Tuesday 27 October 2015


From January 1975 (so it would have been on sale during the last few months of the previous year): the launch issue of Marvel's American black & white mag UNKNOWN WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION.

These mags were shipped across the Atlantic (and subject to the sane erratic distribution) alongside the colour books and were another reason why the first few years of the British Bullpen focused strictly on traditional weeklies rather than rolling out a variety of frequencies and formats to see which performed best. 

But they also supplied useful reprint fodder for the early hard-to-fill British SF outings PLANET OF THE APES and STAR WARS WEEKLY. The formulas, and licensing restrictions (no BATTLESTAR GALACTICA or STAR TREK in SWW) often left much of the Marvel inventory off limits and occasionally (usually through mergers) created some tenuous combinations (scare-fare in POTA or Conan in FUTURE TENSE) just to keep the pages filled and the presses rolling.

Canny Marvel management made their lives easier (and their margins fatter) by quietly making each issue of STAR WARS WEEKLY eight pages lighter, for the same cover price, as its easier to fill contemporaries. The US magazines proved a useful source of filler whilst Marvel New York ratcheted up their SF offering (allowing Marvel UK to publish FUTURE TENSE in 1980-81: essential a compendium of SWW supporting features belatedly anchored by STAR TREK's return to a British weekly after a five year 'away mission').

Six issues of UNKNOWN WORLDS shipped on a bimonthly schedule during 1974 with a further one-shot the following year. This first issue consisted of a lot of non-Marvel commissions that had originally appeared in other magazines or fanzines. The amount of new material increased for the remainder of the run. Adaptations of literary work was often accompanied by interviews with their authors. 



    Out this week :

    Still no sign of that he-man book but I did pick up the BACK TO THE FUTURE ULTIMATE VISUAL GUIDE. Haven't opened it yet but a treat in store no doubt.

    STAR TREK COSTUMES - another lovely tome with plenty of rare and not so rare pics from all incarnations of trek. I've always had a particular love of Shinzon 's gear from STAR TREK NEMESIS.

    Its puzzling as to why the shops never got the HEROES REBORN mag but I did stumble upon an ashcan comic which serves as a double preview of both the mag and comic. A very nice item indeed.

    BATMAN AUTOMOBILIA - its worth noting here that the latest special is - wait for it - the flying bat cave ! Yes, you read that correctly. Resembling nothing so much as a small room encased in a giant bubble with helicopter blades, this bizarre contraption actually appeared in detective comics 186 which just shows how daft the stories were in those days. In fact ,WIZARD mag used to take the piss out of such stories and it made for some very amusing articles. Btw, FP have now put all remaining copies of the ill fated ACE in their bargain box. Oh the ignominy !

    SUPERMAN - THE WAR YEARS - much like the batman volume, a nice collection of vintage supey strips.

    1. WHS are carrying the HEROES REBORN MAGAZINE, even through the cover is adorned with the NBC logo and TX times.

      Is the Ashcan edition the one with the foil cover? I have that one too.

      I found a copy of TRANCERS... Thanks for the rip-off about that.

      The MOTU book was a no-show again this week but I did pick up two new WHO books with an artistic bent. One is A GUIDE TO THE WHONIVERSE which is unofficial but does contain lots of merchandise art from Marvel, Big Finish etc. I'm not quite sure how an unofficial boom can use art from licensed merchandise but...

      The other is the new art book. I've not opened it yet but it promises production art from across the fifty years of the show. I suspect the emphasis will be post 2005.

      I spotted a new... Or reissued... JAMES BOND cars part-work in WHS yesterday.

  2. the ashcan has a cover image of the wrestler in shiny red foil.

    glad you found TRANCERS, you really have to be on your toes these days with so much stuff in the shops. I also spotted comic book guides to SECRET WARS and the IRON MAN movies.

    I've been meaning to get the DR WHO VAULT , also full of merchandise art. Recently, its been quite frustrating trying to collect the dr who figurine series as the shops have been missing key issues although I found a copy at a street sellers table.

    I think that bond part-work is the one published by eagle moss although I haven't seen it.

    Speaking of whom, the first issue of their MARVEL FACT FILE COSMIC SPECIAL included an insert flyer informing us that this monthly series will include six characters from guardians of the galaxy followed by a further six part monthly series focusing on daredevil and other characters from MARVEL KNIGHTS . So far as I can tell, the HAWKEYE SPECIAL will be the last in the standard line. ( at least going by the previews catalogue )

    you can see details here:


    the weekly marvel fact file is due to wrap up with issue 150 but maybe eagle moss will extend it once again.

    1. A reprint (smaller size and, I assume, no inserts) of the WHO VAULT was part of the WHS £5 (or thereabouts) book selection last year. But isn't in this year's line-up. It's a great book.

      This year's WHS selection (currently priced at £5-£7 but I suspect a multi-buy will kick in at some point) includes the DOCTOR WHO MONSTERS BOOK, the MARVEL YEAR-BY-YEAR (but not the DC one), STAR WARS YEAR-BY-YEAR, STAR WARS CROSS SECTIONS, JAMES BOND ENCYCLOPEDIA (includes up to SKYFALL), the DK STAR TREK VISUAL GUIDE (I forget the exact title), the most recent MARVEL ENCYCLOPEDIA and the DC ENCYCLOPEDIA (it has a different name which I've forgotten).

      Most are new printings in smaller, and more convenient, formats although the contents are the same as the more expensive editions (except inserts). Well worth investigating.


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