Monday, 5 November 2012

M.A.S.K. US Issue 1 V's M.A.S.K. UK Issue 1

In a change from my usual blog, I thought I'd take the time to compare Issue 1 of M.A.S.K. UK against Issue 1 of 4 from the M.A.S.K. US Mini Series.

Published 1 year before the UK version, the American series started in DC Comics 50th Anniversary year of 1985 - the same year as the Cartoon and toys.  The first striking difference between the two comics is the size - the US comic sticks to the standard American format of comics, whereas the UK comic is a large format - slightly bigger than even other UK comics of it's time such as The Eagle.

To ensure the Headmast stands out in the Newsagents, both comics have the "MASK" lettering in a large font.  The UK comic has removed Rhino from the overall logo to save on space.  The US comic has Rhino and the Mask symbol reduced in size so that the full logo doesn't take up half of the front cover.

As there is a full page advert on the back of the US version, there is no wraparound cover unlike the UK version.  The size of the comic combined with the full wraparound cover allows the UK cover to exhibit grandeur over his American relation whose cover art doesn't have the depth of realism that the UK version has.

Once you open up the comic, there are more differences abound.  The US Version is in full colour throughout.  On the other hand, the UK version is mainly Black and White with only a few pages in Colour.  That being said, the artwork in the UK comic is generally of a higher standard and with it's shiny good quality paper feels more luxuriant over the poor quality of American version.

The next big difference is the layout.  The US version has one strip that feels like it could be an episode of the cartoon.  The story ends with a thread that continues into the next issue.

The UK comic, however, generally has 5 strips per issue - some are one off story's and some continue into the next issue.  The benefit of this format becomes more apparent once more Characters and Vehicles are introduced.  In the US version, if your favourite Character or Vehicle isn't in the story then they're not in the strip.  With the UK Version having 5 strips there is a better chance of your favourite appearing in at least one of the strips.

As well has having it's famous wraparound covers, the UK comic also had a centrepage poster every week.  In stark contrast, the US versions centrepage is filled with an advert featuring NBC's children's TV lineup.  In fact, the US version has eleven pages of advertising in comparison to only one and half in the UK version.

To sum up, the cost of each comic is 35p and in my opinion, the UK comic offered far better value for money.  The UK comic lasted 80 issues plus a preview issue and various holiday specials before merging with the Eagle for around 20 or so issues.  The American version - a 4-part mini-series followed by a monthly that managed only 9 issues, need I say more?

Perhaps M.A.S.K. was just a bigger phenomenon in the UK but if it was, I would say that the IPC/FLEETWAY comic helped it along.


  1. A great comparison that I have never seen anyone do on a blog before! Some great insight and really shows the difference between the UK and USA version. Could be that UK kids valued reading more than American kids who were glued to the television (including myself.)

  2. The UK comic didn't come out until a year after the toys hit the US so perhaps the characters where maybe just more developed by the time it reached our shores.

    The Format certainly helped and the fact a Preview Issue was given away would've got a lot of kids (including myself) hooked. There was also the centre page posters - what other comic of the day provided a poster every issue (beware if you are buying second hand comics - make sure all pages are intact - especially the Centre Page and any Mask Cutouts).