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. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015


From 1987: the most insane season ending cliffhanger in the history of US Primetime soaps (forget the Moldavian Massacre): Fallon Carrington Colby is kidnapped by a passing UFO (really!) in the season two finale of THE COLBYS (aka DYNASTY II: THE COLBYS).

There was no season three.

However, the storyline was wrapped up in the eighth season of DYNASTY, the show that spawned this ill-fated spin-off, when Emma Samms rejoined the original series.

The effects work is pretty impressive for a show that everyone involved must have suspected was terminal (why else would you pull a stunt like this?) and, contrary to popular belief, the miniature work isn't recycled from similar disco-equippped alien craft in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (of course), GALACTICA 1980 or THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO.  

Fallon had originally been played by Pamela Sue Martin (THE HARDY BOYS AND NANCY DREW MYSTERIES) but she bailed at the end of Dynasty's fourth season, only for Samms to step into the role (without explanation, naturally) the following season.

Keep watching the end credits for a bevy of Star Age stars drafted in to bolster the spin-offs flagging ratings.    

Thursday, 19 November 2015


From 2008: a familiar face on the front of DVD AGENT MAGAZINE.

I hadn't heard of this recent (way outside the Star Age) US magazine until I found this copy in a comic shop back issue bin.

The impressive PLANET OF THE APES cover caught my eye. So I thought I would share it here.

Although American, its a nice reminder of the now lost genre of the DVD magazine... And their sampler episode cover-mounted discs.



Screen superheroes, poster mags and photo novels were all big in the Seventies... And this beauty hits the motherload by cannily combining all three.

This was sold in the UK, and plugged in the British line, but its a Marvel US publication out of the New York Bullpen.

The photo strip (or "photocomics" as Stan rebrands the format) is a heavily edited but broadly faithful adaptation of the show's opening fearture-length episode. The Green Goliath's contemporaries received book-length photos adaptations (I just bought a bunch of STAR TREK ones that stretched 50 minute episodes to the requisite page count) where as this opener was subbed down to just a few pages. But it still retains the spirit of Ken Johnson's screen version. 

The flipside was a familiar through impressive publicity still of Lou Ferrigno as ol' green skin. Despite the advances in CGI technology, a buff guy in green body paint and a wig still doesn't seem so hokey. 
The movie, despite having already been screened on ITV, was eventually released as a feature film in British cinemas in 1980.

"Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

**UPDATE: Apparently there was a full Photonovel version of THE INCREDIBLE HULK pilot movie… although I've never seen a copy.  One to watch for methinks**

Tuesday, 17 November 2015



I have very fond memories of this as it was the first sticker album I attempted (and failed) to fill way-back-when.

This coincided with the Topps STAR WARS (blue border only, for some reason) and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA gum card sets (our local "dealer" was a guy at the Saturday market who sold assorted battered tins, cans and other food items presumably cast off as unsellable by proper shops) and overlapped with the similar FLASH GORDON and BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY albums and stickers.

All of the above were essential playground currency for the kids that had no interest in kicking a football around.

This 225 sticker set was pretty unsophisticated. There were no chase cards (a declaration in the album made it quite clear that all stickers were printed and distributed equally... Although some were always suspiciously more - or less - plentiful than others), no foil cards, no holograms. Just a succession of sticky stills from the movie and a few pieces of concept art by Ralph McQuarrie (who, in retrospect, was the first artist I could name and who's work I could recognise).

But that was the point. In today's multimedia age its hard to appreciate quite how important those stills were. They were a vital photographic reference to a film that, as far as we knew, might never appear on TV. The idea of actually owning a copy seemed unbelievable. Moving pictures, like theatre, were transient and (unless you went again) one-time-only encounters with other worlds.

They were also a great way of studying briefly glimpsed locations and characters. Along with the Kenner/ Palitoy action figures, these were actually vital reference tools... Before we knew it.

I never completed my album and dumped it decades ago. More fool me. But I found this album (for a £1!) recently and I had to have it. I guess the original owner wasn't a fan (or their parents had tighter control of the purse strings) as there are only a few stickers inside. But, nevertheless, it's a nostalgic blast from the past.

Interestingly, this album was also my first brush with classroom crime... And detection. My stash of vital swaps (safely secured by an elastic band) was swiped from my desk (my school still had the old-fashioned desks with storage under a lid... Soon to be replaced by new tables and plastic (!) chairs delivered by the council) by a classmate. He, of course, claimed his new set of swaps were his own. But he overlooked one vital clue.. One of my cards had a one-off printing flaw. And his set had the sane card with the same flaw. I had him bang to rights. He denied it of course... But I knew better. To his credit, he did the decent thing and quietly returned them. Nothing more was said by either of us on the matter.

A few years later someone swiped my Twiki action figure (from my teacher's desk drawer no less). I never got that back. Bidi Bidi Bummer. 


From the simpler 1970s: Giant, if you are a child, cardboard cutouts of your fave heroes: SPIDER-MAN and Cornelius from PLANET OF THE APES.

I can't quite comprehend as to how these could be "frightening" (except to grandparents with little grasp of anything post-war), especially as these were the good guys, but top marks to the advertising masterminds for making them sound as exciting as possible. And I bet they do look pretty neat. 

This one-pager appeared in Marvel New York's black & white mags. 

Monday, 16 November 2015


From February 1992: the first issue of FREDDY'S NIGHTMARES, another of the Trident reprint titles dedicated to film franchises pitched at an older readership. This time: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.

I'm not sure why they didn't do the obvious thing and name the comic after the franchise that inspired it, although the title had previously been used for the syndicated US anthology series that had a two season run between 1988 and 1990. I don't think any UK broadcaster ever picked it up (I can't imagine why) but I think a few episodes of the Freddy-fronted series snuck into video rental stores. 

The strips inside look to be a mix of the Innovation stuff coming out of the States at that time (including their adaptation of the sixth movie, FREDDY'S DEAD) and, more surprisingly, content from Marvel's abortive 1989 black & white magazine (which Marvel dropped, despite good sales, after only two issues because management started to get nervous about associating the Marvel brand with the film franchise). 

I picked this issue up secondhand which is why Robert ("V") Englund's alter ego has been slightly defaced. At least I'll know when other people are nicking my scans. 


Back to the winter of 1984 and issue 17-18 (a bulging end-of-year double edition) of DOCTOR WHO BULLETIN (aka DWB and, latterly, DREAMWATCH).

This is early coverage of the DOCTOR WHO season that never was. At least not in the form originally anticipated by the production team.

Whilst the were busy preparing scripts and scouting possible filming locations (including a trip to Singapore... How nice), the management on the sixth floor of TV CENTRE were plotting the show's demise. That didn't exactly go to plan either but it did force John Nathan-Turner to scupper his existing story plans for the much-delayed new season. The replacement, The Trial of a Time lord, hardly played to the show's strengths... Maybe he should have stuck to Plan A. 

Friday, 13 November 2015


From 1991: It's Friday the 13th today so, to celebrate, here's - err - the first issue of Innovation's (defunct publisher alert!) adaptation of the movie CHILD'S PLAY 2.

Well... It is a horror franchise. Just not the right one.

This isn't the sequel that sent the UK press into a moral panic. That was the third one.

I picked this up for a pound quite recently. The coolest thing is that it still has a Virgin price sticker on the bag. Which means it has languished somewhere, almost certainly unread, for nigh on 25 years. I guess the original buyer couldn't bring himself to read it. Or hoped some Chucky luck would bring him an investment windfall in old age.

Virgin, unlike HMV, briefly went big on comics in the early 1990s and opened departments in most of their megastores. Certainly the London branches at both ends of Oxford Street had them and their advertising at the time promoted other sites as well. I believe their Brighton Megastore is now a branch of Poundland.

Unfortunately, they then made the departments a Stateside Comics concession. And Stateside, buoyed by the speculator bubble, expanded very quickly (they had their own stores and also concessions in retailers such as Hamleys)... And promptly went bust.  The Megastores then dropped the departments. The basement one (so not exactly a prime real estate location... Despite the location) at the Tottenham Court Road store was subsequently obliterated when the store was extensively modernised.


From 1982: another scarcity from the STARLOGGED vaults... The DRAGONSLAYER movie tie-in Poster Magazine published by Marvel UK.

This is a pretty beat-up ol' copy that I stumbled across recently. It still had the original owner's blue tac attached. And its quite badly creased. But worth getting (especially as I paid pennies for it) because, thanks to the format and the relative (un)popularity of the film, it ranks highly amongst the Marvel UK rareties. 

This was, officially, the third issue of the STARBURST POSTER MAGAZINE series. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK was one of the other two. And I'm stumped for the third at the moment. Any ideas?

I've never actually seen the movie. Although I have a hunch that I do have a copy somewhere. It was part of the post-CONAN fantasy fare push of the early Eighties (if only Marvel had waited a bit longer to launch VALOUR: they might have had a minor hit rather than another flop) which, at the time, passed me by entirely. I was still living the Star Age. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015


From the Winter of 1984 (and the Random Scans Department): the end-of-year double issue of Britain's leading fanzine of the day: DOCTOR WHO BULLETIN.

This is from a time before I was reader but I spotted it in a dealer's box a few weeks ago and picked it up.

It's from the time when DWB was still a WHO only magazine, a status which (like ENTERPRISE INCIDENTS and its origins as a Trek zine) would eventually change to distinguish it from the officially licensed Marvel mag and avoid any legal entanglements with BBC Enterprises.


From 1980: a very atypical offering from the Annex of Ideas: The YOUNG ROMANCE SUMMER SPECIAL.

I would rank this as one of the Top Ten rarest MARVEL UK books published (not that I have ever written such a list) because copies very seldom surface in the back issue market. I've only ever seen one copy on sale... And this is it. I bought it for a couple of quid a few months ago from a London shop. 

Why so rare, albeit not terribly valuable? Because only romantically inclined Marvel fans, and compleatests, would have ever bought it to begin with. Despite creator credits for Stan and the greats of the US Bullpen, there's little to appeal to kids looking for their latest Star Age fix of action and adventure. 

YR, which also had a brief run as part of the POCKET BOOKS line, is also a Marvel UK landmark because it was the first time that the Bullpen had launched a title aimed primarily at girls. IPC and the Marvel's other rivals had, if course, considerable presence in this sector but it was unknown territory for the British Bullpen.

That said, I'm unconvinced these dated reprints from the US romance titles would have held much appeal to anyone other than collectors in 1980. It all seems rather twee and old-fashioned. But who am I to judge? It's not a sector I know much about and its hard to judge how these US tales sat beside homegrown offerings from the other publishers. 

I'm not sure if they reworked the cover art to make it look a little more contemporary but the chap on the cover does look a little like David Essex (I know this because I recently watched THAT'LL BE THE DAY and STARDUST... both of which were pretty good). 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


From 1997: a clever full-page ad promoting the delights of  XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS, a Saturday afternoon fixture on the newly launched CHANNEL FIVE.

Five was the much discussed, but seldom seen, fifth UK terrestrial channel. Thanks to the limitations of the analogue transmission network, vast chunks of the country (including relatively affluent... And well populated areas like... Err... Essex) couldn't actually see the channel.

And it garnered more press coverage for the its technical limitations (certain VHS machines needed to be retuned to avoid interference problems... Leading to predictions of bold-faced burglars blazingly sauntering into homes in the guise of TV engineers and departing with the family video under their arm), programming policy (football, films and f*cking were the three cornerstones of the early schedules) and sheer lack of viewers (comedians deemed it more likely that the average punter would see Sky TV... Or even Lord Lucan).

So it needed shows, and off-air advertising, that would catch the attention and work hard for a channel with tight budgets. This is one of them...

It appeared on the back cover of THE BOX issue three.


On sale now back in 1989: the second issue of the still bi-monthly TV ZONE magazine.

Just like the launch issue, the second outing stuck firm to the sure-fire sellers of WHO and TREK. This period also marks something of a transition: WHO was currently on British TV, albeit in the final weeks of what turned out to be its final season before the start of the prolonged wilderness years. Although quality was on the upswing, it had the feeling of a show in need of reinvigoration. 

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION was, on the other hand, the show that had captured fandom's attention... Even if very few British fans had seen very much of it. We were still almost a year away from the BBC's acquisition of the show, leaving early adopters to rely on the CIC tapes (launched onto the rental market in a flurry of promotional activity spearheaded by media appearances by Brit abroad Patrick Stewart), conventions and ropey off-air NTSC recordings imported by tape swappers. 

The magazine itself fortunately dispensed with the tacky Pritt Stick powered cover of the launch in favour of a strong single image. Unfortunately, the spoofy comic strip was still around... Although not for too much longer.

The Fantasy Flashback was a summary of the first episode of the original SURVIVORS (accompanied by some stills... TVZ's saving grace on many occasions) complemented by a few lines of behind-the-scenes background. We were still a long way from Pixley. 

Monday, 9 November 2015


From 1986: An advert for THE OFFICIAL STAR TREK FAN CLUB.

This advert appeared in the pages of STARLOG (to be specific: one of there STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME tie-in mags).

It always amazed me why anyone, even pre-internet, would want to join the STFC. It always seemed remarkably bad value for money and it wasn't as if there was a shortage of other outlets for all things Trek.

At this point, their magazine was a glossy A5 affair which was also available via comic book stores. I purchased a few at the time but long since ditched them. They were short, the word count was sparse and, except for the opportunity to order more merchandise, didn't offer anything above and beyond what you could find in your average month's STARLOG (except that mag had other pesky film and TV shows cluttering up its pages).

And, if course, it wasn't as if there was a shortage of local clubs and copious fanzines and newsletters that went above and beyond the professional mags. The very best I encountered, during my dalliances around the edges of Trek fandom, was Scotland's IDIC. They always published great newsletters.

The organisers of the Trek club subsequently took over the all but moribund Star Wars Fan Club (another organisation who's legendary newsletter, BANTHA TRACKS, didn't seem that great), rebadged it the LUCASFILM FAN CLUB (sign of the times) and shifted both newsletters to a not-quite A4 format.., and a remarkably low page count padded out by plugs for mail order merchandise.

1997: THE BOX MAGAZINE (Haymarket)

From 1997: the brilliant, and sadly short-lived, THE BOX magazine.

Although it only lasted a mere three issues, over a span of six months, I still rate this as one of my favourite magazines. I loved the way it wasn't afraid to tackle diverse, and occasionally obscure, subjects related to all things Small Screen in a detailed and considered fashion. This was EMPIRE for telly... Before the internet changed everything forever. 

I almost missed the first issue on the shelf of John Menzies (another blast from the past... WH Smith bought the stores a few years later and promptly shut them all) thanks to the Paul Whitehouse cover. But, once I picked it up, it was an immediate purchase. And it was only a £1. 

Two months later, issue two smartly rode the paranormal wave (no... Not the you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it BAYWATCH NIGHTS) with the obligatory X-FILES cover. Although THE BOX was classy enough to cough up for the UK rights to the ROLLING STONE cover shoot rather than just regurgitate any number of studio publicity stills ala Visual Imagination.

Did the cover of issue three seal its fate? You have to wonder. Amidst hundreds of cover stars gathered from the ranks of the beautiful people, Father Jack in all his disgusting glory was closer to FANGORIA than TV QUICK. 

The third issue heralded great things to come: the fourth issue, due that September, was to feature THE SWEENEY and Michael Palin. And, best of all, the frequency was going to be bumped up from bimonthly to monthly. Surely the sign of early success.

Except. September came. And the Box didn't. For a long time after I continued to check the shelves but, after a while, it began to be clear: rather than expanding...It had been cancelled. Michael Hesiltine, Haymarket's top guy, had got his chopper out.

Months later, its passing was briefly noted (and mourned) in the pages of the Media Guardian (in the days when Monday's paper was still an essential read).

Others, noteably CULT TV, came later. And TV ZONE soldiered on. But there was little chance they would cover the same ground (except when Andrew Pixley was writing for TVZ). 

Apologies for clipping the right-hand text on each of these. The page size is slightly wider than my bog-standard scanner. 

Friday, 6 November 2015

1980: EPIC ILLUSTRATED ISSUE 1 (Marvel Comics)

From Spring 1980: the first issue of Marvel's new magazine for the new decade: EPIC ILLUSTRATED.

This first issue was largely assembled by Marvel man Rick Marschall but he was replaced by the familiar face of Epic, the much loved Archie Goodwin, prior to launch.

EI was another example of Marvel's ongoing efforts to break out of the low margin world of comic books and conqueror other shelves at the news stand. 

The black & white magazine line had floundered, as had PIZZAZZ (Marvel's move into the teen market with a me-too version of DYNAMITE) so, this time, Marvel used HEAVY METAL as their starting point. 

EI offered a wide range of strips and genres, all pitched at the older comics connoisseur, from a variety of creative teams. The magazine format allowed better presentation of the material (although, unlike MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL, this wasn't full colour throughout), supporting text features (such as the interview with Glen Larson in the second issue) and allowed Marvel to attract upmarket advertisers (like drinks companies) that wouldn't (and couldn't) be associated with the colour comics. 

EPIC, despite regular plugs in the core line and MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE, never became a breakout hit but did tick over nicely for an impressive 34 issues before a sudden decision to shutter it left the final part of the Bryne/ Austin collaboration "The Last Galactus Story" unpublished. The final issue went on sale in early 1986.

Marvel, for the most part, avoided loading EI with their established characters. The multi-part Galactus story (26-34), and the Lee/ Buscema Silver Surfer collaboration herein, were the rare exceptions. Maybe a higher profile roster of character may have bolstered sales, but the desire to do something different (and a need to keep clear blue water between adult material and the company's more traditional fare) won out. 

The EI legacy was the creation of the EPIC COMICS imprint in 1982. Jim Stalin's DREADSTAR had first been introduced in the pages of EI issue three. The Epic remit was to utilise the burgeoning direct sales industry to challenge the rising independents with Marvel's own line of creator-owned and mature readers titles. A couple, like GROO, ELFQUEST and DREADSTAR AND COMPANY, also went to newsstands. 

Marvel also tucked mature readers title featuring their own characters, like Elektra, into the Epic line. This helped keep them out of reach of younger readers and bolstered the bottom line by mixing some (relatively) strong sellers with more marginal material. 

The Epic offering could occasionally be eccentric. It soldiered on into the Nineties by offering the likes of WILLIAM SHATNER'S TEKWAR and the HEAVY HITTERS sub-set of books. Epic was struggling for attention within the industry, and love within the Bullpen and senior management, and - when the industry imploded - Epic was one of the fringe Marvel lines ripe for the chop. 

Also posted below is the traditional reader survey, introduced by no less than Stan (or someone in the circulation department who could fake his style), which was loosely inserted into this opening edition. 

Thursday, 5 November 2015


From December 1980: another magazine I've never heard of... Much less seen... before: the US mag VIDEO ACTION.

Based on this ad, it looks like something I would like.

Anyone ever seen it? Or have cover scans to hand?


From the spring of 1983: the next issue, number five, of the black & white British magazine of TV appreciation PRIMETIME... Marking the passing of M*A*S*H.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015


From October 1979: FANTASTIC FILMS magazine covers ALIEN.

This is Volume 2, Issue 5 of the second tier Star Age journal.

Monday, 2 November 2015


From Autumn 1982: the fourth issue of the British magazine PRIMETIME.

This was a black & white journal dedicated to the serious issue of telly, offering heavyweight (but accessible) analysis ala some of the more highbrow movie mags. 

I already had a few of these that I had acquired over the years but I recently chanced across a longer run (of which this was the earliest) so I grabbed them for STARLOGGED.

As a journal of serious research, I would say this has one key disadvantage: the time this was published. This was before sell-through video and multichannel TV started to open up the archives (although early Channel Four wasn't afraid to pepper its schedules with some older, aquired, shows), so much of what the magazine contained must have been written from memory... With the knowledge that most readers wouldn't be any better placed to check the "facts". That's not to say that I suspect this is riddled with errors... Just that the individual writers must have had a tough time pulling the pieces together. 

Googling the title pulls up multiple entries for titles and services dedicated to older folk (and none of us are getting any younger) which makes finding hard facts trickier. I know it remained in black & white for the bulk of its life, but did adopt colour covers at the very end. I have one issue, purchased new circa 1990, with a colour cover devoted to ST:TNG, SHOESTRING and MIDNIGHT CALLER. That issue was definitely distributed via UK comics specialty stores.

Then, I think, it went on an extended hiatus before returning, once again in black & white, for an standout finale. That (unplanned) last issue featured an excellent Andrew Pixley penned timeline for the various series produced under the ITC banner, at home and abroad. Although I was aware of several of the shows from repeats on ITV and the BBC, the piece really sparked my interest and I later snapped the shows up on VHS and, latterly, DVD. 

Later mainstream titles like the excellent and much missed THE BOX tried a similar approach to treating TV with the same regard as film... But didn't find an audience (hey Haymarket.... I'm still waiting for that long-promised fourth issue). Marvel UK's PRIMETIME, which never progressed beyond a solitary pilot, probably would have also offered something similar as well. 

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