Friday, 23 January 2015


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

When THE TITANS first appeared in shops in the mid-'70s, it
was a weekly comic in what was called the 'landscape' format.  That's
to say, a normal-sized upright comic that had been turned sideways, with
what had been its bottom edge now being the stapled spine, and featur-
ing two (reduced) reprint pages side-by-side on a single page.

When the monthly Pocket Book version debuted in 1980, it was
'digest' sized (like a DCT COMMANDO mag) - so the dimensions of
the printed artwork on the page were of a similar size to its earlier incar-
nation, except that there was only one reprint page per actual comic
page.  Clear?  No?  Well, you can't fault me for trying.

This was a great little mag, featuring early tales of THOR, IRON
MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA.  Just like its HULK counterpart,
it conjured up memories of weekly '60s comic FANTASTIC, due to the
fact that the contents were two-thirds the same.  Also, just like the Hulk
PB, The Titans only chalked up a run of thirteen monthly issues.

And - yup, you guessed it - you lucky Criv-ites can now enjoy
looking at the cataclysmic covers for every single ish.  Do I spoil
you or what?!  Comments extolling my generosity to the heavens
will be most welcome!  (In a modest way, of course.)
The caption is slightly misleading.  The origin is the MARVEL
one from the '60s, not the TIMELY one from the '40s


Colin Jones said...

I don't remember these AT ALL - it doesn't seem right to have a comic called The Titans which isn't sideways. There's a Panini comic called 'Marvel Legends' also featuring Captain America, Thor and Iron Man (I assume it's still around).

Kid said...

Yup, it's still around - but it's the more recent stories (which I'm not so keen on) it reprints, not the earlier stories.

John Pitt said...

As you say, it was almost like having a pocket-sized Fantastic back again. And when Star Heroes starting printing ( and eventually changed its name to ) X-Men, it made my day. When they did the double-sized 100 pagers - well what a cracking read for just a few pence! I think the X-Men with the Mimic on the cover was a double. This story was the very first X-Men US comic I ever bought, pre-Fantastic. I love that cover!

Kid said...

I only bought the Star Heroes mag when they started reprinting the X-Men, JP. I got the first two or three issues of the new direction in Southsea/Portsmouth in 1981. I was reliving my Fantastic days, that's for sure. Loved it.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I didn't pick many of these up at the time , much to my regret as they are brilliant little books - I think I only got Chillers and the ODD issue of FF - not sure about others but I don't recall seeing them in John Menzies (W H Smiths) and local newsagents that often at the time, and rarely see them in back issue shops or comic fares (and when I do they seem a bit expensive for what they are) I only have about 5 of these and want more now, so thank for that Kid you've started me off on another collecting spree (great covers to Titans and Hulk)

Kid said...

I've just bought 2 issues of the FF Pocket Book to fill a gap in my collection, McScotty. Like you suggest, they were difficult to get some months, but I don't know if that was due to sporadic distribution or being sold out. The quality of reproduction is a bit hit and miss; sometimes it's absolutely fine, sometimes dreadful - and that can be in the same issue. They're really not worth what's asked for them on eBay, but you know that collectors' compulsion to complete a set at almost any price.

baab said...

These look great.

The majority of the content will be drawn by Jack Kirby then for the first lot of issues?

I really enjoyed Titans, and collected them.
Most are in terrible condition.
I have a few issues still,and I mean a few!
One of which had a draw a comic strip competition which I drew and did not enter.
I am glad I did not send it off,because I still have it and it shows me what I drew like as a child.
Lots of blood and monologue.

I had all of the Conan pocket size issues featuring Barry Smith's art but alas I cannot find them,I must have sold them a long time ago.

I really must have a day sitting in the middle of what I have left of the British Marvels.

Kid said...

Yup, Baab, the early ones are mainly JK. I only have the first two Conan ones. I either never got the rest or gave them away for some reason. As for The Titans weekly, I DID enter that art competition and was specially commended for it - never received my Treasury Edition prize 'though.

Colin Jones said...

I'd forgotten about the Conan pocket book - I had the first two or three of those. Kid, how many issues did the FF pocket book run for ? I think the last one I read was in about August 1981.

Kid said...

It was 28 issues, CJ.

Chris Tolworthy said...

Marvel really missed a trick there. These have to be the best value comics ever: those 100 page issues especially! At the time they didn;'t grab me at first, until one day I realised "these are the earliest issues: these are the collectors' item essentials!" Then I bought every one I could. Marvel never mentioned that these are the most important comics of all, just the very, very best and no others, at the lowest price. They should have proclaimed the fact: but they didn't, and nobody realised how good these gems were.

In my opinion this is the greatest comic format ever, because price and classic-ness matters to me. And the very best of them all were the "classics comics". Just superb. (Except that the final issues of the Classics digest printed the wrong pages but we won't talk about that)

Kid said...

If only the reproduction quality had been consistent, Chris, I'd agree with you 100%. However, looking at the interiors now, they're a bit hit-and-miss. Certainly the potential to be great was there, but as you say, Marvel never fully exploited it. Another thing that annoyed me about them was that, in the 2nd Hulk and Thor stories, the recap pages of their origins were omitted, with no attempt to disguise the fact. With a little bit of work on the page that followed in each instance, that could have been rendered less obvious.

Chris Tolworthy said...

I agree with you on missing pages. I'm less concerned over the reproduction quality, though I suppose it depends on just how bad they are. I know that some of the Classics Comics had tiny, tiny writing that was hard to follow even as a child, but part of the joy of comics for me is the efficiency: I love the idea of compressing so much goodness into so little space, for just a few pennies. But missing entire pages is an absolute non-no for a collector. I'm pretty sure the Hulk pocketbook missed the issue with the Russian spy in the robot (Mongu??). Or maybe I'm confusing it with the earlier MWOM reprints?

Where I think the series really came into its own was the FF title. The later Kirby stuff, after the industry moved to smaller board sizes (in 1967?) had less detail and stronger lines so the reprint size was perfect, to me. I will never forget those giant sized issues, 9 and 20 I think, each with 100 pages, 5 complete Kirby stories. Such bliss! I'm afraid they set my standard for comics so high that I see modern comics as appalling wastes. Like the recent 100 page Fantastic Four issue 600 for example. How can that bloated non-event compare to 5 complete Kirby stories in one go?

I miss the FF pocketbook.

Kid said...

It was in the MWOM reprint of that Hulk tale, Chris, where the scene with the soldier was edited out (for space reasons). They did that sort of thing quite regularly. Spidey's origin had a page edited out in MWOM #1. (Some months later, when someone asked if a page had been omitted, they said no. Must've forgot, I guess.)

The Pocket Books perhaps weren't as good as they could (or should) have been, but they were certainly excellent value for money.

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