Marvelman, Now With Secret Ingredient – Alan Moore

miraclemanDuring San Diego I reported that Marvel had announced they had bought the Marvelman character from original creator Mick Anglo. Which meant they had the rights to reprint Mick’s stories from the fifties and sixties and to create new stories using the character.

Of course what people really want to know is about the Alan Moore/Garry Leach/Alan Davis/Chuck Austen/Rick Veitch/John Totleben/Neil Gaiman/Mark Buckingham run on the title, originally published by Dez Skinn in Warrior Magazine in the UK, then continued by Eclipse, in the US as Miracleman. While it has finally been established that Mick Anglo owns the Marvelman character, the rights to the scripts, characters and artwork from that run were retained by the people who created them.

Marvelman/Miracleman was one of the most influential superhero comic books on the genre as a whole and its influence is heavily felt today in titles such as The Authority, X-Men, Ultimates, The Boys and Supergod.

It’s been reported that Alan Moore had signed over all his rights to scripts to Mick Anglo, to do with as he wished. However, Moore has had a fractious relationship with Marvel over the years and some wondered how the news would go over. talked to Alan Moore and got confirmation of this – and more. He told them;

After being initially informed by Neil’s lawyer, I had to think about it for a couple of days. I decided that while I’m very happy for this book to get published—because that means money will finally go to Marvelman’s creator, Mick Anglo, and to his wife. Mick is very, very old, and his wife, I believe, is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The actual Marvelman story is such a grim and ugly one that I would probably rather that the work was published without my name on it, and that all of the money went to Mick. The decision about my name was largely based upon my history with Marvel—my desire to really have nothing to do with them, and my increasing desire to have nothing to do with the American comics industry. I mean, they’re probably are enough books out there with my name on them to keep the comics industry afloat for a little bit longer. I left a message to that effect with Neil. I’ve since heard back from the lawyer upon another issue, and he said that he was certain that would be the case—that Marvel would accede to my request. That looks like the way it will be emerging. And, Neil will be able to finish his Marvelman story because he has a completely different relationship with Marvel than I have with them—or rather, don’t have. The main thing is that I will feel happy to know that Mick Anglo is finally getting the recompense he so richly deserves. And, I will have distanced myself from a lot of the deceit and ugliness that surrounded the relaunching of Marvelman as a character.

So this is one more step towards Marvel reprinting that classic Marvelman run – although it seems they will be doing so without Moore’s name on the cover.

Moore talks further about his history with the character and how he came to write the strip for Warrior, the rationale behind Dez Skinn’s claim of ownership, as well as Moore’s dealings with Emotiv Records, the company that made the deal with Marvel.

I was contacted 18 months or a couple of years ago by a record company—a Scottish record company that had been working with Mick Anglo’s son, who is a musician. They had found out something of the Mick Anglo story and had become very interested in it, because it seemed to them that he had probably been cheated. And, they pieced together the Marvelman story and they got in touch with me. And they explained to me—and provided documentation—that Mick Anglo had always owned the copyright, that it had never been owned by L. Miller & Son, and that they had not gone bankrupt, but had concluded their affairs quietly in 1963, and that the whole basis of my work on Marvelman—in Warrior and later at Eclipse—was completely fallacious. Basically, Mick Anglo had been robbed of his ownership of this work. I felt I’d been made a party to it, albeit unwittingly. So, this has led to my reasons for wishing to disassociate myself from this project—and it’s also a way of giving back to Mick something that I feel he’s owed.

Moore also talks about his dealings with Dez Skinn and Eclipse, including one aspect that had puzzled me previously, how Eclipse reprinted work by Alan Davis without his permission, and how Alan Moore’s role in that.

They had made certain promises to me that I wanted to be absolutely sure that the artist at that time, Alan Davis, was happy about his work being reprinted. And, I told them that I could not commence writing any new work until they had got that affirmation. They finally left it until the last minute, and then asked me why I hadn’t got the new Marvelman work in, at which point I reiterated my request for some proof that Alan Davis was okay about the whole thing. They said that they were getting this proof—and that they really needed me to start work—that this proof existed, that it was on its way, and they would be showing it to me as soon as possible. I started work because I believed that they were telling the truth. I later found out this was not the case. So, by the time I’d finished working with Marvelman, I was pretty sick of all the publishers that had been involved with it up to that point.

I have been told that Marvel have come to an understanding with Alan Davis over reprints, and that Marvel have also been talking to Garry Leach, including about rights to the Warpsmiths characters.

Moore talks at greater length about his approach to the Marvelman story, about the tack it took through to completion, and how Neil Gaiman took the story over, with more to come soon.

Inch by inch, step by step, we’re getting closer. Moore may have dissociated himself from the book, but it matters. It still holds up as something monumental. And it deserves a new audience.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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