Sunday, 13 April 2014

A few Marvel UK Tidbits from Yesteryear

Hello everyone.

Many apologies for my recent disappearances from the interwebs. I heard talk of search parties. It's okay. I am alive a well. :)

Long term followers of this Blog will know that it's been a difficult few years for me. 2011 and 2012 were both years of stepping back and being treated, 2013 proved to be the year of recovery and that has led to 2014 - the year of getting back on track. Over the past few years I've had to put a lot of things on the back burner, I've had to take a less proactive role in a lot of areas of my life. With this having changed somewhat in the past couple of months, as you can see, regular updates to this blog have suffered. Do not worry. It's not been abandoned.

I feel greatly frustrated that it has impacted on my coverage of the final issues of Revolutionary War, because the Motormouth, Warheads and the final Omega issue were something very special indeed. The new status quo set up for several characters over those issues are things which I dearly hope get carried over into future projects.

Oh! And while it's coming a little late for the warning, Dark Angel fans? If you've not been picking up Kieron Gillen's Iron Man series, then you most certainly should be. Shevaun Haldane has now joined that title's supporting cast, starting with the Issue #23.NOW - as the curious Marvel Now numbering has named it. A good new platform for the character.

Revolutionary War has served to remind both readers and creators as to just what a buzz of creativity the early 90s were at Marvel UK. Over on the Make Mine Marvel UK Facebook group recently, one half of Revolutionary War's writing combo - Alan Cowsill - posted up a couple of images from what would have been Roid Rage #1. Roid Rage and Red Mist 20-20 were both advertised in Marvel UK titles in the latter days of the imprint. Two page painted adverts if I recall correctly. Sadly it never made it into print before the sell-off, but it was definitely intended to be a big story. If I understand correctly, from what I've managed to pick up over the years, the Super Soldiers title was going to play a large part in that and I believe there was even a set of painted artwork destined to be promotional trading cards for the event.

Beyond that? Well, we've not really known very much.

I hope Alan doesn't mind me posting these up, here. I've tweaked the contrast a little for clarity, but the artwork comes from Andrew Currie on pencils and Bryan Hitch on inks.

Interestingly, from that second image, Cowsill posted that "Rw trivia, it's also the first time Agent Keller appeared...he didn't last long though...". So he was always a planned character, even all those years ago...

Marvel UK artwork from this period is of course somewhat hard to come by. A lot of it, tragically, ended up being trashed when the Marvel UK offices closed. It has been lost forever. However, in the same category of unpublished artwork John Freeman also recently posted up these couple of images from an unpublished Warheads story.

The artwork comes courtesy of 2000 AD's SMS (Smuzz). Freeman notes that "Just to note, we're now thinking that these two 'pages' are amalgams of incomplete art from the strip, now everyone has had sight of the script. Neither 'page' matches the script exactly. I've been pushing Smuzz's excellent work for years and at some point he sent me these two pages as samplers". 

A third and final page of artwork was later added, with a name for the story as "Target Practice".

"There are amendments on the script that asked that the alien on this final page be Vorin, the leader of the Shadow Riders," says Freeman, "I suspect that, as I have never seen this page before today, this would have been a matter of me asking for the change when I'd seen the art!"

It would have been great to have SMS doing art for Marvel UK. He's probably best known for his work on 2000 AD's ABC Warriors. I definitely think he'd have been a good fit for the tone of the series.

But perhaps the most interesting thing to have come from this stroll back through Marvel UK documents is that John Freeman has shared up some internal notes from 1993, on future plans for Overkill magazine. 

US readers - For those of you unaware Overkill magazine was a UK market anthology series which printed choice sections of what was printed in the US market books (along with the odd bit of exclusive material) in a fashion not entirely dissimilar to, say, that of 2000 AD. 

"(The document)outlines some of the unpublished comic strips planned for Overkill," says Freeman, "and my thoughts on the future of some of the company’s title such as Motormouth and Warheads, in January 1993, when I was in the process of leaving the company to take up life as a freelancer. The company was absorbed by Panini UK in 1995 and is no longer in business.

The hand-written notes re...fer to “Paul” – Paul Neary, Marvel UK’s Editorial Director; and editors Tim Quinn, Jacqui Papp and Bambos Georgiou."

And there are a number of interesting details within. Such as this, for example. Highlighted below:

How interesting is that? A US market book fronted by DH II, to collect the strips which the US market missed.

Now I can recall in the Marvel UK 'Bodycount' freebie from around that time that there was definitely some painted dinosaur artwork from a future project showcased there. I wonder if that was from the same piece?

But one of the most interesting parts of the document refers to two creators who would certainly play a role in shaping British characters for mainstream US Marvel at a later point.

Warren Ellis would later take the reins of Excalibur at Marvel and go on to create the character of Pete Wisdom - who is now among the most prominent British characters out there and active in Marvel Comics. Paul Cornell of course would also go on to write Pete Wisdom, as in integral part of his Captain Britain & MI13 series. Small world.

I'd have loved to have seen this. The MYS-TECH board were always intriguing characters, to me. There were so many possibilities in expanding their history and individual character. An organisation capable of rivaling The Hellfire Club with their clandestine operations around the world (and for a much larger chunk of history, at that).

For those who are interested in reading more, John has shared the document up here:

I'd also recommend looking over the ongoing list which John has been keeping of all Marvel UK projects, past and new, over at his own site. It really is a comprehensive list, both of published titles and the many projects with never saw the light of day.

Well, that's it for now folks. Hope that's proven to be of interest to you.

Until we meet again... (and hopefully it won't take as long next time)

Mark (Sword)

1 comment:

  1. (A view on Warheads # : 5