As I teased yesterday, Marvel are to publish the Marvelman comic book. It’s been an up-to-the-wire deal, but Marvel have signed a contract with Emotiv, who are representing Marvelman creator Mick Anglo and will reprint the silver age comics published during the nineteen fifties and nineteen sixties.
Naturally there are questions about the more recent-ish Marvelman/Miracleman run from Warrior Magazine and Eclipse Comics by Alan Moore, Garry Leach, Dez Skinn, Alan Davis, Chuck Austen, Rick Veitch, John Totleben, Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham that has been under extreme legal uncertainties since the series ended, mid-way into the latter creative team’s run.
I understand it is Marvel’s intent to publish that as well, and they are currently trying to contact every party involved to come to an agreement over any outstanding issues.
In what form that will take is still undecided, and there are still issues to address.
I recently ran a piece in one of my final Lying In The Gutters talking about some of the possibilities being discussed by various interested parties, and I understand that high seven figure dollar amounts were being thrown around that involved movies, toys, statues and a number of comic series.
But the last few days has seen the issue coalesce and Marvel to step up and sign on the dotted line.
Now the fun begins.
Marvelman was a creation by British writer/artist Mick Anglo for the publisher that reprinted Captain Marvel in the UK. Until they hit a roadblock when that series was cancelled in the US over legal issues with DC Comics. It would be a moment of foreshadowing. Marvelman and its numerous spinoff series were very popular in the UK and the character is considered the first British superhero.
At the beginning of the nineteen-eighties, Marvel UK publisher Dez Skinn quit to start his own publishing company, including Warrior, an anthology magazine that published early works of Alan Moore, Garry Leach, David Lloyd, Alan Davis, Grant Morrison and more, including V For Vendetta and Marvelman. This was a much more mature take on the children’s character. Influenced by the novel Superfolks, Marvelman was a journery from a very human character to being a god, and the intricate effect on the world and the psyche this entailed.
A falling out between the publisher and Alan Moore stalled the Marvelman series, though a legal trademark battle with Marvel was publically blamed, and Warrior concluded shortly afterwards.
As the creators rose through American comics, DC reprinted V For Vendetta but passed on Marvelman. Due to unclear rights issues, a decision that has probably saved them enormous legal bills.
Famously Jim Shooter didn’t want to publish this comic from Marvel in the US, because any character with Marvel in his name had to be an upstanding individual and Marvelman didn’t fit the bill. A long way from the current Marvel Boy.
Eclipse stepped up, signing a deal with Dez Skinn and Marvelman creators (but not Alan Davis) and the book was coloured, reprinted, renamed to Miracleman and extended, concluding Alan Moore’s run on the book and starting afresh with Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham.
When Eclipse went bankrupt, the rights were bought by Todd McFarlane, as well as the film from the comics, with an intend to republish and create new stories. However, this became a bargaining chip with Neil Gaiman and it then emerged that Dez Skinn assumed the rights to Marvelman were in the public domain, but was wrong. Todd’s stories suddenly became about the Man Of Miracles instead.
At which point, things went quiet. Everyone seemed to be afraid to even pursue the series. However Marvel and Neil Gaiman announced projects to aid Marvels & Miracles LLC, a company set up to sort the mess out once and for all. And there was silence again.
But recently Emotiv Records in Glasgow, headed by Jon Campbell, claimed that they were now representing Mick Anglo’s interests in the character and some big people got involved. This is worthy of a piece in itself but figures started to include budgets for a movie, as well as all sorts of accoutrements. And then nothing. Silence. Until yesterday afternoon when I started to hear that Marvel had been contacting everyone assosciated with Marvelman. The deal has been done. Marvel have paid a considerable sum to the agents of Mick Anglo to secure the property once and for all. They are ready and confident to beat off any legal challenge from another party.
What form the reprints will take I don’t know. But one of the greatest missing comics of all time is back, baby.
Oh yeah, and Red She-Hulk and World War Hulks to come…