Panini Comics UK teases eventual return of Marvel Collectors’ Editions

Panini Comics UK have offered the vaguest of hints that their range of Marvel Collectors’ Editions are to return – the titles victim to the Pandemic earlier in the year and put on hiatus.

While Doctor Who Magazine, Spider-Man Magazine and Panini’s football magazine Strike-It have continued through 2020, with editorial staff largely working remotely, “Collectors’ Editions” titles such as Deadpool Unleashed, Marvel Legends and Essential X-Men went on hiatus in March and April.

Much to the dismay of regular readers and subscribers, these were victim to the closure of most WHSmith in the first national lockdown in response to COVID-19, the source of the bulk of their sales.

The publisher’s new DC Comics tie-in title Batman, was also launched in March, but only the first issue was published.

Spider-Man Magazine has continued its run through 2020, despite lockdown and staff furlough. with Issue 383 on sale now

In the briefest of statements on the Panini Comics UK Facebook Page, the publisher has stated that they “will be unveiling our exciting new plans for the Collectors’ Editions in the coming months”.

The wording suggests the company are planning a relaunch of the range, but with a new national lockdown now looming, it seems unlikely much more news will be forthcoming until early 2021.

Fans will simply have to be patient, although British Marvelites may be a little miffed to learn that Panini Italy and Panini Spain have continued to published their tie-in comics through 2020.

“I’m guessing there are a lot of factors in play here,” notes Jon Carpenter, publisher of the Starlogged blog. “Lockdowns, staff on furlough, diminished high street footfall, lack of new movies to give regular sales bumps, the international view from Panini HQ, Marvel’s ability to keep supplying licencees with content during the New York lockdown, production (especially if other language editions are involved), printing and shipping overseas, the narrative nature of comics compared with magazines, subscriptions versus shop sales, retailer enthusiasm (especially WHSmith and their tendency to put copies behind counters… A problem now they are mostly self-service stores).

“And now, the uncertainty around Brexit and the costs and logistics of doing business in the UK (exchange rates, staff costs, overseas printing and potential headaches and delays around shipping printed comics into the UK in a timely fashion).

“Better now to wait and see what the market can sustain in terms of range, frequency and cover price and then reboot to fit,” he feels.

Many Panini Comics UK titles remain on hold, including its fledgling Batman title

“It’s a shame the Collectors’ Editions aren’t more widely available, as I feel it’s putting a cap on their sale potential,” says Rob Kirby, author of the upcoming British Marvel book, From Cents to Pence. “I don’t think that it’s down to their US size, as in the past two years the supermarkets have stocked recent Panini Select collected books, released as film tie-ins. The Spider-Man magazine is also available in all supermarkets and many smaller independent newsagents/general stores too, so it’s immediately got that wider visibility, as does Doctor Who Magazine.”

While overall magazine subscription sales have increased exponentially for British publishers, title sales still benefit from a news stand presence, with newcomer publisher GetMyComics recently launching its new anthology title SHIFTnow on sale – at perhaps the most difficult of times, but cannily pushing a variety of subscription packages through both printed page and online promotion.

While the continued absence of many Panini Comics UK titles is understandably a source of concern to fans, it’s at least good news that their Marvel reprints are to return – although in what form, and when, remains dependent on a number of factors sadly beyond the publisher’s control.

Here at downthetubes we wish all the staff involved the very best at this difficult time, and look forward to learning more about the revival of the reprint collections in due course.

Spider-Man Magazine #383 is on sale now from newsagents and the Panini Comics UK online store

• You can buy back issues and Graphic Novels over at store.panini.co.uk where the publisher still offering free delivery

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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7 replies

  1. Interesting to see what happens here. As a fan of the CEs for over 20 years, it’s been a bit of a worrying period for them even prior to Covid. Rocketing prices since the Brexit uncertainty, MWOM being cancelled, and a reduced page count have painted a concerning picture. I think the last one especially is one that “hurts” the most. The 76 page format meant you got a lot of bang for your book compared to the US issues, now at 52 pages not so much.

    A relaunch would make sense to try and save the range, maybe when Black Widow hits cinemas – most Marvel UK changes center around the MCU. The pluralism of the word “months” may be a little frustrating, but at the end of the day it’s surely much more frustrating to the brilliant team who work on the line. Fingers crossed, especially as Astonishing Spider-Man and Essential X-men are 25 years old this month! No mean feat!

    • Realistically, you’re looking at a relaunch in February at the very earliest, probably later. It’s my understanding that the unpopular 52-page format brought the titles into line with the format of Panini’s European reprint titles, which of course means you’re burning through less material… a problem that Marvel UK often faced in decades gone by

    • They should’ve reduced the cover price when they cut the page count. It’s probably best for X-Men to go fortnightly like Spider-Man too, because there’s so many X-books – as things stand that X of Swords event will take a year to finish when in the US it’ll only take three months. And since Deadpool isn’t on any teams now, they should remove him from Wolverine’s book, run his series in Deadpool Unleashed. And Marvel Legends should be rebranded, just use the names of the two characters it’s still running.

      • It could be worse, of course. I reckon if Meltdown, the anthology title I edited back in the early 1990s for MUK was still going, it might still not have completed Akira…

    • Thanks John, interesting to know some of the reason and presumbably wasn’t exclusively cost cutting related. Will be interesting to see what’s taken into consideration in any relaunch – page count, a need to time jump etc especially as habits have been broken, but you don’t want to leave the loyal readers without the ends of the stories in progress.

      I think a consolodated line is the most likely and taking Deadpool out of the Wolverine title is long overdue (that said fairly recently Wolverine and Deadpool was the best selling title in the line. Presume that might be per issue, as Astonishing probably sells more per month combined). I can understand the issue with burning through material, but with so much now backed up and readers being able to access more modern material quicker through Marvel Unlimited I don’t envy those making the decisions here!

      James – the prices did go down, but only by 10%, with a 33% page reduction. Know it doesn’t always go hand in hand, but it’s quite a lot to stomach, especially with the fortnightly Astonishing Spider-man. Don’t think Essential X-men has ever sold enough to get close to thinking about a fortnightly launch according to the editorial team – maybe bung some of the tales over to Wolverine to replace Deadpool?

  2. We used to stock these alongside the US imports each month, with all books selling through constantly, then one month they were no longer available through Diamond UK. When asked, no one seemed to have an answer as to why, despite probing as much as possible, which im guessing (no longer us DUK) is still the case, leaving WHSmith the sole sales point for the line?
    For such an affordable format compared to the US originals, a wider distribution in the UK would be helpful for the growth if normality ever returns 🙂

  3. I am confused about the entire thing, especially as Panini CEs continue to be sold in continental Europe.

    Throughout the pandemic, and I know these are unique times, a lot of branches of WHSmith remained open. The ones which had post offices certainly did. As did every corner shop/newsagent. I’ve seen CEs in at least some of them. And, although rare, Astonishing Spider-Man in the Co-Op, although I confess I don’t know if that is a quirk of my Co-Op or if the Co-Op stocks it nationally.

    I do feel Panini’s business practices are peculiar at times. Last time I checked their Twitter page, no tweets. Ever. And their Instagram page is private, why would a business make its page private? I also find it odd that Panini hasn’t attempted to make its CEs digital. Even COMMANDO, which probably has a very old readership, allows you to order copies digitally. Since the pandemic, so as to keep others safe, I’ve ordered 2000 AD and the JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE digitally.

    If there’s another UK-wide shutdown (after the second one ends), consumer confidence could fall further. Wouldn’t digital CEs at least allow people to order while still ensuring paper CEs to newsagents?

    It seems a little defeatist – and I love Panini – to just “hide away”. The longer that goes on, the more people might flock to trades, Marvel US, etc. I like the curated nature of the CEs, plus the stewardship of editors Scott Gray and Brady Webb. However, people I speak with tell me that they are flocking to Rebellion and D.C. Thompson. At least if the CEs return, and perhaps think about offering digital options, things might at least have a chance.

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