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Title: Arkensword
Publisher: Paul Duncan
Editor(s): Paul Duncan
Type: non-fiction
Date(s): 1980-1990
Medium: print
Fandom: multifandom, comics fandom
Language: English
External Links: Fanscene Project
League of Comic Geeks
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Arkensword is a zine published in the UK. For the first five issues it featured articles on science fiction media as well as comics, but with Issue 6 (Vol 2, No. 1) the focus shifted entirely to comics fandom. In 1990 the name was changed to Ark after it was purchased by Titan Comics.

There were 34 issues; 23 as Arkensword (or Arken-Sword as it was sometimes titled) and 10 as Ark before the zine/magazine folded in 1990.

The zine was published and edited in England by Paul Duncan, who "spent my teenage years publishing 'Ark: The Comics Magazine' (1980-1990) and writing comics ('Second City'), before graduating".[1] He took over editing from original editor Mark Woodward at issue #4, "after buying a typewriter halfway through production"[2].

In the decade the zine was published, Arkensword became increasingly more professional in appearance and in 1990 it was published by Titan Comics, an English company.

In 1986 the zine was nominated for an Eagle Award in the "Favourite Specialist Comics Publication" section[3].

The covers of all issues are available online through the Classic Comics U.K. Zines project.


Many of the contributors were fan comics artists and writers who later became professionals, in independent comics as well as the mainstream "Big Two" of DC Comics and Marvel. Many had connections to 2000 AD. Duncan also made a lot of contacts within the comics industry, both in England and elsewhere. This was reflected in the interviews and art from professional writers and artists, up-and-comers as well as legends of the 1950s and 1960s.

Well-known contributors to Arkensword include:

Issue 1

Cover of Issue #1 by Paul Duncan. 1980

Arkensword 1. Published February 1st, 1980. Edited by Mark Woodward. Cover art credited to Paul Duncan.[4] 24 pages.

From Paul Duncan's Facebook[5]: "UK fanzines/underground comix: ArkenSword 1 (1980) 40 years ago, I co-published my first zine while at school (I got out of playing cricket to use the school gestetner machine to run off the pages), which contained articles on Dr. Who, Superman II, Star Wars, Marvel UK, and Metropolis (1927). Cover price was 25p and 100 copies were printed. It cost £15 to print - £10 for the litho cover alone. ARK ran for 33 issues over 10 years, eventually focusing solely on comics. Coincidentally, yesterday I found the original cover artwork (by my 15-year-old self) and present it here for the first (and last!) time."

Issue 2

Cover of Issue #2 by Paul Duncan. 1980

Arkensword 2. Published August 1, 1980. Edited by Mark Woodward, cover art by Paul Duncan. 24 pages.

According to the cover, it has content from Star Wars, Doctor Who, Marvel, Saturn III, and the Disney movie, The Black Hole. The cover art also features Superman and Spider-Man, as well as characters from the above media.

From Duncan's Twitter account: "UK fanzine: ArkenSword 2 (1980) Articles on #DrWho, #Blakes7, Land of the Giants, #StarWars / Empire Strikes Back, #MARVEL UK, Forbidden Planet. Edited by Mark Woodward, who wanted it full of Dr. Who, while I wanted a SF media mag like #Starlog & #Starburst. Cover by me."[6]

Issue 3

Cover of Issue #3. 1981

Arkensword 3. Published March 2, 1981. Edited by Mark Woodward, cover is a collage of Doctor Who stills. 24 pages.

Due to the poor quality of the cover image, it is unclear what the contents were, but they were likely to have been focussed on Doctor Who, judging by the cover.

Issue 4

Cover of Issue #4 by Paul Duncan. 1981
Paul Duncan's con report, pages 4-5. Art also by Paul Duncan.

Arkensword 4. Published September 1st, 1981. Edited by Paul Duncan, cover art by Paul Duncan. 24 pages.

Per the front cover, the zine contains articles on Doctor Who, Star Trek, The Incredible Shrinking Man, the history of Marvel UK and Doc Savage. It also included an episode guide to Lost in Space and "a new concept in comic-strip form, Von Bliem" (written by Paul Duncan and art by Paul Chokram)[2].

From Duncan's Twitter: "UK fanzines: ArkenSword 4 (1981) I took over the editing after buying a typewriter halfway through production. Contents: Marvel UK 1980 Con Report (my first!); Incredible Shrinking Man; Marvel UK History; Doc Savage; Lost in Space; Dr. Who. Printed on gestetner with wax stencils."[2]

According to Wikipedia, the first "Thrud the Barbarian" comic strip by Carl Critchlow was published in a 1981 issue of Arkensword.

Issue 5

Cover of Issue #5 by Paul Duncan. 1982.

Arkensword 5. Published April 1st, 1982. Edited and cover art by Paul Duncan. 24 pages. Based on the cover, the contents included articles on Doc Savage, the second Superman movie, Conan the Barbarian, X-Men "and more".

Issue Summaries continued

Subpages for Arkensword:

Reviews and Responses

There was an old fanzine in the eighties called Arkensword, and on a trip back to Liverpool I entered a comic shop and picked up a copy. I was 15 and it had an Alan Moore interview inside, as well as a Brian Bolland Judge Dredd on the cover flanked by two ladies in suspenders (Issue 13/14). How could I resist? To be fair it turned out to be the most significant purchase I have ever made when it comes to comics. Not only did it have a very in depth and fascinating interview with the aforementioned Mr. Moore, it also had an interview with Howard Chaykin about something called American Flagg, an article on V for Vendetta (which also started with a Joy Division quote and thus sparked another passion) and interviews with Phil Elliot and Glen Dakin, and some stuff about an associated artist called Eddie Campbell. All of this served to open up the wide world of comics beyond the traditional British kids' stuff and the American super-hero stuff.


This magazine ran for 10 years, and was considered the UK version of The Comic Journal. The last three issues... ...were patchily distributed in the UK and US, so many regular readers did not have the opportunity of reading over 30 interviews with some of the leading comics creators, some of whom have now sadly passed away. Each issue contains in-depth interviews with comics artists and writers, illustrated with rare and never-before-published artwork, including pencils, development sketches and unused artwork. The subject matter ranged from daily working practices and opinions about the industry, to life experiences and how these are applied to their work. Some even have a few jokes thrown in. Coinciding with the extraordinary renaissance of British comics in the 1980s, ARK interviewed all the major British talents emerging from 2000AD, Warrior and Marvel UK, including Alan Moore, Alan Davis, Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, Dave Gibbons, Pat Mills, Ian Gibson, John Wagner and Ron Smith. In addition talents from America and Europe, both old masters and young turks, were featured in-depth, each contributing rare and never-reprinted covers, interior artwork, sketches and designs.