A modern take on the Steel Claw by Martin Baines, for an abandoned mobile comics project

TimeUK up for sale, but does that include its massive comics and comic character library?

Robot Archie / Lion original cover artwork (1965) by Ted Kearon from Lion 15 May 1965 The title headers are publisher's photocopies (to save them being drawn every week) Indian ink on board,
Robot Archie / Lion original cover artwork (1965) by Ted Kearon from Lion 15 May 1965
The title headers are publisher’s photocopies (to save them being drawn every week)
Indian ink on board,

Reuters reported on Friday that US Magazine publisher Time Inc says its is looking to sell several assets, including Time Inc UK, Time Customer Service and a majority stake in the Essence magazine.

The sale processes – in response to magazine circulation and advertising revenue falls – were at various stages and the company has not entered into any definitive agreement, Time said in a regulatory filing.

Part of the assets owned by Time Inc UK – licensed through DC Comics – include many pre-1970 first-published comics and characters published by Amalgamated Press and IPC/Fleetway, including titles such as Tiger and Lion .

Characters that featured in the Wildstorm published Albion mini series in 2005 such as the Steel Claw, Spellbinder, Bad Penny, Robot Archie are all owned by TimeUK.

As we’ve previously reported, IPC’s comic properties were divided up in 1987, with all the characters and strip first published after 1st January 1970, plus 26 characters then appearing in Buster, allocated to Fleetway, now a separate company again, which was then sold to Pergamon Holdings, a company owned by Robert Maxwell.

A modern take on the Steel Claw by Martin Baines, for an abandoned mobile comics project
A modern take on the Steel Claw by Martin Baines, for an abandoned mobile comics project

Egmont UK purchased Fleetway in 1991 and merged it with their own comics publishing operation, London Editions Magazines, to form Fleetway Editions. This was eventually absorbed into the main Egmont operation by 2000, though the science fiction anthology 2000AD was sold off to Rebellion, which bought the Fleetway assets in 2017 and have begun publishing collections of numerous strips, including MonsterMistyOne-Eyed Jack and The Leopard from Lime Street.

Rebellion also owns Roy of the Rovers, first published in Tiger in 1954, another exception to the “first published” clause noted above.

IPC – which was bought by Time, Inc., the magazine publishing division of Time Warner,  in 2001 – retained all its comics properties created before January 1970, another exception being Dan Dare, who was sold off separately to the Dan Dare Corporation.

Let’s hope Time Inc. is open to approaches from comics publishers here in the UK for its comic library assets. If Rebellion snapped them up it would solve a lot of copyright headaches, I’m sure, and I know there are plenty of downthetubes readers who would love to see some of the more popular characters revived, myself included.

CNBC Time UK sell off news item

•  Rebellion: The Classic Comics (and characters) 2000AD’s Publisher Now Owns

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John Freeman

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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