Bullet! The comic everyone forgot. The comic that wasn't Action. The comic from the makers of the Beano. As a card-carrying (and medalion-wearing) member of the Fireball Club I'm going to try and make the case for re-evaluating Bullet today.
Come with me...
The history of British comics is like Game Of Thrones: and by 1976 Dundee publisher DC Thomson was King in the North, whilst London fancy-Dans IPC Media were Queen of the South. Thomson had Warlord, IPC had Battle. Other titles were available...
By the mid-70s both Thomson and IPC thought there was a market for comics that had more drama, violence and attitude. So in February 1976 they both launched their new titles: Action (IPC) and Bullet (Thomson).
"Is Hitler alive?" The answer for some publishers is who cares - as long as we can use him to sell newspapers. One periodical in particular tested the theory to destruction.
This is the story of the National Police Gazette's obsession with you know who...
First the facts: Hitler is dead. Which is a good thing. Every credible piece of research inescapably points to that conclusion - he died on 30 April 1945. So how did the myth of 'Hitler's still alive' come about?
Well it started with Stalin...
Since 6 June 1945 Stalin had been claiming that Hitler was still alive, possibly as part of a disinformation campaign. But the office of Marshall Georgy Zhukov - commander of the Soviet occupation zone in Germany - had told Allied officers they had proof Hitler was dead
How much and how heavy? These two questions have dominated the development of personal protection for centuries. Today in pulp I look back at how the bulletproof vest has evolved, and if we're any nearer to solving its problems of weight and cost.
The story of body armour is a story of both science and economics: can you create effective protection, and are you prepared to pay for it. Cost and weight have been frequent impediments to protecting soldiers in battle.
For most of modern history there has been protection available against bullets. A breastplate gave some protection against musket fire. In Cromwell's New Model Army the heavy pikemen were issued with this armour, but its heaviness and cost limited its use.
Condorman was Disney's first live action superhero movie. It bombed at the box office in 1981, but is now a cult classic and a guilty pleasure for many.
Today in pulp I look back at this forgotten gem...
The late 70s and early 80s were interesting times for Disney. They had produced a range of live action movies in various genres with mixed success. So making a spoof spy movie seemed no more odd than any of their previous ideas.
"The Condor Man" - as the project was then called - would be a reworking of Robert Sheckley's 1965 novel The Game Of X, a comedy of one-upmanship in the James Bond-esque world of espionage.
Time to look back at one of the most frightening British comics of the 1970s: scary, supernatural and just for girls: Misty.
IPC comics already had a reputation for tough titles by 1978: Action comic had been denounced in parliament for its violent content. But Pat Mills wanted a vehicle for fearful supermlnatural stories and persuaded IPC to run with his idea: a mystery comic aimed at girls.
Rival publisher D.C. Thompson had already launched its own supernatural girl's comic Spellbound in 1976, but IPC's Misty would be in a league of its own when it hit newsstands in 1978.
Today I'm pulp I look at a magazine that was a trailblazer for modern photo-led #journalism: VU.
First published in Paris in 1928 VU was a magazine that put the photograph first. Over 3,000 photos were used in its first year of publication alone.
The timing was auspicious: the Leica 1 camera had been released in 1925 and the Rolleiflex would launch in 1929. High quality portable photography was making its breakthrough and VU magazine would pioneer it's journalistic use.
Today in pulp... we find Jesus in a comic book store, as I look back at Al Hartley's work for Spire Christian Comics!
Spire Christian Comics was an offshoot of Spire Books, a mass-market religious paperback line launched in 1963 by the Fleming H Revell company. The point of Spire was to get religious books into secular stores, so a move into comic books in 1972 seemed a logical choice.
The idea was to create comic book versions of popular Spire Books like The Cross and the Switchblade; David Wilkinson's autobiographical tale of being a pastor in 1960s New York. It had already been turned into a film, but who could make it into a comic?
Shall we do some forgotten 80s #computers today? I think we should...
The Mattel Aquarius (1983). From the makers of Barbie... This plastic pig-in-a-POKE-command of a computer packed the technology of the 1970s in the ugliest of cases. It lasted four months before production ceased.
The Dragon 32 (1982). Wales's answer to the Apple II it was the size of an oven and came with a God-awful crapy mercury-tilt joy(less) stick. It couldn't display lower case which MADE PROGRAMMING VERY SHOUTY!
Let's take a look at the fantastical work of Victorian illustrator Sidney Sime...
Sidney Sime was born in Manchester in 1865. After working as a miner for five years he studied illustration at the Liverpool School of Art. His work was first exhibited in 1889.
Sime rose to fame through fantastical illustratons, working initially for Pick-Me-Up and The Idler magazine. In 1899 he used money from an inheritance to purchase and edit The Idler, before selling it on in 1901.
I think it's time to look back at a certain movie:
Dum dum dum dum
DUM DUM DUM DUM...
The number of epic stories associated with the 1980 Flash Gordon movie is legion. Today I'll share a few with you, but there are many, many more...
Dino De Laurentiis had already produced Barbarella, Death Wish and Serpico by 1974 when he acquired the rights for Flash Gordon. George Lucas asked De Laurentiis for the rights in 1975 but was rebuffed. So he wrote Star Wars instead.
So what was life like as a Digital Native in 1978?
Well I'll tell you...
Firstly you might never actually see your computer. Many people used dumb terminals linked to a mainframe or minicomputer system somewhere in the office basement. Access was on a timeshare basis, with dozens of users sharing access to the same system.
If you did have a microcomputer on your desk you were probably an executive. To be honest many CEOs didn't actually know what a computer was or what it did...
Abraham Van Helsing may be the most famous of the early occult detectives, but there were many others who appeared in Victorian and Edwardian literature. Today I look back at some of the early supernatural sleuths who helped to define a genre that is still going strong today…
Occult detectives explore paranormal mysteries, sometimes by using spiritual skills. They could be normal detectives investigating the occult, occultists who use the dark arts to solve crime, or detectives with supernatural abilities such as clairvoyance.
Occult detectives began in the mid-19th century: Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) had set the template for detective fiction, whilst spiritualism and paranormal research also began to interest the public. Séances and Ouija boards were familiar tropes for Victorian readers.
Did you have a PDA? For 20 years the Personal Digital Assistant was THE management gizmo, until the smartphone came along and ate its lunch.
Today in pulp I look back at the early days of the pocket office revolution. No stylus required...
The pocket office revolution started in the 1970s with the humble calculator, and one model in particular: the 1974 Hewlett Packard HP-65. It was the world's first programmable handheld calculator, thanks to a magnetic card reader that let you load and save programmes.
Six years later the revolution took another step forward with the Sharp PC-1211. This was a 'pocket computer' with a QUERTY keyboard and 24 character LCD that supported BASIC programming. Tandy rebadged the 1211 as the TRS-80 PC1 for the American market.
Out Of The Unknown was BBC2's science fiction anthology series: a set of stand alone teleplays mostly based on short stories by famous SF writers. It ran from 1965 to 1971, but almost half the episodes have been lost.
Today in pulp I look back at this 60s sci-fi classic...
Sydney Newman is a legendary figure in British TV drama. He began his career in Canada before moving to the UK in the 1950s to work on ATV’s Armchair Theatre. He was the driving force behind The Avengers, before moving to the BBC in 1962 and launching Doctor Who.
In 1961 Irene Shubik was working with Newman on Armchair Theatre when she pitched him the idea of a spin-off series focussing on science fiction stories. Newman liked it, and Shubik was paired with Avengers director Leonard White to work up the series.
"The gun is good! The Penis is evil!" bellows a huge stone head floating over the Irish countryside. It's quite a strange start to any movie, but it's about to get even stranger...
This is the story of John Boorman's classic 1974 film Zardoz.
In 1970 director John Boorman began work on a Lord Of The Rings film for United Artists. It would be an unusual adaption; The Beatles would be the Hobbits and Kabuki theatre would open the movie . Alas the studio said 'No', but the idea of a fantasy film stuck with Boorman...
So in 1972, following the commercial success of Deliverance, John Boorman started work on Zardoz - a fantasy film into which he would cram many unorthodox ideas. Initially Burt Reynolds was to play the lead role of Zed, but pulled out citing other filming commitments.