Archive for the 'Comic Books' Category

Marc Bolan with Man-Wolf, Circa 1975

Marc Bolan 1975

The magazine behind Creatures on the Loose #33, identified by Richard McKenna, is Modern Screen (November 1974). Bolan was a huge Marvel fan who interviewed Stan Lee on the BBC’s Today show in 1975, where Lee revealed that Angie Bowie was interested in doing a Black Widow TV series—which would have been so much more entertaining than whatever morbidly expensive glob of superhero goo that came out last week (or the week before, or the week before, or the week before…). Bolan himself was interviewed about comics in 1975 by soon-to-be Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant (credit to McKenna once again). You can read the transcript here, and there’s a picture of the article below.

Bolan Interview

Bonus: here’s Bolan with Stan Lee and Roy Wood (ELO, Wizzard) at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1975. The Marvel exhibit ran from October 18 through November 2. Bolan died in a car wreck two years later, on September 16, 1977.

Marvel I.C.A. 1975

(Photos via @jackellyreed and everything second-hand)

The Lord of the Rings Comic Book Adaptation, 1979 – 1981

LOTR Iceland 1979

LOTR Iceland 1980

LOTR Iceland 1981

LOTR Spanish 1979-2

LOTR Spanish 1979-3

LOTR Spanish 1979-4

LOTR Spanish 1979-5

There was no American or English comic book adaptation of The Lord of the Rings following Ralph Bakshi’s animated movie of 1978—the closest we got was the Warren Special Edition magazine—but there was a beautiful three volume adaptation that appeared throughout Europe, licensed by Tolkien Enterprises in California. The lack of an English adaptation is attributed to “copyright issues,” which probably means that it was prohibitively expensive.

The artist is Luis Bermejo Rojo, a Spanish illustrator best known to American audiences for his work on Warren’s Creepy from 1974 to 1983. The covers above, all by Bermejo, are the Icelandic editions, and the pages are from the Spanish editions. The series was released between 1979 and 1981. Bermejo passed away in 2015.

(Images via Tumba Abierta and Tolkien Library)

Douglas Adams and Nick Landau in Forbidden Planet Bookshop, 1979

Forbidden Planet 1979

Douglas Adams (holding The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy double LP) is on the left; Nick Landau (co-founder of the original Forbidden Planet and Titan Books, holding the just published Hitchhiker’s novel) is right. All comics 12p!

Forbidden Planet was one of London’s first comic book specialty shops, after Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed and Weird Fantasy.

I found the photo at the Collectors Society forums. It was taken by Colin Davey.

Marvel Comics Blacklight Posters (The Third Eye, 1971)

Marvel Third Eye 1971

Promotional poster showing all of the posters in the series. The Third Eye also put out a series of postcards and jigsaw puzzles with the same designs. Overall, the combination of Marvel’s illustration superpowers with the psychedelic mindset (the third eye enables metaphysical sight, in mystical traditions) was extremely successful and influential. Not all of the posters are winners (Spider-Man doesn’t really fit), and the exclusion of Steranko’s Nick Fury is unaccountable. Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four (below) is probably my favorite. You can see close-ups of most of the posters here.

You can see original Third Eye designs here.

FF Third Eye

(Images via Patrick Owsley and Cap’n’s Comics)

The San Francisco Comic Book Company in Nightmare in Blood (1978)

Nightmare in Blood (spoilers ahead) is a cult film directed by John Stanley, who was writing for the San Francisco Chronicle at the time and went on to host Creature Features (replacing Bob Wilkins) at KTVU from 1979 to 1984. The plot surrounds a series of murders at a horror convention and the event’s guest of honor, a famous vampire actor named Malakai, who turns out to be a real vampire. And Malakai’s “public-relations men,” B.B. and Harris, are actually William Burke and William Hare, the famous 19th century serial killers. The film is loaded with winks and nods to early horror fandom and classic horror films.

When Malakai arrives at the convention, filmed at Oakland’s Fox Theater, he’s greeted with cheers by his young fans, many of whom are—oddly—wearing ape masks. The kids were members of a Planet of the Apes fan club, and one of them was a teenage Fred Dekker, soon-to-be writer-director of Night of the Creeps (1986) and The Monster Squad (1987), two wildly fun films that are now cult classics.

The film features, in a way, Gary Arlington’s The San Francisco Comic Book Company, the first comics-only store in the U.S. The store opened in 1968 and was a nexus of the underground comix scene throughout the ’70s and ’80s. Robert Crumb was a frequent presence, and Simon Deitch, Rory Hayes, and Flo Steinberg all reportedly worked at the store at various times. The hippie character in the clip is not just based on Gary Arlington, he’s named Gary Arlington. Arlington himself, with his own stock, tried to recreate his Mission District store at a bigger location for the scene Stanley wanted. (The San Francisco Comic Book Company was notoriously small, some 200 square feet.) Arlington died at the age of 75 in 2014.

Compare the Nightmare in Blood clip to the absurd scene in Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, when Samuel Jackson’s character dotes on a vintage comic book illustration in his comic book “art gallery,” and then berates the man who wants to buy it for his boy because “art” is not for children. What makes it absurd is that the scene is played straight—entirely devoid of humor. A comparison of both films, in fact, explains quite a bit about the transformation of sci-fi/fantasy/horror fandom from a bookish, establishment-wary subculture into a mainstream, corporate phenomenon.

Read more about Nightmare in Blood at San Francisco Weekly and John Stanley’s site.

Wuxtry Records and Comics, Circa 1975

Buck Wuxtry 1975

The original Wuxtry Records is in Athens, Georgia, and still sells comics. Yes, that’s Peter Buck of R.E.M. before R.EM. formed. Buck and Michael Stipe met at this very store in 1980.

(Photo via Cable and Tweed)

The Scrambler Reading Series: Panic and More Disaster Stories (Xerox, 1977)

Panic 1977-1

Panic 1977-2

Panic 1977-3

Panic 1977-4

Panic 1977-5

Panic 1977-6

Panic 1977-7

Panic 1977-8

Published at the height of the disaster film boom, this “educational” comic, illustrated by Frank Bolle and Tony DiPreta, takes on a “poisonous smoke cloud,” an earthquake, and, for some reason, a tidal wave. You can read all of the stories at the impeccably named Stupid Comics, where I got the images above. I’m not sure what exactly we’re learning here. Hold on to the roof of your house and surf the wave? The earthquake story is nearly as good, as it pits folk-rocking teens against some ornery geezers in a resting home—not to worry; the generational rancor is assuaged in the end by a… tambourine?

Other volumes in the Scrambler Reading Series include Space Trucker and Other Science Fiction Stories (1978), Shark!: Stories About Fighting to Win (1976), The Baron: Stories About Law and Order (1978), and The Nightwalker and More Scary Tall Tales (1976). I really would like to get my hands on these, especially the one with the shark.

Queen City Book Store, 1977 – 1980

Queen City 1977-4

Queen City 1977-3

Queen City 1977-2

Queen City 1978-2

Queen City 1978

Queen City 1979

Queen City 1979-2

Queen City Late 1970s

Queen City Early 1980s

Emil J. Novak, Sr. opened Buffalo, New York’s Queen City Bookstore in 1969. He and his family still own and run the place. I found all of the remarkable photos on the website’s history gallery. Some of the gems I spotted are posted below.

What can I say that I haven’t said before? We need more stores like this. Kids need more awesome stuff like this. They deserve the chance to roam around in places that exist with them in mind (I’m talking about libraries too), flip open a random book, and have their minds blown forever. What we now dismiss as “obsolete physical media” once propped up local communities and ignited the imagination of generations. It’s not just books that influenced and inspired me, but the places I found them in.

You can see more book stores and comic book stores here.

Alien Trading Cards 1979

LOTR Fotonovel 1979

Star Trek Catalog 1979

Star Wars Special Edition 1977

Space Wars 1979

Richard Corben Cover Art: Anomaly #3 (1971)

Anomaly #3 Corben

Read the story here. More Corben here.

Corgi’s The X-ploratrons (1979)

X-Ploratrons 1979-1

X-Ploratrons 1979-2

X-Ploratrons 1979-3

The X-ploratrons were Corgi’s short-lived (and ill-named) answer to Matchbox’s Adventure 2000 line. They seem to have been produced for one year only, and there were four vehicles in total, each featuring specialized equipment: Lasertron (reflector), Magnetron (magnet), Rocketron (firing rocket, working compass), and Scanotron (magnifying lens).

The X-ploratrons, according to the backstory, were created to combat a nature that’s gone wild in a 21st century post-apocalyptic world. While the the actual product doesn’t match the quality and imagination of the Adventure 2000 line, the art is superior: all of the package illustrations were done by Carlos Ezquerra, a longtime 2000 AD alum and the co-creator of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog. Interestingly, Adventure 2000’s Raider Command vehicle appears in a 1978 Judge Dredd story arc called The Cursed Earth.

More views below, and more on the X-ploratrons later.

X-Ploratrons 1979-11

X-Ploratrons 1979-12

X-Ploratrons 1979-10

X-Ploratrons 1979-14

(Images via The Saleroom, Vectis Auctions, and The Toy Cabin)


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