Wednesday 9 August 2017


From 1978: the first issue of SUPERMAN POCKETBOOK, a UK DC reprint title from London Editions/ Egmont.

Unlike the traditional British Pocket Libraries, this (and its BATMAN POCKETBOOK companion) was published with colour interiors.  The upgraded production standards were made possible because London Editions (who eventually had a long - albeit intermittent - association with DC) were part of a bigger European outfit, and the digests appeared in other European markets with the black plates swapped out in favour of the local language during a single print run.

The sudden pan-European interest in the character was, of course, down to that year's SUPERMAN live-action movie.

The UK-only monthly THE SUPERHEROES followed, to limited success despite boasting attractive new covers and some vintage (albeit possibly dated) reprints from the DC vaults.

Once that title faltered, London Editions turned their attentions to other licensed fare scoring hits with the likes of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE and MY LITTLE PONY and less success with the likes of THE CENTURIONS and BATTLE BEASTS.

But, towards the end of the decade, they rediscovered their DC mojo with a slate of new reprint titles (now in colour) beginning with - as you might expect - SUPERMAN.  This expansion may have been prompted by the rising profile of DC characters (Superman celebrated his 50th with some hoopla, including a RADIO TIMES cover, in 1988), the post-CRISIS reboot of many of DC's top tier characters (making them more accessable to a wider audience), the impending BATMAN movie and MARVEL UK's retreat from the superhero market.

The new line, anchored by SUPERMAN and BATMAN but also including (at various times) HEROES, DC ACTION, ZONES and SHOCKWAVE, proved to be only a limited success and titles seemed to come and go (departing with little warning or fanfare) on a regular basis.

Robert Maxwell, now owner of the former IPC Youth Group  rebadged Fleetway, managed to annoy Egmont's European bosses by snatching the Disney license.  His ownership of MIRROR GROUP newspapers being a decisive factor in commiting to expose Disney's wares to the largest UK readership possible.  Egmont's response was to buy into Fleetway, an offer that Maxwell (no doubt very aware of the financial mess buried at the heart of his media empire) found hard to resist.  After his death, and the swift collapse of his crooked empire, Egmont bought the rest of Fleetway for a knockdown price.  


  1. SFX have yet another bookazine out today, an updated edition of THE 100 GREATEST TV SHOWS with a new cover.

    And Baron Ironblood himself has returned to comics in FIRST STRIKE.

    I managed to snag the one remaining copy in FP.

  2. Bookazines are hitting London more slowly now. The SPIDER-MAN 'icon' one you saw weeks ago still hasn't surfaced here at all. I wonder if WHS have got their order? The amount of space devoted to magazines in their stores is pretty small ow so i wonder if they are being more ruthless about the titles they carry. They are - however - stocking the new edition of the zombie one.

    I picked up FIRST STRIKE yesterday and gave it a quick flck last night. I was a little underwhelmed. Combining the various universees just seemed to detract from what made eac one special in the first place.

    I recently bought the whole run of BATTLE ACTION FORCE (give or take a few issues) and I think I wlook forward to rereading some of the Baron Ironblood era stories from there much more than this reboot.

    The new week also saw the release of the new Panini DOCTOR WHO graphic novel, reprinting more recent strips from the magazine. Also the new issue of HORROR HOUND, which always has a good mix of articles even if you are not that interested (like me) in every aspect of the genre.

    Marvel issued a few more TRUE BELIEVERS samplers to celebrate Jack Kirby's 100th. These are always good cheap-and-cheerful reads. Apparently they are not releasing a FANTASTIC FOUR issue 1 reprint vecause of their ongoing bust-up with Fox over the film series. But - given that they are releasing them over several weeks - maybe it is still upcoming.

  3. the art in FIRST STRIKE was very well done.

    Perhaps in the future, you can put up some scans of those BATTLE ACTION FORCE issues.

    I'm still catching up with your recent posts, so much stuff to digest here.

    What's the title of that new dr who compilation ?

    One of the things I really like about HORRORHOUND is their comprehensive galleries of merchandise / books / etc associated with a particular movie or subject.

  4. The new DOCTOR WHO strip compilation is caled DOORWAYS TO HELL. It reprints Capaldi era material. The next volume looks more interesting because it will reprint - by the looks of it - the DWM period where the comic strip jumped around between Doctors depending on the story and the creative team.

    Funnily enough, the new DWM special was out yesterday: a reference guide to the reference guides to WHO. A bit like journalists interviewing other journalists but still great fun. Although, during a casual flick last night, I couldn't see any coverage of the fanzine IN VISION. A great story-by-story reference guide.

  5. Thanks.

    a lot of nice stuff in that who special including an article on the mail order specialist John Fitton.

    His ad was a familiar and frequent sight in STARBURST and other mags.

    I placed a few orders with him back in the 1980s.


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