Missing In Action: Marvel UK’s “Zip” anthology 

Marvel UK published a huge number of anthology titles down the years, starting with Mighty World of Marvel in the early 1970s through to Overkill in the 1990s – but one that got away in the company’s final years was Zip, another idea from editor Tim Quinn.

Proposed as a weekly anthology comic, mixing humour and adventure strips just as many British weeklies such as Lion, Valiant and Buster had done in the past, Tim commissioned sample art from a number of artists, including David Lloyd and Ron Tiner.

While the project never got off the ground, here’s a taster of what might have been…

Debbie Drake of the SAS by Tim Quinn and David Lloyd

“Debbie Drake of the SAS” by Tim Quinn and David Lloyd

Debbie Drake of the SAS” was a story idea from Quinn, drawn by David Lloyd. No, really – here’s the opening page – and what a cracking idea!

“The simple idea was a 12 year-old SAS member,” says Tim. “When the job was too much for Bond, Steed or Solo, send for Debbie!”

Tim tells us no doubt her surname was a tip of the hat to Number Six of The Prisoner fame – and there are plans afoot to try and get the strip off the ground in 2016.

"Stirling Worth", drawn by Geoff Campion was one of a number of two-page adventure strips proposed for Zip, the character created by Tim Quinn

“Stirling Worth”, drawn by Geoff Campion was one of a number of two-page adventure strips proposed for Zip, the character created by Tim Quinn

Stirling Worth“, drawn by Geoff Campion was one of the two-page adventure strips proposed for Zip, again created by Tim.

“Stirling Worth is Sexton Blake, Sherlock Holmes and Lord John Roxton rolled into one,” Tim says, “The Great Victorian Adventurer. Just the chap to have at your side during a Zulu uprising. Pluck, Vim, Vigour…he’s got the lot!

“Can you feel the fog descending? Of course it’s a real pea-souper!

“I remember could he just as easily have been named Reston Balance,” says Tim, explaining the dummy page titles, “Stirring Stories with Reston Balance”.

“The art is by Geoff Campion from Hurricane‘s ‘Typhoon Tracy’ and many other strips. Would have been fun.

“Adventure number one from the casebook begins when someone starts bumping off members of the royal family. Can Stirling Worth stop them before Queen Victoria becomes a victim?”

Tim is happy to acknowledge a tip of the hat to author George Macdonald Fraser’s “Flashman” character in the strip.

“I had recently met author George Macdonald Fraser,” he recalls, “and we were talking about the possibility of a Flashman graphic novel with art from John M. Burns. Due to John’s workload, we never got round to anything more than a script for pages leading up to the Charge of the Light Brigade. I have a very interesting write up from George Mac somewhere.”

The Devil Wants You by Tim Quinn and Ron Tiner

The Devil Wants You by Tim Quinn and Ron Tiner

“The Devil Wants You” by Tim Quinn and Ron Tiner

In our final sample, “The Devil Wants You“, Satan gets bored with the humdrum life in Hell and comes up top to collect new souls to torment with hilarious consequences. The art is by Ron Tiner, concept and script by Tim.

Sadly, Zip never got beyond dummy stage – but we thought it would be fun to share some of its planned delights with you. Our thanks as ever to Tim for sharing the art.

All characters copyright Tim Quinn. Art © respective artists

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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