has kindly agreed to write a guest post for this blog. I thought that all my
weary readers would welcome a respite from my usual incomprehensible
nonsense and appreciate some quality content instead. So let's not waste
a second - over to you, Nick!
with Marvel's British reprint line.
Bulletins about Marvel's British division, the first time I really took
notice was in the pages of Marvel's house fanzine, FOOM #11, September
1975. The Mighty World of Marvel, The Avengers The Savage
Sword of Conan (now there was an odd combination) and The Super-
Heroes. The new covers attracted my attention. They were nicely designed,
with art by Dave Hunt and Keith Pollard. A reply to a fan letter explained
that these were reprints produced for Britain. A later issue showed how
what was originally a Killraven story in the States was altered to
become a Planet of the Apes tale.
Since the comics were produced on a weekly basis, as opposed
to monthly or bi-monthly in the States, material was used up at a
faster rate, leading to desperate measures at times. In that same period
(mid 1970s) I purchased my first Marvel U.K. mag from a dealer at a comic
con. It may have been The Super-Heroes #1 along with #31, featuring a
cover of the X-Men welcoming The Cat and Ant-Man to their pages,
with art by Keith Pollard. This was the same cover I had originally
seen in that issue of FOOM.
I was fascinated by these reprint titles and sought them out from
time to time, although there were not that many to be found at local
conventions in New York. Also around that period I received an over-
seas letter from a teenager who lived in England. He had seen my letter that
appeared in Marvel Team-Up #39 (my first published letter, which was a
thrill in itself) and was seeking pen pals. He wrote a little bit about himself
and his interest in comics, asking if I'd be interested in trading any
U.S. comics for some from the U.K.
I should explain to younger readers that corresponding by mail
was often an inexpensive way to keep in touch with other fans. Today
we are blessed with instant communication by the click of a mouse, but
it was not always so. 'Phone calls were expensive and the World Wide
Web would not become a reality for another decade or two. I recall I
was sent some Captain Britain comics (which featured new material!)
along with some non-Marvels like 2000 A.D., which he quite fancied.
We corresponded for some time and I still have those letters buried
away somewhere. I wonder if he remained a comics fan.
I can't quite recall when I learned of an even earlier line of British
titles that reprinted Marvel's superhero characters in the 1960s. There
was not a lot of information in '70s and '80s fanzines about them, and
it wasn't until the advent of the internet that I was really able to get a
detailed history of both Odhams Press and Marvel's U.K. division.
Marvel's original publications, Marvel's 1972 U.K. line alternated original
covers with new material, drawn by an array of talented artists who were
instantly recognizable since they were also prolific in the States. One such
artist was none other than Jim Starlin, who pencilled many fine covers
early in his career for The Mighty World of Marvel and Spider-Man
Comics Weekly, often inked by old pros like Joe Sinnott, Frank
Giacoia and Mike Esposito.
Starlin's talent was noticeable early on, and although he has never
discussed these covers, I was thrilled and surprised to discover them,
along with others by pros such as Rich Buckler, Ron Wilson, Herb
Trimpe, Larry Lieber, Pablo Marcos, Keith Pollard, and also occa-
sional work by veterans like John Buscema, Gil Kane, Sal Buscema
and Dick Ayers. Inkers included Joe Sinnott, Frank Giacoia, Mike
Esposito and John Tartaglione.
Barry Smith drew pin-ups for early Odhams' Marvel reprint titles before
he came over to the States and began working on X-Men, Daredevil and
a certain sword-wielder named Conan. I've also been lucky enough to
have corresponded with Tony Isabella in the past few years and was able
to learn a little more about his involvement. Aside from writing a ton of
comics for Marvel in the 1970s, Tony was also in charge of putting the
British weeklies together.
My interest in Marvel's British line has led me down other, equally
pre-hero Marvels, as well as stories from companies such as ACG and
Charlton; seen foreign reprints from Spain, Germany, Australia and
France (which produced many beautiful covers based on the originals)
and I've even had articles translated in Marvel Italia, so I guess I've
come full circle, actually being published in a foreign Marvel
at distinguishing artists' styles, crediting many of Marvel's U.K. cover
artists. More than 35 years have passed since I first learned that Marvel
had a British division. I'm older, hopefully a little wiser, but I've not lost
my enthusiasm for the comics medium, which is still full of surprises.
I'd like to give Nick a huge vote of thanks for taking the time to grace
my humble blog with his fascinating reminiscences. You can find Nick's
own excellent blog here. And below is the letters page from MTU #39,
featuring Nick's first ever Mighty Marvel epistle.