Tuesday, 13 October 2015


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I originally posted this back in 2012, but not everyone trawls
through previous posts to see what they missed.  So, seeing as it's
relevant (and with a little updating), here it is again, frantic ones.


Tomorrow, October 14th, it'll be exactly 43 years ago that the
above ish went on sale in Britain.  Featuring a fantastic JIM STARLIN
(I think) and JOE SINNOTT cover, this weekly was the third issue of
The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL which had been launched only
a fortnight earlier.  Let's look at the contents, which reprinted classic
tales from Marvel's history - at that time merely eleven years old.

First up (above) is The INCREDIBLE HULK, with some great
KIRBY and DITKO art, and ol' Greenskin looking as much like BORIS
KARLOFF's FRANKENSTEIN monster as was possible without being
sued by UNIVERSAL.  (Trust me - it's far more apparent in later panels.)
I recall writing to editor PIPPA M. MELLING to tell her that the art had
been wrongly attributed to Jolly JACK KIRBY as it was patently the work
of Sturdy STEVE DITKO.  She replied, apologizing for the mistake, which
demonstrates that she knew as much about Marvel artists as I did (at that
time).  Nowadays, in my more enlightened state, it's obvious that Kirby
pencilled it and Ditko inked it, but back then, SD's style was so
prominent that it confused my still developing spider-sense.

And above is yet another Kirby-Ditko collaboration - the art to the
cover of the first issue of SPIDER-MAN - transformed into a pin-up for
all frantic followers to put on their bedroom walls.  I never did at the time;
it wasn't until years later when I had extra issues to spare that I mutilated
these collectable items by depriving them of their interior mini-posters.  I
know - it's akin to pulling the legs off spiders or the wings off flies (not
something I ever did, I hasten to add).  I hang my head in shame at my
unthinking vandalism.  (Saved a fortune on wallpaper 'though.)

Here's something you thought you'd never see - the THING - with
ears.  Except it isn't really Benjy of course, but rather one of those nasty,
shape-changing alien SKRULLS impersonating him.  Some nicely drawn
waves from Kirby here, but I'm not convinced about the perspective or the
horizon.  Never mind, I'll learn to live with it.  I'd read this story a few years
before, in MARVEL COLLECTOR'S ITEM CLASSICS #1, but it was
good to see it again and refresh my memory.

The middle spread (below) utilized a Kirby Hulk drawing with
amended arms by another hand (so to speak).  Both appendages are
too long, even allowing for the margin between the pages, making
him look like a bit of a monkey-boy.  Who's gonna tell him?  

And here's ol' MOLEY (below), not quite as sweet and lovable as
his namesake in The WIND In The WILLOWS, but I'm sure his
mother thinks the world of him.  This page isn't a former cover, but an
'actual' pin-up from FF Annual #1.  I've often/sometimes/seldom (take
yer pick) wondered just how cheap these U.K. Marvel weeklies were to
produce (given that they were mainly reprint), compared to the other
British comics (consisting of mostly new material) available at the
time.  Anyone care to hazard a guess? 

And here's PETER PARKER again (below), demonstrating just how
negligent the U.S. government could be by allowing rubber-neckers to get
close to a fuel-laden rocket about to blast off.  No wonder folks in Marvel-
land were frequently having accidents that transformed them into power-
charged beings (or char-grilled pedestrians) - health and safety obviously
hadn't been invented yet.  (Nor common-sense, it seems.) 

We Brits had to put up with getting our stories in a combination
of black and white, spot-hues - and an occasional page in full-colour,
of which the one below is an example.  On reflection, I wouldn't have had
it any other way.  There was just something about these bombastic British
Marvel weeklies that was truly magical, but difficult to explain to those
brought up on a steady diet of four-colour monthlies.  (I'm talking about
Americans, Melvin.)  I wonder if these relics of yesteryear are as
sought-after by U.S. Marvel collectors as they are by U.K.
readers of a certain age,

 I noticed a Stateside dealer asking for nearly £450 for a copy of the
1974 Marvel Annual on eBay recently, so he clearly thinks it's highly
collectable.  I doubt he'll get his asking price, but if he does, I have a big
tower in Paris which I'll gladly sell to any interested Americans for
an absolute steal (and it definitely would be).   

Oh, but look below - a free gift as well as a comic!  Weren't
we spoiled?  Nowadays, buyers have to wade through newsagents'
shelves overflowing with bagged issues full of cheap plastic tat in an
effort to find our favourite periodical.  (Those of us who still have one
in this increasingly cynical and commercial age.)  Back then, however,
comics normally only carried gifts for the first three issues - and usually
ones which slipped discreetly within the pages.  (With an occasional
exception, obviously.)  Surely I can't be the only person who
wishes things were still like that? 

Well, that's yer lot for now - hope you've enjoyed this look back to
43 years ago.  Be sure to tune in again soon for something that will
hopefully tickle your thistle and put a smile on your sporran.


BONUS:  Below, the original cover art, courtesy of SHINER.


Colin Jones said...

Sadly I missed the first two years of Marvel UK - I like those stickers though. And I'm glad you agree, Kid, that Marvel's history was only 11 years old in 1972 - none of that nonsense please about Marvel beginning in 1939.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I never fail to be amazed at how long ago these comics came out, whilst it doesn’t feel like yesterday it certainly does not feel like 43 years ago. Even more amazing (to me at least) is these reprints were only 11 years old at the time, I wasn’t aware of that I thought they were older than that for some reason. MWOM (and Spider-Man Comics Weekly) were wonderful comics in the first 2 years (I know you think the first year or so was the best) in particular the “paper” cover era was excellent with lots of pages and long stories (and the odd additional exra items like posters, letters pages etc). The covers for the first few months were really good as well. I agree I also liked the spot colour pages mixed in with the black and white pages, it was a pity when they went overboard with the letratone (the grey shading). I was a bit disappointed in the free gift in this issue at the time (although its fine, better than the free model planes they gave away a few years later) as I was wanting another free transfer like they had in issues 1 & 2.

I think that the Spider-Man story (part 2) here was the first Spidey story I ever read when it was reprinted in a POW annual ( I may be wrong the “Terrible Tinker” and the first “Chameleon” tale rings a bell also as my first). I still have the first 20 or 30 issues of MWOM in a binder in my loft (and a lot of odd issues) I will need to look these out and have a wee read of these again.

Right I better go as I am sitting at the bottom of Judith’s garden and need to be quiet!!!!

Kid said...

Well, in a sense, Marvel DID begin in 1939, CJ - because that's when the first Marvel comic came out. However, it's now generally agreed (retroactively) that the 'Marvel Age of Comics' began in 1961 with the first issue of FF.


The Spidey stories from ASM #1 WERE reprinted in the first Pow! Annual, McS, so you're memory's pretty good. I think the first year of MWOM was the best because it had the early stories with some pages in colour; the second year, the comic didn't have quite the same visual impact as year one. Year two was pretty good as well 'though (in the main).

There's a coincidence - I'm the next hedge along from the one you're in.

Christopher Nevell said...

An absolute classic cover.

Kid said...

Indeed, Chris. In fact, an absolute classic issue. The paper smells great, too.

Christopher Nevell said...

Kid, I would send you a photo of the original cover taken while hanging at the Cartoon Museum but I can't see a way of doing it. It's another item in my humble personal collection...

Kid said...

That sounds familiar, Chris, and I may have seen a copy of it somewhere, either a magazine or another site. However, if you want to send me your email address, which I won't publish, I'll send you mine and you can forward the photo that way.

Colin Jones said...

Just out of curiosity, Kid - are those stickers still...er, stuck...to the original backing sheet ? Or have they dried up and fallen off after 43 years ?

Kid said...

They're still on the original backing sheet, CJ, but if T peeled them off, I don't think they'd be sticky - they'd just come away.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

My stickers are also still stuck to the sheet - I peeled one back a few years ago and it was still ok and I re stuck it, they made stickers to last in my day you know !!!! :)

Kid said...

"But if I - not T - peeled them off" is what I meant to type. Every year for years after re-acquiring my MWOMs, I used to dig them out, one by one, every week on the date they'd originally went on sale and re-read them, just to recapture the feeling and atmosphere from 1972. Haven't done that for a 3 or 4 years, but may do it this year, McScotty. Why not give it a try yourself?

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