Monday, 19 January 2009

A word from Rob Kirby - Can you help?


I hope that the Christmas and New Year period treated you all well. Apparently today was supposed to have been what is known as "Blue Monday" the statistically most depressing day of the year (More info: so if you're reading this, congratulations, you survived - the statisticians are idiots.

Now, I have some news for you. Think back to almost a year ago. You may recall I posted up a news story about a book called 'Marvel: From Cents to Pence – The Definitive Guide to Marvel’s British Comics 1951-2007', which was being written by a chap named Rob Kirby ( . Since that news bulletin went up on the Make Mine Marvel UK Facebook last February I hadn't really heard anything much more about it.

That was until a couple of days ago, when Rob himself sent me an email. I've had a little chat with him, and he's said it's okay to post up that email in full.

Hi, Mark, I have no Google or Blogger account, so thought I'd send the following directly to you should you wish to throw it out to the readers of your rather spiffy web page :)

I'm not sure how, but this is the one part of the Marvel UK universe on the web I seem not to have stumbled across thus far, hence only now replying to comments about your kind post on my first Facebook entry on to the Make Mine Marvel site almost a year ago now (god, that year flew).

Yes, Mr. Freeman (Hi, John!) is correct in commenting that the book did start life 20 years or so back, but merely as an index work then, modelled to a degree on the Olshevsky guides (those A4 sized Marvel Indexes, and the later comic book sized ones that Marvel then published in the late 80s). Blame Dez and Steve Holland for cajoling me into researching a proper history rather than a brief summary to precede it (well, there was very little material to build anything on, or so I thought until investigating my own fanzine collection) - that's when things got even more complicated. The more people you talk to the more you get passed on to someone else, and then there are the seemingly unconnected tidbits that kept flying out of the pages of Alter Ego et al in recent years. Little asides of seemingly not much relevance to USA readers, but put that all together with everything else I'd put together, and you can begin to understand why it's taken so long alongside the present day job of ten years passed.

Anyway, the history section is locked on the final pages at last, which means I can only make one final pass to add a few recently received additional comments as it will disturb the placement of illustrations next to text on the page (none of this flicking forward three pages to find the illustration to something you've just read about). Once that's done - bar Dez's sub-editing and general tidying up and photoshopping - I can move on transferring all the indices from word docs onto the final pages. After that, it's pre-production time at last!

I can't say when it'll be finally done, but it will be. I'm not about to abandon it after all this time. You'll just have to trust me that the final book (all 600+ pages) should knock everyone's socks off, from what's in the text to the visuals too, and should surprise those who held rather low opinions of the UK wing back in the day. You know, the old 'but they're only reprints' mob. Well, they're in for a shock or two, I think. the UK was more of a test bed than we ever realised... but for more on that, you'll just have to buy a copy. Darn, but this Stan Lee hucksterism is catching!

Anyway, have faith pilgrims, we'll get there in our own mixed up way. Drat, must stop doing that right now... :)

Keep up the good work, this is a very nicely set out site, and anything pro-Marvel UK out there can't be bad!



P.S. If it's not too cheeky, I've recently posted a list of visuals that I'm still seeking scans for. If you're willing to post up the list, to see what your readers might have, then I'll be more than happy to send you a copy to pass on them too.

That's okay Rob, it's not too cheeky at all. Anything I can do to help. So can you help? Rob's looking for some very specific images to accompany sections of his book. If you have any of these in your collection, and access to a scanner, maybe you can help. The items which Rob is currently searching for are as follows:

> TV Action & Countdown #82 (cover).

> Stan Lee's – How to Write Comics/Secrets of Comics (cover to the book I can't quite recall the name of right now - it's just to illustrate Stan's early work, so it's not referenced in the text that I could check the title from).
> Fredric Wertham – Seduction of the Innocent cover.
> Thorpe and Porter price stamps (isolated B&W images).
> Comics to Hold You Spellbound #1 (UK – Thorpe and Porter cover).
> Stories to Hold You Spellbound #3 (USA – Atlas cover).
> Mystic (early Len Miller cover).
> Frankie Stein (upright figure from an early Smash! in an uninterrupted panel not intersected by other panels).
> Smash! (early Marvel cover).
> Pow! & Wham! (cover from a merged issue).
> Smash & Pow incorporating Terrific (cover).
> Eagle – Tales of Asgard cover (No. 21, Vol. 19/25th May 1968, for which I need a full size image).
> The Daily Herald (1963 newspaper cover)

Chapter 3:
> A Skywald magazine cover.
> Ray Wergan photo.
> Evening News and Chronicle (mid-1960s newspaper cover, and a sports page that Ray Wergan wrote).

Chapter 5:
> TV Times cover, or listing for Planet of the Apes TV series from 1975.
> Look-In – Planet of the Apes cover from January 1975.

Chapter 8:
> My Love #19 (cover).

Chapter 10:
> Derinn Comicollector (cover).
> SuperDC (cover, and scan of the letters page).
> Shiver and Shake horror Special (mid-70s cover).
> MAD UK – Dez Skinn era original UK artwork cover.
> Jim Galton – 1978 photo.
> Paul Neary – late 1970s photo.
> A Portman magazine cover – from whichever title featured Man-Thing will do nicely!

Chapter 11: > An ND issue of the Uncanny X-Men from 1979 (cover).

Chapter 14:
> MAD UK #161 (Doctor Who cover).
> The Celestial Toyroom (up to 1983 fanzine cover, for an issue edited by Gary Russell).
> Doctor Who signing at a 1984 Westminster Mart (photos).
> The Harrison Ford Story (cover to Alan McKenzie authored book).

Chapter 15:
> Paul Neary – 1981/2 photo.

Chapter 19:
> A front and back box photo to any of the first Transformers toys from the initial range.

Chapter 20:
> A front and back box photo to any of the first Zoids toys from the initial range.
> A front and back box photo to any of the first Action Force toys from the initial range.
> Alternate Realities – USA comic suppliers advert c.1986 (and if advertising the UK Transformers and Action Force comics, then all the better).
> Combat Colin – post Marvel special.

Chapter 21:
> UKCAC '86 – Convention photos from the Marvel Ethiopian raffle.
> "Fast Forward" dummy cover (a long shot, but maybe somebody has it still).
> Crisis – early Fleetway cover.

Chapter 22:
> David Lloyd – early 1990s photo.
> Vincent Conran – 1991 photo.

Chapter 24:
> White Dwarf – front cover and splash page to the early 1990's issue featuring Mark Harrison's "Travellers" strip.

If you have any of these knocking about in an attic or a long-box at home Rob would be incredibly grateful. If you've got some of these, and wouldn't wouldn't mind scanning the image as a 300dpi jpeg (No need for resizing) you can contact Mt Kirby at . This genuinely does sound like a great labour of love worth helping. Let's try and keep Marvel UK fresh in a few people's minds, eh?


No comments:

Post a Comment