Wednesday, 23 August 2017


How great was FOOM? Very great indeed, is the obvious answer.
After having been blown away by the sight of that amazing Steranko poster my older, cooler cousin had on his wall, I sent off my very own 75 pence, and a couple of short weeks later, here's what I got through the post.
Firstly, the whole cabooble came in a giant-size envelope with your name and address emblazoned in ol' Greenskin's grimacing gob. Attention to detail is everything, and in those days, Marvel really knew what kind of extra surprises kids wanted.

Inside, you got your very own FOOM stickers ( long since lost, natch )

Your priceless membership card, signed by The Man himself.

And, of course, THAT poster, which now goes for insane amounts on ebay ( as does the membership card ).

But best of all was the official FOOM mag, full of background details, upcoming news and again, exactly what any true Merry Marvelite would want. Inclusionist and friendly, like a bullpen bulletin dialed up to 11. Here's the issue I got, a Cap special, which I read cover to cover and back again.
And DC wondered why they became no. 2.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Incredible Adventures Of Janus Stark

Janus Stark was Victorian London's greatest escapologist and illusionist, a star of stage, society and penny dreadfuls, who used his bizarre skills to fight crime in the pages of Smash! and Valiant.
Being born with 'rubber-like, elastic bones', he can twist, turn and contort his body out of any trap, and most of the fun of the strip is watching him do just that.
Like most British comic superdoers, Janus is also a working class hero, having been raised in a brutal orphanage, he escapes to become an Artful Dodger-like thief under the watchful eye of his mentor, blind pickpocket Largo.
Never forgetting his roots, Janus' enemies are generally well-to-do crooks in high society, hiding behind their wealth and status, and a lot of stories end with them not only in the arms of The Peelers, but with all their ill gotten gains donated anonymously to a local poorhouse by the master escapist.
A major part of the strip's appeal was that it was drawn by the mighty Francisco Solano Lopez, a man born to draw grimy, soot-infested backstreets in general, and those of Victorian London in particular.
Janus Stark has an absolute sense of time and place, and if Janus never crossed paths with Sherlock Holmes, then surely they missed each other by mere inches.
Here's how his incredible adventures began.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Origin Of Vampirella

Proving retcons are nothing new, here's two slightly different versions of the origin of the Bronze Age's premiere sexy succubus, Vampirella. This original joky piece is from Vampi's co-creator, professional fan Forrest J. Ackerman, with art by Tom Sutton, and for a while was the direction the strip was going to go in.

But Jim Warren soon realized I guess, that a joky voluptuous vampiress wouldn't have much of a future, so Budd Lewis and Vampi's all-time best artist Jose Gonzalez gently rejigged her with a slightly more serious ( tho' still fantastically pulpy ) origin. This piece, by the way, is a coloured reprint originally from the 1972 Vampi annual, that appeared in the slightly different UK release of the first issue.

'Course, years later, when Harris comics got the franchise, it was all rejigged again, and Vampi was now the daughter of Lilith apparently, born to fight the evil her Mother had unwittingly created.
Pish & tosh. Vampirella came from Drakulon. End of.