Sunday, June 9, 2013

Frankie Stein Holiday Special 1979

Let's dive straight into action and take a look at the first summer special of the year. We head back to the summer of '79 for this one, and I present the Frankie Stein holiday special. At 40p this comic was by no means a cheap summer special, the Beano and Dandy specials cost 25p each and Whoopee, the comic this special was a spin-off from, cost 10p less at 30p (although interestingly Whizzer and Chips and Buster specials did cost 40p each).

For your money you got 64 "Freaky Fun Pages", eight of which were in full colour, including a fantastic poster on the centre spread by Frankie's second major artist Bob Nixon.

The rest of the Frankie Stein strips weren't by Nixon though (presumably he was too busy drawing other pages at the time), and instead Brian Walker (of Scream Inn fame) picked up the pen, and did a cracking job of it too.

Brian's Frankie strip was called Frankie Stein Time Traveller, and is the tale of Professor Cube trying to get rid of Frankie in a time machine, which was inspired after watching an episode of Doctor Who. Naturally it failed, but only thanks to the professor's own ignorance. After abandoning Frankie in the Stone Age he comes back to the present day. But after building the time machine he has no money left so decides to use his invention to make some cash, and takes some museum executives to, you guessed it, the stone age, and reappears right in front of Frankie! The strip was split into four parts throughout the comic, and put together it was 26 pages long!

The jokes and puzzles aside, I'm fairly certain the rest of the comic is filled up with reprints. A few other strips in the comic are Ghoul Guides, Gook - TV Spook and Tell Tale Tess. Yet despite this being a holiday special not a single strip is based at the seaside - Blackpool is something that should be appearing in every holiday and summer special!

Here's an episode of Monkey Nuts, by Graham Allen.

Gook - TV Spook appeared in full colour on every strip in this special, and is a reprint from Whoopee.

And here's a Ghoul Guides strip by Murray Ball, which is a reprint from Knockout.

Inside the back cover was an advertisement for three of IPC's comics - Cheeky, Whizzer and Chips and Whoopee. Cheeky didn't have long left after this unfortunately, and folded in February 1980. 

There were eight Frankie Stein specials in total, the first being released in 1975 and the last in 1982. Frankie must have been a really popular character to have such a successful series of holiday specials produced; very few other characters have experienced such fame.


TwoHeadedBoy said...

Well I never knew Frankie Stein had his own specials - and with 26 pages of Brian Walker as well?? Definitely one to be looking out for!

Another unlikely special exists, one that I have - a Junior Rotter Summer Special. Never liked the character myself, but obviously enough people did.

Andy Boal said...

I remember the JR special well - I loved it.

The Ghoul Guides episode was drawn by Murray Ball, if you didn't already know. If any pages have round balloons, they'll be reprints - I'm not sure when Whoopee went to cornered balloons, but it must have been in the 70s.

George Shiers said...

Yes I have that JR special - it's very good, lots of good art!

Thanks for the artist's name Andy, I was unsure as to who it was. Of course, I know Murray Ball as the artist of Footrot Flats.