Wednesday 29 March 2017


From May 1982: STARLOG MAGAZINE announces plans for BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY to, after the end of its network run, enter syndicated reruns.

Interrestingly, BBC TWO adopted exactly the same early evening scheduling policy when they snapped up reruns of this, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, THE INVISIBLE MAN and other cult shows to run against the SIX O'CLOCK NEWS later in the decade.


From 1980: A special (more special than we realised at the time) issue of MARVEL UK's just relaunched EMPIRE STRIKES BACK MONTHLY. The 'Banned' issue.

At first glance it looks like a straight black & white reprint of US issue 46.  However, this went on sale sometime in November 1980 (UK comics were almost always dated for the week or month ahead of actual publication) but didn't hit Stateside stands until the following January (with an April 1981 coverdate).  That means that - technically - the US edition is the reprint... albeit in colour and from a US creative team.

But it doesn't end there.  The story, by J.M. DeMatteis, has a pacifist bent which apparently offended the folks at Lucasfilm licensing.  They ordered a last-minute reworking of the final page to change Lando's outlook so that he rejects the pacifist views presented.  That sufficiently irked the author that he had his name removed from the issue.  But - due to muddle or early deadlines - the 'uncorrected' version of the story had already been shipped across the Atlantic and appeared in the UK as originally intended.  Albeit in black & white.

No effort was made to withdraw the issue from sale and it is possible no-one in the UK (or the States) even realised they had gone 'off message'.

This remains the only time the original conclusion of the story has appeared in print.  A subsequent outing in one of the British annuals (now in colour) switched to the reworked US version... as have subsequent American reprints.

Presented here is the original final page, before it got 'fixed' by the heavy hand of the studio.

1980: 2000AD IN BEM ISSUE 29

From August 1980: Tharg's droids come under the spotlight in a themed issue of British comics fanzine BEM.

A great little issue looking at British comics, a slice of the market usually overlooked by Britishh fanzines of the period in favour of flashier imports.

Tuesday 28 March 2017

From May 1982: a STARLOG MAGAZINE photo-retrospective (including a rogues gallery snap from the Universal Tour attraction) remembering BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.


From January 1983 (although it would have been on sale during the tricky post-Christmas wrap-up of the previous year): IPC's BATTLE celebrates its 400th issue.

The cover neatly shows how far the weekly had shifted from its original war/ combat formula into a broader 'action' line-up in an attempt to stem sagging sales.

I suspect that there were some doubts in Kings Reach Tower as to whether Battle would see out the year as a standalone title.  Rumours were swirling that it was being prepared for the chop and a merger with the EAGLE.

Management, however, came up with a winning formula which propelled it past the 500 issue mark and kept it out of the Eagle's claws for several more years: A deal with toymakers Palitoy to devote half the pages to extended plugs for the ACTION FORCE toys.  Not only did it make the sums add up but it also attracted a new generation of readers.  And - despite the reputation of toy tie-ins (some of the ones that subsequently popped up in Eagle were pretty dire) the AF strips were generally of a pretty high standard... and some are actually quite memorable.  And the editorial team must have had great fun with Codename: Beaver.


More AVENGERS fanzine action: issue three of the undated BIZARRE A5er.


From 1981: the official STARLOG baseball cap.  What more could any self respecting fan need to show their loyalty to all things geeky?

Monday 27 March 2017



The Nancy Boys and Hardy Drew mysteries, of course, started in print and this late Seventies incarnation, from the Glen Larson TV factory, is certainly not their only screen incarnation.

I've recently been rewatching a few episodes from the second season and - for the most part - they are great fun.  The mysteries are normally straight-forward (it was, after all, pitched at an undemanding family audience) but it's great to see another show from the Universal TV factory at its prime.  Many of the episodes are stacked with familiar faces from the period in guest turns, including numerous members of Larson's stock company... parachuted in to similar roles across numerous shows.

The show also deserves top marks for ambition.  The Hardy Boys are a globetrotting duo... even when the show itself doesn't leave California.  The Universal backlot, especially the 'European town' exterior set is frequently - and rather obviously - redressed to be somewhere else... such as Egypt in an outing I watched recently.  Extensive set dressing and tight camera angles largely worked... although some rather green looking hils did sneak into the back of shot a few times.  But no one would have noticed that way-back-when.

Most fun has to be the two-part MYSTERY OF THE HOLLYWOOD PHANTOM, which doesn't even attempt to hide that the whole show was shot on the Universal Tour... trams and all.  It reheats (not for the first - or last - time) the old PHANTOM OF THE OPERA plot (see also: the excellent teleflick THE PHANTOM OF HOLLYWOOD and the KNIGHT RIDER episode Fright Knight) as an excuse to dispatch Nancy and the Boys (in a rare team-up... they initially operated on a rotating basis... until the boys emerged as the more obvious ratings draw and the show's priorities were tweeked accordingly) all around the lot.

Not only is it great to get a sense of what Universal looked like during this period (yup... the Jaws stand-in and trippy 'ice tunnel' are present and correct and there are a few nice overhead shots of the lot... including the infamous 'Black Tower' administration building) but the show gets a bit post-modern by featuring cameos by Dennis Weaver (playing himself playing Larson's McCloud), Jaclyn Smith (playing herself playing Kelly Garrett on CHARLIE'S ANGELS) and Robert Wagner (playing himself playing  Ryan from - shocker - Larson's SWITCH).  Things go completely nuts when Casey (AMERICA'S TOP TEN and a billion voiceovers) Kasem pops up playing bit-part actor Paul Hamilton playing Peter Falk playing Columbo).

The BATTLESTAR GALACTICA attraction was opened when this story was shot and aired (although it is nice to think that somewhere on the lot the show was in frantic pre-production) but it does feature in Universal's (surprise!) GET SMART reboot THE NUDE BOMB, shot on the lot a few years later.  By Your Command.

The show's first two seasons are available on disc.  The third is also apparently released... although judging from the Amazon listings, I have my doubts.


From 1993: Westminster Bridge in happier times... CELESTIAL TOYROOM 201 marks the 30th anniversary of DOCTOR WHO with this wraparound cover recreating the Dalek invasion of the capital... and Earth in general.  

From memory, I think this shoot was for the THIRTY YEARS IN THE TARDIS TV documentary (subsequently released on tape, in an alternate/ superior edit, as MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS IN THE TARDIS) although the images were widely circulated at the time (becoming the iconic image of the anniversary year) so I may be wrong.

CT was published by the DOCTOR WHO APPRECIATION SOCIETY.  I was never a member (DWM and DWB, along with the VHS releases, were sufficient to keep me WHO happy throughout the 1990s) but I did find a stack of old CTs, for 50p each, at a con years ago and made a point of snapping them all up.  Looking at them now, they are a fascinating reference point for when the show existed only thanks to fandom's ongoing commitment.  


From 1988: that year's EAGLE HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

I think the weekly was beginning to slide past its prime at this point (or, to be more honest, I had probably got too old to appreciate whatever charms it had left) but I still find Holiday Specials a great way of dipping into a title and getting a sense of what was going on in the mother title.  Albeit, like annuals, sometimes reflecting a line-up that was months out of date and tailored to budget and an audience possibly unfamiliar with the ongoing strips but in need of some holiday distraction.

To that end, I picked up some more of these recently and I'll eventually add them to STARLOGGED.


From January 1992: The end of an era... the last edition of MARVEL UK'S TRANSFORMERS after 332 issues.

All good things must come to an end... especially in the media.  And so, after a successful run by pretty much any measure, the British edition of the TF comic finally shuttered.  There was definately the sense the title was living on borrowed time for a while with a cut in frequency back to fortnightly, the loss of some of the colour interiors and the end of originally commissioned British content.

The toyline was also winding down, at least in the States (Europe and elsewhere was a slightly different story) and was no longer a Marketing or sales priority for Hasbro.  That had a knock-on effect on the comics license which was also inevitably seen as a diminishing priority.  The toys and the comics were starved of the essential TV advertising that kept fickle consumers interested.  The animated series, once a fixture of TV-am's schedules had also been banished to satellite tv... and may well have vanished entirely.

Sales of British adventure comics, hard hit in the previous decade, were also continuing to decline.  Marvel's attempts at finding companions and successors to the Robots in Disguise had - with the exception of THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS - largely tanked.  

The final nail in the coffin was Marvel NY ending the US edition after 80 issues (76 more than they originally planned to publish) and putting the license (briefly as it turned out) on ice.  That cut off the supply of new content to the British edition... and put Marvel's association with the toys in doubt.

As it turned out, Marvel US did revisit the franchise by jumping onto the G2 franchise, at least for another twelve issues.  Oddly however, the British branch of the Bullpen let that ship sale and it fell to Fleetway to have a brief stab at their own version.  The short-lived title (and tie-in annual) mixed new content with Marvel reprints.

The British Bullpen had hoped that they would be able to reboot this title as a monthly.  Indeed, they had strongly hinted at the plan in previous weeks.  However, in the end, it fell victime to Marvel's traditional first quarter purge of underperforming publications.

Friday 24 March 2017


From 1998: a one-off (?) revival of the TV fanzine PRIMETIME.

Published by TV historians and trackers-of-lost-telly Kaleidoscope, this revived the earlier incarnation of the title.  And it contains some really excellent articles sure to tickle the fancy of Telly types.  For me, the best of the bunch is Andrew Pixley's inevitably comprehensive history of the TV output of ITC.  There's been a number of books and articles written about the company's extensive output but they almost invariably focus on the familiar suspects.  Pixley, of course, pieces together the whole ITC small-screen canon including shows barely seen (if at all) in the UK as well as Children's (THE MUNCH BUNCH anyone?) and other shows released under the ITC (rather than ATV) brand.  The complete history of ITC (including all their numerous movie projects, behind-the-scenes dramas, changes of ownership, remakes and more) is still to be written.  But, in the meantime, I consider this an invaluable reference.

I picked this up from - of all places - London's COMIC SHOWCASE when it was published and I've never seen another copy 'in the wild'.  I'm not sure how extensively this was distributed but - I imagine - not very much.


From 1992: The first - and possibly only - issue of the DOCTOR WHO fanzine CYBERZONE, dedicated to all things Cybermen.

I *think* I found this one rummaging through the boxes of a now defunct secondhand bookshop in Birmingham's city centre.  It was a magical cave of paperbacks, comics, magazines and books of all subjects staffed by two chaps who never created the impression they really wanted to be there.  The prices weren't great and the stock was random but it was the sort of place you could happily browse for hours and spend a fortune.  Cash only.  Of course.  I miss it now...

Does anyone know anything more about the 'zine?


From Early 1983: a copy of the obscure US fanzine COMIC INFORMER boasting a distinctive Indiana Jones cover.

Wednesday 22 March 2017


From November 1985: SPEAKEASY issue 56 reports a busy month of comics news. 


From April 1992: long-running DOCTOR WHO (and, latterly, telefantasy in general) fanzine DWB celebrates 100 issues with this fancy bit of cover photoshopping.


Because the lawyers demanded it -

COMICS SCENE MAGAZINE was a mainstay of the STARLOG empire, not least because its fortunes waxed and waned through several runs depending on the public's overall interest in comics and their characters.

The mag was initially announced and promoted as COMICS WORLD (a title that would later become familiar with British collectors thanks to an entirely different magazine with a very similar - but not identical - title) but that fell victim to some sort of legal shenanigans/ prior title claim and had to be changed prior to the first issue hitting the stands.

After a quiet few months (during which time the collective Starlog brains trust must have been frantically brainstorming alternatives... and making sure fandom hadn't already thought of them) they bounced back with... COMICS SCENE.  Hurrah.

Tuesday 21 March 2017


From October 1998: STARLOG MAGAZINE issue 255 celebrates BATTLESTAR GALACTICA'S 20th anniversary.

Sadly, it wasn't a whopper of a retrospective along the same lines as the Log's legendary look back at 10 years of the STAR WARS saga almost a decade earlier.  But still...

Don't you feel old?  Well... If I didn't then I do now as we approach the 40th anniversary.

It's a tribute to the staying power of the original series that Starlog felt confident enough to put a twenty year old show on the cover of a magazine still riding high on the Nineties SF TV boom.


From February 1994: The Mighty One shamelessly chases the notoriously free-spending (in those days) STAR TREK fans with this STAR TREK GENERATIONS cover and competition.  


From February 1991: the second issue of British AVENGERS TV fanzine BIZARRE.

Monday 20 March 2017


More long-lost (mostly) TV movie versions of familiar TV shows: ITC's SUPER SPACE THEATRE teleflick compilation package.

ITC, the programme sales spin-off from ITV franchise operator ATV, were past masters at creating content with an eye to the American market.  They realised that was where the cash was as well as giving the UK broadcasts of their shows and sheen that most other ITV companies couldn't hope to match.

As the article points out, the US market had gone cold to Gerry Anderson's work by the late 1970s so the New York office reworked them into a package of teleflicks which they could offer to local stations and the brave new world of cable television.

I don't think any of these reworked versions made it onto British TV (ITV bought the reruns rights to a large chunk of the Anderson back catalogue in the 1980s) but i think they did appear on tape during the early years of the VHS boom.  Indeed some (or similar compilations made in the UK) were still knocking around a decade later, preventing ITC themselves from releasing complete series of uncut episodes on tape.

This article appeared in STARLOG MAGAZINE.


From the Winter of 1979: a battered and much used (but not by me) copy of the SUPERHERO FUN AND GAMES WINTER SPECIAL, one of the first Winter Specials (following a burst of summer one-shots earlier the same year) published by Marvel UK.

This is, essentially, a puzzle or activity book of the type frequently deployed to keep kids quiet during the holidays or during long trips.  The contents, themed around Marvel's characters, was recycled from a series of US books.

It must have been a success as a monthly series followed in 1980.  This special, and the ongoing version, must rank amongst the hardest to find M-UK titles of the era.  Deemed less collectable by the faithful, kids were far less likely to keep them in good nick.  As you'll see, even the cover of the copy I managed to track down has been defaced.  Is nothing sacred?

Once again, Conan - a licensed character - is treated as one of Marvel's own with pride of place on the cover.


From September 1988: Titan Books promote their growing STAR TREK line of paperbacks and large format titles (published under license from Pocket Books here in the UK) and their brief daliance with BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.

The latter was timed to make the most of the BBC TWO repeat run, the first time that the show had been networked (after ITV scheduled it on a station-by-station basis) in the UK.  The BBC skipped, the rights reasons, the three-hour opener and the two-part The Living Legend.  The following episode, Fire In Space (which also formed the second theatrical movie MISSION GALACTICA: THE CYLON ATTACK) was scheduled but had to be pulled at the last minute because it coincided with the aftermath of the King's Cross fire disaster.

Titan's publishing schedule consisted of new editions of the first three paperbacks originally published in the late Seventies (adapting Saga of a Star World, The Gun On Ice Planet Zero and Lost Planet of the Gods).  All of which were frequent secondhand bookshop fodder at the time and quite easy to track down, albeit sometimes in a well read condition.  Sales obviously weren't great because Titan didn't crack on with new editions of the rest of the US titles, which was a shame as the rest of the run were a darn sight harder to find on this side of the Atlantic.


From September 1985: SPEAKEASY, the UK comics fanzine, issue 55.

I have, somewhat to my surprise, a long run of this 'zine stuffed into various boxes.  But ths is the earliest one that I have in my (obviously very incomplete) collection.  Back issues don't generally seem to come to light very often, especially compared with some of the higher profile 1970s and '80s titles like FANTASY ADVERTISER.  I imagine this is everything to do with how widely these were sold in comic book stores rather than via Marts and Mail Order.

It evolved, over the next few years, into the leading British news title for comicbookdom, even going tabloid for a while to emphasise its news credentials.  It then switched back to a magazine format, initially still on crappy newsprint, before settling down as a glossy mag.

It then went all professionals and became BLAST magazine, riding the coat tails of the brief boom in 'mature' comics early in the next decade.  Copies of that incarnation can still be found, without too much trouble, stuffed into dealer's mag boxes across the land.

Friday 17 March 2017


From November 1980: The first issue of Marvel UK's THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK MONTHLY.  And what a story to start with!

Yup, mere months after the bold relaunch which saw STAR WARS WEEKLY rebadged to coincide with the release of the most hotly anticipated film ever (at least in my playground) the British Bullpen suddenly cut the frequency of their main attraction to monthly.

The sudden frequency change normally meant that a weekly wasn't doing very well (or paying its way) and a reduction in frequency and bump in cover price (accompanied by a few extra pages) was usually seen as a good way of extending its viability.  It worked a treat for DOCTOR WHO WEEKLY.  Bot so much for FUTURE TENSE.  But that's in the future.

It could be that the weekly's sales dropped off a cliff once the movie left the cinemas... but I find that unlikely.  Marvel didn't help the situation by running a dull post-adaptation story of diplomatic shenanigins which failed to live up to the epic scale of the sequel.  Maybe if they had run this man-against-machine showdown instead the story of SW in British comics would have been different.

A sales dip was probably inevitable but i think the British Bullpen were forced to cut the frequency to ensure that they kept pace with the slower US publication of one story a month.  The old weekly would devour two US editions per month and the US Bullpen had to create extra strips (which barely saw print in the States) just to fill the gap in the British schedules.  That was probably acceptable, before 1979, when the UK editorial strings were still being pulled by the New York office.  But, after the Marvel Revolution of early 1979, the UK office was operating at arms length and I doubt extra US content was still on the cards.

Jadwin House did go on to commission some UK created strips, including (famously) some early Alan Moore penned tales, which were dropped in alongside the US stories over the next couple of years.

Marvel weren't quite ready to surrender weekly SF to Tharg (DOCTOR WHO had already seen a similar scheduling cut) and cobbled together FUTURE TENSE to plug the gap.  The end result read like a compilation of SWW back-up strips without a strong lead strip (sorry STAR TREK) and suffered an eventful 1981 before quietly expiring at the end of the year.  Meanwhile, in the Pocket Books department STAR HEROES was already being prepared for a radical makeover as X-MEN POCKET BOOK.  


Mrs Peel, we're needed!

From sometime in the 1980s: ON TARGET, the AVENGERS (TV) fanzine, Volume 1 Issue 5.  Published by Dave Rogers.

There's no date that I can find anywhere inside this issue so I can't nail down exactly when it appeared.  Rogers continued to pump ount Avengers 'zines well into the 1990s, eventually running out of steam after the flawed-but-underated movie (which also saw him pen some officially licensed tie-ins).

This particular issue, the earliest I seem to have in my collection (I think I must have bought a stack from a dealer years ago), is yer standard A3 photocopied-with-colour-paper-cover affair.

I first discovered the show thanks to the Channel Four reruns early in the Eighties.  The rest of the household were less enthused so I had to watch them on my little b&w portable telly.  Kids today don't know how lucky they are.  I dabbled with a few episodes of THE NEW AVENGERS when ITV picked up the repeat rights as part of their new overnight services at the end of the decade.  But I really got back into the original show when they started releasing them on VHS tape early in the 1990s.


From November 1991: The first issue of MARVEL UK's RUPERT AND FRIENDS.

This is not to be confused with the previous Rupert weekly published by the British Bullpen a decade or so earlier.

What a happy looking bear!

Thursday 16 March 2017


From May 1980: STAR WARS WEEKLY is no more... long live (ahem) THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK WEEKLY.

Yup: New title, same weekly.  The US edition also incorporated Marvel's sequel adaptation within the usual run of the monthly but didn't feel the need to change the overall title to accomodate it.  The American edition of ROTJ sidestepped it by floating off into a standalone four-part series in 1983.  But here in the UK, the British Bullpen did everything they could to cash-in on the hefty anticipation around the return of the Star Warriors and rebooted the weekly to coincide with the beginning of the adaptation.  In contrast with today's every-six-month relaunches, they didn't go as far as restarting with a new Issue one (although they did in 1983).

The fantastic cover art is probably one of the most seen pieces of EMPIRE art.  Originally created for the US one-shot magazine, it also poped up here on the weekly, on the UK annual (which was shipped back to the States in limited numbers) and on the paperback-sized edition.


Remember the 'other five' PLANET OF THE APES movies?

This is a STARLOG magazine article about the five additional teleflicks cobbled together by 20th Century Fox in the late Seventies.

Cobbling together TV Movie versions of defunct TV shows were a canny way of recouping some of the studio's investment in short-run series that local stations (in the pre-cable age) wouldn't touch with a Neilson Meter.  Other examples that I know about are packages hacked together from KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STAKER, SPIDER-MAN and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA/ GALACTICA 1980.  I'm sure there are many others as well.

I'm calling these the 'lost' movies because they have vanished in the last twenty-odd years.  The 14-episode TV show (complete with UK inaccuate box text) has been available on DVD for a long time (and is worth picking up) but the movie edits (with their overblown titles) aren't part of the set (understandably) and aren't available seperately.

Surprisingly, they did pop up on British TV in the late 1990s, albeit without the special ABC introductions.  Anglia TV (and, I assume, other ITV regions) ran most (or possibly all) of them as part of their Saturday afternoon schedules.  This was back in the day when dayparts outside primetime were still handed over to each region to schedule locally... which made TV a lot more interesting!  I taped them at the time but - silly me - I eventually taped over them.  Grrr.

Wednesday 15 March 2017


From June 1995: More STAR WARS related legal action.  This time the Lucas legal guns were pointed at Tharg's Command Module and the galaxy's greatest comic.

The Mighty One Versus the Bearded One.

This time the Lucasfilm lawyers objected to the cover copy, related to the Rogue Trooper strip, which they felt was a triffle misleading.  I don't think this went any further but the Mighty One's green knuckles were well-and-truely rapped.  


From 1980: The December issue of STARLOG magazine confirms that BATTLESTAR GALACTICA had emerged triumphant from the protracted legal spat with 20th Century Fox over the two deep space franchises.

The press fixated on the lawsuit at the time of Battlestar's launch but I suspect there was a lot less interest once the show had left the air.  Twice.

Universal didn't use the judgement as a green light to revive the concept... but it did leave them free to keep the Universal Studio ride in business long after most of the tourists had forgotten what had inspired it.

Tuesday 14 March 2017


Here's another MARVEL UK oddity that I reckon most hardcore collectors are oblivious of:

The ALICE IN WONDERLAND comics adaptation, published in hardback by the British Bullpen sometime in the early 1980s. The book is undated but it does give Jadwin House as the company address,which places it before the company relocated to Redan Place.

There's also no clue as to whether this was a standalone book or whether it was one of several titles. My guess is that it's the latter, and there were several similar literary adaptations in the range, but I can't be sure.

Predictably, the strip first appeared in the States in MARVEL CLASSIC COMICS. Issue 35 to be precise.

Monday 13 March 2017


From 1998: the first - and I believe only - issue of ZENITH, a glossy black & white BLAKE'S SEVEN fanzine which was sold through branches of Forbidden Planet.

I don't know much about the history of this one but I always assumed that this had somehow spun out of HORIZON, the B7 Fan Club, because the contents were similar to what had been appearing for years in their hefty newsletters.

I never spotted any more issues at the time and although copies of this issue occasionally surface in secondhand outlets (presumably because more copies were distributed originally) I've never seen any others.

It reminds me that circa the year 2000 I was working at a well-known London University.  My office PC screen saver or desk top had something SF-TV related which caught the eye of one of the visiting lecturers.  We'd chatted before but - as is so often the case - I'd never caught her name.  She asked me about what was on the screen... and then she revealed that she'd previously been a BBC Make-up artist who had worked on the show... As soon as she told me her name the penny dropped because she was still active in fandom!  I name no names here but it just goes to show that it's a small world after all.

BTW: Does anyone remember THE STRANGERERS?  The long-forgotten Sky One foray into telefantasy which generated some buzz at the time (particularly because the cast included some British genre vets) and then promptly vanished without trace from the collective race memory.


From the summer of '93: the first issue of THE OFFICIAL STAR TREK FAN CLUB OF THE UK magazine, dedicated almost entirely to STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE (as well as, borrowing from the US club, an extensive mail order section for punters to order assorted Trek tat direct from the club).

I don't know much about the history of this one although I seem to recall that the club (or a different incarnation of it) was plugged heavily a few years later in the Titan magazine (indeed I have a vague memory that Titan may have had the license to run the club at some point).

This is, for me, another exampe of the sheer abundance of different Trek magazines, albeit with slightly different distribution routes (I don't recall ever seeing this one, unlike the American version, on sale in any retail outlets and I'm not sure if the cover price is intended to create the illusion of value or whether this did sneak into stores) that were compeating for the attention - and cash - of Trek fans during the Nineties boom in both the franchise and publishing.


This is something of a MARVEL UK oddity that I stumbled across whilsts trawling the shelves of a secondhand book store: the ultra-rare (this is the only copy I have ever seen) alternative edition of the MARVEL SUPER-HEROES OMNIBUS.

At first glance, it looks like the widely distributed hardback MARVEL SUPER-HEROES OMNIBUS which kept the super-powered flames burning in the dark days after the cancellation of SPIDER-MAN AND ZOIDS, the British Bullpen's last regular in-continuity super hero weekly.

But look again: The cover features a different line-up of characters. Ironically, only one of whom actually appears inside.  Open up this distinctly thinner-than-the-omnibus oddity and inside are the contents of the 1986 SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL (the Fire Lord one) sans the front pieces.

I assume that Marvel stripped unsold copies of the Spidey annual and glued the contents into this generic cover.  Which opens up the possibility that alternative copies are also knocking around with completely different contents.  There's no retail price or hint of where this was being sold.  I assume it was a single-retailer 'exclusive' and offered at a discount price.  Was there a garden centre chain in the UK stacked to the rafters with rebadged unsold Marvel UK annuals in the late Eighties?

Anyone got any ideas?

Below is the more familiar 1987 edition, an undisputed high point in the long line of British Marvel stocking stuffers.  Especially at a time when it really felt like the British operation had abandoned its roots in favour of being a plug house for assorted toy lines and animated shows.

The cover design started life as an edition of the US AVENGERS mag, infinitely adaptable for whoever the British Bullpen wanted to include.

Saturday 11 March 2017


From September 1979: another bit of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA obscura courtesy of the US supermarket tabloids.

It's THE STORY OF DIRK ("sexy Battlestar blond") BENEDICT AND RICHARD ("shy and loyal") HATCH. All completely unauthorised you understand.

Surely this must be one of the rarer bits of Battlestar print tat (unless you know better) by virtue of it being a mail order exclusive, which (like all the best things in life) wasn't available in any store.

Have you ever seen a copy? Did you mail away for the chance to see the Colonial Warriors "out of uniform"? What type of girls did they like?

Friday 10 March 2017


From 1983: the first issue of STARLOG POSTER MAGAZINE, yet another spin-off from the churn-em-out O'Quinn magazine bunker. Grainy blow-ups galore.

Which adorned your wall?

Monday 6 March 2017


From April 1994:

Guilty pleasure alert! I'm really rather enjoying the CW's RIVERDALE at the moment... regardless of the facts that I've never been interested in the 1950s Americana of the Archie comic books and that I'm way above the weekly target demographics for the show.

It's a lot darker than the comics have traditionally been and twists and subverts the familiar tropes throughout. Even if it has swiped at least one plotline from DAWSON'S CREEK. Archie himself is a bit of a dope (albeit with a great body which the writers connive to expose on a regular basis) who's saddled with the least interesting plotlines but the rest of the town is swirling with murder and secrets like a teen TWIN PEAKS.

Here's COMICS INTERNATIONAL announcing whst seemed to be one of the most preposterous crossovers in comicdom... at least until Archie made a habit of bumping into the Predator or encountering Sharknados.


From 1977:

I was saddened - and not a little shocked - by the news of the passing of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA's Richard Hatch last month. This is the first opportunity Starlogged has had to mark his passing.

I've unearthed this pre-BATTLESTAR 1977 article from a copy of a celeb-packed American supermarket tabloid.

Hatch was subbing for Michael Douglas on the final year of THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO at the time of publication, although Larson may already have been courting him for his new space epic as Battlestar was already deep in pre-production - as a series of occasional teleflicks - at the time.

I've always thought that Hatch was pretty underserved by the script writers on the first / only season. Despite having star billing, Dirk Benedict's Starbuck quickly emerged as being the more interesting character and grabbed the lion's share of the numerous iterations of the 'lost warrior' plot that cluttered the run. It didn't help that one of his few solo episodes was a blatant reworking of SHANE (which was subsequently blatantly reworked again as an episode of TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY a few years later).

Days before he died, I happened to see Hatch in a rare movie starring role in CHARLIE CHAN AND THE CURSE OF THE DRAGON QUEEN, the 1981 misfire which I doubt did Hatch's acting resume many favours. The film itself is OK, thanks mostly to a strong cast (Angie Dickinson, Roddy McDowall and a young Michelle Pfeiffer) but suffers from too much enforced quirkiness and pratfalls. It also veers into un-PC territory by casting Peter Ustinov as Chan and Hatch as his mixed race 'number one grandson'.

Hatch was never keen to sign aboard the Battlestar (at least until he realised that filming was about to begin and he could name his price) but did manage to make it into a lifetime's career despite only shooting one season. In addition to the usual conventions and personal appearances, Hatch filled the (rather large) gaps between acting gigs by penning a series of original novels and some stories for the various comic book versions. He famously also went out and shot a trailer for a mooted revival despite not having any rights or ownership claims. His reasoning: the studio bosses couldn't envisage what an updated show might look like... so he set out (with the help of fellow cast members and assorted fans) to put together a presentation reel.

He had been slated to make an appearance in the aborted early Noughties revival and - of course - returned to the franchise for the remake. A role which finally stretched him as an actor.

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