Monday, 26 March 2012

Steranko & The Case of the Missing Op Art

I had an interesting message from Tony Robertson, regarding my Largin' it post of a few days ago. He left a comment saying "In the original American edition that blue FX was not present. I always wondered if they made a mistake in the US edition by leaving it out, or someone in the UK got creative :)."

Tony then took it upon himself to get right to the source and contact Jim Steranko himself. This was Jim's reply. 

"The psychotropic Dream Sequence in CAP 111 showcased several surreal special FX, including the optical shockwave behind Bucky on the second page. The color effect was achieved by means of an overlay on which the effect appeared. (The clouds on the previous page, for example, were suggested on my color guides.) Marvel press prep dropped the ball and printed the page without it; Marvel UK got it correct. Since the UK operation was only given film, rather than originals, with which to work, how they achieved the effect is a mystery--one of many regarding my material." 

So there you have it! Jim Steranko explains all. 

Nice one, Tony!

1 comment:

  1. Ah, well as longtime admirer of Jim's work, I'm happy to be able to clear up the mystery as to how Marvel UK got it right in this instance, and perhaps if Tony sees this he can pass it one to Jim! You see, Marvel UK weren't using film supplied to them. Jim's probably forgetting after all this time that between 1972 and 1979 the early British Marvel comics (which was only a fan nick-name anyway - strictly speaking they were Marvel International, as Marvel UK not being coined until into the 1980s) were actually put together in the States. Let me explain, briefly...

    In the 1950s Marvel formed a relationship with Transworld Feature Syndicate based in New York. They supplied film to any publisher who wanted to license Marvel strips for use in their comics, so they were supplying film all over the world, and in England to publishers such as Alan Class and Odhams (simultaneously - they had no exclusivity in any of their UK dealings until Dez's era).

    For various reasons far too involved to go into here Marvel decided they wanted to produce their own comics for the UK market so they could do them the way they thought they should be done - i.e. not diluted by non-Marvel material as in Odhams' line of Power Comics and latterly as in TV21 Mk.II.

    And because Marvel wanted complete control, it made sense to create a UK Bullpen alongside the US one (you can see it clearly located in the Bullpen floor plan on the back of an old FOOM) - with their London office used a finishing house to add in local content: letters pages, adverts and house adverts.

    the London office was based in Transworld's UK offices for convenience, and overseen by Ray Wergan, whom I've had the great pleasure to talk to over the past year, and for the first time anywhere have finally managed to get the full lowdown on how, and why, the UK line all came together! And, despite what has been speculated in the past, Stan actually played a huge part in setting up the UK operation, and it was very much his baby.

    What London received then was pasted-down stats (not film at all) for an almost complete comic, along with stats for the mainly new front covers and any new poster artwork - although the UK office would commission a few pieces when comics under-ran by a page, and that certainly did happen!

    And so, in short, this is how Marvel UK got Jim's artwork correctly printed in B&W. Whoever made the stat for that issue of Super Spider-Man and the Titans remembered to flap down the overlay. Mind you, this didn't always happen, of course, and I'd spotted other examples of stories that appeared more than once in the UK comics where one story had the overlay and another didn't. You can't win 'em all, I guess :-)

    Sorry, I've only just been made aware of this snazzy blog, so I hope that (belatedly) clears this one up, anyway ;-)



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