Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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!


Peter Gray said...

I t would be brilliant to see Big comic back I always bought it and loved it..
I always liked the feature how it all began showing the first story..

Also the Reg Parlett special issue was wonderful...wished they did other specials on different artists as well..

George Shiers said...

It was brilliant - definatly better when it was fortnightly than monthly. Classics from the Comics sometimes featured an artist - I think the last one they did was Jim Petrie - but they never devoted a WHOLE issue to them! Pity that came to an end as well :(

TwoHeadedBoy said...

Big Comic and BVC were both brilliant, and still are. Even today, if I'm off on a long train journey or something I'll stick a couple of issues of Big Comic or Funny Fortnightly (another "best of") or BVC in my bag.

My "ideal" publication today would be similar to BVC, but with twice the pages and in that "handbag/digest" format that they do some magazines in nowadays. A5 is it?

Oh, and thanks for following my blog by the way - means a lot!

George Shiers said...

An A5 publication would be nice as its smaller and easier to carry around, but personally I'd prefer one A4. But yes, it'd be fantastic to have something like that! I'd like to see a return of Compal Comics (which ended for no apparent reason) and a Fleetway/IPC version!

And thanks for following mine! I've enjoyed looking through your posts, particulary the look at Plug comic as I don't own an issue of that!

TwoHeadedBoy said...

Well just for you I'll do some more stuff on Plug - I've got two more issues since doing that original one. It's my way of saying "Thanks".

George Shiers said...

Awesome - thanks! I look forwards to reading about them!

If I ever come across a BVC comic I'll post that too!