Thursday, June 19, 2014
Fleetway Firsts - The Park
The Park, or 'The Continuing Story of The Park' as it was originally known, was a fantastic strip that appeared within the pages of Jackpot. Tom Paterson illustrated it and there is so much energy in it that I feel this really is the height of Tom's career (with the possible exception of Sweeny Toddler). "The Park - Its Gates Open Inside" read the strapline on the cover of Jackpot #107, dated 6th June 1981 as readers were introduced to the characters for the first time. Normally a two-pager, the first episode was three pages long, with page one presenting a map of the new park. Parky, who would go on to be the strip's main character, only appeared once in the pioneering episode.
The strip was originally designed as a humorous soap/sitcom, with each story leading on to the following, but over time it became a regular one-off story following Parky's adventures, hence the loss of "the continuing story of" from the title. It is these early strips that I feel are the best, both in art and story. Here's another early episode.
The Park was popular enough to survive Jackpot's merge into Buster, and there it would remain until May 1984. It was cancelled to make way for characters coming over in Buster's amalgamation with School Fun.