I honestly didn't know. If I'd been more active or more nosey on newsgroups, then it would've been pointed out to me years ago. But it was sodding obvious and I never even noticed.
I have a new flatmate. You can expect us to end up collaborating on something monumentally obsessive before long, but while we both grew up with Doctor Who (in his case, in a way I find pleasantly curious, since he's ten years younger than myself and has nostalgia for the original video release of "The Daleks" rather than seeing "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" first time around), we're separated by this: I'm instinctively DC, he's instinctively Marvel. Obviously, Marvel was better when I was little. But, y'know. The 1980s. Swamp Thing and such.
So of course, within two days of his moving in, the conversation turned to Galactus.
My point was, and still is, this: the original Galactus Trilogy (Fantastic Four #48-50, true believers!) was massively influential. Not just "a cult thing that might get made into a movie one day", like comic-books are nowadays, consarnit. It was Stan Lee at his most f***-you and, more importantly, Jack Kirby at his most cosmic. It changed comics, but it also had a ripple effect on pop-culture that spread through the minds of those late-'60s counterculturalists whom we now like to imagine were all on drugs, but were actually just part of a post-WW2 generation that had every reason to see the world in blistering colour. If you doubt its impact, or doubt that even the most widely-circulated comic-book would have been noticed beyond a niche readership in 1966, then look it up and find out how many college-stroke-university students - granted, mostly boys - had it passed on to them. On both sides of the Atlantic. Remember, I knew who Galactus was before I'd ever heard of John Lennon.
Bob Baker and Dave Martin saw Omega as Atlas in a mask. Godlike power, yes, but their script described something more classical than pop-art. I have absolutely no evidence that Roger Liminton, designer on "The Three Doctors", had ever picked up a Marvel comic. I haven't even been able to establish how old he is / was, although I tried, in the hope that he might have been just the right age to know what anyone familiar with Jack Kirby now knows: a god in the twentieth or twenty-first century needs a bloody great helmet that looks like architecture, a presence as unshakable as whole cities. "Look at it," I told my new flatmate. "Seriously. just look. Omega's even got the same crenelations at the top."
And then he pointed out to me that people on-line have been noticing this for years, but at second-hand.
When I was four years old, I had a copy of The Doctor Who Monster Book. I cut it to pieces and stuck bits of it on my bedroom wall. With black-and-white photographs being less than hi-def in those days, many of the illustrations were taken from Target covers, so I had Chris Achilleos' "Three Doctors" image opposite me every night while I slept.
I was, as reported in my "1979" blog entry, trained in the details of the Marvel universe. I understand the significance of the Galactus Trilogy, and have done for many years.
Yet until today, I never noticed.
Many of you will already know what I'm talking about. If you don't, then here's the evidence in a single JPEG.
Then I found this two-year-old blog entry by Paul Scoones. If you haven't seen it (and it increasingly seems that I'm one of the last to do so), then here's the full horror:
Achilleos the tracer...?
Let's be clear on this. We knew Achilleos, shall we say, "rendered" publicity photos from the TV series into his (unquestionably majestic) Target art. "Rendering" other people's drawings is a different matter. Many people have left comments on Paul's page, but perhaps out of politeness, none of them has pointed out the other thing I should have noticed if I were anywhere near as Aspergic as I like to pretend: the Daleks on the cover of "Day of the" are left-handed. Since the images taken from the TV-21 strip have been reversed, the plunger and the gun are on the wrong sides.
Chris Achilleos. Creator of '70s Doctor Who as I used to imagine it. An undoubted genius at graphic design, but also a dab hand at the Sketch-a-Graph. And just to prove it's not all about the Daleks, there's the crippling detail in the Omegalactus affair. One of the readers who's left comments on Paul's blog has pointed out that the "Three Doctors" cover took "inspiration" from Kirby, but - again, maybe out of politeness - this is something of an understatement.
Just look at their hands.