Thursday, 30 January 2020

January 30th, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

How long does it take a man to get nine squares of the same colour to line up? If the answer's, "Mere moments," and the year's 1980, he could soon be the envy of all his friends because, on this day in that year, the Rubik's Cube made its international debut at The British Toy and Hobby Fair at Earl's Court, London.

I could claim to have achieved effortless mastery of the Rubik's Cube, back in the day but the truth is I'd always get stuck on the last two squares.

Happily, I soon realised you could simply prise them apart with a screwdriver and then reassemble them with everything lined up perfectly, saving a massive amount of bother.

But we weren't just fingering plastic that week. We were also having fun with vinyl and, on the UK singles chart, the Specials' Too Much Too Young dethroned the Pretenders, to claim the top spot.

Not that the Pretenders needed be too upset, because they were still ruling the roost on the British album chart, with their eponymous debut LP of the same name called The Pretenders.

Elsewhere on that singles chart, My Girl by Madness was at 3, Tears of a Clown by the Beat was at 17 and Three Minute Hero by the Selecter was at 29, meaning the spirit of Ska was making its presence well and truly felt in the Top 30.

But perhaps the thing which stands out most for me on that week's singles chart was the presence of 7 Teen by the Regents, at 12, a record that, even forty years later, retains its sense of sheer oddity.

Spectacular Spider-Man #360, the Lizard and Iguana

Speaking of oddities, this is where things get strange for Marvel UK because the keen-of-eye will notice this week's issue has completely the wrong date on it.

Not only that but I believe next week's issue bears the date of Jan 23rd as well. I don't have a clue what was going on there.

I also don't know what's going on inside the comic, as, other than knowing Spider-Man and Iron Man both have strips in it, I'm living in ignorance.

I do at least know the Spidey tale sees the Lizard vs the Iguana, as the Connors family watches on in the horror with which it always watched on in every single appearance it ever made.

Star Wars Weekly #101

Info's also sparse when it comes to this one.

I do know, though, that our heroes are captured and put on trial by a bunch of people with wings who feel the interplanetary battlers of evil have been trespassing in their air space.

The blurb at the top of the cover assures me it's a terrible trial. I can only assume the judge is drunk, the jury's stupid and the lawyers turn up late.

Also, Deathlok's still blundering around the streets of somewhere or other, looking for whatever it is he's looking for.

Thinking about it, that is quite a boring cover. I mean, it's just Luke and C-3PO standing around doing nothing.

Doctor Who Weekly #16, Tom Baker

It's an epic week for lovers of the world's greatest time traveller when The Web Planet makes the front cover, surely the most compellingly unwatchable story in the show's history - and I say that as someone who's seen Time and the Rani.

Who will ever forget the relentless, maddening sound effects, the deathless wire work, the woodlice with bazookas, and the sight of a giant ant colliding with the camera?

No one.

And that's why we love it, even though it's nothing but torture from start to finish.

As if that wasn't enough, it would appear we also get the death of the Invisible Man, a protagonist who literally couldn't foresee his own end.

I have a feeling I got that line from the Two Ronnies.

We also get the latest instalment of The City of the Damned, a text report on the inside of the TARDIS, and more from the picture strip known as Deathworld.

The details of Deathworld are unknown to me but I believe it's the story which features Cybermen against Ice Warriors. The sooner they use that idea in the TV show, the better.

Then again, the way this current season's flinging in everything except the kitchen sink, such a development can only be mere weeks away.

Incredible Hulk Weekly #48

Spidey's still trying to rescue a bomb scientist from a bunch of Russian super-heroes who've been deceived into thinking that, by capturing him, they're protecting their country from American aggression.

Elsewhere, the Black Knight's come into the possession of a gem or a pearl or something that's trying to Gollumise our armoured hero with its promises of granting him total power.

Ant-Man's in the process of being framed for a bank robbery.

The Silver Surfer's still up against Thor.

In the pages of The Defenders, Moon Knight's out to rescue Jack Norriss from the clutches of Scorpio.

And, of course, the Hulk's up against Tyrannus in the Andes.

64 comments:

Timothy Field said...

Interesting that the quality of Spider-man and Hulk covers seems to be improving as the licenced titles covers get duller.

Anonymous said...

Improving? Well, I suppose thats relative. Maybe it has something to do with SezDez being on the way out? I think he's gone in a month or two?
That could explain the misprinted publication dates - perhaps proofreaders were the first casualties of the Marvel Counter-revolution...

Is the current series of Dr Who not very good Steve?
I didn't even know it was back on tv until earlier this week, when I read it had sparked some controversy - apparently an earlier incarnation of the Doctor was black? What a stupid thing to get worked up about.

-sean

Steve W. said...

Sean, the current series has been great - apart from Episode 3, which really only worked if you viewed it as a comedy. The other episodes have resembled being on a roller coaster with just about every element you've ever loved in the show being flung at you, in quick succession. If it carries on at this rate, it'll be my favourite series of the revival.

The origin of the black Doctor's still not clear yet but, yes, the handful of people who're getting worked up about it definitely need to take a chill-pill. In fairness, virtually, all the responses I've seen to her have been overwhelmingly positive.

Steve W. said...

Tim, yes, they definitely seem to be aiming the licensed comics at a kind of semi-magazine niche in the market, with those covers.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I took the kitchen sink comment for a criticism Steve. To be fair, you were enthusiastic about the Cybermen fighting Ice Warriors, so that was my mistake.

Didn't much care for the Who episodes I've seen from the last few series, but as the new one has the Steve seal of approval I will check it out. Thanks.

-sean

Killdumpster said...

Never was a big fan of ska. I did enjoy a band called the Hepcats.

That Incredible Hulk Weekly cover is really bad. I thought it was done by Sal Busema, till I expanded it to see the signature.

The Iguana still makes me laugh. A few of my friends had them as pets, and they were almost stationary or very slow moving. The Lizard should've kicked his scaly butt.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hello Gents,

Sean / Steve - are you referring to the Who TV series of this past year or so with Jodie Whittaker? I actually watched a few for several minutes which was a record for Charlie. I rather enjoyed Jodie as Who.

Did you UK chaps keep track of who was drawing your Marvel UK covers? I mean do you guys have discussions about those artists like you would about Steranko or Buscema?

B.t.w. I notice Hulk does not have any nipples? Were they not allowed to be seen in the UK?



Charlie Horse 47 said...

B.t.w. Steve, just a reminder that on the 8th of February the inaugural World Championships in Beer Mat Flipping is being held at The Ship & Shovel pub, Warsash, Hampshire. I know this is in the UK but I don't know which country.

Are you planning to attend the event and provide us any reporting? Or are you saving up for Sheffield's snooker tournament?

You don't envision Brexit interfering with these tournaments? Perhaps it will be used to exclude some famous Italian snooker star or French beermat flipper?


And KD - you were going to draw us up a Beer Mat Man Superhero?

Anonymous said...

Charlie, theres a new Who series that started a few weeks ago, the second with Whittaker. What I saw of the first wasn't really my cup of tea, but then I haven't gone for much C21 Who since the first series.
But as Steve is a canny critic - well, I tend to agree with his reviews here - and he rates it I'll give it a go.

Like most previous issues that Hulk cover is by Paul Neary (presumably based on a swipe like the rest) - I am keeping track if no-one else is!

Btw, the Hulk didn't have nipples in the US did he? I don't think thats specifically a British thing.
Brian Bolland drew the Hulk with nipples on the cover of the first issue -
www.stevedoescomics.blogspot.com/2019/03/march-7th-1979-marvel-uk-40-years-ago.html
They may have pasted on a Sal Buscema head, but didn't alter the chest so... presumably nipples weren't prohibited.

-sean

Anonymous said...

Huh. Looking at that link it seems the same month Marvel Comic had a US reprint cover (by Ernie Chan?) of the Hulk with nipples too.
So he did have them in the US too sometimes.

Perhaps disappearing nipples are an effect of gamma radiation?

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - thanks for the info! This all leads me (you too?) to wonder if KD is going to draw his Beer Mat Man with nipples or not???

Charlie Horse 47 said...

And I was just checking out Hulk King Size # 1 by Steranko. All this time I thought we were seeing Hulk's nipple but on closer look it is a bead of sweat. Well, that's my interpretation since there are few other's on his chest.

So unless Steranko interpreted Hulk to have multiple nipples on each pec, I guess he drew him nipple-less as well.

The most iconic Hulk cover of all and he has no nipples. W.t.h....

Timothy Field said...

'Improved' needs to be viewed in context of the God-awful covers since the start of Dez's revolution. At least they are starting to look more like the covers of old.

Steve W. said...

Charlie, I fear I may not be able to make the beer-mat flipping championships. I am, of course, devastated by this realisation.

Colin Jones said...

Don't forget the classic "I'm In The Mood For Dancing" by The Nolans which was in the Top 40 at this time, peaking at #3, and "Coward Of The County" by Kenny Rogers which was climbing towards #1 :D

Charlie, Hampshire is in England.

I don't remember that mix-up in the cover dates, or Hulk Comic changing its' name to the Incredible Hulk Weekly, or any of these covers. I can only assume my interest in Marvel UK's weeklies was falling off a cliff at this point.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, those are beads of sweat Charlie. Its clearer in Jaunty Jim's "improved" version -
www.thedrawingsofsteranko.com/hulk.html

No Hulk nipples in Cap #110 either.

-sean

Killdumpster said...

Charlie, You must have loved that Batman movie George Clooney did.

Nipples on Batman & Robins COSTUMES?!!!
Hokey smokes, Breast-winkle!! Lol!

As far a the debut of Beermat-Man, as soon as I have time & dough I'll put something together. I haven't had any art supplies in almost 25 years ( and drawn anything half of that time, lol.)

I have done sketches of uniforms, and invented villians & an origin.

I'll at least produce a faux-cover.

Killdumpster said...

Just thought about a villain, Doctor Nipples.

That was kind of done, sort of, in the James Bond film Man With The Golden Gun. Christopher Lee had 3 nipples.

Hey, Charlie, that movie is free on Pluto TV!

That may "pacify" you, lol!

Killdumpster said...

Memory may be failing me, but I almost think Gil Kane my have drawn a cover or two of Conan with nipples.

Sorta think Barry Smith also drew Conan with nipples. Gotta pull that stuff up now.

CHARLIE! WHAT HATH THOU WRAUGHT?!!!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hi KD,

Yes I too recall Conan's nipples being drawn! But not consistently! For instance Conan 6, 9, and 10 we see Conan's nipples and most obviously in 10. But there were several other covers where Barry could have drawn them and didn't. (I stopped at 10.)

But, alas, just as Hulk's most iconic cover Giant Size # 1(US release) by Steranko does not show Hulk's nipples, neither does Conan's most iconic cover: King Size #1 $.35. by Barry Smith. (It really has an elegant signature by Barry Smith in the lower left of the cover.)

I dare say that is the only comic book cover I can recall of anyone standing in a clear pool of water like that. Though, and this may seem weird, I can easily imagine Eisner drawing the Spirit in a pool of water, lol.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

IIRC, Conan King Size #1, for $.35, came out right around the time of Giant Size Super Stars #1 featuring the FF?

Now that was a cover, by Buckler, that I also consider iconic!!! Thing and the Hulk in the boxing ring with Thing punch Hulk right in the puss!

However, over the years, I have found that most folks seem to be unaware of this comic? Perhaps b/c it was not part of the FF lineage, strictly speaking, it was overlooked?

Actually, does anyone know if there was a Giant Size Super Stars #2??? I can't find mention of one.

If you look at Marvel Fandom database you can find this cover. And thank the stars Marvel didn't have GK draw the cover. I would not have bought it most likely. E.g., FF 146, drawn by GK, was published the same month as Giant Size Super Stars. That cover does zip for me.

https://marvel.fandom.com/wiki/Giant-Size_Super-Stars_Vol_1_1

Killdumpster said...

Charlie, oh my brother, even with my buzzed-sawed brain, I know we've been around this block before.

There was no Giant Sized Super Stars #2.

That was a great book, the #1, and I remember most of us that read it agreed.

Anonymous said...

I've actually got that issue, Charlie. I must've picked up a old copy in a comic store somewhere. That used to be quite a hobby for me.
I think that title was a one-off.
Buckler was okay, I guess. He swiped a lot from Kirby, rather blatantly at times, but a lotta guys did. That was probably encouraged at the time.

M.P.

Killdumpster said...

Unfortunately, for you, it didn't have any nipples.

Now if Thundra would have tore her shirt when she helped Thing/Hulk stop a subway train, that would have been a different story.

In my opinion the regular Ben Grimm/Thing should have been able to stop a train by himself.

Even though he has crusty rock-like scales, that cover his nipples.

Anonymous said...

I don't need to see nipples on a guy, but I guess with Thundra it would have been okay.

I can't believe I'm engaging in this conversation.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

Well, I suppose we should at least be grateful Kd didn't ask about Red Sonja's nipples.

Anyhow Charlie, are we sure that isn't a left nipple on the cover of King-size Conan #1? It could be a drop of blood or a shading effect I suppose, but...
(The axe is in the way of where the right one would be of course)

-sean

Killdumpster said...

Red Sonja would have had to have nipples that you could hang a coat on, Sean, if they could protrude through her armoured bikini. Lol!

Anonymous said...

She must have had some padding under that chain-metal brassiere...
It got cold in Hyboria...

M.P.

Anonymous said...

No doubt M.P. - besides the cold you also have to consider the impact chain mail must have on skin. And Sonja was a woman who knew how to look after herself.
It was impressive how even as a hard travelling she-devil with a sword she was able to stay free of unwanted body hair.

Come to think of it, the same goes for Conan - he didn't even have underarm hair!
Say what you like about barbarians, but it must take real dedication to keep up a full body builder's waxing regime in the Hyborian Age.

Crom, I wonder if Conan moisturizes...

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Well all Charlie can say is that sometimes Charlie does and sometimes he doesn't have ads that show at SDC. Some months back Charlie had an ad on the phone, whilst reading SDC, for manscaping tools.

ICRC, he posted that tidbit here, at the time. (It was the first time Charlie had heard of "manscaping.")

But the whole subject of anatomically correct comic heroes is an interesting one.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - I could swing either way on whether we see Conan's right nipple on King Size Conan #1! I will defer to your experience as an artist!

Man - that is the one cover from Conan I'll always think of... truly iconic!

Red Sonja... she just had to be calloused all over. My recall is that the knights in shining armor had to wear all kinds of undergarments to protect against armor rash. Given Red and Conan were wandering around thousands of years ago, and no one seemed to be into undergarments yet... (I would have loved to see Matt Baker do a few issues of Red, LOL!)

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD - you sure we discussed Giant Size Super Stars # 2 here? I don't recall that at all and I have not had my skull parted with a buzz saw (nor do I ever hope to!).

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hey! Trivia question! Which British icon said, "I thought Christmas only came once a year?"

(I heard this on the UK's Talk Sport the other day, LOL, while driving home from work! Beats the snot out of Chicago Sports Radio at times, that's for sure!)

Anonymous said...

Was there a Bond girl called Christmas Night, or something stupid like that?
I could see that being one of his sad double entendres...

-sean

Anonymous said...

Was it Richard III?

M.P.

Anonymous said...

...Sid Vicious?

M.P.

Anonymous said...

Boris Johnson?

-sean

Anonymous said...

Is it someone going on about Brexit, seeing as its (apparently) Independence Day?

-sean

Anonymous said...

I got it! Ebenezer Scrooge!

M.P.

Anonymous said...

It was probably Winston Churchill. I think I remember that quote now.
He was either referring to Pearl Harbor or the Germans invading Russia.

M.P.

Steve W. said...

I agree with Sean. Denise Richards played a nuclear physicist(!) called Christmas in one of the Brosnan Bond movies and 007 made the comment in question.

As for Conan's nipples, I read a Roy Thomas interview once - possibly in FOOM - in which he said that he personally drew nipples on Conan if the artist omitted to.

Colin, I shall never forget the Nolans' I'm in the Mood For Dancing. Some memories will haunt a man forever. Then again, I'm still awed by their cover of The Smiths' Panic.

Anonymous said...

What, there really WAS a Bond girl called Christmas?!?
Once I thought about it, it seemed quite Charlie to be making some sort of Brexit-related reference, given it was the end of January.

-sean

Dougie said...

Panic by the Nolans is brilliant. They really go for "Hang the DJ".
I remember a SSOC letter about anatomical correctness. Second issue of People of the Black Circle, I think. Tot the effect of "I can accept one-eyed desert demons with beaks but why do Hyrkanians have no bulge in their breeks?"
Good grief.

Colin Jones said...

Wasn't the Bond girl in question called Dr. Christmas Jones? I'm not much of a Bond fan so I might be confused.

On Conan's nipples - Marvel has just released Volume 2 of the new 2019 incarnation of Savage Sword Of Conan, featuring #6-11 of SSoC, and Conan has nipples on the cover (I bought the e-book version).

And why do men have nipples anyway? Male apes have nipples too so I assume our common ape ancestor had male nipples, but why?

Killdumpster said...

Was watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 this morning. They were riffing Moon Zero Two. The astronauts' space-suits had nipples!

That made me wonder, when did they stop putting rivet-nipples on Iron Man's armor? I'm guessing it was after they put that goofy nose on on his mask.

Killdumpster said...

Colin, I think it has something to do with the forming of embryos as to why men have nipples.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents, chaps, lads, mates, et al!

The trivia answer is James Bond. Indeed it was a double entendre said to a lady named "Christmas."

The context was the Talk Sports guys were imitating various Bond lines (Moore, Connery, Brosnan) and the imitation of Brosnan regarding "Christmas" was spot on and hilarious.

KD- Man you rung my memory bell! Iron Man did have metal nipples initially IIRC!

Colin - if you suggest that man and woman evolved from a common ancestor, half the USA is going to put you on a hit list! LMAO!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD, Sean - since you guys were both artists, maybe you could create a team called Beer Mat Man and Manscaper?

I would definitely draw each with big, hairy nipples!

Killdumpster said...

Sorry, Charlie, but I don't have the enthusiasm for male nipples that you do.

Steve W. said...

Colin, men have nipples because, when the embryo first starts to form, it's still not decided whether it'll become male or female, so it already has nipples in place, in case it goes on to become female.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents - just FWIW - the Tijuana bibles do show nipples.

You'd have to google them if not familiar. (I put bible in small "b" so as not to blaspheme!) They were quite popular here in the USA back in the 30s and 40s per what I've been told.

Think of them as the Bizarro Universe, as run by R Crumb, for the Sunday Newspaper strips.

Anonymous said...

Steve, Roy Thomas went through Conan pages himself with a pen adding nipples?
You can see why they called him Roy the Boy!

Presumably he did it to copies, but even so - you'd think as a supposedly professional editor he'd at least get some artist to make any required changes.
You'd expect Thomas would take a similar approach to Tarzan, so as Buscema's version didn't have nipples (and neither did Kubert's at DC, and even a stickler for anatomical accuracy like Hogarth didn't draw 'em) it seems reasonable to assume that was a condition of the licence.

Whats that all about?

-sean

Anonymous said...

So, Steve — have you managed to listen to The Pretenders’ debut album yet?

-b.t.

Steve W. said...

I must confess I totally forgot about it, bt. I shall see if I can have a listen to it tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

EVERYBODY STOP TALKING ABOUT NIPPLES

I apologize to Steve and everyone here for the full-cap ranting howl, but I thought drastic measures were called for. People might stop by this blog and get the wrong idea entirely.
What that idea might be I have no clue.

M.P.

Fantastic Four follower said...

IIRC Marvel made a complete mess of their launch of Giant Size comics in 1973/74. They initially were called Super Giant size with title and prices changing at a whim hence Marvel Super Stars #1 featuring The FF, with guest star the Hulk complete with hairy chest!!!! became the unofficial G/S FF #1. (I think) FF, and Spiderman lasted the longest with 6 Issues each, 5 original and the last issue reprint in the case of Spiderman and FF having 4 original issues with 2 reprints of FF annuals #5 and #6 respectfully. Defenders had 5 original issues surprisingly beating Avengers with 4 original an a 5th reprint of Annual #1! Because they were non-distributed they became highly valued'round our way'!!Marvel was absolutely exploding at the time but this was a false dawn and for me anyway the death of Giant size comics in 1975saw a steep decline in Marvel comics over the next 3 to 4 years.They recovered but Marvel never seemed as exciting again as the golden era that was 1973/74.

Anonymous said...

There was a lot of experimentation with "giant-sized" comics by both major companies in the '70's. Remember those thick "dollar comics" D.C. was putting out?
It was a mess, a goofy mess, but we did get some decent comics out of it. Even those D.C. dollar comics that were half-loaded with old reprints were interesting for a kid to read.
I would agree with F.F.F. that Marvel was at it's best in the early '70's. It seemed to me, anyway, that it's glorious Bronze Age ended with the Warlock/Thanos annuals in '77.
Marvel became a major corporation and the chaos and magic kinda went out the barn door.
There was still some interesting stuff here and there, but with the Crisis D.C. became the innovator of the pair.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

M.P., it seems messy from our perspective, but a lot of that experimentation with size was driven by competition, and the need to find a profitable format in a declining newstand market at a time of rising costs.
For instance, I recall reading that when US comic prices went up in '71, DC and Marvel both increased their page counts and went to 25 cents; but in what was apparently a bit of a Martin Goodman scam, after a month (of comics like Avengers #93) Marvel then dropped back to the shorter size at 20 cents. That and a better distribution deal is supposedly how Marvel pulled ahead over DC.

Sounds boring I know, but it seems thats the funnybook biz. Cutting back and rationalizing Marvel was probably inevitable by the late 70s.
As readers we're lucky it didn't happen a bit earlier really...

-sean

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've read that. Goodman has been described as something of a sneaky so-and-so, but inflation was endemic in the '70's and operating costs and paper were going up every month.
Marvel, at least, would apologize profusely on the letters page for jacking up the price of their comics by a nickel, which they were forced to do several times during that decade.
It seems rather quaint, now, doesn't it? Making a fuss about five cents, but a nickel was worth maybe 30 cents today. And being a very young kid, any money was hard to come buy. It's not as if I was blowing my paper route money on cocaine and hookers.
I would have liked to...
I think they did about the best they could.

M.P

Anonymous said...

I meant "by"! Poor proofreading skills!

M.P.

Fantastic Four follower said...

There was definitely an aura about that era in the early 70s that still evokes excitement when I see those COVERS.I lived in Belfast and all Giant size Marvels were non-distributed in UK and Ireland around that time period so you will never see a pence priced issue they were all cents and with no Thorpe and Porter stamps either. The problem with these issues are the staples that seem to be back to front, in the sense that they can indent the cover as was sadly the case in my copy of GS X-men #1! But that was in an alternative universe where condition was not that important.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

FFF - thanks for the refresher on the "Giant Sized!" It all comes back to me now, 45 years later!

IMHO - the "big" books that ruled around this time were DC's 100-page Giants for $.50. Not only might you get a snazy cover and inside of Batman by Aparo but ALSO a ton of golden-age reprints. And if you were lucky they were reprints from Quality Comics which was light years ahead of the competition with the likes of Cole on Plastic Man, Eisner on The Spirit, Crandall on The Blackhawks, Lou Fine on the Ray, Condor, or Dollman... etc.!!! Talk about Excelsior!!!


MP - we are not talking about nipples per se but rather the absence of them!

Now the whole body hair thing is interesting b/c I do recall thinking on GSS #1 that Hulk had body hair on his chest... how odd. I am tempted to retrieve that book out of the long boxes to see if it was just on the cover or throughout?

Killdumpster said...

The Hulk was draw with chest & arm hair a few times during the silver age.

Steve W. said...

bt, I've now listened to the Pretenders' debut album a couple of times and it's a decent record. The singles and Private Life are still my favourite tracks on it, with Private Life as my number one choice. Chrissie Hynde's voice is a magnificent implement throughout.