Published by MARVEL UK to coincide with the show's 25th anniversary (oh goodness, I feel old!) back in 1988, IT'S BIGGER ON THE INSIDE was the follow-up to 1987's THE DOCTOR WHO FUN BOOK (from Target Books). Once again, this was new material from Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett (Marvel UK's resident mirthsters since circa 1980).
Thursday, 21 August 2014
At the weekend I picked-up a new trade paperback, KINGS WATCH, which appears (because I've not actually read it yet) to be a revival of the old DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH concept in all-but-name.
For the forgetful/ young, the Defenders (not to be confused with the multiple iterations of the Marvel team) were Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, The Phantom and Lothar. The thing they all had in common, other than being faded stars of newspaper strips, was that they were all characters owned by King Features Syndicate.
Back in the eighties, KFS and Marvel Productions teamed-up to bring the characters back to TV in a new 65-episode daily animated series (which enjoyed numerous runs on the BBC in the UK). In an attempt to make the somewhat old-fashioned characters more palatable to a modern audience, Marvel stacked the show with an unfeasibly large cast of offspring for the various main characters who, in addition to adventuring, also became educational parental figures.
Defenders was accompanied by a large merchandising push, including figures and vehicles, but never really caught fire with consumers. Marvel, obligingly, launched a comic book version under the Star Comics imprint. Unfortunately, the line suffered a contraction and several titles, including DOTE, were canned suddenly (the toy/ animation tie-in THE INHUMANOIDS expired at the same time, forcing the reprints in Marvel UK's THE TRANSFORMERS to end without wrapping-up the plot). The fourth issue was the last.
The first two US issues, which adapted the show's opening episodes (the Marvel version explicitly establishes that the soon-to-die wife of Flash Gordon is indeed Dale Arden, the screen version is much more coy and never names her for some reason) appeared OVER here in a MARVEL UK annual.
These two specials, both from 1988, reprinted the third and fourth issues of the US series.
The Defenders strips were also serialised in THE MARVEL BUMPER COMIC.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
THE BEST OF MISTY was another entry into IPC's range of back-catalogue scouring "Best of" black & white monthlies and launched in early 1986. Like the others in the series, it compiled stories from the weekly.
Unusually, these compilations hailed from a long-defunct title. IPC had folded the cult classic supernatural girls comic into TAMMY (ahem) way back in January 1980 after a run of 101 issues over just under two years.
The "Best Of" line was somewhat hit-and-miss in terms of success. The 2000AD spin-off, launched the previous year, was a runaway success (despite the sheer number of other 2000AD reprints doing the rounds at the time) and eventually ran for a decade before being relaunched to coincide with the 1995 JUDGE DREDD movie. It even managed to spawn a spin-off of its own when the Dredd strips were split off into their own title.
At the other end of the spectrum, the EAGLE spin-off proved to be a flop desperate being attached to IPC's 1980s mainstay (the list of other titles it absorbed is depressingly long: SCREAM, TIGER, BATTLE, MASK and WILDCAT), and pulling reprints from TIGER and SCREAM, it failed to find a readership.
These represented a low investment/ high return prospect for the publisher… they didn't have to pay to reprint their own inventory and the work-for-hire creators weren't entitled to supplementary payments for reuse of material.
This was another test-the-water one-shot, published by MARVEL UK in late 1980.
It must have been deemed a sufficient success (possibly thanks to the amazing cover art) to return the next year as (the inappropriately named) BLOCKBUSTER resurfaced as a monthly with Omega, The Inhumans and Iron Fist. With a line-up like that, it's no wonder it didn't last the year.
Thor didn't reprise his slot for the ongoing series, presumably because he was already booked into VALOUR… followed by MARVEL ACTION and, before the end of the year, CAPTAIN AMERICA. He finally graduated to his own solo weekly, the first to appear with colour interiors, in 1983.
Manga were a spin-off of the VHS/ distribution company of the same name who, if my memory is correct, had expanded into publishing by taking over Dark House International's Manga title when they withdrew from the UK market.
They got (exceptionally) lucky in 1995 by picking-up the UK comics rights to THE X-FILES just as it was exploding into the zeitgeist. The main contents were lifted from the US Topps Comics tie-in, supplemented by newly originated text features.
I wasn't a regular reader of this (but I have acquired the hardback compilations of the main Topps run) at the time but I believe Titan eventually took over the rights and, partly because Topps were beginning to struggle and the flow of new material was starting to dry up, rebooted it as a magazine.
This first issue came with a free cover-mounted metal pin badge (long since lost unfortunately).
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
The Marvel Mandarins try and keep their New World paymasters happy (and demonstrate some synergy) with this 1987 adaptation of the low-budget horror-comedy HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY.
Friday, 15 August 2014
Here's something ideal for fetish fans and comic book junkies: rubber masks based on comic book characters… plus other assorted late-seventies (this US ad hails from 1979) tosh including KISS Make-Up. Whot's not to love?
From the summer of 1980: two stunning pieces of Jim Steranko EMPIRE STRIKES BACK art from the front and rear covers of his MEDIASCENE PREVUE magazine.
This is either issue 41 of MEDIASCENE… or the first issue of MEDIASCENE PREVUE… it's running a dual numbering system inside.
Previously a newspaper-esque tabloid, this was (I believe) the first issue to appear in a traditional magazine format. Apparently, over time, the quotient of scantily-clad ladies significantly increased.