Friday 1 November 2013


I've posted before about MARVEL UK's flip-flopping over the distribution of the GENESIS 92 books in the UK and here's a news report about it, from Steve Holland's COMIC WORLD magazine issue 4, cover-dated June 1992.

Copies were also bagged and stickered before being distributed.  A rare surviving example can be found here.

At some point, possibly late in 1992, the policy was abandoned and the UK originated books hit British comic book stores (more-or-less) simultaneously with their stateside debut.


  1. slow robot, on the subject of dr who..I just had an intresting chat with forbidden planet..I was enquiring as to why they no longer get the idw dr who comic and they told me that it no longer comes with the weekly shipment but goes to the warehouse and that they are not allowed to sell it in the uk...go figure....i can only assume this must be a knock on effect of idw losing the license....

    1. Hello Ed.

      I think the terms of the IDW license were always meant to prevent sales in the UK because Panini have the UK comics and (reprinted) graphic novels license through DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE.

      Not all British retailers seemed to carry the US DW line so I assumed that FP always had special dispensation or just knew a way of bucking the system. I've noticed they still seem to be stocking the IDW trade paperbacks and compilations.

      Panini always seemed to be missing a trick by not creating a DOCTOR WHO COLLECTORS' EDITION - alongside their Marvel reprints - offering a mixture of current IDW material and vintage reprints (possibly using the recoloured Marvel strips from IDW) for distribution through WH Smiths and other news vendors. Possibly there was some licensing or internal politics involved.

      On paper at least, the IDW deal would have made it impossible (short of ebay and the black market) for British collectors to get hold of the US titles.

      I've not heard who - if anyone - has the license post-IDW although I think TITAN COMICS were in pole position.

    2. my forbidden planet has the trade paperbacks but they also have single back issues of the ongoing dr who comic but i could never get the new issues, thats what prompted me to enquire in the first place....bloody confusing if you ask me.....they also sold out the previews catalogue very quickly and i missed it..damn...thats my main source of info on the dr who comic among many others....

  2. Hi Slow Robot!
    My name's Davide and I, though I'm Italian, I live in London. Being a huge Marvel fan, I have tried to collect every possible information about the now-almost-forgotten Marvel UK publications. I'm (slowly) trying to catalogue and index all the Annex of Ideas' comics from 1972 to 1995... And I'd like to ask you a couple of question. First, for example: do you know whether the 90s "US size" comics (like Death's Head, Die-Cut etc.) were published ONLY in the USA and not in the UK, or whether they were produced in the UK but published in both countries, or whether they were published in two DIFFERENT versions, one for the Uk and the other for the US? I'm beginning to suspect that this last hypothesis is the right one...
    This is my email address, I would love to chat with you about this:

    1. Hello Davide. Lovely to hear from you and I hope London is treating you well.

      The GENESIS 92 books, from the first issue of the DEATH'S HEAD II mini-series onwards, were published in the United States with no British editions other than the serialised reprints in OVERKILL.

      Except for the creative talents, editorial address, house ads and the logo in the corner box, they were indistinguishable from standard Marvel US offerings... they were printed in the States on the same presses that handled the rest of the Marvel line and even carried the same US advertising for US products and retailers (presumably brokered by the US ad sales team).

      Distribution of the G92 line in the UK was limited to imported copies sold via comic book stores and occasionally plugged in the pages of OVERKILL. It's safe to say the majority of casual British readers never saw the bulk of the material produced by Marvel UK during this period as OVERKILL only reprinted a fraction of the strips because expansion outstripped its page count (especially when it was cut back to monthly).

      Does that make sense?

  3. Thanks for the reply!

    So... all the Genesis 92 books were effectively not Marvel UK publications, but Marvel US series under the (American) imprint "Marvel UK"? That sounds so mad to me! :D but is the same valid for all the other U.S. size comics published after the four-five original Genesis 92 series up to 1994? They were just American comics with no British counterparts?
    And what about the (few) U.S. size comics published before Genesis 92? Like, for example, the first series of Death's Head or Dragon's Claws? Were they published, in two different editions, both in Britain and the US?
    And (final question for now :) ) what about TPBs/"graphic novels" like "Captain Britain: Before Excalibur", "Night Raven: House of Cards", "Chronicles of Genghis Grimtoad" and "Abslom Daak: Dalek Killer"? I have the impression that they were published both in the UK and in the US, or maybe even only in the US. I am quite sure, for example, the "Night Raven: House of Cards" was produced in two different editions (with two different covers) for the American and British market...

    Thank you again!

    1. The GENESIS 92 books were created in London so, in that sense, they are very definitely British. But, to maximise their appeal to American buyers, they looked the same as the other US books. DEATH'S HEAD II was initially promoted as part of the US Big Guns promotion which further blurred-the-lines.

      None of the G92 books had British editions outside of the OVERKILL reprints. The BATTLETIDE four-parter was collected into the OVERKILL EASTER SPECIAL 1993 which was a hefty A4 one-shot.

      The pre-G92 US format comics are the same dimensions as a US comic but don't look much like regular M-US titles. The paper and printing was better and they didn't run adverts and editorial (like Bullpen Bulletins) from the US. The same copies were distributed on both sides of the Atlantic.

      The one exception was ACTION FORCE MONTHLY. The AF brand wasn't used in the US so copies were shipped across the Atlantic with alternate G.I. JOE EUROPEAN MISSIONS branding on the cover. The change didn't extend to the contents and the Action Force references remained throughout inside. Finding copies with the G.I.JOE alternative title in the UK is pretty unusual.

      I *think* the Trade Paperbacks were the same on both sides of the Atlantic although, certainly in the case of CAPTAIN BRITAIN, there seems to have been a number of different editions over the years. NIGHT RAVEN had two different editions, with different covers, published a couple of years apart. The books were fairly easy to find in the UK and most were carried by WH Smith (and the like) in their book departments although graphic novels didn't receive the same level of retailer support that they do today.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Sorry to bother you again, but there's one thing I haven't understood: if the G92 comics "were printed in the States on the same presses that handled the rest of the Marvel line" and were sold exclusively in the US, in what sense were they "created in London so, in that sense, they are very definitely British"? It appears to me (but please corret me if I'm wrong) that their 'Britishness' lies exclusively in the fact that the authors who created them were British. So, basically, they are no more British than "Clandestine" (?).

      Many thanks again and sorry for my questions, but this concept has always confused me!

      PS: I have written a comment on your BOG PAPER post of 29 August 2012, I hope that gives you a detail you hadn't before ;)

    3. Good question.

      I'm in no way a Marvel insider but I think CLANDESTINE was really the last of the old guard, the one survivor of the G92 project to transfer to New York albeit under the oversight of Paul Neary in London.

      Regarding whether the G92 line were US or UK books: I see your point. I think that they are British in the sense that the creative teams were (largely) British (or European).

      MARVEL UK operated autonomously (at least on a day-by-day level) from NY with their own management/ decision-making/ commissioning/ production and editorial structure based in Arundel House. M-UK were also responsible for their own advertising, PR etc.

      MARVEL US provided access to US advertisers (the G92 line allowed them to offer more outlets across the entire Marvel line to advertisers), print, distribution/ listings in PREVIEWS (Diamond) and ADVANCE COMICS (Capital Distributors) and cross promotion (in Bullpen Bulletins, MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE etc.).

      NY may also have provided legal/ copyright advice although their Due Diligence on trademarks must have been a bit slapdash if they failed to spot the HELL'S ANGEL - err - snag.

      M-UK were given free range to use Marvel US characters without reference to New York editorial. This created some friction when US editors and creators found they had no control over how (and how often) their characters were represented in the British books. Combined with their own tendency to milk popular characters for all their worth, it really did lead to - ahem - overkill at times.

      I'm sure M-UK, as a wholly-owned subsidiary, were still accountable to management in NY. In fact, their expansion was actively encouraged by the US because it boosted Marvel's overall US offering and market share, contributed to the push for greater profits and helped to squeeze rivals off dealer's shelves.

      I hope that makes sense.

      Thanks for the information about BOG PAPER - it's very much appreciated!

    4. The US comics such as DEATH'S HEAD II etc were published by Marvel UK, they weren't "published" in the way you mean in the US, even if they were printed there, for logistical and cost reasons. They were commissioned and edited out of Arundel House. The ban on "imports" was incredibly brief, if I recall correctly as I can tell that as one of the editorial staff we all thought it was as crazy as not including the pages of Motormouth and Warheads stories that featured superhero pages in Overkill. This was Paul Neary's idea; he felt including superhero pages would have been counterproductive in terms of building Overkill as a separate UK brand that he saw as going head to head with 2000AD. Indeed, all the initial MUK G92 characters were in the style of "anti-hero" in an attempt to appeal to 2000AD readers. When a marketing analysis - which in part involved getting a small number of the target audience to review Overkill against 2000AD and other titles as we watched then behind a two-way mirror - revealed that our readers expected superheroes in a Marvel comic, which was backed up by wider polling, the superhero pages of the stories were included from then on in Overkill (which I edited in its early days).

      Marvel UK did indeed operate autonomously in terms of day to day running but Marvel US - in the form usually of Tom de Falco on the editorial side - oversaw a lot of decision making, especially on the US format books. Superhero appearances in MUK books had to be signed off by the appropriate US editors but I can only recall Bobbi Chase sending notes and advice on a proposed storyline on the books I edited.

      IN terms of "Due Dilligence", it was the "Hell's Angel" debacle that prompted that aspect to be done from the UK and indeed a trademark search reveals that the trademarks on numerous MUK characters didn't lapse for some years after MUK itself was consumed by Panini.

      All PR was prepared in the UK by the company's own PR team and individual editors, working with the likes of Carol Kalish and others and taking their advice on cover artist choices for example.


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