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Thursday, 21 October 2021

October 21st 1981 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon

As we all know, the one good thing about being a hundred is you get a telegram from the Queen.

The UK's centenarians must, therefore, have been flung into total panic, this week in 1981, when British Telecom announced it'd be discontinuing its telegram service in 1982, after 139 years of use.

Now how was the Queen going to congratulate people?

Come to think of it, I don't have a clue. Does she send a text, these days?

Spider-Man TV Comic #450

What's this?

It's a brand new comic dedicated to everyone's favourite wall-crawling hero.

And it's designed to cash in on the popularity of his TV show.

Despite it not being popular and it having been made years earlier and, probably, no one in Britain ever having seen it, anyway.

I don't know how this all makes sense but, for Marvel UK, it does, even though that cover would be enough to put anyone sane off buying the thing.

But what might change people's minds is that, in a move harking back to the very first days of Marvel UK, the book has eight pages of colour amidst its otherwise monochrome contents.

And those pages are used for a retelling of Spider-Man's origin.

We also get a free cardboard boomerang, this week because there's nothing says, "Spider-Man," to people quite like a boomerang does.

Captain America #35, Nomad returns

Hold on to your shields! It's that one in which Cap flies to Los Angeles to get involved in a movie that's being made about him!

But, when he gets there, a brand new hero shows up who's adopted Cap's old Nomad guise and is determined to steal Winghead's glory wherever he goes.

Sadly, I cannot say what occurs in the strips belonging to Thor, the Dazzler and Iron Man but, according to the cover, Shellhead's facing what might very well be his end.

Marvel Super Adventure #25, Daredevil

And it's not looking good for Daredevil either.

Nor should it.

After all, a movie mogul's decided he needs to take violent action against those he deems un-American.

And DD puts himself right in the line of fire!

Elsewhere, it seems the Panther must contend with, "The men who stalk through rock."

I assume that means rock, the substance. Not rock, the music genre.

Anyway, it all culminates with the Panther about to have a confrontation with the villainous Kiber in what is Jack Kirby's final story on the strip.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Cardboard boomerang? Puzzles and prizes? And (if this really was based on the Spider-Man TV series) no decent villains. Dez might well have gone by now but Marvel U.K. really doesn't have a clue. It's either being run by mothers and grandparents only interested in grabbing the nearest comic off the shelf for little Johnny or it's that exercise they have on The Apprentice each year where they need to come up with new magazines for 9-11 year olds and instead c9me up with stuff for pre-schoolers.

Anonymous said...

My brother got a couple of those wacky Spider-man comics, back in the day. I'm not sure I ever read them. Where they are now, is anybody's guess. It just goes to show, glossy covers alone aren't the solution. Plus, look at the price - you're getting less for more!


Steve W. said...

I don't think I ever saw an issue of the new Spider-Man comic, Philip. To be honest, I really wouldn't have felt any great urge to own a copy, even if I had.

Dangermash, as far as I can make out, despite it claiming to be a "TV" comic, the contents were still reprints from the likes of Amazing Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man. The whole project does seem to be the result of confused thinking by Marvel UK.

Colin Jones said...

Steve, nowadays the Queen sends a birthday card to 100 year-olds. Of course, Her Maj doesn't "send" anything, the cards just get delivered automatically like when I received an 18th birthday card from my MP.

As I mentioned last week, the Spidey weekly lasted until 1985 so this "TV comic" must have been popular enough to keep the whole sorry project dragging on.

Anonymous said...

The Queen also sends out 60th wedding anniversary cards as well because my parents received one (all the way to Australia) this year. It was actually quite nice.

I agree that Spiderman comic seems particularly ill thought through, even by Marvel weeklies' then standards. Its clearly aimed at a young audience (puzzles, prizes and boomerangs!) but I believe simply reprinted fairly recent reprints of the US monthlies, at 4 pence more expensive than 2000AD (which then featured brand new Bolland, Gibbons etc., illustrating easily digestible 6 pager stories). A target market likely unfamiliar with a very ordinary, four year old, cancelled tv series.

Easy with hindsight, however, if they waited a few months they could launched this on there back of Spiderman and his Amazing friends, which laster a few years and was reasonably popular, as I recall. I'm guessing communications between the tv network and Marvel US were slow enough, let alone the UK offshoot. Probably best they stuck with Doctor Who for their TV spin off.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve, Colin, Phillip, Sean, McScotty, et al!

Thanks for the link on the Guy Fawkes mask at BitBA! Before you think I have my blogs mixed up, I want you to know that those links to Buster are why I posted here.

Marvelous stuff, those free Fawkes masks from 1965 in Buster.

As I perused the Buster www site (I also did look at Lew Stringers' post, McScotty!) I saw ALL the freebies Buster offered. Perhaps the most intriguing was the false teeth???

If that didn't get kids to buy a comic, I'm not sure what kind of freebie would!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

The only "freebie" I recall in US comics was about 50 years ago exactly, when somehow, lord knows why- Marvel had 4 page color inserts for women's lingerie!

Now if that didn't get Granny to buy a comic for junior, I don't know what would!

Steve W. said...

Colin and DW, thanks for the Queen card info.

Charlie, the free gifts I remember getting from comics are:

A Spider-Man plane.
A Spider-Man mask.
A Spider-Man badge.
A cardboard Star Wars X-Wing Fighter.
A cardboard Star Wars TIE Fighter.
A cardboard Captain Britain plane.
A plastic spud gun.
Various trading cards and stickers.
Several plastic circular boomerangs.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - Starlord (the precursor to 2000AD) had freebies superior to other comics. A standout was the 'space calculator' - a cool, movable cardboard device, with lots of stats about planets, etc.

The weirdest freebie? My brother bought a DC Thomson comic, entitled 'Nutty', offering a freebie called, the "Zooming Boomer" ! I seem to remember it was some kind of weird balloon!

No - my mind's playing tricks! It's actual name was the "zoomerang" - a boomerang of the kind Steve mentioned. The weird balloon freebie was the "Whirlyjig":

Turns out Nutty's best gift was #1's packet of Space Dust, the most cynical trick of all - appeal to the stomach!

On the Hallowe'en theme, 'Buster' later merged with 'Monster Fun'. I got 2 or 3 'Monster Fun' annuals.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Honestly, though. A cardboard boomerang is the new chocolate fireguard.

Colin Jones said...

The only free gifts I remember from comics are the cardboard Captain Britain mask in CB #1 and a crappy little plastic plane in The Complete Fantastic Four #1. Needless to say both went straight in the bin.

Colin Jones said...

On the subject of boomerangs I'm reminded of the scene in Blackadder II when Edmund presents the Queen with a boomerang and says "When you throw it away it comes back" and the Queen replies "When I throw something away I DON'T WANT IT TO COME BACK!"

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve, et al.

I notice there seems to have been heavy focus on flying things as freebies.

Here in the USA we only had freebies in cereal boxes (besides lingerie monkey spank in Marvel for a few months).

Also, Oscar Meyer (hot dogs and processed lunch meats) had weiner whistles in their hot dog packages for a while. My brother and I got caught taking the whistles out of the packages when we were like 7 and 5 respectively, foreshadowing a life of crime.

Cereal boxes had all kinds of things given the volume available in a box as compared to the flat, 2-dimensional comic books. Funny erasers, miniature cars, stickers, baseball cards... One year or so Post Cereal had records that were imprinted on the back of the boxes you would cut out and play. I recall having Strangers in the Night by Frank SInatra!!!

Did you UK guys have the "cereal culture" we had? I'm sure you saw the ads in Marvel for cereal maybe in combination with launching the new season of cartoons on our big 3 stations: ABC, NBC, and CBS in September each year.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - Apart from Weetabix Dr.Who cards, UK cereals were pretty pathetic. That being said, James Bond got plugged on cereal boxes. I'd conclude the USA beat the UK on cereals - but our crisps (potato chips) were more varied, by far.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Back in the early 70s, there were loads of freebies in U.K. cereal boxes. Weetabix, sugar puffs and Rice Krispies normally had something in them. Cornflakes too sometimes. My mum would come in for some stick if she vacate home from the shops with cereal boxes without free gifts. Mind you, she heave it back when she found there were four or five boxes of sugar puffs in the cupboard where we'd taken out the free gifts and not touched the cereal. Nobody liked sugar puffs but they had the best freebies. Not a cardboard boomerang in sight.

Charlie Horse 47 said...


So you UK gents had no:

- Cap'n Crunch?
- Trix?
- Lucky Charms?
- Corn (nee Sugar) Pops?
- Honey (nee Sugar) Crisps?
- Fruit Loops?

Good lord... this could explain why the USA is so FUBAR'd as to elect folks like Trump?

It is fun to note how many americans have diabetes now. Driving to my folks the other day along the highway and there was a huge billboard for a hospitable promoting they were ranked as "Indiana's Best" in amputations! That was really, truly macabre.

Anonymous said...

Nor did we have 'Apple Jacks' !

The UK now sells 'Lucky Charms' (it never did before), but at inflated prices.

UK 'Sugar Puffs' may be similar/equivalent to one of the above.

Considering Rice Krispies were covered in chocolate flavouring, to make cocoa pops, I never understood why nobody did the same with Cornflakes - it seems an obvious idea. For decades, mothers had been making buns (cup cakes) by coating corn flakes with chocolate & sticking them together - albeit for special occasions.


Anonymous said...

I still wanna know what happened to my Frankenberry plastic figure. Where is it?!
My brother and I had to eat a whole box of that pink $#!t to get to it and now it is nowhere to be found.
I shoulda kept a closer eye on my Ma when she was throwin' stuff out.

It's probably floating, perfectly intact, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I bet.


Redartz said...

Charlie- you're right about the bounties in cereal boxes. And it still continues today. A couple years ago I pulled a Justice League freebie comic book from my Cheerios. And, I too had cardboard records cut from the back of cereal boxes. Had an "Archies" single, from Honeycombs if memory serves.

M.P.- to this day my wife indulges in a box of Frankenberry each Halloween. Personally, I go for Count Chocula.

Anonymous said...

Give your wife my regards, Red. I'm sure if the ancient Druids had a box of Frankenberry or Count Chocula they woulda passed it around during the festival of Samhain.
That, and uh, whatever else they were eating.
If they find a prize or toy inside, it would portend a mild winter and a long growing season to come.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Truth be told my fav was Quisp and my little brother's Quake. They always appeared together in the adverts as getting on each other's nerves IIRC.

I guess I naturally took to dudes with propellers on their head given I went on to fly helos so I dug Quisp?

Red - We too had the Archies single off the back of Honeycombs cereal, along with Strangers in the Night, lol. I have to wonder if playing pressed cardboard and plastic was tough on the record player needs?

REd - I do hope you and the missus enjoy your Halloween with Count Chocula, Frank n Berry, and monster flicks!!! Good lord does that sound like something from my youth where we watched "Creature Features" on Saturday night playing on the venerable WGN with bowls of sugar cereal!!!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - I think I found your Frank-n-berry ring in a King Salmon I caught in Lake Michigan in the early 80s.

It had a 2-foot long lamprey eel hanging off it which could suggest there was some extra goodness in that Salmon.

Colin Jones said...

ABBA have released another new song - called "Just A Notion". It's very catchy but it's ABBA so it would be!

I've started listening to Christmas songs about a month before I usually do - Boney M, Greg Lake and Jethro Tull.

Steve W. said...

The only free gifts I remember ever getting from cereal packets were a small, plastic, boy, in a running pose, and an assemble-it-yourself plastic aeroplane, which was tiny.

But the real highlight was that, at one point, in the early to mid-1970s, cornflake boxes came with cut-out Star Trek masks on the back, with an added cut-out Starfleet badge, for good measure. I remember having the Mr Spock and Dr McCoy masks but don't think I ever managed to acquire the Captain Kirk mask.

Colin, I've just listened to that ABBA track and it is indeed very Classic era ABBA.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Phillip - I too wondered over the decades why there was no chocolate flavored corn flakes.

I mean, there was Frosted Flakes with Tony the Tiger so you would think CHocolate was a no-brainer?

My guess was that chocolate and corn don't mix?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Did any of you UK gents get the Guy Fawkes mask out of Buster?

Steve W. said...

I didn't, Charlie.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I remember a set of six Doctor Who badges you could collect by eating sugar puffs. I think there was the Doctor, The Tardis, his car, his logo, Jo, the Brigadier and the Master. Actually that makes seven. Maybe the Tardis or the logo wasn't on a badge. This was when the Tardis was disabled and the Doctor was locked in the 1970s, so the Tardis was just a cupboard in the corner of the room with his living accommodation inside it.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Ah! Found them on Amazon. No Doctor Who logo or Tardis. But there was a UNIT badge.

Dave S said...

Dave's Cover of the Week: admittedly its awful but I'm going sat Super Spider-Man TV Comic for the sheer nostalgic faux-futuristicky feel of it. And the fact that it boldly promises that the reader can become a Marvel artist. Where do I sign up?

Steve W. said...

Dave, I think I have to go with the Marvel Super Adventure for my cover of the week, purely because it's not as bad as the others.

Dangermash, thanks for the link. Bessie is definitely the badge, from those, that I would have wanted.