As we slowly unravel after Covid it’s time to assess exactly how the comic market has changed in the last 17 or so months, and to say things have changed is a tad of an understatement. Comics which were barely worth 50p in February 2020 are now pulling in 50 quid plus on Ebay. Then there’s comics worth a few quid then now hitting 100-150 quid, so the story is the pandemic might not have killed off the back issue market though take also into account the work of speculators inflating the market artificially on the search for the perfect ‘key 9.8’.
Anyhow I’ve got a week or so to get my stuff together so this could end up being a lot more fun than expected…
The sad news about the death of Jim Steinman obviously brought out memories of listening to Meat Loaf as a kid, mainly because of the Richard Corben cover of Bat Out of Hell, and being a young person developing his own tastes I thought if the creator of Den did a cover for someone then it has to be ridiculously over the top which of course it is. Steinman changed the career of so many from Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler, through to the Sisters of Mercy where he helped rewrite the sound of Goth to include big pompous drums and guitars that lives on til today.
However the thing that slipped from our grasp was a musical adaptation of Batman, specifically Tim Burton’s Batman film from 1989. Sadly it was not to be, however the music lives on in all its OTT glory.
Anyone who’s followed this blog for all the years I’d done this will know I am a massive fan of Godzilla in all his big scaly goodness and the recent Godzilla Vs Kong was a cinematic wet dream even if the script sucked harder than a Dyson. So when I found out a Godzilla theme park existed where one could zipline into the mouth of a life-size Godzilla based upon the Shin Godzilla version which is this version.
Which is a great, and scary version. The idea of zipping into its mouth and coming out the back, though not the arse of Godzilla, sent me off to YouTube to find videos of this so here you go.
The chances of me doing now I’m disabled, and in current pandemic conditions means a trip to Japan is ruled out, but looking at this makes me wish it’d been built even just a decade ago because I’d be in and out his maw all bloody day! Thankfully these videos give me a jist of that experience but I do wish someone would build one of these things in Europe.
For those of you who lurk in certain cinematic circles, the name Jess Franco will make you click off this page or dig in deeper, and for those of you who do, one of his best films is one of the finest sub-genre of vampire films, the lesbian vampire film which if you couldn’t grasp by the title Vampyros Lesbos then you really need to start paying attention.
Here’s the West German (not a chance of this getting into the Soviet bloc back in the day) trailer for the film featuring the quite extraordinary Soledad Miranda.
That trailer doesn’t give it the justice it deserves but this is the sort of film designed to be seen by 15 year old boys, however barring the attractions of Miranda, it is the soundtrack which lifts this film to a level above what it deserves as frankly it’d be a minor footnote in horror film history otherwise. Written by Manfred Hübler & Siegfried Schwab, the soundtrack enjoyed a revival in the 90’s thanks mainly to D.J’s playing it in sets. Norman Cook for example would drop tracks into sets.
The fact is it is a joyful work of art that deserves appreciation on its own merits, and of course, it does help introduce people to the talents of Soledad Miranda.
Since the KLF returned at the start of the year there’s been a steady drip of remastered videos but the goldust is the rare stuff like the few live performances that were filmed, and of course the films they made of their various stunts and antics.
One of the long lost gems is The Rites of Mu where they got a load of music journalists and fans onto Jura to well, indulge in being a cult. Narrated by Martin Sheen the entire thing is glorious pompous nonsense and worth half and hour of your time now it’s been remastered and ready to be seen in all its glory for the first time like this.
One of the times in my life where I thought I’d be locked up for distributing ‘obscenity’ happened in the year of 1990 when I was still working for Neptune Comic Distributors and we could a shipment of comics, including the glorious Squeak the Mouse.
Comics shipped from the US would normally land at Heathrow, so over the years we built up a relationship with customs there, but this time we had to pick the shipment up from Gatwick where the customs lads were akin to the fucking Stasi! So imagine a young version of me, and another member of staff standing there watching customs decide to go through every single box and imagine my face when I spot Squeak the Mouse and think ‘oh fuck, that’s me fucking fucked’.
Just to explain, at this time the UK was suffering a wave of overt morality led by Thatcher who was trying to hide the disaster of her final days and the Poll Tax, a fiercly unpopular policy which helped her exit from power. Comics were just one thing being targeted by this new ‘moral majority’ with Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss, and Lord Horror being the two main targets for these two-faced moralists. This meant that we dreaded Gatwick with its scary customs officials who didn’t look the other way, or just couldn’t be bothered with the paperwork for nicking three copies of some obscure underground.
Just to explain why this may well be an issue here’s Cartoonist Kayfabe showing you Squeak in all its glory…
The gore wouldn’t be an issue that much, but the slightest sign of an erect penis, even a cartoon cat’s penis, would send customs insane, and seeing one go into a woman’s vagina, even a cartoon cat’s vagina would send them reaching for the handcuffs. By some small miracle we appeared to have the work experience officer or the blind one, or both as he picked up the obviously gory cover, flipped through obviously seeing enough erect cartoon cat cocks than one would expect to see in a lifetime shrug and put it back in the box. I made sure that box was firmly stuffed into the van and as we drove back to Leicester (where we were based) it felt like we’d stolen the crown jewels, or in this case a cartoon cat’s testicles.
Stupidily I sold my copies some time ago thanks mainly to a girlfriend reading them one day when I was at work and decided I was a bit more of a sicker freak than she’d expected, but that close call with customs nearly denied me a read of what is a fantastic bit of comics. Yes, it was the template for Itchy and Scratchy but don’t say it too loud, especially now The Mouse owns those characters but as a piece of comics it is one of those works fans of the medium should own, preferably wrapped in a brown paper bag and hidden underneath the matress.
As a wee bonus treat here’s an animated version of part of the first volume. Enjoy.
Peter Sutcliffe is dead which is a good thing, but during all the talk of his and the women he murdered abanned sketch from Brass Eye came to mind. Brass Eye was a TV series produced by Chris Morris and a team of exceptionally talented team of writers and actors for Channel 4 in 1997. It is by far one of the great bits of TV satire/comedy ever produced in the UK, but during the first broadcast it suffered heavily from censorship, especially in Episode 6 which saw whole sketches lost including one about Peter Sutcliffe starring in his own West End musical.
At the time a Jack the Ripper musical was proposed, plus ‘Ripper tours’ of the murder sites were pulling in the money in the East End of London, which back then hadn’t gentrified to the state it has now so it wasn’t ironic hispters being mocked, but working class women. There was also a glamourisation of old gangsters, some of which commited crimes as bad as Sutcliffe. The idea this sketch was supporting Sutcliffe was a joke, but it was one pushed by the usual suspects.
Whenever I think of Debbie Harry it’s her in her Blondie years looking and sounding like complete perfection. Even though I’ve seen here play only in the last decade or so I still think of her in her prime.
Before this she tried her hand in almost everything, but she started her mnusical career in a band called Wind in the Willows back in the 60’s and still very much a flower child. This 1968 album is a kitch mix of 60’s folk rock (I mean there’s a fucking kazoo on one track) but there’s a few good tunes however this is very much an album of its time. There is no other year in history this album could have been released.
The album is a confused oddity but a a bit of musical history it’s worth a listen. Just skip the kazoos…
Levanna McLean made a name of herself seven years ago with this still gloriously joyous video of her dancing to Happy by Pharell Williams in the streets of Bristol. Since then she’s carved a niche for herself as the UK’s leading promoter of Northern Soul to a new generation which is quite fantastic. She’s become quite the minor celbrity in Bristol, and her latest video is just a stroke of bloody genius as she becomes Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker from last year’s film but on Christmas Steps in Bristol. Last time I went down those steps I was heroically drunk so it’s nice to see a decscent somewhat more graceful than mine.