Saturday, 7 April 2018

When Two become Four...

Okay, well I promised you all that I'd try and keep you updated much more frequently with work on From Cents to Pence!, so here's the latest on work - very much - in progress. In fact, so much so, that I completely missed the opportunity to run a post on the 45th anniversary of the first edition of the long-running (in it's many guises) Spider-Man Comics Weekly back in late February 1973. Hopefully, the following flashback will make up for that a little!

Then called Spider-Man Comics Weekly, this was the first copy that I purchased after
seeing the classic 1960s animated cartoon show on TV that summer, the next 
copy I bought 
had changed to adopt the unique Landscape format first brought into being by The Titans

Back in June 2015 we ran a story that featured a rough breakdown of what you could expect to see in the book. That's slightly changed now, as you may have guessed from the headline to this post, cheekily riffing on a certain Spice Girls song (with apologies). From 2011 up to 2016, the bulk of my research and updating had centred on the period covering 1951 to 1979, with little done to later chapters over that span of five years. In picking up on where I'd got to after my illness last year, I restarted reading through the chapters from 1980 in order to make sure that the text read consistently, whilst also making final additions to the latter half of the book. A lot of this was fine, but it was clear to me that one of the chapters was now far too long and had got chronologically muddled thanks to later additions and amendments.

I was also somewhat embarrassed to discover that I'd actually omitted a significant portion of information on one topic, after I'd needed to go back to my original stack of resource pages to check on something related to that. This was one area of the book that had changed relatively little since I'd first begun writing a proper history back in the early years of this century, and so was still written in a much more basic way. Carefully placing this information into the narrative soon made it clear where I would now need to sub-divide both that chapter, and a later one, so as to create four instead (and giving rise to the title of this post, of course). This has greatly benefited the whole structure, which has since been grouped under various a series of headers representing (mainly) multiple chapter clusters.

In the midst of all this, I've also been chatting to one-time features writer Pete Scott and to Les Chester, a familiar face (as pictured here, from a clutch of rarely seen photos he's kindly provided) on the convention circuit during the 1970s and 1980s.

Les Chester - ready for action!

So, here's an updated breakdown of the chapter divisions as they presently stand.

1: A brief history of Marvel in America, and their key writer and editor - the man who would lead the push for Marvel to cross the Atlantic.

Rivalry (1951-1971)
2-5: A detailed examination of Marvel in British comics from 1951 through to 1970; plus the secret origin of British Marvel; The confluence of what, initially, would have seemed unrelated business decisions that led to the formation of the UK wing, and how Albert Landau and (yes) Chip Goodman all became involved with Stan Lee's vision.

Synergies (1972-1978)
6-17: A tale of two cities - how Marvel's new UK operation was organised under the watchful gaze of Sol Brodsky in New York and Ray Wergan in London; the backstories behind all the comics they produced from 1972-9.

Independence (1978-1994)
18-33: 'The Marvel Revolution'; The inside line on the whys and wherefores of how Dez Skinn came to re-shape the UK line in 1979 and the comics they produced; The post-'Revolution' period under Paul Neary, and an exhaustive journey through the Marvel UK years from Captain Britain's reappearance through to the final days of the Overkill-era of UK created American colour comics, plus the lowdown on some of the proposed titles from that period, and earlier, that didn't quite happen for one reason or another.

Turbulence (1992-1999)
34: The most turbulent period in US Marvel history and their amazing salvation from chapter 11 protection, which saw the UK division sold to the giant of collectable stickers Figurine Panini.

Continuity (1999 to present)
35-36: The reinvention of Marvel's place in the UK marketplace, and in complete contrast the calm consistency that has marked Panini's UK Marvel output throughout the present century.

Anyway, that's the new outline for the history part of the book, but there's still some more work to do yet on the final 19 chapters before giving them all a final proofing. Bear with me. It's all looking good.