Friday, 21 July 2017


From 1993: THE UK TELEFANTASY YEARBOOK 1992/ 1993, published by the fanzine Metamorph in 1993.

This was a cracking A4, b&w 'zine that - as the title suggests - looked back on the previous year's small-screen genre offerings.  And it was a pretty cool list of new and repeated shows.  And - best of all - this was just before the schedules (and the genre press) were overwhelmed by THE X-FILES, BABYLON FIVE and the wave of 1990s (mostly) syndicated and cable shows.

Both 'V' and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA were in reruns that year.  As was KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER (I rewatched the pilot of the revival show again this week... it's OK but completely lacks the charm of the original).  THE TOMORROW PEOPLE was the then-current Thames revival... which made more sense than the recent, rather confused, American reboot.

This was a mail-away 'zine which - I'd guess was advertised in either DWB/ DREAMWATCH and/ or TV ZONE.  or I may have seen the advert in another fanzine and sent off my cheque.  Those were the days...


From June 1998: a new look for the 38th issue of HORIZON, the fanzine-come-magazine published for the membership of THE BLAKE'S 7 APPRECIATION SOCIETY.

And - let's be honest - you can never have too much Jackie Pearce!

Maximum Power my darlings...


From January 1988: the first combined issue of EAGLE AND BATTLE.

As with the previous week's house ad for the merger, the combo is pretty low key.  I almost missed that this was the first combined issue when I was flicking through a stack of random back issues in one of my boxes...  There's none of the hoopla that surrounded the TIGER merger of previous years and there's a real sense of 'that'll do'.

The transferred strips were Stormforce (which appears to have already been doing double-duty in both BATTLE and EAGLE anyway), Charley's War and Johnny Red.

BATTLE did continue to appear as the occasional annual and special... I certainly have a copy of a special that was published (in the old tradition) several years after the main comic had been killed off.

Thursday, 20 July 2017


From 1988: MERGER ALERT!  Here's how the EAGLE announced the impending arrival of the refugees from the fall of BATTLE.

Despite the traditional hype ('Big News Issue!') it's obvious from the two-page house ad that this is now EAGLE AND TIGER style combination of equals (at least until the dust settled).  The BATTLE logo is conspicuously smaller than the Eagle's.  Funny that.

I think, by this point, two-thirds of the BATTLE strips were reprints anyway with only the fairly new Stormforce (introduced - after a treading-water hiatus - to plug the large gap left by the withdrawal of ACTION FORCE).  Maybe that helped to stunt in-house enthusiasm for the merger.  


From 1988: Last Issue Alert!  Years after the first predictions of its impending demise, BATTLE was finally overwhelmed by enemy forces (the enemy being changing tastes and a changing market) and plucked from the battlefield by - yup, you guessed it, EAGLE.

Given the deadlines and the on-sale date, it's easy to imagine that this issue, number 673, was put together just before the staff broke for the Christmas holidays and the end-of-year break.

By this time, despite the better printing that IPC/ Fleetway had switched to the previous year, BATTLE was a mere shadow of its former self.  The loss of the ACTION FORCE franchise had done some serious damage (although Marvel's glossy successor was faring little better in a tough market) and Stormforce, their in-house successors were more gimmick than traditional military might.  Charley's War and (as seen here) Johnny Red were really holding the fort... although one or both may have slipped into reprints by this point.  Overall, BATTLE followed the same slow decline as the other IPC weeklies... more and more reprints as budgets got tighter and tighter.

IPC had launched BATTLE back in March 1975 to counter the early success of WARLORD, launched by DCT the previous September.  Marvel UK also had a crack at their own me-too weekly, FURY, but that didn't work out so well.  Battle eventually outlived Warlord, which closed in September 1986.  The genre champion was, without doubt, Warlord's older sibbling VICTOR.  Launched in January 1961, it didn't retire from active service until November 1992.

Battle folded into EAGLE, management's go-to title for failing comics.  It's almost surprising that SUPERNATURALS and RING RAIDERS didn't go the same way but Fleetway opted to burn-off the remaining inventory from both early cancellations in end-of-run one-shots.  Stormforce had already been appearing in Eagle for a month-or-so, presumably part of a plan to prepare for the merger.  Or an indicator that the Eagle was also short of material pre-merger.  Charley's War and Johnny Red remained Eagle mainstays for the rest of its run.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


From June 1982: He's the unknown stuntman... LOOK-IN publishes the first episode of the new ongoing THE FALL GUY double-page strip, based on the Glen Larson TV show starring Lee Majors and NOT starring Heather Locklear.

There's a fun game you can play either whilst watching reruns of TFG or - indeed - any action film made before the 1980s: spotting/ guessing the source of the stock footage stunts, lifted from assorted movies (oft from the Fox library), peppered throughout the series to make Majors look good and the show look more expensive than it was.

FALL GUY trivia:  There is a 1993 TV movie called THE COVERGIRL MURDERS starring Majors (along with Adrian Paul and an island full of the sort of beaties beloved by telly execs) and written by Douglas on TFG.

The Adam Ant cover was obligatory.LOOK-IN's arch rival (at least for a little while) TV TOPS also obsessed with the campy rocker.  Even going as far as creating a time-travelling comic strip to ensure he appeared in every issue.


From August 1988: THE BEST OF EAGLE MONTHLY issue 4.

This is another hefty batch of cheap-and-cheerful IPC reprints which is gard to find today.  This issue compiled a run of Death Wish (nope, not Paul Kersey) strips.

Blake Edmonds was an F1 driver who had it all... until a crash left him badly burned.  Thereafter he took on any stunt or challenge - no matter how dangerous - because he had - yup - a death wish.

The strip started in 1980 in SPEED (from where, I suspect, these strips hail... making the mag even more collectable).  When that weekly went belly-up after a mere 31 issues the strip transferred to TIGER.  Thereafter it remained a mainstay until it transferred (along with the likes of Billy's Boots and Golden Boy) to EAGLE.  It continued to appear, albeit with a supernatural twist, long after TIGER was quietly dumped from the masthead.  He didn't have much luck for someone determined to die.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


From October 1986: The MASK PREVIEW ISSUE, published by IPC.

This was a little bit of a comics landmark.  It wasn't the first IPC title to be launched with a free preview issue (that was - probably - OINK which started with a freebie copy given away with the other IPC humour weeklies in April the same year) but it was the first time that IPC had really embraced the idea of doing a boys adventure comic based on a toy line.

It wasn't the first of course.  BATTLE had featured ACTION FORCE from the summer of 1983 onwards (and fully embraced the tie-in from later the same year) and EAGLE had run ROBO-MACHINES between November 84 and July 85.  But those had been strips running in an established title... this was the first time IPC had followed the MARVEL UK model of devoting the whole title (or - at least - the bulk of it) to a tie-in.

The toy was, of course, a TRANSFORMERS/ G.I. JOE hybrid (secret agents and bumbling villains use cars with secret 'enhancements' to foil each other's plans) intended to snatch sales from the two Hasbro powerhouses.  There was also the obligatory cartoon/ extended plug which was syndicated in the States and shown - mostly at weekends - on TV-am here in the UK.

This preview was a nicely put together full-length teaser which includes the origin story for the MASK organisation.  A story untold elsewhere... but retold in the first proper issue of the fortnightly comic.  Indeed all the stories (probably put together for the in-house dummy) are original, leaving the DC strips from the States to appear in the MASK annuals instead.  It's printed on glossy paper (another first for IPC... who were mostly content with leaving their weeklies to languish at the bottom end of the production standards league table) with a fair few interior colour pages (but, unlike the standard MARVEL UK comic of the time, not full-colour throughout).

Management were clearly taking this opportunity to fight back against the British Bullpen pretty seriously.

Copies were bagged with issues of EAGLE, BATTLE ACTION FORCE and ROY OF THE ROVERS.

The ongoing MASK series was initially published fortnightly (Marvel had done likewise with THE TRANSFORMERS... not least because there was a shortage of material to reprint) but later - no doubt due to strong sales - switched to weekly.

The tone of the ongoing run was a little less serious than this pilot... especially compared with the TV show and rivals such as the aforementioned Robots in Disguise or ACTION FORCE.

MASK ultimately ran for 80 issues before going the way of most licensed comics... But IPC continued to show faith by folding it into EAGLE rather than instantly ditching the license.

As one might expect, the strips have never been reprinted although I suspect some of the strips that appeared post-merger in EAGLE had previously appeared in the main comic.

IPC - and then Fleetway - were a little hit-and-miss with selecting which toy lines to ally themselves with.  Possibly because Marvel and London Editions already had good relationships with most of the big toy makers and had first choice with new liceses.  SUPERNATURALS, a toy with a hologram gimmick, was also launched with a free preview issues but - without a TV show - couldn't recreate the MASK effect.  The unfortunately named RING RAIDERS (also a pants toy) couldn't take flight either.


From November 1997: HORIZON, the newsletter of THE BLAKE'S SEVEN APPRECIATION SOCIETY issue 37.

Monday, 17 July 2017


From December 1987: the now not-so-new EAGLE celebrates 300 issues with a 'photo' opportunity and the hoisting of a flag.  Tharg did something similar - on a more impressive scale - to mark the 2000AD on sale at the turn of the millennium.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...