The Groovy Agent, as usual, brought up quite a few interesting points in his blog about stories that cannot be reprinted. I would like to add a few points to them and show a few examples. As MarvelConan the Barbarian, by Robert E. Howard. grew, it began to license famous, literary characters, starting with Soon Red Sonja and Kull were added. Some of their best comics of the time were licensed or familiar characters. (Dracula and Frankenstein were now fair use.) The reprint market has grown to be a huge part of their business. Trade Paperbacks, Masterworks and even just plan comic book reprints make a lot of money. Sadly, as licensing lapses, so does Marvel’s rights to reprint those stories. Master of Kung Fu, which featured Fu Manchu, is one of those victims. New Marvel readers may never get the opportunity to read these wonderful stories. While other publishers have picked up the rights to reprint Conan, a few Conan stories that featured Marvel characters may never be reprinted again. That includes What If #13, #43, #29 which featured the Watcher and Thor. There was a trial run on Conan in Chamber of Darkness #4, using a character with a similar name. I wonder if that can be reprinted anywhere. So part of the Marvel Age may be lost.
There was also Thongor, Planet of the Apes, John Carter, Warrior of Mars, Doc Savage, Gullivar Jones, Logan’s Run and several movies and science fiction stories that were adapted in comics such as World’s Unknown.
Machine Man was a character created by Jack Kirby that made his first appearance in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The character is still used, but there are no references to 2001. There may be no reprinting of it either.
“The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu” a story of an evil genius, was published in 1913 and its main character would have a long run in pulps, movies, comics and magazines… “Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, ... one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present ... Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man.”
Fu Manchu’s comic history would begin in daily strips from 1930-1932. These stories were reprinted in Detective Comics starting with issue #17. Previously, Fu Manchu was copied in Detective Comics #1, in the Slam Bradley story by Superman’s creators, Siegel and Shuster. Wally Wood, in 1950 would also draw “The Mask of Fu Manchu” for Avon Comics.
You cannot underestimate Fu Manchu’s influence on popular fiction at the time. He was copied every here. The Yellow Claw, Atlas's (Marvel’s name then) copy, appeared in his own comic, drawn with the incredible talents of Jack Kirby and Joe Maneely, from 1956-1957. In 1967, Jim Steranko brought him back, well sort of, for the Nick Fury in Strange Tales #160-167. Some of Marvel’s artists and writers began emulating Jim Steranko’s artwork, pacing and story lines and it was evident in these stories. The Manderin was the most modern copy of Fu. He first appeared in Tales of Suspense in the Iron Man stories, and has since become a fixture in the Iron Man cartoons and is hinted at in the movie.