Friday, 28 September 2018

Nemesis



Nemesis was a nice little back-up strip in Brave And The Bold, from an era when DC really produced some great back-up serials, another fave being the Whatever Happened To...? stories in DC Comics Presents.
It fitted perfectly in B & B, though could've just as easily ran in Detective Comics, with it's hard boiled narration and mysterious hero who owed a little bit to The Human Target. Plus Nemesis was played by Doug McClure, which is always good.
Cary Burkett's scripts are tight and expertly pulpy, and Dan Spiegle contributes pitch-perfect artwork.
The only thing really wrong with Nemesis is that it took away pages that Batman, and Jim Aparo, could be using, but it was so good, I didn't mind too much.
Besides, we all know what a gracious host Bats is, so it wasn't long before he and Nemesis teamed up anyway. Here's the first story.








Monday, 24 September 2018

Daredevil: A Night In The Life



Literally every character did an issue like this during the Bronze Age, but tonight it's Daredevil's turn to show us what he gets up to when not fighting costumed super-villains.
You'd think, what with him not having invulnerability or a healing factor or anything, he'd be nursing his many wounds and necking down nurofen, but not a bit of it, as for a simple night off, DD's actually busier than ever in this one.
Like most of the 'day / night in the life' type stories of the time, this was probably a filler no one thought twice about, but I love it because Sal & Jim make a perfect art team, and Marv writes a script that's the very definition of a good story well told. Everything set up in act one pays off by act three, as they say.
And if there's a more quintessentially 1970's Marvel last panel than the one in this issue, I've yet to come across it.



















Thursday, 20 September 2018

The Six Million Dollar Man & MACH 1 - Origins



Let's compare & contrast the origins of the two premier artificially induced supermen of the Bronze Age, as suggested this time by pal of this here blog Nefarious Neil Hansen ( or Friend Of Old Bronze Age as I'm now calling you lot. We're completely FOOBA, every one of us! )
The Six Million Dollar Man magazine was from Charlton, by way of Continuity Associates, or in other words Neal Adams & Dick Giordano, and though it was short-lived ( 7 issues and out ), it was all solid stuff, with some magnificent covers. Not to mention better special effects than the TV show.
Here's Steve Austin's origin, courtesy of uncredited Continuers, and Charlton's hardest working writer, the ubiquitous Joe Gill. Race you round the playground in slow motion.






Pat Mills, of course, never met a TV show he couldn't do a harder, cooler, nastier version of.
Initially, to me at least, MACH 1 actually seemed like the least interesting of the early 2000AD's strips, being as it was absolutely the most derivative. John Probe, the secret agent with the vaguely porn star sounding name, was of course Steve Austin crossed with Deathlok, except he was British and he got to kill people.
Later on, of course, the strip rang the changes with the introduction of the Hulk-like Mach Zero, and Probe himself started to question just who and what he was busting a gut for, particularly in a superb serial where his sleazy boss killed a couple of friendly aliens.
But before that, we got a series of short, brutal adventures for the Hyper Hero, which very quickly convinced me about this guy, being as they were increasingly similiar in tone to Dredger's early exploits over in Action. In fact, clearly I was wrong by dismissing Probe out of hand as, if anybody was the inheritor of nasty, vicious two-fisted action from Action's secret agent, it was him.
And looking back on his adventures now, I can't help going 'Ah yeah! Remember the one where he kills the guy with one karate chop to the neck?!'







Friday, 14 September 2018

Spotlight On Tom Kerr



Something a little different this week, gang. At the recent Don Con, I ran into pal of this here blog Colin Brown, who asked me why I'd never done a piece on Tom Kerr. When he showed me some of Tom's art, it was instantly recognisable but I had to confess I'd never known the artist's name ( hey, even I don't know everything from the UK Bronze Age! I'm not Lew Stringer! ). However, I promised I'd rectify this glaring omission as soon as possible.
Well, it would seem unfair for me to take all the credit as Colin is obviously a bigger Kerr fan than me, so I figured, let's hand the blog over to him for some choice examples of this great artists work. Here's Colin:


I recently met Pete at NICE in Bedford. After telling him how much I enjoyed this blog, I pointed out that he had never featured one of my favourite British comic artists, Tom Kerr.
Kerr’s style is instantly recognisable to anyone who read British comics in the sixties and early seventies with his work appearing in at least 20 titles showcasing his ability to adapt to humour or adventure with ease. There is virtually no personal information about him - the man is an enigma. The agency who represented him says he left them in the mid-1960s to go on his own. It is believed he passed away in the 1970s.
When Pete suggested I write a blog about him, I thought I could cover the many strips he did that were based on television programmes. He was excellent at capturing likenesses, something some other artists did not enjoy trying to do. Apologies to anyone under the age of 50 – you may have never heard of many of the programmes featured. Strips usually appeared the same year the TV programme aired for obvious reasons.
Our first stop is 1966 and The Monkees featured in Lady Penelope. The first of the “manufactured” boy bands? For two years, Kerr worked on 9 strips for City Magazines Ltd which also published TV21 and Solo.


Over to TV21 in 1967 and we have Get Smart which was a spoof American spy series prompted by the popularity of the Bond films at the time.


Still in the pages of TV21 then transferring to Solo, is Sgt Bilko. This was actually made in the fifties and has been shown many times over the decades by the BBC. One of the best sitcoms of all time. The same year, Kerr was illustrated Fireball XL5 in TV21 for a short period resulting in three of his strips appearing in the same issue several times.


Hands up anyone who remembers Run Buddy Run? No-one? To the best of my knowledge, it wasn’t shown on UK television. A spoof of “man on the run” concept used in The Fugitive. Solo was an odd comic for content also including strips based on Disney films such as Mary Poppins, Lt Crusoe RN and Dr Syn.


In 1968, the popular series The Avengers was featured in TV Comic and Kerr had a short run on it. I would have loved to have seen him do more of this one.


Still in 1968, and another ITV series – Orlando – tales of an ex-smuggler now solving crime. If only they had let Kerr loose on Doctor Who which was also featured in TV Comic at the time.


We jump forward a few years now to 1971 and the “Junior TV Times” Look-In which Pete has featured several times. Leslie Crowther was a comedian / TV presenter who I remember mostly for being on Crackerjack and going round children’s hospitals on Christmas morning giving out presents. Crowther in Trouble wasn’t an adaptation of a programme, more about his wacky adventures as a celebrity.


The Fenn Street Gang was a spin-off from the school sitcom Please Sir. Fabulous likenesses.


In 1972, Doctor in Charge was one of many series based on the novels by Richard Gordon. Others included Doctor in the House, at Large, and at Sea. This appears to be the last work Kerr did for Look In and he then worked on the children’s comics Little Star and Twinkle.


And no, this hasn’t just been an excuse to show my piece of original art by Tom Kerr but I thought I’d include it anyway.


Thanks to Pete for lending me the keys to the blog. Other bloggers elsewhere have featured Tom Kerr and hopefully if this continues, we can raise his profile and publishers may reprint some of his work. There’s a lot of it out there to enjoy.