Thursday, 21 July 2016

July 21st, 1976 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Holy historians, Batman! Doing these posts is starting to resemble watching one of those time-lapse videos on YouTube, which depict the decline of the Roman Empire via the medium of maps. In this week of 1976, Marvel UK now found itself down to publishing just four comics a week. Could this nightmare mean the end was nigh for the plucky publishing powerhouse?

Fortunately it didn't. Little did we know that, even as circumstances seemed to be growing increasingly straitened, brave new ventures and expansions were just around the corner.

But, for now, what few comics we had were packed with more action and drama than the human mind could hope to withstand.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #92

I'm assuming The Night Staker Dracula tale is the one that was clearly based on the Kolchak TV movie of a noticeably similar title.

Was the Man-Thing tale the Mike Ploog drawn one with the ghostly clown hanging around in the swamp and making other characters act out something or other for reasons that escape me?

On other matters, does one detect a Larry Lieber cover?

Mighty World of Marvel #199, Hulk vs Wendigo, Avengers merger

Opening this issue for the first time was a very exciting moment for me, as The Avengers merged with MWOM and I got my very first taste of Neal Adams' stint on the Kree/Skrull War, as Ant-Man decided to go for a journey around the inner workings of the Vision.

How I was impressed by Adams' fluid draftsmanship, his daring layouts and the embellishments of Tom Palmer.

Super Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes #180, Dr Octopus marries Aunt May

It's one of the least likely storylines in the history of fiction, as Dr Octopus decides to marry Aunt May in an attempt to get his hands on her nuclear power plant. Heaven only knows what Steve Ditko would have made of it all.

That Iron Man tale vaguely rings a bell. I have a feeling it may have been drawn by Gentleman George Tuska.

Marvel UK, The Titans #40, the Fantastic Four meet the Creature From The Black Lagoon

The FF take on a creature from space. One that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. By this point, Jolly Jack was making no attempt to disguise from where he was deriving inspiration.

I think this was another issue that I somehow found myself possessing two copies of, meaning I was free to colour one of them in with my coloured pencils. If Marvel UK'd had any sense, they'd have marketed their comics as colouring books and used the monochrome as a selling point.


dangermash said...

So...casualties of the MWOM/Avengers merger? Presumably DD, X-Men and Shang Chi?

Steve W. said...

I think DD survived. Shang-Chi was definitely dropped. I think the X-Men went too but I'm not totally sure.

Anonymous said...

In regards to that Man-Thing story, clowns scare me in the best of circumstances, so the idea of a ghostly clown haunting a swamp is absolutely terrifying to me.

Colin Jones said...

This week saw Dracula's final appearance in POTA & Dracula Lives - but the comic continued to bear his name for another 31 issues till cancellation in February 1977. He next rose from his coffin in the pages of Mighty World of Marvel in June '77. His replacement in POTA & Dracula Lives was a reprinting of the Planet Of The Apes movie adaptation first seen in POTA #1-11. This was rather handy for me as I didn't start reading POTA till #5 so I was able to read the bits I'd missed first time around.

Steve W. said...

Colin, thanks for the info.

MP, I've never been scared of clowns but I have always found them intensely annoying.

Paul McScotty- Muir said...

That Adams / Palmer drawn Avengers story was stunning , even for a ( by this time) staunch Adams fan like myself - the UK larger page size made the art stand out more than the original US comic especially that page with the large illo of the Vision's head and torso and Ant Man readying himself to pop into the Vision (the premise of that story taken in no small part from the Fantastic Voyage film and not a porno ).

I'm with MP on the "clown" issue although an 8 foot muck monster would probably worry me more.

pete doree said...

Steve, you'd've loved a recent piece on our local news, where they visited a clown museum, detailing the history of clowning. It was all about how clowns are SO last century, and kids don't like them anymore.
Somehow they'd managed to scrape out of the gutter three of the only clowns still working, all of whom looked like tramps / peodaphiles and all told, it was the grimmest, blackest news item you've ever seen.
The punchline came when they interviewed the guy who owned the 'museum', a carny who when asked if he liked clowns, said: 'Nah, not really. '
Shame it's not on youtube.

Steve W. said...

When I was a kid, I somehow got it into my head that Pierrots keep normal clowns as slaves and force them to perform and whip them if they don't do a good job of it. I don't have a clue where I got that notion from but it did make it quite difficult to enjoy clowns from that point on.

Anonymous said...

I want to apologize to everyone for bringing up clowns. It's a sensitive subject, I know. A whole comment section of this blog blown to hell.
Regretfully, M.P.

Colin Jones said...

I don't understand why clowns are supposed to be scary either but didn't the whole "scary clown" thing get invented by Stephen King's IT ? Did anyone think clowns were scary before that ?

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