It wasn’t the greatest Spider-Man costume Marvel UK had for promotional purposes, but by gum, the company made the most of it, even in encounters with pop royalty like Queen’s Brian May.
Former MUK Tim Quinn recalls how, in the mid 1990s, Brian had composed the theme music for the BBC Radio 1FM daily cliffhanger series produced by Dirk Maggs, featuring Spider-Man and a multitude of Marvel characters. Tim was involved in getting the project off the ground and is justifiably proud of the project to this day.
“I didn’t really expect Brian May to say yes when I asked him to contribute the theme music,” Tim recalls. “Not only did he say yes but the project completely captured his imagination, no small thanks to Dirk.
“For months Brian worked on version after version of his unique Spidey theme. I have a drawer full of tapes of the work in progress.”
Brian also joined promotions for the series alongside Spider-Man.
“Bizarrely, after setting this series in motion I was asked by my immediate boss at Marvel UK: ‘Why exactly are we bothering to spend any time on this series? We’re supposed to be a publishing company.'” Tim also notes.
“I attempted to explain with the patently obvious reply: ‘To promote our publications?’
By the 1990s, the costume was already about ten years old, the stitching was coming apart, it smelt and was threadbare here and there, but Marvel were cent pinching at the time, so it helped to pose him behind things – like Brian’s wife, actress Anita Dobson, at one point, who was among the show’s cast, as a distraction to the state of his shabby state.
Loosely adapting several early Spider-Man stories, the Amazing Spider-Man series, originally broadcast in three minute segments of fifty episodes, covers the character’s origin, his first fights with Doctor Octopus, Sandman and The Green Goblin, as well as Peter Parker’s everyday troubles, like being bullied by Flash Thompson, or working for The Daily Bugle. Peter Parker is played by William Dufris, and the show featured a plethora of Marvel guest stars such as The Fantastic Four, Namor the Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom.
While the theme tune did briefly make it to the UK charts at the time, reaching Number 37, response was mixed, but the series itself is well worth tracking down as it was created with enormous affection for the source material, which shines throughout over two and a half hours of pulse pounding audio adventure.
Released back in 1995 on CD, I’m really surprised that unlike Dirk’s terrific Batman and Superman productions, it doesn’t appear to have been officially re-released digitally – although it was re-issued on cassette in 2002.
(Brian’s theme is on YouTube, although not, I suspect, officially).
Update: Comics writer Dan Whitehead reminds us that Brian May’s love of SF also extends to teaming up with Eddie Van Halen to create theme music for the Japanese puppet show, Star Fleet – which featured in Look-In as a comic strip, too
• Tim Quinn – writer, publisher and more – is the genius behind the FAB4000 project that he created with Russ Leach. You can find Tim online at mightyquinnmanagement.com
• Dirk Maggs, a freelance writer and director working across all media, is principally known for his work in radio, where he evolved radio drama into “Audio Movies,” a near-visual approach combining scripts, layered sound effects, cinematic music and cutting edge technology. You can find him and his work online at www.dirkmaggs.com
Spiderman: The Amazing Spider-Man (BBC Radio Collection)
Story Adaptation by Dirk Maggs
Produced by BBC Audiobooks Ltd (2002) | CD | Cassette (AmazonUK Affiliate Links)
• Comics and Graphic Novels on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
Categories: Audio, British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds