All posts by BJB

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Rampage Monthly (Marvel UK)

 Rampage Monthly issue 2

The history of Marvel UK in the 1970s

Rampage

In the early ’70s Marvel launched a series of black and white weekly comics that featured reprints of comics previously published in the States. Most of those reprints featured Marvels biggest selling characters – Spider-ManThe Fantastic FourThe AvengersIron ManThor, etc. – and were printed on cheap newspaper stock and sold for pennies. Many of those weekly reprint editions would feature one of the original US comics printed in its entirety with two or more support strips 6-8 pages in length. They were hugely successful and I’ve no doubt they helped create an entire generation of British comic book fans. Continue reading Rampage Monthly (Marvel UK)

The Blues Brothers (1980)

“It wasn’t a lie… it was just bullshit”.

Weaving a story utilising Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi’s existing stage band (the band in the film were members of the ‘real-life’ band) and under John Landis’ brash direction, The Blues Brothers is over-the-top exuberant fun. Everything is done to excess – the comedy is broad (“Sell me your children!’), the music infectious (church parishioners jump twenty feet into the air) and the car chases extreme (why have a car chase with two police cars when you can use 200?).  Continue reading The Blues Brothers (1980)

Dredd (2012)

dredd-2012-poster

“It’s all a deep end”

My introduction to the 22nd century Mega-City One lawman came via a copy of the 2000AD Annual from 1978, a Christmas gift from a relative. Although the two Judge Dredd stories were interesting they didn’t have that much of an impact on me. Rather it was the Dan Dare and MACH 1 stories that caught my eye. Saying that though, the graphic scene from the Dredd story ‘Whitey’s Brother’ where the villain gets disintegrated did creep me out. Continue reading Dredd (2012)

Regular Show

The cast from Regular Show
The cast from Regular Show

 “Wooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhh!”

I’ve been a fan of JG Quintel’s off-beat cartoon Regular Show since I discovered it while watching the entries from Cartoon Network’s Cartoonstitute new pilot scheme a couple of years ago. The Cartoonstitute project is initiated every couple of years as a means of attracting new talent to the network: animators are given a limited budget and commissioned to create a seven minute cartoon with no editorial interference of any kind. The best cartoons are then optioned as possible series. Regular Show was by far the best of the last batch and it’s now in it’s fourth season (each series consists of forty ten-minute episodes) with a fifth season already commissioned. Continue reading Regular Show

Paperback covers #4: Robert McGinnis

some-women-wont-wait-1

A series looking at some of my favourite
book covers and cover artists.

#4 Robert McGinnis’ paperback covers from the ’60s and ’70s.

There’s something beguiling about Robert McGinnis’ women.

As they stare defiantly at you from one of his paintings they seem to share a collective, enigmatic look. Sometimes that look is beckoning, other times challenging. Often it’s dangerous. And although his women are sexual – at times overtly so – they are rarely submissive or meek. His women are not victims but rather willing participants in whatever sordid misdeeds are consummated under the covers (of the books, that is). Continue reading Paperback covers #4: Robert McGinnis

Kirby, King of Comics (2008)

Kirby, King of Comics

Jack Kirby. King Kirby. King.

It’s a testament to Jack Kirby‘s lasting legacy to the comic book industry that just the epitaph ‘King’ is enough to identify him and the kind of comic with which he is synonymous. Kirby’s influence on the medium cannot be understated – he was present at the birth of the comic book industry in 1938 (the Golden Age) and he was one of the prime architects at it’s rebirth in the early sixties (the Silver Age). In a career spanning over 40 years he almost single-handedly created the visual lexicon of the comics medium, imbuing it with a dynamism, excitement and energy not seen before and he was instrumental in transforming the funny books from throw away pulp reprints to an art form in it’s own right. There isn’t an artist or writer working in the field today who doesn’t owe him a debt of gratitude, whether they know so or not. Continue reading Kirby, King of Comics (2008)

Paperback covers #3: Bantam Books’ Star Trek adaptions

Artist: Lou Feck

A series looking at some of my favourite book covers and cover artists, mostly taken from my own collection.

#3 Bantam Books’ Star Trek adaptions of the late ’60 and early ’70s

In 1967 New York publisher Bantam Books, in an attempt to cash-in on the popularity of the TV series Star Trek, commissioned science fiction author James Blish to adapt the scripts for the show’s individual episodes into short prose stories that could then be compiled into paperback collections. Those collections went on to sell very well with several of the editions being reprinted over a dozen times. Continue reading Paperback covers #3: Bantam Books’ Star Trek adaptions

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Assault on Precinct 13 theatrical poster

 “Got a smoke?”

I’m embarrassed to admit this but for various bizarre reasons I avoided this film for years even though I’m a fan of John Carpenter‘s early films. Somehow I’d gotten it into my head that Assault on Precinct 13 was a stark prison movie and that premise never really appealed to me. I was also under the impression the movie was in black and white! I’ve no idea where any of those misconceptions came from but they unfortunately resulted in me ignoring the film for decades despite being a fan of The Fog, Escape from New York and the incomparable The Thing. So you can imagine my surprise (and delight) when, in the late ’90s, I stumbled across a late night showing of the film on BBC2 and discovered it wasn’t a grim prison drama but in fact a fast-paced, action-packed exploitation homage to both Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Continue reading Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

In The Line of Fire (1993)

Clink Eastwood as Frank Horrigan
Clink Eastwood as Frank Horrigan

“I know things about pigeons, Lilly”

I always tend to group this film together with Unforgiven, not just because they were released at roughly the same time (Unforgiven came out a few months earlier) and not just because both films helped revive Clint Eastwood’s flagging career (anyone remember Pink Cadillac or The Rookie?). I think it’s because both films share a common theme: a character with a haunted past shaped by violence is given a chance for redemption. Unforgiven is concerned with a dealer of violence while In The Line of Fire deals with the victim of a violent event. Frank Horrigan (Eastwood) is a US Secret Service agent haunted by the assassination of President Kennedy, an event he failed to stop. He blames himself for the death of the man he’d sworn to protect and believes the break up of his marriage, and his subsequent alcoholism, to be a direct result of him ‘not taking the bullet’. Continue reading In The Line of Fire (1993)