Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill, Episode 138: Action #37 (1976)

Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill, Episode #138

Action #37 (October 23, 1976)
By Pat Mills, John Wagner, & Steve McManus
IPC Media
Cover Price: 7p

The mornings around here have become this strange game of me opening a blank blog post and trying to “batch upload” pictures… just to see if any of my Blogger-worries have been assuaged.  Welp… it’s one’a those good news, bad news situations.  I can, in fact, batch-upload… it’s just that the images don’t exactly stay uploaded.  As soon as I set one image where I want it… the rest of them disappear completely.  I know I must sound like a broken-record after a week of these “updates”, but… this is Google, right?  I mean, they are a pretty big company, no?

Oh well… I suppose this just gives me another excuse to reminisce.  And so, today I’ll share the story of Cosmic Treadmill… After Dark.

Download | iTunes | RSS

When Reggie and I first broke off the Cosmic Treadmill onto our own dedicated “Chris and Reggie” feed, one of the things we were most excited for was the fact that we could now cover non-DC books.  Initially being a segment on the Weird Science DC Comics Podcast kind of made it so we felt our coverage should remain as DC-centric as possible… not that, in hindsight, anyone would have had a problem if we slipped in a non-DC book every now and again.  Still, though… we wanted to keep our audio offerings in line with the main program.

So, as we outgrew our 15-minute segment (well, we would usually run quite a bit longer than our original intended time slot), we realized to fully flesh out what we wanted to do, we would need to spin-off into our own dedicated feed.  When making this announcement (to the slight handful of people who would care or notice), one of the things we did was solicit for show-requests.  We wanted to cover the books our listeners wanted to hear covered.  Stands to reason, right?

After a week or so of silence, our first request came in:

Cherry Poptart

If you’re not familiar with Cherry Poptart… well, if you keep following this page, you will be.  Cherry Poptart is… well, it’s some dirty stuff, drawn in the style of an Archie comic.  Here’s the cover to her first issue:

Seems like most places Cherry goes, there’s a bit of a chill in the air.  Someone needs to buy the poor girl a jacket.  Anyhoo… not wanting to jump all the way into the provocative deep-end of the comics history pool on our brand-new channel, we declined to cover Ms. Poptart.  That didn’t stop folks from requesting it, however.  To this day, I’m not sure why listeners were so adamant or interested in us covering this book!  Maybe it was something to do with the juxtaposition between our academic research and… well, four-color smut (well, the cover’s in color)?  I dunno… but, for the next couple of years, hardly a month would go by without somebody asking if/when we would cover Cherry Poptart.

Fast-forward to October, 2018… when, with quite the mass of audio output under our belts, we decided to try our fortunes on Patreon.  Now, I’m going to be honest.  Patreon… wasn’t something I was keen on pursuing, but that’s probably a story for another day.  In hindsight, I’m happy we did… because now I have all of this “new-to-most” audio to share with our listeners.

So, we open up the Patreon… and we’re brainstorming to come up with some “exclusive” content.  Then, one of our first Patron-supporters sent us a message asking if now… we could finally cover Cherry Poptart?  Annnnd… well, that sealed our fate.  Cosmic Treadmill… After Dark was born.  It took a few years, but we finally made good on our first listener request.

Why am I telling you this?  This isn’t even a post about Cherry Poptart… it’s a post about something called Action (not that Action, either!).  Well, it was the push to finally check Cherry off our list that led us down the path that brought us to ActionAfter Dark was a very fun concept, where we could explore some more mature situations and stories… and do so in our usual “highbrow” sort of way.  This added a whole new layer to our formula/method… and, is something I wish we would’ve been able to do more of.

These After Dark episodes would go up on our Patreon monthly… and, I want to say there were six in total (Action #37 being the last… originally released on April 2, 2019).  The full-list includes:

  1. Cherry Poptart #1 (1982)
  2. “Omaha” the Cat Dancer #1 (1986)
  3. Dark Dungeons (Jack Chick tract)
  4. Wally Wood’s Gang Bang! #1 (1980)
  5. Collected Adventures of the Fabulous Furry Freak Bros. #1 (1971)
  6. Action #37 (1976)
So far, two of the above have been retroactively added to the main Cosmic Treadmill feed (and renumbered as part of the Cosmic Treadmill “playlist”).  There was a bit of downtime, during which Reggie was suffering with a severe sinus issue (rendering him unable to speak), we decided to “buy time” by slipping an After Dark in, in place of a new episode… after all, they were “new-to-most”.  Those episodes were the “tamer” of the six… the Jack Chick Dark Dungeons tract, and… the “banned in the UK”, Action #37.  The remaining four After Darks will be added to the main feed (even Cherry!) over the course of the next couple of months… I just gotta “clean ’em up” a bit, ya know?

So, let’s talk about Action… since, well… this is technically Action’s article.  I’ve talked a bit about the concept of the “hook”.  The post-book discussion Reggie and I would have where we’d tie some of the themes of what we’d just looked at into either the broader comics milieu… or, into things that happened in the real world.  Sometimes the “hook” would come to us first… and we would sort of reverse-engineer into finding a comic book that would fit the topic we wanted to dig into.

A couple of “hooks” we never got around to were:
  • UK Cold War-related media.
    • An especially scary and sobering topic.  We wanted to look into things like the Protect & Survive infomercials, and the made-for-TV movie, Threads.
    • In order to facilitate this, we were going to cover the 1982 graphic novel, When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs.
Here’s Protect & Survive, in case you’re unfamiliar with it… 

  • Elvisploitation
    • The idea that Elvis Presley didn’t actually die when reported is one that has always interested me.  We were going to look at things like Elvis-sightings… the Orion books/appearances… Graceland conspiracies.  It was going to be a fun one!
      • To make this one happen, we were going to look at the graphic novel, The King by Rich Koslowski
There were plenty more examples of reverse-engineering from a “hook” to massage into a topic we really wanted to discuss… but, those are the two at the top of my head at the moment.

So, again… why am I telling you this, and what does any of this have to do with Action?  Well, Action #37 was a result of such reverse-engineering from a topic we really wanted to discuss.  I’ve mentioned time and again that Reggie and I are big fans of the show The Young Ones… even to the point where we’ve used that theme song for our Young Animal series.  Well, the first episode of The Young Ones that I ever saw was back in the early-mid 1990’s when Comedy Central would air it at like 1 am on Saturday nights.  The first episode I saw was called… Nasty.

This is what introduced teen-age Chris to the concept of the “Video Nasty”… something, up until that point, I’d never heard of before.  In the episode, the boys are excited to get their hands on and watch a “video nasty”… which, at the time, I just assumed meant a porno flick.  I was completely unaware of the banned movie list.  It was only after getting on the internet that I was able to learn more.

Now, Action #37… was banned in the UK.  Well, sorta.  It’s a little bit more complicated than that… and has to do with distributors refusing to stock the thing… but, there was plenty of moral outrage around the violence-level of the book as well.  This, we felt, was the perfect “reverse-engineer” to allow us to do our deep-dive on the video nasty… which, I suppose at the end of the day, was the whole point.

If you decide to check this episode out, I really hope you enjoy it.

0 thoughts on “Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill, Episode 138: Action #37 (1976)

  • The after dark episodes were a real treat. It was a lot of fun listening to you both discuss those books. I particularly enjoyed the Wally Wood and Jack Chick episodes just because I learned a lot from them.

    It would have been awesome to hear you guys do an episode on the Cold War from a UK perspective. I've been meaning to watch Threads for a long time now, just have not got around to it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *