Bronze Age Beginnings

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Thirty-nine years ago this weekend, a comic fan was born!


On the 30th September 1972, the last Saturday of the month, the first issue of The Mighty World of Marvel was released upon an unsuspecting public. It was a momentous occasion, birthing a generation of Marvel readers and making at least one comic fan for life.

My original copy of this life-changing comic was lost many moons ago, but fortune smiled upon me when I won a reasonably priced copy on eBay earlier this month. I’d been tempted a number of times, but it was the realisation that the date of original publication meant that I would be able to perform some kind of voodoo magic by reading this particular comic exactly 39 years since I first held it my eager hands, and in my childhood home too, that I placed a decisive bid. Perhaps a rift in the space/time continuum would open up and transport me back to 1972 to meet my seven year old self.

So yesterday, on the hottest day on record for October, I settled down with Mighty World of Marvel no. 1 and a Fab lolly.........


.........and though no rift in the space/time continuum opened up, it was a rewarding experience.

I have likely read the three stories featuring The Hulk, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man many times since in other formats, but nothing compares to the experience of where and how I first encountered these iconic characters. On pulpy newsprint paper in black & white (and green!), at a larger size than the original printed pages, the crude - but exciting - storytelling of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko is completely enthralling. There is a primacy to these initial appearances - designed to capture the imagination of children - that reinforced why I still read comics despite the accumulation of years of cynical exploitation. Yes, the plot holes are apparent to my 46 year old self, but they would not have mattered to me at 7. That kid in 1972 just wanted more.

For the princely sum of 5p, I got the first 10 pages of The Hulk #1, a Fantastic Four pin-up, the first 13 pages of Fantastic Four #1, a Special Message from Stan Lee and the chance to win a mystery free gift, and the whole of Spider-Man’s origin from Amazing Fantasy #15.

I would also have got a free iron-on Hulk T-shirt transfer, but I sadly no longer recall what I did with that. I imagine it was dutifully ironed on and subsequently washed off by mum.


11 comments:

  1. My first copy of Mighty World of Marvel was #4. I still remember getting it, like it was yesterday. Who could forget the thrills as the Hulk fought the Toad Men, Spidey took on the Chameleon and the Fantastic Four tangled with the Skrulls?

    PS: They still make those lollies? If only they still made Dracula ice lollies.

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  2. Oh my! Dracula ice lollies...black ice around a red jelly centre.

    Yep, they still make Fabs. Got mine in the local Tesco.

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  3. I used to like Happy Feet!

    I did like this single tone pages Marvel did, the greens and reds or whatever. But when they started Avengers with those awful grey tones meant to give the impression of colour. You what?

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  4. Yep, the zip-a-tone effects certainly muddied the art. The single tone green, though, added something quite unique - it meant that the original grey Hulk was, well, never grey.

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  5. I remember the thril of Spider-Man Comics Weekly. When we Brit kids got the opportunity to become FOOMers, it was madly exciting.

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  6. 39 years !! wow was it really that long ago, it feels like yesterday at times. I vividly remember picking this up from R S McColls in Rutherglen (a town just outside Glasgow). I noticed it during my lunch break but didn't buy it then just in case someone pitched it or slagged me for reading comics at 12 year old (even though we all bought and read them then) so I rushed to the shop as soon as the bell went at 4pm , luckily I rushed as it was the last copy in the shop. I loved those early UK Marvels so much I bought every issue of MWOM (and SMCW and large runs of most of the other "original titles) - those early paper covers & two toned editions were especially magic and I still have the first 20 issues of MWOM in my collection, but wow 39 years ago !!! McScotty

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  7. I featured this comic on my own blog last year, otherwise I'd have mentioned it on Friday. The day before #2 came out I got Fantastic Four #126 from a shop in Hamilton. It featured a redo of the FF's origin as drawn by John Buscema, who drew the cover for MWOM #1. It was fun comparing the Kirby and the Buscema versions side-by-side.

    Regarding the FAB ice lolly, this was released in about 1966/'67 as the first ice lolly for GIRLS. It was tied in with Lady Penelope from Thunderbirds, hence the name FAB.

    Interestingly, when the live-action Thunderbirds movie came out a few years ago, there was a promotion tied in with it on boxes of FAB ice lollies on sale in supermarkets and the like. It was good to see the lolly hadn't forgotten its origins.

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  8. My first MWOM was issue 11 with the Hulk facing off against the Metal Master. I was 8 and I'd get a comic delivered along with the papers on a Saturday morning. It's hard to explain the excitement and sheer joy those issues brought back then and I'd follow Marvel UK, through the spiral of new titles and mergers all the way up the release of 2000AD in '78 where I switched to getting (when I could) US editions. I still get a little buzz when I return to those comics. Technology and super-hero comics may have marched on but I can't see many folks getting 'that' excited by new Marvel comics each week, nowadays.

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  9. Thanks for all the great comments and recollections; the influence MWOM had on a whole generation of UK comic readers and collectors is amazing.

    p.s. Kid, I NEVER knew that about the FAB lolly - never made the connection for some reason.

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  10. Can anybody tell me where the best place to sell my collection of MWOM #1 - 122 might be?

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  11. Hi Anonymous, you might want to try 30th Century Comics at

    http://www.thirtiethcentury.free-online.co.uk/

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