From Cents to Pence: Can You help solving a “Betty Boop” Marvel UK mystery?

Author Rob Kirby brings us the current status of his much-anticipated book about Marvel UK, From Cents to Pence – and asks for your help identifying some reprinted Betty Boop strips…

Marvel UK’s “Valentine Card Comic” Special starring Betty Boop, published in 1989 - a copy is currently being offered here on eBay
Marvel UK’s “Valentine Card Comic” Special starring Betty Boop, published in 1989a copy is currently being offered here on eBay

Author Rob Kirby has been researching the history of Marvel UK for as long as I have known him – and that’s as far back as when Marvel UK was still in existence, and I was working there! Now, after two decades since he started working on it, he’s revealed his meticulously researched book on the company, From Cents to Pence, is reaching the end of its “manuscript” stage and moving toward “proof reading”.

This much-anticipated book will chart the origins of Marvel UK in the 1970s, its rise, incredible success, and eventual fall in the 1990s. But, as he reveals below, there are some minor mysteries yet to be solved…

A Marvel UK Reprint Mystery – Can You Help?

I’d forgotten just how much work was involved in compiling the original indices to Marvel’s published UK output when the time came to revisit and update from 2000, where it had been left when writing on the history kicked in. I won’t bore you with some of the stylistic changes needed for consistency – but I had a lot of fresh material to add that involved a lot of typing, but provided the chance to fill in some annoying blanks.

Thanks to the input of various kind souls across the internet, in addition to the information on The Real Ghostbusters I’d secured last year, I now have full title info on Galaxy Rangers and Captain Planet, plus a few other oddities that I didn’t buy at the time. As well as making a discovery about the ongoing Spider-Man magazine – that for several years, it’s been running tranches of exclusive material, also published in Panini’s European editions.

Galaxy Rangers #1 – with thanks to Richard Sheaf

The good news is that I’ve almost finished with this – bar some intensive proofing! – so I can soon return to the final task, finishing up the final chapters of the book detailing the Panini era.

With that overdue update out of the way, I’m hoping someone out there maybe able to help with the first of several searches I’ve fallen short on.

These won’t affect completion of the book – if I can resolve them, then they’ll be one of several holdovers for any subsequent updated edition.

One of the things I’ve been looking at in recent years are the various foreign strips published in the UK – and in the past week, I seem to have resolved almost all of them, once I’d deciphered a specialist website devoted to Tintin magazine (yes, Marvel UK ran quite a few things from that European title in the mid-1980s).

Well, some – but not quite everything…

Here’s one to get you thinking: Betty Boop – courtesy of a one-off Valentine’s Day Special published in 1989, and various editions of The Marvel Bumper Comic.

Here’s one to get you thinking: Betty Boop – courtesy of a one-off Valentine’s Day Special published in 1989, and various editions of The Marvel Bumper Comic.

I posted some Marvel UK-published Betty Boop strips back in 2019 as part of an earlier request for help for my project, and was informed then that the material was first published by Norwegian publisher Gevion, in their short-lived four-issue Betty Boop title published in 1986, drawn by Swedish artist Ulf Jansson. But in which issue did it appear?

Betty Boop, from the Marvel UK Valentine Card Special, published in 1989
Betty Boop, from the Marvel UK Valentine Special, published in 1989

Here too, is the only Sunday page whose date is missing – all the others published were from 1985. Can you help?

Betty Boop - Sunday Strip - European

Can you identify the exact issues of whatever European magazine the two strips featured here come from, as well as the exact publication days of all the Sunday pages, too?

Please let me know by commenting below… Good hunting!

Rob Kirby

Our thanks to Rob for bringing us the latest on From Cents to Pence. Rob has been hugely supportive of our much smaller efforts to document Marvel UK projects, providing plenty of information, for example, to add to our “Marvel UK: “Genesis ’92” – Looking Back and What Might Have Been” resource

Check out and follow A Distant Beacon, Rob’s web journal

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. 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 "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

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