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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Marvel UK: Covers And More Covers!!

You just have to love this stuff. I was looking through a box of comics and discovering gems I wasn't aware I had (it appears I buy stuff in Melbourne, place it all in boxes and then forget about it all when I get home - can anyone say Daredevil #158 and X-Men #100?) and found a large volume of UK Marvels. The first ten comics you see here today were all part of a bound volume title The Marvel Collection. As my copy was falling apart I decided to tear the whole thing apart and scan the covers. Fret not, I only ruined an otherwise ruined book to begin with.
As usual, let's look at seeing if we can't identify some of the cover artists.

THE SUPER-HEROES #30

Cover dated September 27, 1975.

This looks exactly the same as the USA Silver Surfer #15 by John Buscema only recoloured.

Gifford tells us that this comic lasted from March 8, 1975 through to February 14, 1976 for a total of 50 issues. It then was re-titled Spider-Man.

THE AVENGERS STARRING SHANG-CHI, MASTER OF KUNG FU #42

Cover dated July 6, 1974.

Don't quote me on this but a lot of these covers appear to be either John Romita or Sal Buscema pencils at least. Best guess: Ron Wilson and Mike Esposito.

Gifford tells us that this comic began on the 22nd of September, 1973 and ended on the 14th of July, 1976 for a total run of 147 issues. It then was re-titled, simply, Marvel.

THE AVENGERS AND THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #110

Cover dated October 25, 1975.

Wilson/Esposito.

THE AVENGERS AND THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #112

Cover dated November 8, 1975.

If the poses weren't so stiff I'd say John Buscema. David Johnson says, "That's John Buscema on the Avengers, don't know where the Conan figure comes from, but obviously finished off in extreme haste by a drunken monkey - geez look at that sword arm!"

PLANET OF THE APES #53

Cover dated October 25, 1975.

Again, the faces say Romita/Sal Buscema. I do know that at this stage in time John Romita, Frank Giacoia, Mike Esposito, Jim Starlin, Ron Wilson, Herb Trimpe and others were doing covers for these magazines, so it's possible that more than one of them had their hands in these covers. So far the general thought is that it's a Wilson/Esposito job.

Gifford tells us that this comic went from October 26, 1974 through to 23rd of February 1976 for a total of 123 issues. It then merged with Dracula Lives and ultimately was absorbed under the Mighty World Of Marvel banner. This title was surrounded in a lot of controversy as the editors of Marvel UK had Kilraven stories re-drawn and re-scripted to appear to be new Planet Of The Apes material. No sign of that in this issue, but it is a big-bear with a lot of collectors as some great Trimpe art was mutilated along the way.

THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #91

Cover dated June 29, 1974.

This screams Sal Buscema to me, but I know it's probably not. The foreground figure looks wrong, the Hulk looks like a Ron Wilson, the Banner figure looks like Our Pal Sal and the girl looks Romita. Damn, I'm confused. Best guess; Ron Wilson/Mike Esposito.

THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #93

Cover dated July 13, 1974.

Romita? Let me throw a name into the ring as well - Billy Graham. Some of the faces on the men look very much like what Billy Graham was doing at the time. Nick Caputo says, "Romita may have worked on the Hulk's face, but the rest is either Leiber or Wilson, with Esposito inks."

DRACULA LIVES #52

Cover dated October 18, 1975.

Call me an idiot. I said Gene Colan, here's the guesses of others. David Johnson, "More than likely Pablo Marcos. He did a lot of work for Marvel UK around that time, most specifically for the more "realistic" titles, Dracula Lives, Conan, Planet Of The Apes. Dracula Lives 55 is Gil Kane/Tom Palmer." Meanwhile Nick Caputo agrees with #55, but on this cover says, "Likely a swipe by Ron Wilson/Esposito." Now you see where the confusion lies?

Gifford tells us that this title began on October 26, 1974 and ended on June 16, 1976 for a total of 87 issues. It merged with the Planet Of The Apes title, and well, you've already read what happened there.

DRACULA LIVES #55

Cover dated November 8, 1975.

Again I thought Gene Colan. I was wrong.

SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY #72

Cover dated June 29, 1974.
It's a John Romita swipe/lay-out, but it looks like Mooney inks. I do know that Jim Mooney did a version of this cover at one stage and the general lay-out and inking/finishing style screams Mooney to me.

This was probably the longest running of all the UK Marvels. It started on the 17th of February 1973 and as of the publication of the Gifford book it was still active. I'll have to track down the finishing date of this title. It underwent a series of name changes: Super Spider-Man, Spider-Man Comic, Super Spider-Man TV Comic, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends are but just four.

SUPER SPIDER-MAN TV COMIC #471

Cover dated March 17, 1982.

Cover artist: Jerry Paris.

I can't find much detail about Paris. If anyone has a contact or a biography then feel free to let me know.

SUPER SPIDER-MAN TV COMIC #478

Cover dated May 5, 1982.

Cover artist: Jerry Paris. With this cover especially Paris showed that he could more than hold his own with his USA counterparts. His Thor image is as good as anything being published at the time.

SPIDER-MAN #524

Cover dated March 23, 1983.

John Romita Jr?

SPIDER-MAN #525

Cover dated March 30, 1983.

On a limb, I was thinking that these painted covers are the work of noted 1980s video game box painter Bob Wakelin. I'm trying to track Wakelin down so I can ask him a few questions.

David Johnson has spotted a lot of the artists here, this one he says is Gary Leach.

SPIDER-MAN #526

Cover dated April 6, 1983.

Cover artist: Gary Leach.

SPIDER-MAN #544

Cover dated August 10, 1983.

I have to say I'm impressed with his use of white in the Mary-Jane figure.

Cover artist: Mick Austin.

SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS #570

Cover dated February 8, 1984.

A variety of Romita poses, but that doesn't mean that Romita drew it.

SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS #574

Cover dated March 7, 1984.

Cover artist: John Romita Jr.

SPIDER-MAN #588

Cover dated June 13, 1984.

Bob Wakelin?

SPIDER-MAN #591

Cover dated July 4, 1984.

This one, luckily, is signed by Bob Wakelin. The style of this cover, compared to the previous painted covers, makes me believe that they're all from the same brush.

SPIDER-MAN #592

Cover dated July 11, 1984.

Cover artists: Ed Hannigan & Klaus Janson.

SPIDER-MAN #604

Cover dated October 6, 1984.

Frank Miller and Klaus Janson, or just Janson?

Just to keep people up to speed, I've recently (this past weekend) interviewed Paul Neary and had the chance to ask some questions about his time with Marvel UK. Once I've established what I can and can't print I'll be putting some of that information up on this blog for all to read.

In the meantime if anyone has any ideas, comments, suggestions or feels they can identify the cover artists then fire them on down!

2 comments:

Allan said...

The Avengers didn't become a comic called simply Marvel -- it merged into the Mighty World of Marvel, to become Mighty World of Marvel and the Avengers, the first issue of which was #199.

The Spider-Man title ran until #666 in 1985, and then, after a short break resumed as Spider-Man and Zoids for another year or so.

After 1978 or so, most, if not all, of the additional artwork was done in the UK rather than the US. By that time Marvel UK had a proper production office, and original strips were appearing by British artists. Dave Gibbons on the Hulk, Steve Dillon on Nick Fury, etc.

The Killraven material in Planet of the Apes only lasted for handful of issues (#23-30). Neal Adams's art was also subjected to some heavy-handed reworking to produce the "Ape-slayer" strip. I recall there being a rather wonderful cover that had the apes hanging out of a Martian tripod!! BTW, some of the Apes material appeared in the UK before it appeared in the US -- and a few pages never appeared in the US at all.

Jerry Paris drew some backup strips in the second series of Captain Britain, and he did an issue of Laser Eraser and Pressbutton. I remember his name being bandied about quite a lot in the mid-80s, but what happened to him then, I dunno.

Anonymous said...

Here are my observations:

Avengers and MOKF 91: Ron Wilson/Mike Esposito

MWOM 110: Wilson/Esposito

MWOM 112: Avengers by Buscema/Palmer from original US cover; Conan
appears to be taken from somwhere as well (Alcala art with a face by
Wilson?)

Planet of the Apes: Wilson/Esposito

MWOM 91: Wilson/esposito

MWOM 93: Romita may have worked on the Hulk's face, but the rest is
either Leiber or Wilson, with Esposito inks

Dracula Lives 52: not Colan, likely a swipe by Ron Wilson/Esposito
(those hands give it away to me).

Dracula Lives 55: Kane/Palmer cover from original US issue.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly: all Romita cover, taken from when it was
reprinted in one of the US Spider-Man Annuals.


Nick Caputo