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Marvel’s Pizzazz Magazine (Feb. 1978)

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This has to be the coolest magazine cover of all time: Linda Ronstadt with a backup band consisting of Dr. Strange, Cap, and C-3PO!  God it was great to be a kid in the 1970s… and Marvel’s Pizzazz magazine captured the mojo of the 70s kid perfectly, filling its pages with superheros, monsters, sports, Star Wars, pop music, bad jokes, and so much more.  Let’s have a look at this issue from February 1978 – Enjoy!

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Comp IV sounds like the lamest, most boring game of all time (the player simply has to guess the correct number); however, to a kid in 1978, this was a must-have.  Suffice it to say, we were easily pleased when it came to our technology.  Just provide some buttons to press and some flashing bulbs, and we were sold.

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A weak little puff piece on this issue’s cover girl.  I’m not sure how many 70s kids were buying Linda Ronstadt albums – I’m going to go out on a limb and say not very many.

When it came to what was spinning on the a young lad’s record player in the late 70s, it was more likely Kiss or something from the collection below…

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Believe it or not, I still have the Kojak album pictured above.  It was a weird phenomenon unique to the 1970s: kids watched (and became fans of) shows clearly not meant for youngsters.  Watch an episode of Kojak – there isn’t a damn thing that should appeal to a kid… yet, we had Kojak lunch boxes, Kojak records, Kojak coloring books… WTF?

I think this phenomenon can be traced back to the fact that there just wasn’t much in the way of kid’s television (aside from Saturday mornings), and Gen Xers were forced to watch whatever dad was watching… and, more often than not, that meant Kojak, Starsky & Hutch,  All in the Family, and other programs clearly not aimed at an elementary school audience.

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It’s funny how so many of these TV movies like “Snowbound” became part of Gen X’s collective conscious.  Back when there was slim pickings for young audiences at the cineplex, we relished the TV movie.  Sure, there was Star Wars, but that was an anomaly, clearly tapping into a vast need; but most of the features at the theater were either adults only, or crap like The Apple Dumpling Gang.  We were a long way off from a constant feed of Pixar and a Marvel movies.

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Anyone old enough to write in the 1970s will remember the Bic Banana Ink Crayons commercials featuring flamboyantly gay Charles Nelson Reilly.  Whoever thought CNR would appeal to kids was definitely smoking something, but they were memorable nonetheless.

Are you a Trekki?

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ANSWERS:

1. A,  2. B,  3.B, 4.A, 5.A, 6.A, 7. Chess, 8 . “Space-the final frontier,” 9 . B,  10 . It’s the metallic base of his blood
11. C, 12. Amanda and Sarek, 13.B, 14 . True, 15. A, 16. A, 17 . False-she was an android that loved Kirk.
18.B, 19. Raised right hand, held forward and away from the body. Fingers positioned into 3 units: thumb, second and third fingers , and fourth and fifth.
20. C, 21. False -Jeffrey Hunter portrayed Kirk in the pilot, 22. C, 23. Six, 24. C, 25. A, 26. Its an agreement between the Klingons and the United Federation of Planets
27. C, 28. Mr. Spock,  29 . “Peace . Live long and prosper,” 30. A

So, how’d you do?  In 1978, when this issue of Pizzazz was published, Star Trek had reached a huge level of popularity: a decade of reruns had accumulated a ton of fans, and combined with a sci-fi explosion via Star Wars had created a a perfect storm for Star Trek to ride the waves.  The following year saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture to mixed reviews.

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A short, surprisingly enjoyable, story about a boy whose sister gets turned into a bat.  It’s written by Richard Peck, who was quite the prolific young adult author during the 1970s; several of his works became TV movies of the day.

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Before he was Benedict Cumberbatch, he was a Marvel hero teaching kids card tricks.

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This isn’t even slightly funny.  It’s not just a bad joke, it’s so unfunny that I can’t comprehend how, in any way, this would be considered humorous.  That being said, Mark Lasky is a hall-of-fame comic artist for his work on Miss Peach and Momma, and then taking on Nancy.  Sadly, he died just four years after this issue of Pizzazz, not even thirty years of age.

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Excuse me while I sound even more like a tired old geezer: It’s really sad how “toys” like this have lost popularity.  It built patience and puzzle solving skills – and was the opposite of the short-attention-span entertainment of today…. Now, you kids get off my lawn!

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In 1978, I loved Dr. J and The Harlem Globetrotters.  In a few years, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson would take the stage.  It was a good time for basketball fans.

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Everyone knows Stan Lee, but who is Bobby?  She’s the editor of Pizzazz, and I’m not sure what she went on to do after that.  Whatever her career path, Bobby was clearly a genius – knowing exactly what boys of the late seventies wanted to read….. including the greatest thing to ever happen to a 70s kid – Star Wars!

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Howard Chaykin got his big break with Marvel doing Star Wars comics.  But, it was his controversial (and, IMHO genius) work on American Flagg! in the 1980s that made him a legend.

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If you’ll permit me to geek out for a moment: I am wondering where Luke, Leia, and the droids have landed.  If I had to guess, it’s Yavin IV – a moon of the planet Yavin, which served as a Rebel base from which to destroy the Death Star.  Before that, thousands of years prior, it was home to the ancient Sith – whose temples still remain.

There.  I’m done.  I feel so much better now.

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Time to make some George Washington Bread….

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I love how they let you know you can save 49 cents by cutting out the cherries.

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In which Captain Midnight teaches us “disco dancing” and “zen”.  Clearly a jack-of-all-trades, that Captain Midnight.

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Here, Pizzazz bitches about the height advantage of players, which, according to the author, makes the game less fun.  A “balanced basketball” rule set is proposed:

Here’s how it works. Every player is registered according to a precise scale of numerical height units. If you’re under 5’2″, you’d display “0” on your jersey . Your teammate who stands 5’2″ or 5’3″ would wear height-unit “1.” So on up the scale to ” 12,” for seven-footers and above. The team ceiling would total 30 , allowing a coach to use any combination of height-units , depending on his strategy.

Ugh.  Awful!

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And so it ends with a Spalding advertisement that was on the back of seemingly every comic book during this time.  I hope you enjoyed our walk through Pizzazz.  I have a stack of these magazines – so, stay tuned for more in the months and years to come.  Cheers.

  • They saved the best artist for the back cover! (Yes, I know it wasn’t done for the magazine.)

  • BTW, this was Marvel’s attempt at a kid’s magazine like “Dynamite!” (If you get copies of those, please scan!)

    • njguy54

      I remember “Dynamite!” very well, but I never heard of “Pizzazz” until now. I probably would have loved it, though — especially since I had a mad crush on Linda Ronstadt at the time. She was certainly an odd choice to put on the cover of a kids magazine, as her music was really more adult contemporary (despite my infatuation, I never bought any of her records until years later, when I got one of her Nelson Riddle albums for my mom).

    • Yeoman Lowbrow

      Oh, I definitely have some Dynamites on the shelf, just begging to be scanned. You may also remember the similar “Bananas” and “SuperMag”? Both worthy as well.

  • “Scotty” is (of course) the nickname for Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, not that of Kevin Riley, as the quiz claims—Riley was an Irishman.

    Anyone else notice that the George Washington Bread article is by Michael Dorn—the name of the actor who played Worf in ST: The Next Generation?

    • AB

      They also got the question about actors playing James Kirk wrong. At that time William Shatner was the only actor to play James Kirk. Jeffrey Hunter’s character was Captain Christopher Pike.

  • Marlon

    Linda was the rage in 1978 – I was 11 and had a hardcore crush. All the teenagers bought her records and all the college boyz had her posters. Six covers of Rolling Stone – She was not Adult music until the mid 80s. Still she was a dreamy great vocalist with fine rock and roll bands real or imagined surrounding her. Really the first Arena class female artist. There is a reason George Lucas and Philip K. Dick admitted being obsessed with her.

  • timdub70

    I was in that Model Builder’s Club, ti was just like any record or book club but with plastic models. I had the helicopter and the Apollo set. I still have the Viking Ship, unbuilt but with some parts missing. Revell made the kits.

    • Steve Mills

      Hey, me too. I had all those pictured except the Jag. I think most of them are still with me. Did you also get a ship like the Santa Maria or something like that? Lots of rigging. Never finished it.

      • timdub70

        I think I sent that back, but I did build the USS Missouri and I still have it. That was the battleship that the Japanese surrendered on to end World War II.

  • Steve Mills

    I have tons of Power Records/Peter Pan Records records from a fan site. Love the Kojak and Planet of the Apes records. The $6M Man ones aren’t bad. People claim that’s not Telly Savalas playing Kojak, but I’m convinced it is. The talent they hired to do their records were never good enough to capture all of Telly’s mannerisms and inflections.

  • MindTricked

    There’s some amazing things here, most of which should be buried in the past, haha (Linda Ronstadt – Rock’s Superwoman?!?!?). I STILL remember that Spalding ad, though… wow.

    Also, as I kid, I loved Kojak as well, and I HAVE NO IDEA WHY. Who loves ya, baby?

  • bye caroline!

    Plenty of kid listened to and bought Linda Ronstadt records. She was THE female rocker at the time – “That’ll be the Day,” “Heatwave” “When Will I be Loved” “You’re No Good” “It’s So Easy” “Tumbling Dice” “Just One Look” “Livibg in the USA” “How Do I Make You?” “Can’t Let Go,” all singalong stompers that both boys and girls loved. And the boys loved her posters. Before Olivia Newton-John, Stevie Nicks, Heart, Debby Harry, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, Helen Reddy, Donna Summer and Pat Benatar, all 2970s stars, there was Linda Ronstadt and she was number one of the decade. Bigger than Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Cher and Dolly Partin.