Tuesday, 3 November 2020

From Cents to Pence! – A story (now) told in 50 chapters (and no more than that, I promise)!

Okay, I think you’re long overdue an update on progress with the book (and how no one pulled me up on the typo in that title-heading, I don’t know – it should have read 46, of course). Now I was all set to write “post-lockdown”, but that’s now become now in-between lockdowns, alas. Thanks for all your comments, and apologies I've only just come back to the blog... but I have been rather productive, so I hope you'll forgive me.

Anyway, it’s all good news for once. As I promised in my last post (and was it really all the way back in January), I’ve worked through much of that material during the time I mentioned while I was furloughed, as well as exploring a few extra tangential research topics that I wasn’t expecting to touch, and completing a rather nifty lengthy archive audio transcription as well. As to what that might be from, well, I suggest you keep an eye on the post directly following this one – yes, two in one week to make up for the dearth of posts this year!

Right now, that leaves me with two main areas to complete, which I’m cracking on with at the moment. Both of which involve the last four or five chapters in the main. And that should be it! The upshot of my current writing on those latter chapters dealing with the Panini era – and that audio transcription creating the need to divide a chapter as well – is that there are now no less than 50 chapters. I’m going to ensure that they don’t get too big that they need subdividing, as 50 is a rather tidy number to work with… and it also fits so neatly with the subject matter at the start of the final chapter that you’d think it was always planned that way! 

Anyway, here’s a more exact chapter breakdown as the book should now appear (and should you so wish, you can play compare and contrast with that previous listing as it stood back in January)... well, should the fancy take you, anyway ;)

1: 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.

RIVALRY (1951-1971)
2-4: Marvel in British comics from 1951 up to 1970; Developments at Marvel in America that lead up to the start of the British project.

Power Comics house advert from Terrific before the retrenchment began

SYNERGIES (1972-1978)
5-20: The secret origin of British Marvel; The confluence of initially unrelated business decisions 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.

REVOLUTION (1978-1980)
21-27: The Marvel Revolution! – the inside line on the whys and wherefores of the re-shaping of the UK line in 1979 and the comics they produced.

INDEPENDENCE (1980-1988)
28-36: 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.

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!

DUALITY (1988-1994)
37-44: From Marvel UK’s first toe-tip into publishing comics also sold in America, right 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.

TURBULENCE (1992-1999)
45-47: 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.

CONTINUITY (1999 to present) 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; Bringing the story up to date.

While you’re digesting all that, I’ll start preparing the next post!


  1. Looking forward to it, Rob. Have you an idea (however vague) of when it might be published and what the price will be?

  2. If, and that's a tentative if, I really can get finished post-Christmas, then I think we'd be talking at least a year for the production side (this not being the day job), as it's become a monster. The price will depend on initial demand and the best print deal we can get on the back of that, but it's going to clock in around the 400 page mark, I'd say, in a deluxe large format, so your guess is as good as mine for a prime slab of 70 years of Marvel history :-)

  3. Really looking forward to this!

  4. Thanks - keep watching for further updates :-)

  5. Hey, you're back!!!

    Really, really looking forward to the book... by the way, and I know it might be a bit unrealistic but some of the lines in this post made me think that you're actually trying to do it, are you going to include in the volume all the children-nursery-toy comic books published by Marvel UK? I mean, are you really expanding on this section as compared to what you intended to do last year? (You know, the stuff we talked about regarding titles such as Scooby Doo, Rupert or Thomas the Tank Engine.)

    Anyway, keep up the good work :)

  6. Indeed, I was never really away :-) I certainly intend to lean on what we've been working on, Davide! The 'nursery' titles were always mentioned in passing in earlier drafts, but they're now much more prominent. It's how to make use of the data as not all of it is complete yet. I need to get to a point where I can temporarily put aside what I'm presently working on (Doctor Who-related) and devote some quality time to it. I will get there, I promise!

  7. Hi Rob, apologies for my own long absence, dipping my toes in the water again slowly! I have sent you an email...

  8. Hi John,
    Apologies - I have seen your e-,mail and have got behind over the past week, as I'm locked out of my main computer, so am stuck until going back to work next week. This older PC has more limited functionality, alas.