Sunday, 19 April 2015

PART TWO OF CAPTAIN BRITAIN COVER, SPLASH PAGE & IMAGE GALLERY...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Still with us?  Good.  Here's a post that all those who lived
through the '70s and bought the comics of the era should enjoy.
CAPTAIN BRITAIN, a weekly periodical published by MARVEL
U.K., probably had more colour in it than any other British comic
(outside of a nursery title) on sale at the time.  Sadly, it wasn't to last
for the mag's entire run, but it made the initial issues stand out as
something different from its stablemates and competitors.

I'd bought the first five issues (seen in part one) while working
in the warehouse of my local BOOTS The CHEMIST, and one
glance at them and I'm back walking the corridors I last trod nearly 40
years ago.  (I used to buy the comic from JOHN MENZIES while on
my way to work in the morning.)  At some stage in the late '70s or early
'80s, I gave all my CBs (and also the merged SUPER SPIDER-MAN
CAPTAIN BRITAIN issues) to a pal, who still has most of them.
I kept #1, but a few years later, I regretted my rash action and
started buying replacement issues from various sources.

This results in an odd situation, in that, although I still retain
the initial impressions and associations that these comics made on
me when I bought them the first time around, because I was living in
another house when I acquired the replacements, many of the issues
also conjure up memories of my time there as well as my previous
(original) set of recollections.  It's almost as if I've  lived two lives
around  the same comics, strange as that may sound.

However, my self-indulgent reminiscences have held you
back long enough from all the goodies awaiting you.  It's now
time for you to refresh your own personal recollections connected
to the five issues set forth here - so cast your mind back to the long
ago, and prepare to relive yesteryear as if were happening in the
here and now for the very first time.  (And don't be shy about
sharing your memories with the rest of us.)
























22 comments:

Phil said...

I don't know why but I always remember two things.
First, American artists drawing the minutiae of life in the UK. Namely cars and telephones. Occasionally streets. How they looked like nothing I had ever seen. Strange LEGO looking creations.

The other thing I remember now thanks to your post were the odd splash pages obviously drawn to link the U.S. Comics to their UK reprints. The strange imitation of people trying to ape Steranko or Buscema. There was always something off about them.

Kid said...

Yeah, they never quite matched the styles of the original artists. Doesn't look as if they even tried 'though, Phil, strange as that may seem.

I'm not 100% sure, but I seem to recall reading that Herb Trimpe was living over here for a while, at the time CB was being published, so (if I'm right) you'd have thought he knew what Britain looked like.

John Pitt said...

Mystery to me, though, being as how CB was drawn in the USA, is why they didn't also print a US CB monthly over there as well? I'msure it would have been a greater success over there than some of their 70's titles.
Kid, you've put a lot of hard graft in today, just for us! It hasn't gone unnoticed and it is appreciated!

Kid said...

They did eventually reprint some of the tales over there, JP, but I think the initial idea was to give us Brits something of our own.

Glad you appreciate it, JP - I don't know it if people don't tell me.

Colin Jones said...

I suppose these villains like Hurricane and Dr. Synne were never used again - it's a pity to invent them and then just throw them away. What's interesting about the way Britain is drawn here is how colourful and vibrant it is - remember this is the Britain we are all told to condemn now, the Britain of strikes and economic decline (supposedly).

Kid said...

Er, I think you're reading too much into it, CJ - it's just a comic. The fact is, apart from Britain being used as a backdrop, and characters saying 'Gor blimey, guv'nor!", there was really nothing particularly British about these strips. They could easily have been Spidey strips with just a few minor tweaks.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, I understand what you mean - I was just saying how colourful and attractive Britain looks here compared to what we are encouraged to think of that era now. I realise it's not in any way an accurate portrait nor tried to be.

Kid said...

Certainly, Big Ben doesn't have the grime that it had in reality (until it was spruced up in the mid-'80s), but everything looks better in comics I suppose, CJ. The colours are much brighter than in real life, and the streets look cleaner. America also probably looked better in the comics that it actually does. Maybe that's why some comics fans prefer them to real life, eh?

Colin Jones said...

Well, New York in the '70s was apparently in a terrible state - crime-ridden and nearly bankrupt but in the Marvel comics it always looked cool and exciting.

Kid said...

And on the telly as well - even when it was a cops and robbers show.

DeadSpiderEye said...

I'm not really sure a comic reflecting the endemic social maladies of the 70's would be much of a seller: "Have we got electricity tonight?" would be a line that I might struggle to fit into a narrative. And Brian Braddock's quest for the loaf of bread to go with his marmalade might seem a bit prosaic. I don't think you see it reflected in other media either though, you don't see Jack Reagan queuing for groceries or stepping over rubbish in the street, in The Sweeny, those details are just too quotidian. Needless to say the 70's were indeed just awful but at least most of the temporary housing had gone, so chemical toilets and queueing for water was a thing of the past, even if the council estates that replaced them were largely jerry built.

Kid said...

I quite enjoyed the '70s, but I was only a teenager, without the pressures of the average working man trying to bring up a family. Living in a new town where everything was still bright and clean probably concealed some of the harsher realities of life. I suppose, at the end of the day, how you perceived the '70s all depended on where you lived and your personal circumstances. You're right 'though, such things as you speak of wouldn't have made for popular reading back then, DSE. Nowadays of course, 'endemic social maladies' would be a Spidey 12 issue maxi-series (at the very least).

DeadSpiderEye said...

Lol, yeah well that, view from the sunny side, school of social commentary they seem preoccupied with today, is always be contrived and they don't seem to be selling that many comics either. There are a few things I miss about the 70's, we had an art supplier in town, you could go into Smiths and buy: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E Howard, Phillip K Dick, Asimov, Heinlein, crikey now they wont even stock Ian Fleming.

Kid said...

And, of course, comics were fun. Not any more.

Colin Jones said...

Brian Braddock was supposed to be an aristocrat and lived in a stately home so I doubt he had much trouble finding a loaf of bread to go with his marmalade. BB may have been a Marvel super-hero but he was more like Prince William or David Cameron than Peter Parker.

Kid said...

The aristocratic background was a mere detail, CJ, that really didn't make a lot of difference to the character to begin with. When you look at the early issues, the Peter Parker formula is all too-apparent. Brian Braddock (awkward brainy-guy), Courtney Ross, and Jacko Tanner are all in the Peter Parker (awkward brainy guy), Liz Allen, and Flash Thompson mould.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Of course Brian's an aristocrat, but there's no reason why he should be, that's just the way they wrote him. If you wanna get down and dirty with the ordinary folk you make him a bus driver or factory worker. They didn't do that because the people who created him had no background to call upon, other than the stereotypes they picked up from Mary Poppins, as far as I could see. He works OK as a glammed up hero in that way, it's just that: he's doesn't stand out from the others and there's no shared cultural identity between him and his intended audience. That was remedied, to a degree, when he was relaunched, even if the new costume did make him look a bit like a skinhead.

Colin Jones said...

I'd completely forgotten the names of the supporting characters, Kid - wasn't there a Welsh policeman who hated super-heroes or something and he filled the J. Jonah Jameson role ?

Kid said...

They should just have made him a university student, DSE, and stuck even more to the Spidey formula. Wait, what am I saying? They DID! BB attended Thames University.

******

Yup, there was - Chief-Inspector Dai Thomas. He appeared in the later episodes as well when CB was relaunched, but I don't know if he's still around in the Marvel Universe.

DeadSpiderEye said...

That's one of the aspects of the early Spidey stories that really distinguish them from the crowd, the way his personal life interacts with his heroic identity. There's enough shared experience for most people with his student character for them to feel empathy. They made him brilliant but kept him struggling, which was a neat trick. Some of the same feel comes across in The Fantastic Four too but the identification is more diverse across the characters.

Phil said...

Oddly enough one of my favorite movies is the French Connection, and what a horrible place New York was in it!
As a kiddie/ young teen in the 70s UK I found it quite depressing, but at least the music was interesting ( until disco) and Pan's People on TV.
And yet again someone else noticed that Britain looked nothing like real life! I can attest that the New York of the comics looks far more like real life. At least the buildings and cars etc looked real enough. The London scenes always made me think Trimpe had never once seen a photo of London. I am glad to see I wasn't the only one who noticed. It's a small quibble. I do think Hurricane should have entered the main Marvel universe,

Kid said...

The success of the Spidey formula was probably why they tried to replicate it in CB, DSE. Perhaps 7 page episodes didn't help what they were aiming for 'though, as they couldn't develop things at the same pace.

******

I used to visit London every week for around two years, Phil (this was in the mid-'80s), and I have to say that I never really felt that CB's take on the place was as out of kilter as some people have suggested. Brighter and cleaner perhaps, but enough like the place to be recognisable. However, being set in London was never anything that really made a difference - they could have been set anywhere really. The stories were typical Marvel fare to the typical Marvel formula.

(Originally posted on 21 April 2015 at 01:10.)

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