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Friday, February 09, 2018

Seeing double

Leo Baxendale called it "The great reprint rip-off" and he was right. The practice of publishers reprinting old strips without acknowledging they were reprints, and the original creators not receiving a penny in reprint fees. 

I know that some (usually those who have never been affected by it) would argue that creators signed away all rights so the publisher can do what they like with the material. That still doesn't make it ethical, and thankfully that practice has changed at most newer companies these days. 

IPC reprinted a lot of material in the 1970s, especially in their annuals and holiday specials, in order to pad them out and make the books look better value than those of their rivals. 

I never realised their tight-fisted policies sometimes extended to using reprints for the annuals' covers as well though, until I noticed an issue of Thriller Picture Library No.430 on eBay. Yep, this 1962 digest sized comic's cover was re-used for the cover to Wham! and Pow! Annual 1973. The ten-year gap between publications was long enough to fool me, as I'd been far too young to have seen the original comic. That's what comic companies bargained on; that readers simply wouldn't know the strips or images were not new. 

I'll be honest and admit that as a child I quite liked the reprints. One could always tell if a story was a reprint, usually due to poor resizing, or a different hand doing the extended art in panels to fit a different page proportion, or differences in lettering where a new name had been substituted for the original. The reprints gave me a glimpse of comics before my time, and allowed me to appreciate what I'd missed. It didn't occur to me they'd even try to save money by reprinting covers as well! 

The cover of the Wham! and Pow! Annual is scanned from my collection. The cover to Thriller Picture Library is from the Comic Vine website. If anyone knows the identity of the artist, please let me know. The least we can do is give him credit, even though he received no reprint payment. 

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