Tuesday 19 February 2013

1994: HAMMER HORROR (Marvel UK)

HAMMER HORROR was another short-lived title published by Marvel UK during their brief mid-ninties dalliance with expanding their magazine offering beyond the long-established DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE.

M-UK were approached by Hammer's licensing company and because head-honcho Paul Neary had worked on Dez Skinn's seventies/ eighties predecessor, it was considered to be a viable proposition.

HH launched with a one-shot special (above) in 1994.  The Collectors' Special was an overview of Hammer's entire horror output and - despite the number of books published on the subject in subsequent decades - is still an excellent primer for both new and established fans.  But good luck trying to track down a copy.

Flush with success, editor Marcus Hearn (formally of DWM) launched the regular monthly incarnation the following year.  It was a classy package, treating the Hammer back-catalogue with respect and filling a gap in the market for serious coverage.  Hearn would later write several books on "the studio that dripped blood", all of which are recommended.  

Things were looking promising and it seemed like Marvel had a niche hit on its hands.  Briefly. Until restructuring within the bigger Marvel empire shoved the Arundel House operations under the auspices of another marvel subsidiary: the recently acquired Panini sticker business.  

The Italians had no interest in Marvel UK's ambitions to expand outside kids comics and swiftly shuttered all of M-UK's "older readers" titles including the entire magazines department except DWM.  The roll-call of casualties included BLAKE'S SEVEN, PLAYBACK, BIZARRE and CLIVE BARKER's HELLBREED (all of which I've covered in previous posts).  Neary's plans to re-enter the US comics market were also nixed by the new management.

Hearn did at least get to sign-off in the seventh (and final) issue.  He expressed the hope that another publisher would take over the magazine... but that never happened.  

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