Wednesday 7 March 2012


In 1994 the US comic book business was contracting fast.  A poor economy, too much product, too few readers and the end of the artificial speculator boom years was forcing retailers and publishers alike out-of-business.  As this COMICS INTERNATIONAL (Issue 39, February 1994) cover story shows, the casualties were mounting fast.

Marvel UK's US-focused line had enjoyed considerable commercial (creative: not-so-much) success in the good times but was poorly placed to ride out the industry recession.  They's already delayed and cancelled some titles (shuttering the recently-launched Frontier Comics imprint for example), placing a greater emphasis on quality over quantity.  But it was too little, too-late for the Temple-based operation and, as you'll read below, they decided to cease publishing for the US market altogether and handover their (increasingly rare) successes to Marvel New York.  Alan Davis' THE CLANDESTINE did make the jump although Davis' involvement in his own creation proved short-lived.  DEATH'S HEAD II, despite being M-UK's best seller, vanished without trace.

The contraction was so swift that M-UK abandoned numerous upcoming projects (some almost completed) despite, in some cases, advertising and soliciting them to retailers.  Ongoing titles also vanished without warning or any attempt to conclude ongoing plot lines.  MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE, for several months, continued to list a (diminishing) range of M-UK titles which would never appear.

Ownership of Marvel UK's stable of characters remains with the US publisher although most have been unused for decades.  And are likely to remain unused until Marvel's lawyers remind management that they (and the Malibu Comics characters also acquired during the boom years) need to return to print in order to ensure that copyrights don't lapse.

Internal corporate restructuring would later place Marvel UK under the recently acquired Panini division... which was later sold as part of Marvel's bankruptcy process of the mid 1990s.

Innovation Comics, purveyors of quality licensed fare (including QUANTUM LEAP, DARK SHADOWS, LOST IN SPACE and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) also closed suddenly, leaving many series unfinished.

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