Marvel Comics were one of my four or five great loves as a kid, so like all those things, they became a core part of my identity. I had blonde hair and blue eyes, I lived in Yorkshire, I liked Doctor Who and Marvel Comics and I was useless at sport. That was who I was. Unlike the other traits though, I didn’t carry Marvel with me into adulthood - I basically stopped reading them when I was about ten or eleven - so it’s only recently, as I’ve been making this website, that I’ve actually engaged with those characters and those memories. I’m British, so my entry points for all this stuff were the weekly comics published by Marvel UK, the British wing of the Marvel empire - titles like Super Spider-Man and The Mighty World of Marvel. Occasionally I’d find the original all-colour US monthlies in specialist newsagents or selling cheap on the outdoor market, but it was easier (and cheaper) to buy the black-and-white British versions. These were generally just reprints of older American material - a fact that was completely lost on me as a kid - but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment. The Hulk was probably the best known Marvel character, apart from maybe Spider-Man - partly because he’d been marketed as one of the top three or four Marvel heroes since the beginning, but mainly because of the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno TV series that was screened on ITV in the late 1970s (and still very much going when I drew this picture in 1980). I suppose there’s something universally appealing about him - especially to kids - as a metaphor for the various parts of us we’re supposed to keep suppressed if we want to be considered well- behaved. Whatever the reasons, I do remember being a fan. The Hulk was a regular starring feature of The Mighty World of Marvel, which I bought most weeks, as well as another weekly comic called Rampage, which I remember loving to bits. I still have the first edition of Rampage, but I’d think twice if you’re considering breaking into my house and stealing it off me. I don’t think it’d be worth much these days:
Dinosaurs 1 Space Travel Ships Sport Dinosaurs 2 Judge Dredd: The Blood of Satanus Captain Carnivore A-Maze-Ing! Star Poster: Super Jesus The Micronauts: Giant Karza The Origin of Electro Optical Illusion Time Frantic Thingies Men in Space Topic Book Word Find Puzzleman Evel Knievel: Fury Falls More Puzzlers Star Poster: The Hulk 1 Grobschnitt’s Page Captain Starlight Star Poster: The Hulk 2 The Yellyog Gang The Adventures of Puzzlemaster Jupe Woman Line Pin-Up: Doctor Doom Lazer Lash The Human Maze Three Squares Raven Mad Marvel Sketches Robschnitt’s Age: 1 Snotty Notty Space Battles Metalorian Man Robschnitt’s Age: 2 The Superhero Sports Day Captain Kirk & Pywal Carbo-Catalogue How Dumb Are You? The Space Invaders: 1 Pin-Up: The Empire Strikes Back The Space Invaders: 2 Gi-Gant-Ic! Index
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
Bah! Puny humans can't stop Hulk!
March/April 1980
Star Poster: The Hulk (1)
HELP ME KEEP THIS WEBSITE ALIVE
RAMPAGE No 1 (March 1977)
Rampage No 1 (Week Ending Oct 19, 1977) A Titan Walks Among Us! (felt tip version)
What I’d forgotten, until I started making this website with its scarily obsessive Timeline, was that actually these comics were all dead and buried by the time I went to Fairburn. Some time towards the end of 1978, a man called Dez Skinn landed the job of editor-in-chief at Marvel UK and, charged with the responsibility of making their range more appealing to British readers (apparently sales were flagging), decided to revamp the weekly titles, ditching the glossy covers in favour of a more low-grade ‘British’ look (on cheaper paper) and scrambling the innards so that instead of there being at most two or three comic strips per issue, there were now six or seven, in line with other British comics. The Mighty World of Marvel became the more prosaic Marvel Comic and, within weeks, it was joined by a new title, Hulk Comic, which doubled down on the new ‘British Marvel’ remit by adding new strips written and illustrated by British writers and artists. He called it, brilliantly and bombastically, The Marvel Revolution’. All of which was terribly exciting. I missed the old mags, but these new ones were insane. The size of the panels and illustrations had been reduced to fit more stuff on each page, so every issue felt totally alive, bursting with information. Marvel Comic was still all full of reprints but instead of focusing on just one or two superheroes, it borrowed from every corner of the Marvel catalogue - vampire horror with Dracula (featuring Blade), time- travelling prehistoric sci-fi with Skull the Slayer, sword and sorcery fantasy with Conan the Barbarian, a smart kung fu/secret agent crossover with Shang-Chi and SI-6, as well as more regular superhero action from Daredevil and The Hulk. It just felt like such extraordinary value for money.
Hulk Comic was even better. I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, but the British creatives brought something new to the table, not just in terms of the visual flair, but the breadth of ideas and the visceral immediacy of it all. New strips like Black Knight brought the Arthurian legend alive in the present day, while Night Raven was a thrilling work of art with a more ambiguous moral perspective than the stuff I usually read. The British takes on Marvel standards were very different too - the Hulk strips seemed more personal, while the Nick Fury stories were much more global in scope. Almost like they were set in the real world. I can honestly say I really, truly loved it. So, given all this excitement, why did I stop buying it? I only ever bought a handful of them, and only managed to hold onto two editions of Marvel Comic as a grown-up. I’d forgotten all about Hulk Comic till a few months ago. What happened? It might have had something to do with the political realities of the time. It looks like just as Skinn joined the team and they were preparing these comics at the end of 1978 going into 79, there was some kind of industrial action (part of the whole Winter of Discontent thing) which messed up the launches and resulted in at least a month without any Marvel comics at all. This might also have something to do with why the comics are so inconsistent. Black Knight appears in the first Hulk Comic but is noticeably absent from the second, presumably while we wait for its creators to catch up. One week in Marvel Comic, all the usual strips are absent, replaced by a bunch of hastily-chosen one-offs and segments of strips from other comics. Stuff like that must have been terribly off-putting for regular readers like me. More likely though, it was just a matter of family economics. My parents both had jobs when we moved to Fairburn, but only my Dad’s was full-time, and we weren’t exactly rich. In fact, most of my parents’ fifteen years of marriage could be described as an unhappy struggle for money. It didn’t help that inflation had risen to over 15%. I was probably allocated a budget of two comics a week. For most of 1979 they would have been 2000 AD and Star Wars Weekly and, once 1980 got going, I probably alternated Star Wars with Doctor Who Weekly and got the occasional monthly mag like Frantic as a one-off treat. By the time I drew this dreadful picture in the spring of 1980, Dez Skinn had already left Marvel UK. Marvel Comic had morphed into something else and Hulk Comic - now The Incredible Hulk Weekly, and almost totally bereft of any of the British talent it started out with - was just about to fold as well, merging with Spider-Man Weekly in mid-May. So Skinn’s revolution was already over. But Marvel UK carried on (until the rights to Marvel’s UK output were acquired by Panini in 1995), so it must have succeeded. My own little Topic Revolution, however, is just getting started. I may not have bought the comics every week, but their influence shines out of everything I was just about to do for the next two years. This dreadful little picture of The Hulk is just the tip of a big fat iceberg, as I started to create my own superheroes, my own comic strips and even a fictional comics empire that only existed in my head. Look out for more rubbish Hulk action in three pages’ time!
MARVEL COMIC No 330 (January 1979)
Marvel Comic No 330 (or No 1, if you like) - cover date Jan 24, 1979 A Marvel Comic contents page that, thankfully, I didn't colour in
Christmas 1979 Can Waen last the night without opening his presents?
Superman the Movie Souvenir programme from when I went to the pictures with Louise
The Fugitive A man runs - but who is he? And what is he running from?
The Flame in the Desert An evil fire threatens the safety of the world
Fiends of the Eastern Front Vampires, paraphrased from 2000 AD
Tedosaurus Prehistoric fun with a teddy bear the size of a dinosaur!
Apeth Badly-spelt high-jinks with a purple gorilla from outer space!
Captain Carnivore Gary Shepherd is hunted down by a deadly flying meteor
Florence Nightingale What if Florence Nightingale had lived in the Year 2000?
Super Jesus A special pin-up of your favourite Nazarene webslinger
The Origin of Electro Waen Shepherd, TV Star, turns evil and drains the city!
Giant Karza! Arch-enemy of the Micronauts grows to super size!
ENGLISH 2 A general increase in manic stupidity and excessive violence
Happy Easter! A home made Easter card I made for my Mum and Dad
Fury Falls Evel Knievel in a scary waterfall adventure with Split Sam!
Grobschnitt’s Page Meet Grobschnitt, the dome-headed Harbinger of Mischief
Exploring the Underworld Eight boys go exploring in a dangerous cave
TERM 3 1980 continues with the embassy siege and The Empire Strikes Back
Puzzlemaster Help Puzzlemaster escape the clutches of the Martian spacelords!
Captain Starlight Know your Starlight superheroes with this amazing fact file!
The Yellyog Gang Meet my latest hideous bunch of nutty nightmare fuellers
The Human Maze Meet Whirlwind, the man whose face is an impossible maze!
Super Jesus A special pin-up of your favourite Nazarene webslinger
HELP ME KEEP THIS WEBSITE ALIVE
March/April 1980
Star Poster:
The Hulk (1)
Marvel Comics were one of my four or five great loves as a kid, so like all those things, they became a core part of my identity. I had blonde hair and blue eyes, I lived in Yorkshire, I liked Doctor Who and Marvel Comics and I was useless at sport. That was who I was. Unlike the other traits though, I didn’t carry Marvel with me into adulthood - I basically stopped reading them when I was about ten or eleven - so it’s only recently, as I’ve been making this website, that I’ve actually engaged with those characters and those memories. I’m British, so my entry points for all this stuff were the weekly comics published by Marvel UK, the British wing of the Marvel empire - titles like Super Spider-Man and The Mighty World of Marvel. Occasionally I’d find the original all-colour US monthlies in specialist newsagents or selling cheap on the outdoor market, but it was easier (and cheaper) to buy the black-and-white British versions. These were generally just reprints of older American material - a fact that was completely lost on me as a kid - but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment. The Hulk was probably the best known Marvel character, apart from maybe Spider-Man - partly because he’d been marketed as one of the top three or four Marvel heroes since the beginning, but mainly because of the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno TV series that was screened on ITV in the late 1970s (and still very much going when I drew this picture in 1980). I suppose there’s something universally appealing about him - especially to kids - as a metaphor for the various parts of us we’re supposed to keep suppressed if we want to be considered well-behaved. Whatever the reasons, I do remember being a fan. The Hulk was a regular starring feature of The Mighty World of Marvel, which I bought most weeks, as well as another weekly comic called Rampage, which I remember loving to bits. I still have the first edition of Rampage, but I’d think twice if you’re considering breaking into my house and stealing it off me. I don’t think it’d be worth much these days:
RAMPAGE No 1 (March 1977)
Rampage No 1 (Week Ending Oct 19, 1977) A Titan Walks Among Us! (felt tip version)
What I’d forgotten, until I started making this website with its scarily obsessive Timeline, was that actually these comics were all dead and buried by the time I went to Fairburn. Some time towards the end of 1978, a man called Dez Skinn landed the job of editor-in-chief at Marvel UK and, charged with the responsibility of making their range more appealing to British readers (apparently sales were flagging), decided to revamp the weekly titles, ditching the glossy covers in favour of a more low- grade ‘British’ look (on cheaper paper) and scrambling the innards so that instead of there being at most two or three comic strips per issue, there were now six or seven, in line with other British comics. The Mighty World of Marvel became the more prosaic Marvel Comic and, within weeks, it was joined by a new title, Hulk Comic, which doubled down on the new ‘British Marvel’ remit by adding new strips written and illustrated by British writers and artists. He called it, brilliantly and bombastically, ‘The Marvel Revolution’. All of which was terribly exciting. I missed the old mags, but these new ones were insane. The size of the panels and illustrations had been reduced to fit more stuff on each page, so every issue felt totally alive, bursting with information. Marvel Comic was still all full of reprints but instead of focusing on just one or two superheroes, it borrowed from every corner of the Marvel catalogue - vampire horror with Dracula (featuring Blade), time- travelling prehistoric sci-fi with Skull the Slayer, sword and sorcery fantasy with Conan the Barbarian, a smart kung fu/secret agent crossover with Shang-Chi and SI-6, as well as more regular superhero action from Daredevil and The Hulk. It just felt like such extraordinary value for money.
Hulk Comic was even better. I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, but the British creatives brought something new to the table, not just in terms of the visual flair, but the breadth of ideas and the visceral immediacy of it all. New strips like Black Knight brought the Arthurian legend alive in the present day, while Night Raven was a thrilling work of art with a more ambiguous moral perspective than the stuff I usually read. The British takes on Marvel standards were very different too - the Hulk strips seemed more personal, while the Nick Fury stories were much more global in scope. Almost like they were set in the real world. I can honestly say I really, truly loved it. So, given all this excitement, why did I stop buying it? I only ever bought a handful of them, and only managed to hold onto two editions of Marvel Comic as a grown-up. I’d forgotten all about Hulk Comic till a few months ago. What happened? It might have had something to do with the political realities of the time. It looks like just as Skinn joined the team and they were preparing these comics at the end of 1978 going into 79, there was some kind of industrial action (part of the whole Winter of Discontent thing) which messed up the launches and resulted in at least a month without any Marvel comics at all. This might also have something to do with why the comics are so inconsistent. Black Knight appears in the first Hulk Comic but is noticeably absent from the second, presumably while we wait for its creators to catch up. One week in Marvel Comic, all the usual strips are absent, replaced by a bunch of hastily-chosen one-offs and segments of strips from other comics. Stuff like that must have been terribly off-putting for regular readers like me. More likely though, it was just a matter of family economics. My parents both had jobs when we moved to Fairburn, but only my Dad’s was full-time, and we weren’t exactly rich. In fact, most of my parents’ fifteen years of marriage could be described as an unhappy struggle for money. It didn’t help that inflation had risen to over 15%. I was probably allocated a budget of two comics a week. For most of 1979 they would have been 2000 AD and Star Wars Weekly and, once 1980 got going, I probably alternated Star Wars with Doctor Who Weekly and got the occasional monthly mag like Frantic as a one-off treat. By the time I drew this dreadful picture in the spring of 1980, Dez Skinn had already left Marvel UK. Marvel Comic had morphed into something else and Hulk Comic - now The Incredible Hulk Weekly, and almost totally bereft of any of the British talent it started out with - was just about to fold as well, merging with Spider-Man Weekly in mid-May. So Skinn’s revolution was already over. But Marvel UK carried on (until the rights to Marvel’s UK output were acquired by Panini in 1995), so it must have succeeded. My own little Topic Revolution, however, is just getting started. I may not have bought the comics every week, but their influence shines out of everything I was just about to do for the next two years. This dreadful little picture of The Hulk is just the tip of a big fat iceberg, as I started to create my own superheroes, my own comic strips and even a fictional comics empire that only existed in my head. Look out for more rubbish Hulk action in three pages’ time!
MARVEL COMIC No 330 (Jan 1979)
Marvel Comic No 330 (or No 1, if you like) - cover date Jan 24, 1979 A Marvel Comic contents page that, thankfully, I didn't colour in Bah! Puny humans can't stop Hulk!
Grobschnitt’s Page Meet Grobschnitt, the dome-headed Harbinger of Mischief
Apeth (from Ota Sbees) Ritern ov thu perpal geriller
Exploring the Underworld Eight boys go exploring in a dangerous cave
TERM 3 1980 continues with the embassy siege and The Empire Strikes Back
Captain Starlight Know your Starlight superheroes with this amazing fact file!
The Yellyog Gang Meet my latest hideous bunch of nutty nightmare fuellers