Comics Creators

Crazy Partworks Season


One of my favourite bits of the new year is Crazy Partworks Season, when magazine companies launch all their new partwork series. For our non-British posters, Partwork magazines are niche publications that come with a “free” gift every issue, the idea being that you subscribe and use the gifts to build a collection of something. They usually have very low prices on the first issues, but then much higher ones for subsequent issues (which quickly stop appearing in newsagents) and run for so long that the total price for the collection is usually somewhere in the high hundreds.

I haven’t seen anything too ridiculous yet this year - nothing to match the ‘build your own model galleon’ one and the pocket watch collection from a few years ago. This new Marvel one is a bit silly though.

Draw the Marvel Way: £5 an issue for a magazine with a few drawing tips and tutorials in and some art supplies. #1 has a pencil, ruler and a rubber. #2 has a paintbrush and 3(!) watercolour paints. Set to run for 100 issues, for the price of which you could easily just buy How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way and some art supplies.

Anyone seen any other good (ridiculous) ones?


Build a skeleton looks really awesome.


Oo, I haven’t seen that one. Got a link?


It’s here:


I saw an advert for that skeleton one the other day. The full-size finished model looks terrifying.


The only partworks I’ve ever completed is the Prisoner one, when I was in school. It would have been cheaper to buy the DVD box set, but the magazine that came with the partworks was actually great. It built into a 230-page ridiculously detailed book about the series, with information on all the episodes, gadgets, locations, and bios of every single character to appear on screen.


I’m ridiculously jealous this isn’t really a thing in the US. Some of these look great! My 13 year old son would love the drawing comics one for sure.


Tested have been doing the Build a Millenium Falcon one all year, and the price to import it from the UK to the US is insane - and that one is pretty pricey to begin with.


While some are a bit nutty they an also be great value. The Judge Dredd one Hachette are running is the equivalent of $15 for a hardcover graphic novel, and they did a similar Marvel one a couple of years back. Even better when they give away the first few issues for next to nothing to get people on board.


Are these pay as you go? Or do you commit to the whole thing all at once? The closest thing I can think of from here was when I was a kid there was this thing called Zoo Book and every month or so you’d get like some binder pages with pictures and different animals on them.

It absolutely pales in comparison to the examples I’m seeing here.

A Judge Dredd hardback a month doesn’t sound to shabby from where I’m sitting.


You can subscribe, and you get them by post, or just pick them up at the newsagents every other week.


This started last year and I never thought of it as a “partwork” but I think it kind of fits the bill:

Reprints from old NME and Melody Maker magazines, so it’s a refreshing “This stuff is new” approach rather than your usual retrospectives. It a full year each month, starting in 1965. I figure I’ll buy it up until 1979 and then stop (as obviously the history of rock is over by then).


I might check that out.

Is 1965 an arbitrary year on which to begin the History of Rock, or is there a good reason to start that year? Or is it because that’s when NME and Melody Maker started out?


Amazingly the Melody Maker started in 1926 and the NME in 1949.


That’s interesting. I would have thought that the history of Rock should at least drag in some of the Blues and Doo-wop stuff from the 50’s. The Beatles and The Who readily admit to being obsessed with Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry etc.

I think that I’m going to have to find that magazine, just to find out why it’s starting with 1965.


I have no idea why 1965, unless it was because 50 years is a nice round number. I would have started with the Beatles, though you’re right that they should really take in the American pioneers.

But NME and MM were British, and it’s interesting to note that articles filed from America are almost non-existant – if an American band was not touring here, they didn’t get coverage. Communication and travel were 'ard in those days lad!

So maybe they simply didn’t have enough coverage of the rock scene in the 50s. Even in 1965 they’re having to include jazz to make up the pages rather than being purely “rock”.


Yeah, I noticed John Coltrane and Burt Bacharach’s names on the cover…which I count as a good thing. I wouldn’t be married if it wasn’t for Burt…because I played a lot of Burt Bacharach music to my girlfriend when we were dating and not because he drove me to the church when my car broke down or something like that.


Or perhaps it was simply because they wanted to get the Beatles on the cover of their first issue, to get as many readers as possible to buy it.


Yes, but that’s why I would have started it in 1962!


I just saw a TV ad for one that was a Star Wars partworks, but just for helmets: