Friday, June 20, 2014

Wham Turns 50!

It was 50 years ago today that the first issue of Wham was dated for sale. Wham was the first of the five power comics, followed by 'Smash' and 'Pow' as humour comics and 'Fantastic' and 'Terrific' as adventure comics. Wham was a fantastic comic, created mostly by Leo Baxendale who was commissioned by Odhams to create a "super-Beano". The comic also includes some fantastic artwork by the great Ken Reid, most notably in the form of Frankie Stein, which arrived with Ken in #4.

My first taste of Wham was in the form of the 1968 annual, which I picked up soon after I started reading comics in a nearby antiques shop. This and issue #4 are my only two Wham comics (the image at the top of this post comes from Phil-Comics' website).

For me, Wham will always be the best of the Power comics (even if it wasn't called a "power comic" from the start). I've never been a fan of either Fantastic or Terrific, and Smash and Pow seem to lack something Wham had, regardless of the quality of Ken Reid's Queen of the Seas or whatever else was in the others. Despite their short runs (Wham would produce just 187 issues) the impact of the power comics is huge, and remains memorable to this day.


After posting this it's good to see a few other people joining in with the birthday celebrations. Here are some links (in order of time posted):

Scans of the complete first issue of Wham (in two parts) by Kid:

Part 1 -

Part 2 -

Advertisements for the first two issues by Irmantas:

Birthday celebration post by Lew Stringer:


Lew Stringer said...

Wham! was indeed the best of the five 'Power Comics', - to begin with anyway. It set the tone for Smash! and Pow! and in it's early days had some excellent work by Leo Baxendale.

Towards the end though it wasn't so good, as Leo had quit Odhams, but even so I still preferred it to most other comics of my childhood. And it still had Ken Reid of course, in some issues anyway.

Overall though I preferred Smash! because it had more variety in its content. But for laugh value, Wham's early years can't be beaten.

Lew Stringer said...

PS: By the way, the day that Wham! No.1 went on sale would have been 15th or 16th June 1964, as 20th June was just the weekend date that all comics carried back then regardless of which day they were published.

Anyway, it doesn't alter the fact that Wham! No.1 would still be on sale this day in 1964, so good on you for noticing they this week is the comic's 50th anniversary. I must admit it had slipped my mind.

Kid said...

I didn't actually start buying Wham! until it started reprinting the FF, although I've got a good few earlier issues now. I think that the best humour strips in Wham! were Frankie Stein and Sammy Shrink, and they're the only two I can think of that had a life - in the form of new strips in other weeklies - after the comic's demise. It's interesting that your two favourite comics (Wham! and W&C) are ones from long before you were born. My favourite is one from long after I died, but I'm not going to explain how I managed that trick or everybody will be doing it.

Kid said...

In case you hadn't noticed, George, Wham #1 is now up on my blog in all its glory for you to see.

George Shiers said...

Lew - I believe the paper quality of Wham was reduced as the run went on (is this true), so I can imagine that would have affected the feel of the comic. I wasn't sure of the exact date of release so I'd decided to write this post on the cover date just to keep things simple.

Kid - I'm going to guess that your favourite comic is TV21, Kid? Either that or you've got a time machine you haven't told us about.

Kid said...

Well, TV21 was my favourite comic for a time, so - given that it was dated 100 years ahead, it could qualify. However, that's not what I was thinking of, so you'll have to keep scratching your head. (And Wham! was photogravure when it first came out, but eventually switched to newsprint.)

George Shiers said...

Well I can't think of dated for the future, so I must be looking at it from the wrong angle?