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Blog: 205-211 Kentish Town Road*

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I've just been reading some RUMINATIONS about Marvel and Marvel UK comics buying in the 1980's. As stated in the Freaky Trigger article, getting HOLD of the damn things at the time was a bloody nightmare. In theory Marvel UK comics were on sale in the same newsagents as IPC and DC Thomson ones, but they regularly failed to appear at crucial moments - I especially remember VITAL issues of "The Daredevils" and "Mighty World Of Marvel" (i.e. the ones with the Alan Moore/Alan Davis "Captain Britain" series in) completely failing to appear. In fact, now I think about it, I recall my friend Sanjiv actually HAVING a copy of one of these that I didn't, and then not mentioning it for weeks just to taunt me more about it later...

The real hassle though was getting hold of the America versions. There was a Newsagents near my Dad's house that occasionally got American Marvels in, and again, I distinctly remember getting the issue of Fantastic Four with "the Spinner" (a big blue alien who ... er... made people dizzy) on the cover in there, something which I think about every time I smell sweet cigarrettes... but there was no way on earth of getting any of them regularly.

THUS you can imagine my JOY when my Nan and Grandad took me and my little brother on a trip to London one year, and I managed to persuade them to take me to Forbidden Planet, which I'd read about so many times in the back pages of "Hulk Weekly". Speciallist Comics shops had just started advertising in Marvel comics, and I used to look in WONDER at their long lists of back issues, circling the ones I most wanted though never being brave enough to send off for them. Anyway, we went to Denmark Street and found the shop, and in I went - the Grandparents stood outside waiting, and somehow got talking to a passing Frank Muir! It was AMAZING - there were comics EVERYWHERE! They were CLEAN, uncrumpled, and there was more than one of every issue. In some cases, there was more than one issue of each comic!!

I distinctly remember two things about that afternoon - the SMELL of the shop full of paper (mmmm!), and the PAIN of having to choose WHICH ones to buy. I got a slim bag full of five or six magazines to take home with me, bought off a sales guy who I seem to recall OPENLY sneering at me. A few months later "House On The Borderland" opened in Peterborough, having a stall every Wednesday and Saturday on Peterborough market, and that was it for me and my dinner money, i was HOOKED.

Now that Forbidden Planet has moved and is a horrible Comic Supermarket full of ghastly "statuettes", but I still get a THRILL walking down Denmark Street, and i STILL have to stop myself from spending all my dinner money in Gosh! on a Thursday afternoon. Comics is GRATE!

* the address of Marvel UK - imagine my disappointment when, last year, I walked down Kentish Town Road and found it to be, frankly, a bit of a dump, and not the pulse-pounding powerhouse of POWER I'd always imagined it to be... Stan Lee walked down this street!

posted 17/3/2004 by MJ Hibbett

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