Category Archives: Comics

Origins of Marvel Comics (1974) and the birth of the trade paperback

Origins of Marvel Comics 1974

And Marvel said, Let there be The Fantastic Four.
And there was The Fantastic Four.
And Marvel saw The Fantastic Four. And it was good.
Stan Lee, from his introduction

Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee

Browse through any comic shop (if you can find one) and you’ll doubtless notice the proliferation of reprint collections, also commonly known as trade paperbacks. With editions numbering well into the thousands trade paperbacks, or trades, have become an important part of the comic book industry offering readers the chance to read and collect their favourite comic book stories reprinted in tidy, book-shelf friendly volumes. They are so popular that many high street bookshops now stock them – although they tend to be erroneously labelled as graphic novels – helping to introduce the medium to readers who wouldn’t normally frequent comic book shops. Continue reading Origins of Marvel Comics (1974) and the birth of the trade paperback

The Mighty World of Marvel

the-mighty-world-of-marvel-issue-1
The history of Marvel UK in the 1970s

The Mighty World of Marvel

Probably responsible for introducing more British readers to Marvel Comics than any other publication, The Mighty World of Marvel was launched on Saturday 30th September 1972 with a cover date of 7th October (it was common practice for comics to be dated a week after their release to ensure they stayed on the newsagent shelf longer). It was published in one form or another for the next 10 years and despite starting life as one of the best selling and most influential comics in the country its end was sad and ignoble.

Continue reading The Mighty World of Marvel

Marvel Treasury Editions

Marvel Treasury Edition 1

I have nothing but fond memories of Marvel Comics’ Treasury Editions, the over-sized reprint books the company published between 1974 and 1981. I would receive at least one every Christmas, probably because they were always on sale around that time and were readily available from most large newsagents. There was just something very satisfying about the larger size of the Treasury’s – they just had more impact and, well, were more special. Continue reading Marvel Treasury Editions

Alan Class Comics

Astounding Stories issue 67

The history of Marvel UK in the 1970s

Foreword: Alan Class Comics

In the early ’60s, while American comic book readers enjoyed a revolution in the industry, thanks mainly to Marvel Comics’ new roster of relatable and fallible characters, UK readers had a more difficult time enjoying this renaissance. For a while the only way readers in this country could read a US comic was by hunting for second-hand copies in flea markets. But if you were lucky enough to be on holiday at one of Britain’s many seaside resorts then you had the opportunity of reading Marvel’s stories courtesy of Alan Class ComicsContinue reading Alan Class Comics

Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye

In early 1938 Action Comics no. 1 was published and a new genre of entertainment was born – the comic book had arrived. Although comics, in one shape or another, had been around for over three years it took this comic to cement the industry and create the first superhero and an American icon: Superman. Written and drawn by two Cleveland youngsters, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the comic was published by National Allied Publications (later DC Comics). Action Comics was an instant success: the first issue sold 130,000 copies and within three years Superman comics would be selling over 1.5 million copies a month.  Continue reading Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye

Power Comics

Power Comics logo

The history of Marvel UK in the 1970s

Foreword: Power Comics

In 1972 Marvel Comics created a UK division to oversee the publication of reprints of its highly successful American titles. As there was no reliable distribution network in place in the UK copies of original Marvel comics were notoriously difficult to find, so the company believed that setting their own UK based subsidiary to oversee distribution was the best way to go.  Continue reading Power Comics

Rampage Monthly (Marvel UK)

 Rampage Monthly issue 2

The history of Marvel UK in the 1970s

Rampage

In the early ’70s Marvel launched a series of black and white weekly comics that featured reprints of comics previously published in the States. Most of those reprints featured Marvels biggest selling characters – Spider-ManThe Fantastic FourThe AvengersIron ManThor, etc. – and were printed on cheap newspaper stock and sold for pennies. Many of those weekly reprint editions would feature one of the original US comics printed in its entirety with two or more support strips 6-8 pages in length. They were hugely successful and I’ve no doubt they helped create an entire generation of British comic book fans. Continue reading Rampage Monthly (Marvel UK)

Dredd (2012)

dredd-2012-poster

“It’s all a deep end”

My introduction to the 22nd century Mega-City One lawman came via a copy of the 2000AD Annual from 1978, a Christmas gift from a relative. Although the two Judge Dredd stories were interesting they didn’t have that much of an impact on me. Rather it was the Dan Dare and MACH 1 stories that caught my eye. Saying that though, the graphic scene from the Dredd story ‘Whitey’s Brother’ where the villain gets disintegrated did creep me out. Continue reading Dredd (2012)

Kirby, King of Comics (2008)

Kirby, King of Comics

Jack Kirby. King Kirby. King.

It’s a testament to Jack Kirby‘s lasting legacy to the comic book industry that just the epitaph ‘King’ is enough to identify him and the kind of comic with which he is synonymous. Kirby’s influence on the medium cannot be understated – he was present at the birth of the comic book industry in 1938 (the Golden Age) and he was one of the prime architects at it’s rebirth in the early sixties (the Silver Age). In a career spanning over 40 years he almost single-handedly created the visual lexicon of the comics medium, imbuing it with a dynamism, excitement and energy not seen before and he was instrumental in transforming the funny books from throw away pulp reprints to an art form in it’s own right. There isn’t an artist or writer working in the field today who doesn’t owe him a debt of gratitude, whether they know so or not. Continue reading Kirby, King of Comics (2008)