Sunday, 29 March 2015

2000 AD Comic

2000 AD was a British sci-fi comic I read in my early teens. By this time I'd gotten bored of the regular kids comics like The Dandy, The Beano, Jackpot, Topper, Beezer and Whizzer. I'd even gone off the regular boys comics like Action, Battle and Tiger as they seemed to contain nothing but the same old sports and war stories. I wanted to find something a bit more cutting edge with more varied and interesting story lines and in August 1981 I found it.

Prog 001 with free space spinner

I had bought the first issue (Prog 001) of 2000 AD back in February 1977 but, being three and a half years younger, that was just to get the free space spinner taped to the front cover. I didn't think I was really interested in the content of the comic although strips such as Flesh, Harlem Heroes, Invasion and M.A.C.H 1 are still buried in my memory. Judge Dredd wasn't until Prog 002.

Flesh and Harlem Heroes

Flesh was a story of time-travelling back to the age of dinosaurs. Harlem Heroes was a future sports story. Invasion was an alternate reality war story and M.A.C.H 1 was a Six Million Dollar Man rip off. The Dan Dare comic strip did not interest me at all. I maybe bought two or three further issues for the free gifts and then I didn't buy anymore for a few years.

Invasion and M.A.C.H 1

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Total Recall (1990)

THE 'thinking man's action movie'
On the surface Total Recall seems like a regular sci-fi action adventure movie. Sure it was the most expensive movie ever made at the time and starred the biggest action movie star ever but for many people this would be just another Schwarzeneggerfest of gratuitous, visceral violence, this time in space. Everyone knew physical action was the Austrian oak's forte.

My name is not Quaid.
However, if you do pause to delve deeper and look beyond the relentless chasing, shoot outs, holograms, robotic heads, wisecracks, triple boobed mutants and blood and guts you may come to realise there's a lot more to it. For me Total Recall is THE 'thinking man's action movie'.

Friday, 13 March 2015

The ZX Spectrum and Lunar Jetman

The Sinclair ZX Spectrum gave me my first ever experience of playing video games at home. Sure we had a variant of pong on our television before, my friend had a ZX81 and my cousin had an Atari 2600 VCS, which I too had originally wanted. But in the Christmas of 1982 the Spectrum arrived, it was ours, in our home and it's not too strong an admission to say it changed my life.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Life changing.

It had hi-res graphics which I'd never seen before. Yes the colour resolution was a bit weak but at least it had colours and basic sound too. It didn't have a cartridge slot which was disappointing however it did have a rubber keyboard with keywords on the keys which was intriguing. This was not a video game console it was a computer that could play video games and it was the best christmas present I ever had. You could type in program listings from the many magazines that sprung up and save them onto tape. They hardly ever worked proprely but still it was fun. You could not do this on a video games console like the Atari. Commercial games also loaded into the computer via audio cassette tapes.

It wasn't long before the humble spectrum had a vast library of video games available such as, Hungry Horace, Space Raiders, Time Gate, Planetoids, Spectres, Arcadia, Android One, Manic Miner and Jetpac, many of them written in the bedrooms of teenagers as well as more commercial software houses such as Bug Byte, Imagine, Ocean and of course Ultimate Play the Game.