From 1972-1995, Marvel UK, a subsidiary arm of Marvel Comics, had what should have been the exclusive rights to publish reprints of Marvel material in the UK (hence the name “Marvel UK”). Unfortunately, it appears that nobody told Marvel’s licensing department…
Portman Distribution was originally a part of the Top Sellers group, but was eventually sold to Gold Star, a Croydon-based company run by brothers Ralph and David Gold. In 178, the Gold brothers hired Alan McKenzie, previously an employee of Top Sellers, to edit two horror themed titles, Castle of Horror and Tales of Terror, monthly black and white magazines which reprinted material originally published in the USA by Marvel Comics in their short-lived black and white magazine line. Castle of Horror specialised in fanged fiends, reprinting material from Vampire Tales including Blade the Vampire Slayer and Morbius the Living Vampire.
Tales of Terror, meanwhile, gave us features such as Brother Voodoo and ‘Tales of the Zombie’. For five issues each, these two gore-spattered books took their readers on a nightmarish trek through the darkest corners of the Marvel Universe… but one can only imagine the true horror that followed when an enraged Marvel UK noticed these undead interlopers poaching their territory! A strongly worded communique from Jadwin House to the offices of Marvel US followed, and the short but horrific reign of the Portman horror titles was ended, with no (recorded) bloodshed, but possibly a few red faces.
It all worked out OK for Alan McKenzie though; he ended up working for Marvel UK.
How Ken Bald’s art originally looked on the US Monsters Unleashed! Annual and how it looked on the Portman Castle of Horror reprint
Blog post by Tony Ingram