Saturday, March 31, 2012

Marvelman Bibliography: Part 4 - Marvel Comics

A bibliography of Marvelman (and his occasional nom de guerre Miracleman) is a complicated business, so I’ve decided to do it in four five parts:

  • Part 1: L Miller & Son Ltd/L Miller & Co Ltd
  • Part 2: Quality Communications Ltd
  • Part 3: Eclipse Comics
  • Part 4: Marvel Comics
  • Part 5: Everything Else, and Bibliography

  • If you’re wondering why you might not have seen any of these before, it’ll be because this one, the fourth one, is actually the first one I’m writing. This paragraph will eventually disappear when I’ve finally done all those pages. In the meantime, here’s what Marvel have been up to so far, since they bought Mick Anglo’s rights to Marvelman in July 2009.

    ---------------COMICS---------------

    24 July 2009: Marvel Comics announces it has bought Mick Anglo’s copyright in Marvelman.

    8 July 2010: Marvelman Family’s Finest #1 - Sales: 17,739

    A recluse Astro-Scientist discovers the key word to the Universe, one that can only be given to a Boy who is completely honest, studious, and of such integrity that he would only use it for the powers of good. He finds such a Boy in Micky Moran, a Newspaper Copy Boy, and treats him in a special machine which enables him to use the secret. Just before the Scientist dies, he tells Micky the key word which is KIMOTA. Micky Moran remains as he was, but when he says the Key Word KIMOTA he becomes Marvelman, a man of such strength and powers that he is Invincible and Indestructible!” And with those words in 1954’s Marvelman #25 began the saga of one of the most storied characters ever to emerge from the British comics market. Now, thrill to the adventures of Marvelman, Young Marvelman and Kid Marvelman as they take on enemy agents, mad scientists and more in this “best of” series! #1 of 6

    21 July 2010: Marvelman Classic Primer #1 - Sales: 16,943

    Who is the mysterious Marvelman? The answer to that question is one of the most mysterious in comics lore. Created in 1954 by writer/artist Mick Anglo, the character enjoyed a long run in the British comics market as one of its most powerful heroes. A few decades later, the character was revived with a dark, moody, deconstructionist bent, and produced one of the most important works of comic art in the medium's history. But now, miracle of miracles, Marvel has stepped up to the plate to deliver on the promise of Anglo's incredible characters. The Marvelman Primer will help readers unfamiliar with that character get up to speed on the past, present and future of Marvelman stories. We'll check in with Mick Anglo, Neil Gaiman and others who contributed to this character’s history over the years. It was the news that swept the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con and the Marvelman Primer explains why!
    Actually, many of the things promised don’t appear, and it’s hard to see exactly what Marvel were trying to do with this. Whatever it was, I really don’t think it succeeded. Note where it says ‘miracle of miracles’: They never mention Miracleman, but someone can’t resist an oblique reference...

    4 August 2010: Marvelman Family’s Finest #2 - Sales: 9,324 (-47.4%)

    1 September 2010: Marvelman Family’s Finest #3 - Sales: 6,151 (-34.0%)

    6 October 2010: Marvelman Family’s Finest #4 - Sales: 4,707 (-23.5%)

    3 November 2010: Marvelman Family’s Finest #5 - Sales: 3,993 (-15.2%)

    1 December 2010: Marvelman Family’s Finest #6 - Sales: Below 3,811

    The lowest sales recorded on the relevant page on ICv2.com - Top 300 Comics -- December 2010 - is 3,811, so the presumption is that the sales of this must be lower than that figure. For some reason there is no page for this issue on the Marvel Comics website, even on their Marvelman Family’s Finest page, originally leading me to believe that it hadn’t actually been issued, but I’ve seen a copy, so it definitely does exist.

    So, that’s all the Marvelman comics Marvel have issued. The Marvelman Classic Primer sold 16,943 copies, so, in total, between the six issues of Marvelman Family’s Finest and the one-shot primer, Marvel sold maybe 60,000 of these comics in all. I’m no expert on the sales of comics these days, but I’m guessing that’s not really very good.

    Next up is sales of collected volumes.

    ---------------BOOKS---------------

    11 August 2010: Marvelman Classic Vol 1 - Sales: 2,080
    Reprints Marvelman #25 - #34, excepting #26, which they could not find a copy of, despite some intensive searching.

    23 February 2011: Marvelman Classic Vol 2 - Sales: 303
    Reprints Marvelman #35 - #44

    2 March 2011: Marvelman Family's Finest - Sales: Below 352
    Reprints Marvelman Family's Finest #1 - #6

    11 May 2011: Young Marvelman Classic Vol 1 - Sales: Below 343
    Reprints Young Marvelman #25 - #34

    14 September 2011: Marvelman Classic Vol 3 - Sales: Below 296
    Reprints Marvelman #45 - #54

    18 January 2012: Young Marvelman Classic Vol 2 - Sales: Below 285
    Reprints Young Marvelman #35 - #44

    Marvel’s reprint programme for the 1950s L Miller & Son/Mick Anglo era Marvelman comics seems to have halted for the moment - unsurprisingly, I suppose, looking at those sales figures. However, if they had continued as they were, reprinting 10 issues per volume, with 2 volumes per title per year, they would have eventually ended up with 66 volumes in all: 31 Marvelman Classic, 31 Young Marvelman Classic, 3 Marvelman Family, and 1 Marvelman Family's Finest, but it would have taken them until 2026 and, at $34.99 per volume, the whole collection would have cost just over $2,300. And perhaps by 2026 they might finally have sorted out all their problems with the 1980s Marvelman, and could start reprinting those, as well...

    ---------------------------------------------

    Sales figures are from ICv2.com (you can find a handy index to their monthly sales reports on their Top 300 Comics & Top 300 GNs Index page), with percentages on those figures from The Beat. Wherever I say that sales of a book are ‘Below X,’ that means that the particular book is not recorded on the Top 300 sales list for that particular month, and the X figure is the sales of the book at #300, the lowest selling title of that month. How far below that figure the individual titles' sales are is anyone's guess.

    If you’re interested in what Marvel have had to say about their purchase of Marvelman, and their plans for the character, you might want to look at this blog entry: What's the News on Marvelman? Marvel Replies...

    4 comments:

    1. An appallingly thought out travesty. By starting with the oldest (thus poorest) material, tarted up with new shopwindow dressing that will only fool a few folk one, they "prove" there's no market for anything else.

      WHY, GOD, WHY? What was the point of all that? Fanzine-like sales levels to establish "ownership" of something nobody else really wanted anyway?

      And then, once established... WHAT, GOG, WHAT?

      Can't imagine the House of Mouse approving of Marvel moving in such mightily mysterious ways...

      (Still haven't heard from them about wanting to use Big Ben or our lettering, BTW.)

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    2. Hello! I know this post is nearly a year old now, but I wanted to say thank you for these incredible reams of information! I've been a big Alan Moore/Marvelman fan for a while, and your work on this blog and with The Beat is awe-inspiring and fantastically good reads. I've been beating everyone I know who is even remotely interested in comics over the head to get them to read your Marvelman work on The Beat recently. Thanks again!

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    3. I'm surprised that I haven't seen any comment from you, Pádraig, about the NYCC Marvel announcement.

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      Replies
      1. Don't worry, there'll be something from me very soon now!

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