Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Chilling Vision.... OF THE FUTURE!

Hello. Welcome back. Been a busy time here at Slipper Towers so I've not been able to update for a while. As a return, therefore, I've decided to give you something a bit special. Instead of the usual boring old comics strips drawn by some artist BY HAND like your parents' comics, what if the comics were REAL PEOPLE photographed? Wouldn't that be AMAZING!?
Blue Jeans was a magazine that ran from 1980 to 1991 and offered girls advice, tips and full-colour pin-ups of Paul King and Jason Connery. It also had "photo novels", stories that followed the format of romance comics but were actually photos of models posing in the frames. Because that made it more "real" and "grown up" I guess.
I haven't been able to trace the history of the photo-romance stories, it seems that it is a cultural endeavour ignored by critics, although a quick search has brought up some interesting images from a 1970s Italian magazine. However they were certainly big news in 1980s girls' magazines in Britain. Blue Jeans was popular enough to spawn spin-off comic library Blue Jeans Picture Novel.
The following story highlights come from Blue Jeans Photo Story Annual 1984. It is full of gems but this (or possibly the one with the magic gnome) is my favourite. Presenting: A chilling look at a future for humanity that COULD be, when a young couple makes...
 I love visions of "the future" in pop culture. Especially when they take themselves entirely seriously. Of course, they always tell you more about the time in which they were made, sometimes even more so than contemporary-set stories.
 The budget for the photo-shoots was necessarily very low. Which for this story means keeping all the sets almost entirely empty. Which gives it a sort of THX-1138 aesthetic. I think that "computer" box is meant to look like HAL 9000. Although I'm pretty sure it's an oscilloscope.
 It's the year 2084 and we live underwater we trust computers for EVERYTHING. And, just like today, it is very important to carry your computer card with you.
 I believe this is what Plenty of Fish is like.
 Oh those wacky future names! It's like The Hunger Games. And why was scaffolding a symbol of the future? I blame Blake's Seven.
 They have so much in common! It's nice that disco is still popular in 2084. Considering it wasn't in 1984. 3-D disco dancing is, of course, much easier than 2-D disco dancing. Nobody else on the dance floor could see you as anything but a straight line. This is why there are no discos in Flatland.
 Yes, the Romantic Involvement Computer. Which delivers its results via a dot-matrix printer.
 What!? Gemma and Bryan!? What happened to Sara and Marc? I've read this story several times now and that is honestly the first time I've noticed the protagonists weren't the same people already seen.
 Let's take a moment to drink in those amazing '80s future fashion choices. The hair, the eye makeup, the jumpsuits, that belt. They'd look completely at home dancing to Visage on Top of the Pops.
 To be completely fair, the divorce rate did rocket between 1984 and 1998, so.... well done, I guess. However marriage as an institution was no longer seen as essential by then, so.... six of one.
 Sometimes the pictures are printed at angles in an attempt to make the pages more visually appealing. Which is annoying when scanning individual panels.
 Oh noes! They are already in love but they different! And this story pre-dates Paul Abdul's "Opposites Attract" thesis!
 Wibbly lines means flashback! I think this is meant to be a party scene. I kind of love the "future" band names which must have taken all of about twenty seconds to think up. I like to think the Blue Moon Band are heavily influenced by the Radiophonic Workshop.
 Can't even begin to think what a "man-made sunset" would be for.
 Awwwww...... The first time, ever I saw your face.....
 I think she likes reading books, not the town of Reading, Berks. Hard to tell when it's ALL CAPS. I have difficulty believing in a quiet vacation on a gas giant, but maybe that's just me. Props to the model for rocking that eye-shadow and lip gloss. I'm willing to bet it made him very uncomfortable. He would have done National Service. Maybe he fought in Korea. Now he's pretending to emote in makeup.
 It's true. Have you seen John McCririck and his wife? Those are strange people.

 If you didn't spot it, the "national motto" was on the wall in the "party" scene.
 She may like reading and quiet vacations but she has a rebel spirit. Maybe they're not so different... Romanes Eunt Domus!
 *Gasp* Such vandalism! Love the "computer" font (which I'm pretty sure was drawn by hand). Such an 80s view of technology. Always reminds me of this:
I could watch that over and over again. And I have.
 So it seems they live in a Megacity. BritCit presumably.
 It's all gone Logan's Run.
 More shocking lipstick. And damn those wonky panels!
 Oh no! It is written. Gemma will be forced to take her "perfect partner"!

 Whaaaaaaaaaaaat!!!??? But how can it be?
 Hey, remember how this story was introduced by "Ric" and how the matches are made by the Romantic Involvement Computer?
 That's right Ric was an oscilloscope a computer the whole time! And that dumb guy with the eye-shadow was his assistant!
 He is just there to scribble out graffiti with a magic marker (a shame they lost that anti-graffiti tech from Demolition Man by 2084).
So the moral of the story is.... Trust the computers, I guess. Turns out they do know everything.

That was weird.


  1. You need repaired.

    Photo romances date to at least the 60s, but I only know that because of the Terry Gilliam one with John Cleese falling in love with a barbie doll from his days on Help!

  2. I know. I've found ones from the 50s too, I just don't know their origins.