Wednesday, 29 March 2017

1981: STARLOG MAGAZINE REPORTS ON BUCK ROGERS IN US SYNDICATION

From May 1982: STARLOG MAGAZINE announces plans for BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY to, after the end of its network run, enter syndicated reruns.

Interrestingly, BBC TWO adopted exactly the same early evening scheduling policy when they snapped up reruns of this, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, THE INVISIBLE MAN and other cult shows to run against the SIX O'CLOCK NEWS later in the decade.


1980: MARVEL UK'S STAR WARS THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK MONTHLY ISSUE 141... WITH ORIGINAL 'BANNED' ENDING

From 1980: A special (more special than we realised at the time) issue of MARVEL UK's just relaunched EMPIRE STRIKES BACK MONTHLY. The 'Banned' issue.

At first glance it looks like a straight black & white reprint of US issue 46.  However, this went on sale sometime in November 1980 (UK comics were almost always dated for the week or month ahead of actual publication) but didn't hit Stateside stands until the following January (with an April 1981 coverdate).  That means that - technically - the US edition is the reprint... albeit in colour and from a US creative team.

But it doesn't end there.  The story, by J.M. DeMatteis, has a pacifist bent which apparently offended the folks at Lucasfilm licensing.  They ordered a last-minute reworking of the final page to change Lando's outlook so that he rejects the pacifist views presented.  That sufficiently irked the author that he had his name removed from the issue.  But - due to muddle or early deadlines - the 'uncorrected' version of the story had already been shipped across the Atlantic and appeared in the UK as originally intended.  Albeit in black & white.

No effort was made to withdraw the issue from sale and it is possible no-one in the UK (or the States) even realised they had gone 'off message'.

This remains the only time the original conclusion of the story has appeared in print.  A subsequent outing in one of the British annuals (now in colour) switched to the reworked US version... as have subsequent American reprints.

Presented here is the original final page, before it got 'fixed' by the heavy hand of the studio.



1980: 2000AD IN BEM ISSUE 29

From August 1980: Tharg's droids come under the spotlight in a themed issue of British comics fanzine BEM.

A great little issue looking at British comics, a slice of the market usually overlooked by Britishh fanzines of the period in favour of flashier imports.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

From May 1982: a STARLOG MAGAZINE photo-retrospective (including a rogues gallery snap from the Universal Tour attraction) remembering BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.







1983: BATTLE CELEBRATES 400 ISSUES

From January 1983 (although it would have been on sale during the tricky post-Christmas wrap-up of the previous year): IPC's BATTLE celebrates its 400th issue.

The cover neatly shows how far the weekly had shifted from its original war/ combat formula into a broader 'action' line-up in an attempt to stem sagging sales.

I suspect that there were some doubts in Kings Reach Tower as to whether Battle would see out the year as a standalone title.  Rumours were swirling that it was being prepared for the chop and a merger with the EAGLE.

Management, however, came up with a winning formula which propelled it past the 500 issue mark and kept it out of the Eagle's claws for several more years: A deal with toymakers Palitoy to devote half the pages to extended plugs for the ACTION FORCE toys.  Not only did it make the sums add up but it also attracted a new generation of readers.  And - despite the reputation of toy tie-ins (some of the ones that subsequently popped up in Eagle were pretty dire) the AF strips were generally of a pretty high standard... and some are actually quite memorable.  And the editorial team must have had great fun with Codename: Beaver.


BIZARRE, THE AVENGERS FANZINE, ISSUE 3

More AVENGERS fanzine action: issue three of the undated BIZARRE A5er.


1981: THE STARLOG CAP

From 1981: the official STARLOG baseball cap.  What more could any self respecting fan need to show their loyalty to all things geeky?


Monday, 27 March 2017

THE HARDY BOYS NANCY DREW MYSTERIES

From 1980: the HARDY BOYS NANCY DREW MYSTERIES ANNUAL.

The Nancy Boys and Hardy Drew mysteries, of course, started in print and this late Seventies incarnation, from the Glen Larson TV factory, is certainly not their only screen incarnation.

I've recently been rewatching a few episodes from the second season and - for the most part - they are great fun.  The mysteries are normally straight-forward (it was, after all, pitched at an undemanding family audience) but it's great to see another show from the Universal TV factory at its prime.  Many of the episodes are stacked with familiar faces from the period in guest turns, including numerous members of Larson's stock company... parachuted in to similar roles across numerous shows.

The show also deserves top marks for ambition.  The Hardy Boys are a globetrotting duo... even when the show itself doesn't leave California.  The Universal backlot, especially the 'European town' exterior set is frequently - and rather obviously - redressed to be somewhere else... such as Egypt in an outing I watched recently.  Extensive set dressing and tight camera angles largely worked... although some rather green looking hils did sneak into the back of shot a few times.  But no one would have noticed that way-back-when.

Most fun has to be the two-part MYSTERY OF THE HOLLYWOOD PHANTOM, which doesn't even attempt to hide that the whole show was shot on the Universal Tour... trams and all.  It reheats (not for the first - or last - time) the old PHANTOM OF THE OPERA plot (see also: the excellent teleflick THE PHANTOM OF HOLLYWOOD and the KNIGHT RIDER episode Fright Knight) as an excuse to dispatch Nancy and the Boys (in a rare team-up... they initially operated on a rotating basis... until the boys emerged as the more obvious ratings draw and the show's priorities were tweeked accordingly) all around the lot.

Not only is it great to get a sense of what Universal looked like during this period (yup... the Jaws stand-in and trippy 'ice tunnel' are present and correct and there are a few nice overhead shots of the lot... including the infamous 'Black Tower' administration building) but the show gets a bit post-modern by featuring cameos by Dennis Weaver (playing himself playing Larson's McCloud), Jaclyn Smith (playing herself playing Kelly Garrett on CHARLIE'S ANGELS) and Robert Wagner (playing himself playing  Ryan from - shocker - Larson's SWITCH).  Things go completely nuts when Casey (AMERICA'S TOP TEN and a billion voiceovers) Kasem pops up playing bit-part actor Paul Hamilton playing Peter Falk playing Columbo).

The BATTLESTAR GALACTICA attraction was opened when this story was shot and aired (although it is nice to think that somewhere on the lot the show was in frantic pre-production) but it does feature in Universal's (surprise!) GET SMART reboot THE NUDE BOMB, shot on the lot a few years later.  By Your Command.

The show's first two seasons are available on disc.  The third is also apparently released... although judging from the Amazon listings, I have my doubts.




1993: CELESTIAL TOYROOM CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF DOCTOR WHO

From 1993: Westminster Bridge in happier times... CELESTIAL TOYROOM 201 marks the 30th anniversary of DOCTOR WHO with this wraparound cover recreating the Dalek invasion of the capital... and Earth in general.  

From memory, I think this shoot was for the THIRTY YEARS IN THE TARDIS TV documentary (subsequently released on tape, in an alternate/ superior edit, as MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS IN THE TARDIS) although the images were widely circulated at the time (becoming the iconic image of the anniversary year) so I may be wrong.

CT was published by the DOCTOR WHO APPRECIATION SOCIETY.  I was never a member (DWM and DWB, along with the VHS releases, were sufficient to keep me WHO happy throughout the 1990s) but I did find a stack of old CTs, for 50p each, at a con years ago and made a point of snapping them all up.  Looking at them now, they are a fascinating reference point for when the show existed only thanks to fandom's ongoing commitment.  




1988: EAGLE HOLIDAY SPECIAL

From 1988: that year's EAGLE HOLIDAY SPECIAL.


I think the weekly was beginning to slide past its prime at this point (or, to be more honest, I had probably got too old to appreciate whatever charms it had left) but I still find Holiday Specials a great way of dipping into a title and getting a sense of what was going on in the mother title.  Albeit, like annuals, sometimes reflecting a line-up that was months out of date and tailored to budget and an audience possibly unfamiliar with the ongoing strips but in need of some holiday distraction.

To that end, I picked up some more of these recently and I'll eventually add them to STARLOGGED.
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