Friday, 7 December 2018

Sticker Albums

Skipping sports albums, various films (culling Dune and Pete's Dragon), celebrities (pop stars mostly) and the odd wildlife and automobile albums, the list of comic-related titles (or those of interest), confirmed, and with at least some information on content, makes for a rather small list. There aren't as many people collecting sticker albums as I had hoped, which made getting the list together rather more difficult that for some of the rarer comics. Sticker albums really are a pain to track down information on.

Action Force - International Heroes (Panini Publishing Ltd.; 1987)
Action Man [toy tie-in] (Panini UK Ltd.; 1996) 216 stickers
Avengers Assemble (Panini; 2013)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Panini; 2015)
Avengers: Infinity War (Panini; 2018) 180 stickers

Back to the Future
Barbie (Panini; Mar 1991)
The Batman Movie (Merlin Publishing Ltd.; 21 Mar 1990)
Bravestarr (Panini; 1987) 204 stickers.
Buck Rogers (Panini; 1981)

Captain America: The First Avenger

The Dandy/Beano Celebration (Panini; 1988)

Garbage Pail Kids (Merlin; Aug 2004) 181 stickers.
Gremlins (1984)
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2

The Incredible Hulk

Jurassic Park
Justice League (Panini; Nov 2017)

MASK [1] (Panini; 19??)
MASK [2] (Panini; 19??)
The Mask (Merlin)
Masters of the Universe (1987)
My Little Pony (Panini; 1986)
My Little Pony (Panini; 1990)

The Real Ghostbusters (Panini; 1988)
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Robot Wars Official Sticker Album (Magic Box International) 228 stickers.

Secret Wars
She-Ra Princess of Power (Panini; 1986)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (F.K.S. Publishers; 1980) 255 stickers.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (Figurine Panini; 1983) 180 stickers.
Star Wars (Panini; 1997)
Star Wars: Episode I (Merlin; 1999) 244 stickers.
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (Merlin; 2002) 215 stickers.
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Merlin; 2005) 291 stickers.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Merlin; 2008) 226 stickers.
Star Wars (Topps; 2012) 227 stickers.
Star Wars: Rebels (Topps; 2015) 209 stickers.
Street Fighter II Official (Merlin Collections)
Strike Force
Super Street Fighter II Official (Merlin Collections)

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (Panini; 1990)
ThunderCats (Panini; Mar 1987) 260 stickers.
Transformers (Figurine Panini; 1986) 256 stickers.

The World of Batman (Panini; 22 Mar 2016) 192 stickers.

X-Men (Panini)

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Magazine Dates

Most magazines aren't considered important enough to have their launches chronicled in the same manner as comics, and certainly not to the extent of presenting them en mass as here - while this is incomplete, and shouldn't be taken as representative of the numerous titles of interest to collectors of comic strips, there is enough to be getting started with.

Many of the comic strips and pocket cartoons which adorn these titles have never been reproduced, and the only means of indexing them is to use the titles themselves. As the contents are represented in the database (albeit to a limited degree), then the titles themselves are notable. While some are included for rather obvious reasons (various Newsfield and IPC titles, and magazines related directly to comics) the remainder earn notability through featuring creators of note, comic strips, pocket cartoons, illustrations, or other material.

There are, alas, gaps in the information. The listings were not originally intended to anything more than notes I was making as I went along, though the more I considered their place in publishing history, the more I realised that they ought to be given as much respect as books, or other tangential texts. While there is no pressing intention of augmenting this list, additions to the following, with sources, are welcomed.

Beeb (Polystyle) #01 (29 Jan 1985 - 04 Feb 1985) [29 Jan 1985]
Beyond (UNKNOWN PUBLISHER) #01 (1995) [15 Mar 1995]
Big K (IPC Magazines Ltd.) #01 (Apr 1984). [15 Mar 1984]
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Titan Magazines) #01 (1999) [20 Sep 1999]

Crash (Newsfield Limited) #01 (Feb 1984) [13 Jan 1984]
ComicScene UK (UNKNOWN PUBLISHER) #00 (2018) [01 May 2018]

The Dark Side (Black Cat) Vol.# #1 (1990) [27 Sep 1990]

The Face (UNKNOWN PUBLISHER) #01 (1980) [01 May 1980]
Fear (Newsfield Limited) #01 (Jul - Aug 1988) [16 Jun 1988]
Freestyle BMX (IPC Magazines Ltd.) #01 (1984) [23 Mar 1984]

Game Zone (Dennis Publishing) Vol.1 #1 (Nov 1991) [18 Oct 1991]
Game Zone (Dennis Publishing) Vol.2 #1 (Nov 1992) [23 Oct 1992]
Games Gazette (Games Gazette) #01 (1983) [18 Mar 1983]
Greatest Hits (UNKNOWN PUBLISHER) #01 (Feb - Mar 1981) [15 Jan 1981]

Hammer Horror Collector's Special (Marvel Comics UK Ltd.) #01 (1994) [24 Nov 1994]

LM (Newsfield Limited) #01 (1987) [15 Jan 1987]

Megaton (Skyjack Publishing) #01 (2010) [25 Feb 2010]
Movie - The Video Magazine (Newsfield Ltd.) #01 (1988) [22 Sep 1988]
Multiverse (UNKNOWN PUBLISHER) #01 (### ####) [20 Oct ####]
Music Star (IPC Magazines Ltd.) #01 (1973) [20 Jan 1973]

No.1! (IPC Magazines Ltd.) #01 (### 1983) [05 May 1983]
Now! (Fleetway) #01 (### 1994) [16 Mar 1994]

Primo Club Magazine (Primo) #01 (1965) [08 Feb 1965]

Rage (UNKNOWN PUBLISHER) #1 (24 Oct 1990 - 06 Nov 1990) [24 Oct 1990]

SFX (Future Publishing) #01 (Jun 1995). [25 May 1995]
Stampede (UNKNOWN PUBLISHER) #1 (May 1990) [26 Apr 1990]

Top Soccer (IPC Magazines Ltd.) #01 (Sep 1979). [10 Sep 1979]

Your Comic Heroes! (Future Publishing Ltd.) #01 (Aug 2016). [30 Jun 2016]

Zzap! 64 (Newsfield Limited) #01 (### 1985) [13 Mar 1985]

Zero (Dennis Publishing Ltd. / Felden Productions) #1 (Nov 1989) [12 Oct 1989]

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Heroes Magazine #1

Dec 2007 - Jan 2008. Cover price £4.99.
100 pages. Full colour.
Titan Magazines

Edited by Martin Eden.

Cover photo (uncredited).


  2 The Perfect Break advertisement for World Snooker Championship on Nintendo DS.
  3 Editorial by Martin Eden; illustrations from UNKNOWN, promotional photos (uncredited).
  4 Heroes Welcome messages from Milo Ventimiglia, Ali Larter, James Kyson Lee, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Jack Coleman, Tim Kring, Hayden Panettiere, Greg Grunberg, Zachary uinto, Adrian Pasdar, Dania Ramirez, and Masi Oka; photographs from Heroes World Tour.
  6 Contents (one and two thirds pages).
  7 Creators credits. / Indicia
  8 Heroes Headlines news feature compiled by Rob Francis.
 13 Kevin Smith Tells it Like it Is! advertisement for My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith.
 14 Afraid of the Dark? in-house advertisement for Lost: The Official Magazine.
 16 Supergroup - An Interview with the Entire Cast of Heroes! by Abbie Bernstein.
 25 Resistance is Futile! in-house advertisement for Star Trek Magazine.
 26 Secret Origins Tim Kring interview by Abbie Bernstein.
 33 Celebrating 30 Years of Star Wars in-house advertisement for Star Wars Insider.
 34 Heroes - Season One Episode Guide & Cast Interviews guide by Rob Francis, interviews by Abbie Bernstein; photographs (uncredited).
 38 Cast Interviews Milo Ventimiglia
 40 Cast Interviews Adrian Pasdar
 44 Cast Interviews Ali Larter
 46 Cast Interviews Leonard Roberts
 50 Cast Interviews Sendhil Ramamurthy
 52 Cast Interviews Santiago Cabrera
 56 Cast Interviews Hayden Panettiere
 58 Cast Interviews Greg Grunberg
 62 Cast Interviews Masi Oka
 66 Whodunnit? Can You Solve the Case of the Six Million Dollar Man? Find Out in the First Issue of The Official CSI Magazine in-house advertisement.
 68 Which Hero Are You? personality quiz by Kate Anderson; photos (uncredited).
 74 Comic Book Heroes feature and interviews by Bryan Cairns.
 77 Comic Book Heroes Micah Gunnell
 78 Comic Book Heroes Michael Turner
 79 Comic Book Heroes Chuck Kim
 80 Comic Book Heroes Heroes Web-Comic Guide
 82 The Heroes World Tour! photo feature.
 88 Win Heroes Part One DVD! competition.
 89 Gate Adventures! in-house advertisement for Stargate SG-1 & Atlantis - the Official Magazine.
 90 Forbidden Planet advertisement.
 91 Time After Time feature by K. Stoddard Hayes; photos (uncredited).
 96 My Heroes Jack Coleman feature compiled by Abbie Bernstein.
 97 Launch Issue Subscription Offer! Subscribe Now & Save Up to 30%!
 98 To Be Continued... in Heroes Magazine #2
 99 We Could Be... Heroes in-house advertisement for graphic novel.
100 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Hard Evidence advertisement for DVD.

It made sense to focus a magazine on Heroes, given the obvious crossover appeal of the series, though this title's approach is a decidedly conservative one. Much like Titan's approach with Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate and... Lost1, the photo-heavy articles are as uncritical and breezy as possible, with no attempt to offer up original insights into a television tradition the series is part of. Every glaringly obvious opportunity for the title to step out from the shadow of established franchises is squandered.

A photo cover - utilizing the series logo - mostly works fine, though this is a lazy layout with little care for detail. The strap across the top is pointed in the wrong direction, for instance, indicating the spine rather than the direction of the pages. That a similar image on the third page is used correctly makes its initial use all the more annoying. It is incredibly difficult to get worked up about the series when the magazine feels so half-hearted about it - this is meant to be a grandstanding celebration, screaming the joys of the show as loud as it can. But it doesn't.

This is a whisper of celebration. A croak, perhaps, delivered behind an embarrassed hand.

Martin Eden's introduction wisely uses panels from the web-comic alongside photos, which are to dominate the rest of the issue, reminding readers of Heroes central premise better than any number of carefully-staged promotional shots. Following this with comments from the main cast is a little odd, but not as strange as filling the centre of a two-page spread with an image of the cover. Are we really that stupid, we need to be reminded what the magazine we've just bought looks like?

In contrast, Heroes Headlines is actually informative, highlighting a Got Milk campaign, the initial DVD release of Season One (well... half of it, anyway), the graphic novel, an Ubisoft tie-in game, and trading cards. It isn't a great haul to track down - unlike features on Star Wars merchandise - but it makes for an interesting change of pace before a torrent of NBC-pleasing butt-kissing overwhelms the title, with Supergroup being the most blatant example of this.

It is one thing to play nice when dealing with a big franchise, it is another to be completely uncritical. Interviewing the actors, there are no suggestions that the any problems have been noticed. No talk, therefore, of out-of-character moments, unconvincing special effects, wooden acting, flat direction, or clunky lines of dialogue. No siree, the show is perfect. Had there been acknowledgment of the early failings, then the promo-friendly lines wouldn't have felt like so many rehearsed and company-approved soundbites.

Tim Kring's interview explains a lot about the way Heroes came together, admitting that he is isn't an X-Men fan (join the club) and that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind informed some of his decisions while writing. More of this would have been appreciated, as it is interesting to now which shows he worked on before tackling Heroes, then attempt to see traces of those shows in the fabric of his plotting and characterizations.

An episode guide, for the entirety of the first season, is rather too much to take in one go. With so little provided for each episode (less than half a page dedicated to an episode) there is little to recommend paying more than the briefest attention to what Rob Francis provides. I'm sure he has a real interest in the series, but with such brevity there is no possibility of anything approaching comprehensive analysis, nor discussion of themes or influences.

Worse, wasting six pages on a quiz - Which Hero Are You - is a sign that this publication isn't being taken seriously by the creative personnel, making it difficult, as a reader, to take the title seriously.

Far better than expected, the focus on the webcomic, in the aptly titled Comic Book Heroes, is good introduction to the artists and stories, though the lack of reprinted material limits how interesting the feature is to any readers without prior exposure to the strips.

When looking back at the title's launch, the one thing that works beautifully is a chronological analysis of Hiro's appearances. For a 100-page title to have but five pages of solid, entertaining, and informative material which is without fault presents a shocking lack of foresight on the part of Titan Magazines.

This tie-in is, in part, a reason I stopped watching the TV series.

Between this issue and the first episode of the second season, the lack of quality surrounding the franchise, combined with a sense that the series was milking fans rather than rewarding them, dissuaded me from looking back in on what was happening with the characters in particular, or the franchise in general. There shouldn't be this many obstacles in the way of potential audience members enjoying spin-off material.

1. One of these things is not like the others.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Starburst Vol.1 #3

Mar 1978. Cover price 50p.
52 pages. Colour & B&W.
Starburst Magazines Ltd.

Edited by Dez Skinn.

Photo cover.


 2 Superman - the feature film photograph (uncredited).
 3 Editorial by Dez Skinn. / Contents / Indicia
 4 Close Encounters of the Third Kind review by John Baxter; photographs (uncredited).
 9 We Are Not Alone advertisement for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
10 Things to Come news feature by Tony Crawley.
15 The First British Film Fantasy Convention (one third page) advertisement.
16 Special Preview Quark text feature by Tony Crawley; photographs (uncredited).
18 The Star Wars Interview Harrison Ford interview by Tony Crawley; photographs (uncredited).
23 Is it a Series? Is it a Movie? No, it's a... Star Trek text feature by Sam Deli; photographs (uncredited).
24 Superman - Choice Encounters of the Salkind text feature by Tony Crawley; photographs (uncredited).
r: cover from Action Comics (National Periodical Publications) #01 (Jun 1938) a: Joe Schuster.
r: image from UNKNOWN a: Neal Adams.
26 Superman poster; photograph (uncredited).
29 Book World reviews [Star Trek Fotonovel 1: City on the Edge of Forever, Star Trek: Planet of Judgement, Star Trek: The Price of the Phoenix, Blake's 7, Logan's World, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, So Bright the Vision, The Lavalite World, The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction] by Alex Carpenter & Sam E. Deli.
30 Starburst Letters readers' mail.
32 A History of Science Fiction Films text feature by John Brosnan; photographs (uncredited).
40 Subscription Offer - Free Advertisements (half page) in-house advertisement.
41 Logan's Run Follow the Loser review by Sam E. Deli. / Logan vs. Blake review by Tise Vahimagi. / Logan's Done review by Tony Crawley. / The American View commentary by US correspondent Bill George; photographs (uncredited).
44 Close Encounters Behind the Scenes text feature by John Brosnan; photographs (uncredited).
47 Maya Merchandising advertisement.
48 Weird Fantasy (partial page) advertisement. / Hammer's House of Horror (partial page) in-house advertisement.
51 Dark They Were and Golden Eyed advertisement; illustration by James Cawthorn.
52 Star Wars - Now See the Film at Home advertisement for Leisuremail.

There's lots of ways to grab attention with a cover, yet this issue chooses to feature three photographs of lights. Admittedly, they're from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but they aren't, by any stretch of the imagination, an attention-grabbing visual. "Never judge a book," and all that, as the contents are up to the usual high quality. John Baxter's review of the film in question is an obvious manner in which to start the issue, with four pages of analysis, facts, opinion, and photographs.

Tony Crowley's Things to Come feature, on projects stuck in development hell, award news, and then-forthcoming releases, goes some way to answering why, of all the various SF cartoons, one has maintained a position of popularity regardless of current fads in the genre:
When George first showed Star Wars to his cast and crew in Hollywood early last year, he opened his special screening with an old Warner Brothers cartoon favourite of his, Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century.

A full year later, Lucas finally got his way in one San Francisco cinema. And now the animated adventures of Daffy Duck and Porky Pig against Marvin the Martian on Planet X are supporting Star Wars in every show...

And guess what appears in Close Encounters? When Richard Dreyfuss wakes up in his playroom and his son is watching TV cartoons? Duck Dodgers rides again... with Porky Pig handing a bomb to Marvin the Martian saying "H'h'h'happy birthday, you thing from another world, you."

Last time any of the cartoon was seen was in a CBS TV's Bugs Bunny in Space show.
It isn't difficult to draw a line from this resurgence in popularity through to Babylon 5. How long, I wonder, before someone sits down to write a full list of Warner Bros. cartoon's influences on modern SF?

For those interesting in charting the progression of a film to the screen, there's an early mention made of Greystoke (six years before its release), with an additional snippet of information regarding Denny Miller appearing in Keeper of the Wild television series. Galactica gets its first mention, as a forthcoming three-hour ABC television movie, though without any photographs - possibly being the first mention of the series this side of the Atlantic.

A feature covering Star Trek's epic transition from small screen to large, with appropriately dismissal of the cartoon, only seems to be included in order to compare the fate of the series with Star Wars. It is too brief to truly delve into the labyrinthine mess, in which various proposals (for both television presentations and feature films) were considered, leaving readers with more questions than answers.

Puns should be used sparingly, and, as a glaring one had already been slipped into the Harrison Ford interview, the Superman article really didn't need to further compound the US trend with the punniest title the title had seen so far. In the form of a rough chronology, which is very scant in detail, the history of the character in various media is recounted (without all the milestones being identified), before following the twists and turns of the production's various incarnations.

It is also a hilarious article to read, thanks in no small part to the facts which Crawley has at hand, but his skill at presenting such material is clear. There's a conspicuous lack of references to the "curse of Superman" - which would have explained much of the production woes - and The Adventures of Superpup is unfairly ignored in the history of the franchise, despite speaking directly to the problems of maintaining audiences' attention. It is a small miracle that the end product, Superman - the Movie, was so watchable.

Cramming more reader feedback into two pages than most magazines publish in a year, the first letters page for the title is a fantastic example of how disparate the views of readers can be. Wendy Richards (most likely not that Wendy Richards) amusingly points out some Trek errors in the first issue, which are probably only noticeable to the show's die-hard fans.

The most important piece is John Brosnan's A History of Science Fiction Films, which covers the period 1902 through to the time of print. It is a flawed masterpiece in miniature, hinting at the possibility of a larger, more in-depth look at the progression of the genre. It is also an almost entirely Western look at SF films, neglecting much of the madness which erupted in Japan upon the release of Godzilla.

There are numerous incredibly noticeable spelling mistakes throughout, which is excusable only as Starburst was an independent publication. Also of irritation, though likely only in retrospect, is the attention given to Close Encounters, which receives another burst of words at the close of the issue.




Tuesday, 13 November 2018

SFX Collectors Edition: Vampire Special

2001. Cover price £4.99.
116 pages. Full colour.
Future Publishing.

Edited by Dave Golder.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer cover photo (uncredited).


  2 2000 A.D. - Are You One Of Us? advertisement for 2000 A.D.; artwork by Frazer Irving.
  4 Get Your Teeth Into This... contents page; photographs (uncredited).
  6 Blood Heritage London After Midnight movie poster.
  7 Blood Heritage Lust for a Vampire movie poster.
  8 Blood Heritage Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride movie poster.
  9 Blood Heritage The Vampire Lovers movie poster.
 10 Blood Heritage Dracula, Prince of Darness movie poster.
 11 Get Your Teeth Into This! advertisement for Nosferatu the Vampyre DVD.
 12 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time introduction (uncredited).
 14 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) text by Steve O'Brien; photograph (uncredited).
 16 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time Nosferatu (1922) text by Dave Golder; photograph (uncredited).
 18 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time Dracula (1931) text by Nick Setchfield; photograph (uncredited).
 20 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time London After Midnight (1927) text by Dave Golder; photograph (uncredited).
 22 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time Dracula (1958) text by Steve O'Brien; photograph (uncredited).
 24 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time Captain Kronos, Vampire Killer (1973) text by Steve O'Brien; photograph (uncredited).
 26 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time The Lost Boys (1987) text by Phil Millard; photograph (uncredited).
 28 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time Dracula's Daughter (1936) text by Steve O'Brien; photograph (uncredited).
 30 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time Love at First Bite (1979) text by Jayne Dearsley; photograph (uncredited).
 32 The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time Near Dark (1987) text by Phil Millard; photograph (uncredited).
 34 Joss the Vampire Scripter Joss Whedon interview by Ed Gross; photographs (uncredited).
 48 Angel Season Two Overview Tim Minear interview by Ed Gross; photographs (uncredited).
 61 The Greatest Gothic Music Collection advertisement for Live Forever 10-CD Box Set.
 62 Resurrecting Buffy Marti Noxon interview by Ed Gross; photographs (uncredited).
 69 L.A. Streets... Where Other Angels Fear to Tread advertisement for Angel paperback books.
 70 In the Buff text feature by Jayne Dearsley; photographs (uncredited).
 74 Spike or Angel quiz by Jayne Dearsley & Lorraine Brumpton; photographs (uncredited).
 77 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring advertisement for Games Workshop tabletop strategy game.
 78 Resharpened Blade text feature on Blade 2's special effects by Ed Gross.
 85 Ever Met a Half Vampire? Meet One Now... advertisement for Darren Shan's The Vampire Prince.
 86 Bloodthirst Among Sequels text feature on Queen of the Damned by Dave Golder.
 94 Bela Lugosi - A Remembrance Richard Gordon interview by M.J. Simpson; photographs (uncredited).
101 Battling Love, Destiny and Ancient Forces is Hard Work advertisement for Jan Siegel's The Dragon Charmer.
102 Dracula 1979 - Past Perfect text feature by M.J. Simpson; photographs (uncredited).
108 Classifieds
110 Here's a Picture of James Marsters... photograph (uncredited).
111 The Unconventional Convention in-house advertisement for SFX: The Event.
112 So What Kind of Vampire Are You? quiz (uncredited).
114 Don't Quote Us quotations. / Indicia
115 Into the Void advertisement for Buffy the Vampire Slayer memorabilia.
116 Angel @ Blackstar advertisement for Angel Season two DVD Box Set.

The cover should be the big giveaway as to the intentions of this 'bookazine' special - Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the show's spin-off Angel are heavily featured, though the front half of the title is, perhaps, more interesting. A far from comprehensive, or great, selection of posters starts the ball rolling, and this is where the warning bells should start ringing for readers. Jumping straight to film appearances of vampires creates the impression that everything before Nosferatu is irrelevant, and undue attention on these appearances dominates the rest of the issue.

What's missing? For starters: There's no feature on Bram Stoker's life and works, Polidori's The Vampyre is absent, and no mention of Arnold Paole is made. One could fill an entire special of this nature with numerous vampire books alone, and still not come close to a complete and detailed history of the genre.

It is particularly annoying that all of the chosen film posters are British and American, ignoring a rich and fascinating history of European and Asian horror film posters. At the very least Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell [吸血鬼ゴケミドロ] should have been represented. This holds largely true for The Ten Best Vampire Movies of All Time, which contains the uneven and poorly-edited Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter instead of the far more entertaining and visually exciting The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires.

There's a distasteful air to the title which slips out every so often:
Jackie Onassis She was married to JFK, got brains on her coat and then married a millionaire.
So, for every down, there's an up.
I'm sorry Mr. Golder, but WHAT THE HELL?
Camille Paglia Controversial academic and feminist. A fit bird, though.
If humour is the objective, then print something which is actually funny, instead of... whatever those comments are meant to be.

I think I need a shower now...

It is pointless to criticize something which has no respect for its readers. Even in 2001 there was a (fairly complete) list of Dracula films circulating, but no... We get barbed comments rather than anything which is of actual use to readers interested in either the horror genre in general, of Dracula specifically. If that is asking too much of Future Publishing, I would have settled for a brief overview of 1998's Ultraviolet, or the classic Rankin/Bass cartoon Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters if this title was actually interested in vampires.

Most of my problems with this would have been abated if it was honest about the contents. Calling it a Buffy the Vampire Slayer special rather than a vampire one immediately sets the rest of the coverage as bonus material rather than the greater body of writing about its subject.

Classic radio series are entirely absent, comics are only (sort of) covered by the inclusion of Blade 2, and don't even think about looking for information on either Whitby or Romania. This is not the title for you.

I'm not sure who this title is for.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Starburst Vol.1 #2

Mar 1978. Cover price 50p.
52 pages. Colour & B&W.
Starburst Magazines Ltd.

Edited by Dez Skinn.

Cover painting by 'South.'


 2 'The Prisoner' explained photograph (uncredited).
 3 Editorial by Dez Skinn. / Contents / Indicia
 4 Threepio Unmasked Anthony Daniels interview by Tony Crawley; C3PO illustration by Ralph McQuarrie, photographs (uncredited).
10 Spider-Man on Screen text feature by Sam Deli; photographs (uncredited).
13 Maya Merchandising advertisement.
14 Jeff Hawke 'Here be Tygers' w:/a: Sydney Jordan.
r: Daily Express newspaper strip.
19 Star Wars - Now See the Film at Home advertisement for Leisuremail.
20 Ray Bradbury on Close Encounters of the Third Kind text feature by Ray Bradbury; photographs (uncredited).
r: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Warren Publishing) nn (1977).
23 Close Encounters - From Privacy to Profits (side-bar) text feature by Tony Crawley. / UFOs Exist! We have seen them aided by our 'Skywatch UFO Detector' advertisement (side-bar) advertisement.
24 Space Cruiser review by Tony Crawley; stills from film.
26 Space Cruiser poster; painting by 'South.'
28 Big Screen Entertainment - Coming Soon! (half page) advertisement for Space Cruiser.
29 Spot the Spaceships Competition
30 The Prisoner text feature by Alan Grace; photographs (uncredited).
34 Patrick McGoohan full-colour pin-up.
37 Six of One (one third page) text feature on The Prisoner fan club. / Weird Fantasy Bookshop (partial page) advertisement. / Terron Enterprises (partial page) advertisement for Star Trek merchandise.
38 Jeff Hawke 'Here be Tygers' cont.
r: Daily Express newspaper strip.
42 Things to Come news feature by Tony Crawley & Sam Deli.
45 The Visitor w: Jim Starlin; p: Jim Starlin, i: Al Milgrom, lettering by Tom Orzechowsi.
r: Star*Reach (Star*Reach Productions) #02 (Apr 1975).
48 Wizards Review by Alan Jones; stills from film.
51 The Science Fiction Book Club advertisement.
52 Spider-Man pin-up; photograph (uncredited).

While the cover is of the limited-release animé Space Cruiser [宇宙戦艦ヤマト, normally referred to as Space Battleship Yamato], the manner of presentation is firmly tailored to Western audiences - a rousing painting which evokes both the runaway hit Star Wars and the kind of paintings which featured heavily on paperback covers of the era. Using the film so prominently, so early in the life of the title, is a mark of confidence in how SF fans will react to new ideas, and shows how clued-in editor Dez Skinn was about readers' hunger for new SF material.
Last issue, in this editorial we promised we'd be around for a l-o-n-g time. Looking at all the hastily-assembled rip-off s-f magazines that have appeared since then, none of which appear likely to reach their second issue, makes it seem a long time already!
In a missed trick Dez doesn't actually name any of the titles playing follow-the-leader, and a quick search through titles of the era failed to unearth more than a handful of cheap-looking titles. Here's a hint: when mocking it is always better to go ahead and do a full review of competitor's wares, rather than merely indulging in snarky off-hand references. Go big. Use a four-page feature to do an in-depth analysis of the shortcomings of other publishers. This hesitation in full coverage of the SF landscape is one of the drawbacks of the title - there's style, intelligence, and definite opinion, but a lack of merciless criticism of start-ups whose hopelessly optimistic recycling of press releases were intended to capture a slice of the audience.

As for being around for a l-o-n-g time... Yeah. Under different publishers, perhaps, but always a welcome sight on the shelves.

Anthony Daniels' interview highlights his life before Star Wars' phenomenal success changed everything for him, and wisely provides enough anecdotes and trivia to allow his personality to shine through the C3PO persona. This is, of course, a snapshot of a particular moment in time, and the relaxed manner in which Tony Crawley teases out details is refreshingly free of the rehearsed answers which the actor seemed to provide a few years later. Quite happy to reveal the tortuous preparations, and problems with the suit while filming, Daniels is on fine form here. When he criticizes his performance, or parts of it, his pride in craftsmanship shines through, enhancing his likability.
You see, to be frank, Star Wars wasn't that pleasant to make. It was a rather uncomfortable experience. The thing that is mainly rewarding is the reaction of people. The fan-mail I get. I'm amazed that people want to take time to write to me.
C3PO was - and is - one of the best aspects of the original trilogy, his appeal being an innate humanity.

Coverage of the Spider-Man television series always used such unfortunate photographs, resulting in the show's legacy largely consisting of criticism of cheap-looking effects, and (obviously) The Sound of Music jokes. This article, outlining the character of Spider-Man, and providing some hint of the production problems which plagued Superman's journey from page to screen, is optimistic about the then-forthcoming cinematic release of the pilot, though it is clear from the images reproduced here that high quality entertainment was probably expecting a bit much.

Tony Crawley's review of Space Cruiser is remarkably comprehensive in delineating the films flaws, registering visual inspiration shared with Lucas' film, noting the televisual feel (while not quite stating that the source material began there), and mentions the manga. Or, rather, suggests "the story emanates from a popular Tokyo newspaper strip," which isn't quite accurate, but surely close enough to satisfy readers of the late-seventies. Dismissing the film as a farce, in the final line, is a bit harsh, considering the complete saga had not, at that time, been seen in the UK.

In isolation, the film isn't brilliant - the criticisms hold water, not unlike the real Yamamoto, but there's more to the series that this cinematic outing. Had a collection of the original strip been acquired, in order to compare and contrast the differing presentations of the story, then the review might have been less dismissive of the story as a whole. Knowing how difficult acquiring tankōbon was in the nineties, one can only imagine the logistical problems in acquiring them twenty years earlier.

The article on The Prisoner covers the premise, outlines the themes so resonant throughout, and identifies important plot points for newcomers to the series, developing theories about the deeper meaning behind some of the almost expressionistic elements only in the final couple of pages. It is always interesting to see people stumble over the plots and characters, attempting to weld one definitive reading onto the narrative whole, when it works better as a personal journey for each viewer to take from it what they want.

Not receiving clear answers doesn't mean a story has failed.

Things to Come spends a page outlining the Byzantine rules which US television networks, production companies, and the stars of hit television series', operate under. It is unsurprising, with so many restrictions imposed upon the creative end of the process, that much of American television from the seventies is almost unwatchable now. There are behind-the-scenes photographs of Damnation Alley, which makes the film look more interesting than it turned out to be.
One of the saddest things about creating something, anything, is if it doesn't work. When it's got terrific potential, but doesn't realise it. Be it the fault of money, time or talent, it frightens off the whole field, does irreparable damage to the genre.
Alan Jones' review of Wizards covers the immense difficulties which Bakshi's film had stacked against it, and it is difficult to reappraise the film with more enthusiasm all these years later. If anything, the dated look of the animation has made it less interesting than it was on release. Ralph Bashi's never had a wholly-satisfying film, with each of his directorial releases suffering some form of deficiency. For a director with such a strong sense of vision, it is painful to see what eventually ended up on screen in comparison to his stated intentions.

Remaining interesting after so many years is a remarkable feat, and Starburst holds a special place in SF history.




Thursday, 1 November 2018

Hammer Horror Collectors' Special #1

26 Feb 1966; Cover price 2.99.
68 pages. Colour Contents.
Marvel Comics UK Ltd.

Edited by Marcus Hearn.

Peter Cushing photo cover (uncredited).


 2 Hammer Classics Special Offer advertisement for Lumiere Video.
 3 Hammer Horror Collectors' Special title page. / UNTITLED introduction by Marcus Hearn? (uncredited). / Indicia
 4 Contents
 5 The House of Horror text feature by Marcus Hearn.
 6 Peter Cushing text feature by Bill Harry.
 8 Christopher Lee text feature by Bill Harry.
10 A Heritage of Horror text feature by Alan Barnes and David Miller.
12 A Heritage of Horror The Quatermass Xperiment credits, synopsis and overview.
13 A Heritage of Horror X - The Unknown credits, synopsis and overview.
14 A Heritage of Horror The Curse of Frankenstein credits, synopsis and overview.
16 A Heritage of Horror Quatermass 2 credits, synopsis and overview.
17 A Heritage of Horror The Abominable Snowman credits, synopsis and overview.
18 A Heritage of Horror Dracula credits, synopsis and overview.
21 A Heritage of Horror The Hound of the Baskervilles credits, synopsis and overview.
22 A Heritage of Horror The Mummy credits, synopsis and overview.
24 A Heritage of Horror The Brides of Dracula credits, synopsis and overview.
25 A Heritage of Horror The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll credits, synopsis and overview.
26 A Heritage of Horror The Curse of the Werewolf credits, synopsis and overview.
28 A Heritage of Horror The Phantom of the Opera credits, synopsis and overview.
29 A Heritage of Horror Captain Klegg credits, synopsis and overview.
30 A Heritage of Horror The Old Dark House (half page) credits, synopsis and overview. / The Damned (half page) credits, synopsis and overview.
31 A Heritage of Horror The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb credits, synopsis and overview.
32 A Heritage of Horror The Evil of Frankenstein credits, synopsis and overview.
33 A Heritage of Horror The Gorgon credits, synopsis and overview.
34 A Heritage of Horror She credits, synopsis and overview.
36 A Heritage of Horror Dracula - Prince of Darkness credits, synopsis and overview.
38 A Heritage of Horror Rasputin the Mad Monk (half page) credits, synopsis and overview. / The Plague of the Zombies (half page) credits, synopsis and overview.
39 A Heritage of Horror The Reptile credits, synopsis and overview.
40 A Heritage of Horror Slave Girls (half page) credits, synopsis and overview. / The Witches (half page) credits, synopsis and overview.
41 A Heritage of Horror One Million Years B.C. credits, synopsis and overview.
42 A Heritage of Horror Frankenstein Created Woman (half page) credits, synopsis and overview. / The Mummy's Shroud (half page) credits, synopsis and overview.
43 A Heritage of Horror Quatermass and the Pit credits, synopsis and overview.
44 A Heritage of Horror The Vengeance of She credits, synopsis and overview.
45 A Heritage of Horror The Devil Rides Out credits, synopsis and overview.
46 A Heritage of Horror The Lost Continent (half page) credits, synopsis and overview. / Dracula has Risen from the Grave (half page) credits, synopsis and overview.
47 A Heritage of Horror Frankenstein Must be Destroyed credits, synopsis and overview.
48 A Heritage of Horror Taste the Blood of Dracula credits, synopsis and overview.
49 A Heritage of Horror The Horror of Frankenstein credits, synopsis and overview.
50 A Heritage of Horror The Vampire Lovers credits, synopsis and overview.
51 A Heritage of Horror When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (half page) credits, synopsis and overview. / Scars of Dracula (half page) credits, synopsis and overview.
52 A Heritage of Horror Lust for a Vampire credits, synopsis and overview.
53 A Heritage of Horror Countess Dracula credits, synopsis and overview.
54 A Heritage of Horror Creatures the World Forgot (half page) credits, synopsis and overview. / Hands of the Ripper (half page) credits, synopsis and overview.
55 A Heritage of Horror Twins of Evil credits, synopsis and overview.
56 A Heritage of Horror Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde credits, synopsis and overview.
57 A Heritage of Horror Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (half page) credits, synopsis and overview. / Vampire Circus (half page) credits, synopsis and overview.
58 A Heritage of Horror Demons of the Mind credits, synopsis and overview.
59 A Heritage of Horror Dracula AD 1972 credits, synopsis and overview.
60 A Heritage of Horror Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter credits, synopsis and overview.
62 A Heritage of Horror The Satanic Rites of Dracula credits, synopsis and overview.
63 A Heritage of Horror Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell credits, synopsis and overview.
64 A Heritage of Horror The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires credits, synopsis and overview.
65 A Heritage of Horror To the Devil a Daughter credits, synopsis and overview.
66 The Future of Hammer text feature by Roy Skeggs, Chairman of Hammer Film Productions.
67 Welcome to the House of Horror in-house advertisement for Hammer Horror.
68 Special Offer advertisement for Hammer Horror video-cassettes (Angloace Ltd.)

For nearly forty years the name Hammer has been synonymous with the very finest in British horror films. The studio's unforgettable legacy has ensured their reputation as the most important producer of gothic horror films in the history of cinema.

As we stand on the verge of a major revitalisation in Hammer's activities, we're visiting a place that haunts the memories of film-goers throughout the world. This is a place where evil scientists conduct sickeningly cruel experiments. This is a place where savage creatures rule the night. This is a place where virgins are defiled, and the undead feast on human blood...

Welcome to the house of horror.
Marvel has displayed some incredibly brave choices down the years, but Hammer Horror Collectors' Special is not among their finer hours. Relying far too much on Hammer's past glories, there is a suggestion that - with nothing new in the pipeline - this issue is merely content with picking whatever flesh remains on sun-bleached bones of the once-formidable Hammer catalogue. The heart of this special is an extended look at Hammer's films, but this is so piecemeal it makes the end result a choppy, unsatisfying slew of plot points and observations.

A (very) quick search should immediately bring up thirty or so books dedicated to the subject of Hammer films in general, but there are many more focusing on specific aspects of the studio - special effects, posters, sex appeal of key actresses, the manner in which stories were adapted... This was a well which was running dry even in the nineties, and the relentless drive to uncover every minor detail since then has made entirely new areas to delve into extremely rare.

Though there are areas which have yet to have proper exposure. There must have been countless sketches and diagrams produced in the making of the films, and those haven't been published endlessly, and it has been a long time since I saw images of the original scripts. Internal memos, discussing budgets, costumes, sets, or even casting - if they could be found - would have been a better use of the special. A "now and then" (comparing how locations have changed over the years) could have made use of the colour pages to really hit home the years which have passed.

There are many ways in which this could have done something new, but a recap wasn't what was needed. While a fond glance at the company is always welcome, doing so must be presented in a manner which isn't so formulaic and tired. This might have been a great addition to the Marvel line-up had more been done with the format, but it isn't in the same league as the sporadic Doctor Who Magazine which appeared.