How Stan Lee launched a pub­lish­ing phe­nom­e­non in Bri­tain

SFX - - Stan lee -

Mar­vel UK would never have ex­isted with­out stan lee. Con­sid­er­ing him­self “the world’s great­est an­glophile” – his wife came from New­cas­tle-upon-tyne, and their daugh­ter JC later re­lo­cated to lon­don – he be­came un­happy with how patchy the Us im­ports were, and the man­ner in which home­grown ti­tles Pow! and TV21 re-edited Mar­vel’s sto­ries for a Bri­tish read­er­ship. Cre­at­ing a UK comic de­vel­oped into a new am­bi­tion.

af­ter be­com­ing Mar­vel’s pub­lisher in 1972, stan res­cued their in­vest­ment in an un­re­leased UK comic, set to con­tain a mix­ture of Us reprints and new UK strips. Now fea­tur­ing only amer­i­can ma­te­rial, it was re­fash­ioned as The Mighty World Of Mar­vel, with a suc­cess­ful, prof­itable range of weekly (and later monthly) comics soon fol­low­ing. Now a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor, lee en­joyed in­creas­ingly packed press sched­ules ar­ranged by their lon­don of­fice, later as­sisted by one Neil ten­nant, the fu­ture pet shop Boy. In­ter­views would fea­ture var­i­ously in Punch and The Evening Stan­dard; on ra­dio shows Hul­la­ballo and Jelly­bone; and on tv’s Peb­ble Mill At One and Scot­land To­day.

Writ­ing ex­clu­sive soap­box col­umns wasn’t enough – stan wanted to meet the Bri­tish au­di­ence. When The Su­per­heroes and The Sav­age Sword Of Co­nan launched he spoke to rapt au­di­ences at the ICa on 3 March 1975. on 20 oc­to­ber, the de­but of The Ti­tans and Sons Of Ori­gins Of Mar­vel Comics saw the round­house packed with 900 fans. When Cap­tain Bri­tain went on sale the fol­low­ing year, lee em­barked on his long­est pro­mo­tional tour yet, tak­ing in Glas­gow, ed­in­burgh, leeds, New­cas­tle and lon­don. Cap­tain Bri­tain it­self de­liv­ered on Mar­vel’s oft-ex­pressed prom­ise to pro­duce an ex­clu­sive comic strip, set in the UK.

By 1978, Bri­tish and amer­i­can comic pub­lish­ers were strug­gling. lee asked UK man­ager ray Wer­gan to con­tact Bri­tish pub­lisher Dez skinn, ask­ing him to draft a re­port on their op­tions. Im­pressed with skinn’s rad­i­cal re­think, stan per­suaded him to take over the UK di­vi­sion, and later helped pro­mote Hulk Comic in March 1979. re­spon­si­bil­ity for Mar­vel UK then passed to ed­i­tor-in-chief Jim shooter, as lee moved to Hol­ly­wood to form Mar­vel pro­duc­tions. Mar­vel UK’s out­put would then in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion of Bri­tish comics’ cre­ators. In his de­ter­mi­na­tion that Mar­vel should pub­lish in Bri­tain, lee left be­hind a hugely in­flu­en­tial legacy in the coun­try he loved. Rob Kirby

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