Saturday, 19 November 2011

Valiant: 1962-1976

Valiant was the title of a British boys adventure comics anthology which ran from 1962 to 1976. It was published by IPC Magazines and was one of their major adventure titles throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.
Valiant and TV21, 2 Oct 1971 Valiant and TV21, 9 Oct 1971
Valiant and TV21, 27 Nov 1971 Valiant and TV21, 11 Mar 1972

The title went through a number of name changes and mergers, although eventually returning to its simpler one-word name. It merged with Knockout in 1963, Smash! in 1971, TV21 in 1972 and Lion in 1974.

After many years, Valiant began to seem old-fashioned when the first of a new type of comic was launched, the first issue of Battle Picture Weekly, in 1975. It suffered further when Pat Mills launched Action in February 1976. Attempts by John Wagner to update the title were initially successful, but it struggled to find a place in the market against these tougher adventure titles. Valiant limped on for a few months, but finally merged with Battle Picture Weekly in October 1976.

Valiant and TV21, 1 Jul 1972 Valiant and TV21, 30 Sep 1972

Valiant and TV21, 20 Jan 1973 Valiant and TV21, 14 Apr 1973

Valiant contained a mix of conventional war stories, such as Captain Hurricane, which was a humorous strip set in World War 11 about a massive ex-sea skipper who became a Captain in the Royal Marines, and who could be provoked into "ragin' fury" berserker rages which gave him great strength; classic humour strips, such as Billy Bunter and classic detective strips, such as Sexton Blake.

But it also had a number of innovative new heroes. In Kelly's Eye, for instance, Tim Kelly wore a jewel called the Eye of Zoltec (obtained from a Mayan idol) around his neck, which protected him from all harm, making him invulnerable. Adam Eterno (who originally appeared in Thunder) was thousands of years old, and could only be slain by a fatal blow from a weapon made of gold. The House of Dollman featured an inventor who constructed remote controlled "dolls", or puppets, with strange abilities, such as stretching, drilling, and vision powers, that helped him in his fight against crime.

Valiant and TV21, 19 May 1973 Valiant and TV21, 2 Jun 1973

Valiant and TV21, 21 Jul 1973 Valiant and TV21, 14 Jul 1973

The celebrated anti-hero, The Steel Claw, with his fantastic power of invisibility and the capability to electrocute his enemies, due to his body's ability to store electric current, would influence comic creators such as Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Mytek the Mighty, a giant robot ape, started out as a villain in the hands of a criminal, but eventually became a hero who battled other robots and giant creatures.

There was also a two-page text story titled Jason Hyde, about a character from whose eyes poured light blue rays (he normally wore dark sunglasses) that allowed him to see through things and read minds. He had many strange adventures: including deep inside the Earth; in another dimension; fighting giant spiders; and fighting a man with incredible powers.

The stories were well written, being mainly 2 or 3 pages long, and in black and white (apart from the coloured covers). Many of them continued week after week, with cliff-hanger endings.

Valiant and TV21, 13 Oct 1973 Valiant and TV21, 27 Oct 1973

Valiant and TV21, 1 Dec 1973 Valiant and TV21, 29 Dec 1973

Several of Valiant's characters have made appearances since the comic's cancellation. Alan Moore and Alan Davis used several (renamed) characters in their Captain Britain strip. Also, Quality Comics released a four issue mini-series of The Steel Claw in 1986, featuring recoloured reprint material, with new material drawn by Garry Leach that acted as a framing device. The Steel Claw and several of IPC's 1960s heroes were also featured in Zenith in 2000 AD , followed by a one-off special featuring old Valiant and IPC characters.

In 2005 many of IPC's characters were featured in a mini-series called Albion, published by the Wildstorm imprint of DC Comics and plotted by Alan Moore.

Figaro - Brotherhood of Man: 1978

File:FigaroBrotherhood of Man.jpg
By 1978, Brotherhood Of Man had experienced a certain amount of chart success in both the UK and Europe, notably so with "Save Your Kisses For Me" and "Angelo". Following this, came the surprise failure of their next single "Highwayman" (released in late 1977). In January 1978, they released this song, which borrowed the title-idea from their previous No.1 "Angelo". The song became a No.1 hit in February, spending one week on top of the charts in the UK and becoming one of the twenty best selling singles of the year. This was to be Brotherhood of Man's final No.1 single. It was awarded a Gold Disc by the BPI in February 1978.

"Figaro" was written by band members Lee Sheriden and Martin Lee along with their manager Tony Hiller, who also produced the track. The lead vocals are sung jointly by members Sandra Stevens and Nicky Stevens. The distinctive opening drum roll on the song was performed by Clem Cattini of the 1960s band The Tornados.

The song tells of a (presumably) Spanish cabaret singer who is intent on gaining the interest of young ladies. As co-writer Hiller stated; "That came about because my daughter went on holiday and came back talking about all the dishy Spanish waiters trying to pick up the girls." Musically, the song has been reported on many occasions of its similarity to ABBAs "Fernando", and while this may be partly true of their previous No.1 ("Angelo"), stylistically, these particular songs are very different apart from similar titles. Member Sheriden denies these allegations. Ironically however, it was ABBA themselves who knocked Brotherhood Of Man off the top of the charts in the UK, with their single "Take A Chance on Me".

Single by Brotherhood of Man
from the album "B for Brotherhood"
B-side"You Can Say That Again"
Released6 January 1978
LabelPye Records
Writer(s)Tony Hillier /Lee Sheriden /Martin Lee
ProducerTony Hiller
Brotherhood of Man singles chronology
"Beautiful Lover"

Figaro" became a hit in many European countries, including Ireland, where it was also a No.1 hit. The song featured on the group's album B for Brotherhood and was followed up by top 20 hit "Beautiful Lover". "Figaro" went on to be voted best song of the first half of 1978 by readers of Look-in magazine and best song of the year by viewers of TV's Magpie. A cover version was recorded for the Top of the Pops album series, appearing on Volume 63 and The Best of 1978.

Preceded by
"Uptown Top Ranking" by Althea & Donna
UK No 1 Single
11 February 1978
Succeeded by
"Take A Chance on Me" by Abba

Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) - Episode Sixteen: When the Spirit Moves You!

"When the Spirit Moves You" is the sixteenth episode of the classic 1969 ITC British Television Series, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) starring Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope & Annette Andre. This episode was first broadcast on 2 January 1970 on ITV and was Directed by Robert Tronson.
Jeff becomes involved with a bumbling alcoholic conman named Bream and a stash of $125,000 of stolen bonds from the United States that a criminal racket are after. Jeff goes ahead with a deal to exchange the bonds that he and Bream have for $125,000 of the criminal racket's cash. When Jeff and Bream manage to double cross them they turn the tables and come within seconds of blowing up Jeff with the safe that he deposited the money in.
In this episode Marty finds that he is able to communicate with the alcoholic conman Bream (Anton Rodgers) but only when he is very drunk from whisky. This is also one of the first episodes where Marty physically threatens to haunt somebody as a traditional ghost would, to force him to give Jeff a helping hand.