Monday, July 21, 2008

The British Marvel

During WWII, American comic books had been used as ballast in cargo ships across the Atlantic. Upon their arrival in England, they wound up in the hands of British children. A British publisher, Len Miller & Sons, obtained the license to reprint Fawcett's comics in the United Kingdom. When Fawcett pulled the plug on their comic books, Captain Marvel was still as popular as ever in England, so Len Miller had Mick Anglo's art studio create a new versions of Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family, blatant rip-offs named Marvelman., Young Marvelman, and Kid Marvelman (for whatever reason there was no female member of the family).

Marvelman's Alter ego was a copy boy for a newspaper called the Daily Bugle named Micky Moran. He had been subjected to the effect of a special machine by the dying astro-physicist Guntag Barghelt. This gave him the key to great power. He would be able to unlock this power by saying the word “Kimota” (Atomic misspelled backward). Then in the flash of a mushroom cloud (sound effect: WOOF!) would transform into Marvelman!

Young Marvelman's alter ego was Dicky Dauntless, a delivery boy for Transatlantic Messenger Service, and Kid Marvelman's alter ego was Johnny Bates, a 9-year-old boy. Both of these boys effected their transformations by saying the name of their senior hero-family member, ”Marvelman,” just as Freddy Freeman had affected his transformation by saying “Captain Marvel.”

These comics were drawn in an imitation of the C.C. Beck style, and sometimes covers were blatantly ripped off of original Fawcett covers. The stories followed the same basic patterns, and even their enemies paralleled the Marvel Family's. In the place of Dr. Sivana was a Dr. Garzunga (complete with the short stature and bad teeth, although with hair) and in the place of Black Adam was Kid Nastyman (complete with black and yellow version of the Marvelman costume).

This line of comics enjoyed its ups and downs of success and popularity until it was folded up in 1963. But that was far from the last that would be seen of these characters.

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