Wednesday, 10 March 2021

From Cents to Pence! - Celebrating 70 years of Marvel in the UK: 2021 update 1

As promised, heres 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. Ive 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 (its a long story, and a rare and stupid mistake, as Ive 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 Ive also found myself taking unexpected, but useful detours in to areas I hadnt 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 Ive 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 Marvels 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 Ive 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 Marvels 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.

Power Comics house advert from Terrific before the retrenchment began

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.

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!

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.


  1. Really looking forward to this !

    1. Thanks Gerry - keep watching for further posts...

  2. You realise your potential audience is dwindling with each passing year, Rob, as your book is mainly going to appeal to the '60s & '70s generation. We ain't getting any younger. Please - hurry it up while I'm still around.

  3. Would that I could have completed it sooner, but for various personal factors have slowed em down. In a way that's worked out for the best, as its only now that the remaining things I needed to see or access have come together, and the book would not have been what its now become in many respects. I think the generational spread is wider than that, though, as there's the audience from the 80s and 90s era to consider too.

  4. I'll just say: I'd so much like to see the book published.
    You're doing an amazing work, and I completely understand that this is an undertaking that requires a lot of time (I work in publishing...), but I wonder if we'll ever be able to buy it (and make you rich ;-) ). It's been nine years since you first announced that the book was over half complete...


    1. Hi Davide,

      Thanks for the kind words, and for the generous support you've shown for this crazy project. As a consumer of archive products myself (okay, that's probably an obvious no-brainer, I know) I realise the wait has become a bit painful now. You've inspired me to try and set out in a new post here why, actually, it's rather fortuitous that the book hasn't happened until now :-O

      Controversial ;)

      Well, I hope not, but it might help to explain how things have panned out... keep watching!