Thursday, 15 August 2019

August 15th, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

This day in 1979 was not a special day for television.

But the day after was - because, at 8:30 pm that evening, BBC One gave us a show called The Persuaders.

No, it wasn't that thing which starred Roger Moore and Tony Curtis and featured the greatest theme tune in television history.

Instead, it was a documentary which looked at the world of advertising and marketing. It featured a segment devoted to Disney's plans to launch a $20 million space epic called The Black Hole, at the time, Disney's most expensive movie ever.

However, the real news that mattered was the show also featured a segment about the launch of Marvel UK's Hulk Comic and included an interview with the man himself, as Dez Skinn talked about the venture.

And he had ITV's technicians doing their best to help him in his quest for publicity because this week of that year saw the start of their legendary strike which shut that whole network down for over two months and famously led to Doctor Who getting the biggest viewing figures in its history.

That strike meant there were suddenly only two TV channels available to the British public - and Dez was on one of them! And the other one was BBC Two, which no one ever watches! With a break like that, it could, surely, only be a matter of time before Dez was as big a household name as Stan himself!

Star Wars Weekly #77

Hooray! We get the return of Star-Lord, in a tale entitled Less Than Human, drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz. I suspect this must be my earliest introduction to that man's talents.

We also get a Tales of the Watcher treat about an astronaut who finds himself on a planet filled with giant bugs. But, when his rocket returns to Earth, where, exactly, is its pilot?

We also get that Guardians of the Galaxy tale in which our heroes find themselves on a world that resembles New York - only for it to turn out to be a lunatic asylum. It might seem like clumsy satire now but it seemed clever when I was fifteen.

Tragically, as far as I can make out, the return of the Guardians means it's curtains for Adam Warlock who seems to have been given the push to make way for the Lord of Star.

Hulk Comic #24

The Hulk no sooner disposes of Groot than he finds himself up against the Blip who he, understandably, mistakes for Zzzax. That foe dispatched, he finally learns the identity of his true foe.

Ant-Man and the Wasp come up against Egghead's deadliest weapon yet - an anteater!

Merlin's tackling the evil king of somewhere or other.

The Eternals are still faffing about, getting nowhere in particular.

Rick Jones is in a life or death battle with Annihilus and becomes separated from his Hulk alter-ego, thanks to Mr Fantastic.

And I don't have a clue what Nick Fury's up to.

Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly and Marvel Comic #336, Carrion

Reed Richards is still invading Latveria, as Doc Doom gets Alicia to carve his statue.

Thor's going on a subterranean journey with Ulik, while Odin's on Earth, having taken on mortal form for reasons I can't remember.

Whatever his reasons, I think we can guarantee this development will end up endangering the whole planet because it's a scheme cooked up by Odin and we all know how they always go.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Persuaders was the best tv theme ever Steve? What, better than the Flashing Blade?

Had a look to see if by any chance Dez' tv appearance was on Youtube. It wasn't, but I did find a recent short doc - well, interview really - where he talks about how he saved Marvel in the UK.
Can't see it being a hit with SteveDoesComics regulars somehow - its almost like he's deliberately trolling dangermash...
www.youtube.com/watch?v=tetcZgibQyY

-sean


Timothy Field said...

'Saved' is an unusual way of putting it 'sold a boatload of arguably inferior Marvel UK titles as the whole endeavour swirled around the plughole' would be fairer I feel. He certainly helped introduce some great British talent but Marvel UK was anything but saved. On another note, looks like I had this week's Spider-Man and probably Star Wars so I was still doing my bit to prop up Dez's dreams of empire.

Anonymous said...

I think Dez may have had a couple of looseners before they recorded that interview.

DW

dangermash said...

😂 It does sound like Dez is deliberately trolling me.

But theSheffield scribbler is even worse, claiming that there are better theme tunes out there than the Flashing Blade. That's like a red rag to the Man Bull.

Steve W. said...

Hold on. Wait. What? We can do emoticons in the comments section? How have I gone this long without discovering this spectacular fact?

dangermash said...

I can do emoticons on the iPad, Steve. And presumably have been able to do so for years. Who knows?

And I've now seen the Dez video. Is that really him? How could anybody put any responsibility into the hands of someone that most people would have had trouble trusting to hold their newspaper while they scratch their balls? I think it's actually a spoof. One of the regulars here has taken some Ricky Gervais acting lessons and recorded this at home. Whichever one of you it was, good job. Very funny.

Colin Jones said...

The 40th anniversary of the ITV strike - I'd forgotten all about it!

Steve W. said...

Colin, the ITV strike is one of those things I get strangely nostalgic for. The Three Day Week, the ITV strike, regular power cuts, for some reason, they all generate a rosy glow within my soul when I think of them.

Dangermash, I believe that that is indeed Sez Dez himself. Sean, thanks for that link.

Tim, I'm sure Dez's argument would be that Marvel UK was as good as finished before he took over and the fact that it survived under his tenure was proof that he made the right decisions.

DW, Dez did indeed seem quite, "outgoing," in that video.

As for the greatest TV themes of all time, for me, The Persuaders and Space: 1999 stand triumphant above all others.

dangermash said...

My top three TV theme tunes
1. Flashing Blade
2. Persuaders
3. Dallas
4. Hawaii 5-0
5. Kojak
Of those, Dallas is the only one that I used to watch beyond the credits although in recent years I,be found the Persuaders to be pretty good.

dangermash said...

Sorry - top five in the end.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on dangermash, what about - just off the top of my head - the Tomorrow People? Or Weekend World? (Clearly I'm thoroughly up to date on tv themes).

And Steve, somewhat surprising to find you're not a Dr Who man. The original Delia Derbyshire arrangement, obviously.
Sounds like you'll be disappointed the recent widespread power cut didn't reach you up north. Such are the advantages of being a metropolitan elitist in London...

-sean

dangermash said...

Those are good Sean. Weekend World is pushing hard for a place in my top 5. Tomorrow People not quite as good but still up there somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the classic tale from Hulk Annual 5. A bunch of monsters from Marvel's pre-superhero, monster-mash days are brought back to battle the Hulk. Goom, Diablo, Blip, the original Groot, Xemnu, and some mud guy. They pop up one by one declaring how all-powerful they are, and ol' Greenskin goes through 'em like a buzzsaw.
A lot of yelling in that issue.
My favorite line: "Goom is in a lot of trouble." He sure was.
Dangermash, my favorite T.V. theme was Barney Miller. Barretta was pretty good.

M.P.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

M.P. which Diablo? I don't want to be confused.

Anonymous said...

Verrrry funny, wise guy.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

Don't take it personally M.P. - it seems like Charlie's always confused about something in the comments here.

-sean

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Charlie seems to be getting less and less focused as the months go by, Sean.
Who knows what's going on his head anymore?

M.P.

dangermash said...

Anybody talking about Charlie in the third person is starting to:sound like Charlie.

dangermash said...

Just checked out your TV themes,, M.P., having never seen either of them before. Musically, both are a bit too chilled out for my taste although I do like the cheesy way that, in the Barney Miller credits (and I've checked out credits to seasons 1 and 2) they try to introduce you to all the characters by a careful choice of what scenes to show and freeze when they list the actors.

Colin Jones said...

Some memorable theme tunes:

Pre-1980 Dr. Who (it went a bit rubbish in the '80s).

Robinson Crusoe (the black & white French version dubbed into English).

Black Beauty.

Z Cars

Life and Times Of Grizzly Adams

Flambards

Scooby Doo

The Magic Roundabout

Steptoe & Son

Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads

Roobarb

Thunderbirds

Tales Of The Unexpected...

Charlie Horse 47 said...

According to "Charlie's Book of Arguments" one could argue that an astounding 47.2% of those who watched The Green Hornet and Batman, back in the 1960s, did so due to the theme song.

The other 52.8% watched Batman for a chance to see Lee Meriwether and Green Hornet to see the Hornet Car surface upside down out of its garage.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Colin - Charlie shares your affection for Thunderbirds. Not just the theme song but also the show itself. There is something strangely captivating about it.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, agree on Batman - at least you're focused enough to to be on the right side of the Lee Meriwether or Julie Newmar debate.
At 52.8% obviously the people have spoken.

The main appeal of Thunderbirds was the Tracy Island launch sequences, which were more impressive than even the Green Hornet's car and garage.

- sean

Killdumpster said...

Wow, for a comics-related site, no one enjoyed theme songs from superhero cartoons?

Spider-Man and Speed Racer from the 60's are my two favorites.

I don't know if you folks got those awful Marvel Super Hero cartoons in the 60's, but the theme songs were great. The best one was Iron Man, which they used as a phone alert for Tony's helmet in the first movie.

Second best was the Sub-Mariner theme. Thor & Cap's themes were good, but the Hulk's was a little silly. Especially for a 'toon where he was constantly fighting the military. They used very little supervillians in that one.

I was primarily focusing on themes with lyrics, but when I was a kid the sound of Batman, Lost In Space, Star Trek & Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea had me running to the TV. My mom usually had me clean my room before those shows came on.

I believe Barretta's song (Eye On The Sparrow) got some airplay on the radio here in the states. That was one of the better cop shows of the early 70's.

Having picked up the complete Green Hornet series on DVD awhile ago, my aged ears found The Flight Of The Bumble Bee really annoying. The scenes where Black Beauty is elevated, and of course Bruce Lee, were the best parts of the show. My favorite episode was the one where they fought a tank.

Killdumpster said...

Thunderbirds are probably a big part of a lot of your childhoods, but I could never get into it. The only show that grabbed me from that production company was UFO. Can't believe they nixed a second season of that to make SPACE 1999. I found that show dreary and boring.

Killdumpster said...

Sean-

Julie Newmar just had a birthday recently and posted a portrait of herself. That lovely lady is holding up very well.

Killdumpster said...

Charlie & Sean-

Am I interpreting it correctly that you believe Lee Meriwether tops Julie Newmar as Catwoman? I TRULY beg to disagree!

The only other women that came close to Julie's ability to rock a skin-tight bodysuit in the 60's were Diana Rigg & Batgirl. Julie's leg-factor has her winning hands down. Heck, her legs were insured for an insane amount of money.

dangermash said...

Julie Newman just pips Lee Meriwether for me but only because she gets to utter the words "Felix you may brush my pussywillow" in one of the episodes.

And I'm Thunderbirds fan, but only the proper 1960s version. So many people just believe that each episode was nothing more than a disaster and a rescue. They're so wrong. Every episode had some sort of backstory going on. Just off the top of my head, there's Parker trying to not stitch up an old cell mate. Scott taking charge while Jeff is on holiday. Tintin's first rescue mission. The Hood trying to film a rescue. Rescuing a family friend while trying to remain anonymous. Thunderbird 2 having to rescue Thunderbird 3 after Thunderbird 3 has done the main rescue. International Rescue agents trying to prove International Rescue aren't criminals so that the UN stop tracking the skies and International Rescue can perform a rescue rather than having to stay in hiding. Thunderbird 2 out of action and unable to transport Thunderbird 4 to the rescue. Alan's playboy lifestyle. I've never seen the modern version but I expect it's nothing but disasters and rescues and that the Tracy brothers don't have distinct personalities.

Anonymous said...

Have you guys ever heard The Who doing the Batman theme? It's pretty good.
It's probably on the U-tube. I have no idea how that came about.
I'm an Ertha Kitt man myself, when it comes to Catwomen. That voice! Although the other two gals certainly had their charms.
Men of good will may differ on this matter.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

No-one knows what its like to be the Batman M.P.
Yeah, the Who's Batman theme is alright. Quite a few people do versions - Sun Ra does a good one, although his band were moonlighting for a cash-in recording at the time so its not as out there as might be hoped.

No takers for Halle Berry's Catwoman then?

-sean

Anonymous said...

I don't think very many people saw that movie, Sean.
This new one-off Joker movie intrigues me. It's got Robert DeNiro in it, for cryin' out loud.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

Dunno M.P. - sounds like they might have missed a trick not having DeNiro play the Joker.
You can't judge a film before seeing it of course, but I'll be surprised if anyone ever tops Cesar Romero in the part.
I hope Joaquin Phoenix at least has a moustache under the face paint.

-sean

Anonymous said...

It would be hard to top Heath Ledger.
I would have never guessed that it was him under that make-up if I hadn't read that it was him.
It was an amazing piece of acting. The guy changed his voice, the way he carried himself physically, he was completely unrecognizable. Like DeNiro used to do.
Tom Hardy can do that too.

M.P.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Well if we are going to do Batman.. we'll probably have to continue this this Thursday b/c Steve is going to enlighten us in mere minutes with his Sunday blog!

I really enjoy Robin Taylor as the Penguin in Gotham. (Though I don't care for his incessant infatuation for the Riddler.)

And, regarding Gotham, I have fallen in love with Morena Baccarin. Just like I fell in love with Ginger Rogers about 10 years ago when I saw my first Fred and Ginger movie (Top Hat?) Can a man love more than one woman at a time? Apparently so.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hall Berry was sort of a lithe, fun Catwoman but, as Charlie vaguely recalls, there was something in the background going on at the time that just irritated him...

Was it the academy awards feeling obliged to give her the Oscar for the Batman movie which Charlie thought really wasn't Oscar worthy?

Charlie was watching the Batman flick at home, some years (?) after the movie released in the theatres. Had Charlie seen the movie whilst in the theatres he may have had a different opinion of Halle?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean! What about "Once upon a Time in Hollywood?" Speaking of Green Hornet above, did you dig the Bruce Lee - Brad Pitt scuffle, lol. Charlie thought it was a hoot!

Redartz said...

Oops, gotta get in on this discussion! TV themes always get my interest. Just a few favorites:
Green Hornet
Lost in Space (both versions)
Barnaby Jones (excellent, cool theme for a show many probably have never watched; look up the theme on Youtube)
Stingray (man, what percussion)
Jonny Quest (perhaps the greatest tv theme of all time)
Stranger Things (very cool, and to show that I do manage to follow some current trends)

As for the Catwoman question: I'm with M.P.; Eartha Kitt . Although the other two were great also.

Charlie- glad to hear you enjoyed Gotham. Robin Lord Taylor was terrific (got to meet him at a convention in Cincinnati).

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Good Morning Red! How's life in the Hoosier State? We are getting hammered by storms up here in Chicago. No doubt the water falling on my tomato patch is partially from the Ohio River, LOL.

Anyhow, yep I enjoy Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin. And I enjoy the show in general. I think the only person I've never warmed up to, in that show, was Inspector Gordon's original whack-o girlfriend Erin Richards.

Timothy Field said...

Best TV theme? Pack up and go home lads because there is no debate. Van der Valk for the win.

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