Marvel UK Memories: Pet Tails

Writer, editor and publisher Tim Quinn reveals some of the work that was created for Pet Tails, an unrealised 1990s Marvel UK title…

I was always keen during my tour of duty with Marvel UK to make sure we didn’t have all our eggs in one super-hero basket. Some pages of one such project just fell out of a book I obviously haven’t opened since the early 1990s.

Pet Tails one of the comic magazines I masterminded before the company took a dramatic turn into bankruptcy and various disasters.

My thinking was that every child loves pets – so let’s create a monthly publication revolving round tales and features about that very thing.

A dummy cover for Pet Tails, a Marvel UK proposed project
A dummy cover for Pet Tails, a Marvel UK proposed project

I notice that as well as some of Marvel UK’s regular illustrators, I tried my luck with a few children’s book illustrators who obviously hadn’t done strip work before. Personally, I think it makes for an interesting variety of styles.

The stories were written by myself, wife Jane and, I think, brother Jason who was new to Marvel at that time. The “Animal Hotel” story is based on a memory I had of a favourite TV series from 1963 called Badger’s Bend about a boy who opened an animal hotel.

(The show was so inspiring to little 10-year-old me that I put up posters all round my neighbourhood advertising that I was running an animal hotel for anyone heading off on holiday. Fab books by John Rhodes, by the way, still on my shelf).

William Francis Phillipps drew the “Animal Hotel” samples. He had previously done comic book work on the weekly comic Teddy Bear, and its successor Teddy Bear’s Playtime, but I’d loved his work since seeing his Pan Horror Stories covers back in the early 1960s. We became good friends and he was featured regularly in my Blue Moon comic.

Angus McBride illustrated “The Stray Cats“. He was another legendary name from children’s book and magazine illustration (Look & Learn, Finding Out, and more).

Mario Capaldi, a Marvel UK regular, of course, worked on our horse story, but I’m unsure who did the “Great Race” strip. I’ll have the paperwork somewhere from Linden Artists.

"Animal Hotel", drawn by William Francis Phillipps
“Animal Hotel”, drawn by William Francis Phillipps
"Animal Hotel", drawn by William Francis Phillipps
“Animal Hotel”, drawn by William Francis Phillipps
"Animal Hotel", drawn by William Francis Phillipps
“Animal Hotel”, drawn by William Francis Phillipps
"The Stray Cats", illustrated by Angus McBride
“The Stray Cats”, illustrated by Angus McBride
"The Stray Cats", illustrated by Angus McBride
“The Stray Cats”, illustrated by Angus McBride
"The Stray Cats", illustrated by Angus McBride
“The Stray Cats”, illustrated by Angus McBride
Shady Rest Dogs' Home
Shady Rest Dogs’ Home
Shady Rest Dogs' Home
Shady Rest Dogs’ Home
Shady Rest Dogs' Home
Shady Rest Dogs’ Home
Art for a horse story for the proposed Marvel UK title "Pet Tails" by Mario Capaldi
Art for a horse story for the proposed Marvel UK title “Pet Tails” by Mario Capaldi

My main aim behind the magazine was to encourage a love of reading in kids between ages 6-12. I’m still on that kick today, After all these years, finding these pages and coming to it cold, I still think the idea is pretty wonderful and bloody obvious idea to grab kids imagination. If I had the energy, I’d feel irritated!

Marvel UK did have a junior division with titles such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Rupert Bear and Care Bears – but I felt these were handled in a pretty bland and dull way (and I love Rupert Bear, just not Marvel UK’s take on him).

"Pet Tails" Budgie Feature
“Pet Tails” Budgie Feature
"Pet Tails" Budgie Feature
“Pet Tails” Budgie Feature

Anyway, despite being green lit, written and drawn, this mag was canned at the last minute when a ghastly Marketing Manager was inflicted upon us. This gormless dope claimed that kids had no interest in pets so we shouldn’t proceed. There was a fear in Marvel UK’s management at that time due to all our US titles tanking and so they listened to this great pudding’s advice.

There is a reason my forehead is so flat.

Tim Quinn

• For more Marvel UK memories, be sure to but a copy of Tim’s book, ARGH! – available here from MIWK for a sensible price and here from AmazonUK for insane prices (Affiliate Link)

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Tim Quinn was born in Liverpool in 1953, the very same year Beryl the Peril first appeared in The Topper. Coincidence? We think not! His mother named him after her favourite childhood comic book character, Tiger Tim. Educated by Irish Christian Brothers whose prospectus boasted, "We will instill a fear of God into your child", it was little wonder Tim chose a life in comedy. And there's nothing more comical than working in or for the comics industry at times, for companies that include Marvel UK, where he was Head of Special Projects...



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