Friday 29 November 2013


It's the issue of DOCTOR WHO WEEKLY that never was.

By the summer of 1980, MARVEL UK's new launch was struggling.  It's creator, Dez Skinn, had departed the Annex of Ideas 'by mutual consent', depriving it of its principle champion.

A relaunch chasing younger readers had proven a misfire, sales were down because of the long break between TV seasons and the high costs of origination and licensing hard for a reprint-operation geared to exploiting its own royalty-free strips to stomach.

The writing was on-the-Tardis-door when Marvel management, in a last gasp to keep things afloat, cut the frequency to monthly.  That instantly made each issue more profitable, kept copies on sale much longer and approximately halved the amount of new material required each month.

A cut in frequency is usually a sure sign of approaching armageddon with a succession of titles having their frequency snipped just before being cancelled.

M-UK pulled the same trick with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK a few months later (the first monthly issue was cover-dated November 1980) although that decision may have been motivated by the reliable supply of new material shipped from the States rather than a calamitous circulation collapse so soon after the release of the second movie.  It's replacement on the weekly schedule, FUTURE TENSE, barely lasted six months before being relaunched as monthly.  It was cancelled six issues later.

More recently (but, scarily, not recent at all), OVERKILL was cut to a monthly schedule in late 1993 (issue 43), only to succumb to the fallout of the GENESIS IMPLOSION less than a year later.

Over at IPC/ Fleetway, the EAGLE soldiered on as a mostly-reprint monthly (effectively replacing the defunct BEST OF EAGLE MONTHLY which failed to set any sales records) as last-man-standing (outside the 2000AD) in the Boys Adventure portfolio.

This cover appeared in the 1989 10th anniversary special (see previous post) and I assume it's authentic rather than some novelty after-the-event flight of fancy by Marvel's design boffins.  If it is the real deal, it's probably a good indication of how late in the day the decision was made to relaunch.  Or, how far ahead, the covers had to be designed.

And, maybe it's just me, but its crazy combination of eye-catching covers seem prescient of Colin Baker's costume.

1 comment:

  1. Just to confirm - this cover is authentic. I found both the film and the cover proof in the Marvel UK vaults while I was editor of DWM and decided to run it in the Tenth Anniversary Special. Not a hoax! Not a dream! :)


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