The UK London Editions Comics
The Backstory and the Legacy
The 00s relaunch
The success of the UK MOTU comics was profound enough that it enabled the same team to produce a new comic, over a decade after the dissolution of London Editions as a company. From 2003-5, Newsstand Services, a company founded by Brian Clarke following London Editions’ demise, was granted the license by Mattel to produce monthly comics to accompany Mattel’s 00s relaunch of the MOTU brand, based on its staff members’ success in the 80s with the London Editions comics. Edited by James Hill, one of the London Editions writers, these magazines featured reprints of the comics published in the US by MV Creations that ran alongside the new MOTU cartoon series by Mike Young Productions. However, although the MVC stories were aimed at an older audience and often featured heavier violence along with blood and gore, the comics were nevertheless packaged as pure children’s comics, accompanied by free toy gifts and containing features such as puzzles and drawings sent in by readers. This younger tone was heavily mismatched with the much darker and more violent format of the stories within, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the new comic did not take off in the way the 80s comics had.
The aftermath and legacy
Over a quarter of a century on from the dissolution of the UK MOTU comic series, it has left a lasting legacy and gained a considerable following and popularity among the wider He-Man and She-Ra fan base. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the UK comics have been placed online for international readers to see, and a wealth of information about them has been shared with the wider fan community. Characters such as Scrollos, Jodder and The Collector have gained acceptance and popularity among international fans who never encountered them in the 80s, and there has even been demand for action figures of these, with Scrollos and Jodder even gaining appearances in the more recent minicomics printed to accompany Mattel’s hugely successful Masters of the Universe Classics line, which has endeavoured for the last decade to accumulate all elements of every incarnation of MOTU to date. The character bios on the packages for the new toys often allude to and incorporate elements of the stories from the UK comics, and have brought these to a wider audience. While the London Editions comics are still among the lesser-known MOTU story media, their impact is nevertheless undeniable and it is safe to say they have gained firm recognition among the wider fan base and become a crucial part of MOTU lore.
2017 saw the work of Brian Clarke and his co-writers commemorated in the coffee table tome He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: A Character Guide and World Compendium by Dark Horse Publications, for which the administrator of this very website provided the biographies for all characters, locations, weapons, artefacts, spells, beasts, creatures and vehicles as featured in the UK comics. While this has spread awareness of the London Editions team’s work, we are now seeing high demand among fans for a collection of the UK comics in book form, as has been done with the Mattel minicomics and the US newspaper strips. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Mattel see the potential of such a venture, and give the UK comics the recognition they really deserve by honouring them with such a publication.
For it has to be said, while MOTU as a franchise has always lacked one single, solid continuity- an issue that annoys and frustrates some fans who would rather see one single definitive storyline for the franchise- this is seen by many as a positive thing, since it has allowed different writers from all different story media the creative freedom to interpret MOTU their own way and present their single unique vision of the world of Eternia and its characters to the fan base. And while many of the story media are beset by internal continuity problems or a lack of consistency, the UK comics are a firm exception in this regard. Throughout the five years that the London Editions comics were on the UK magazine shelves, they gave us one of the most solid, firm and consistent versions of the MOTU story throughout the whole of its 80s heyday, and to this very day, the UK comics’ canon remains one of the strongest iterations of the MOTU and POP saga. Brian Clarke, together with his team, told us the full story of MOTU, from the origins of the saga through to the end. And even though the final stories in the comics, as reprints of the German Ehapa comics, were not entirely the work of the London Editions crew, the rewriting of the dialogue by Brian Clarke and his team enabled them to appear part of one consistent storyline which told the full saga of MOTU from its pre-Eternia origins, through to She-Ra and the Horde, right down to the New Adventures saga. For achieving this feat, they are to be applauded, and it is no wonder the UK comics have attained an international impact with the passage of time, and influenced Mattel in their recent MOTU endeavours. The vision of the mythos provided us by Brian Clarke and his co-writers is a unique and extremely powerful iteration of a story which has captured the imagination of millions of youngsters and adults alike, across the globe. Over a quarter of a century on, it is time to recognize and celebrate the work of Brian Clarke and the London Editions team, with the commemoration in the new book publications by Dark Horse, and via this website, which serves as a record and celebration of their legacy. The Legend of Grayskull, as begun by Brian Clarke and the London Editions team in 1986, lives on.
© Aidan Cross, 2017.