Currently, both Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, the two most recent writers to work on Marvelman (mostly in his next incarnation as Miracleman), and two of the most honourable and respected men in the field, are of the opinion that Mick Anglo, who created the character for L. Miller & Son Ltd., held copyright all along. It's not that I wished to disagree with them, but I had always wanted to find some sort of proof that this might have been the case. I've seen a few mentions in articles about Marvelman that state that Anglo had inserted copyright notices into some of the Marvelman comics pages he produced for Miller, but in the absence of any actual proof of this, I was inclined to be cautious. In the course of the six years that I've been researching this article, I've accumulated a lot of bits and pieces in various books and magazines about Marvelman, and not all of them are wholly accurate, and I've tried to take a conservative approach to what I'm writing, so if I can't find a reliable source for a piece of information, I'm not inclined to included it, and I cite my sources as much as possible, except for information that seems to be well known, and that isn't in dispute. So, if I couldn't find some sort of proof for myself, I was just going to have to ignore it.
There is one claim that's worth mentioning, before I move on: in the second edition of Matthew H Gore's The Origin of Marvelman (Comics Monographs Vol. 1 No 1, Boardman Books, 2006 & 2008), there is a reproduction of a copyright notice that reads, Mick Anglo Ltd. © 1958, which is explained thus: "Anglo's claim to Marvelman is based on copyright statements like the one reproduced above. Reportedly taken from Marvelman and the Ghost of Old Backwoodsville in Marvelman #297 ..." I have a few problems with this. Firstly, the fact that the author says, "Reportedly taken from..." means that he seems to have only seen a photocopy of the copyright notice, rather that the full story that the notice comes from. Secondly, this notice comes from quite late in Anglo's involvement with the character. The creation of Marvelman took place in late 1953, with his first appearance being in February 1954, in the confusingly numbered Marvelman #25. Although Miller was publishing Marvelman comics until 1963, Anglo ceased produding them in 1959 or 1960. So, a copyright notice from 1958 might only prove that Anglo belatedly decided to lay claim to the character, before finally leaving it altogether soon afterwards. Although of course to mitigate against that is the fact that Miller did actually publish the comic with Anglo's copyright notice in it. In any case, the whole thing is unclear, and not really the kind of unambiguous proof I was looking for.
Which, finally, brings me to the main subject of this post! As I said above, in the course of my researches I have accumulated quite a number of books and magazines. One of these is Nostalgia - Spotlight on the Fifties by Michael Anglo (Jupiter Books (London) Limited, 1977). This is it:
This contains an article called The Age of Marvelman, which tells of Anglo's involvement in the creation of Marvelman, and some more general information about his early years working in comics, and the book is well worth find a copy of if you can just for this. The article is accompanied by some illustrations, and while looking at these I noticed something that I hadn't noticed before. Here's the cover of Young Marvelman #38, which is reproduced in Nostalgia - Spotlight on the Fifties:
And here's a comics page that's reproduced in Nostalgia - Spotlight on the Fifties, which is obviously related to the cover illustration on Young Marvelman #38:
Here's a close-up on the top right-hand panel:
And here's a further close-up, and a 90 degree turn anti-clockwise, of the writing on the right-hand side of that panel:
So, finally, it seems I have all the proof I need. Young Marvelman the character was created at the same time as Marvelman, and Young Marvelman the comic shared the same numbering as Marvelman, so started its weekly schedule at #25. It follows that Young Marvelman #38, from which the above is taken, was published thirteen weeks in the title's run, putting it somewhere in May 1954, and from this there would seem to be no other conclusion to be drawn except that right from the very beginning, Mick Anglo was claiming that he owned the copyright on Marvelman and associated characters. Of course, it is just possible that the copyright notice was added at a later date, like when Anglo was preparing Nostalgia - Spotlight on the Fifties for publication, but I think this is unlikely, as he would have been more careful of its positioning, rather than having it being slightly cut off, as it is on the page that's in the book.
This is it. This is my smoking gun. I cannot tell you how excited I was once I put all the pieces together in my head and realised what I'd found. It gives a whole new focus to my