Monday, March 18, 2013

January 1983 - Spike is Launched

Back in 1983 a brand new boys weekly paper burst onto the shelves - Spike! Spike collected all the things that made British boys papers so great - football, adventure and war strips, fascinating articles, quizzes and a whole lot more! The first issue was dated January 22nd 1983, and for 18p you got 36 pages plus a free gift - a Super Swooper Glider! You can still buy this gift in shops today, and the company produces various models of planes. I've borrowed a few images off Google.

The first strip, entitled Iron Barr, began on the front cover and continued for another three pages inside. This strip was very popular and remained on the front cover until the comic folded just over a year later. The story follows the life of Charlie Barr, a scrap metal merchant who happened to be collecting metal from the football stadium whilst the team were training. Naturally, he has a turn in goal, and his talent amazes the players and he is swiftly signed onto the team. This strip reminds me a lot of Alf Tupper, Charlie seems to come from a similar background to Alf, except Alf's passion is running whereas Charlie's is football!

Moving on, the next strip I'll show is a fantastic aeroplane adventure, set in the middle of the Second World War! This is a good story and I don't want to ruin it, so that's all I'm going to say!

An interesting article, covering various facts about planes and the war, followed this.

All boys comics seem to have some sort of top class athlete in them, and Spike had The Man In Black, a mysterious long distance runner who joined in the race, broke a lap record and won and then vanished, and yet nobody knows who he is!

Amongst other strips was The Bleak Street Bunch, a tale about a group of ordinary school kids, who get tangled up in a crime!

There were a few other stories, including Ticker Tait - The Man With A Time Bomb In His Heart and The Death of Dr. Gotha (a two-page text story), but the last one I'll cover here is The Spike Report, starring Spike; named after the comic of course (in the same way Buster is the lead character of the comic by the same name). Admittedly, it's not much of a comic strip, but more of an introduction to Spike, but it's interesting to show it anyway.

He did a much better introduction towards the front of the comic.

Usually when a new comic is launched, the publishers give away free gifts with the first three issues, to help it on its way. This was not the case with Spike, instead the first four issues came with gifts! The first issue, as shown above, came with a Super Swooper Glider, the second issue with Ten Tattoo Transfers (you'll notice Desperate Dan is there, next to the 'I Like Spike' tattoo), the third issue with a Screamin' Demon Whistle and the fourth with a Ghostly Glow Badge! These gifts were advertised on the back covers of issue one, and also on the front covers of the issues they came with, obviously.

As well as a Desperate Dan
badge, Gnasher also had one!

I only own one or two original free gifts, but I've done my best to find photos of them online.

Sadly, Spike wasn't as popular as it could have been, but it did last just over a year, folding with issue dated 28th April 1984. Many of the strips ended on a high, such as Charlie Barr, who was transferred from Darbury to United, who happened to be the football team that starred in the comic Spike merged into.

After just 67 issues, Spike merged with Champ on the 5th May 1984. Champ had been launched just one month earlier, and would go on to run for a year and a half, before folding and merging into Victor in October 1985.


Kid said...

I've got a complete set of Spike - as well as Crunch. May even have Champ as well - I'll have to check.

Gareth said...

Spike was my favourite! Thank you.

Andy Boal said...

I remember Spike, if rather vaguely, but I do very specifically remember in the second issue Iron Barr letting a goal in because the linesman was waving for offside.

Smith is of course otherwise known as Wilson, and the codes at the bottom of the strip indicate he was probably slated to be printed as Wilson. Is it a reprint with new captions or is it the original scripts redrawn?

Lew Stringer said...

Hi Andy, It was newly drawn for Spike but, yes, based on old scripts updated a bit.

Robert said...

I bought the first few issues of Spike but, by my mid teens, I was finding DC Thomson product a bit predictable and soon dropped it. Do remember buying the first few issues of Champ too, though. Anyway, happy memories, I'd completely forgotten about these comics...