably the two sets (2D and 3D) that came mounted on the covers of the UK fortnightly OVERKILL.  See here and here for more.

The front cover with printed bag intact.

The front cover with bag removed.

The back cover.
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