Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Titans

Nope, not the teen variety. The Titans was a weird little experiment Marvel UK tried in 1975, a comic that was printed, not the usual 'portrait' style, but 'landscape' format. Why? With Marvel UK it was always best not to ask questions, as they seemed to come up with new formats and ideas practically every couple of months, all to disguise the fact that what you were buying was still an inferior black & white reprint.

I guess the fact that distribution of the American titles had vastly improved, and you could guarantee that if you bought a title this month, you'd probably be able to get it next month, stung Marvel UK a bit. They'd had the monopoly for so long, purely because we couldn't get the 'real thing'. Now that we could get colour comics, why buy British Marvel?

They needn't have worried. We bought The Titans. We bought everything. We were always willing to give even the lamest concepts a go ( hello, Mordred The Mystic ). After all, anything we didn't like, we could always swap to those kids who were too dumb to know the value of the American stuff. ( Two British Marvel's for an American one, thanks for asking. Three if it was something you really wanted. )

But the bizarre format did make for some cool covers, in design if not always in actual execution. And it's always fun to spot the mix of swipes on a Marvel UK cover. Mind you, I doubt the original artist's would've been pleased with the layout inside of the book. In order to make the format work, pages were shrunk down to fit two regular pages of artwork onto one.
Natch, I swapped my Titans copies years back, but if memory serves, they looked kinda like this:

Some of the stuff miniaturised in this way included Nick Fury, Adams' Inhumans, FF, Subby, the early Captain Marvel's & pretty much anything else they could think of.

Hard to believe the first time I ever read Ghost Rider was in this slightly ludicrous but cool format. Still there's the proof.


  1. The Titans is a real blast from the past! I remember buying issue 2 ( never found no. 1 )and struggling to figure out how to read the damn thing! ( In fairness I was only 8. )Once I'd got over the format problem I loved the mag. There were a lot of great reprints here like SHIELD, Inhumans, Captain America, with some fantastic artwork. Marvel even tried this format out on Spider-Man Comics Weekly, but it didn't last long.

  2. It was, even for the time, an odd format.
    I wonder with hind sight if Marvel UK was trying to make the reading "experience" more in line with traditional UK comics.
    (D.C Thomson, I.P.C).
    If the average panels per page in US comics was about 6 compared to UK comics of about 9 then you'd tend to read the reprints in Marvel UK comics quicker than other UK comics, so may be it was an attempt to make the comic "last longer" When Dez Skinn took over Marvel UK a couple of years latter his early Marvel Comic and Spider-Man Comic edited the US pages so they would have more panels per page and were a much more "dense" read.
    Of-course I never gave this a thought as a kid, I just thought the format was a bit bobbins :)
    (though you're right about the covers and the land scape format)

  3. One of the best features of Titans and Spider-man when it was in the same format was the centre-spreads. Remember that Frank Hampson did a couple including one of Spider-man above London is a wrinkly suit. To our wrong eyes that was all kinds of wrong.

  4. Yeah, I tried to locate that Hampson pic on the Net, so I could put it up here, but no luck as yet.

  5. Someone at Marvel U.K. boobed one week. Having begun the S.H.I.E.L.D. story 'Beware The Deadly Dreadnought', we never got part 2. I had to wait until 2000 to see how the thing ended! ( it was reprinted in trade paperback ). I liked 'The Titans' best when the X-Men was the lead strip.

  6. how much would a copy of the first issue of the TITANS be from oct 1975

  7. guys I've got some issue of this comic book... yes, even nbr 1.
    does anybody know how much is it worth?

  8. A copy with the centre page colour intact is rare. It would maybe cost £20 or more.