|One of several slightly-bigger-than-US sized comics from the mid-1980s - Droids and Alf were others.|
Not be confused with any other Dennis, of course!
Wednesday, 10 March 2021
From Cents to Pence! - Celebrating 70 years of Marvel in the UK: 2021 update 1
As promised, here’s the latest in a more regular (I hope) series of updates in the months to come on the progress of From Cents to Pence!
The pandemic has been a difficult time and induced a strange mixture of emotions for everyone. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been in a position to make good use of both the first, and now latest, lockdowns to massively push forward work on the book, such as filling in the remaining Thundercats information from the few issues I never bought (it’s a long story, and a rare and stupid mistake, as I’ve never been able to purchase more than a handful of them since for my own collection), and also inserting a huge amount of information into the history and indices covering almost every issue from the various series connected to The Real Ghostbusters, along with full details of the long-lived main title. These were all major omissions from the book, of course, so a huge thanks to all those who provided scans or the relevant hard-copy details.
During these unexpected periods of research, on both occasions I’ve also found myself taking unexpected, but useful detours in to areas I hadn’t expected to look at until any future up-dated edition - this time around due to managing to lock myself out of my laptop due to a saving glitch.
The other useful outcome of this unexpected break from hardcore typesetting and formatting has also inspired a slight change to the shape of the chapter structure, in as much as I’ve reduced the number of grouped headings, inspired by the solution to a clue in The Puzzler no less (a title that I originally started purchasing regularly not long after discovering Marvel’s own range of British published delights, only abandoning sometime in the mid 1980s until now, except for the occasional Christmas and anniversary edition).
This simple change to the chapter groupings, which also obliterates those untidy date overlaps, seems so blindingly obvious that I’ve no idea why it has never occurred to me before now! It also provides something that has been lacking before now - a straightforward terminology for viewing the overall shape of Marvel’s relationship with Britain since 1951, in the same way that such terminology has long been applied to American comics as a whole, from the ‘Golden Age’ to the ‘Modern Age’ and beyond. In Britain, the defining eras are much sharper to zoom in on, but see what you think with the revised groupings below...
THE LICENSED AGE (1951-1971)
Chapters 1-4: A brief history of Marvel in America, with a view to highlighting how the early years of Stan Lee’s career pointed the way towards the formation of a British magazine division; Marvel in British comics from 1951 up to 1970; Developments at Marvel in America that led up to the start of the British project.
THE MARVEL AGE (1972-1978)
Chapters 5-20: The secret origin of British Marvel; The confluence of initially unrelated business decisions in America that led to the formation of the UK wing, and how Stan Lee, Albert Landau and (yes) Chip Goodman became involved; a tale of two cities – how it was all run under the watchful gaze of Sol Brodsky and Ray Wergan; the backstory behind all the comics they produced from 1972-8.
THE MARVEL UK AGE (1978-1999)
Chapters 21-36: The Marvel Revolution! – the inside line on the whys and wherefores of the re-shaping of the UK line in 1979 and the comics now produced directly by the London office; Title-by-title, through Paul Neary's post-'Revolution' publishing explosion and the start of the ‘Marvel UK’-branding; The third coming of Captain Britain; Their huge success in licensed (toy) comics.
Chapters 37-47: Moving on through Marvel UK’s first toe-tip into publishing comics also sold in America, through to the last knockings of the Overkill-era of UK created American colour comics (which also includes an in-depth title-by-title look at many of the titles that didn’t quite happen during that period), and all the UK comics released during that period; How Marvel UK was merged with Panini’s UK operation under Marvel America’s control, as the company on both sides of the Atlantic re-orientated after the direct market crash; The birth of the Collector’s Editions.
THE PANINI AGE (1999-2021+)
Chapters 48-50: The sale of Marvel UK to Panini in the wake of Marvel America’s Chapter 11 deal; The expansion of the Collector’s Editions; New formats, experiments and surviving perhaps the most difficult period of history that publishers have had to face in centuries.
And that’s it... at least for now!
P.S. Apologies for the repeated illustrative material from the last post on this topic, which is entirely due to having to fall back on a more basic computer in the interim.