Tuesday, 5 May 2020

The Marvel Lucky Bag - May 1970.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.

People often ask me what I like to do with my free time.

And the truth is that, mostly, I like to pull my rubber mask off to reveal my radiation-scarred face and sing hymns of praise to the atom bomb I keep in my living room.

That's probably why I identify so much with Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

And, in May 1970, I got even more of a chance to identify with it because that's when it came out.

But it wasn't the only thrill we were getting in our cinemas. That month also saw the release of Taste the Blood of Dracula and Pufnstuf.

I should point out that that was two separate movies. There was never a movie called Taste the Blood of Dracula and Pufnstuf.

However, I must confess I did get excited when my research uncovered this fact, as I assumed Taste the Blood of Dracula was the one which starred Dennis Waterman and Jenny Hanley, surely the least likely male/female casting in the history of Hammer but it turns out it's not. It's the one that stars Peter Sallis.

To be honest, I don't think I remember it. Can it be? Can it be that there's a Hammer Dracula movie that I haven't actually seen?

Speaking of films I haven't seen, that month's cinematic oddity was The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart, a Don Johnson vehicle about a confused student which flopped and threatened to end his career as soon as it had begun.

When it came to the UK singles chart, that May, the roost was initially ruled by Norman Greenbaum's Spirit in the Sky.

But even Norman was helpless before the power of the England World Cup Squad and soon lost his crown to their single Back Home, before the month's final week saw the top spot claimed by Christie's Yellow River. Apparently, that song had previously been recorded by the Tremeloes but they'd failed to release their version, the blind fools.

A river may have been top of the singles chart but more troubled waters plagued the LP listings, as those bridged by Simon and Garfunkel controlled the top spot for May's first two weeks, while holding off Paul McCartney's first solo album. Macca, however, soon claimed his revenge when the duo were toppled by the Beatles' Let it Be for the month's second half.

Kid Colt #146

Once more, Kid Colt faces imminent doom.

Once more, he survives it.

How? I don't know but the truth is I only posted this one because that's a lovely horsie drawn by Herb Trimpe who seems to have taken over from Jack Kirby as Marvel's Western Hero cover artist of choice.

I'm not sure why the speech balloons have green borders. It does give both protagonist and antagonist an air of the supernatural that I suspect they're not meant to have.

Mighty Marvel Western #8

Happy Herb also provides the cover for this one, as our hero wonders what'll happen when his foes discover his ammo's almost gone?

I suspect they'll probably shoot him.

Then again, I suspect that was their intention anyway.
Silver Surfer #16, Mephisto

With one hand, Mephisto gives and, with the other, he takes away, as he removes Galactus' space barrier, allowing the Surfer to revisit his home planet of Zenn-La.

But then the villain abducts Shalla-Bal, in order to forcer the Surfer to destroy SHIELD for him.

It seems a bit out of character for Mephisto to want to destroy SHIELD. I mean, are they famous for thwarting his plans?

Then again, can he not destroy SHIELD himself?

It seems to me there's more going on here than meets the eye.

Sub-Mariner #25

Fed-up of surface-dwellers dropping pollution onto his realm, the Sub-Mariner goes to the United Nations and demands it recognises Atlantis as a proper country with legally enshrined rights.

Inevitably, the UN refuses and it's back to Subby swearing revenge upon the air-breathers while not making any serious attempt to actually get it.

Tower of Shadows #5

The cover story gives us a Roy Thomas/Barry Smith tale that I've never read. We also get a Wally Wood tale of sword and sorcery and a Gerry Conway/Syd Shores vehicle called Time Out. What that final tale involves, I could not say.

Where Monsters Dwell #3, Grottu

Hooray! Grottu is on the loose!

Sadly, it's not long before the inevitable interfering human foils his plan by turning his ant hordes against him.

Poor old Grottu.

Elsewhere, when mankind realises the super-computer that's turned our world into a paradise is building a giant robot, humanity turns on the robot and destroys it - only to discover it was intended to replace the computer which is on its last legs.

And now, with both computer and robot gone, the good times are over.

Also elsewhere, an ugly man joins a freak show which turns out to be run by aliens in search of an ugly husband for their gorgeous queen.

Finally, when a man's warnings that a Martian spy is loose on Earth are ignored, he takes it upon himself to hunt it down and kill it - before revealing that he himself is a Venusian!

My Love #5

We get yet more tales of the love that could be ours!

Call me ungrateful but, as the love stories in these books are nearly always tear-filled emotional car crashes, I'm not convinced I'd want that love to be mine.


Killdumpster said...

Is that Rick Jobe a on the My Cover?

Killdumpster said...

Meant "Jones".

Fantastic Four follower said...

The Silver Surfer which had blazed brightly was on its last legs. The big clue that it was in trouble, though I never noticed it at the time, was guest stars galore. Marvel threw everything at it to stave off its demise! Spiderman, Human Torch, Nick Fury, Shield, Inhumans etc. I read and loved them but time has not been kind to this title. Yes the artwork was beautiful with #4 rightfully lauded, come to think of it all the issues had fantastic artwork but the Marvel secret of heroes with problems didn't work as the Surfer had no personality and therefore people did not warm to him! With Spidy you cheered him on but the Surfer had no warmth! (well he did come from outer space, but you know what I mean.) I do not think Kirby would have succeeded with his version but you never Know. As with the Inhumans, I thought he worked better as a guest star as opposed to headline act! Loved them at the time though! Favourite issue was the'Doomsday Man'issue!

Redartz said...

Pufnstuf? Was that actually released in theatres in the UK? It was a Saturday morning kids series 'over here', one I never watched (didn't care for 'live action' shows,only watched animation).

"Spirit in the Sky" is a classic. "Yellow River" though is unknown to me. I must admit it only brings to my mind the schoolyard book joke; you remember: "Yellow River", by I.P. Freely. Probably shows a mental deficiency on my part.

That "Tower of Shadows" book just jumped onto my 'must find' list. A Barry Smith story and a Wally Wood tale in one comic? Take my money now...

Killdumpster said...

There was a theatrical release of some kind of Pufnstuff film. Think my sisters saw it. They were big-time gaga over Jack Wilde.

I found him annoying, personally.

Too bad Sid & Marty Kroft didn't do even more LSD. Then we might have gotten Taste The Blood Of Pufnstuff!

Anonymous said...

Besides drawing stories for that issue of Tower of Shadows, Barry Smith and Wally Wood also appear in it - like a couple of the early issues of Chamber of Darkness the artists are used as "horror hosts" to introduce their work. "Greetings, Wally Wood here..."


Steve, Scars Of Dracula was the one with the fragrant Jenny Hanley. Admittedly I had to look that up, as it is quite difficult to remember which Hammer Drac flick is which (except Dracula 1972).
At least when Christopher Lee also played the title role in Spanish director Jess Franco's Count Dracula in 1970 he did it with a moustache, which helps to distinguish it from the others.


Killdumpster said...

If that's not Rick Jones in the My Love book, maybe it's a rogue LMD.

Hey, romance characters showed up in hero books, why not the other way around?

Anonymous said...

TASTE THE BLOOD is the one with baby-fat cutie Linda Hayden (i think she was all of 17 at the time). Among Hammerheads, TASTE has a generally better reputation than SCARS but I think they’re both pretty weak.

Have to say, I flat-out adore Marvel’s short-lived Bronze Age Romance comics. Stan’s plots and dialogue are hilariously over-the-top and the art is mostly stunning.

- b.t.

Steve W. said...

Thanks, b.t, it's not a film that rings any bells with me. I genuinely think I've, somehow, never managed to see it.

KD, I have no doubt it's Rick on that cover. Along with Betty Brant. At last, the tale of the true love between Rick Jones and Betty Brant can be told!

Sean, thanks for that Barry Smith link. That art really doesn't look like Barry at all. He was clearly still in the process of finding himself.

Red, I do believe a Pufnstuf movie was made to cash-in on the popularity of the TV show. I think Mama Cass was in it.

Apparently, Yellow River made Number 23 on the Billboard chart, so it seems to have got at least some airplay in the States.

Fantastic Four Follower, it's true. As you read those tales, you can sense Stan desperately trying to find a way to make the strip work. The obvious way to do that was to get rid of the space barrier and give the Surfer adventures in outer space but, for some reason, that never seemed to occur to Stan who just kept repeating the same handful of plot points over and over again. The Surfer despairs of humanity. Mephisto wants the Surfer's soul. The Surfer wants to break through the space barrier. The Surfer's desperate to be reunited with his girlfriend. Shalla-Bal's abducted and has to be rescued. By this point, it's like a broken record.

Steve W. said...

I've now just watched the trailer for Taste the Blood of Dracula, on YouTube and I'm still not sure if I've seen it or not.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Regarding Pufnstuf… one must search for TV vs. the Film.

Wiki suggests the film was made in 1970 but never released until 2000 on VHS (or thereabouts). Perhaps that was just for the USA and it was released in the UK in 1970 to a hungry audience that included SDC in Sheffield? (Steve – were the movie theatres also free or just the bus to the movie theatre?)

And there were only like 16 TV shows ever made! Otherwise it was just being repeated year after year after year after year…

Also, A soundtrack album was released on LP, cassette and 8-track in 1970 (Capitol/EMI Records SW-542), featuring the songs and the score by Charles Fox from the movie.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean – you are a true friend of Charlie’s. Charlie did indeed listen to Jilted John by Jilted John of Sheffield! Charlie was jumping up and down all around the house (I assume in 4/4 time?)!

Charlie then googled Jilted John and learned that he has had a marvelous bit of magic with this recording come his way! Most impressive that he won the “One Hit Wonder” competition a few years ago with this! Also most impressive was that Colin Goddard of “Walter and the Softies” played the guitar for the demo! Seriously, “Walter and the Softies!!!” (Now what inspired that name? LOL!)

Charlie is scrambling to see if Goddard was also from Sheffield? The song was recorded in Manchester so Charlie can’t make any assumptions.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

SDC is from Sheffield. The People’s Republic of Sheffield had free bus fares in the 70s and 80s. Because of free bus fares ABC was able to practice and launch a fine career. Jiltin John was from Sheffield. His supporting band was Walter and the Softies. Walther and the Softies are from Scotland’s Dennis the Menace story line first appearing in 1953. The UK’s MP Mogg-Rees has been issued a cease-and-desist order by the courts to stop impersonating Walter. Charlie’s great grandmother was from Dundee Scotland. Poor Charlie… his eyes are just going back and forth like Krazy Kats at the moment!

Ohhhhh what a tangled web you lot have woven!

Anonymous said...

Sheffield is a liminal space Charlie, a nexus where realities converge - I hear its caught between the past and the future.


Charlie Horse 47 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

There is a small chain of wine retailers in London called 'Planet of the Grapes'. The one in Leadenhall Market used to have (and may still have) a small bar located in it's cellar. I was always vaguely annoyed that they didn't call the bar 'Beneath the Planet of the Grapes'. Always had a soft spot for the 'Beneath' movie.

I thought 'Taste the Blood of Dracula' was one of the better films. Ralph Bates was supposed to be the lead, but his role was reduced once Hammer convinced Christopher Lee to return.


Killdumpster said...

Once in a double sized FEAR comic I read a story of giant intelligent ant that was killed at the end by a giant anteater. I'll have to check if that was Grottu also.

Probably the only shocking ant-related story I ever read was in Unknown Worlds #6. It featured a guy stranded on an island, and ants instructed him to eat them. He turned into a big human-headed ant. That was a great book. The Killdozer adaption was the cover story.

Marvel seemed to have had alot of ant-themed stories. Stan had to have been a big fan of the film THEM!

Let's not forget "The Man In The Anthill", which was instrumental in delivering us our favorite diminutive hero.

Speaking of monster books, are you planning on featuring an issue of Werewolf By Night this week, Steve?

Only reason I'm asking is because the last Super-Moon of 2020 will is rising this week. I believe it's called the Flower Moon.

Hopefully Jack Russell can find a hardware store that is still open, to purchase extra chains.

Killdumpster said...

Just checked, and the giant ant in the FEAR story I read was named Krang.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

All I can do is recommend that people check out The Birthday Party. The best HR Pufnstuf episode. The one where Witchpoo gate crashes the kid's birthday party and brings along,....well,... Just watch.


Steve W. said...

KD, I doubt I'll have time to do a Werewolf by Night review this week but I shall make sure to do one at some point this month.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Dangerous Actuary -

Yowza - Ole Witchie Poo douses the whole place with laughing gas in "The Birthday Party." But when she's blowing the smoke out of the saxophone, it sure suggests she's blowing some "puf-n-stuff" on everyone, LOL!

God this C19 needs to end. That I have enough time to fast forward through an HR Pufnstuf is crazy!

Killdumpster said...

At least you're not playing with your magic flute.

Redartz said...

Witchiepoo...pufnstuf...ohhhh , those 70's....

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure my brothers and I saw the Pufnstuf movie in a theatre back in the day. I think we may even have enjoyed it...?

Sorry, nope, that can’t be Rick Jones on the MY LOVE cover. No way that boy’s hands were ever that manly. C’mon.

— b.t.