One of the most historically significant creators in the history of British comics has passed away as the comics community lost “Marvelman” creator Mick Anglo late last month. The UK comics blog Comic Bits Online reported that the 96-year-old writer and artist passed away on Halloween, and CBR News has independently confirmed his death.
Born in London in 1916 as Maurice Anglowitz, Anglo studied art at London’s Central Foundation School and John Cass Art School before gaining work as a freelance illustrator and cartoonist in the years leading up to World War II. He soon turned to comics, drawing a variety of genre entertainments for comic books and strips during the UK’s Golden Age flowering of comic arts. However, his most famous creation came at the fall of an American superhero icon.
In 1954, UK publisher L. Miller & Son lost the ability to continue a profitable line of reprints featuring American superhero Captain Marvel because the Captain’s publisher Fawcett Comics had lost a lawsuit to DC Comics over the character’s perceived similarities to Superman. To make up for it, Miller hired Anglo to come up with a replacement hero, and Marvelman was born. Though identical to Captain Marvel in terms of his origins and tone – both strips featuring whimsical super tales of boys turned into adult superheroes by magic words whose powers soon expanded to their younger siblings – Marvelman took a hold of the imaginations of British youth in the ’50s and ’60s when Anglo scripted over 700 adventures for the hero and his siblings Young Marvelman and Kid Marvelman.
Anglo and his packaging shop of comic creators went on to create a variety of British comics featuring known characters like the Green Hornet and Davy Crockett. Meanwhile, Marvelman stayed alive in the minds of young fans including eventual professional Alan Moore. In 1982, Moore reimagined Marvelman for a new era in the pages of editor Dez Skinn’s “Warrior” anthology, and aside from acclaim, the feature earned a new level of legal complications as it migrated to the U.S. under the name Miracleman under the indie publisher Eclipse before imploding into a legal quagmire.
Since then, comic fans on both sides of the Atlantic have been asking after a return from Marvelman and particularly a finish to writer Neil Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham’s late ’80s continuation of Moore’s work. The battle over the rights have played out in courts and in the press as artist Todd McFarlane bought out the Eclipse catalog with hopes of introducing his own version of Miracleman. Though some sideways appearances by the character manifested, no firm plans were made one way or the other.
In 2009, Marvel Comics announced that they had acquired the rights to Marvelman from Anglo after Moore and others had publicly questioned whether or not “Warrior” had ever properly gained the copyright on the character in the ’80s. The house of ideas has since released a number of projects tied to the original UK version of the hero including t-shirts, posters and a series of reprints of Anglo’s original comics.
However, the legal rights to the Moore and Gaiman material remain in doubt with Marvel SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort recently telling CBR, “The short answer is ‘As soon as everything is ready [we’ll publish it].’ It should come as no surprise that while we have overcome 80 to 90% of all the loop closing that we have to do, there’s still more to be done. Everybody’s ready and lined up, and now the book’s been announced for two years. But we’ve spoken to Neil [Gaiman]. We’ve spoken to Mark Buckingham. Eventually, once every single thing is lined up, we’ll get to a point where they can come back…It should come as no shock to you that Marvelman has been screwed up in terms of one issue or another legally for decades now. So while we have gone over most of it, we really want to make sure that we have every hatch battened down before we try to roll any of this stuff out. We’re getting there.”
How Anglo’s passing impacts the release of Marvelman material is unknown. Stay tuned to CBR News for more on this story as it develops.