Thursday 24 January 2013

1998: MANGA MAX ISSUE 1 (Titan Magazines)

Sex sells!  Especially for geeks. it seems.  Titan Magazines obviously thought so with this pretty blatant MANGA MAX launch issue from December 1998.  

MM was - I think -  the successor to MANGA MANIA, created during Dark Horse Comics brief foray across the Atlantic in the early nineties and then passed first to Manga Publishing (an offshoot of the VHS people) and then Titan Magazines.


  1. Hi Starlogged,

    There's an error in your post title - it's Manga Max, not Manga Mania (and you're probably right, Mania was its likely ancestor).

    This comes from the end of that strange period where the word "Manga" seemed to be all over the public consciousness. Was that really 15 years ago?

    1. Well spotted! And now fixed. Whoopsie! And thanks for letting me know.

      Any more information you can shed on the whole British Manga Magazine history? I remember buying the first issue of the DH-UK MANGA MANIA and it was pretty-much a comic strip affair, compiling Akira, Godzilla and others from the US Dark Horse line. After that, my knowledge gets very vague.


    2. You know as much as I do, I'm afraid. I recall issue 1 with the Art Adams Godzilla cover and obligatory free badge, and I picked up a few of the later issues when it was with Manga Publishing, but I can't add anything more really. It ultimately ran the full Akira series which is why I picked up some of the issues in the #30s (because the Epic series stalled for about eight years and so I missed the end when they finally printed it!).

      Under Manga Publishing, it started out as a good value read and felt like a proper magazine, a bit like what Clint is trying to be right now. The promotional articles were well-written and illustrated, and it highlighted a few fun cartoons like Giant Robo (another series that took years to finish!).

      Sadly in terms of gathering further historical data, my copies gravitated to ebay a few years ago.

      However, it would be interesting if you could cover the short history of Dark Horse UK and Tundra which launched around the same time in a rush of excitement, then disappeared almost before they could get their announced launch titles out. What was going on in the 90s with these companies?

  2. In summary, Dark Horse UK wanted to capitalise on the rising crest of UK anime video releases in 1993 by putting a magazine together around manga strips they had the rights to (including nabbing Akira from Marvel).

    The following year Dark Horse closed their UK operation, at which point Manga Video got into publishing and continued the magazine themselves (around the same time they semi-controversially tried to copyright the word "Manga"). The magazine was much the same as before, and eventually even became squarebound, although noted writer Helen McCarthy was forced out due to friction with Manga Video.

    Real trouble on the horizon began towards the end of 1996 when the magazine finished their serialization of Akira in issue 37. The next issue saw the magazine branch into live-action Asian movies, which didn't go down too well with some readers at the time. Issue 39 was the last squarebound issue and the last one published by Manga, who shut down their publishing division shortly thereafter.

    Manga Mania was next picked up by third publisher Titan Books, with issue 40 appearing three months later, although issue 41 would appear a staggering five months after that. The last few issues appeared some two-three months apart until issue 46 in mid-1998, which was the final issue.

    A second volume of Manga Mania with a more international bent was promised, but ultimately appeared as Manga Max, apparently due to a trademark issue in the U.S. Although Manga Max stuck back to a monthly schedule, it had a much smaller page count and, in their effort to appeal to U.S. readers, often annoyingly featured reviews of anime video releases that would never see the light of day in the U.K.

    Ultimately, the effort to appeal to the U.S. is what finally killed it, as Titan was shipping copies out to the U.S. by sea. Consequently, by the time it hit the stands over there, most of the breaking news featured within was wildly out of date. Manga Max's final issue was #20 in mid-2000. Another comeback was promised, but never materialised.

    1. Wowsa! Thank you Jon T for that comprehensive summary! 99% of that was new to me (I do remember buying the first DHI issue) - but - after that - I don't think I regularly bought any of them. It took me years to track down the "Star Fleet" issue, which I posted sometime last year.

      That would have been the second - albeit more successful - run of Akira in the UK. Marvel UK reprinted the earliest chapters in the short-lived MELTDOWN. They were the colour versions of the strip, as originally published in the states by Epic.

      MR. KRUSTY - Thanks for your comments as well. There's not that much i can add, certainly about Tundra, as I wasn't paying any sort of attention to their plans at the time. I can only assume that the US publishers looked at the UK market and thought it was an easy one to tap ala Marvel UK. I can't imagine they did their home work that well judging by how quickly they departed again.

      I'll probably try and expand this in a future post(s) as I know I have some of these issues but - off the top of my head - here's what I recall from the "upstart" publishers of this era:

      DARK HORSE INTERNATIONAL - ALIENS (previously published by Trident*); ALIENS 3 (movie adaptation reprinted as a 3-issue UK limited series); THE TERMINATOR (ditto); STAR WARS (featuring Indiana Jones); BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA (reprinting the Topps movie adaptation); TOTAL CARNAGE (reprints of Batman Vs. Predator, Army of Darkness, The Mask etc.); JURASSIC PARK (Topps reprints); MANGA MANIA.

      * I read that the Trident issues were unauthorised and Dark Horse "went to court" to prevent publication. I don't recall this at the time and - given the quality of reproduction (the art didn't look like it was reproduced directly from the pages of the US comics) it seems a little unlikely. But always willing to be proven wrong...

      MANGA - THE X-FILES (continued by Titan); SPACE PRECINCT (based on the Gerry Anderson live-action series); STREET FIGHTER (movie adaptation); MANGA HEROES (reprints Appleseed II).

  3. I know I'm a little late in the discussions, but i am writing my own blog about the Trident magazines, and I was wondering if any of the informed gentlemen on this blog would be able to confirm/deny about the Trident Comics reprints of the Dark Horse properties was authorized or not. According to the editor Martin Skidmore (RIP) in an answer to a reader letter (in Aliens magazine) that they were licensed to publish. But I seem to remember reading about that somewhere in the mid-90`s that there was some feud between Dark Horse and Trident. although now i re-read all the editorials and letters in the Aliens UK series and there is no evidence of that.

    BTW, Trident also published The Terminator up to #12, it was then taken over by Dark Horse until #17; Aliens up to #16, then taken over by DH with #17; Indiana Jones (3 issues), Freddy's Nightmares 4 issues (Innovation Comics), Star Trek 10 issues (DC Comics)

    DARK HORSE INTERNATIONAL - ALIENS (previously published by Trident*); ALIENS 3 (movie adaptation reprinted as a 3-issue UK limited series); THE TERMINATOR (ditto); STAR WARS (featuring Indiana Jones); BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA (reprinting the Topps movie adaptation); TOTAL CARNAGE (reprints of Batman Vs. Predator, Army of Darkness, The Mask etc.); JURASSIC PARK (Topps reprints); MANGA MANIA.

  4. Hey, don't know if I am too late to the party. But I actually own issues 1 - 20


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