Friday, 12 August 2016


From 1986: the launch issue of JEM, published by London Editions.

This was, of course, another toy-animation-merchandising triple play by the guys at Hasbro. The enjoyable animated series (from the Hasbro-Sunbow-Marvel alliance) was a fixture of the TV-am weekend schedules for a while. The premise was to spice up the traditional Barbie market with a range of highly fashionable dolls based around the concept of an all girl rock group.

LE quietly cut a niche for themselves by being the 'other' publisher of such licensed fare, although they seldom gave Marvel UK much to worry about. Their biggest hit was MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (a property the British Bullpen let slip through their fingers) but they also published SHE-RA, MY LITTLE PONY (writing for that must have been painful... and just how does a pink horse play tennis anyway?), BATTLE BEASTS (originally, in Japan at least, part of the TRANSFORMERS universe), CENTURIONS and no doubt others I didn't notice or have long forgotten.

Most LE titles suffered from sub-standard - and usually uncredited - artwork which I always had the suspicion originated somewhere in Europe. Although I'm not sure if that is actually true or not.

Jem has subsequently returned to comics in a new series from IDW. There was also a underwhelming feature film reboot which managed to be a lot worse than the JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS film of a generation ago, not least  because they tried to bolt on a silly high-tech subplot (a nod to the original I think) onto what should have been a fairly decent flick about a teen who becomes a rock star in the age of social media. I'm still flummoxed by the fact that no one recognised her, despite apparently living an average teenage life. The now obligatory end of movie teaser, which introduced rival rockers the Misfits, promised a far more interesting follow-up, which won't happen thanks to a disastrous worldwide box office gross.

I've no idea how long the British Jem comic stayed in the charts. This is the only issue I've ever seen.


  1. Slow, in your brief overview, you've omitted LE's rather more obvious grab for the Marvel UK market came through their DC reprint license, with titles like Superheroes, Superman Fortnightly and Batman Monthly, which have all been covered on this very blog!

    I think the Josie and the Pussycats film is fabulous, it's note-perfect in cast, story and music.

    1. That's because I was listing out their toy-based properties. Not any other titles they published... Including the DC ones. If they had done SUPER POWERS then it would have made the list.

      I think the DC titles were pitched at a slightly older audience than the toy tie-ins. A LOT older in the cases of ZONES and SHOCKWAVE.

    2. Makes sense and wasn't meant as a criticism.

      You may be interested to know that one of the later editors on those UK DC reprints (around the era of Zones) now runs a review blog called "Too Dangerous for a Girl" as blogger "Danger Mart".

      Am I right in thinking there was a UK Super Powers Annual around 1985 and it came from Marvel UK of all people?

    3. Yup. The SUPER POWERS ANNUAL was indeed a M-UK effort. I've posted it here in the past. Somewhere amongst the 2000 posts. It was part of the Bullpen's brief daliance with the distinguished competition which also spawned the 1985 MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE SUMMER SPECIAL.

      There's a contemporary fanzine report that also says they were planning a regular comic with DC reprints, possibly under the SUPER POWERS title. Presumably Marvel realised they would rather back their own SECRET WARS in a market unwilling or unable to support more than one or two superhero weeklies.

      Plus, I suspect, Marvel NY might have nobbled the deal.

  2. The "silly high tech sub plot" was actually the only thing in that movie which resembled the source material, and probably the only thing I liked about it because of how audaciously daft it was as a theme: Jem is looking for a way to access the holograms of her dead dad, but her band is also called The Holograms and she has a falling-out with them when she loses sight of what it means to be a family. She is "looking for the holograms" both figuratively and literally, and when she finds one she finds the other, because Family.
    Also, it was really funny that they avoided using the "cute robot with hidden hologram messages inside" sub-plot in the trailers because they thought it might drive audiences away - and then the Force Awakens' trailer dropped and made that exact plot a huge cultural meme that Jem might have been able to leech off.

  3. apparently it ran for 12 issues and then advertised a 13th which never materialised.

    as seen here :

    and here :

  4. Regarding strips originated in Europe, London Editions' Masters of the Universe comic began with UK original strips (sans credits, of course), before transitioning into mostly reprinting translated versions of stories originally printed in German Masters comics from Ehapa with #50 in 1988.

    The abrupt switch to the German reprints was reflected in several character allegiances from the UK strips suddenly changing without explanation. Later on, LEM unusually went to the trouble of creating a new UK strip that explained the differences between the original UK continuity and the German reprints that ran in the monthly Masters of the Universe Adventure Magazine.

    There's evidence to suggest LEM's lack of strip credits was a company policy; the Centurions comic they published contained a mix of UK originated strips and US reprints from DC. Naturally, none of the US strips had formal credits, although inevitably some of the artists sneaked their signatures into the artwork. More unusual was that the DC reprints all blanked out the original creator credits.

    1. That should read "Naturally none of the UK strips had formal credits".


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