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  1. #1
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    Default Marvel In The UK

    Marvel’s output in the UK may have started in earnest with the release of the first issue of The Mighty World Of Marvel in October 1972, but this wasn’t the company’s earliest foray into the UK market. A number of UK publishers licensed material to publish in existing UK titles during the 60s, allowing Marvel to judge whether there could be a market here for their material in the future…

    But the story actually dates back to the 50s when companies such as L.Miller & Sons (perhaps more famous nowadays for the creation of their Marvelman character when they lost the rights to reprint the US Captain Marvel series - and as Marvel actually bought the rights to the character a couple of years back, so you could say that Marvelman is Marvel’s earliest created UK superhero) and Thorpe & Porter published b&w reprints of some of the Marvel - or rather, Atlas as they were known at that time - titles of the period, mostly westerns….



    [IMG]http: //img.photobucket.com/albums/v488/Nimon/Pre%20MUK/WyattEarp41Miller.jpg[/IMG]

    …but also the revived 1950s versions of Captain America, Sub-Mariner and Human Torch.



    Not that there would have been many issues of those, as Marvel’s 1950s superhero revival was a very short-lived affair! Even though the superhero range didn’t last, the westerns continued and later, a few of the much more successful early 1960s superhero strips appeared in some of Miller’s mystery titles.



    At the same time in the early 60s, Alan Class set up a series of anthology comics in a rather chunky 68-page format (namely Suspense, Sinister Tales, Creepy Worlds, Secrets of the Unknown, Uncanny Tales and Astounding Stories) which reprinted mystery, monster and sci-fi stories from a variety of US publishers. These great titles continued well into the 1980s and were a major part of my childhood, being readily available (and cheap!) in local newsagents…they were a treasure trove of b&w reprints of Atlas, Charlton, and many other companies strips; many of these titles also included superhero stories, although printed totally at random and if you happened to read part one of a two-part story there was no guarantee that the second part would appear in the next issue, or even anytime soon…he just stuck the words ‘The End’ in the final panel!




    Sorry about the large size of images in this post, I'll be looking to use thumbnail images linked to large images as the thread progresses. I simply haven't any smaller images to hand for these early issues at the moment, unfortunately.

    Next post I'll be looking at Odhams Power Comics range from the late 60s before moving on to the 1970s British Marvel range.

  2. #2
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    In May 1966, Odhams - publishers of the Eagle comic – started printing Hulk stories in their Smash! title beginning with issue 16. Strangely they began running the stories from the second story, totally ignoring the origin issue. Smash! Was an anthology title which featured a mix of humour and adventure stories; below you can see the Hulk’s first regular appearance in a UK weekly title…



    The range came to be known as Power Comics...Wham! was first published in 1964 and was followed by Smash! in 1966 and Pow! in 1967. The original idea for Wham was to be a more modern version of DC Thompson’s Dandy and Beano, but in many ways it followed the same format as the Boy’s Papers of the time such as Lion, Tiger, Buster etc with a mixture of humourous and adventure stories. Soon however, black and white reprints of Marvel material began to appear...first, Wham! featured the Fantastic Four, then the Hulk appeared in Smash, and Pow! featured Sgt Fury and Spiderman.







    At one point, Thor even took over Dan Dare's pld cover slot in Eagle...





    Due to the much larger page size the artwork was cut and pasted into a different layout from the originals...



    Odhams decided to issue two more weekly comics, Fantastic and Terrific.



    These were a slightly smaller size, somewhere in between the size of “Pow” and the original American comics they were reprinting. These two comics were almost full of black and white reprints of Marvel material, with The Avengers, X-Men, Iron Man, Thor etc with a token UK story included as well. Eventually, due to a lack of available material the comics all began to merge with each other until only Smash was left without any Marvel material at all.(remember, the oldest material was the Fantastic Four which launched in late 1961 and didn't even become monthly until after it's first year. At a weekly rate, Odhams weren't long in using up all available material)


  3. #3
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    POW, FANTASTIC, TERRIFIC. Boy do I remember those comics, I had every issue of those in the late 60s, they were my staple diet of comics, unfortunately I gave them all away shortly before Marvel launched Mighty World of Marvel in 1972.
    I remember one of the early issues of Fantastic had some free stick on scars as one of their gifts, I recall scaring a woman to death with them in a cafe in a market where my mother had just bought me the comic. Happy days.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Morgan View Post
    POW, FANTASTIC, TERRIFIC. Boy do I remember those comics, I had every issue of those in the late 60s, they were my staple diet of comics, unfortunately I gave them all away shortly before Marvel launched Mighty World of Marvel in 1972.
    I remember one of the early issues of Fantastic had some free stick on scars as one of their gifts, I recall scaring a woman to death with them in a cafe in a market where my mother had just bought me the comic. Happy days.
    Fantastic and Terrific covers will follow on this thread shortly, Stephen, before we move onto MWOM. I've got loads of them so I want to get thumbnails first for use here.

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    I still have two out of three of the Fantastic annuals somewhere in my collection, I think they were 1967,68 and 69 annuals, it's the 1968 one that's gone missing. I don't recall any Terrific annuals coming for year end, the comic only lasted about a year before it caught up with American comics so there may not have been an annual.

    Just did a Google check on this, there was definately NO Terrific annual ever published, and the Fantastic annuals were for 1968, 69 and 1970, it's the 1969 one that I don't have anymore, although the covers of two of them are mighty familiar to me that 1969 one doesn't ring any bells at all.
    Last edited by Stephen Morgan; 23rd Jun 2011 at 7:05 AM.

  6. #6
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    Odhams now decided to issue two more weekly comics, “Fantastic” and “Terrific”. These were a slightly smaller size, somewhere in between the size of “Pow” and the original American comics they were reprinting. These two comics were almost full of black and white reprints of Marvel material, with The Avengers, X-Men, Iron Man, Thor etc with a token UK story included as well.
    While Fantasic was one of the later comics published in the "Power Comic" line up, it is probably the best remembered one. While the earlier comics in this 'Power Comics' line began with purely original British strips but introduced UK reprints of the USA Marvel comics into their pages over time, Fantastic (and it's sister title Terrific) contained mostly Marvel Comic reprints from the start. For most readers growing up in the 1960s these black & white reprints were their first introduction to Marvel super heroes. The one thing that everybody seems to remember from Fantastic (and Terrific) is the back page, which was normally a pin-up page; while it often used original US Marvel artwork some of them were originals, apparently by a young Barry Smith who later found fame as the original Conan artist for Marvel.

    The covers of the first eight issues of Fantastic are below.Click on the images for full-sized images.


    Last edited by MacNimon; 23rd Jun 2011 at 6:41 AM.

  7. #7
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    A fantastic (pun intended) array of covers there, I'll be looking forward to seeing more. I see those scars I mentioned earlier were with issue two, while issue three had a free bubble gum, I remember that too.

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    The next 6 issues of Fantastic...
    Last edited by MacNimon; 24th Jun 2011 at 9:19 PM.

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    The Scarlet Witch in green on a couple of those early covers! Don't tell me green ink was cheaper than red?!

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    That's nothing compared to some of the colouring mistakes which occured around that time, particularly in the annuals. I haven't included them here yet because of resizing reasons etc but expect to see some of the more outrageous examples soon!

  11. #11
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    Spot the mistakes...

    Possibly Marvel only provided b&w images to UK publishers because a number of interesting colouring mistakes were to occur over those few year, such as the following...a red and white Iron Man, a purple Thing, Reed Richards yellow hair, a blue Human Torch, the Fantastic Four's red and yellow costumes, and a multi-coloured Doctor Doom on the Silver Surfer's surfboard!



    Last edited by MacNimon; 26th Jun 2011 at 11:31 AM.

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    Oh dear! A lot of blue ink to get rid of by the look of it!

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    Fantastic's sister paper appeared on the shelves next to issue 9, and ran for 43 issues...





    Last edited by MacNimon; 28th Jun 2011 at 6:53 AM.

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    Mmm! Jack Kirby covers!

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    Note how there's no mention of Marvel on these covers...they simply replaced the word 'Marvel' with 'Power'!

    Last edited by MacNimon; 29th Jun 2011 at 7:18 AM.

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    I wonder how truly different Immortus' villainy is? Fatal flower arranging? Helping little old ladies across the road when they don't want to?

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    Covers dated 8th - 29th July 1968

    I'll post a few more 60s covers this week, before moving on to the official 1970s Marvel UK range next week. I'll post a link at that point to any 60s covers not used here.


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    I look forward to seeing exactly what you're gonna cover next week, wondering how the hell you'll cover the massive range that Marvel UK brought out in the early seventies, I still have over 2000 of them in my collection, you'll need a massive thread for all those.

    From memory,

    The Mighty World of Marvel,
    The Avengers,
    Spiderman comics weekly
    The Titans
    Dracula Lives
    Planet of the Apes
    Star Wars weekly
    The Savage Sword of Conan
    Rampage (used to feature The Defenders, there were some good storylines there, but sadly this comic was short lived.)
    The Super Heroes (short lived, later merged with Spiderman I think)
    Captain Britain
    Fury
    The Complete Fantastic Four

    Starburst
    and not forgetting Dr Who Weekly (monthly)

    There are probably a few I've forgotten about, I keep saying I'm gonna dig them out and go through them again but I never do.

  19. #19
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    Now could be your chance!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Wallis View Post
    Now could be your chance!
    Time Stu, time.

    I was actually up in my parents attic a few months back and noticed my sister had put them all into boxes. I had a glance at one or two that were on top of the pile and was disappointed to find how they'd aged and were showing signs of wear and tear. I did dig around a little bit as I wanted to check one or two of them, I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of them still had thier free gifts with their early issues.
    That's about as far as it went I'm afraid.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Morgan View Post
    I look forward to seeing exactly what you're gonna cover next week, wondering how the hell you'll cover the massive range that Marvel UK brought out in the early seventies, I still have over 2000 of them in my collection, you'll need a massive thread for all those.

    From memory,

    The Mighty World of Marvel,
    The Avengers,
    Spiderman comics weekly
    The Titans
    Dracula Lives
    Planet of the Apes
    Star Wars weekly
    The Savage Sword of Conan
    Rampage (used to feature The Defenders, there were some good storylines there, but sadly this comic was short lived.)
    The Super Heroes (short lived, later merged with Spiderman I think)
    Captain Britain
    Fury
    The Complete Fantastic Four

    Starburst
    and not forgetting Dr Who Weekly (monthly)

    There are probably a few I've forgotten about, I keep saying I'm gonna dig them out and go through them again but I never do.
    I think you've got most of them there up to 1980-ish I think, Stephen. Hulk Comic (which featured the UK-created Black Knight/Captain Britain serial and Night Raven) is the only obvious title missing from that list. My collection of covers isn't quite complete yet, I'm missing many of the later issues of MWOM and SMCW simply because of the lengths of their runs (something I'm planning to rectify over the next week or so - I know exactly where to get them!) and Star Wars Weekly after issue 50...no hurry for that, it'll be some time before we reach 1977!) Starburst and DW have still to be obtained yet as well, but I don't forsee much problem in that respect.

    I've just started up a little forum dedicated to all these covers...it isn't meant as a forum as such but as more of a cover gallery site (for my enjoyment, more than anything else!). I'm the only member so far (obviously!) and the idea is simply to collect together complete runs of as many titles as possible and post them there...it'll be ideal as a back-up to this thread if I decide to cut corners at times, hopefully full runs of covers will be available to view there. I haven't got much content there yet, only the complete Fantastic and Terrific runs plus some early MWOM and SMCW covers...once I've added more I'll post a link here for anyone who's interested in a look, or even joining and contributing covers.

  22. #22
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    Stephen, I'll probably just continue with several weeks covers per post to begin with, while there were only one or two titles, but as the range expands it'll probably settle down to one weeks covers per post.

    And there's some really excellent covers among those early issues, not just reprints of US ones but specially created UK covers by the likes of John Buscema and Jim Starlin.








  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacNimon View Post
    ...there's some really excellent covers among those early issues, not just reprints of US ones but specially created UK covers by the likes of John Buscema and Jim Starlin.
    I'll second that, Buscema produced some excellent artwork for the range as a whole I'd say. He was my favourite artist by a long chalk.

  24. #24
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    Over the course of 1968, as the material available to reprint started to dry up, Odhams Power Comics line crashed from 5 titles into one. Prior to that, in November 1967 Wham dropped it's sole Marvel strip, the Fantastic Four, and reverted to an all-British title. In January 1968 Wham! merged into Pow!, becoming Pow! and Wham!; and the following month Fantastic and Terrific merged to become Fantastic and Terrific, in the process becoming the first UK title to be composed entirely of Marvel reprints. In September Smash! and Pow! (having by now dropped Wham! from the title) merged, becoming Smash! and Pow!.

    Fantastic ended its run in October 1968 with issue 89, which featured Avengers, Thor and X-Men strips. After this point, any remaining Marvel reprints were scaled down and featured in other titles such as the now awkwardly named Smash! and Pow! incorporating Fantastic (seriously!!!) until the available material ran out. IPC bought out Odhams and the reprint material was phased out; the last of ithe Marvel reprints was printed in issue #162 of S&PiF on 8th March 1969.

    Apart from the occasional Alan Class reprint, a few TV21 reprints (an unusual mix - Spider-Man and Silver Surfer were reprinted alongside western strips Ghost Rider and Ringo Kid and humour comic Homer the Happy Ghost) and a few annuals in the intervening years, there would now be exactly a four year gap before Marvel was to make a return to British newsagents...

    The entire run of covers for both Fantastic and Terrific can be found here...
    Fantastic
    Terrific

    Marvel finally reappeared in Britain in October 1972 with the introduction of what would become their flagship title, The Mighty World Of Marvel. Here are the covers for the first 19 issues which all featured the line-up of the Hulk, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.

    MWOM also featured specially commissioned new covers with original artwork, rather than simply adapting US covers as required which was what happened later. And not just any old artists either; Big John Buscema provided the cover for the first issue, and many (if not all) of those in the following few months were by the artist/inker team of Jim Starlin and Joe Sinnott, just shortly before Starlin became one of the biggest names of the time in the comics world.

    Big name American artists weren't the only ones involved in the creation of these early issues. It was edited in America by Marvel writer Tony Isabella; the inclusion of an editorial from Stan Lee, combined with the specially commissioned cover, had the intention of making this title stand out as being a seperate entity from those Odhams Power Comics - this time it was going to be the real thing.

    It wasn't only new covers which appeared in this title...because of the fact that the contents of one monthly (or bi-monthly) US comic was cut up into two (or in later issues, more) weekly installments necessitated the need for the creation of more full page 'splash' pages (used to recap the previous installments): sometimes they would simply blow up an individual panel to full page size, but othjer times they would have specially drawn material (by an uncredited artist) which was usually not up to the standard of the remainder of the story.


    Last edited by MacNimon; 4th Jul 2011 at 6:54 AM.

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    This and Dracula Lives!(IIRC) were the ones I remember at the time.

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