Shades of Yesteryear! Looking Back at British Comic Fanzines

1980s British comic fanzine SCAN, edited by John Freeman. This cover was kindly created by Marvel UK staffers John Tomlinson and Richard Starkings, drawn by  <a href=" ">Ivan Allen</a> (who drew the Night Raven illustrations for Mighty World of Marvel.

1980s British comic fanzine SCAN, edited by John Freeman. This cover was kindly created by Marvel UK staffers John Tomlinson and Richard Starkings, drawn by Ivan Allen (who drew the Night Raven illustrations for Mighty World of Marvel.


Over on social community Facebook, former 1980s fanzine editor Russell Willis, who now lives in Japan, has posted a huge number of covers to some fondly-remembered British fanzines of the period, including this example of SCAN, edited by me, John Freeman.

The cover , drawn by Ivan Allen, was provided by John Tomlinson and Richard Starkings who then worked for Marvel UK, and their support for SCAN eventually helped me join the company.

SCAN, which was put together by me and Matthew Badham over a couple of years had a huge range of contributors including Mike Collins, Mark Farmer, Bryan Talbot, Andy Dodd, Dave Jones (of Viz fame). We satirised British comics of the time ruthlessly, much to the delight of many industry professionals, including Alan Moore who was one of our (few) subscribers.

Russell’s collection features 180 scans of fanzines and small press comics from the 1980s (and a few from the 1970s that he collected at that time) including Lew Stringer’s Brickman, Supercook, Paris Man of Plaster, Ratman, The Owl’s Effort, Fantasy Advertiser, BEM (including BEM #1) Paul Gravett and Pete Stanbury’s Fast Fiction and many more.

You don’t have to be a member of Facebook to view these albums, which offer a fascinating snapshot of a very inventive time for the British small press.

Album One
Includes covers of Paris Man of Plaster, Supercook, Ratman, Vigilante Vulture, Brickman, The Owl’s Effort and more

Album Two
Includes covers of Fast Fiction, Myra, Warren Ellis early work Doctor Death, The Alternative Headmaster’s Bulletin and more

Album Three
Includes covers of BEM, Graphic Sense, Fantasy Trader and more – some from the 1970s

Album Four
Includes covers of Russel”s own fanzine, Infinity, plus Fantasy Advertiser, Fusion, Hellfire and more

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.

Categories: British Comics, Creating Comics

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6 replies

  1. WOW!
    Not because I actually own any of these, but it does bring back memories of seeing the reviews for some of these in the fanzine review section of Marvel UK’s MWOM and Daredevils when I was a kid. I use to study them in awe and wonder if I should send off for any of them, which I never did of course. I remember Alan Moore use to write some of the reviews and praised people like Eddie campbell and Ed Hillyer.
    It should be pointed out that Phil Elliott is currently reprinting some of his old Gimbley strips at

  2. I for one would love to see a collection of Paris, Man of Plaster — I have some but not all the issues. Maybe some of it already has been gathered?

    Cheers for the Gimbley link!

  3. I would second the Paris… collection, though somewhere I do have a few of the issues Harrier published. Top Shelf did a good job on Dakin’s ABE collection so…
    I forgot to say before, along with the zine reviews, Marvel UK had a showcase slot which along with strips by Mike Collins and Mark Farmer, there was Albert The Mouse (a character until today I hadn’t thought about for 20 years or so). Seemed unpopular with the readers but I quite liked him.

  4. Albert the Mouse was the creation of John Jackson, who also drew a couple of strips for later issues of SCAN. Albert the Mouse was featured in Mighty World of Marvel Issue 7, one of several strips by young creators promoted in the title thanks to John Tomlinson. Where is he now?

  5. Thanks so much for this post! What an amazing collection of scans. I’ve always been fascinated with the UK fanzine scene (especially the ’80s, which is when I first got involved over here in the US). Cheers!

    Rick Bradford

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