Thursday, June 22, 2017
I've blogged about The Big One before, quite a long time ago when this blog was just starting up, when I shared some pages from the last issue. A short-lived experimental comic published by Fleetway, The Big One lasted only 19 issues from 17th October 1964 - 20th February 1965 and, as the name suggests, is the biggest comic ever published in Britain (and maybe even the entire world). With the exception of the front cover of the last issue, the entire contents consisted of reprinted material from earlier Amalgamated Press comics. The front cover features Smiler illustrated by Eric Roberts. Smiler has originally appeared under the strip's original name 'Mike' in both Knockout from 1945 - 1957 and then in Sun from 1957 - 1959.
Besides Shiner only a handful of strips had a new year's theme. Two of those appeared on the back page in full colour. Handy Andy at the top is an ex-Knockout strip illustrated by Hugh McNeill, and at the bottom Georgie the Jolly Geegee is from the pages of Radio Fun, illustrated by John Jukes. The layout of this back cover reminds me very much of the back of early Buster comics. It's bright appealing colours would be gone by the last issue though, replaced with nothing more than black and red ink.
The Big One Birthday Club is the only editorial feature inside and it offered readers the chance to win big prizes. The letter claims that "week after week hundreds of parcels leave the Club store on their way to members of the Big One Club", but I wonder how much of an exaggeration this is seeing as the comic lasted less than five months. The section also says members will receive a special red and gold club badge. I wonder if any still exist.
The idea behind the comic was that it's size would make it more noticeable than anything else on the newsstands, driving up sales. Of course no newsagent in their right mind would stock it as it is, and they were all folded in half then half again, making them the same size if not slightly smaller than other comics at the time. To get an idea of just how big an unfolded copy is, here's a photo of this issue next to a random issue of Buster (the closest comic I had). Now imagine having that open and trying to read it anywhere with even a slight breeze - it's next to impossible! It's big size was ultimately its downfall, it merged into Buster on 27th February 1965.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
In 1957 Odhams Press lost the rights to use any and all Disney characters, meaning that their incredibly popular and long running title Mickey Mouse Weekly was forced to close. Not every character in the comic was owned by Disney though, and Odhams used everything they still owned in a new weekly called Zip. The first issue came out on 4th January 1958, but despite having characters from its predecessor without anything Disney the comic flopped and the final issue, #85, came out on 3rd October 1959.
There were two Zip annuals produced. The first came out in 1958 and is of course known as the 1959 annual, and was followed by a second one the following year. Interestingly, the second annual is quite common suggesting sales were healthy, but for whatever reason Odhams decided not to continue the series.
I actually thought this was a very good book. Produced to a high quality the annual has a pleasant mix of text stories, comic strips and activities - more than enough to keep kids entertained for hours. I particularly like the board games inside the covers. The artwork is by Colin Andrew.
The book is 96 pages in total but there is no price tag, not even one that has been cut out, so I can't say how much it cost. There are far more text stories than there are comic strips, but with 27 pages of strips Odhams weren't exactly tight. Here's one strip, a four-page Captain Morgan strip again illustrated by Colin Andrew. The colouring here is superb too.
An interesting feature towards the back of the book are the 'Flight' diagrams. Featuring detailed drawings and descriptions of various aircraft, they remind me of the cutaways that often featured in Eagle.
Another fun feature are instructions on how to build a wooden toboggan, by Robert Reeves.
All in all I found this Zip annual to be quite fun and it is certainly produced to a very high quality. A good mixture of text stories, comic strips and other features makes for an entertaining read. The bookstore I bought this had a couple of copies and I'm hoping I will eventually come across the 1959 annual.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Unfortunately my computer has decided it's time to pack up. It has been running slow for a while, but now it is simply too slow to function. This means I can no longer scan anything, and certainly can't write from it.
Anyway, until I get it fixed or figure out how to start scanning from my laptop all posts will have to include photos instead of scans. Speaking of future posts - can anybody guess what the next one might be from the book on the scanner?
Friday, April 22, 2016
Anybody familiar with British comics will of course know the name Tom Paterson, and would probably recognise his trademark smelly sock. Tom is currently selling some of the original artwork he produced, which includes everything from front covers of Buster comic to more recent Dennis the Menace strips. Tom's highly detailed pages are a treat to the eye and it often takes multiple reads to spot everything hidden in, and sometimes even outside, the panels.
A black and white page costs between £100 - £150, or you can grab yourself a full-colour one for £200 - £225.
All the pages seen here are for sale, and Tom has plenty more, so feel free to enquire about others. You can contact Tom by emailing him at:
Monday, April 18, 2016
Covers for next years D.C Thomson annuals have been released, with the exception of The Beano. Above is the cover of The Dandy annual, priced at £7.99 on Amazon.
There is of course another classic comics collection, this time with an Indiana Jones themed cover. Raiders of the Lost Archive will cost £12.99.
There's a similar Broons and Oor Wullie collection, this one entitled 'Cooking Up Laughs!'. £12.99
Next year will have both a Broons and an Oor Wullie annual. Both are priced at £6.99.
And their respective calendars will each cost £7.
The calendars are due to come out on the 28th July, but the annuals have a slightly later release date of 1st August. But that still gives you plenty of time to get them before Christmas, so there can be no excuses.