Monday, August 07, 2006

Fantastic & Terrific Part II

There's a lot to cover before we get started on the Newtons today, so let's get straight into it.

Loads of comments and emails about the Terrific & Fantastic post. Alan made comment upon the art and the different titles released in the UK. For those who are just too lazy to have a look, here's what he says, "Mighty World of Marvel never had locally made strips in its first run. All material additional to the reprinted US stuff was produced in America at the Marvel offices. The UK address was merely a drop-off point for fan-mail and for co-ordinating the printing (which was done locally).

"UK-generated material started when Dez Skinn was appointed editor around 1977-78 and he relaunched several titles. This included Hulk Comic which was largely all UK material, drawn by the likes of Dave Gibbons and 16-year old Steve Dillon (on Nick Fury).

"BTW, only two Marvel UK titles went landscape: Titans and Super Spider-Man. Barry Smith did apparently work on the some of those Fantastic/Terrific reprints prior to his departure for the US with fellow artist Steve Parkhouse. Comparing his X-Men #53 debut with some of the images you post here, I'd guess its possible some of them are by him.

"As an aside, the numbering of the first run of Mighty World of Marvel was continued as Marvel Super-Heroes Monthly -- which is where the Alan Davis Captain Britain first appeared."

The general consensus is that the bulk of those old images were done by Barry Winsor-Smith (apt, considering that we'll be looking at his Conan work in a second) in his pre-Marvel days. Certainly the art is primitive enough, and Alan is right, compared to his first Marvel work, X-Men #53, a book so bad that Mike Esposito wanted his name taken off the credits and had to settle for yet another pen-name, Mickey D, those images stack up. And don't think for a second that I'm putting BWS down. Here's Mike's comments, "There was one other name I used: Michael D. The only reason it was Mickey Dee was because I told Stan I didn’t want to sign it. It was the first job ever done by Barry Smith. It was the X-Men number 53. Stan came to me and asked, “How come you signed it Michael D?” I said, “I couldn’t understand the guys work”. So he said, “Ok, call it Michael D instead of Mickey Demeo”. So that’s that."

I also knew that Mighty World Of Marvel became Marvel Super-Heroes Monthly, as well as the Daredevils connection. It's painful trying to unravel those UK Marvels, thankfully we have the Gifford book. However I have to say that I still believe that there was local content in those early books. The Dan Starr and Johnny Future material certainly doesn't originate from any USA Marvel book, and as far as I'm aware they are UK produced strips. They're just not Marvel characters. I could be splitting hairs though.

David J says, " Yep, that Mr Fantastic is a definite Kirby, from FF 35? Interesting to see these pin-ups again after so many years. To my eye, Cyclops, Kraven and Giant Man all have touches of Barry Smith. In fact, I'll stick my neck out and say Cyclops is definitely Smith. I also think the Mandarin pin-up is of British origin. By the way, there was/is a third volume of Mighty World Of Marvel, published by Panini, it reprints current material alongside older material. Apparently Panini were toying with the idea of producing new UK originated material for their comics - whether they did or not though, I have no idea. I think the third volume of MWOM might still be running."

Mike Lake followed it all up with this, "The first of those pin-ups is of course a reprint of a Kirby page from a US comic. All the others are indeed Barry Windsor-Smith originals! He was very young then! Incidentally Barry also contributed two illustrations to a football story in a UK comic Annual. Full pen and ink. Really very nice too. It was a few years after those Fantatic/Terrific pin-ups, done as a favour to his friend the editor of the Annual, I think."

Opening his usual can of worms (in a good way) is my pal Henry Kujawa. Henry has a lot to say about this stuff, here's the pick of it. "It looks to me like MOST of those are by Barry Smith-- and judging by the dates, this suggests that he was working for Marvel UK before he ever came to the US. This makes him a real trail-blazer, as the same thing happened with a LOT of UK artists (and writers) in the '80s. The Reed Richards piece is definitely from an FF ANNUAL (#5?) and, of course, by Kirby & Sinnott (or is it Giacoia-- HE did ink ANNUAL #5). 'El Tigre' I don't recognize... it's stiff in the Kirby-imitator way--but I dunno.

"I THOUGHT The Mandarin looked familiar. I think it's by Smith,too, but it's not an original-- it's a SWIPE of a figure from the splash page of TALES OF SUSPENSE #62 by DON HECK (and Dick Ayers)--one of my favorite Iron Man stories of all time-- "The Origin Of The Mandarin!"

So there, that either muddies the water or clears a lot up. This stuff does give me a sense of wanting to try and track down more information, along with the titles in question, but I have to ask myself, do I want to try and track down another 600 comic books? Still, I'll scan some old UK POW comics that I have here and post them up in good time.

Now onto the Newtons!

1 comment:

Allan said...

Yep -- there's definitely UK-originated material in those Power Comics (Fantastic/Terrific, etc). As you say, Johnny Future is one such strip. However, Power Comics shouldn't be confused with Marvel UK. Odhams, publishers of the Power Comics were merely a licensee. As were Fleetway.

Starting in 1972, the Marvel UK-produced Mighty World of Marvel Weekly had no UK-originated material. All editorial content was prepared in the US, until 1978 or so when Stan Lee chose Dez Skinn to spearhead the so-called "Marvel Revolution". At that point home-grown art and stories came into fashion.