Wednesday, 11 December 2013

1992: NIGHT RAVEN: HOUSE OF CARDS House Ad (Marvel UK)

This is a nice, appropriately noir, advert for the second edition of MARVEL UK's revival of NIGHT RAVEN: HOUSE OF CARDS.

The Graphic Novel had already appeared once, with a different cover, to little fanfare a couple of years earlier (a serialised reprint in STRIP was nixed when the anthology was unexpectedly cancelled the issue before the run was due to start) but was dusted off for another edition as part of Paul Neary's attempts to exploit the (minimal) M-UK back catalogue during the GENESIS 92 era.

Either edition is worth grabbing…


The 1991 DOCTOR WHO WINTER SPECIAL, from MARVEL UK, had a U.N.I.T theme with an inevitable tilt towards the Pertwee era (including a nice new seven-page comic strip, by Dan Abnett and Brian Williamson, pitting the dandy Doc against the Master).

Another nice touch was a cutaway (in the EAGLE, TV CENTURY 21 tradition) of the "Alien" (aka The Whomobile), Pertwee's indulgence as rendered by Lee Sullivan.

Text fiction came courtesy of Abnett and Colin Baker.  Yup, the sixth Doctor tried to make amends for a lack of U.N.I.T action in his truncated run by crafting his own encounter with the Brigadier.

The remaining pages were filled-out with the usual excellent articles readers had, by 1991, come to expect from the magazine.

- To Be Continued - 


DEATH'S HEAD II GOLD marked Liam Sharp's return to the Mech-Merc after a brief leave of absence, this time as both writer and artist.

DHIIG (phew!) should (AFAIK) have been a new quarterly companion to the ongoing main book, in the spirit of Marvel's Unlimited Books (including Frontier Comics Unlimited).  Unfortunately, it inadvertently became a one-shot as the GENESIS IMPLOSION took hold.

The same artwork graced the cover, complete with enhancements but its nice to see it in all its pre-fiddling glory!


Another dip into the EAGLE archive this week (thanks g23), this time the 1987 issues with a June Cover-date.

Nice bit of synergy on the first one… even if it does feel like a few months too early…

- To Be Continued - 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Bored?  Stuck on a backwater swamp world with only an irritating hand puppet for company?

How about passing those long damp evenings, after romping around all day elevating things and confronting your suppressed inner demons, by building this Battle of Hoth (ahh, happy days!) STAR WARS snap-together model kit from MPC.

This stateside advert appeared in US MARVEL COMICS dated February 1982.


Is that a Hulk in your Underoos… or just a hand puppet?

More late-seventies licensed bits-and-bobs courtesy of the folks at Heroes World.

The artwork here is - ahem - interesting.  The BATTLESTAR GALACTICA figures, which never looked much like their screen counterparts, are rendered even more rubbish here (and don't mention the colour scheme… I guess the designer deemed Colonial brown too dull for an eye-catching ad) and there's something rather cute about a fat-faced Hulk who looks like he's stuffed his cheeks for a game of Fluffy Bunny.

This appeared in MARVEL US books in 1979.

1986: REDFOX (Harrier Comics)

REDFOX, Pint-puller turned Barbarian, was one of the brightest (and best-selling) stars in the short-lived HARRIER COMICS firmament (although I much preferred CONQUEROR, the Star Trek wannabe, which I've covered in previous posts), notching-up ten issues from Martin Lock's mid-eighties up-start and a further ten from Valkyrie Press.

There were also two Trade Paperback collections from Harrier which I've not seen for many years, suggesting a low print run and some degree of scarcity.

The early issues of the Harrier run repeated the Conqueror trick of reworking material that had already had an outing in fanzines (in this case, the self-published - by creator 'Fox' - Redfox 'zine) before embarking on freshly-minted strips.


Think of it as a missing page from THE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE…

THE MICRONAUTS were firmly established as mainstays of the late seventies/ early eighties Marvel Universe (gosh, they even featured in a four-issue team-up with the X-Men which crossed the Atlantic in the pages of THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL), regularly featuring guest-shots by other Marvel characters (a win-win situation: kids who liked the toys might be tempted to pick-up other Marvel books whilst Marvel fans, predisposed to giving the licensed book a wide berth might be motivated to pick it up to see what another character was doing).  Only Rom (another MCU interloper) was off-limits.

Until Marvel scrapped the series, to make way for the ill-fated NEW UNIVERSE, and surrendered the license.  Suddenly, like the aforementioned Space Knight, Godzilla, The Transformers and others, it was as if the 'nauts never lived.

This, a one-page guide to their ship the Endeavor, is the sort of thing that - a few years later - would have been a Handbook mainstay.  It appeared in the 4th issue, cover-dated April 1979.

I'm sure a b&w variation of this page also appeared in MARVEL UK's STAR WARS WEEKLY at some point.

Monday, 9 December 2013


Marvel UK's belated decision to publish MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS created a few continuity problems for the Annex of Ideas.

Their predilection to stick rigidly to reprints from (at least) a decade earlier meant that even loyal British readers who'd followed the various launches and closures of the previous few years would still be none-the-wiser about recent developments in the Marvel Universe outside the Spider-verse.

With so many characters, including some entirely unfamiliar ones (unless you were one of the loyal Marvelites who grabbed the US imports from select newsagents), Redan Place had to bring readers up-to-speed.

This DAILY BUGLE cover (which appeared as a double-page spread) was one such way, as seen in the first issue of the British edition in April 1985.

Also below is the first War Office Memos, the editorial page for the new fortnightly.  And - of course - the cover, which reworked the uber-familiar artwork from the first US issue (which also graced the cover of the one-and-only SW annual).

I've posted about the Secret Wars several times before so follow the link below for more Beyonder-themed goodies...

1978: THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN NEMO (Starlog Magazine)

The Master of Disaster, Irwin Allen, returned to TV for this apparently long-forgotten 1978 US mini-series which - like so many other productions of the period - was more than a little inspired by the success of STAR WARS.

THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN NEMO saw Verne's Captain (Jose Ferrer), and his super-sub the Nautilus, found submerged and pressed into US government service when bonkers scientist (with a crew of disco-era robotic minions) Professor Cunningham (the Penguin himself, Burgess Meredith) tries to hold the world to ransom.

This finally crossed the Atlantic on 13 April 1981 when it belatedly aired on BBC ONE.  As a kid, I really enjoyed it but - as an adult - it's possible to spot some of the shortcomings.  Regardless, it's still great fun.

It received a UK VHS rental release which I found - and bought - in one of those fly-by-night pop-up stores which seemed to be shifting a warehouse full of old tapes.  There was never, as far as I know, a sell-through edition.

More recently, it's been added to theWarner Brothers manufacture-on-demand DVD label in the US.

This article came from STARLOG MAGAZINE issue 13, May 1978.


Four more THOR, all from the Summer of 1983.

I've posted the 13th issue before but that was before I had a complete run so - for the sake of completeness - here it is again!

- To Be Continued - 

Friday, 6 December 2013


This is something that I doubt features too prominently on Dan Abnett's sprawling CV: GILBERT'S FRIDGE.

This one-shot Winter Special, spun-off from the Tyne Tees TV show, was published by MARVEL UK in late 1988.

Gilbert the snotty-nosed alien first came to my attention as part of the presenting team of the Saturday (and, latterly, Sunday morning) programme GET FRESH (a live roadshow affair, staged by the ten smaller ITV companies on a rotating basis, that visited a different location - via the fictional Millennium Dustbin space craft - every Saturday morning*) before spinning off into his own show, Gilbert's Fridge, which I believe aired on a weekday afternoon as part of the CITV Children's block.

Here's a bit of Gilbert action:

My other abiding memory of Get Fresh was a live performance by the group PiL which saw John Lydon (who I once briefly met in a radio studio, he seemed perfectly amiable) give the two-fingered salute to camera on an edition live from Bristol Zoo**.  Thankfully, it was recorded for prosperity here:

**UPDATE: It seems like the PiL posse had previous form when it came to behaving unpredictably, and being unable to hide their disdain, on (as) live TV.  Here's their appearance on the US version of Top Of The Pops, AMERICAN BANDSTAND, from 1980.  It's completely by chance I read about this at the weekend…**

* The Sunday morning programme, which was pre-recorded and consisted on one full half-hour and series of inter-programme continuity links, took part in the bowls of the Dustbin and was actually shot at Border TV's studios in Carlisle.

** Zoos must have been a favoured landing site for the show, I recall another episode from Colchester Zoo, the nearest the show ever came to where I lived.


This US STAR WARS Kenner toy ad, from Marvel comics cover-dated February 1980 (therefore on-sale during the key late '79 gift buying season), teased Brits with several products that never crossed the Atlantic to form part of the Palitoy offering.

The US Death Star (or, more accurately, slice of the Death Star) looked a lot less exciting than the British 'Death Dome' cardboard play set (cunningly reworked to form part of the original ACTION FORCE offering a few years later).

The remote-controlled Jawa Crawler also never made the crossing.

I'm also dubious that the somewhat peripheral Droid Factory appeared over here.

And, I believe, the "Death Squad" figure was renamed "Death Star Commander" for the British line.

I DID have the off-camera (although it did make it into the Marvel strip) Imperial Troop Transporter and it was very cool.


What was GALACTICA 1980 missing?

Was it most of the original cast?  Virtually any new SFX work?  The talents of Donald Bellisario and colleagues in the script department?  Glen Larson's undivided attention?  The too-healthy-for-TV budgets?  A decent timeslot?  Anyone who seemed to care?

All of those are undeniably true but one of the things I missed most was the Galactica's Bridge.

The soundstage-filling super-set was demolished when BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was cancelled and no-one was so inclined (or likely had the time) to rebuild it for the hastily commissioned sequel.  In fairness, the new Earth-based (read: cheap to shoot) formula meant the set would have been used much more sparingly than on the original.

So, for the occasional Bridge scenes, the makers of G80 pushed some stock walls together, dressed them with some monitors, displays and flashing lights and tried to pass them off as the Communications Centre, supposedly one of the alcoves of the larger Bridge.  Some stock wide shots of the original were inserted in a crude attempt to complete the illusion.

This rather nice behind-the-scenes article appeared in STARLOG issue 21, cover-dated April 1979.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

1987: STRONTIUM DOG ONE-SHOT (Quality Comics)

This STRONTIUM DOG one-shot emerged from Dez Skinn's short-lived tenure as overseer of the 2000AD reprints pitched at North America but also sold in British comic shops and - in some cases - British newsagents.

Dez and his QUALITY COMICS operation (which also consisted of two London comic stores) picked-up the license when Titan Books and IPC decided that the EAGLE COMICS operation was much too much like hard work (especially chasing all the unpaid bills from US distributors) and IPC decided it would be a lot less effort to simply license the material to a third-party than bankroll it themselves.

Eagle Comics had previously published a four issue Stronty limited series and Dez used this one-shot to test reader (and retailer) appetite for more.

Other offerings in the EAGLE arsenal (which, ironically, never published anything from the EAGLE COMIC back catalogue) included their best-selling JUDGE DREDD ongoing book (and several spin-offs offered in various formats and price points) and shorter runs devoted to ROBO-HUNTER, NEMESIS THE WARLOCK and 2000AD itself (a US format anthology).

All the US books did their best to disguise the episodic origins of the strips by removing the natural breaks between instalments and reworking the artwork to remove surplus logos and recaps.  The bizarre dimensions of IPC's weeklies (fat and squat) further complicated matters as the pages had to be reworked to fit the new dimensions.  Later, post-Dez, publishers found that much too much like hard work and just ran the art in the wrong aspect ratio.

The US reprints ran until around 1994 before being discontinued in favour of the new licensing dead with DC Comics which saw the publisher launch two new ongoing JUDGE DREDD books which managed to - somehow - only have tenuous links to both the 2000AD and movie versions of the character.  The movie flopped and DC didn't renew the arrangement.

The STRONTIUM DOG one-shot was dated January 1987 and probably went on sale in the latter part of the previous year.

1993: SEAQUEST DSV COMIC (Nemesis)

Yup… it's the one with the talking dolphin.

SEAQUEST DSV was the much touted, but frequently not much cop, undersea science fiction series from the Universal/ Spielberg stable which promised much, and delivered little, between 1993 and 1996.

Despite the deep pockets of the studio (apparently made possible by a multi-year deal with NBC to keep it on-air despite audience apathy), a great cast, headed (for the first two years at least) by Roy Schieder, and top-notch guest turns (Shatner, Heston, McCallum, Hamill, York) the show never really clicked.

Amongst the merchandising effort that accompanied the show's launch (and soon withered) was this supposed-to-be-ongoing comic from newbies NEMESIS.  It ran for a solitary single issue before Nemesis succumbed to the imploding market and no-one else rushed to acquire the license.

The House Ad below appeared in the back of the first (and only) issue and, presumably, features the rather nice artwork (by Dave Dorman me thinks) that would have adorned the second issue had it ever appeared.

The show had something of a rocky ride on this side of the deep blue (grey?) sea: ITV were quick to acquire it but, demonstrating their usual disregard for imported fare, quickly dropped the ball.  The feature-length pilot was heavily cut for no obvious reason other than the duration of the allocated timeslot.  The following episodes (which may have been shown in a different order than US airdates but that may have been explained away by production problems Stateside which saw subtle retooling and NBC themselves jumbling the running order) aired in the traditional 'imported adventure' early Saturday evening slot before, at mid-season, switching to a similar Sunday evening slot.

Once the first season played-out there was a significant break in transmission as ITV initially op[ted to completely skip the drastically retooled second year (the show moved to Florida with a younger cast and dumber scripts) and only brought the show back for the even-more-retooled third year: SEAQUEST 2032.

I must confess that I like the third season best.  Individual scripts were still all over the place but I liked the new darker, more militaristic tone and more of a sense of a story arc (both borrowed, I think, from BABYLON FIVE).  Schieder did a Fawcett and bailed, save for some contractually obliged guest shots across the truncated season.  His replacement: the ever-dependable Michael (everything) Ironside.  

Banished to a Saturday afternoon slot, the 2032 episodes played out followed by - err - the second season.  Casual British viewers no doubt scratched their heads.

The series was initially scheduled against LOIS AND CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN in the States and, despite naysayers claiming Spielberg would blow the Man of Steel out of the sky, it soon became clear which show viewers favoured.  In the UK, the BBC also slotted L&C into the early Saturday evening shot… with considerable success (until it got more than a bit crap).

Seasons 1 & 2 have been released on DVD but - unfortunately - we're still waiting for the final season.  


This is one of those licensing deals that only someone with the most tenuous grasp of their portfolio could concoct: THE INCREDIBLE HULK UTILITY BELT.

Hulk… come… prepared!

It's another of those HEROES WORLD ads, from Marvel's US books cover-dated August 1980.

It would have appeared mid-way through the run of the really-rather-good THE INCREDIBLE HULK TV series, a boom time for Marvel's licensing team.

Do you think it comes in adult sizes?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


May 1987 was a five-cover month for EAGLE, once again presented here courtesy of g23.

- To Be Continued - 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


The DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE SUMMER SPECIAL 1991 had a shooting locations theme with a region-by-region guide to where the show had ventured out of the studio (unsurprisingly, these tended to concentrated in the south and east and within a day's travel of BBC TV Centre).

The Lee Sullivan cover heralded the return of the original comic strip to the specials: Seaside Rendezvous, penned by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Gary Frank and Stephen Baskerville, was a slight five-page romp that has never been reprinted.


SPIDER-MAN's small-screen adventures… go big!

Here is a double-page spread from MARVEL UK's SPIDER-MAN weekly pegged to the March 1978 British theatrical release of the original September 1977 CBS tele-film/ back-door pilot.

This appeared in issue 269, cover-dated 6 April 1978.

Even on the small-screen, the tele-flick looks underwhelming (hampered by LA locations, the limits of technology, a TV budget and some terrible video effects) so it's easy to imagine how dire this looked passed-off as a full movie.

It must have done reasonable business as it was re-released, as part of a double bill, later the same year and two more cut-and-shunt sequels followed.

The TV show itself eventually arrived on British screens, courtesy of ITV, in the autumn of 1981.  The British Bullpen were prepared for the moment by relaunching the weekly as SUPER SPIDER-MAN TV COMIC with glossy covers and centre-spreads to showcase stills from the show.

1983: THOR and X-MEN LAUNCH ADS (Marvel UK)

Here's the MARVEL UK House Ad, from the final issue of FANTASTIC FOUR, heralding the impending launch of the next two superhero weeklies: THE MIGHTY THOR and THE X-MEN.

And I think we know what happened next…


This is the final bunch of covers (27-29) from MARVEL UK's second stab at a FANTASTIC FOUR weekly.

If the final editorial (below) is to be believed then it bowed out to clear the way for THOR and the X-MEN, the two new (and ultimately ill-fated) colour weeklies.  Judging from M-UK's constant hatch-match-dispatch churn of launches and failures, it was just another flop from the Annex of Ideas.

The reprints continued in SPIDER-MAN from issue 529 where they'd eventually find themselves sharing space with Marvel's merry mutants and a certain Thunder God.

Monday, 2 December 2013

1992: MARVEL UK NEWS (Comic World)

Here's a MARVEL UK GENESIS 92 news piece from the 8th issue of COMIC WORLD magazine, cover-dated 8 October 1992.


I stumbled across this completely by chance in a random issue of the US magazine TOYFARE: a reader-made custom DEATH'S HEAD figure.  The closest we'll probably get, unless REVOLUTIONARY WAR sets the world alight, to seeing an actual, honest-to-goodness DH action figure.

This appeared in issue 97, cover-dated September 2005.

TOYFARE was a spin-off from the WIZARD hype machine and, as the name suggests, it specialised in action figures and associated shelf-filling nicknacks.  At its peak, it even (for a price) offered exclusive figures as mail-away items for readers.

It expired alongside the rest of WIZARD's print efforts when the company bailed out of the publishing business in favour of organising conventions across the States.


This is the EAGLE HOLIDAY SPECIAL 1988, published somewhere around Easter time and on sale across the summer months.

Friday, 29 November 2013


This is a 1980/ 1981 US ad for THE OFFICIAL STAR WARS FAN CLUB, as published in multiple Marvel comic books.

May The Force Be With You!


Ten years. Four Doctors. Four top-flight British artists and four amazing new full pages of art.

The highlight of the DOCTOR WHO SUMMER SPECIAL 1989, celebrating 10 years of MARVEL UK's officially licensed magazine (see previous posts), was these four new specially-comissioned pieces from the major contributors to the Marvel WHO strips.

Note how John Ridgway sneaks in a cameo by one of his other contributions to M-UK lore.  It amost compensates for not having run an instalment of his adventures for ages.  Ooops.

Dave Gibbons

Mick Austin 

John Ridgway

Lee Sullivan
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