not the eagle, not 2000AD

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in 1973-ish, when i wz 13 and my sister was 11, alwyn - who was 12, and lived on the farm we used to stay at on summer holiday in wales - gave us a big pile of comics he wz clearing out: probably about 30 in all, recent issues of IPC's Lion and Thunder (haha great combo) and Valiant (and TV21) Looking through the handful I still have - as some of you may have guessed, I have been clearing out cupboards at my parents' house while my mum has been ill - I got fascinated by the intermediate world they represent, 2000AD (with its very coherent attitude and self-aware quality) not yet born; Eagle, mid-60s Bellamy-buoyed confidence all gone, on one of its many hiatuses; the purulent underfelt of D. C. Thomson war-comics clumsily aware that WW2 wz far off now and no longer had an automatic lock...

L&T and V&TV21 are a fairly shoddy opportunistic mix: cover-stories are look-and-learn-ish "fact-oid" panels; a lot of the art is incompetent; a lot of the stories very obvious imitations or feeble stabs at novelty: "the spellbinder" = a catweazle rip, for example; or "starts today! a hilarious new crime-busting adventure with... Yellowknife of the Yard. Yellowknife, son of a sioux chief, was Scotland Yard's strangest detective..."; or (actually at the time my sister and my favourite, "war of the white eyes", where a cloud of gas is turning all, man and beast, into superstrong homicidal killing machines (with all-white eyes) --- we liked bcz even at that age we knew that it wz abominably badly drawn, and that this line, issuing from a bad picture of a jetplane, "aaargh! bees! millions of bees! and look! their eyes are all white!", wz very silly

but not all of them are awful: stories drawn by one particular artist really sprang out - though of course no mention is made of his name: broodingly dark, skies AND faces hatched, when the right gothic moment brews, by thick furrows and patches --- a very memorable style, at least in the sense that (unlike the spellbinder or yellowknife), i remembered reading these stories at the time, and indeed remember images from issues that haven't survived

the stories are these
"adam eterno": abt a guy who can't be killed - except by a weapon made of gold - who hurtles through time helping ppl he doesn't know
"kelly's eye": tim kelly owns the eye of zoltec (which protects him from all harm when he wears it); he is travelling through time (only i forget why)
"janus stark"; a victorian crimebusting escapologist and inda-rubber-man!
"raven on the wing": gypsy foopballer who plays in bare feet

ok so i googled and discovered that (as probably some of you know?), the artist was indeed fairly special: Francisco Solano Lopez, an argentinian later famous for ahem erotic comix like the young witches --- he contributed a bit to early 2000AD, then stopped (why? falklands collateral? or IPC didn't pay enough when he had erotic comics to write w.his son?)

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 10 October 2004 09:30 (nineteen years ago) link

(i'll post on some of the other strips which stood out - esp. black max - later)

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 10 October 2004 09:31 (nineteen years ago) link

Baron Maximilien von Klorr

(haha HR Dept discussion: "This candidate is called Eevil E. Hellspawn McMurderer, shd we hire him or not?")

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 10 October 2004 10:34 (nineteen years ago) link

http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/k/kingbat.jpg

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 10 October 2004 10:41 (nineteen years ago) link

"kelly's eye": tim kelly owns the eye of zoltec (which protects him from all harm when he wears it); he is travelling through time (only i forget why)

this is one of my favourite comics ever, living pristine pure in my memories, unsullied by reprints or revivals. I don't think I ever saw him travel through time and space, mind. This must have been after he fought against the robot giant bats or his evil double.

Is Robot Archie in any of your comics? Or The Spider? Or Mytek The Mighty?

DV (dirtyvicar), Sunday, 10 October 2004 11:11 (nineteen years ago) link

These were the comics I read as a kid, plus Tiger (eventually merged with, logically, Lion) and possibly others. I really liked a lot of them - Captain Hurricane, the Steel Claw and especially The Spider are highlights you don't mention, though I can never recall which strips appeared in which comics.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 10 October 2004 11:15 (nineteen years ago) link

DV: the spider yes! robot archie and mytek the mighty no (my archive now = six comics in toto)

(kelly teams up w.a little bald guy called dr diamond and they travel on a kind of clock-looking-tardis, if memory serves) (to be honest i have possibly somewhat confused kelly narrative w.a.eterno narrative, as they share many characteristics)

martin: return of the claw is in valiant&tv21, as is capt.hurricane (but i'm sure they skipped around esp.hurricane)

hunting on the internets (┬ęg.w.b.) informs me that "the spider" wz. written by superman's creator - is that true or did someone (me?) misunderstand something?

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 10 October 2004 11:22 (nineteen years ago) link

(ie here)

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 10 October 2004 11:27 (nineteen years ago) link

I find it very hard to believe that the Spider was written by one of Siegel & Shuster.

Bah, I have just thrown away an hour of my life looking at internet nonsense about British superhero comics.

DV (dirtyvicar), Sunday, 10 October 2004 12:10 (nineteen years ago) link

yeah maybe ILC shd have a "WASTERS" policy alongside the "SPOILERS" one

eg CAVEAT SLAxOR

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 10 October 2004 12:28 (nineteen years ago) link

I think the spider in being confuse witrh a character from the same name from The Mighty Crusaders (The Shield, The Comet, The Black Hood and presumably others who weren't brought back during whatever that was in the nineties) in 1966

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Sunday, 10 October 2004 13:48 (nineteen years ago) link

No, Siegel really did write The Spider for a while - I'm not sure how that came about, but it did.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 10 October 2004 19:23 (nineteen years ago) link

black max:

was set in ww1: the evil baron wz a german air ace who was somehow related also to a race of telepathic bat people, who he encouraged to harrass the plucky british flyers

war comix are generally homosocial - all-boy casts being manly at one another - but this wz something else; HIGHLY sexualised and very creepy - the bat-people had big wings and bat-heas, but lovingly drawn and detailed naked male bodies, with strategic shading at the pubic area

(also black max and his evil sidekick dwarf dr gratz tunnelled through caverns in a vehicle like the mole in thunderbirds)

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 10 October 2004 20:12 (nineteen years ago) link

My nan had a couple of these titles kicking around that presumably once belonged to my Uncle Bob. The only distinct memories I have are Robot Archie and a strip about a football team called Carson's Cubs which seemed to include very little actual football (hence I quite enjoyed it).

robster (robster), Monday, 11 October 2004 06:23 (nineteen years ago) link

I remember reading that Black Max story in a Thunder summer special at some point in the 1970s. Amazing stuff.

does anyone know if anyone has plans to reprint Zenith? It irks me that I gave up on 2000AD before it finished, and thus do not actually know how it ended (apart from some vague stuff about pocket universe).

loggedoutvicar, Monday, 11 October 2004 08:29 (nineteen years ago) link

Jerry Siegel wrote nearly all of the Spider stories in Lion, though not the first one. I think he also wrote a ghodawful superhero strip called Gadget-Man and Gimmick-Kid, which was a wonderfully bizarre rip-off of Batman and Robin.

David A

David Simpson (David Simpson), Monday, 11 October 2004 08:33 (nineteen years ago) link

Didn't Titan produce collections of Zenith?

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Monday, 11 October 2004 10:54 (nineteen years ago) link

yeah, some time ago. I have the first couple.

loggedoutvicar, Monday, 11 October 2004 11:07 (nineteen years ago) link


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