Monday, 31 August 2015
One of the more outrageous IPC comics was the short lived Krazy complete with manic covers and comic features that started a move away from the more traditional comic. Viz readers might recognise some of the format, but no smut lads this was a kids comic, "not for sale to adults" as was emblazoned on the cover.
They didn't mind if a grown-up paid for it though.
Neither would we, though maybe as a student at the time I was maybe a bit to old for such treats....
A sign of the times was the strip This is how Steve Ford became the 12p Buytonic boy. No prizes for guessing the inspiration for that one!
Laughter galore was to be found in Handy Andy, Pongo Strikes Again, Fit Fred & Sick Sid and a lad called Cheeky who went on to have a comic of his own.
There was also Kelly's Telly where characters came out his telly.. sure there was something similar in Wham! or Smash!, can't remember which!
One of the big selling points of this comic were it's covers, some of which like the two above are worth purchasing for these alone!
Like a lot of British comics this title eventually fell prey to falling sales and merged with stronger selling Whizzer and Chips in 1978.
That would not be the end of Crazy as both Summer Specials and Annuals continued to be published until 1985 outliving the parent comic by several years.
Sunday, 30 August 2015
One of the joys of summers long gone was the Summer Special, in this case the very long running Dandy, which although has ceased publication still has it's specials and annuals. The main problem with DC Thompson's Summer editions was their size, huge pages which has meant they were far more easily damaged than those produced by other companies which were larger only in terms of the number of pages.
This 1973 edition of The Dandy Summer Special was a little damaged but intact and all pages were readable and a joy to read.
Korky the Cat, Corporal Clott, and of course Desperate Dan are the features most readers will remember. Add to that Smasher and public schoolboy Winker Watson plus my personal favourite, Brassneck the fun begins!
This being later than the editions I read as a kid (mostly back in the mid-sixties) there are a couple of stories I was not familiar with such as PC Big Ears and Whacko.
I'll have to find some copies of earlier editions for personal nostalgia, but in the mean time there is a lot to read including a couple of adventure strips Davie & Goliath (a boy and his dog) and the rather odd Jack Silver.
Grab a copy if you come across one!
Saturday, 29 August 2015
Doc Savage #7 (Marvel Comics)
Doug Monech (w) Val Mayerik & Tony Dezuniga (a)
Part of the Marvel Black & White magazine size comic boom in the seventies Doc Savage was one title that didn't catch my attention at the time, but having picked up this feature length story about Doc and his crew I have to say this is very much an over-looked title.
Most Marvel readers will probably be familiar with the also short lived colour series published in the usual format. These were reprinted by DC a few years back when they had the licence for the character.
Doc Savage is the ultimate human being, the "superman" from the pulp magazines era back in the thirties and forties. The opening descriptor states:
Crime fighter, Detective,Technologist, Scientist, Inventor, Futurist, Surgeon, Gymnast, Superman, Avengers and extremely rare occasion a man of searing, explosive rage!
In the following saga , he is all of them.
And a splendid adventure this story is, The Mayan Mutations sees Doc and his companions Monk, Johnny, Major Thomas, Ace Engineer and Ham head to the jungles of Peru in their Zeppelin, with a beautiful anthropologist and Mayan woman to face giant insects, reptiles and tree dwelling savages.
Plus the usual world threatening villainy!
Sadly this mag only lasted 8 issues, but well worth collecting!
Thursday, 27 August 2015
Charlton Premiere presents: Children of Doom (Charlton Comics)
Sergius O'Shaugnessy (w) Pat Boyette (a)
One of the major publishers back in the day was Charlton Comics, rumoured it has to be said to be owned by the Mafia who operated out of a run down factory in Derby, Connecticut. Their comics were very much a part of a much larger printing operation and designed to help keep the presses rolling since it was apparently cheaper to run that way.
As a result the quality of the comics did suffer, in particular the finished product tended more often than not to have bad cuts, poor printing and other faults that may have put off readers. Add to that a chaotic distribution system which often saw titles simply sitting in warehouses never reaching consumers many may have missed out on even getting to see the wide range of comics the company put out.
Charlton were not popular with the US Post office either, often changing a titles name and content completely and continuing the numbering to avoid fees. That practise also makes collecting difficult as numbering ended up meaning nothing.
Charlton Premiere was one such comic. Starting life as Marine War Heroes for 18 issues and then changing to Charlton Premiere as of #19, It was oddly followed by a new #1. No idea why.
However neither of these are of particular interest, Trio is full of totally forgettable "heroes" who as far as I am aware never appeared anywhere again, it is the second issue that is worth grabbing a copy of.
According to the Editorial this comic was a "rush job":
We had an entirely different issue ready for press and then lost it on a legality. We then had to get this one together in a big hurry.
There was one more thing:
We've always liked the idea of a black and white comic book but have been afraid of doing one in a format where everyone else in in four colour. So we mixed it up. Some four colour, some black and white. We like it..do you?
Well yes has to be the answer and the fact the art is by the ever excellent Pat Boyette (Peter Cannon Thunderbolt) is a definite bonus.
The story Children of Doom is very much a product of the Cold war era with a rather obvious Dr Strangeglove reference as the world faces an uncertain future in the age of the Atom Bomb. Enter some scientists with a Doomsday Machine which they bury in the Earth to stop mankind using nuclear weapons and an Eastern Nation taking advantage only disaster awaits.
The ensuing adventure featuring a holocaust, space and time travelling with more than a few mutants wandering around is a very satisfying story, especially given the period it was produced in and the audience it was aimed at.
Well worth adding to your collection.
Tuesday, 25 August 2015
There were a number of British comics I either missed or was not aware of in the seventies and Whoopee! was one of the latter. Judging by comments I have read on the Internet this was received quite favourably by readers at the time so I thought I'd pick up a couple of early copies (I got #3 & 4) and see what the fuss was about.
And well worth the price of entry Whoopee! has turned out to be.
Launched in early 1974 this mainly humour title (there was also a Lone Ranger strip in the centre pages) has plenty to recommend. The Bumpkin Billionaires (think Beverley Hillbillies), Ghost train, Spy School, Ernie Learner, Clever Dick and Dozy Mick are all cracking little features that will raise a chuckle.
There was also Heegee and his Nag which despite the use of horses will upset the PC brigade as will The Upper Crusts and Lazy Loafers. Of course depending on your tastes such anthologies have their duffers but taken as a whole this comic which ran for 11 years (absorbing Shiver and Shake along the way) until 1985 is well worth adding to your collection.
Whoopee! merged (as is the British way) with the long running Whizzer and Chips.
Interestingly there is a "guest feature" from Whizzer & Chips in issue 4, Pete's Pockets.!
Sunday, 23 August 2015
Part of the fun of comic collecting can sometimes be found in the sheer randomness of buying back issues. When it comes to British comics there are quite a few I am not familiar with, especially those published from the mid seventies onwards as this was when I left school and started making my way in the "adult" world. However part of me has remained childish (and why not!) so exploring these comics is still a joy as I head towards retirement.
Shiver and Shake is not a comic I have read before and picked up this 1975 Annual on a whim from my local comic shop and well worth the price of admission it was!
With old friends like Grimley fiendish, The Rottenest Crook in the World one of the old Power Comics creations from Smash! and Frankie Stein who seems to pop up all over the place in British comics, and this annual is a great read.
Horrornation Street, Ghouldilocks , The Dukes Spook and Sweeny Toddler are other amusing features to be found in this wonderful little tome.
Shiver and Shake itself was only a short lived title running from March 1973 to October 1974, merging with Whoppee! in that year. The Annuals however ran for 12 years between 1974 and 1985.
Saturday, 22 August 2015
By the early nineties the writing was on the wall for the British comics industry. One of the signs of that decline was the merger or outright disappearance of a number of long running titles. Both Lion and Valiant were long gone as was The Hotspur, though Buster was to survive as IPC's last title until the year 2000.
Bucking the trend and still surviving today were 2000AD (now published by Rebellion) and the ever lasting Beano. The end of the large range of British adventure and humour comics was now in plain sight.
In an attempt to save two of their older comics DC Thompson merged The Beezer and The Topper into one title. Unusually it was split in two. The first half of the pages being Beezer, with a second cover inside taking us to The Topper.
Inside you would find old Beezer favourites such as Geezer, The Banana Bunch and of course The Numskulls. The latter always a perennial favourite of mine. They were joined by Blinky who seems to have replaced the elderly Colonel Blink.
Not to be left out Pop, Dick & Harry continued inside
At the rear there was of course Beryl the Peril, Tricky Dicky & Kelly the Defective Detective from Topper.
Sadly this this comic only lasted a further three years before it ceased publication. In another unusual move the comic did not merge with either The Beano or The Dandy but some strips did transfer over.
The Numskulls continue to this day in the pages of The Beano!
Friday, 21 August 2015
One of the comics that used to come my way back in the mid sixties was The Topper, an A3 over-sized comic that had fewer pages but larger illustrations and was a companion paper to The Beezer. Published by DC Thompson this title ran from 1953 until 1990, absorbing Sparky in 1977.
The Topper number one 7th February 1953 Now with added Sparky.
The cover feature that will be remembered by those of my generation was Micky the Monkey who would later be relegated to the inside pages as Tricky Dicky seems to have taken the lead for the title when it shrank to the "normal" A4 size comic in 1980.
Tricky Dicky Nancy
As a child I have to admit The Beezer appealed to me more and I wasn't too keen on Nancy one of the main colour strips that I recall. However The Topper was quite a survivor, but despite the publishers best efforts (the titles features in the eighties were much better fare!), it faced the inevitable merger with it's stronger sister title.
However can you imagine the furore that would be caused today by a strip called Danny's Tranny? For that alone, The Topper deserves a place in anyones collection.
For those of the younger generation a "Tranny" was our generations word for a radio.
OK PC keepers!
Thursday, 20 August 2015
One of the shorter lived Marvel UK titles was The Daredevils launched in 1981 as a monthly magazine format comic. It was to last just 11 issues and is best remembered for it's revival of Captain Britain by Alan Moore. I have to say that the Captain Britain feature is well worth reading as he literally resurrected from a handful of bones left on a Parrnell Earth by Merlin and his assistant.
The other stories in this comic were Daredevil, which was a quite straightforward story and a reprint of an early Spider-man story. If you had been collecting the Spider-man Pocket Book this was the continuation of the storyline before cancellation. Trouble is if you had been collecting Spider-man Weekly back in the day you might, like me, already have read it.
The early issues contained pull out posters. My copy didn't which is probably why I got it dirt cheap. A copy in much better condition with poster would set you back around twelve quid.
Being in a "magazine format" there's lots of features on Daredevil artist Frank Miller by Alan Moore, Fanzine reviews, swap shops and competitions.
Those were the days.
The Daredevils eventually merged with The Mighty World of Marvel.
Wednesday, 19 August 2015
One of the most iconic superhero TV shows of all time was Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward. There was of course also Batgirl played by the very beautiful Yvonne Craig who sadly passed away today at the age of 78 after a battle with cancer.
Her family issued a statement on her website
Yvonne was a very private person, so from the onset of her battle with cancer, she decided to share with immediate family and very close friends. She wanted to spend all of her energy concentrating on winning her battle. She was adamant about this and wanted to tell her story when she was cured and feeling better. We all respected that wish.
Having spent time with her over these past months, she made her wishes known to me and made me promise I would pass them along. Wish Number One, is that her family, friends and fans would know how much she loved them and always treasured her time with them. Wish Number Two, was that no one waste a moment of their time in mourning for her loss in sadness but instead celebrate the awesome life she had been fortunate enough to live. She felt that she lived a wonderful life and was blessed in many ways.
Often forgotten was her role on Star Trek as one of the green skinned slave girls. Yvonne also appeared in other favourites such as Voyage to he Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants and The Six Million Dollar Man.
But Batgirl will always be my personal favourite.
Rest in peace Yvonne.
Tuesday, 18 August 2015
Doctor Who: The Four Doctors (Titan Comics)
Paul Cornell (w) Neil Edwards (a)
At last a new weekly comic from a British publisher!
Well sort of.
This series from Titan will run for five weeks and features the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors.... plus the one the rest try to forget from The Time wars. Add three companions including two created specifically for the comic book series that the Tenth & Twelfth Doctors appear in plus the more familiar Clara Oswald.
Back in 1923 Paris Clara tries to warn her fellow travellers of an impending doom for the entire universe she foresaw on an alien world with no name, the Doctors turn up and a time paradox is created.
And such paradoxes attract.......
A multi-part adventure that should appeal to fans of all the Doctors. Multi covers for each issue available!
Titan also publish comics for the Tenth, Eleventh and of course the current Twelfth Doctor!
Monday, 17 August 2015
TV Century 21 is one of the more famous comics from the sixties, but as time changed so did the comic. Merging with it's companion title Joe 90 the new comic was renamed TV21 and Joe 90 and renumbered with a new number one!
The joint title was eventually dropped and this comic became simply TV21. Whilst much of it's early content continued the Gerry Anderson stories I was quite surprised to find that the later issues I picked up had none of these at all.
In fact despite having Star Trek as it's lead colour feature there were no TV related features at all. Oddly most of the stories in these later issues were Marvel reprints including the "original" Ghost Rider, a western not the demon motorcyclist that we know today. Add The Spider-man, Silver Surfer and Ringo Kid and you have the general idea.
There were other original British features, but a TV comic this was not.
TV21 lasted 105 issues, eventually changing publishers and ended up merging with Valiant in 1973.
See also: Gerry Anderson comics of the sixties.