Thursday, January 7, 2016

Undercover Spy Writer in the MMMS

In rereading mid-sixties Marvels, occasionally you might look over the list of Merry Marvel Marching Society members in each issue to see if there are any names you recognize with hindsight. For instance, I see Will Meugniot in Strange Tales 143. And then I see a professional writer listed in Strange Tales 148—under his fandom pseudonym (he used his real name on his books).

Ted Johnstone, Los Angeles, Cal

Ted Johnstone, at the top of the rightmost column, is actually Man from U.N.C.L.E. tie-in writer David McDaniel. So it's appropriate that his listing appears in the book featuring Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. When ST 148 (Sept/66) went to press McDaniel's first novel, The Dagger Affair, had been on the stands for about half a year and his second, The Vampire Affair, was just coming out from Ace Books.  It was in his novels, not on the TV show, that the secret history of THRUSH was revealed and in fact its full name: the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity.

(I didn't have to look that up any more than I would the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves, or Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division, but I can't get any further on SHIELD's gritty, with-it, "up-to-date" new name [twenty years now?] than Strategic Homeland blah blah blah blah.)

In the U.N.C.L.E. novel that McDaniel wrote to end the series but that Ace declined to publish in 1971, The Final Affair, one character, a motorcycle gang member, is nicknamed The Thing and shouts "It's clobberin' time!" And at one point Mr. Waverly refers to THRUSH as "that Hydra-headed bird."


  1. Johnstone/McDaniel's U.N.C.L.E. books were the best of the novels, and I loved the fact they had their own Marvel-style continuity!
    BTW, his The Prisoner novel was also the best of that novel series.

  2. darkmark, I was away from collecting Marvel in the MMMS's heyday, so I never did sign up.

    Britt, I was disappointed that McDaniel's Prisoner didn't go fannishly outside the box like his U.N.C.L.E.s, but I think all three authors were under unhelpful constraints--bringing Number Six back to the Village after he'd escaped at the end of the TV series was a bad idea, I thought, and giving a new identity to Number One three more times diluted that concept. But I wish McDaniel had been around to write many more novels!

  3. Martin,

    Great bit of trivia! Like you, I can easily recite the THUNDER Agents and SHIELD acronyms but not the "current" versions.

  4. Nick--Oh, right, there's a new THUNDER acronym too. SHIELD at least I've been exposed to in the movies and TV show, but THUNDER not so much.