Pádraig Ó Méalóid produced this extensive obituary for the Forbidden International Blog - and has kindly given us permission to cross post it here.
Mick Anglo was born Maurice Anglowitz in the Bow area of the borough of Tower Hamlets in London’s East End to Hyman and Rachel (nee Pelter) Anglowitz. He claims he was born on the 14th June, 1916, even though his birth certificate gives the date as the 19th June, due to his father registering the birth late – it wasn’t actually registered until the 28th July, well over a month later.
He was the youngest of a family of five boys, the others being Andrew, Sidney, Stanley and Richard. After school in the Central Foundation Grammar School in Cowper Street in London’s Islington Mick got a scholarship to the Sir John Cass Art School in Aldgate. He left school at eighteen and eventually got some freelance work drawing clothing designs for one of the London fashion houses.
In 1939, at the age of twenty-three, he enlisted in the British Army at Oxford, becoming an infantryman in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and at one point found himself working as a cartographer at Earl Mountbatten’s headquarters in Sri Lanka. He also did some cartooning work for SEAC, the official army newspaper for the South East Asia Command, and later on for the Singapore Free Press, which was revived at the end of the war.
On 29th December 1940 he married Minnie Cedar in the Wembley District Synagogue in Hendon, London. On their marriage certificate, both their fathers are said to be tailors, and it turns out they lived on the same street. Mick’s occupation is given as Fusilier #6468556, with his civilian occupation as commercial artist noted in brackets, while Minnie was a tailoress.
When he got married his surname was recorded as Anglo, as was his father’s, who was by now styling himself Harry Anglo, rather than Hyman Anglowitz, so Mick Anglo was already halfway to the final version of his own name.
|One of Mick Anglo’s Johnny Dekker |
books – pic from Micksidge’s Flickrstream
It would have been around this time that Anglo had his first dealings with L Miller and Son. In an interview with Roger Dicken in Alter Ego #87 (TwoMorrows, Raleigh, July 2009), Mick describes how he first came upon them:
"As I recall, it was a still drab post-war Britain, and I’d been doing this, that, and the other to keep body and soul together. One day in the early 1950s, my next-door neighbour showed me a couple of bright American-style comics bearing the distinctive triangular logo L Miller and Son, an English company, with a 6d price on them, and he suggested I check them out for some further artistic work.
I duly visited their warehouse headquarters in Hackney Road, London, and was fortunate to meet the son, one Arnold Miller, who, it turned out, had formed his own branch of the company to publish original British space comics, as the bulk of the lines up until then were American reprints, such as Captain Video. Anyway, he was raring to do a series under his own banner ABC (Arnold Book Company), and I was very interested, as you can imagine.
I showed him some of my work I’d brought along, though what it was escapes me, and he was suitably impressed. It was then, during discussions, to my surprise I discovered that the boss, Arnold’s father Len, was in fact the same man who once sold me comics as a kid!
… After some in-depth discussions re could I create such-and-such and find other artists, etc, things started to buzz, and very soon I formed Mick Anglo Limited, and found myself searching for suitable premises for a studio. Eventually I located some rooms at the top of a rickety flight of stairs in an old building at 164 Gower Street, London NW1, long since demolished, which became the Gower Street Studios."
Fate was about to hand him his most significant job, however. This is what he had to say in Alter Ego #87:
“One day in late 1953, I think, the Millers rang me to say, ‘Come over, Mick – urgent – very urgent!’ I went to the warehouse premises, and much consternation!
Mick Anglo says that he went back to Gower Street and thought about it, and decided that what they needed to do was create a British copy of Captain Marvel to step into his shoes, and to carry on instead of him. The character Anglo apparently suggested to take Captain Marvel’s place was virtually a carbon copy of him. The name Billy Batson was turned into Mickey Moran, with Moran being a young copy boy for the Daily Bugle newspaper, as opposed to Batson’s position as a reporter for Radio Whiz; the costume was changed from red to blue, and the cloak was done away with, for being too much trouble to have to draw all the time; the dark hair became blonde; the magic word SHAZAM!, given to Batson by the wizard Shazam, was replaced by the word KIMOTA! – a slightly altered backward spelling of the word Atomic – given to Moran by Astro-physicist Guntag Barghelt, making Marvelman’s powers science-based, like Superman’s, rather than magic-based, like Captain Marvel’s; and the transformation was all but complete. All that was needed was a name.Len was in a right old mood. It seemed that in the USA Fawcett had lost a court fight with Superman comics, etc, and could no longer market their Captain Marvel character; thus Miller, in turn, wouldn’t receive further supplies of the comic plates to print Captain Marvel. They held the license to reprint the comics in Britain, and he was one of their very lucrative lines. This created big problems! … So boss Len needed a substitute real fast and could I come up with something?”
“The first name change suggested – and most obvious one – was finally adopted … although other names were seriously considered, including Miracleman and Captain Miracle, which were registered as possibilities.”
“That first name was, of course, Marvelman.”
In a short interview with George Khoury in Kimota! The Miracleman Companion (TwoMorrows Publishing, Raleigh, 2001), Anglo says this:
“Yes, it was my creation except everything is based on somebody else. A bit of this and a bit of that. With Superman, he’s always wearing this fancy cloak with a big ‘S’ on his chest … I did away with the cloak so that I didn’t have to draw the cloak, which was awkward to draw, and played with a gravity belt, and they could do anything without all these little gimmicks.”Six months after the launch of Marvelman, Mick Anglo formed Mick Anglo Limited, UK company number 537200, which was registered on the 21st of August 1954 – with Anglo having filled out the forms in his solicitor’s office nine days earlier, on the 12th of August – with a nominal opening capital of one hundred pounds split into one hundred shares of £1 each, with ten of those shares being drawn down and allocated, nine to Mick Anglo, and the other one to his wife, Minnie.
The exact circumstances surrounding the creation of L Miller’s Marvelman, however, are still the matter of some conjecture, as is Mick Anglo’s part in it. He certainly did have a part in that creation, but whether as primary and only creator or simply as work-for-hire, following detailed instructions from above, is still not clear, nor is it likely to be, it seems.
What is clear is that Mick Anglo, through Mick Anglo Ltd and the writers and artists at Gower Street Studios, provided the Millers with Marvelman material for the next six years, until the title went from weekly to monthly, and became a reprint title.
Marvelman wasn’t the only superhero title that Anglo created, although most of those that followed were based on his earlier work. There was Captain Universe, AKA The Super Marvel, who was a man called Jim Logan who said the magic word GALAP to be changed into his alternative incarnation, published for one issue in 1954 by Arnold Book Company; Captain Miracle, a man called Johnny Dee with the magic word El Karim, published for nine issues by Anglo Comics starting in 1960, just after Anglo ceased working for the Millers; and Miracle Man, a man called Johnny Chapman with the magic word Sundisc, published for thirteen issues by Top Sellers in 1965.
The last two are said to simply be redrawn Marvelman stories, in much the same way that some of the Marvelman stories are said to be redrawn Captain Marvel stories.
He also wrote several books for Jupiter Books, like Penny Dreadfuls and other Victorian Horrors, and Man Eats Man: The Story of Cannibalism. It was also for Jupiter Books that he wrote a series of books with the series title of ‘Nostalgia – Spotlight on…’, including Nostalgia – Spotlight on the Fifties, which contains an article called The Age of Marvelman, which contains his version of the story of the creation of Marvelman.
In 2007, Anglo’s Marvelman rights were sold to Emotiv and Company, allegedly for £4000. What exactly those rights are, and where they come from, has also been the matter of much conjecture, but neither Emotiv, not Marvel Comics, who subsequently bought those rights, have publically clarified any of these issues, nor do they appear to intend to do so in the foreseeable future.
Much has been said, particularly in the past few days, of Mick Anglo’s place in British comics’ history. For myself, I don’t think he was the huge creative genius that people try to make out he was. He certainly wasn’t the hugely influential, legendary comics’ creator that the American comics media seem to want to make him out to have been.
|From Miracleman #1, published 1985, |
by Alan Moore and Garry Leach
His set up was as a comics packager, producing a finished periodical to specifications from a publisher, and this is what he did. In these more enlightened times, that may not seem like much, but at the time it was good honourable work, which he did to the best of his considerable ability. He worked hard at what he was good at. That seems a good enough for epitaph for any of us.
• Bear Alley (includes detailed credits for his books and comics work)
• The Beat
• Lew Stringer, Blimey It's Another Blog About Comics
• Comic Bits Online