Over on the Facebook Make Mine Marvel UK group, former editor, ever a writer and now frequent raconteur Tim Quinn has been posting some fantastic photographs and artwork rescued during the dying days of the company that brought titles such as Captain Britain, The Real Ghostbusters, Death’s Head, Death’s Head II and Overkill into the world – including these early images of work in progress on the Death’s Head II costume, created for publicity purposes at his request back in the 1990s.
The project was just one of many publicity ideas Tim came up with for Marvel UK, with the final costume featuring in several comics and at PR events on both sides of the Atlantic, including the London Lord Mayor’s Show in 1993. On occasion, Marvel’s heroes rubbed shoulders with the likes of Alice Cooper and Brian May.
“I remember being so excited to see this…” says Liam Sharp, who drew the early issues of Death’s Head II. “US Customs snapped off one of the horns when it was shipped out to the 1992 San Diego Comic Con… they thought it might contain drugs! It was also the best costume on the Marvel stand at that time.
In 1994, Marvel UK was absorbed by Panini, senior staff decided dumping ‘stuff’ lying about Arundel House – Marvel UK’s London headquarters – was favourable to transferring it to Panini UK’s Tunbridge Wells offices. Several editors salvaged said stuff (or, in Tim’s words, “curated” it), rather than see the projects they’d worked on destroyed forever. Not being there at the time, we’re guessing that this was not a happy period for many of them as they saw Marvel UK go down in flames.
But before those grim days, there were great times had at the company, under various reigns of management, for all the frustrations of day to day decision making that on occasion seemed quite bonkers, often the result of Marvel US decision making.
“I don’t think I really appreciated how incredible it all was,” says Liam Sharp of Marvel UK, which will be celebrated at London Film and Comic Con on Saturday 5th October. “Death’s Head II issue one had half a million sales!”
• London Film and Comic Con will celebrate Marvel UK on Saturday 5th October with a panel that includes Steve White, Andy Lanning, Alan Cowsill, Dan Abnett and John Freeman, with more names to come: www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com/winter