Sunday, 2 March 2014

THE CASE OF THE VANISHING MARVEL HEROES...



As most readers of a certain age will know, when SMASH!
comic first appeared in 1966, it wasn't long before it started to re-
print MARVEL COMICS strips within its pages.  Soon there were
five POWER PAPERS by the same publishers (ODHAMS PRESS)
catering to the needs of nascent Marvelites everywhere. When IPC
MAGAZINES revamped Smash! in 1969, there were no Marvel
stories to be seen, the last remaining ones (THOR and FF)
having concluded in the previous week's 'old style' issue.

In new Smash! #9, the above editorial piece appeared, penned by
GIL PAGE, 'masquerading' under the identity of teenage office boy
'MIKE'.  Of course, this ruse was merely to give readers someone nearer
their own age to relate to, not (you'll be glad to hear) for the reasons that
some grown ups pose as teenagers on the internet today.  Apparently, the
comic had received quite a few protests from readers lamenting the ab-
sence of the Marvel heroes.  This I can believe, as I too was dis-
appointed to see them disappear from the comic's pages.

However, I'm far from convinced by Mike's claim that they had
received a great many more letters from readers saying they were
glad to see the back of the BULLPEN characters.  After all, if that was
really the case, there'd be no need to mention it, would there?  It seems
to me, reading between the lines, that IPC were quite disconcerted by the
outcry caused by evicting the Marvel strips from the pages of Smash!,
and were seeking to persuade readers that the body of opinion was
in favour of their removal.  Reads more like an attempt to per-
suade readers not to jump ship 'though, doesn't it? 

Anyone got any thoughts on the matter?

14 comments:

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I'm not sure I believe that editorial either - the decision to bin the Marvel characters was probably more a personal choice from an editor that didn't like them or an issue with licensing the characters from Marvel - IPC also used a lot of UK reprint material in SMASH so they could have simply found it cheaper to use them as fillers (and good ones at that) rather than pay for US reprints. I'm pretty sure they got quite a few letters of complaint as the Marvel strips had a big cult following (I think comic fandom in the UK got a major start from these books) in addition if they didn't like the Marvel strips it seems strange that they reversed this policy in 1971 when they took over TV21 which was all UK material and replaced a lot of those strips with several US Marvel reprints (Silver Surfer, Spider-man, Rawhide Kid , Homer the happy ghost etc) saying that Im glad they launched SMASH as all UK as I thought it was great

Kid said...

McScotty, it wasn't IPC who added the Marvel reprints to TV21 - they were already running when IPC took over publishing it around 9 or 10 issues before it joined with Valiant. I also liked the new Smash!, but I atill missed the Marvel stories.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I wasn't aware of that re TV21 and the Marvel reprints - I always blamed IPC for ruining TV21, I feel nothing but shame now :0(

Kid said...

Going by the indicia up to the early number 90s, it was still published by City Magazines; it switched to IPC between 93 and 95 I think, off the top of my head. Somewhere around there anyway. It was a great comic in its heyday, shame its later incarnation was nothing like what it had originally been. Trouble was, it was too closely tied in with Gerry Anderson's 'empire' - when that started to decline, so did the comic.

Colin Jones said...

I'm not old enough to remember Smash in fact I'd never heard of it until your blog, Kid - but I know now that I was born in the month it began, Feb '66. I always assumed MWOM No.1 was Marvel's UK debut - the fact that they were here well before that in other comics obviously encouraged Marvel that their own comics could be successful in Britain - it's strange that DC never followed suit, their loss though !!

Kid said...

Even before Odhams published Marvel stories, Col, Alan Class printed not only various Marvel strips, but also material by DC, Charlton and other U.S. companies. They appeared in monthly black and white mags with titles like Astounding Stories, Creepy Worlds, Uncanny Tales and various others.

There was also a mothly mag which lasted for 14 issues in 1969 or '70, published by Top Sellers and featuring various DC superheroes. The name of the mag was Super DC, but the idea for it seems to have come from Top Sellers rather than DC Comics themselves.

Colin Jones said...

Thanks for that,Kid - you're a mine of information as always ! What I really meant though was there was no DC UK to rival Marvel - DC seemed to have no interest in us Brits. I didn't even see a DC comic until about 1982 - as a result I never formed a childhood bond with the characters and to this day I have no real interest in them although I did watch Man Of Steel on DVD at Christmas just to see what all the fuss was about and I quite enjoyed it. I notice that WH Smith's sells DC versions of those Panini Marvel comics so there is a sort of DC UK these days.

Kid said...

I would imagine that these DC-themed mags are driven more by Titan Books than by DC, Col. London Editions and Egmont also published U.K. DC mags and specials in the '70s, '80s & '90s.

John Pitt said...

The reason they stopped reprinting Marvel was a simple one - they had caoght up with most of the US titles. I cannot believe for one minute that ANYONE would have complained about them - the little fibber!

Kid said...

I think they were close to catching up with the Thor and X-Men stories, JP, but had still a bit to go on FF. Of course, they could always have substituted different Marvel heroes when they ran out of the previous ones. Like you, I doubt that the majority of readers were glad to see the Marvel heroes go.

John Pitt said...

Kid/McScotty, did the Spider-Man strips in TV21 continue from where Pow! left off or did they just pick stories at random? I had lost interest with TV21 by this time.

Kid said...

I think they started with later John Romita strops, JP. They didn't follow on from the last-published Ditko one in Pow! (Which wasn't the actual last Ditko one, I don't think. If you see what I mean.) Sorry, too lazy to check.

John Pitt said...

That's all I needed to know really.
You know , when you think about it , Smash , like Wham , was a great comic even before Marvel (& DC) reprints , so it shouldn't be a surprise that it could be afterwards too. I now regret not buying the revamp.

Kid said...

Suppose I'd better not rub your nose in it then by reminding you I have a full set, JP, eh? Hee hee!

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