Monday, 2 December 2013

re:VOX #19 - revealing revelatory revelry in the excitable, eclectic and exuberant Eighties!

Okay, so the new issue of re:VOX didn’t come out in the summer as suggested here previously, that much you’ll have gathered. In truth I was very reluctant to pull myself away from work on From Cents to Pence, especially after being invited to meet former British Marvel editor Peta Skingley. A very enjoyable lunchtime chinwag was had by all, enhanced by the presence of Alan Murray, whom Peta had actually employed as their studio manager shortly after her arrival at Marvel HQ in 1973 (then located in a small part of the Transworld UK Ltd. offices down at High Holborn). This single meeting alone generated some significant new information that then needed further research and clarification, the result being that I couldn't start serious work on re:VOX until a suitable breathing space made itself apparent, which didn’t happen until late October.

Our stunning cover was actually gifted to us at the very last minute by Lowri-Ann Richards, a David Levine photo currently used by special permission on all the material promoting LA’s new show Whatever Happened to La La Shockette, which will soon to be staged again at the Sanctum Soho Hotel off Regent Street on January 23-25th and 30th, concluding on February 1st and 2nd (tickets will soon be made available via As the final element of the issue to be completed, this final design superseded the last of several, quite different earlier versions of the cover. At some point we’ll have to share with you some of these previously unseen alternate, might-have-been covers that were dropped from editions over the past decade.

Thanks to LA’s generosity, we’ve been blessed with the pick of photos from 1979 through to the late 1980s, and we're proud to present manyamazing, previously unseen images. It was an absorbing and exciting honour leafing working out how best to compile them in a way that we hope does them full justice. And what a fascinating snapshot into a time when Lemmy from Motorhead could be seen rubbing shoulders with other leading lights of the club scene from Spandau Ballet to LA’s own group, Shock. The sheer scope of this incredible archive has made this feature the longest single interview we’ve ever run, once again pushing the issue to a whopping 44 pages!

But although #19 centres around the life and career of LA Richards to date, there are other treats be savoured too. Australian-based designer Toni Hearn presents two complementary reviews of Midge Ure’s tour over there back in the spring (along with some of her own photos), while our other guest writers Anna Butkiewicz, Darren Hackett and Andrew Watson review three more dates from last year’s Brilliant tour. P/S inaugurates a new, possibly irregular feature looking at some of the more unusual or rarely seen covers that have graced records connected to Ultravox over the years. A stand-alone album of Brilliant tour photos will now appear in one of next year's issues, forming part of a year-long celebration of 40 years of Ultravox(!).

You can purchase copies of re:VOX from #1 to this latest edition (now being mailed out), so do check-out the cover gallery on Facebook via the link below, and then contact us direct at: stating the issues that you’re interested in (payments can be made via Paypal now).

I look forward to hearing from you soon - you won’t regret it!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Fine-tuning 'From Cents to Pence!'

My thanks to everyone who has been asking after the progress of the Marvel UK book.

'From Cents to Pence' is basically divided into three sections. An in-depth history, an index to most of the stories (originated and reprinted alike) published since 1972 (and a few from Annuals before then) and various additional indices listing free gifts, an outline of the contents, formats and precise names of all the comics/Annuals/Specials, plus an creators index to all the originated material... among other items of interest!

One of several, variant potential cover designs
At a 1/4 million words, checking/amending/correcting the 30 chapters that form the history part of it alone is not a quick task on top of the day job etc., but it's coming together very nicely. Right now I'm over half the way through, and with the help of some frequent contributors tidying up some of the loose ends.

My aim has always been to complete this process by the end of the year, if not before, but I have an extra incentive to do so now (and it's a doozy!), which I'll obviously tell you about in due course should our plans come together as envisaged.

As things move along, I'll try to post an occasional update or three, but when an update doesn't surface for a while at least you'll know I'm either completely immersed in the text or prepping material for re:VOX.

More news soon.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A day in the life of LA (Richards)!

A few months after the Blitz Club reunion night in 2011 I had the great pleasure of interviewing the charming Lowri-Ann Richards - one of the members of the early 1980s group Shock - about her wonderfully diverse career. Although I'd expected to run the interview later that year, when she offered me the chance to scan some photos from her personal photo albums it then took rather longer than expected until we could work out the best way of doing it, with five very heavy, very full albums involved.

Thanks to LA for very kindly loaning me the albums for a few weeks earlier this year, I'm now preparing an issue of re:VOX based around that interview (taking advantage of a small gap that's opened up in work on the Marvel UK book, while waiting for some additional information from various folk), and there's some amazing unpublished pictures from that era... plus a few faces you might not expect to see in a magazine about the many worlds of Ultravox!

LA Richards with Tik and Tok (Le Kilt, 1980) - courtesy LA Richards

Expect to see such delights as an early Depeche Mode concert; some back stage photos from the legendary People's Palace Valentines Day Ball; Shock with Gary Numan at Wembley; the launch party for Spandau's Ballet debut LP, plus a whole host of stars from Johnny Ball to Lemmy!

In the meantime, LA has a new show at the end of this month at the Studio in St. James Theatre, London. "Whatever Happened to La La Shockette" is loosely based on her own life and experiences, incorporating music and video clips. Directed by Stuart Saint, you'll only be able to see the show on Saturday 27th July, although LA hopes to be able to restage it at other venues in the near future.

More news on re:VOX #19 in the next month or so.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Keep Calm and Carry on Digging!

For those of you following this blog since my recent feature on Marvel UK in Back Issue, I thought a small update might be in order. I've had some very kind feedback already, and it's great to hear from people with an equal thirst to learn more about this often under-appreciated part of Marvel.

Right now I'm in the sixth month of reading, re-reading, revising and fact-checking the history part of the book which that the BI article was extracted from. At some 250,000 words in total this is no small task. If I was just proofing a novel this would perhaps be less time-consuming, but when you're dealing with such a complicated web of historical events it can be like pulling the thread from a large tapestry and seeing it all unravel.

Even worse, every answer nearly always then leads to another question, and in trying to close off avenues, sometimes new boulevards open up in their place - whether it's looking into London cable companies (check out The Greenwich Phantom for the scoop on this one), Irish V.A.T. rates or the lime-lag between reprints of US stories and their initial US publication. Sigh!

Still, the great thing is I'm half way through and it's really pulling together nicely after the piecemeal additions that have been made to the text over the past few years due to other distractions like re:VOX magazine. That means that I can finally start passing text over to my editor, although hopefully I won't be passing on a headache or two to him as well :)

Oh, and having recently spoken to Maureen Softley, I'm about to receive some information direct from her predecessor Peta Skingley, Marvel UK's second London-based editor... although some of you might know her better as Peter Skingley... or Peter Allen or...

I'll try to bring you another update soon. For now, wherever you are, take care and enjoy the overdue arrival of summer.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Marvel UK - the 'invasion' of Back Issue magazine!

Although I provided an overview of my work on a reference book about Marvel UK back in March 2012 (A Distant Beacon blog - March 2012), with the sudden announcement of the release date for a hotly anticipated new album by Ultravox I then found most of the rest of the year was taken up with the release of no less than four editions of my magazine (re:VOX). In all honesty was probably one issue too many to fully cope with, but a topical magazine will always have to respond to the times its published in, and that was one rollercoaster ride of a year we were never going to miss!

All this activity naturally meant that something had to give, and so work on From Cents to Pence ground to a halt. Fortunately, when Michael Eury from Back Issue magazine requested an article outlining the (surprisingly complicated) history and development of Marvel's own line of British comics to head up a special "British Invasion"-themed edition, there was just time to write one for #63 before switching tracks.

A year later, and this will be shortly available in comic stores this spring. I'm thrilled to have been given an opportunity to share a tiny portion of my work with a larger audience for the first time. They've done an outstanding job on the feature, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing all the other British-related goodies they've come up with. You can advance order a copy directly from (Twomorrows) own web site right now.