Monday, April 30, 2012

D.C Thomson Origins: Pup Parade

Pup Parade, or The Bash Street Pups as you may know them, arrived in The Beano issue #1326, dated 16th December 1967. Illustrated by Gordon Bell, the pups looked very different in the beginning to what we know them today! 

The original series ended in 1988, lasting over 20 years! The Pups then moved to The Topper the following year, still drawn by Bell. It remained there until the comic ended in 1990. They then even survived the merge with The Beezer, lasting for another good two years!

Since June of last year, The Beano started reproducing old strips by Bell from the 1980's, giving them a fresh lick of paint! The result was very nice, only ending in April of this year.

Nigel Parkinson took over from the reprints, and the Pup Parade strips that appear in the Beano today are all brand new!

The Bash Street Pups weren't the only dogs to begin in the late 60's! In August of 1968, Dennis the Menace got his world famous sidekick - Gnasher! At the end of his first appearence in issue #1363, Dad sent Gnasher to Pup Parade, where he appeared the following week.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Free Inside! - with Whizzer and Chips!

Above is the very first issue of Whizzer and Chips, which came with 'Twelve Super Stickers'! Well, thanks to Steven Adamson who emailed me recently, I can share them with you today! Here they are for, as far as I'm aware, the first time on the net where they are all readable!

Issue two came with a free 'Flick Book'. On it it read 'Story 1', but as far as I'm aware this was the only Flick Book they made (for Whizzer and Chips anyway).
Update: Well, the mystery of 'Story 1' has been solved! On the back there was story two - which can be seen underneath!

And finally, because issue 3 was the first fireworks issue, they decided to throw in a gift which Fleetway had used many times before - a guy fawkes mask! 

My Whizzer and Chips fan site is growing with features such as free gifts and logo's! Click on the blue text or go to

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Strongest Man (or Woman) in Comics!

Desperate Dan needs no introduction, as he is probably Britain's most famous strong man! Originally from the first Dandy in 1937, the he-man has survived almost 75 years in the comic and remains, according to the latest survey, the most popular character in the comic today! But he isn't the only super human to have appeared in comics, and here's a few more!

The Dandy's sister comic The Beano has had a few through it's time, and currently stars Bananaman! - a little boy who turns into a super-strong nit whenever he eats a banana! In a recent post I wrote about Danger - Len at Work, but the comics most succesful has to go to Pansy Potter! Pansy began in issue #21 (The first christmas issue!) and instead a being a muscly man, like most other characters, she was a young girl! I'm not too sure, but I think this may have been drawn by Jimmy Clark.

Going even further back than The Beano and The Dandy (although this character did in fact feature in The Beano), we arrive at Adventure comic! Illustrated by Dudley Watkins, Strang the Terrible was rather similar to Morgyn the Mighty, who appeared in Beano #1. Desbite being known as 'Terrible', Strang was the hero, always helping others out of unfortunate adventures!

Even the annuals had special super-strong characters made up for them. Young Ben is a text story from the 1968 Sparky annual, and I'm fairly certain that this is just a one off story.

Thomson weren't the only ones to use the idea, Fleetway would use the theme, but in several different ways! First up is Scared Stiff Sam. He certainly is strong, you can tell just by looking at him, but unlike the others Sam is afraid of anything and everything!

Another take was Frankie Stein! Half human, half monster, Frankie would cause more damage than a tornado, which involved everything from destroying his house to bringing home Big Ben tower to set his watch! Here he is destroying a brick wall for the 1977 annual, illustrated by Robert Nixon!

Gal Capone was a short lived strip from Whoopee, but she is, like Pansy Potter, another example of a female strongman! It was a very good strip too, except that maybe her arms are a little too big!

The Big One was an experiment comic that lasted for only 19 issues (more info on it here), and inside was a strip entitled Tough Tex. Because this comic is all reprint (except for Big One himself), Tough Tex originally appeared in The Comet, a comic from the 1950's. (Thanks to Clive Huckstepp for confirming this.)

And of course some still live on today, with Jamie Smart doing an excellent job on Desperate Dan and Wayne Thompson on Bananaman (and John Geering's reprints in the Beano)!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fleetway Origins - The Ossies

The Ossies, as it's name suggests, is a comic strip all about a bunch of crazy people who lived in a stereotypical town in Australia! Illustrated by Trevor Metcalfe, the artist behind Sweet Tooth, Junior Rotter and Jasper the Grasper (after Ken Reid left),  The Ozzies began in the Chips section of Whizzer and Chips in issue dated January 21st 1989. Dingo Dog is the main character for the first episode, and he takes us round the tiwn introducing us to all the different characters who are to appear in the stories. Often, it would be continued into the following week, and sometimes one story would end and another begin in the same episode - just to keep you interested!

However, as the weeks progressed, less and less of the characters started to appear, and eventually it was focused on two main characters - Norm and Rick.

However, by early 1990 The Ossies had been reduced from two pages to just one, and by June of that year, it was gone.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Monster Fun Joins Buster

Monster Fun was launched in 1975 and, just over a year later, it folded, becoming Buster's 7th merger on 6th November 1976. With it, Monster Fun brought a whole bunch of different characters, the most famous strips being Gums, Kid Kong and X-Ray Specs. All the new characters were shown on the front cover.

Even though Buster's strip didn't acknowledge the merge with Monster fun, there was a letter from him at the bottom of his page, welcoming all the new readers to Buster!

Gums also had a welcome message, politely introducing himself as he destroys a smiling Bluey's boat!

Another new strip is Terror TV, illustrated by Barrie Appleby. It's all about a television studio that scares the living daylights out of everybody! I haven't read many episodes, but I imagine it would start to get a bit repetitive after a while, but it's run wasn't too short, lasting just over a year when it finished in Febuary 1978.

A strip that didn't come from Monster Fun is Leo Baxendale's Clever Dick (I think this is a reprint as Leo had left comics by this time, but if not it could have been his son Martin who drew this strip). Clever Dick was always a brilliant strip, well written, well drawn and possibly inspiring kids around the country to have a go at making Dick's gadgets for themselves! Of course, his idea's would nearly always backfire somehow - even when the plan seemed flawless!

Ken Reid, the mastermind moster doodler, had several pages in this weeks issue, one comic strip (Martha's Monster Make-Up) and two more pages for a Funny Monster Competiton. All you had to do was guess the name of the monster from the selection underneath, save them and do the same for the next three issues. When you're done simply send in your answers and you could win a Detector Products Viking Transmitter Receiver (as used by the police) - that's a metal detector - and a Decimo Vatman pocket calculator! So, what names would you give to these fine beasts? (Options for above monster: A. Octo-Pussy, B. Pollupuss C. Bog Moggy. Options for below monster: A. Snuff-Grumpus B. Rhino-Snitch C. Elephantom.)

The War Children is an adventure serial written by Scott Goodall about a group of children who were captured by the Nazi's and ordered to do whatever they were told "without question". Naturally, they didn't like the sound of that, so they escaped and now have a hideout in the woods. This strip also shows that Nazi's can be easily defeated by a wild pig! Artwork by John Stokes.

Intrestingly, Gus's Gags is still the main jokes section, after two years since it joined Buster from Cor! in 1974. 

Roy of the Rovers got his very own comic in 1976, just a number of days before Monster Fun merged with Buster! So of course, Fleetway would try and do everything they could to make it a success. Here is a half page advert, advertising the free gift - 'Roy Race's Favourite Footballers!' booklet.

Because of all the excitment about the merge most of the comic strips seemed to have forgotten that it was fireworks night when the comic came out (or maybe that was celebrated in the previous issue?). Apart from a small message at the bottom of Chalky's page, not a thought is given to it!

Spotlight On An Artist: Jack Edward Oliver

Jack Edward Oliver, or JEO as he called himself (and sometimes even just J. Edward Oliver), was the man behind brilliant cartoons such as Cliff Hanger, Vid Kid and Master Mind.

Jack was always intrested in comics and cartoons, and by the age of eight he was drawing his own comic books. His first published work however, wasn't until 1968 when he drew Instant Garbage, which was a full colour humour magazine published by himself. It cost 1/6 and was made up of lots of writing and drawings, ending up to be 16 pages long. It was because of this magazine that got him his coloum - The Instant Garbage Coloum - in Disc. I don't own a copy of Instant Garbage, but here's a scan from a JEO fan site, which I'll link at the bottom.
Disc was a music magazine, as was Music Echo, which he also drew for. In it he drew the hugely popular strip Fresco, which expanded to a full page when the magazine later became Record Mirror. Apart from drawing Fresco, he also started writing more, and had a few other comic strips in the publication, such as Toppo D' Popps.

Record Mirror folded in 1977, and that was when Jack took to comics! There was a massive choice to aim for in the late '70's, and in the end he was hired by IPC media. He took a shot at drawing The Champ - completely breaking away the Baxendale style Champ had been drawn in for so many years, and drew him in his own way. JEO's strips appeared in many different comics including Buster, Whoopee and Whizzer and Chips. Cliff Hanger was probably his most succesful, and some eagle-eyed readers noticed that the number of Cliff's shirt was the episode number! Obviously this failed when they started reprinting the strips in a random order!

Sadly, in 2007 he was diagnosed with cancer, and died in May that year. In 2010, a plaque was placed on his house in his memory. It read: "World Famous - Jack Edward Oliver - 1942 - 2007 - Lived Here - Underpaid Cartoonist".

Jack also has a fan site, which you can visit by following the link below:


As mentioned in the comments, Peter Gray posted some of Jack's original Cliff Hanger work on his site. Here it is, with a puzzle to keep you going right from the first box! On the shaceship it reads 'SYADSEUT HSILOBA', which, as Niblet managed to work out, is 'ABOLISH TUESDAYS' backwards!
And if you wish to view the stamps we were talking about, head on over to . All of Jack's are May 2007 and before.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Buster Souvenir Special 2010!

In the previous post, I was saying how Egmont, who currently own all copyright to the Fleetway funnies, aren't using their material, save for a few specials produced a few years back. They produced four specials - Battle, Roy of the Rovers, Misty and Buster, and they all went on sale simultaneously throughout 2009. Buster was meant to be the third released, but after a few problems swapped place with Misty, and was sold on 9th December.

The series, titled 'Egmont Classic Comics', was exclusive to WHSmith and was sold all over the country for £3.99. Of course, that was if you could actually get hold of a copy.

Since Misty hadn't sold too well, WHSmith decided that Buster was going to go the same way, so stuffed their few copies wherever there was space, or didn't order any copies in the first place! I think this is a real dissapointment as Buster would probably have been the most popular title in the series and, given it's 40 year run, more familiar to reader's who had forgotten about it!

If children wanted to buy the comic, it would cost them £3.99, which is a lot of money to a 10 year old kid! But it was on sale for almost four months - plenty of time to save up for a copy! And anyway, £3.99 isn't bad for a 52 page comic with high quality material!

But what about the comic itslef? Lot's of great artists make up this fabulous special, including Reg Parlett (Buster, Kid Gloves, Rent a Ghost), Leo Baxendale (Snooper, Bluebottle and Basher) and Ken Reid (Faceache, Martha's Monster Makeup).

It wasn't all truly Buster material though, as Angel Nadal Quirch's Blarner Bluffer and Leo Baxendale's Bluebottle and Basher originally featured in the boy's action paper Vialant.

Egmont even threw a few old advertisements in there as well, and reminds you not to respond to them!

There is a downside to the publication however, and that's the cliffhangers. Several of the adventure stories are left unfinished, including Marney the Fox, The Leopard from Lime St. and Sammy Brewster's Secret Ski-Board Squad. Pete's Pocket Army is thankfully resolved, so at least there's one action story you can actually read!

Big Comic Book 1994

Fleetway, the proud producers of piles of succesful comic titles including Whizzer and Chips, Buster and Whoopee, continued making annuals for comics years after the comics themselves had long ceased weekly publications. For example - Cor! ended it's weekly comics in 1974 but the annuals continued well up until 1986! However, for some reason unknown to me, the company stopped producing any annuals after the 1994 ones had being released (even though Buster hadn't ended, as that would last up until 2000).

Big Comic never had a weekly comic, although it did have Big Comic Fortnightly - which later became Big Comic Monthly. Big Comic Fortnightly had 52 pages, whereas Big Comic Monthly had 100. After that had ended, Fleetway released the BVC (which stands for 'Big Value Comic'), which was a replacement to Big Comic Monthly, The Best of Whizzer and Chips, Buster and Whoopee. It was launched in April 1995 (the month after all 'The Best Of's' ended), and finished 7 months later in November of the same year. Instead of monthly like the comics it took after, the BVC came out fortnightly.

Even if BVC was just too late to have an annual, Big Comic did. The first book was dated 1987, but the 1994 one was the first to have a brand new cover illustration, and was the second to have a full-colour cover! (I used to own all the annuals, but sadly all but one got lost when I moved to New Zealand from the U.K.)

For £4.99 you got 223 pages of pure comics and jokes, including everything from classic favourites such as Lazy Bones, Sid's Snake and Bookworm, to less known characters such as Shrimp, Tub and Nobby and his HobbiesOf course, it was all reprints, but whoever was putting it together didn't have a small choice, with over 30 years of weeklies to go through!

You may have noticed the 'World' stamp on the front cover (and the one below on the spine), and that's because the book was published by World International Publishing Limited. Strangely enough, this is an Egmont company (Egmont bought the rights to all Fleetway humour comics from 1950+), and yet the material is still copyright to Fleetway Editions Ltd.!! (And let's not forget that the book was printed in Italy!) Mind boggling stuff, so lets just overlook that for now.

It's a shame that Fleetway sold all the rights for their material to Egmont because if they hadn't maybe, just maybe, Buster would still be with us. And apart from a few specials from a two or three years back, Egmont aren't doing anything with, or letting anybody use, their 40 years + worth of stuff!

I feel I may have wandered off the subject a bit, so here's a few pages from the book to make up for it!