Derek "Dez" Skinn (born 4 February 1951) is a British comic and magazine editor, and author of a number of books on comics. As head of Marvel Comics' operations in England in the late 1970s, Skinn reformatted existing titles, launched new ones, and acquired the BBC license for Doctor Who Weekly. After leaving Marvel UK, Skinn founded and edited Warrior, which featured key works by Alan Moore.
|Born||Derek G. Skinn|
4 February 1951
|Area(s)||Writer, Editor, Publisher|
|Marvel UK, Warrior|
|Awards||Eagle Awards, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1982, 1983, 1984|
Society of Strip Illustration, 1982
Called by some the "British Stan Lee," Skinn is one of British comics' most influential figures. He has also caused no small amount of controversy in his career, specifically related to legal issues regarding his publishing new adventures of the 1950s character Marvelman, as well as charges of plagiarism about Skinn's 2004 book Comix: The Underground Revolution.
Skinn started at IPC Magazines (now known as IPC Media) in 1970, where he was sub-editor on Whizzer and Chips, Cor!!, and Buster. Also Father of Chapel of the local branch of the National Union of Journalists, he became an editor before leaving, on the Buster Book of Spooky Stories (1975 and 1976).
Skinn left IPC to expand the comics arm of Warner Bros. publishing. He took over editing MAD UK, Tarzan, Korak, and Laurel and Hardy, revived Monster Mag, and launched House of Hammer, which won the 1976 Eagle Award for Best UK Title. (Skinn also won the 1977 Eagle Award for Best Editor for his revamping of MAD UK.)
In January 1978, Skinn independently created the science fiction monthly Starburst, published under Skinn's own Starburst Publishing Ltd. Sporting the tagline "Science Fantasy in Television, Cinema and Comix," Starburst contained news, interviews, features and reviews of science fiction material in various media (including TV, film, soundtracks, multimedia, comics and "collectibles"). Starburst won the 1978 Eagle Award for Best UK Title.
Thanks in part to the success of Starburst, Skinn was headhunted by Stan Lee to reshape Marvel's floundering UK reprint division. (With issue No. 4, Marvel also bought and began to publish Starburst.) In his 15 months as editorial director for Marvel UK, Skinn reported directly to Lee; he reformatted existing titles Marvel Comic, Star Wars Weekly, and Spider-Man Comics Weekly, plus monthlies Rampage and Savage Sword of Conan. In addition, Skinn launched Doctor Who Weekly and Hulk Comic, among many other titles (Frantic, Marvel Pocket Books, Star Heroes, TV Heroes, summer specials, winter specials...).
Leaving Marvel in 1980 for his own company, the London West End Studio System, Skinn worked primarily in advertising design for both the film and fashion industry. In 1982 he returned to publishing with his own company, Quality Communications, where Skinn founded and edited the comics anthology Warrior. Warrior went on to win 17 Eagle Awards, introduce V for Vendetta, and revive Marvelman/Miracleman.
In 1990, Quality Communications launched the comics trade magazine Comics International, which Skinn published and edited for the following 16 years. His "Sez Dez" column was a regular feature in issues #100–#200, at which point Skinn sold the magazine in 2006 to Cosmic Publications. Since 2005, Quality has published The Jack Kirby Quarterly and The Art of John Watkiss.
Skinn now writes a column called "The Skinny" for Future plc's comics trade magazine Comic Heroes and because of his strong beliefs in education through entertainment and the increasing world levels in illiteracy, he has recently begun working with the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, initially chairing a discussion there on Comics and Literacy in the Middle East which has led to his becoming curator of the newly created Middle East Film and Comic Con.
Marvelman (a.k.a. Miracleman)Edit
Before launching Warrior, Skinn contacted writer Alan Moore, telling him that "Marvelman's copyright had belonged to the publisher L. Miller & Son, ... that they had gone bankrupt in 1963[,] and that the rights to Marvelman had passed to the Official Receiver [and therefore] could be purchased for a very small amount..."; and asked Moore if he "would ... like to ... contribute to this new retelling of Marvelman."
A quarter-century later Moore found out that Marvelman creator "Mick Anglo had always owned the copyright, that it had never been owned by L. Miller & Son, and that they had not gone bankrupt, but had concluded their affairs quietly in 1963 .... Basically, Mick Anglo had been robbed of his ownership of [Marvelman]." According to Moore, "I was not on the best of terms with Dez Skinn by the end of the Warrior experience. I didn't trust the man, and my opinion – for what that is worth – is that there was knowing deceit involved in the Marvelman decision."
But according to Skinn, he had met with Anglo three times before assigning creators to Marvelman and Anglo had expressed no problem with the relaunch then or for the following 20+ years. Skinn cites quotes by Mick Anglo from George Koury's 2001 book Kimota: "[Regarding ownership] I don't know; that was Miller's sort of thing ... Dez contacted me and he wanted to revive it and I said go ahead and do what you like."
After Warrior magazine folded due to poor sales, Skinn signed a deal with independent American publisher Eclipse Comics to reprint the Marvelman stories (under the title Miracleman) before continuing the storyline with new material by Moore and later Neil Gaiman. According to an editorial by then-Eclipse editor Cat Yronwode in Miracleman #24:
... The contract called for [Eclipse] to pay [Skinn] reprint royalties [which he was to then] forward to each individual [creator]. When [Eclipse] learned that Dez had not sent any royalty money to the creators, [they] cut him out of the loop and paid later reprint royalties directly [to the creators].... During the same period, Skinn also represented himself as the art agent of Mick Austin (painter of MM covers) and sold transparencies to [Eclipse] of Austin's work. ... Eventually [Eclipse] found out – from the artist – that Dez was not Mick's agent, had no authority to offer his pieces to [Eclipse], [and] had not forwarded the money [to Austin]. [So Eclipse paid] Mick the sum total of what he was owed, recovering [its losses] from Skinn by withholding payment on the last projects [they] had going with him.
For Kimota!:The Miracleman Companion George Khoury interviewed both Skinn and Yronwode—separately—and asked each about the claims published in Miracleman No. 24. Skinn claimed to Khoury that "[a]bout ten years after that Miracleman No. 24 letters page," he and Yronwode had a "conversation via e-mail about that outrageous stuff." According to Skinn, Yronwode informed him that "Dean [Mullaney, Eclipse Comics co-founder,] had filled her head with those stories" and apologised to him. But when Khoury relayed this to Yronwode during his interview with her she denied it, maintaining that the "conversation with Dez Skinn about that" never happened and that she never apologised.
Comix: The Underground RevolutionEdit
In 2004 Collins & Brown published Skinn's book Comix: The Underground Revolution. Skinn's authorship of the book was contested by Patrick Rosenkranz and Trina Robbins. Rosenkranz alleged that "Skinn's book extensively "borrowed" from [his own book] Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963–1975" by using as its title "the same four words, cleverly rearranged, [used] as the subtitle of [his] book," "helping himself to quotes from many interviews [he] conducted, repeating facts and figures that [he] dug up," and "reprint[ing] seven of [his] photographs without permission." Skinn responded by insisting that "No theft was intended". Skinn claims that those seven photographs had been implemented by one of the ghost writers subcontracted by him and when he found out about it, he apologised to and paid Rosenkranz. Skinn claims also that the book title was chosen by the commissioning publisher.
Robbins noted that she wrote Chapter 6, "Girls on Top?" for Comix: The Underground Revolution but was not given credit. "... Dez e-mailed me with a request to contribute a chapter on women in the underground ... I did get paid for it ... one usually expects to be credited for what one writes". Skinn claims that he informed Robbins that no sub-contractors were credited in any of the publisher's titles, and that as the chapter was primarily about her, any such credit would have completely undermined its apparent objectivity.
He has won a number of Eagle Awards:
- 1976: "Best UK title", for House of Hammer (editor)
- 1977: "Best Editor", for revamping MAD magazine
- 1978: "Best UK title", for Starburst Magazine (editor)
- 1982: "Best UK title", for Warrior
- 1983: "Best UK title", for Warrior
- 1984: "Best UK title", for Warrior
National Comics AwardsEdit
After a decade or so, the Eagle Awards became dormant and were replaced in 1997 by the National Comics Awards, again voted for by the general public, and presented by Jonathan Ross and Paul Gambaccini.
- 1997: "Role of Honour"
- 1999: "Best specialist magazine or website", for Comics International
- 2001: "Best specialist magazine or website", for Comics International
- 2003: "Best specialist magazine or website", for Comics International
Society of Strip IllustrationEdit
- 1982: "The Frank Bellamy Award for Lifetime Achievement"
Skinn also received a Guinness World Record award in 2010 for his Doctor Who Weekly creation being the world's longest-running TV tie-in.
- Miller, John Jackson. "Comics Industry Birthdays", Comics Buyer's Guide, 10 June 2005. Accessed 14 August 2010. WebCitation archive.
- Badham, Matthew. "Doctor Who: Adventures in Space, Time & Comics," Comic Book Resources (1 July 2010).
- John, Andrew. "Guinness World Record for Doctor Who Magazine," Digital Journal (3 April 2010).
- "Dez Skinn Leaves Marvel U.K.". The Comics Journal (54): 15. March 1980.
- Amacker, Kurt. “Alan Moore Reflects on Marvelman,” Archived 5 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine Mania.com (3 September 2009)
- Kimota!: The Miracleman Companion TwoMorrows Publishing; 1st edition (1 September 2001), p.10.
- Yronwode, Cat. Miracleman No. 24 (Aug. 1993), p. 28
- Kimota!: The Miracleman Companion TwoMorrows Publishing; 1st edition (1 September 2001), p.47.
- Kimota!: The Miracleman Companion TwoMorrows Publishing; 1st edition (1 September 2001), p.117.
- Rosenkranz, Patrick (October–November 2004). "Steal This Book". The Comics Journal. 1 (263): 9. ISSN 0194-7869.
- Robbins, Trina (February–March 2005). "Memo From Dez Skinn's Ghost Writer". The Comics Journal. 1 (266): 8. ISSN 0194-7869.
- Arndt, Richard J. Warrior bibliography and interview
- Brazilian comics website
- Down the Tubes
- 5 minutes with Dez Skinn
- The Past, Present and Future of Dez Skinn
- Reem Al Meqbali interviews Dez Skinn
| Doctor Who Magazine Editor