Sunday, 27 January 2013

Marvel Comics Side On.

Hi and good morning.

For those not in the UK we were treated pretty strangely by the big two comics companies through the late 1960s through to well now (I suppose).

In times gone by comics were sold in what are called ‘newsagents’ in the UK.  Similar to very large news stands that also sold sweets (candy) and other useful items.

The comics from the USA still appeared but were irregular and shipped a lot later.  We were forced to wait around three months for a comic to arrive (if it did at all) and they only got a few copies of each issue (at most). You have to remember that 'Trades' were a sci-fi dream to us kids back then and once the issue had passed we had to trek into central London to a Comics Mart ages later to find it in a back issue box.

So what we fell back on were the (initially) black and white reprints of characters that Marvel and later Marvel UK thought that the UK readers would like. Some characters were more successful in the UK than in the USA. Planet of the Apes ran longer than in the US (a story for another time) and I seem to remember that The Invaders were popular (but that might just have been because they had a UK setting).

These comics were weekly so spread out the contents of one American issue over a few issues.  They also often had redrawn splash pages and intro pages to make the comic flow better (later they didn’t really care).

Comics were during the 1960s through to the 1990s generally magazine sized (it’s what we were used to I guess). But for a brief period in the 1970s they tried a different format.

Some bright spark realised that you could fit two USA pages on one UK page by turning it on it’s side.  Now we would call it widescreen format or something like that.

Here are a few examples.

Some pages were redrawn to fit a splash page and some seem to have been merely stretched out.

All in black and white and up to six different continuing stories in each issue.

For example Spider-Man and the Titans issue 219 (the joining of two comics into one when sales were down was a common technique in the UK in all weekly comic books) contained stories about Spider-Man (by Len Wein and Ross Andru), The Avengers (by Steve Englehart and Don Heck), Thor (by Gerry Conway and John Buscema), Iron Man (by Allyn Brodsky and Don Heck), Captain America and The Falcon (by Stan Lee and Gene Colan) and The Invaders (by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins).

This really was the Golden age for Marvel in the UK for me. We had seen some of these stories in other issues but for 10 pence it was a whole hoard of classic and fun early and Bronze age Marvel comics.  How good does Barry Windsor Smith look in black and white!

All great stuff.


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