My (so far) only copy of Marvelman – issue #294. Most L. Miller comics didn’t have cover dates, but I know that issue #25 of Marvelman (the first one after he supplanted Captain Marvel) was dated 3 February 1954, and it was a weekly publication until #344, so assuming that there were no weeks missed, #294 was probably published on 1 April 1959.
I remember being surprised how small the comic is: it’s about 170x245mm. I’d expected Marvelman comics to be closer in size to the Fleetway or DC Thomson titles (230x280mm or 210x300mm, respectively). As it is, it’s even smaller than the standard US comic size (about 170x260mm).
The price is six pre-decimal pennies, but of course they didn’t call them pre-decimal pennies back in 1959, just pennies. Or pence, which is another plural for “penny.” Why they felt the need for two plurals for the one word, I have no idea. People were strange back then. They had twelve pence in a shilling and twenty shillings in a pound. Same here in Ireland, because we’d inherited the British attitude of “do everything the hard way when it comes to numbers.” (If you don’t believe that the metric system is absolutely furlongs better than the old Imperial nonsense, I’ll come down on you like a hundredweight of bricks.)
Anyway, 6 old pence in 1959 comes to about 38 British pence in 2017, or about 42 Euro cents (or 49.5 USA cents), so that seems pretty good value for money. Except of course things were a LOT different back then so it’s hardly a fair comparison. In those days the internet was still in black-and-white, you could go to the moon and back for thruppence-ha’penny and The Simpsons was still a couple of years away from losing its edge.
I’m guessing that this issue of Marvelman is fairly typical of the era. It has 28 pages, the paper-stock is newsprint, with the only colour being that on the cover. Inside the front cover is the editorial stuff: editor’s letter, news, etc.
The first story begins on page 3: Marvelman in “The Mystery of San Pieitriago.” We get five pages of that, then the story takes a break. A page of “Young Joey” (a humorous cartoon), a Marvelman quiz (most of a page, with some ads for stamps at the bottom). Then six pages of “William Tell” (a stand-alone story called “Prisoner of Gessler”). This is followed by another one-page cartoon strip: “The Friendly Soul” (I remember this character from somewhere else… it escapes me now, but it was a very long time ago – possibly the strips were reprinted in an old Fleetway annual). Next up is chapter 38 of “Lance” (four pages), then “Flip and Flop” (humorous, one page), and then the remaining five pages of the Marvelman story.
The story is uncredited, but I’m sure there’s someone out there who knows the identity of the perpetrators!
Inside the back cover is an enrolment form for the Marvelman Club along with an ad for the “Famous Atomatic Senior Water Pistol.” The text of the ad refers to it as “automatic” which I really don’t believe it was. Besides, the pic shows “atomatic” on the pistol’s fin, at the back. Let’s not digress too far into wondering why a pistol of any kind might need a fin, and leave it there.