THE

1976 MARVEL

PENCE PRICE VARIANTS

 

 

1976

 

Queen Elizabeth II is a year away from her Silver Jubilee, James Callaghan succeeds Harold Wilson (both Labour Party) as PM after the latter's resignation, British and Scandinavian fishing ships clash over the "Cod War", Southampton FC earns a famous victory by beating Manchester United in the FA Cup final, a Summer heat wave grips most of England, British Rail introduces the InterCity 125 high-speed train services, the Sex Pistols release their debut single (and cause a stir with a swear-word laced appearance on TV), and the overall annual inflation hits 16.5% (one of the highest since records began in 1750).

 
Also back in 1976, you could buy US Marvel comics at many UK newsagent outlets, all of which were so-called pence price variants.

Since the early 1960s, US comic book titles from various publishers were shipped to the UK with a printed British currency cover price, and during the 1970s pence price variants (predominantly from Marvel, since DC stopped shipping pence price variants between 1971 and early 1978) became a fairly common sight at larger newsagent outlets.

Pence price variants were printed in the US at the same location, at the same time, and on the same paper as the regular US run of that specific issue. Featuring interior pages which are absolutely identical (including editorial material and even advertising), they only differ from the US issues with regard to the cover price and, as of August 1974, the masthead MARVEL ALL-COLOUR COMICS instead of MARVEL COMICS GROUP. The masthead change was a direct reference to Marvel's weekly UK comics, which featured black and white reprint material (which could often be picked up at the very same newsagent).

Bulk shipping from the US resulted in these variants actually going on sale during the month indicated on the cover, whereas this was usually three months ahead in the States to prolong shelf life.

 


Iron Man #86
(Price 9p, May 1976)

 
  You can read more about the history and background of pence price variants here.
 

 
Marvel published a total of 65 regular page-count colour comic book titles with a January through December 1976 cover date.
 
For some of these, 1976 was just another year in their monthly or bi-monthly publication history, but for some it was the end of the road (e.g. My Love, cancelled after issue #39 in March) while things only got started for others (e.g. Omega the Unknown, with issue #1, also in March).

An oddity in that respect was Black Goliath, a title that both saw its debut and its demise take place in 1976 as it only managed to clock up a total of 5 issues between February and November 1976.

Similarly standing out a bit was Kull, a title that reappeared with issue #16 in August 1976 - after a hiatus of no less than 21 months, as issue #15 had been out in September 1974.

1976 Total Non-Distributed Distributed
(Pence Price)
       

Titles

65

18

47

       

Issues

463

165

298

       
 
 


Strange Tales #187
(Price 10p, September 1976)

 
47 of those 65 titles saw issues shipped to the United Kingdom with a pence price cover, which equals almost 75% of Marvel's 1976 output. Some titles, even monthly ones, saw a complete run (e.g. Daredevil), while others had an issue here and there published with a pence price (e.g. Chamber of Chills).

Titles that weren't part of the pence price export production at all often happened to be so for good reason.

 


Marvel Triple Action #30
(Price 10p, July 1976)

  In some cases the appeal to the UK comic book market of the mid-1970s was doubtful, excluding all Romance and Western titles from distribution as pence price variants in 1976.

More importantly, however, it was the opposite concern that prevented certain titles from being included - their appeal was considered to be too much of a threat to the black and white reprints published weekly by Marvel UK. And the last thing the House of Ideas wanted was to become its own competition.

As a result, some very popular characters were either banned completely or to a very large extent.

The Hulk was not only blacklisted for his ongoing title Incredible Hulk, but also for his reprint title Marvel Super-Heroes. The same applied to Spider-Man, with both Amazing Spider-Man and Marvel Tales (along with Spidey Super Stories) being non-distributed, although Marvel Team-Up was available as a pence price variant monthly throughout 1976.

 


Mighty World of Marvel #210
(Marvel UK, October 1976)

 
The Avengers had also been non-distributed for most of 1976 (only the November and December issues were made available), although their reprint title Marvel Triple Action saw a few pence price copies, albeit only for every other issue (and in spite of that material having already featured in the UK reprints two years prior, in 1974).
 


Spectacular Spider-Man #1
(Price 10p, December 1976)

  Somewhat surprisingly, Spectacular Spider-Man #1 was shipped to the UK and distributed as a pence price variant in December 1976, even though the material contained in that comic book was to be featured in Marvel UK's Super Spider-Man #229 only six months later, in June 1977.

It was exactly the kind of situation that Marvel wanted to avoid by non-distributing certain US titles in the UK - which most likely explains why after its first issue Spectacular Spider-Man would not see a pence price variant again until issue #53, four and a half years later (April 1981).

Marvel's "First Family", the Fantastic Four, were obviously considered less of a competitive threat for Marvel UK, and their title was distributed fairly regularly in the UK, albeit with the odd exception or break. In 1976, this concerned only Fantastic Four #176, which never saw a pence price variant shipped to the UK.

Regular and often uninterrupted runs of pence price copies were also the rule at the time for Captain America, Conan, Iron Man, Master of Kung Fu, Thor and a number of other titles.

 


Super Spider-Man #229
(Marvel UK, June 1977)
[Note the slight cover alterations]

 
Marvel faced increasing production costs in 1976 and raised the cover price for their regular page count colour comic books from 25 to 30 price in June. Given that comic books at the time were three months ahead in terms of cover date, the first Marvel issues affected by the higher price carried a September cover date.

In the UK, however, given the shipping induced delay (which meant comic books were actually available during the month indicated on their cover), the price change from 9p to 10p happened with the June issues - also showing clearly that the price increase had been planned well ahead (since US titles with June, July and August cover dates were printed with a 25 price while pence price variants were printed at the same time with the cover price already raised to 10p).

 


Inhumans #3
(Price 9p, February 1976)

 


Iron Man #87
(Price 10p, June 1976)

 


Master of Kung Fu #46
(Price 10p, November 1976)

 


Chamber of Chills #25
(Price 10p, November 1976)

 
The following table lists all regular page count colour comic books published by Marvel with a January through December 1976 cover date.
 
 

1976 (Pence Variants in green)

JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

2001: A Space Odyssey

                      1

Adventures On The Planet Of The Apes

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

8

9

10

11

Amazing Adventures

34

 

35

 

36

 

37

 

38

 

39

 

Amazing Spider-Man

152 153 154 155

156

157 158 159 160 161 162 163

Astonishing Tales

33

 

34

 

35

 

36

         

Avengers

143 144 145 146

147

148 149 150 151 152 153 154

Black Goliath

  1   2   3   4     5  

Captain America

193 194 195 196

197

198 199 200 201 202 203 204

Captain Marvel

42   43  

44

  45   46   47  

Chamber Of Chills

20

 

21

 

22

 

23

 

24

 

25

 

Champions

2 3 4 5   6   7   8   9

Conan

58 59 60 61

62

63 64 65 66 67 68 69

Daredevil

129 130 131 132

133

134 135 136 137 138 139 140

Defenders

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

42

Doctor Strange

 

12

 

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

 

20

Eternals

            1 2 3 4 5 6

Fantastic Four

166 167 168 169

170

171 172 173 174 175 176 177

Ghost Rider

 

16

 

17

 

18

 

19

 

20

 

21

Howard the Duck

1   2  

  3

  4   5   6 7

Hulk

195 196 197 198

199

200 201 202 203 204 205 206

Inhumans

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

8

Invaders

4   5  

6

  7   8 9 10 11

Iron Fist

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

7

8

9

10

Iron Man

82 83 84 85

86

87 88 89 90 91 92 93

Jungle Action

19

 

20

 

21

 

22

 

23

 

24

 

Ka-Zar

 

14

 

15

 

16

 

17

 

18

 

19

Kid Colt Outlaw

202 203 204 205

206

207 208 209 210 211 212 213

Kull

             

16

 

17

 

18

Marvel Adventures

  2   3   4   5   6    

Marvel Chillers

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

   

Marvel Double Feature

  14   15   16   17   18   19

Marvel Feature

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

Marvel Premiere

 

28

 

29

 

30

 

31

 

32

 

33

Marvel Presents

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

   

7

8

Marvel Spotlight

 

26

 

27

 

28

 

29

 

30

 

31

Marvel Super-Heroes

55   56  

57

  58   59 60 61  

Marvel Tales

64   65 66

67

68 69 70 71 72 73 74

Marvel Team-Up

41 42 43 44

45

46 47 48 49 50 51 52

Marvel Triple Action

27   28  

29

  30   31   32  

Marvel Two-In-One

13   14  

15

16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Marvel's Greates Comics

61   62  

63

  64   65 66 67  

Master Of Kung Fu

36 37 38 39

40

41 42 43 44 45 46 47

Mighty Marvel Western

   

44

   

45

   

46

     

My Love

38   39                  

Nova

                1 2 3 4

Omega

    1  

2

  3   4   5  

Our Love Story

 

38

                   

Power Man

  29   30

31

32 33 34 35 36 37 38

Rawhide Kid

131   132  

133

  134   135   136  

Ringo Kid

25   26  

27

  28   29   30  

Sgt Fury & His Howling Commandos

131

 

132

 

133

 

134

 

135

136

137

 

Skull The Slayer

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

8

 

Son Of Satan

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

Spectacular Spider-Man

                      1

Spidey Super-Stories

 

15

 

16

   

17

18

 

19

 

20

Strange Tales

183

 

184

 

185

 

186

 

187

 

188

 

Super-Villain Team-Up

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

8

 

9

Thor

243 244 245 246

247

248 249 250 251 252 253 254

Tomb Of Darkness

18

 

19

 

20

 

21

 

22

 

23

 

Tomb Of Dracula

40 41 42 43

44

45 46 47 48 49 50 51

Two-Gun Kid

 

128

 

129

 

130

 

131

132

133

 

134

Warlock

 

11

 

12

 

13

 

14

   

15

 

Weird Wonder Tales

  14   15   16   17   18   19

Werewolf By Night

36   37  

38

  39   40   41  

X-Men

 

97

 

98

 

99

 

100

 

101

 

102

 
SOURCES

The data presented here is the result of my own research, backed up by data avilable from the Grand Comics Database and data compiled by Stephen Cranch.

 

uploaded 29 April 2022

The illustrations presented here are copyright material
and are reproduced for strictly non-commercial and appreciative review purposes only.
This Thought Balloon content (c) 2022 Adrian Wymann

 

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