Friday, 29 April 2016

1977: STAR WARS IN VECTOR (BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION)

From August 1977: Some very early heavyweight STAR WARS coverage in VECTOR ("The critical journal of Science Fiction") published by The British Science Fiction Association. 

It's worth remembering that STAR WARS didn't get its' London premiere until Christmas 1977 and didn't go on nationwide release until the following year (which is why Marvel and other merchandisers waited until then to launch their official, and unofficial, tie-ins). So this is very early coverage for a UK publication. 

The BSFA was established in 1958 and is still going strong today. 

I've never been a member, I found this issue in a dealer box recently and it was too good to pass up. 

1987: JAMES BOND ROLE PLAYING GAME ADVERT

From September 1987: Remember the JAMES BOND ROLEPLAYING GAME? Nope, me neither. But it was a thing, at least in the States.

This is a full-page ad, from STARLOG MAGAZINE, for the game and some of the supplements. This was clearly quite a substantial line at the time based on the number of different adventures and soucebooks available. 

No word on whether prolonged exposure crested a generation of geeky, Martini addicted, promiscous, killing machines. 

They were published by an outfit called Victory Games, Starlog just handled the mail order side. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

1985: THE MOVIE SCENE MAGAZINE ISSUE 1

From 1985: Another entry from the random scans department... the launch issue of the more highbrow British cinema mag THE MOVIE SCENE.

I found this recently and picked it up because it was a title that I had no previous knowledge of. It looks like it ran for nine issues between February 1985 and the following January. It started with a monthly frequency but seems to have paused for several months between the sixth and seventh issues.

1995: THE G.I JOE REVIVAL IN DARK HORSE INSIDER

From December 1995: The final issue (in this format) of DARK HORSE INSIDER (48) trumpets the impending (and ill-fated) return of G.I JOE to Comicdom. 

This week saw the return of the MICRONAUTS to print (although it doesn't seem that long ago since the last revival... although time flies) so I thought it would be fun to revisit another, earlier, revival of a classic toy brand. 

The Joes had run out of steam in the early 1990s with sales of the toy line (forced to create ever more preposterous sub-sets to hold the attention of fickle young consumers) and the Marvel comic book way off their highs of the previous decade. 

This was a total reboot that was intended to reboot the franchise for a new audience. But it got lost in the mid-Nineties clutter and never secured the traction it needed. The 1980s "Real American Heroes" characters and continuity returned in late 2001 (days after the 9-11 attacks... giving the whole premise new resonance) and captured the Geek Culture zeitgeist in a way this never did. 

I skipped the four-issue run at the time (I probably would have dabbled if it had been a reboot of the Eighties version rather than a total restart) but I'm pretty sure I've acquired it more recently. I've never read it. Maybe it would have faired a bit better of the pre-launch publicity had used more than one partially obscured image.

Interestingly, ACTION MAN (the British version of the original Joe toy) is poised to make his US comics debut. We really do live in a smaller world now. 

Dark Horse Insider was a holdover from the boom years of 1992-93 when publishers had massive marketing budgets and needed to work hard to get their products to stand out in an oversatuated market. Most of the majors churned out their own (often black & white) plugathons. DHI continued as a cheaper one-sheet poster style fold-out before being abandoned altogether. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

1996: COMICS INTERVIEW SUPER SPECIAL: THE X-FILES

From 1996: a squarebound special edition of COMICS INTERVIEW magazine with coverage of THE X-FILES.

The uninspiring coverage of the show focuses on the Topps comic book, merchandising and an episode guide. So, for the most part, no different to every other genre magazine of the time trying to boost circulation figures with some opportunistic coverage of all-things-X. Plus CI had the traditional disadvantage of black & white interiors which limited the potential for pages upon pages of Gillian Anderson (and an enigmatic filling cabinet) studio publicity shots. 

The one-shot  was a flip book with the reverse cover (and greater proportion of the page count) dedicated to the very 1990s trend in impossibly proportioned "bad girl" comics. 

This isn't a particularly fine example of the run but the COMICS INTERVIEW SPECIALS are generally worth grabbing it you stumble across them as they are good collections of themed material (and sometimes new interviews) from the main mag. 

1987: STARBURST WINTER SPECIAL/ SPECIAL #1 (VISUAL IMAGINATION)

From the Winter of 1987: the first ever (annuals and occasional poster mags not withstanding) special spun off from STARBURST MAGAZINE.

Marvel UK never quite "got" Starburst when they owned the title... their attempts at brand extension were limited and uncoordinated and they didn't seem to do much to leverage the parent company's distribution to make it a serious rival to STARLOG in the States. It just sat awkwardly alongside their move into licensed kids titles and offered little in the way of synergy. 

When Marvel offloaded the title to Visual Imagination the new owners used it as a launch pad for various other even more niche ongoing titles like TV ZONE and SHIVERS. And those in turn launched subsidiary magazines like CULT TIMES. And their acquisition of long-runner FILM REVIEW begat more opportunities. 

This WINTER SPECIAL was the first of 85 (!) specials published on a quarterly basis. The release pattern formed the template for similar schedules for spin-offs from TV ZONE, XPOSE, CULT TIMES and FILM REVIEW.  The spin-off, along with the monthly, ground to a halt in 2008 when the company hit financial difficulties. 

The main magazine has returned but, to date, it has not spawned any spin-offs.

Monday, 25 April 2016

1975: JAMES BOND IN THE DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU ISSUE 13 (MARVEL COMICS)

From May 1975: Roger Moore's JAMES BOND grabs the cover action in THE DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU issue 12. 

As far as I know, this was the first time that 007 graced the front cover of a Marvel mag (albeit published under the Curtis banner)... but certainly not the last.

This (no doubt) Eon unauthorised outing was to accompany a lengthy article about martial arts in the Bond movies. There was no 007 strip material.  

Bond did get two authorised outings in Marvel Comics during Moore's tenure with both FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981) and OCTOPUSSY (1983) getting adaptations. 

The former boasted art by Howard Chaykin and appeared as a one-shot magazine and two issue limited series. It was one of the adaptations that appeared as the third feature in the UK's RETURN OF THE JEDI weekly several years later. 

OCTOPUSSY was adapted by the British team of Steve Moore and Paul Neary. I picked up a copy of the UK hardback annual yesterday and the colouring really is terrible. It looks more worthy of a World Distributors annual than a Marvel publication. It appeared in the States as an issue of MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL with no comic book version and no British run in a regular comic. 

1989: FANGORIA PRESENTS CINEMAGIC HORROR FX (STARLOG GROUP)

From 1989: Ever fancied making your own ketchup consuming scarefare killathon?

This Starlog Group one-shot probably told you all you needed to know to craft your own teen massacre for the cameras.

FANGORIA PRESENTS CINEMAGIC HORROR FX combined two of the group's stalwart titles to encourage film makers to get creative with latex. 

I've not looked at this in any detail (another £1 discovery) but it seems chancey to encourage the ill-prepared and the poorly informed to be encouraged to be let loose with chemicals, glue and other skin-blistering hardware. 

Did this kick start any careers? Can any top-notch make-up boffins claim their careers started when they picked up this mag? Are there any lawsuits still pending?

1986: SPIDER-MAN AND ZOIDS ISSUES 18-21 (MARVEL UK)

From July 1986: issues 18 - 21 of SPIDER-MAN AND ZOIDS weekly from MARVEL UK. 

It's a stable three-strip line-up this month with the STAR WARS story continuing alongside the two titular mainstays. 

Friday, 22 April 2016

1984: INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM ANNUAL (MARVEL UK)

From 1984: Britain's INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM ANNUAL, reprinting the US comics adaptation and published by Marvel UK and Grandreams.

There was no getting away from this one: in addition to this annual, Marvel London also serialized the strip in the pages of SPIDER-MAN weekly... the first time that they had put a movie strip into the long-runner. I think it also appeared quite a long time before the movie itself opened here in Britain in an age where spoilers were no big deal.

Coinciding with the release of the film itself, Redan Place rolled out an Indiana Jones monthly (see posts past) which kicked off with THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF... reprints (previously seen in the STAR WARS monthly) and, sure enough, the TEMPLE OF DOOM adaptation again. This unfortunate bit of planning meant that all the strip contents in the "new" mag were actually reprints of recent reprints. This may explain why it only ran for 11 issues and a special before becoming the final title to fold into Spider-man (at that point the juvenile THE SPIDER-MAN COMIC) during its last months.

The colouring on the cover, recycled from the US magazine edition, makes it look like Doctor Jones is wearing lippy. 

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