Tuesday 22 December 2015


From December 1995: Happy Christmas Star Heroes!

This is the last (number 446!) regularly scheduled post for 2015. I wrap work today and my usual routine goes out the window for the festive season.

STARLOGGED will be back next year. I still have lots of interesting acquisitions to scan (when I have the time) and upload. And I hope to find a few more during the break.

Many thanks to everyone (Hi Ed!) Who have taken the time to comment across the year. Its been very useful and very informative.

Be sure to watch the BBC iPlayer exclusive STAR WARS SPECIAL which has unearthed some really cool (and long-lost) goodies (literally in one case) from the depths of the BBC vaults. I recommended some of the material.

So... With STAR WARS once again brightening the festive season (no spoilers... But I really liked it)... Happy Christmas and all the best for the year ahead,


From 1980: All change. Again.

Just months after the last reboot, the Bullpenners toiling above the shops at 205-211 Kentish Town Road received the latest DOCTOR WHO WEEKLY sales figures... And saw the downward trend continuing.

The weekly's high costs (origination fees and licensing payments to the BBC) made it stand out alongside the other British reprint titles and, with Dez Skinn gone, the desire to originate material that could be shipped back to the States had all but vanished. Cancellation was starting to look like an attractive option for the accountants.

Desperately, and apparently at the last possible moment (the cover design for DWW had already been completed by someone who obviously liked to work ahead... It eventually appeared in the 1989 10th anniversary special), Marvel rolled the dice again and took the tried-and-tested (since the days of Rampage weekly) decision to relaunch again... As a monthly.

The economics were twofold. Marvel could justify a higher cover price (leaping from 12p to 30p an issue) but, although the page count increased, the margins per copy improved (although whatever bulk deal Marvel had with the printers may have been eroded as the number of copies rolling off the presses each year would inevitably be less). Keeping copies on sale for a month also meant readers had more chance to find - and buy - a copy before the next one shipped.

Marvel also savagely cut costs. The biggest drain on the bottom line was the investment in new strips. So Marvel kept the page count per issue the same as one copy of the weekly... But left it on sale three times as long... And charged more. Bad news for the creators but good news for the bottom line.

Each issue was bulked out with a new emphasis on text features devoted to the show itself. These were, inevitably, a lot cheaper to originate than the strip pages and, possibly inadvertantly, appealed to the show's older fan base.

They didn't know it at the time, but they had just secured the future of one of only a handful of Marvel UK titles (the others being STARBURST and the first few COLLECTORS EDITIONS that launched in the final months of the Annex of Ideas and flourished under Panini) to outlive the company itself.


From April 1980: Only 26 weeks after its launch, Marvel UK rebooted DOCTOR WHO WEEKLY.

A lot had happened in the intervening six months, not least the departure from the Annex of Ideas of DWW instigator Dez Skinn. Without its principal cheerleader, others in Jadwin House were more luke warm to the title, not least because it devoured far more cash than its all-reprint (and owned outright) companions. 

The costs remained constant even as sales began to sink. A situation exacerbated by the long gap between seasons and the inevitable decline in interest from buyers. 

Marvel's new mandarins tried to reverse the slump by rebooting the weekly and pitching it at a younger, less demanding, readership. The strips carried on as before but the editorial pages (also, conveniently, far cheaper to produce) suddenly pitched younger. Readers were even encouraged to fight the ever constant peril of the alien invasion of the Home Counties by signing up for U.N.I.T.

Unfortunately Marvel, not blessed with acres of market research, was taking the weekly in the wrong direction... And not even the prospect of a trip to Blackpool could keep the unusually high number of older readers happy. 

Monday 21 December 2015


From 1995: the British edition of the official STAR TREK GENERATIONS movie magazine.

By mid-decade, the TREK license had moved again... This time beaming down on its new perminant home: Titan Magazines.

I saw the movie again this year for the first time since its original cinema release. I was still underwhelmed. It doesn't do the remnants of the original cast any favours and they certainly feel like they are playing second fiddle to the upscaled TV Trekkers. That said, it's far from a total disaster (in fairness, even the lowest rung Trek features are watchable) and worth a second look. 

This one-shot appeared just before Titan launched the regular Trek magazine (it gets a two-page plug at the back) which, although initially a British title (with some overseas sales) managed to outlast all the other sundry magazines (including the Starlog licensed mags and the fan club derived COMMUNICATOR) to become last title standing in a once confusingly crowded market. 

1981: GIRL ISSUE 1 (IPC)

From February 1981: the first issue of IPC's somewhat (in retrospect) familiar looking new weekly: GIRL.

I stumbled across this recently in a secondhand magazine store and although I initially dismissed it, I was tempted enough to look inside and was surprised to see it really was the prototype for the relaunch of the EAGLE a year later,

The tone is the typical prepubescent chumminess ("Your very best friend") but the style, features and - most importantly - the photo-stories that defined the EAGLE's first (and, for me, best) eighteen months (give or take) are all piloted here.

The original GIRL, subtitled "Sister paper to Eagle", was launched in November 1951 by Hilton Press and survived various corporate takeovers to end in the care of IPC. The conglomerate was streamlining its acquisitions and folded GIRL in October 1964.

This 1981 revival ran through to 1990. 

Thursday 17 December 2015


From 1992: the official STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY movie magazine.

This is the British edition of the US one-shot published by (who else?) Starlog. 

The UK license had shifted again, this time into the care of Trident, the publishing side of the specialist distributor which flourished briefly in the early 1990s boom. 

This was indeed the last hurrah of the original cast (although three drifted back for GENERATIONS) and was a return to form after Statner's unfairly underrated entry into the canon. 

Trident published this, two different Trek comics (one reprinting DC's classic crew adventures, the other focused on Next Gen) and a magazine called FINAL FRONTIER which started out as a semi-official venture built around reprints of Starlog articles but eventually degenerated to an officially unofficial glorified fan mag with shoddy features and an abundance of adverts for the publisher's ventures into mail order merchandise. 

1979: DOCTOR WHO WEEKLY Issue 1 (Marvel UK)

From October 1979: the first issue of DOCTOR WHO WEEKLY. From small beginnings...

Walk into any branch of WH Smith and the shelves of the Geek Media section are overstocked with copies of the current DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE and about half a dozen bookazine spin-offs. The latest, the Yearbook, is out today. Plus, most branches are still carrying one or two copies of the hardback Making Of part work, derived from the Panini/ Marvel back catalogue. 

Add Panini's own DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES, Titan's DOCTOR WHO COMIC and their new Collectors Edition format TALES FROM THE TARDIS series (I picked up the launch issue yesterday) and that's a lot of Who. 

So I thought was would go back to where it all began (although DW strips date back to TV COMIC in the Sixties) with the first issue of Dez Skinn's Marvel UK launch: DOCTOR WHO WEEKLY.

My copy has long since parted company with the cover-mounted transfers but its still an iconic cover. 

Tom Baker even went as far as going on a mini-tour, in costume, to promote the launch. 

Tuesday 15 December 2015



I was browsing the SF paperback section of my local secondhand book store recently when this caught my eye thanks to its totally STAR AGE cover: apparently a thinly veiled mash-up of THE INVADERS and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. 

The book is pretty battered but that just added to the nostalgic appeal. 

I'd say this was pretty opportunistic stuff as the "classic TV series" was ancient even then. It was a science fiction anthology that aired live (!) on the fledgling ABC TV network for 85 outings between 1951 and 1953. No doubt pioneering (it included adaptations of the work of genre greats like Arthur C. Clarke), I still very much doubt it evoked the post STAR WARS vibe of the Star Age. 

The back cover teases its imminant return to telly. That never happened but the TV genre anthology did stage a comeback in the 1980s with revivals of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS as well as newbies like AMAZING STORIES, MONSTERS, FREDDY'S NIGHTMARES, TALES FROM THE CRYPT (previously adapted for film) and others. THE OUTER LIMITS had to wait for the post X-FILES supernatural boom for its moment to shine again. 

1990: REVOLVER ISSUE 1 (Fleetway)

From July 1990: Chuffed with the success of CRISIS, Fleetway (along with, it seems, everyone else) dived into the murky Mature Readers world with another launch: REVOLVER.

The creative team were aiming to tap into the percieved pent up demand for adult comics (were readers ever there in any numbers?), perennial interest in the  1960s from people who weren't there and, of course, music. 

The Star Age highlight was DARE, yet another reboot of the Pilot of the Future, now given a satirical political edge. The regular DD (also prone to regular publicity-chasing reboots) still appeared in the EAGLE. 

REVOLVER expired after only seven issues and, in the grand tradition, folded into the pages of Crisis. Apparently not quite prepared to call it a day (or with inventory that needed to run somewhere), two standalone specials also appeared. The 1990 HORROR SPECIAL hit for the Halloween season alongside the regular monthly. The following February saw the ROMANCE SPECIAL drop just after the comic itself had expired. 

Monday 14 December 2015


From October 1989: the British edition of DC's STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER movie adaptation, issued by London Editions.

The UK edition benefited from better paper stock and enhanced printing compared with the US original. 

This marked the first time that a Trek comics adaptation had been widely seen on this side of the Atlantic for a decade. Marvel UK had published The Motion Picture as an annual and serialised the strips in the pages of FUTURE TENSE. 

STAR TREK II fell into the gap between Marvel ditching the license and DC launching their post-Kahn ongoing series. Treks III and IV had been given the DC treatment but, with no British editions, they could only be found in specialist stores. 

London Editions were also publishing licensed Superman and Batman British editions (and tried, with no success, to grow the line over the next few years) so this was a natural fit.

The success of THE VOYAGE HOME clearly convinced British publishers that the franchise was gaining mainstream traction as Marvel UK, under the FANTASY ZONE banner, reissued Starlog's official movie tie-in mag. Neither experiment was repeated although Titan eventually added the Trek movies to their stable of licensed tie-in. 

1991: LOST IN SPACE ISSUE 1 (Innovation Comics)

From August 1991: the first issue of Innovation's new ongoing LOST IN SPACE comic book.

This first cover (art by Mike Okamoto) perfectly sums up the principle problem with the series: although it was officially licensed, and latterly penned by no less than Bill Mumy itself, it initially sexualized the female members of the Jupiter II in a series of cheesecake scenarios the wholesome-but-dumb-after-season-one would never have dared. Fans were hoping for a more mature take... But not like that. The cover of the fourth issue looked more like a Michael Winner SF movie than a continuation of the TV show. An odd strategy for an indy which largely acquired the rights to media properties with strong female appeal. 

The main book ran eighteen issues. The first year was a mixture of done-in-one and multi-part stories. Year two kicked-off (with obligatory silver foil cover) the twelve part Voyage to the bottom of the Soul (a riff on another Irwin Allen show) arc. Unfortunately Innovation (also publishing DARK SHADOWS, QUANTUM LEAP and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST amongst others) floundered and the title closed before the storyline could be resolved. The whole arc was later reprinted in a hard to find (and when I did find a copy, the optimistic dealer wanted £50. I passed) trade paperback. 

The main book also spun off an Annual, a Special Edition (a reprint of the sold out first issue with additional feature pages) and Project: Robinson, a two-issue series which was cut short after only the first edition hit stores. 

Innovation closed on 31 December 1993 when an investor hastily called in a loan as the comics market faltered. Other casualties that holiday season included Marvel UK's Genesis line of UKverse titles. 

Friday 11 December 2015


From January 1993: the first issue of THE OFFICIAL STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE MAGAZINE from Starlog.

Boldly building on the success of the long-running (it eventually covered all seven seasons) TNG Mag, this was the logical (ho-hum) companion to Paramount's space station spin-off.

That first season was a January launch (giving the production more time to bed in, dodging the hoopla of the traditional September season premiere and minimising the studio's sure-to-be-stellar losses if the whole shebang flopped badly) and this launch issue dropped alongside the feature-length premiere and first one-hour outings.

The gold ink cover shows that even Starlog had been suckered into the premium cover craze sweeping the geek print industry. Did you buy a dozen copies?

The formula was tried and tested (and a little tired): lengthy episode summaries, interviews with cast and crew and sundry behind-the-scenes features. All presented in a predictably uncritical fashion (and there were a few stinkers, as well as a few standouts, in that first season).

The magazine, like its stablemate, was published semi-erratically to match the TV seasons. It eventually clocked up 25 issues, through to 1998, before closing with coverage of the end of the show's sixth season. It didn't return for the seventh, and final, outing.

It was joined by STAR TREK VOYAGER MAGAZINE in 1995. That tie-in spanned 19 issues before also closing in 1998. Poor old ENTERPRISE, the last of the TV Treks (at least until 2017) didn't even merit a one-shot and was left to Titan's all-generations mag. 


From September 1975: MAD UK does DOCTOR WHO.

Doctor Ooh, Script by Geoff Rowley and art by Steve Parkhouse. 

Thursday 10 December 2015


From 1986: One movie. One publisher. Two magazines,

Starlog made the most of their STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME license by churning out two pretty similar one-shots devoted to the new movie.

They actually did three: they also published a POSTER MAGAZINE (which was actually a magazine, albeit with little text content, with posters rather than the traditional floppy mags so popular in the Seventies) but I skipped that at the time and I've never seen a copy cheap enough to make me splash out since. The stills were ill-suited to be blown up to poster-sized dimensions and looked pretty grainy.

Just in case these weren't sufficient to meet the demands of ardent Trekkers, DC also published the done-in-one comics adaptation.


From 1997: With STAR WARS mania threatening to overwhelm the planet at any moment... Here's some more: the three-part comic book version of HAN SOLO AT STARS' END, a reworked version of the newspaper strip... Which reworked the novel.

The Brian Daley novel came first, one of a trilogy of Han Solo adventures published in 1979. The threesome, along with SPLINTER IN THE MIND'S EYE and the Marvel series (and sundry spin-offs), were the only places to find new SW adventures during that long gap between the first two movies. Either Lucasfilm wasn't as clued up about merchandising as we've come to believe or they thought that a lack of anything new would just bolster repeat business at the movie houses.

The paperback trilogy (also HAN SOLO'S REVENGE and HAN SOLO AND THE LOST LEGACY) became a mainstay of the science fiction section of WH Smith throughout the early 1980s and have been reprinted several times since.

Apparently the character Bollux was changed to Zollux in the British editions because - you know - it sounds a bit rude.

Archie Goodwin and Alfredo Alcala adapted the novel (they didn't do the other two) for the LA Times Syndicate newspaper strip in October 1980. It ran through to the following February.

Dark Horse, having already reworked much of the newspaper strip's run for the CLASSIC STAR WARS title, reprinted the strips as a three-issue addendum to the main run.

The trilogy were incorporated into the large (and unwieldy) Expanded Universe... And then sidelined by Disney as part of their pre-movies house cleaning operation.

The newspaper strips haven't been reprinted since the Dark Horse run. Several, although not this series, were collected into trade paperbacks by Boxtree in the UK.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

1974: MONSTERS OF THE MOVIES Issue 1 (Marvel/ Curtis)

From June 1974: the debut issue of Marvel's MONSTERS OF THE MOVIES magazine, an obvious me-to attempt to cash in on the ongoing success of Jim Warren's FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND.

The magazine boasted colour covers with black & white interiors on the cheapest possible paper, ideally unsuited for reproducing movie stills with any clarity. It was published under the Curtis rather than Marvel brand. The brand was finally phased out circa 1980, by which point Marvel only occasionally dabbled into the magazine realm. 

Despite the long running success of the Warren book, Marvel couldn't make this one stick and they pulled the plug, in 1975, after a mere eight issues. The title bounced back one final time with an annual (AKA issue nine), boasting a great Spock cover, which I've posted previously.

Although the interiors are underwhelming, and don't feature any comics material, the covers are universally gorgeous: supplied by Luis Domingquez and Bob Larkin (with Gray Morrow stepping in for the annual). 



Top marks to Messrs O'Quinn and Jacobs for very swiftly realising their little unlicensed STAR TREK magazine (with enough other genre stuff to keep the Paramount lawyers at bay) could be upscaled to a whole publishing empire at the height of the Star Age. Not only did they spin off FUTURE LIFE, FANGORIA, CINEMAGIC and COMICS SCENE in quick succession but they also launched the PHOTO GUIDEBOOKS, essentially a series of colour scrapbooks dedicated to all things SF. 

These seem a little crude by today's standards but hark from the pre-internet age where even colour printing was a relative luxury. They were A4 softcover books of varying page counts and price points. 

They covered all the obvious bases including heroes, villains, robots, toys, tech, vehicles etc. The various volumes dedicated to special effects are amongst the most coveted by collectors today.

Two of the most useful reprinted, with a good range of stills, the TV episode guides which were a fixture of the early issues of the magazine. Behind-the-scenes information was all but absent but that didn't matter when these were the only source available. 

Monday 7 December 2015


From 1979: the first issue of the British STAR TREK THE MAGAZINE (actually an unlicensed fanzine).

As is often the case with fanzines, I know very little about this one. Its obviously unlicensed and published around the time of The Motion Picture. Note the movie-era Enterprise on the cover. 

I picked this up from a dealer, for a couple of pounds, earlier this year because it looked cool and - frankly - you never know how many of these things are still out there.

That said, I don't generally endulge in fiction 'zines. You could fill a while library with those and, to be honest, I would never read them. Although some of the more racy "slash" stuff might be eye-opening. I wonder how many fan writers had guessed that Sulu's alter ego was already living the dream? 


From August 1991: MELTDOWN from Marvel UK.

This was, depending on how you view it, a compilation of the best 'mature readers' strips (and creators) from around the world. Or the Epic Comics UK anthology. Or both,.

Edited by John Freeman, this (along with the new HAVOC weekly) had a covert assignment: testing demand, formats, frequencies and tone for a new title at the core of Paul Neary's new Genesis 92 project. The Annex of Ideas ultimately split the difference and launched Overkill as a fortnightly, pitched somewhere between the two tryout titles. 

The downside of this see-what-sticks strategy was, despite putting together two nice packages, Marvel wasn't very committed to either of them and dropped them at the first opportunity. HAVOC died, without warning, after only nine issues and MELTDOWN bowed out after six, albeit using the last issue to plug the upcoming birth of the UKverse. 

The Meltdown line-up, as you'll see on the cover, was pretty powerful stuff. Although it was short lived, two of the reprints were to live again in the next few years. Marvel London dusted off the Clive Barker strips for a new monthly that quickly fell foul to cuts at the company. And the original black & white version of Akira (Meltdown ran Epic's colour version) appeared in the Manga monthly.

The Introductory Booklet, which only occasionally services along with copies of the main comic, had background information on the characters and creators. 

Friday 4 December 2015


From the summer of 1986: another double-issue of DOCTOR WHO BULLETIN, aka DWB, pulled from the Random Scans file.

1991: TOXIC!

From August 1991 and May 1992: What a difference a few months makes... The rise and fall of TOXIC! Punctuation obligatory. 

Toxic! was another part of the Trident-Neptune-Apocilypse axis of brands owned by Neptune Distributors, one-time rival to Titan for the accounts of Britain's specialist stores. The distribution side folded into Diamond (who subsequently acquiured Titan) in 1992. 

Appearing under the Apocalypse banner, Toxic! was the boldest and most ambitious of the new wave of mature readers British titles to spring up at the turn of the decade. Many followed the VIZ formula to deminishing creative returns, Fleetway used 2000AD as a launch pad for various new titles and Marvel mixed reprints with a new UKverse not a million miles from their usual superfare. Toxic! united Tharg's heavy-hitters (Mills, O'Neil, McMahon, Wagner and Grant) to create a new colour weekly, stuffed full of their own creator-owned strips that would, they hoped, supplant 2000AD as Britain's go-to weekly. 

All under the mission statement "The comic throws up", a riff on the pretentious slogan that adorned Marvel UK's STRIP. 

The creators, freed from the shackles of corporate ownership, let rip with an increased quotant of gore, violence and general gruesomeness. All flogged in WH Smith. 

Unfortunately for them, the new publisher lacked both the infrastructure and deep pockets of the Nerve Centre and things soon started to fracture. The scheduling of individual strips became erratic as deadline-doom began to over take the title... And cash flow became an issue as some creators found they didn't get paid.

It all ended suddenly after only 31 regular issues and a few spin-off one-shots.

A year later, readers of the surviving Trident books could pick up the whole run for £12 plus postage. 

Thursday 3 December 2015


From July 1998: Another first issue for Titan's BABYLON FIVE MAGAZINE.

Now distributed globally, the relaunch (all but identical to the previous nine issues) reflected the cast changes to the fifth season (now bankrolled by TNT in the States) by spotlighting B-movie star (and occasional Scream Queen) Tracy Scoggins, an actress that split her time fairly evenly between straight-to-tape movies and TV shows. Her finest hour (DANTE'S COVE not withstanding) was surely the Aerobics Snuff Movie episode of TJ HOOKER. 

Volume 2 ran for 24 issues (the last boasting an extended page count to mop up the last of the outstanding business) and charted the end of the TV show, the TNT-backed TV movies (which ran from Quite Good to Quite Bad) and the CRUSADE space wreck that saw the production team fall out with the cable station so badly that the show was retooled and then cancelled before a single episode ever aired. 

With no new screen product of note on the horizon (several B5 relaunches stalled after pilots were shot) and sales flagging, Titan declined to renew the license. 


From August 1997: the first issue of the first volume of the ongoing BABYLON FIVE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE, published by Titan.

Although this was the first of the ongoing run of UK originated magazines, there had already been an American one-shot which Tiutan picked up for the UK and published with a new (and not very creative) cover. I've posted the one-shot in the past.

Titan must have been impressed with the sales figures as they then launched this: a British magazine with all-new content, initially edited (as was many a media tie-in) by John Freeman. 

The show itself had just wrapped its penultimate season in '97 and although perennially marginal in terms of future survival (partly because of structural changes in the broadcast industry, reducing demand and timeslots for first-run drama not offered by the networks or the next generation of quasi-networks), it did look like its fortunes were on the upswing thanks to a deal with Warner-owned cable outfit TNT to air the fifth season, spin-offs movies and a second TV series (the doomed-before-it-aired CRUSADE). So Titan must have felt confident that there was some longevity in the format. 

Freeman looked back to his past on DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE and STAR TREK for his formula: the bulk of each issue was new editorial, supplemented by a comic strip licensed from DC in the States. The US issues had only limited distribution in the UK several years earlier so these were a good fit for the bulk of the readership. 

The reprints were possible because Titan only officially had the license to publish the magazine in the UK with little or no international distribution. The deal went global the following year and rather than retain the existing numbering, Volume 1 was cancelled... And immediately replaced by the all-but-identical (save for the comic strips) Volume 2. The first volume ran for nine issues. 

Tuesday 1 December 2015

1985: DWB ISSUE 24/25 and SMALL ADS

From the summer of 1985: the cover and selected interior pages from the DWB (DOCTOR WHO BULLETIN) sizzling seasonal double issue.

The cover is a nice showcase of the miniature work from the BBC Visual Effects department (little known BBC fact of the day: Television Centre used to have a dedicated strong room used as an armory for prop guns and weapons) from Tom Baker's City of Death.

I've also posted the several pages of small ads found inside: a nostalgic return to small scale fan-run conventions and fanzine publishing. Obviously, it goes without saying that should you want to attend or purchase any of these items you'll need a time machine of your own.


From August 1991: yet another movie-to-comics reprint mag from Trident... This time the first issue of THE TERMINATOR.

This skipped the Now Comics (with some early Alex Ross work) and Marvel (a profunctury adaptation of Judgement Day in a variety of dollar-chasing formats) incarnations in favour of the superior Dark Horse strips, published in a succession of interrelated limited series and one-shots. 

This monthly survived the arrival of Dark Horse International and continued under the brief British subsidery. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...