Friday 31 July 2015

1985: SFTV MAGAZINE Issue 4

From March 1985: At last, after three duffers, a decent cover adorns the fourth issue of SFTV magazine.

Of course, the predictable demise of V: THE SERIES after one bargain-basement season turned out to be far from the end of small screen science fiction.  The likes of STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION and MAX HEADROOM (the drama rather than the talk show or pop videos) were all just around the corner.  And they, in turn, spawned others (like Paramount's WAR OF THE WORLDS) before the end of the decade.  

The magazine itself apparently notched up another three issues but this is the last one that resides in the STARLOGGED vaults. 

1979: STARBURST Issue 10 (Marvel UK)

From June 1979: Tom baker (him again) adorns the cover of the tenth issue of MARVEL UK's STARBURST magazine.


From June 1981:  Probably the most improbably titled series from the entire MARVEL UK oeuvre: the launch issue of BLOCKBUSTER monthly.

The Annex of Ideas tested the title (with a line-up of Thor and Omega) the previous Winter but cobbled together different contents for the ongoing version.  Omega returned, now accompanied by the b-list line-up of Iron Fist (last seen in the previous year's MARVEL SUPER ADVENTURE WINTER SPECIAL) and the Inhumans.  Three perfectly serviceable strips but hardly a combo worthy of the title.

Interestingly, Marvel adopted the US Marvel Magazine Group house style for Blockbuster's cover design.  As far as I recall, this was the only place it was rolled out here... adding to the impression that this was an outsider even within the ranks of the British Bullpen.  

Blockbuster eventually ran for nine issues before succumbing, in the traditional turn-of-the-year cull of under performing titles, the following January.  The last issue was dated February 1982. 

Thursday 30 July 2015

1985: SFTV MAGAZINE Issue 3

From February 1985: The cover of SFTV magazine issue 3, boasting a ludicrous looking Faye Grant publicity still from "V".

 Grant hit the headlines again recently when she leaked a recording, made covertly several years earlier in a therapy session, of her then husband Stephen Collins confessing to inappropriate sexual activity with children.  As recounted on the documentary that's part of the DVD set, she met Collins whilst appearing as a guest star on an episode of the really rather good TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY which mustered a single solitary season in 1982-83. 


From 1986: Another entry in the Target/ Star TV tie-in stakes: the first of two novelizations derived from Universal's THE EQUALIZER, starring the late Edward Woodward.

This one adapts the show's standard-length opener and The Children's Song, the seventh episode aired during the first season.

I think this show is, without doubt, one of the best action shows to emerge from the Eighties.  And I think it is a tribute to both the studio and CBS that they were willing to rework the DEATH WISH formula for the small screen... and make the star a ready-for-retirement Brit rather than (as the not-too-bad almost-in-name-only movie proved) a dashing young actor in his action-ready prime.  

Of course, CBS' audience at this time did skew older (and more rural) so this was appealing the net's core audience.  This was probably an older audience, sitting and watching the evening news every day, convinced that America's cities had slipped into urban anarchy... and wishing someone (with a nice wardrobe or sensible cardigans) would do something about it.  

In the UK, ITV (once the home of Woodward's CALLEN) was the obvious home for the show.  Although their predilection for heavy editing and erratic scheduling hardly treated the show with respect.  At one point it was possible to watch several episodes per week thanks to the show enjoying both a prime time network slot AND a berth in the overnight schedules if you lived in the right regions.  Nowadays, with wall-to-wall sitcom repeats cluttering the digital schedules, this doesn't sound odd but... at the time... it was unusual.   


From April 1994: CINEFANTASTIQUE (Volume 25, Number 2) devotes its typically in depth coverage to the making of BABYLON FIVE's flawed-but-very-promising first season.

I really miss this sort of one-stop-shop devil-in-the-detail coverage that CFQ and, to a lesser extent (they lack the behind-the-scenes access) SPECTRUM used to do back at the tail end of the Star Age. 

Wednesday 29 July 2015


From late 1980: MARVEL UK's BLOCKBUSTER WINTER SPECIAL starring Thor and Omega the Unknown... and precursor for a new blink-and-you-missed-it monthly the following year.

- To Be Continued -

1979: STARBURST Issue 9 (Marvel UK)

From May 1979: The 9th issue of MARVEL UK's STARBURST Magazine. 


From October 1981: the end is nigh... the final weeks of MARVEL SUPER ADVENTURE.

Although it managed to outlive its companion MARVEL ACTION by sixteen issues, MSA didn't really fare much better and followed it into the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA before the end of the year.  

The merger, which saw Daredevil survive but the MSA brand immediately vanish without trace (the first 'merged' issue conspicuously didn't mention MSA anywhere on the cover), coincided with the return of glossy covers (banished from the superhero weeklies since the Marvel Revolution of early 1979) and it's possible that the Bullpen deemed MSA unworthy of the upgrade... or they believed that marginal sales wouldn't survive the increased cover price (a 5p jump to 20p a copy).

The CAPTAIN AMERICA weekly, which also included Thor from the Marvel Action merger, was also on borrowed time.  This second merger, combined with the relaunch, pushed it into the following year but it was still cancelled in April.  

The Black Panther didn't fare quite so well and the end of MSA marked the last regular outing of the character in the UK line.  

Note the use of the word "newstand" in the half-page ad for the merger.  It might have been common parlance in the States but barely used here in the UK.  

BTW, for some reason I didn't scan the cover of issue 23.  I'll add it next time I have a scanning sesh. 

Tuesday 28 July 2015

1993: MANGA MANIA Issue 1 (Dark Horse International)

From July 1993: A hefty new launch from London-based Dark Horse International: The 128-page beast that was MANGA MANIA.  

There's something of an unplanned MARVEL UK reunion happening in this first outing.  GODZILLA (albeit Marvel's controversy-attracting take on the city-stomper) had previously enjoyed a 1979 Marvel Revolution era run in MARVEL COMIC and, latterly, SPIDER-MAN whilst AKIRA (in colour, courtesy of Epic reprints) had graced the six-issue experiment that was MELTDOWN (1991-92).  

DHI, which burned bright briefly by following the tried-and-tested old British Bullpen formula of reprinting (mostly licensed) characters from the US line-up, didn't last long (the mid-decade slump forced Dark Horse to retrench back to the States) but MM itself soldiered on under two further owners: Manga (who probably saw it as a handy outlet to plug their own VHS offerings) and then Titan Magazines.  

I'm indebted to STARLOGGED reader "Jon T" who, back in 2013, posted the following excellent potted history of the title after I noted the first issue of Titan's eventually successor: 1998's MANGA MAX (see: here).  I hope he doesn't mind me running it again here.

In summary, Dark Horse UK wanted to capitalise on the rising crest of UK anime video releases in 1993 by putting a magazine together around manga strips they had the rights to (including nabbing Akira from Marvel).

The following year Dark Horse closed their UK operation, at which point Manga Video got into publishing and continued the magazine themselves (around the same time they semi-controversially tried to copyright the word "Manga"). The magazine was much the same as before, and eventually even became squarebound, although noted writer Helen McCarthy was forced out due to friction with Manga Video.

Real trouble on the horizon began towards the end of 1996 when the magazine finished their serialization of Akira in issue 37. The next issue saw the magazine branch into live-action Asian movies, which didn't go down too well with some readers at the time. Issue 39 was the last squarebound issue and the last one published by Manga, who shut down their publishing division shortly thereafter.

Manga Mania was next picked up by third publisher Titan Books, with issue 40 appearing three months later, although issue 41 would appear a staggering five months after that. The last few issues appeared some two-three months apart until issue 46 in mid-1998, which was the final issue.

A second volume of Manga Mania with a more international bent was promised, but ultimately appeared as Manga Max, apparently due to a trademark issue in the U.S. Although Manga Max stuck back to a monthly schedule, it had a much smaller page count and, in their effort to appeal to U.S. readers, often annoyingly featured reviews of anime video releases that would never see the light of day in the U.K.

Ultimately, the effort to appeal to the U.S. is what finally killed it, as Titan was shipping copies out to the U.S. by sea. Consequently, by the time it hit the stands over there, most of the breaking news featured within was wildly out of date. Manga Max's final issue was #20 in mid-2000. Another comeback was promised, but never materialized.

1985: SFTV Issue 2

From January 1985: SFTV magazine issue 2, published in the States.

The line-up is pretty similar to the first issue but the cover, utilizing one of the specially-shot "V" publicity stills, is an improvement on the could-have-been-done-by-anyone first issue.  

The decision to run a blue background clearly created some scalpel-wielding action... which wasn't entirely successful. 

1991: EPI-LOG MAGAZINE Issue 12

From November 1991: Another bumper batch of British telefantasy episode guides courtesy of the 12th issue of EPI-LOG magazine. 


From September 1981: five more doses (18-22) of "non-stop ripping action" (huh?) courtesy of MARVEL UK's not-much-longer-lived MARVEL SUPER ADVENTURE weekly.

- To Be Continued -

Monday 27 July 2015


From 1990: The Titan Books reissue of the STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION: ENCOUNTER AT FARPOINT novelization, now adorned with a cast photo cover, and released to coincide with the BBC's belated acquisition of the show for BBC TWO's early evening schedules.

That was a controversy-baiting bit of scheduling because fans, after having been made to wait three years for the British telly premiere, had expected a more respectful peak time slot... ideally on the main channel.  They took the sleight as further evidence that the Corporation mandarins were anti all things SF but conveniently overlooked that the early episodes weren't always much cop.

The first editions of the book had appeared in 1987 to coincide with the show's US syndicated premiere but such was the haste to hit the release date, the image-free cover looked more like a crude mock-up for publicity and solicitation purposes.

I've not read this since that first 1987 edition (now unfortunately long-since lost) but I do remember that, to hit that on-sale date, it was based rather obviously on the shooting script and series bible and (like the early DC Comics tie-ins) wasn't entirely faithful to either the show as aired on its principal characters. 

1976: THE MAKING OF DOCTOR WHO (Target Books)

From 1976: Target Book's THE MAKING OF DOCTOR WHO.  

This tie-in seems pretty basic today but, I bet, at the time this was essential reading for fans desperate for any information that could find on the thirteen year old show. 


From February 1984: ENTERPRISE INCIDENTS issue 14.

From circa issue 12, EI's remit expanded so that it was no longer just a TREK tie-in, although (as this cover shows) the publishers were careful not to alienate their existing fan base by moving to far to fast. 

Sunday 26 July 2015


STARLOGGED doesn't normally do "new media" but there's a plethora of new print launches coming over the next couple of months so this seemed like a good opportunity to romp through the highlights:

WHERE: UK newsagents and comic stores
WHEN: August/ September
WHO FROM: Eaglemoss

The success of the two (!) ongoing hardback collections of Marvel strips (the 'black' volumes dedicated to collecting dedicated story arcs and the 'red' volumes dedicated to a specific character) made a DC equivalent inevitable.  Eaglemoss previewed this new fortnightly at the London Film and Comic Con this month and had the first issue (priced to go at £2.99) on sale.  Issues 1-2 reprint BATMAN: HUSH with 3 (SUPERMAN: LAST SON OF KRYPTON), 4 (JUSTICE LEAGUE: TOWER OF BABEL), 5 (SUPERMAN/ BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES) and 6 (BATMAN AND SON) already confirmed.

The lack of more vintage material from the archives is disappointing and it's unclear whether  any is scheduled for later editions.

The Marvel volumes, meanwhile, continue apace and offer (certainly in comparison to Marvel's own massively overpriced trade paperbacks) excellent value.

Could a DC FACT FILES, in the tradition of the Marvel Fact Files series (also published by Eaglemoss), also be in the offing for the future?

WHERE: UK newsagents and comic stores
WHO FROM: Hachette/ Panini

Panini is sitting on a vast repository of Doctor Who lore so it makes sense to find an outlet for all that accumulated material and knowledge.  This new fortnightly partwork is a series of hardback books each dedicated to covering the making of (it seems) 2-4 TV adventures per book.  Issue 1 is punter-pleasing look at four Tennant adventures, 2 looks at back to Pertwee, 3 jumps to the present and 4 returns to the show's origins.

Hachette also tested a series of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER hardback graphic novels (reprinting the US Dark Horse strips) in certain areas earlier this year (I stumbled across the second volume in Colchester, Essex) but there's no mention of it currently on their website so, presumably, the series has been dropped whilst they analyze its chances of a successful national roll out.

The JUDGE DREDD fortnightly hardbacks continue apace.

It would be great if Hatchette's relationship with Marvel extended to a similar ongoing run of STAR WARS strip hardbacks, plundering the vast inventory of Marvel and Dark Horse material. 

WHERE: UK newsagents and comic stores
WHEN: October
WHO FROM: Future.

This SFX spin-off was cancelled a while back which, considering the continuing boom in comic book movies (the film magazines seem to declare every other issue a "comic book movie special), seemed a little dumb.  Sure enough, it will apparently return on a quarterly schedule around October time.

WHERE: Comic stores (and, possibly, UK newsagents)
WHEN: December
WHO FROM: Titan Magazines.

Details about this one are scant but it appears to be a three-issue run (each 176 pages) of material originally published in Titan's long-defunct X-Files Magazine.  How much, if any, will be based on the impending revival is unclear.

WHERE: Comic stores
WHEN: September
WHO FROM: Titan Magazines

Titan, formally publishers of The Official Heroes Magazine, are due to renew their acquaintance with the once-popular TV show to coincide with the NBC revival (great trailer, btw).  This 100-page issue looks like a one-shot with an option for more (ala Grimm, Sleepy Hollow, Once Upon A Time and other Titan tie-ins) if the show turns out to be a hit.

Titan also have the comic book rights to the show and plan to launch the five-issue HEROES VENGEANCE in October.

Titan continue to publish their ongoing STAR TREK and STAR WARS INSIDER official magazines and both, hopefully, will see their now traditional bookazine "best of" compilations at the end of the year.  I also wouldn't be surprised (unless someone else has bagged the rights) to see Titan publish the official magazine tie-in to The Force Awakens in December.  

WHERE: WH Smith and Comic Stores
WHEN: August
WHO FROM: Panini

Doctor Who Magazine has another one of its bookazines in the works, this one dedicated to the show's memorable music.  Should be fascinating.

WHERE: WH Smith and Comic Stores
WHEN: October (probably)
WHO FROM: Panini

Doctor Who Magazine's total takeover of the shelves of WHS (has nobody told them the weather-worn retailer is scaling back the shelf space allocated to periodicals?) continues with yet another bookazine spin-off.

Future Magazines are also apparently planning a new CRIME SCENE quarterly (thanks Ed!) dedicated to Sherlock and the like.  Details online seem to be non-existent at the moment.

The first ART OF FILM bookazine, a spin-off from Future's IMAGINEFX magazine, is out now.  It's dedicated to art inspired by the Star Wars Saga and is well worth getting.  A second issue is apparently planned but there's no details of contents or publication date.

The hard-to-find (unless you pick up the often shoddy Quality Comics back issues of the 1980s/ 1990s) DAN DARE strips from 2000AD (long mired in rights hell) are due to be given the hardback treatment in November.  If only someone would reprint The Return of the Mekon from 1980s Eagle. 

1991: EPI-LOG MAGAZINE Issue 11

From October 1991: The British are coming in the eleventh issue of EPI-LOG MAGAZINE.

Definitely wandering into TIMESCREEN territory, this issue featured some familiar British telefantasy fare. 

1984: SFTV MAGAZINE Issue 1

From December 1984: The first issue of the US magazine SFTV.

Published between 1984 and the following year by HJS Publications, this apparently notched-up seven issues (I have the first four) before closing.

The parlous state of US Science Fiction telly in the mid-Eighties may have contributed to its early demise.

Crappy "that'll do" cover too...


From October 1983: A (no doubt highly stylized) floor plan for Marvel's Manhattan Bullpen, as published in MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE issue 7.  

Clearly Candence Industries hadn't embraced the world of cubicles and open-plan offices.


From August 1981: another four issues (14-17) from MARVEL UK's long-forgotten Daredevil/ Black Panther combo MARVEL SUPER ADVENTURE.

- To Be Continued -

Friday 24 July 2015


From June 1990: STARLOG spin-off COMICS SCENE (the revived second incarnation, officially volume 2, issue 13) celebrate the launch of Adventure Comics' PLANET OF THE APES line.

This was the first time that the saga had been gifted a comic book version since the dying days of the 1970s Apes boom and Marvel's decision to drop the license on both sides of the Atlantic.

I'm not overly familiar with the Adventure Comics titles but I do know there was a lot of them... and the creative teams liked to play fast-and-loose with the format established in the screen incarnations.  Licensing restrictions meant that, with the exception of reprints of Marvel's after-the-fact adaptations of the first two movies, the film and TV characters were off limits.  

Adventure also reprinted some of Marvel's original strips (the only time to date that any of that inventory has seen the light of day again... amazing considering POTA's intermittent longevity in print and on screen) in the TERROR ON THE PLANET OF THE APES four-parter.  See here for more on that run.  

The POTA books (all of which, with the exception of the bonkers APE NATION, see here, appeared in black & white) seemed ubiquitous at the time but seldom seem to surface in any numbers in the UK today. 


From 1992: More behind-the-screens secrets from the Paramount lot courtesy of the booming STARLOG empire: STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION MAKEUP FX JOURNAL (THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE).

A squarebound/ stiff cover spin-off from the regular licensed mag, this was a cavalcade of novelty-headed guest stars (and a few series regulars) and combined designs and candid behind-the-scenes snaps with the more ubiquitous studio publicity shots.  

Quite how useful this was to the general public is debatable... but, in the age of cosplay, surely more valuable than ever...


From 1981: 007 goes digital with this ad (which appeared across the MARVEL UK line) for a watch released in conjunction with FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.  

Check out the features!  Q branch would be so proud. 


From July 1981: the next five issues (9-13) of MARVEL UK's brief MARVEL SUPER ADVENTURE, the weekly with the Daredevil/ Black Panther double-act.  

- To Be Continued -

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