Wednesday, 11 February 2015


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Up next, another ten covers of The TITANS comic from
back in the '70s.  One of the things about British MARVEL weeklies
was that they sometimes seemed a bit makeshift, and The Titans was no
exception.  Perhaps it was due to the American production staff being more
accustomed to turning out mags for a monthly instead of a weekly schedule,
but whatever the reason, I found myself somewhat irked by the less than per-
fect results.  Whether it was art varying in size from page to page, or having
no margins because they'd been trimmed too close to the panels, it robbed
the comic of a truly 'professional' look.  Also, the reproduction varied in
quality, and some pages had Letra-tone (which was sometimes too
dark in such a reduced size) and some didn't.  Had a bit more care
and attention being lavished on the title, it may well have
lasted for far longer than a mere 58 issues.

Take a look at the FANTASTIC FOUR splash pages from
#s 29 & 30 - they're not the originals, but have been redrawn to fit
the 'landscape' format in a style pretty close to that of  JACK KIRBY's.
This was a neat way of filling up one full U.K. page with the equivalent of
one U.S. page and thereby using less material per issue.  Some of these re-
drawn splashes were better than others, but you'll be able to judge for your-
self as this six-part series unfolds.  The FF covers (and one or two others
by the look of it) have also been redrawn - probably by LARRY LIEBER
(#s 27 & 29) - and they're fairly good imitations.  So there you have it for
the moment, but be sure to return for the next set of covers - coming
soon!  In the meantime, as always, if you'd like to reminisce about
any cover in particular (or just the comic in general), then feel
free to do so in our ever-lovin' comments section.

Back page cover ad to #22


Gey Blabby said...

Firefox froze on me and I lost my original comments regarding The Titans, Kid - probably not a bad thing, as I was off on a rant about how bad it is, and getting worse if this last post is an indication.
Certainly the original MWOM British reprints could be dodgy at times, but rarely as bad as this. Leaving aside the horizontal format, the design, typography and artwork aren't of the required standard, even if noted American artists were involved; as you mentioned, they didn't look very professional. I suspect that Mr Kirby and Mr Sinnott would be less than pleased to see their names on those pages.

cerebus660 said...

Those re-drawn FF splash pages are pretty good, aren't they? Although, check out Sue's dialogue in the last one - surely that should be Ben saying that??? Unless Sue is trying to talk tough to impress Reed :-)
Interesting to see UK editor Neil ( Pet Shop Boys ) Tennant credited in the indicia. Tennant once said his main memory of Marvel UK was having to draw bras on barbarian girls in the Conan reprints...

Kid said...

Whoever did these two splash pages, GB, managed to emulate Joe Sinnott's inking style quite well, I thought. I wonder if it could have been the man himself? The Titans, especially, needed just a little more polish.


I believe the lettering was lifted directly from stats of the original pages, Cer, so that explains the mix-up - someone forgot to adjust the balloon tail. Given his 'persuasion', women's bras and Neil Tennant are not things one usually thinks of in the same sentence, are they? (Little joke there.)

John Pitt said...

I tell you what, old Larry was a bit of an unsung good all-rounder, often uncreditted and all too often overlooked for the work he did for comics.

Kid said...

That's certainly true, JP, whether he did these particular pages or not. Of course, he got a sweet gig drawing the Spider-Man daily comic strip for years. Might even still be doing it for all I know.

Colin Jones said...

Neil Tennant is rather snobbish about his time at Marvel UK and talks about it as if the whole thing was beneath him, I feel. I'm afraid I don't remember any of the shortcomings of The Titans - it always looked fine to me but I was 10 years old at the time. What exactly is Letra-tone ? Was that the shading they had on many of the strips because I always really liked the shading and thought it made the strips look better. The issue I remember here is No.27 - the first one featuring the FF. I was in a newsagent with only enough money for one comic so I was dithering over whether to buy The Titans #27 or Super Spider-Man & The Super-Heroes. I remember looking at the lovely Kirby/Sinnott artwork (which was shaded) and thinking how amazing it was - but I ended up buying Spidey lol.

Kid said...

Yup, the grey bits were Letra-tone - or Zipatone as it was known in the States. It looks okay on the inside covers here because it was on shiny paper, but on the normal 'blotting' paper, it could often come out as murky grey or even black. Early issues of The Avengers (U.K.) were ruined by the obliteration of detail in the strips. Eventually, Marvel managed to use it in a more subtle and flattering way. Took them a long time to get there 'though.

Dunsade Dave said...

I was looking through some old British Planet of the Apes comics recently and found a 1976 picture of Neil Tennant in one of them- I wouldn't have recognised him if it wasn't for the caption!

Totally agree about the zipatone reproduction- Tom Palmer tended to use it quite often, I think, and it makes the reprints of the Tomb of Dracula stories really murky in the POTA issues I have.

While the Titans was a bit before my time, I do have a Titans annual at home that I bought at a summer jumble sale at my primary school round about 1986, although the annual is printed in the traditional format, rather than the landscape style.

Kid said...

It was really the cheap printing that turned the Zipa-Letra-tone into a murky mess, DD, but Marvel still took too long in fixing the problem. The same team (as far as I'm aware) were responsibly for the grey tones in the U.K. & U.S. B&W mags, and the American ones were okay, presumably because they had superior printing.

I think there were two Titans Annuals - I've got both of them somewhere.

John Pitt said...

Begging bowl, Kid?

Kid said...

When I find 'em, JP. Don't even know which box they're in.

Mr Mondo said...

I've got both those colouring books in the loft

Kid said...

What kind of condition and would you consider selling them?

Dougie said...

Wow. There are five covers I have never seen before. I wonder what was going on? Virtually a month where our village newsagent didn't carry the Titans? I only got issue 26.

Kid said...

Could you have just forgotten them, Dougie? Surely you'd have noticed not getting them at the time? See if there are any more covers you don't recognise in the next batch.

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