Sometimes in life, you set yourself challenges you suspect are doomed to failure by their very nature.
Earlier this week, I decided that for my next post I'd grab a random comic from my domestic pile and write about whatever I found within it that wasn't actual story.
Clearly this was a recipe for disaster, as I couldn't guarantee there'd be anything inside, other than story, that was worth writing about.
This in mind, I randomly grabbed Conan the Barbarian #46 and plunged right in.
And blow me down if I didn't find enough potential material in there to keep me in blog posts for a lifetime.
The biggest of those things is on the back cover.
It's an advert.
It's not just any advert.
It's an advert for the Evel Knievel action figure and his assorted stunt vehicles.
In the grim days of the 1970s, if you were British, your knowledge of America came entirely from reading American comics, watching American cop shows in which it was always sunny, and watching short features about American sporting events on ITV's World of Sport. Thus it was that we were introduced to the wonders of competitive tree felling, log rolling, drag racing, beaver wrestling and something Dishy Dickie Davies always called Grid Iron.
It was also through World of Sport that we got virtually our only exposure to a man called Evel Knievel.
Sadly, every exposure we got to Evel Knievel through that means seemed to involve him trying to jump over things we'd never heard of and hurting himself upon impact.
Evel Knievel, it seemed, never had landings.
He only had impacts.
If he ever succeeded in actually jumping over anything, World of Sport resolutely refused to show it, as, every time they featured him, he seemed to end up in traction, having only got halfway across whatever it was he was trying to jump over. You couldn't deny his courage but whether he was actually in the right profession was not at all clear.
But of course, our other exposure to him came from the ads on the back of Marvel comics. How triumphant he seemed in those ads - and how at odds with the image we got of him through television.
I must admit I never wanted an Evel Knievel stunt figure. It may have been because I associated him with nearly killing himself every time he left the house. It may be because he seemed to have the same tailor as Elvis Presley. Or maybe, somehow, he felt like Hostess Twinkies and Cup Cakes in being things that somehow seemed too resolutely American for anyone British to genuinely get.
Still, I can at least say that, thanks to Evel Knievel, I know of the existence of Snake River Canyon - even if I still, to this day, have no idea where it is - and that must surely be something to thank him for.
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11 months ago