"Great News Chums!" was the dreaded phrase that met British comic fans in the 1970's when they opened up their favourite weekly only to find that from next week, it would be merging with a crap publication you never bought. I can't guarantee that we won't merge this blog with one on, say, Taiwanese politics. But for now, enjoy a trip into pre-1985 graphic goodness.
Well, it took rather longer than planned... but the website is now online. Check out STRANGE THINGS ARE HAPPENING for much more of the sort of thing found here - galleries of movie posters and stills, glamour girls and scream queens, vintage comic books, weird novelties, toys, books, records and oodles more! Plus reviews of the latest cult movies, books, records, events and TV, plus interviews, features, video clips and beyond. Think of STRANGE THINGS as GREAT NEWS CHUMS on steroids!
My first contact with David Aaron Clark came in late 1990, when he wrote to ask for a copy of my fanzine Sheer Filth; a few months later (April 91 to be exact), he reviewed it in Screw, calling it "one of the rockingest pubs we got from the whole bunch of outlaw editors who responded to our tarnished feelers" - which made me feel pretty good.
A couple of years later, I was publishing Divinity - a once-popular 'transgressive culture' journal, when Masquerade Books sent through a couple of novels by that self-same David Aaron Clark for review. The books - The Wet Forever and Sister Radiance - completely transcended the porn genre that Masquerade specialised in - these were dark, disturbing and poetic novels unlike anything else out there. I was seriously impressed. Around the same time, I bought an album by the band False Virgins in a secondhand shop in Glasgow, and there was that man Clark again as a member.
By this time, I was getting the idea that DAC was going to someone that Divinity should be investigating, and when mutual friend Doris Kloster told me that David was also giving kinky, bloody SM performances in New York clubs, it was clear that an interview was necessary. Doris agreed to do it, so I shipped over a handful of fairly generic questions, expecting to get enough back to fill up two or three pages. A short time later, I received two hours worth of recordings - a lengthy, detailed, expansive interview that I knew immediately would be the centrepiece of the next edition. Doris also supplied several shots she'd done of David and his girlfriend, and so both the cover and main feature of Divinity 3.1 were set.
Except Divinity 3.1 never happened. A mix of financial, legal and personal issues saw to that.
I stayed in contact with DAC though, as he moved from New York to San Francisco to Los Angeles. There were more novels - the brilliant Juliette and Into the Black - graphic novels, and a couple of experimental SM videos, before David found himself in the LA adult film industry, working through jobs with the notorious John T. Bone and the even more notorious Rob Black before creating his own very unique movies - movies that, like his novels, mixed sexual deviancy with a dark atmosphere, highly personal moments and some genuine beauty.
In 2000, I finally made it out to LA, and DAC was kind enough to offer me a place to stay for the duration of my trip. More than just giving me somewhere to crash though, David went out of his way to make my visit a memorable one - fixing up meetings with his industry chums, taking me to meet the good, the bad and the ugly of the business, and generally giving me a taste of LA life - be that visits to strip clubs, looking for our work in the Hustler store or just checking out video stores while we debated the merits of Millennium and Dr Who. I also got the experience of watching his films with live audio commentary - something that should have been recorded and added to the DVDs.
I never made it back to LA - the 'noughties' haven't been the best time of my life and expensive flights were a no-no. But I stayed in contact with David - sometimes regularly, sometimes with a gap of a year or so between chats. His sense of humour and world-weary cynicism always made me smile, even when we were sharing stories about shifty publishers, dodgy distributors and general lowlifes that prevented us from achieving the things we planned. DAC had great affection for the industry and many of the people in it, but was also only too aware of the bad aspects of it. Like me, he'd struggled over the years - no wealthy porn mogul he - and so could relate to my latest tales of woe.
Recently, we'd talked about another LA trip next year - doing it all again ten years on. Our last conversation over Facebook was to discuss whether he could send his latest film, Pure, without causing any customs issues. He was proud of the film - justifiably so by all accounts - and it had been nominated for several AVN awards.
Sadly, David died on November 28th of a pulmonary embolism. The news of his death was a massive shock, and a couple of weeks on, I still can't quite believe it. There is a gap in my life that shouldn't be there.
There is more on David's life and death here: http://gramponante.com/?p=4121
And here are the recordings of that unpublished 1995 interview (the Liveleak embedded files might not be working - if not, try the direct links instead. Clunky, I know.)
Tornado was a 1979 IPC weekly, aimed at the 2000AD readership. It failed because its mix of strips was too broad (and mostly not good enough) - after 22 issues it merged with 2000AD ('great news chums!') and any vaguely popular, vaguely sci-fi-ish stories (including Blackhawk, which clumsily transmuted from a story of Roman slavery to an intergalactic adventure) were transferred over. Superhero editor Big E was portrayed in photographs by an awkward looking Dave Gibbons.
I know, I know, it's been awhile... work, weddings (not mine) and other things have conspired to keep me away from the all-important job of collating rubbish from the past. Expect such shortages from time to time. But as a reward, here are the first five volumes of groundbreaking erotic video seriesElectric Blue, from 1979 - 1981 (approx). Electric Blue used a magazine format, and in these early editions, aspired to the sort of pseudo-sophistication found in most girlie mags of the 70's (most notably Mayfair and Penthouse). After the 10th edition, it was all downhill; censorship dealt a severe blow after volume 20, and the series finally died, long forgotten, in the 1990s.
Although there were Dr Who novels and annuals from the late Sixties on, the merchandise only really began to kick in with the Tom Baker era.
Marvel's Dr Who Weekly proved an instant success with its mix of new material, reprints and photo features. Rubbish free gift though.
This dreadful poster magazine from the mid-Seventies was bought at the Dr Who exhibition in Blackpool.
The series inspired this Top Trumps card game.
The basis of the game was that the various monsters, aliens and villains from Dr Who were attacking Earth, and only a coalition of the Doctor and earth's greatest heroes could save us. Annie Oakley vs the Cybermen? Possibly the shortest war in history.Note that the designers have got their monsters muddled in the examples above.
A range of Dr Who action figures also appeared, including - oddly - the one-shot monster The Giant Robot.