Some sort of samizdat wind effect

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. elvwood
    September 19, 2011 @ 3:04 am

    Ah, Countdown! Probably THE comic of my childhood. It was given to me by my parents as a bribe to get me reading, and (together with some applied reverse psychology) it worked.

    You are spot on with the impact of the artistic style, not just in Who but also the title strip. The memory of it remained with me thoroughout my life, long after I forgot the plots of the stories.


  2. Steve Hogan
    September 19, 2011 @ 3:24 am

    Interesting stuff. One small fact quibble though: Unlike Transformers or He-man, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn't start out as toys. They debuted in a low budget indie comic by a couple of aspiring cartoonists in Massachusetts. (As a kid I used to shop at the comic book store in Northhampton that one of them worked at and I bought his early minicomics.)

    Their sudden meteoric success lead to every Tom Dick & Harry with access to a printing press trying to cash in, which in turn lead to what American comic historians refer to as "The black & white glut." which nearly destroyed the industry.


  3. Elizabeth Sandifer
    September 19, 2011 @ 4:00 am

    As a basic concept, yes – the four main Turtles, Splinter, Shredder, and April all do come from the Eastman/Laird comics. That said, the cartoon was run on the same Transformers/He-Man plan of releasing a new set of toys and then producing episodes to explain the characters. I'll clarify the sentence, though, since you're right that it's unclear.


  4. Steve Hogan
    September 19, 2011 @ 4:41 am

    Definitely the TV show was one big toy commercial,


  5. Dougie
    September 19, 2011 @ 7:59 am

    The Turtles were also a bit of a laboured gag about comics by Frank Miller and Chris Claremont so I'd to go back to raving about Countdown! What a classy comic.
    TV Action ran a short-lived feature in 72 or 73 that printed b/w stills of Dr Who "monsters" like the Mirebeast and the Mechonoids. They were a thrilling glimpse at a lost world until the Radio Times Tenth Anniversary Special.


  6. Froborr
    September 27, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  7. Froborr
    September 27, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

    Still reading my way through at the rate of about a month per day…

    "This approach eventually became standard practice in children's television, reaching its commercial and creative peak with the American cartoon series of the 80s such as Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Masters of the Universe where the TV series was explicitly designed as marketing for a toy line, often introducing characters in the toys first and then creating episodes to explain who they were."

    (Due diligence: The three shows you mention happen to be three of the first four toys I remember owning, and major figures in my childhood.)

    I beg to differ with this claim. While commercially successful, creatively those shows were very, very far from the peak of the sub-genre of toy-driven cartoons. Have you tried rewatching any of the three shows (or their contemporaries) you mention lately? Or compared them to the actually good cartoons at the end of the eighties through to today? I don't think it's exactly controversial that the 1970s and early 1980s represent a nadir of American short-form animation, and cheaply made toy-driven marketing campaigns disguised as shows (of which I believe He-Man was the first) were a major factor in making them as bad as they were. Which is not to say it's the sole factor–tight budgets and heavy network censorship didn't help.

    I would argue that the cartoon-as-toy-commercial has two creative peaks, in the sense that there are two shows which have ever done it well: The first season of Pokemon (1997-98, IIRC), and the current incarnation of My Little Pony (2010-present).


  8. daibhid-c
    September 28, 2012 @ 11:44 am

    I wonder if "using colour as another form of shading" has its origins in duotone? Many British comics in the 70s and 80s had colour covers and centrefolds and then, on the inside pages, a single colour (usually red, but sometimes blue) used as, well, a form of shading. I don't know if the Doctor Who strip was ever done in duotone, but if Bellamy was used to the method it might have influenced his style.


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