MAXIMUM POWER!Telos Books, purveyors of fine telefantasy tie-in fare (Slow-Robot can't wait for their upcoming multi-volume unofficial guide to original and remake BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) have just published the rather excellent UNOFFICIAL AND UNAUTHORISED BLAKE'S 7 THE MERCHANDISE GUIDE (see below for the cover) by Mark B Oliver which, not unsurprisingly, includes a chapter on Marvel UK's BLAKE'S SEVEN MAGAZINE.It contains a lot of hitherto unrevealed behind-the-scenes information about the magazine (taken, in part, from Rob Kirby's we've-been-waiting-more-than-a-decade-for-this tome to Marvel UK.All the covers are reproduced (along with a page of Ian Kennedy art produced for the dummy issue and never actually published) but thumbnail-sized, so this seemed a good reason to put larger scans (albeit rather old and not quite as nice as I would like) on the blog.- Marvel UK acquired the license from the BBC to coincide with (the unexpectedly commissioned) fourth season of the television series.- Marvel UK's photographer Ken Armstrong was granted access to filming (on location and in-studio at BBC Television Centre) providing the copious amounts of colour (for covers and centre-spreads) and black and white stills used throughout the run. Most (all?) of these pictures have never been used elsewhere.- Marvel's crappy-paper printing of the era meant that most of the black-and-white photos were poorly reproduced. The colour covers and glossy centre-spread posters were much better. - A lack of photographic material, and television repeats, severely curtailed Marvel's coverage of season's 1-3.- As early as issue 1, never a good sign, Marvel clearly struggled to find enough material to fill every issue. Fans were justifiably critical of unrelated book reviews and jokes and (unrelated) trivia pages better suited to a World Annual. Licensor BBC Enterprises were also unimpressed and demanded improvements.- Issue one was released to coincide with the UK broadcast of the fourth season. Issue four was on-sale the fateful day that the final episode aired. A 1982 repeat of the final season almost certainly extended the longevity of the magazine into 1983.- Marvel produced a not-for-distribution mock-up of the magazine, including a specially-comissioned comic strip drawn by Ian Kennedy. The never-published strip (panels of which can be seen below in the pre-launch in-house advert) was created before the format of the fourth season had been decided and doesn't match the TV incarnation.- Kennedy was slated to be the regular artist on the strip but had to drop-out after a car accident.- Actor Paul Darrow wrote a regular feature for the magazine.- Marvel published spin-off SUMMER and WINTER SPECIALS during 1982, largely assembled from reprint material from the regular magazine and STARBURST MAGAZINE.- Like Titan's TORCHWOOD MAGAZINE, later issues looked increasingly desperate for new TV-related material. Despite this, the final issue was still double-sized (and double-the-price).- Most issues contained a mix of Armstrong's photos (which readers had the chance to buy), the comic strip, articles and interviews with cast and crew- Originally priced 45p, the monthly had two price rises (to 50p, then 60p) in quick succession.- The magazine's comic strips have never been collected or reprinted.- The magazine was not generally available in the United States, despite the series gathering a fan following on PBS stations.- World Distributors published three annuals, tied to the first three years of the TV show, which were entirely unrelated to the Marvel magazine.- Marvel renewed their relationship with the series in 1994 with the launch of a regular BLAKE'S SEVEN POSTER MAGAZINE and companion WINTER SPECIAL. The special, written by TV historian Andrew Pixley, was a detailed account of the making of all four TV seasons (using research material initially compiled for a planned book). Marvel planned a Blake's Seven Yearbook (a companion to their DOCTOR WHO YEARBOOK) for 1995 but plans changed when the poster magazine proved unsuccessful and closed. The already written-and-designed yearbook was cancelled and hastily reworked as the SUMMER 1995 special. This was also written by Pixley and equally invaluable to any fan of the series.
Pre-launch advertising, using Ian Kennedy's strip created specifically for the dummy issue... and never publicly available.
Free iron-on t-shirt transfer.
Inexplicably, the cover text now begins to mention Vol. 1. There was never a volume 2.
New cover logo design begins with this issue.
Soolin looks like she has a headache.
Price rise to 50p.
Free "Bring Back Blake's Seven sticker loosely inserted.
*Another* price rise, to 60p
Extra-length final issue, priced at £1.20
SUMMER SPECIAL 1982
WINTER SPECIAL 1982
WINTER SPECIAL 1994
SUMMER SPECIAL 1995
The Telos Books Merchandise Guide 2012