Wednesday, 16 January 2019

In this month (40 years ago)... The Marvel Revolution marches on!

It seems impossible, but it was 40 years ago this week that the next, and first major, phase of the 'Marvel Revolution' hit Britain (as advertised in a four page section the week before - one page of which is shown here)... or at least it should have done, if not for the 'Winter of Discontent'.

This rapid escalation of industrial action made re-launching strikingly different versions of their two flagship weekly comics - The Mighty World of Marvel and Super Spider-Man (whose final issue is shown below) - absolutely the worst time to be doing a re-branding, but it was too late and plans were too far advanced to change anything by then.

Super Spider-Man #310 - the final glossy covered issue
For a period of several weeks deliveries to newsagents were severely disrupted, and where I lived the final editions of the old style weeklies eventually trickled out after the shockingly different new and slimmed own, paper-covered editions had already begun appearing.

Marvel Comic #330
This was far from a smooth transition, thanks to the haulier's strikes, with issues arriving at any day of the week, and in an entirely random sequence as distributors attempted to clear the backlog from their warehouses. Until the middle of February, the result was continued chaos.

The covers of the comics reflected this period of turmoil, as shown here. After the first 'new-look' issues of both the renamed Marvel Comic (#330, cover dated: 2nd January 1979) and Spider-Man Comic (#311), from their second editions various combinations of issue numbers and/or cover dates began disappearing from the front covers during this period. Fortunately, the London Bullpen realised that there was nothing to stop them adding an issue number above the copyright notice along with the new editorial credits, so there is no difficulty in identifying the correct sequence of these affect issues.
Spider-Man Comic #312 (undated)

In the end publication of both comics, and the similarly afflicted Star Wars Weekly was halted for several weeks, with a five-week date skip between Spider-Man Comic #312 (31st January 1979) and #313 (7th March 1979), for instance, and a four-week jump between Star Wars Weekly #54 (14th February 1979) and #55 (14th March 1979).

This break in publication was never referred to in print and in the confusion was never apparent at the time. It's only when you take a look back across all three weeklies from this period that this time jump is revealed.

Fortunately, the strikes ended, and with a considerable sum of money already invested in their first new title that March, this time the debut of Hulk Comic would suffer no such disruptions.


  1. Curiously, I don't remember such a disruption in Scotland. I wonder if we were unaffected? Any news on the book, Rob, and have you been able to learn anything about Pippa M. Melling?

  2. Hi-ya, and happy New Year to you!

    It's possible you escaped - I've had someone else previously come back with their recollection of the dice around newsagents every day to keep an eye out for deliveries, but doubtless it didn't affect everywhere across the country.

    I have something in the book now on Pippa from someone who worked their briefly. It's only a brief impression, but better than nothing having come to a dead stop with this kine of enquiry. Having successfully got a small item into the current tribute edition feature in SFX, I'm presently upgrading the Doctor Who Magazine parts of the book. More news soon I hope...

  3. Stan Lee tribute edition, natch ;)

    1. I'll look out for it - and Happy New Year to you to, Rob.

  4. Thanks - it'll still be on sale for another week. It has a Star Trek: Discovery cover :)