Thursday, 6 July 2017

July 6th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

It's time to restring our rackets and stock up on Pimm's because, in this week of 1977, Virginia Wade won Wimbledon. What an unlikely thing it was for a British tennis player to win that competition and how certain we were that we'd never see a Brit emulate that feat ever again for as long as we lived.

But what of the stars of our favourite mags that week? Were they having a late rally? Were they giving their foes a backhand smash? Or was it simply game, set and match for the heroes of Marvel UK?

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #39, final issue

Virginia Wade winning Wimbledon, and now Captain Britain sharing a cover with the Queen in her Silver Jubilee year? Could this week possibly get any more British?

Capturing the zeitgeist as it did, it's no wonder the comic was a massive success and destined to last for many decades to come and...

...Wait? What's that? This is his last ever issue and, from next week onwards, he'll have to settle for being a half-hearted back-up strip in Spider-Man's mag before being scrapped completely? Did this nation have no appreciation for all he did for us?

Mighty World of Marvel #249, Hulk and Dracula Lives

I recognise that man with the horns and I recognise that man without the face. The trouble is I'm struggling to recall just why I recall them and just what it was they did that made them so recollectable to me.

I'm taking it, from the cover, that we've reached the period in which Drac gets mixed up with a Satanic cult and gets himself a wife, a love-life and a son. You never saw Christopher Lee getting up to that kind of thing.

Super Spider-Man and the Titans #230, the Tarantula

The cover rings a bell but the story doesn't.

But we have just one more week to go before the word, "Titans," no longer adorns the front of Marvel UK's second-longest running comic.

Marvel UK, Fury #17

Speaking of disappearing titles, there's just eight more issues left before Fury suffers the same fate as Captain Britain's mag.

But, hold on. Does this mean that, soon, Marvel UK will be down to just two mags a week? How come I never noticed at the time just how close to extinction the once magnificent enterprise was venturing?


Anonymous said...

That final issue of Captain Britain was pretty poor. The art on CB story is barely professional, the FF had already peaked and SHIELD no longer had the bonkers creativity of Steranko . With hindsight we know that Marvel were having a tough time on both sides of the Atlantic, and those final CB issues kind of show why.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Ahoy Mates, sorry if I asked this before but did you have Saturday morning cartoons in the UK? The reason I ask is because I looked at the blog on the Titans and Steve references a lack of Saturday morning shows. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Charlie, from the mid-'70s Saturday mornings were dominated by two live shows - 'Multi-Coloured Swap Shop' on BBC1 and the much more anarchic 'Tiswas' on ITV . Both shows lasted about three hours and did contain some cartoons - I particularly remember 'The Arabian Nights' and 'The Three Musketeers' on Swap Shop. But in the UK cartoons were mostly broadcast in the after-school slot from 4pm to 6pm on weekdays. Swap Shop and Tiswas weren't broadcast during the summer months but cartoons still appeared on Saturday mornings alongside live-action shows like Bewitched, Zorro and Champion The Wonder Horse.

The last issue of Captain Britain, sob. He had been launched in a blaze of glory just nine months earlier...where did it all go wrong ? I had every issue of CB and I started reading Spider-Man again just so I could continue reading the CB strip. That might explain why I vote UKIP nowadays (only joking !!).

But from next week UK Marvel was back to just TWO super-hero comics - Spidey and MWOM like in the earliest days !

Anonymous said...

Hold on, I'm a bit confused - didn't 'The Arabian Nights' and 'The Three Musketeers' appear in The Banana Splits which was also shown on the BBC. I could swear those cartoons were also broadcast on Swap Shop. It was a long time ago and my poor mind is befuddled. By the way, Charlie, we had three kinds of kids' entertainment - our own home-grown programmes, American cartoons and some European kids' shows dubbed into English as well as weird, surreal cartoons from Czechoslovakia.

pete doree said...

God yeah, those weird Czech cartoons. Remember Ludwig? The adventures of a sentient faberge egg that lived in a tree? Freaked out a generation that did.

Steve W. said...

Pete, my heart used to die a little every time Ludwig came on TV.

Colin, I remember The Arabian Nights appearing in The Banana Splits but don't recall if it ever appeared in Swap Shop or not. The cartoon I do remember appearing in Swap Shop was Tarzan because they always made a joke about him looking like John Craven.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you're probably right - I'm just old and confused :(

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Ahoy Again!

I was born in 61 and the Banana Splits show was quite popular on NBC Channel 5 nationwide for 2 years. Like from 68 - 70. (It seemed to fill the void once Spider Man went off the air.) It featured the 4 Bananas and the Sour Grape Girls in various skits /plots and then showed cartoons like you describe.We really liked it and my brother and I were charter members (Golly Gee!!!)

We had cartoons all Saturday morning, part of Sunday morning, after school for several hours. Could explain America things about the USA, LOL??? I mean, after watching 1000s of hours of cartoons your brain must go somewhere with all that "knowledge?"

We would also get these Czech or Jugoslavian "puppet/doll" kids shows. Not cartoons or puppets but moving dolls with scenery. Kind of like the old THunderbirds show back in the 60s (which is a really, really cool show if you want to watch I think it's on Youtube.)

HEY - What is a PIMS? Wife and I were watching Father Brown and his elderly secretary admonished his "silly" behavior by saying "Father, how many PIMS have you had???" or "I think you've had too many PIMS!" Well, you get the point... Help???

pete doree said...

Hey Charlie, Pimms is an alchoholic drink much beloved of the british upper classes. You're supposed to drink it at places like Wimbledon or Henley Regatta. Never had one meself, being as common as muck.

Steve W. said...

Pete's right. Pimm's is a range of cocktails involving a variety of fruits mixed with various alcoholic bases. I too am not posh enough to have ever had any.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I ain't too posh either but would a screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) be a PIMM? Or is it like Rum Punches and Daiquiris and stuff like that?

Anonymous said...

Its a brand name, Charlie, so its more specific than that.
Not only have I never had a Pimms, I don't even know anyone who has, that's how much of a prole I am.

What are the odds on Captain Britain being a Pimms drinker? Pretty good I'd have thought.
Btw Steve, strictly speaking - warning, pedant alert! - that wasn't CB's last ever issue as he got his own Marvel UK title again for a short time in the mid 80s.


Steve W. said...

Yep. Pimm's is the name of the company that makes it. So, if it doesn't say, "Pimm's," on the bottle, it's not Pimm's.

The Artistic Actuary said...

I've had plenty of Pimms in my time. One of the things. that was a big mystery to me before I moved from council estates to the hallowed halls of Cambridge University. It's a long drink: pour out something from tne Pimms bottle into the bottom of a big glass and top it up with lemonade and ice. You can throw in bits of cucumber or strawberries or whatever but they're not essential in my view. Great for drinking on a Summer's day out in the garden with the cricket on tne radio.

But the thing about a Pimms is that it's deceptively alcoholic. There's more alcohol in it than you'd guess from drinking it. And it creeps up on you. One minute you're having an intellectual discussion about croquet strategy, the next minute you're naked in the fountain. Recommended.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I can confess to being naked in a fountain, I can also confess to being separated from my attire and thrown in a fountain. But that was in my university days. No PIMMS required just beer, lol.

But the words of lemonade and beer in this blog are tempting me to run out and buy a Panache from France or just make up my own Radlers with 7-up and cheap American beer! Perfect for a hot summer day since mass market USA beer like Miller is low-alcohol.

Maybe I'll even break out a long box and find that issue of Spider Man 100 I bought as a 10 year old, 46 years ago, and held on to! Spidey (pre-Conway killing of my precious Gwen) and a Radler! Perfect!