I never knew they had done a double bill of this, back in Spring 1983. If I had only been 5 years older at the time I would have been able to enjoy these beauties on the big screen. As it was, I was merely months away from watching it on VHS anyway and having my teenage brain overloaded with post apocalyptic stand-offs in irradiated deserts. Also, note the use of the ’18’ classification, which had recently replaced the ‘X’ rating. The ‘X’ classification always signified more of a frisson of danger than ’18’.
The Ladybird Leaders 737 series were a collection of factual books aimed at young readers who had progressed beyond basic texts and wanted something more stimulating than Janet & John. Released throughout the 70’s, and totaling over 40 by the end of the series, the simple, bold style of the covers was one that stood out in the local Woolworths when I was a young reader. Being a boy, the Dinosaurs and Soldiers books were amongst the first bought, but the wonderful cover images conveyed the subject matter with grace and power. Here is a selection of them;
http://www.easyontheeye.net/ladybird/70s/737/737.htm -brief overview of the 737 Leaders series.
http://www.theweeweb.co.uk/ladybird/patrick_armstrong.php – interview with Patrick Armstrong, an author of several of the Leaders series.
all images courtesy of
Ladybird 737 Covers and Prints
If you haven’t read this issue or any Walking Dead over the past 5 years, then be aware that there are spoilers below.
All comic covers are there to entice and sell the product, tarted up, pouting out from the comic racks or online. The fact that the first glimpse of a new comic is usually via the ‘solicitations’ that roll out on a monthly basis. Solicitation, is, as any good dictionary will tell you, the offering of goods and services. The Walking Dead uses their cover space to build up the hype. Many issues have had covers that pertain to a certain event happening (and by that I mean something momentous) and then the contents do not fulfil on that promise. Take for example issue 49, where Carl is leading Rick by the hand. Rick pulls a very distinctive Zombie shape, and his face is, helpfully, obscured by shadow. My god, you think – it’s all over for Rick. Except it wasn’t. While i am at it, let’s look at issue 85, the issue after Carl had had half his face blown off in the climax of ‘No Way Out’. Issue 85 has a cover that is sombre and respectful – a grieving father – Rick – hunkered down in grief, a plain black backdrop framing the pain and loss. Except, as we all know, Carl somehow managed to pull through in
a jump the shark moment piece of comic book logic that was barely credible and marks a low point in the series as a whole (According to me).
Anyway – the cover to issue 110 has Michonne and Ezekiel clashing swords and staffs and other stuff that all looks a bit like a close up of a section of a Rob Liefeld cover from 20 years ago. Great, you think, a battle! Or at least a fight. Alas, prepare to be disappointed. The cover image actually pertains to something much more mundane and is so outrageously misleading that when I got to that point in the book I couldn’t help but laugh. And groan. And shake my head sadly. Of all the covers that have took liberties with the actual contents, this is probably the cheekiest.
The contents themselves could be read and you could have made your tea and eat it by the time it has took you to read my preamble. It is a lightning quick read this time around, but the economy is to be applauded to a degree. It is lean (not mean), and you get to the end with a bit of a ? hanging above your head. There are 2 distinct plot lines, one involving Jesus and one involving Rick and a delegation meeting Ezekiel. This latter storyline intrigued the most. I really did not think that much of the new guy, and I thought the potential for ruining the book with overcooked characters was reaching a new level with ‘King’ Ezekiel. However, after this issue, I am warming to him a little, though I think the whole pomp and pageantry thing is a mistake and I don’t believe that survivors in a brutal post apocalypse environment would buy into this sub-Mad Max posturing. Saying that, the overall impression of Ezekiel is better than before, and it’s the highlight of an issue that moved things on so gradually that I don’t expect the cover for issue 111 to be anything more than Negan preparing Sunday lunch for himself and his concubines;