Thursday, 23 June 2016


From 1997: Topps presents THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO STAR WARS TOYS, a one-shot spin-off from their regular STAR WARS GALAXY MAGAZINE.

Toy collecting, and (of course) Star Wars, were booming at the time... fuelled by Kenner's return to the galaxy far, far away after a prolonged absence due to market and consumer indifference.

Unlike the comic book proportioned regular SWG, this was scaled to larger magazine dimensions. Disregard the optimistic numbering, this never progressed any further.


From 1997: The first - and only (almost) issue of the British genre mag SCI-FI TV & CINEMA.

Published by Dennis Publications, this was one of the succession of genre mags that popped up around the 20th anniversary of the release of STAR WARS, the release of the Special Editions, the impending arrival of The Phantom Menace and the small screen supernatural boom.

This one was, I think, billed as a monthly but never progressed beyond this issue.

It did return, in a manner of speaking, in 1999 when Dennis published the suspiciously similar SCI-FI TV & MOVIES with a virtual identical name, masthead design and SW-centric contents. That one also failed to progress.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016


From 1991: STARLOGGED is celebrating the official start of the summer season with a bit of Fan Boy stress relief... The oh-so-blatant MARVEL ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT EDITION, packed full to the rafters with newly commissioned cheesecake art of your favourite Marvel Guys and Gals (with an emphasis on the ladies) ready to catch the summer sunshine.

The artists clearly enjoyed it because it gave them a chance to show their characters in more - ahem - casual attire and inject a bit of humour. The teenboy audience clearly liked it because it combined their two favourite subjects: comics and the untouchable opposite sex. What more could you need on those hot summer nights?

Swimsuit editions were a bit of a thing back in the day, even the otherwise reputable AMAZING HEROES jumped on the bandwagon with a couple of special issues of the regular run. Unfortunately their comparatively low-fi production values hardly elevated them into the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (which is what this one-shot was spoofing) top tier.

I don't think Marvel ever repeated this just-post-pubecent PLAYBOY substitute and the whole thing feels like a bygone from another age today.

1988: DWB ISSUE 53

From April 1988: DWB (formally DOCTOR WHO BULLETIN) issue 53.

Monday, 20 June 2016


From June 1998: the first issue of LIGHTSPEED, another UK genre mag, launched (and swiftly closed) in the pre-millennial magazine boom.

This one, from Roma Publishing, clocked up four issues before closing at the end of the year. Maybe LOST IN SPACE wasn't the smartest movie to feature on the first cover (although SFX survived TANK GIRL).

The contents were a bit more quirky with the opportunity to make your own robot as well as a retrospective (the STARLOGGED one is much better. Nuff said) of MARVEL UK.

I was underwhelmed with the launch issue back in the day and I don't think I picked up any of the subsequent issues in the brief run.

It was published by Roma Publishing and edited by Chris Martin.


From November 1993: Marvel New York celebrated thirty years of THE AVENGERS with this glossy one-shot magazine, officially a spin-off from the not-magazine-sized MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE.

Marvel published a bunch of these in the early 1990s with a similar edition devoted to THE X-MEN, an objectification-packed celebration of the fictional flesh with a Swimsuit magazine (riffing on the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED tradition) and a couple of annual in-universe retrospectives spoofing the likes of TIME and NEWSWEEK.

The fad proved relatively short-lived (maybe it was just cheaper and easier to concoct another PUNISHER one-shot?) and the magazine line quietly went away when the market tanked.

The contents were all text based, albeit illustrated by numerous panels and covers from the Marvel vaults.

Friday, 17 June 2016


From 1996: the HMV entertainment retail chain celebrates its 75th anniversary with this nice, full colour hardback corporate history and puff piece.

This looks like the sort of expensive publication that is never intended for mass market sale to the public (there's no cover price or anything vulgar like that). I suspect it was put together for staff (although they are often the last to get the goodies), shareholders, artists, performers, industry contacts and anybody else on the Marketing and PR distribution list who the retailer wanted to impress.

It's actually a really nice potted history of the UK business as well as expansion into numerous overseas markets. I'm not sure if 1996 represented the pinnacle of the chain's success but it can't have been too far from the summit. Despite the dodgy economics of the early 1990s, entertainment retailing must have looked like a cash cow. CDs had fuelled the growth of the previous decade and were now a nice little earner thanks to their ridiculously high margins. Sell through VHS was firmly established (and equally cash generating: £10.99 or more for two episodes of STAR TREK), video games were on the ascendancy and home piracy was largely limited to making a copy of a CD to share with your mates or play in the car. Good times.

Most reasonably appointed high streets or shopping centres could usually expect to house an HMV, often in tandem with one of its rivals on the principal of never allowing your rival to have a local monopoly. The example I cite is suburban Putney High Street (notorious for exceeding a whole year's pollution targets in - basically - a day or two) in South West London. In 2000 it boasted a high street HMV, a Virgin (at one point badged as a V Store) and well appointed entertainment departments in the local Woolworths and WH Smith. And the usual "go on, stuff it in your trolley" temptations from the supermarket. Now there is only the supermarket (and a few DVDs behind the till in Smiths) left.


From July 1986: The first issue of the fanzine DEEP RED ("Horror from the heart of Hollywood").

Ignore the £15 price tag (which I didn't even notice when I bought it), I picked this up for a £1 (far more agreeable) whilst browsing a comic book store that I don't get a chance to visit very often. Its not really my sort of reading matter but it was a launch issue so I thought it was worth getting for the STARLOGGED vaults.

This is "issue zero" with nine more editions (including, most recently, a 15th anniversary special published in 2002.

Thursday, 16 June 2016


From 1990 and the self same DC Comics adaptation... a full page advert for TOTAL RECALL merchandise. Someone - somewhere - is a collector...


From 1990: the done-in-one DC Comics adaptation of the Arnie movie TOTAL RECALL.

The cover is - I think - the key art from the film's marketing campaign.

Carolco were the high spending studio that eventually spent themselves into bankruptcy.

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