Friday 7 December 2012

Who remembers Science Fiction Monthly?

Everyone knows that Steve of Steve Does Comics is a connasewer of the visual arts. Why, only last week, I was drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa in order to improve it to the exacting standards I always maintain.

And, because of that love of the visual arts; in the mid-1970s, there was one magazine alone whose arrival on our living room carpet I always anticipated.

That magazine was the New English Library's Science Fiction Monthly.

Science Fiction Monthly was not a comic - and therefore has no business being on this blog - but it did have a comic strip in it, one I recall little of other than that it swiped copiously from Barry Smith's classic adaptation of Conan's Red Nails.

The rest of the magazine was a mighty thing indeed, huge in size, making a Marvel Treasury Edition look tiny, and packed with stories and art.

I actually don't remember that much about the fiction it featured. I seem to recall there being a tale about the Pied Piper that may have used the idea of it all being down to ergot poisoning. And there was another one about acid rain. There may also have been one or more old Tarzan stories reprinted in it.

Another highlight for me was an interview with Space: 1999 special effects maestro Brian Johnson who later went on to work on the The Empire Strikes Back and Alien.

Most of all, it was a good showcase for artists like Bruce  Pennington, Chris Foss, Tim White and Roger Dean whose output supplied it with a whole string of eye-catching covers.

Later in its life, it switched from the broadsheet format to a smaller tabloid form which, bearing in mind that its main selling point was the giant size of its artwork, probably wasn't the best of ideas.

Was the magazine any good?

As far as I can make out, not according to anyone else. Personally I don't recall enough of it to say - plus I was only ten at the time - but I do remember the pretty pictures and, as I'm a comics fan, pretty pictures are good enough for me.

If you want to see more fabby covers of Science Fiction Monthly, you can see them right here.

And if you remember the mag and want to say so, you can do that in the comments box below.

On the other hand, if you don't remember the mag and want to say so, you can do that too in the comments box below.

Monday 3 December 2012

December 1972 - forty years ago today!

The Four Seasons may have once sung of late December 1963 but it's December 1972 that catches the eye of Steve Does Comics. In what state of mind do we find our favourite Marvel heroes? Will they walk like a man or simply plunge into the Frankie Valli of despair?

Amazing Spider-Man #115, Dr Octopus, Aunt May points a gun at our hero

Spider-Man comes up against his deadliest foe yet - Aunt May, as the wacky widow proves just how completely clueless she really is.
Avengers #106, the Space Phantom

I seem to remember this being the return of the Space Phantom.

I can't recall exactly what his scheme was but I'm sure it was suitably nefarious.

I do always wonder who'd win a fight between the Space Phantom and the Living Eraser but that probably says more about me than anything else.
Captain America #156, Cap vs Captain America

I don't think I've ever read this tale.

Is this the 1950s Captain America who's fighting the "real" one, or is that another story altogether?
Conan the Barbarian #21, Barry Smith

Much as I love Barry Smith, I've never liked this cover. Conan's legs look too long for the rest of him, his sword and axe don't seem to be pointing in quite the right directions and the man he's resting his foot on doesn't seem to have a thick enough body. I prefer the similar Smith picture where our hero's stood in a pool of water.

But who cares about that? It would appear that Conan's the first comic book to ever win an Oscar.
Daredevil and the Black Widow #94, the Indestructible Man

More trouble for our heroes.
Fantastic Four #129, Medusa and Thundra

Poor old Ben Grimm. It can't be easy being made of rocks and having to fight off all those women all the time.

Then again, seeing disembodied heads looking down at you must be quite disturbing too.
Iron Man #53, Raga

I genuinely have no clue what's going on here.
Thor #206, the return of the Absorbing Man

The Absorbing Man. All that power, and still he can't beat anyone.
X-Men #79, Cobalt Man

Before he goes mad and harasses the Hulk, the Cobalt Man goes mad and tries to make ex-men of the X-Men.
Incredible Hulk #158, the Rhino and Counter Earth

It's another of my Hulk faves as he and the Rhino get a lovely trip to Counter-Earth.

Saturday 1 December 2012

Fifty years ago today. December 1962.

There's less than a month to go before Noddy Holder comes down the chimney, kisses our mothers by the Christmas tree and gives us whatever presents we deserve. But just how much festive cheer were our favourite Marvel heroes feeling in this month of 1962?

Fantastic Four #9, the Sub-Mariner

Not a lot, apparently.

It's a tale of Christmas hardship that Charles Dickens himself would be hard-pressed to top, as the Fantastic Four find themselves penniless and having to work for their deadly enemy the Sub-Mariner.
Journey Into Mystery #87, Thor in chains

It all goes a bit homoerotic, as Thor enters cover territory normally reserved for Wonder Woman.

Give her back those chains, you Norse numbskull. She needs them.
Strange Tales #103, the Human Torch and the Fifth Dimension

Can it be? Can pesky aliens finally have discovered the Human Torch's secret and unguessable weakness?
Tales to Astonish #38, Ant-Man

Is that Egghead?

If it isn't, it certainly should be, as Ant-Man finds himself defeated by flypaper.

But, betrayed by his own ants! Frankly, when you hear news like that, it's no wonder Hank Pym went mad.

Then again, some might suspect the sanity of anyone who thinks that hanging around with ants is normal.