Wednesday, 29 July 2015

1980: BLOCKBUSTER PART 1: BLOCKBUSTER WINTER SPECIAL (Marvel UK)


From late 1980: MARVEL UK's BLOCKBUSTER WINTER SPECIAL starring Thor and Omega the Unknown... and precursor for a new blink-and-you-missed-it monthly the following year.

- To Be Continued -

1979: STARBURST Issue 9 (Marvel UK)


From May 1979: The 9th issue of MARVEL UK's STARBURST Magazine. 

1981: MARVEL SUPER ADVENTURE PART 6 (Marvel UK)







From October 1981: the end is nigh... the final weeks of MARVEL SUPER ADVENTURE.

Although it managed to outlive its companion MARVEL ACTION by sixteen issues, MSA didn't really fare much better and followed it into the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA before the end of the year.  

The merger, which saw Daredevil survive but the MSA brand immediately vanish without trace (the first 'merged' issue conspicuously didn't mention MSA anywhere on the cover), coincided with the return of glossy covers (banished from the superhero weeklies since the Marvel Revolution of early 1979) and it's possible that the Bullpen deemed MSA unworthy of the upgrade... or they believed that marginal sales wouldn't survive the increased cover price (a 5p jump to 20p a copy).



The CAPTAIN AMERICA weekly, which also included Thor from the Marvel Action merger, was also on borrowed time.  This second merger, combined with the relaunch, pushed it into the following year but it was still cancelled in April.  

The Black Panther didn't fare quite so well and the end of MSA marked the last regular outing of the character in the UK line.  

Note the use of the word "newstand" in the half-page ad for the merger.  It might have been common parlance in the States but barely used here in the UK.  

BTW, for some reason I didn't scan the cover of issue 23.  I'll add it next time I have a scanning sesh. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

1993: MANGA MANIA Issue 1 (Dark Horse International)


From July 1993: A hefty new launch from London-based Dark Horse International: The 128-page beast that was MANGA MANIA.  

There's something of an unplanned MARVEL UK reunion happening in this first outing.  GODZILLA (albeit Marvel's controversy-attracting take on the city-stomper) had previously enjoyed a 1979 Marvel Revolution era run in MARVEL COMIC and, latterly, SPIDER-MAN whilst AKIRA (in colour, courtesy of Epic reprints) had graced the six-issue experiment that was MELTDOWN (1991-92).  

DHI, which burned bright briefly by following the tried-and-tested old British Bullpen formula of reprinting (mostly licensed) characters from the US line-up, didn't last long (the mid-decade slump forced Dark Horse to retrench back to the States) but MM itself soldiered on under two further owners: Manga (who probably saw it as a handy outlet to plug their own VHS offerings) and then Titan Magazines.  

I'm indebted to STARLOGGED reader "Jon T" who, back in 2013, posted the following excellent potted history of the title after I noted the first issue of Titan's eventually successor: 1998's MANGA MAX (see: here).  I hope he doesn't mind me running it again here.

In summary, Dark Horse UK wanted to capitalise on the rising crest of UK anime video releases in 1993 by putting a magazine together around manga strips they had the rights to (including nabbing Akira from Marvel).

The following year Dark Horse closed their UK operation, at which point Manga Video got into publishing and continued the magazine themselves (around the same time they semi-controversially tried to copyright the word "Manga"). The magazine was much the same as before, and eventually even became squarebound, although noted writer Helen McCarthy was forced out due to friction with Manga Video.

Real trouble on the horizon began towards the end of 1996 when the magazine finished their serialization of Akira in issue 37. The next issue saw the magazine branch into live-action Asian movies, which didn't go down too well with some readers at the time. Issue 39 was the last squarebound issue and the last one published by Manga, who shut down their publishing division shortly thereafter.

Manga Mania was next picked up by third publisher Titan Books, with issue 40 appearing three months later, although issue 41 would appear a staggering five months after that. The last few issues appeared some two-three months apart until issue 46 in mid-1998, which was the final issue.

A second volume of Manga Mania with a more international bent was promised, but ultimately appeared as Manga Max, apparently due to a trademark issue in the U.S. Although Manga Max stuck back to a monthly schedule, it had a much smaller page count and, in their effort to appeal to U.S. readers, often annoyingly featured reviews of anime video releases that would never see the light of day in the U.K.

Ultimately, the effort to appeal to the U.S. is what finally killed it, as Titan was shipping copies out to the U.S. by sea. Consequently, by the time it hit the stands over there, most of the breaking news featured within was wildly out of date. Manga Max's final issue was #20 in mid-2000. Another comeback was promised, but never materialized.

1985: SFTV Issue 2


From January 1985: SFTV magazine issue 2, published in the States.

The line-up is pretty similar to the first issue but the cover, utilizing one of the specially-shot "V" publicity stills, is an improvement on the could-have-been-done-by-anyone first issue.  

The decision to run a blue background clearly created some scalpel-wielding action... which wasn't entirely successful. 

1991: EPI-LOG MAGAZINE Issue 12


From November 1991: Another bumper batch of British telefantasy episode guides courtesy of the 12th issue of EPI-LOG magazine. 

1981: MARVEL SUPER ADVENTURE PART FIVE (Marvel UK)






From September 1981: five more doses (18-22) of "non-stop ripping action" (huh?) courtesy of MARVEL UK's not-much-longer-lived MARVEL SUPER ADVENTURE weekly.

- To Be Continued -

Monday, 27 July 2015

1990: STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION NOVELIZATION PHOTO-COVER EDITION (Titan Books)


From 1990: The Titan Books reissue of the STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION: ENCOUNTER AT FARPOINT novelization, now adorned with a cast photo cover, and released to coincide with the BBC's belated acquisition of the show for BBC TWO's early evening schedules.

That was a controversy-baiting bit of scheduling because fans, after having been made to wait three years for the British telly premiere, had expected a more respectful peak time slot... ideally on the main channel.  They took the sleight as further evidence that the Corporation mandarins were anti all things SF but conveniently overlooked that the early episodes weren't always much cop.

The first editions of the book had appeared in 1987 to coincide with the show's US syndicated premiere but such was the haste to hit the release date, the image-free cover looked more like a crude mock-up for publicity and solicitation purposes.

I've not read this since that first 1987 edition (now unfortunately long-since lost) but I do remember that, to hit that on-sale date, it was based rather obviously on the shooting script and series bible and (like the early DC Comics tie-ins) wasn't entirely faithful to either the show as aired on its principal characters. 

1976: THE MAKING OF DOCTOR WHO (Target Books)


From 1976: Target Book's THE MAKING OF DOCTOR WHO.  

This tie-in seems pretty basic today but, I bet, at the time this was essential reading for fans desperate for any information that could find on the thirteen year old show. 

1984: ENTERPRISE INCIDENTS Issue 14


From February 1984: ENTERPRISE INCIDENTS issue 14.

From circa issue 12, EI's remit expanded so that it was no longer just a TREK tie-in, although (as this cover shows) the publishers were careful not to alienate their existing fan base by moving to far to fast. 
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