Thursday, 17 May 2018

May 17th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

In this week of 1978, things got distinctly strange, as Charlie Chaplin's coffin was found in a field a mile away from his old home in Corsier, Switzerland, having been stolen by two men in a bizarre and unsuccessful extortion attempt.

Fortunately, I suspect the comics we were reading that week would turn out to be far more edifying and life-affirming than that incident.

Star Wars Weekly #15

Star Wars' venture into Magnificent Seven territory continues with The Punch-Up in the Cafeteria but more importantly and impressively to my youthful mind, this issue (as far as I can tell) sees the start of Star-Lord's stint as a back-up strip.

I remember little of the actual stories themselves but I do remember being very taken with John Byrne's artwork which was a thing of beauty.

The other back-up strip this issue is the story from Silver Surfer #1 which reveals just why the Watcher isn't allowed to interfere in the affairs of others.

I do believe it had already been reprinted in Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes mag, so it was somewhat familiar to UK readers, especially if they also owned Son of Origins of Marvel Comics. If they also owned Silver Surfer #1, they must have been completely sick of it by now.

Rampage #31, the Defenders vs Nighthawk

If I recall rightly, one of the Headmen has kidnapped Nighthawk and put his own brain in Nighthawk's body. What chance can the Defenders have against the awesome power of a man with the strength of two men, as long as it's night-time, and can fly, as long as no one pulls his jet-pack off?

Complete Fantastic Four #34, the Hulk

Hooray! I had the US original of this one. I got it on a Sunday and no comic acquired on a Sunday is ever bad.

From what I recall, the Hulk and the Thing have teamed up and now everyone's gunning for them. However the Hulk's radiation has affected Petunia's favourite nephew and I believe it all climaxes with him reverting to his Ben Grimm form.

It's also the comic that introduced me to that big arch in whichever city it is that it's in. Is it in St Paul?

Looking at that cover, I can't help feeling that those hapless bystanders in the arch are too big and must be kneeling. I also wonder why they don't have the sense to run away. They are definitely candidates for The Darwin Awards.
Mighty World of Marvel #294, the Incredible Hulk

The Hulk's still having trouble with Captain Barracuda.

Wouldn't it be weird if Captain Barracuda's real name was Barry Cuda? Talk about nominative determinism.

Super Spider-Man #275

Spidey's still having trouble with the Man-Beast in a tale that seems to be lasting longer than the Kree/Skrull War.

Perhaps more interestingly, the Avengers are still involved in the Celestial Madonna storyline and have, it seems, just reached the point at which Libra reveals Mantis' origin.

Thor, meanwhile, is battling with the giant aliens who suck planets up in their vacuum cleaners, as fuel for their own gigantic planets.

Less epically, Captain America is up against Stone-Face.


Anonymous said...

Steve, theres always the possibility that Captain Barracuda would have preferred to be called Barry Windsor-Cuda.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

My apologies if I asked this before but how did you UK gents afford all these weekly titles? Fair enough to say that if they were priced 1/4 of a monthly (like we bought in the USA) then it sort of evens out.

But on the surface it seems like these weekly Marvel UK would be more expensive over the long run. PLUS you presumably bought a bunch of a comic that might not have been interesting to you since multiple story characters /story lines were aggregated into one comic.

In Steve's case I have to assume he would have bought the weekly b/c of the Invaders being included and disregarding the FF or Cap America or whatever in the other pages?

Steve W. said...

Sean, I suspect you're right. I believe he was one of the Hampshire Windsor-Cudas.

Charlie, I could afford them because I didn't pay for them. Fortunately, I had relatives for that. But the UK comics were noticeably cheaper than the American ones. They cost 10 pence in 1978, which would have worked out at 18 cents, compared to the US comics which cost 35 cents.

Timothy Field said...

At this time I was buying 4 out of these 5 issues every week, TCFF still a mythical beast to me at that point. How I afforded them on the princely income of exactly zero pounds bugger all pence is still a mystery to me.
I assume I was raising the funds but running errands to the shop for my mum where I could keep any change as a reward. This resulted in a lot of value brand purchases in order to maximise my profits.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I realize this has been covered in the comments before, but... surely it makes more sense to compare the cost of a UK weekly with the actual price of a US import monthly at the time; whatever the exchange rate at the time, 35 cent comics were 12p no?

Charlie, the main advantage of the Marvel UK reprints was that they were easy to find regularly, making it possible to get into ongoing storylines. Not only was distribution of US monthlies fairly random, but there was no guarantee that a particular title would even be imported from one month to the next.


Anonymous said...

My father bought my weekly comics but not anything additional - American imports, Treasury Editions, UK monthlies etc had to be paid for out of my own pocket.

Steve, we're all looking forward to your special post celebrating the royal wedding ; )

Surely you're planning one?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sounds like you UK guys had the same dilemma as me in Chicago-land...

I could buy the latest issue of Spidey or a Marvel Tales reprint. Oh the agony of such decisions. Live in the present or wallow in the glories of the past!

I had to do "chores" and would earn like $.25 / week (this is late 60s/early 70s). So earning $1 / month I could get 5 - 6 comics a month. But you know how it is when you are 10 years old... every silly ass comic on that spinner is calling out to you! (And we had two spinners!)

In retrospect, I don't know what the hell the big deal would have been for my folks to just buy a dollar's worth of comic's for me. But folks tended to be more frugal back then and I recall my pop's eyes rolling around in his head like krazy kat's when he learned I spent a buck on comics. "What???!!! You spent a dollar on comic books???!!! There's all kinds of books in the library!!!"

It's a wonder I did not burn down the dam library (which is now a restaurant b/c where I grew up is now a ghetto more/less). I do recall contemplating several times "if I read every book in the library could I then buy comics guilt free?" (I'm serious, lol.)

Steve W. said...

Timothy, I was getting three of the five; Super Spider-Man, Mighty World of Marvel and Star Wars Weekly.

Colin, I don't know what's happened. My invite to the Royal Wedding seems to have gone missing. The same thing happened with all the other royal weddings as well. I'll kill my postman whhen I get my hands on him.

Sean, I'm now trying to work out whether Marvel UK mags were good value or not, bearing in mind that they were in black and white, were reprints and only had to travel here from Ireland but were only two pence cheaper than the full-colour US originals which had to travel all the way across the Atlantic.

Then again, they were physically larger and used better paper...

Charlie, it's a terrible truth that adults don't understand what's important in life like children do.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Holy cow...

Steve was spending 3 x 18 or $.48 / week which is like $1.75 / month on 12 UK Marvels

Timothy was spending 4 x 18 or $.52 / week which is $2.00 / month on 16 UK Marvels.

I only had a paltry $1 / month to spend on 6. then 5, then 4, then 3 USA Marvels.

You guys had a good thing going.

Steve - is it conceivable that the subsidized Sheffield Bus system, which led to the creation of ABC, also allowed you to save money for comics instead of bus fare?

Timothy - did you have advantages like Steve did, where you grew up, allowing you to spend money on things like comics? (Though it sounds like you had to scrap for every penny.)

Steve W. said...

I'd never thought about it but I suppose it's possible. Back in the late 1970s, a child could ride anywhere in Sheffield for 2 pence (3.6 cents) on the bus, and an adult could go anywhere for 7 pence (12.6 cents). It probably did help when it came to disposable income. It also meant you didn't need a car, which would have saved large amounts of money.

Timothy Field said...

Charlie, I'm sure I must have had many little perks being a child in 70s socialist Britain but very few of them seemed to be geared towards helping me get my weekly comic quota.

Anonymous said...

Talking about the value of money, back in the early '80's a video game cost a quarter, but back then, at age 13 or so, a quarter was a substantial amount of money. My paper route didn't pay dick.
I just discovered an old-style arcade in my city where you can still play some of those old games for a quarter! Theoretically, I could play all day.
Problem is, I'm pushing fifty and I can't stand up and play Galaxian for three hours because my knees and back aren't what they used to be. I'm too old to be a hot-shot space pilot. Don't they have any high chairs?! Something with cushions?
The bitter irony of it.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve, as I wake up and sit here contemplating it occurs we have not seen your Sunday blog?! Are you maybe hungover from the royal wedding?

Steve W. said...

Don't worry, Charlie, it's on its way.

Dean Willetts said...

TWO spinners?! I don't think my 10 year old self could have coped with that. Therapy would probably have been required.

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