Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Sparky book 1973

The Sparky book you see above may occur to you as an odd or random choice for me to write a post on, as it has no significant inpact on the comics 16 year life span. But my reason for choosing it is simply because it's brilliant! The book is a fantastic read right from Bill Hill's wonderfully drawn, and funny, front cover, right through to the 1800's style Sparky which appears in the back.

I'll start with the only negative though, which is a comic strip going by the name of 'Sam's Snake'.I dislike it because it seems a bit of a copy of Sid's Snake from Whizzer and Chips, but - as I've now discovered, the series began a month before Whizzer and Chips even came out! Here's a page of Snodgrass Snake in action - art by Phil Millar.

The first Puss and Boots story in this annual is definatly one of my personal favourites, not because of the story - but because of the quality of the artwork, which looks even better printed in full colour. For instance, take a look at how John Geering drew the title box!

Bill Ritche's Barney Bulldog and the Arkward Customer is a good, classic story with a nice strong storyline. I particulary like the full pager with the old man shooting through the air! Brilliant stuff!

I Fly has only one page in the entire annual, but still a pretty good, funny story - I assume it came to somebody randomly at some point, and they thought it was a good idea. I guess we'll never know...

On the page right next to I Fly is I Spy at the Hotel Splendide, an amazing nine page story all about I Spy clearing out a hotel full of enemy spies! Drawn by Brian Walker. (you can read the full story here -

Tales men tell has some exceptional illustrations, although not much information about them. Does anybody know who the artist for them is, he simply signed his pieces as 'Mr.'?

And to conclude the annual classic Sparky comic. One shall say no more. ;)


Lew Stringer said...

"I'll start with the only negative though, which is a comic strip going by the name of 'Sam's Snake'. For me, as a true Whizzer and Chips fan (it's by far my favourite comic), Sam's Snake is a rip-off of Whizzer's Sid's Snake, which began in 1969 - several years before Sparky even came about."

Not so, George. Sparky was launched in January 1965, four years before Whizzer & Chips.

Sam's Snake began in Sparky in September 1969, a month BEFORE Sid's Snake debuted in Whizzer & Chips No.1.

I'd say it was either coincidence or someone heard what the other company was doing. (Personally I think Sam looks like he's based on Buster.)

George Shiers said...

Thanks for the correction Lew - I just noticed I was reading my facts wrong I read that the comic started in 1975 not '65! Whoops! :)

A month before Sid's Snake? I Looking at it that way I'd say it's just coincidence. And I was thinking Sam looked like Buster too - what with the same style hat!

I'll edit my post :)

George Shiers said...

And the annual is 1973! Wow - I'd really blanked out for that little bit there! ;)

Lew Stringer said...

IPC and DC Thomson were fierce rivals at the time so it's possible that news of Whizzer & Chips leaked out to DC Thomson and they quickly came up with Sam's Snake to try and steal their thunder. Phil Millar freelanced for both companies so... who knows?

Another example is IPC's Action and Thomson's Bullet launching on the very same day in 1976. Very similar tough-adventure comics and too much of a coincidence really.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to do a blog about comics you should get your facts right. Sparky had a 12 year run, not 16. How many times can you get things wrong in one post?

George Shiers said...

Actually I was including the annuals, if the comic and annuals ran from 1965 - 1981 then that's 16 years. (The 1981 annual was a Topper and Sparky book)

Alan Smith said...

Alan Smith here! I did a complete `Sparky-File` word article on the Sparky comic! Its out and about on such comic sites as `Comics U.K` Loved Sparky comic! It had a `feel` to it unlike other Thomson's comics in my view!

The best of the `I.Spy` stories (1969-71) were just "AWESOME!!" Cheers!

George Shiers said...

I do like the D.C Thomson comics such as Sparky (nice work on The Sparky File, by the way), but my favourite comic has to be Whizzer and Chips.