Monday, 30 November 2015

1988: THE 'NAM MAGAZINE ISSUE 1 (Marvel Comics)

From August 1988: THE 'NAM MAGAZINE issue 1, published by Marvel New York.

Marvel launched the four-colour comic book version in the last quarter of 1986 (with a December cover date) and successfully tapped into to the Vietnam War zeitgeist that was running hot in popular culture (Marvel's corporate parent, New World, also had the TOUR OF DUTY TV show on CBS from September 1987 and, although not directly linked, the comic book must have helped convince the studio to bankroll the show). Not an obvious choice for a mainstream publisher but, thanks to lots of press coverage, an early hit.

Although the glory days of the category had faded a decade earlier, Marvel were still periodically returning to the black & white magazine genre and launched this reprint title (collecting two issues a time) in the summer of 1988. Presumably they believed it would appeal to latecomers and also older readers who wouldn't entertain a comic but would happily indulge in something less colourful.

The early issues were written by veteran Doug Murray and illustrated by Michael Golden, following a successful collaboration on a similar story for Marvel's oft  overlooked SAVAGE TALES magazine. After the first year, the creative team changed and the title's fortunes began to wane, culminating with the decision to feature The Punisher in the hopes that the run would attract his fans to the book. Despite the turmoil, it still clocked up a respectable 84 issues through to 1993.

This magazine version notched up 20 issues. The early issues were also reprinted (long before Frank Castle became part of the story) in Marvel UK's PUNISHER weekly.

Marvel tried to capitalise with SEMPER FI, another colour book this time dedicated to the US Marine Corps. Lightening didn't strike twice and it shuttered after only nine issues over 1988-89.

1992: STATE MAGAZINE Issue 2

From October 1992: the second issue of the British movie magazine (or possibly: posh fanzine) STATE featuring BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (original film version) and TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME.

I don't recall seeing any other issue of this title (although there must have been at least one other, obviously) which I picked up (for the TP coverage... It has a nice colour spread which highlights the interrelationships between the principal characters) on a visit to Forbidden Planet's New Oxford Street flagship (they had a better selection of magazines and fanzines in those days). 

It was edited by David Bryan. 

Friday, 27 November 2015


From 1982: The DAN DARE video by Loose Talk in all its low-fi glory.


From 1982: Dan Dare in the Top 20?

Errr... Probably not. Although they must have shifted at least a thousand copies courtesy of this massive EAGLE giveaway.

Top marks to pop chancers Loose Talk (not in the same league as Queen, apparently) for spotting a marketing opportunity (the article basically admits as much) and going for hit. Hitching themselves to the EAGLE relaunch and the publicity around the return of Dan Dare.

This apparently did get some national TV and radio airplay although I don't recall seeing or hearing it at the time. The song is OK but the cheap as chips video suggests the minimum of record company commitment. The band, decked out in MOONRAKER and SPACE: 1999 castoffs, prance about accompanied by some of the excellent artwork from the revival itself. Things get really exciting when the blue screen is deployed, 

When the producers of the curiously forgotten DD animated series were looking for a track to accompany the show's end credits they opted for Elton John over Loose Talk. Imagine. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

1983: TERRAHAWKS' ZELDA on the cover of LOOK-IN

From the very end of 1983: The last LOOK-IN of the year, which would have been on sale during the week between Christmas and New Year, spotlights the TERRAHAWKS strip (based on the Gerry Anderson show which no like more now than I did then... Although I still prefer STAR FLEET) with a Zelda cover.

The strip, written by Angus P. Allen and illustrated by Jim Baikie, had debuted at the beginning of December and ran into the following April. Behind the scenes, relations between the production and the weekly were souring over the (literal) artistic direction of the strip. The bust-up brought the print adventures to an early end despite ITV having more episodes to show.

1997: XPOSE SPECIAL 1 (Visual Imagination)

From 1997: the first, of many, X-POSE magazine spin-offs.

This appeared at the peak of the cycle of X-FILES knock-off shows and, thanks to a better-than-you-would-imagine set of episodes guides, is probably the best you'll find in terms of a done-in-one reference to the boom in supernatural and alien conspiracy shows. I had high hopes that the recent X-FILES FAQ book would fully explore all the shows of the period... But although it sumeries several, its not comprehensive. How could they overlook BAYWATCH NIGHTS season two?

By this point I had started to suspect that XF was lacking the all-important narrative storyarc that was being much discussed and was concluding that the Writer's Room really was making out up episode by episode. I preferred DARK SKIES which, despite its sometime preposterous premise, sometimes seemed the smarter and more focused show. 

X-POSE the magazine was typical Visual Imagination shelf filling fodder: yet more X-FILES coverage (all but identical to what was also appearing in TV ZONE, STARBURST, SHIVERS, CULT TIMES and their sundry spin-offs), this time accompanied by "fact" articles on the unexplained probably cribbed from one of those cheap books that still surface in charity shops. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


From the Fall of 1988: the return of  TREK.

I've found that the fanzine TREK to be one of the most illusive of print spin-offs from the show, despite the near ubiquitous omnipresence of the paperback compilations of features that had apparently originally appeared in the floppy version. Eighteen volumes (and a couple of compilations of compilations) appeared between 1978 and 1996.

Finding anything online about the fanzine is surprisingly hard as well.

This is the only issue I have been able to find: a relaunch or revival that coincided with the return of the franchise to TV,

I saw William Shatner's new(wish) documentary CHAOS ON THE BRIDGE at the weekend. It covers the inception and early seasons of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and the behind the scenes battles. It's candid and revealing stuff (it goes much further than the also pretty candid doc on the first season BR set) and goes a long way to revealing why those first episodes, even at the time, were so poor. Shatner's direction, especially in the edit suite, is occasionally 'odd' (too many hammy reaction shots... Possibly to hide edits) and it's hard to imagine him as an objective observer considering his own career with Roddenberry. Well worth a watch even if your not a fan of the show itself.


From 1999: A guide to STAR WARS COLLECTIBLES.

The end of the Star Age was marked by the return of STAR WARS to the big screen (and, boy, that was adisappointment)... and, predictably enough, a deluge of new print products trying to ride shotgun on the hype around The Phantom Menace or playing the nostalgia card for lapsed fans keen to revisit the original trilogy. 

This one-shot spin-off from TOYSHOP magazine was one if the latter: a comprehensive guide to the warehouse full of merchandise released alongside the original trilogy. The obligatory price guide was just a list with prices attached but the articles made this worth picking up.

Best of the bunch was a story-by-story look back at the much maligned Marvel SW comic books. I've seen the same article, or a variation thereof, in Starlog's tenth anniversary salute to the saga and THE UNAUTHORISED STAR WARS COMPANION, by Ted Edwards, also from 1999 (a nice little book, albeit predictably short on illustration). 

It also features the "oh my!" C-3PO Topps trading card... Although this now appears, loud and proud, in the official Topps book published this year. 

Monday, 23 November 2015


From 1993: Britain's MARVEL SUPER-HEROES SPRING SPECIAL Holiday one-shot.

It wasn't just Stateside that Marvel was getting back into the adventure game in the early 1990's. After all-but-dumping the company's own characters at the end of the previous decade (leaving the door open, with varying degrees of success, for the London Editions DC reprints), they started to see a relative renaissance in the Nineties. 

The cover, by Davis and Farmer, looks a lot like it was either commissioned on spec or before the line-up (all culled, I suspect from the similar seasonal US anthologies of short stories) was locked because there is no hope of seeing ALIEN LEGION (an Epic title M-UK never touched), CAPTAIN BRITAIN or DEATH'S HEAD II inside. 



Continuing yesterday's theme of aliens with no concept of covert or camouflage... Here is the official softback book-cum-magazine for Spielberg's Star Age icon. Today, I guess, we'd call it a bookazine. 

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