That time Marc Bolan interviewed Stan Lee, ‘nuff said?
08:21 am

Marc Bolan loved comic-books. The Beano, The Dandy, The Topper, he read ‘em all and enjoyed the hilarious hijinks of the cheeky school kids contained therein. But he had a particular love for Marvel Comics and their far out superheroes like Silver Surfer and Doctor Strange. Bolan went so far as to even make reference to his favorite comic-book heroes in songs like “Mambo Sun” where he sang:

On a mountain range,
I’m Doctor Strange for you…

Yes, Marc, you are, oh but you are…

So, maybe it was inevitable, fated even, that Bolan would one-day interview legendary Marvel Supremo Stan Lee.

In 1975, Bolan had an occasional stint doing interviews on BBC radio program Today. It was the Beeb’s way of “getting down with the kids” by having a pop star talk to the kind of hip people they would like to interview in the hope this would bring in a younger audience to their flagship news and current affairs show.

That October Stan Lee was in London to launch a new British comic book The Titans. He was also in the Big Smoke to give a “one performance only” at the Roundhouse where he was to talk about “all your favorite Marvel superheroes” followed by the opening of a major exhibition of Marvel Comic’s artwork at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Having Lee in London was too good an opportunity for Bolan to miss, so an interview was arranged…
To get some more skinny on Bolan’s love of Marvel Comics let’s spool forward a year to when Neil Tennant—long before he was one-half of the Pet Shop Boys—interviewed Bolan about his love of Marvel Comics:

“I’ve been into Marvel since 1967.  The Silver Surfer, in particular, was one I liked, Dr. Strange was another.  At that time they were very weird compared to the other comics on the market, though they got more commercial since then and Stan Lee was a great writer.”

“It was nice meeting Stan last year, he was lovely to interview.  Really he’s a hustler, a solid gold easy hustler! That’s just the way Comic guys should be,  he’s got such a lot of energy.”

“We talked about the possibility of me creating a super-hero for him.  something along the lines of Electric Warrior, a twenty-first century Conan.”

“In fact, I don’t like Conan as a character—I think he should be something less of a barbarian, more like one of Michael Moorcock’s characters.  You could make a much better composite character using Moorcock’s Elric, with a bit of the Silver Surfer, a bit of Thor, and create a far more involved character, a character more in touch with now ...”

Bolan as he appeared in his own comic strip ‘The Magic of Marc’ from ‘Jackie’ magazine 1972.
More Marc Bolan on Marvel Comics plus his interview with Stan Lee, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
08:21 am
‘It Couldn’t Happen Here’: The Pet Shop Boys’ rarely seen feature film from 1988

‘What did you do in the 1980s, Daddy?’  For those who want to know what it was like to be young(ish) and middle class in Britain during the 1980s, then take a look at the Pet Shop Boys in their one-and-only feature film, It Couldn’t Happen Here. Originally planned as an hour long pop promo to accompany the release of their third album Actually, It Couldn’t Happen Here captures the style, the pretensions, the cultural obsessions and some of the most popular music of that decade.

The Pet Shop Boys are a hugely under-rated band, whose compelling, beautiful and catchy music by Chris Lowe, can often disguise the power and passion of Neil Tennant’s lyrics. For you see, despite what the music press claims (that means you NME), or the modes by which the band present themselves (daft hats and outfits), there is really nothing ironic about the Pet Shop Boys at all. They mean everything they do. Which is why It Couldn’t Happen Here is so frustrating. It could have been like The Monkees Head for the 1980s, with a hard, political edge, but it wanders without any sense of direction through a series of segments that revolve too literally around the songs.

That said, for a pop film it’s not all that bad, and the quality of the songs, and some of the eye-catching performances (Joss Ackland, Gareth Hunt, Barbara Windsor) make it almost passable. If only Derek Jarman (who collaborated on a stage show, and directed the promo for “It’s A Sin”) or Lindsay Anderson (the director of If… and O, Lucky Man! who would had directed the concert film of Wham, yes, Wham, in China) had been asked to direct rather than Jack Bond, then things might have been different. Even so, Bond made it look sumptuous and Neil Tennant found out he couldn’t act.

Time methinks to release the film on DVD.


Posted by Paul Gallagher
08:40 pm