|Images copyright MARVEL COMICS|
CAPUTO has kindly agreed to write a guest post for this blog. I
thought that all my weary readers would welcome a respite from my
usual incomprehensible nonsense and appreciate some quality con-
tent instead. So let's not waste a second - over to you, Nick!
blog, I considered what would make a worthwhile topic. Kid often
muses over his comic collecting childhood, taking us on a tour of not
only the comics, but of a time and place in his life. I thought I would
continue a little in that direction, jogging my memory banks to
recall my first encounters with Marvel's British reprint line.
Bulletins about Marvel's British division, the first time I really took
notice was in the pages of Marvel's house fanzine, FOOM #11, September
1975. The Mighty World of Marvel, The Avengers The Savage
Sword of Conan (now there was an odd combination) and The Super-
Heroes. The new covers attracted my attention, being nicely designed
with art by Dave Hunt and Keith Pollard. A reply to a fan letter ex-
plained that these mags were reprints produced for Britain. A later
issue showed how what was originally a Killraven story in the
States was altered to become a Planet of the Apes tale.
Since the comics were produced weekly, as opposed to monthly
or bi-monthly as in the States, material was used up at a much faster
rate, leading to desperate measures at times. In that same period (mid
'70s) I bought my first Marvel U.K. mag from a dealer at a comic con.
It may have been The Super-Heroes #1 along with #31, featuring
a cover of the X-Men welcoming The Cat and Ant-Man to their
pages, with art by Keith Pollard. This was the same cover I'd
originally seen in that issue of FOOM.
I was fascinated by these reprint titles and sought them out from
time to time, although there were not that many to be found at local
conventions in New York. Also around that period I received an over-
seas letter from a teenager who lived in England. He'd seen my letter in
Marvel Team-Up #39 (my first published letter, which was a thrill
in itself) and was looking for pen pals. He wrote a little bit about
himself and his interest in comics, asking if I'd be interested in
trading any U.S. comics for some from the U.K.
I should explain to younger readers that corresponding by mail
was often an inexpensive way to keep in touch with other fans. Today
we're blessed with instant communication by the click of a mouse, but it
wasn't always so. 'Phone calls were expensive and the World Wide Web
wouldn't become a reality for another decade or two. I recall I was sent
some Captain Britain comics (which featured new material!) along
with some non-Marvels like 2000 A.D., which he quite fancied. We
corresponded for some time and I still have those letters buried
away somewhere. I wonder if he remained a comics fan.
I can't quite recall when I learned of an even earlier line of British
titles that reprinted Marvel's superhero characters in the 1960s. There
wasn't a lot of information in '70s and '80s fanzines about them, and it
wasn't until the advent of the internet that I was able to get a detailed
history of both Odhams Press and Marvel's U.K. division.
from Marvel's original publications, Marvel's '72 U.K. line alternated
original covers with new material, drawn by an array of talented artists
who were instantly recognizable since they were also prolific in the States.
One such artist was none other than Jim Starlin, who pencilled many
fine covers early in his career for The Mighty World of Marvel
and Spider-Man Comics Weekly, often inked by old pros like
Joe Sinnott, Frank Giacoia and Mike Esposito.
Starlin's talent was noticeable early on, and although he's never
discussed these U.K. covers, I was thrilled and surprised to discover
them, along with others by pros such as Rich Buckler, Ron Wilson,
Herb Trimpe, Larry Lieber, Pablo Marcos, Keith Pollard, and
also occasional work by veterans like John Buscema, Gil Kane,
Sal Buscema and Dick Ayers. Inkers included Joe Sinnott,
Frank Giacoia, Mike Esposito and John Tartaglione.
young Barry Smith drew pin-ups for early Odhams' Marvel reprint
titles before he came over to the States and began working on X-Men,
Daredevil and a certain sword-wielder named Conan. I've also been
lucky enough to have corresponded with Tony Isabella in the past few
years and was able to learn a little more about his involvement. Aside
from writing a ton of comics for Marvel in the 1970s, Tony was
also in charge of putting the British weeklies together.
My interest in Marvel's British line of comics has led me down
other, equally fascinating roads. I've read about Alan Class, who
reprinted many pre-hero Marvels, as well as stories from companies
like ACG and Charlton; seen foreign reprints from Spain, Germany,
Australia and France (which produced many beautiful covers based on
the originals) and I've even had some articles translated in Marvel
Italia, so I guess I've come full circle, actually being published
in a foreign Marvel reprint comic!
skills at distinguishing artists' styles, crediting many of Marvel's U.K.
cover artists. Over 35 years have elapsed since I learned of Marvel's
British division. I'm older, hopefully wiser, but haven't lost my en-
thusiasm for the comics medium, which is yet full of surprises.
I'd like to give Nick a huge vote of thanks for taking the time to
grace my humble blog with his fascinating reminiscences. You'll find
Nick's own excellent blog here. And below is the letters page from
MTU #39, featuring Nick's first ever Mighty Marvel epistle.