Thursday, May 5, 2016

Zip Annual 1960

In 1957 Odhams Press lost the rights to use any and all Disney characters, meaning that their incredibly popular and long running title Mickey Mouse Weekly was forced to close. Not every character in the comic was owned by Disney though, and Odhams used everything they still owned in a new weekly called Zip. The first issue came out on 4th January 1958, but despite having characters from its predecessor without anything Disney the comic flopped and the final issue, #85, came out on 3rd October 1959.

There were two Zip annuals produced. The first came out in 1958 and is of course known as the 1959 annual, and was followed by a second one the following year. Interestingly, the second annual is quite common suggesting sales were healthy, but for whatever reason Odhams decided not to continue the series. 

I actually thought this was a very good book. Produced to a high quality the annual has a pleasant mix of text stories, comic strips and activities - more than enough to keep kids entertained for hours. I particularly like the board games inside the covers. The artwork is by Colin Andrew.

The book is 96 pages in total but there is no price tag, not even one that has been cut out, so I can't say how much it cost. There are far more text stories than there are comic strips, but with 27 pages of strips Odhams weren't exactly tight. Here's one strip, a four-page Captain Morgan strip again illustrated by Colin Andrew. The colouring here is superb too.

An interesting feature towards the back of the book are the 'Flight' diagrams. Featuring detailed drawings and descriptions of various aircraft, they remind me of the cutaways that often featured in Eagle. 

Another fun feature are instructions on how to build a wooden toboggan, by Robert Reeves.

All in all I found this Zip annual to be quite fun and it is certainly produced to a very high quality. A good mixture of text stories, comic strips and other features makes for an entertaining read. The bookstore I bought this had a couple of copies and I'm hoping I will eventually come across the 1959 annual.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

My Computer Packs In

Unfortunately my computer has decided it's time to pack up. It has been running slow for a while, but now it is simply too slow to function. This means I can no longer scan anything, and certainly can't write from it. 

Anyway, until I get it fixed or figure out how to start scanning from my laptop all posts will have to include photos instead of scans. Speaking of future posts - can anybody guess what the next one might be from the book on the scanner?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tom Paterson Artwork For Sale

Anybody familiar with British comics will of course know the name Tom Paterson, and would probably recognise his trademark smelly sock. Tom is currently selling some of the original artwork he produced, which includes everything from front covers of Buster comic to more recent Dennis the Menace strips. Tom's highly detailed pages are a treat to the eye and it often takes multiple reads to spot everything hidden in, and sometimes even outside, the panels.

A black and white page costs between £100 - £150, or you can grab yourself a full-colour one for £200 - £225.

All the pages seen here are for sale, and Tom has plenty more, so feel free to enquire about others. You can contact Tom by emailing him at:

Monday, April 18, 2016

2017 Annuals Revealed

Covers for next years D.C Thomson annuals have been released, with the exception of The Beano. Above is the cover of The Dandy annual, priced at £7.99 on Amazon.

There is of course another classic comics collection, this time with an Indiana Jones themed cover. Raiders of the Lost Archive will cost £12.99.

There's a similar Broons and Oor Wullie collection, this one entitled 'Cooking Up Laughs!'. £12.99

Next year will have both a Broons and an Oor Wullie annual. Both are priced at £6.99.

And their respective calendars will each cost £7.

The calendars are due to come out on the 28th July, but the annuals have a slightly later release date of 1st August. But that still gives you plenty of time to get them before Christmas, so there can be no excuses.

Friday, April 15, 2016

New Fun - British Empire Edition

New Fun - The Big Comic Magazine was the first title ever published by DC Comics, at that time known as National Allied Publications. The first issue came out with a cover date of February 1935 and it lasted just six issues before becoming New Comics. Each of those comics are, of course, very rare and highly collectable. Issue six, the final issue, is thought to be the rarest of the set, but is also more highly sought after than the others (except for the first issue) as it features the first comic strips ever published by Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to find a copy of New Fun #6 in a nearby junk shop, hidden in a stack of comics and I picked it up for £5. However, this particular copy was the 'British Empire Edition'. Dated a month later and with a price tag of one shilling, this is the only known copy to surface since it was published - you will find nothing online or in the history books. 

Aside from the above edits, nothing else was changed in the comic. It still has U.S. prices and addresses inside, and you'll even notice on the cover it says 'color' instead of 'colour'. 

I don't know if 'British Empire Editions' of any of the other six issues were produced, or if they were made for other early DC Comics, but I doubt we will ever find out. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Free with Shiver and Shake

Shiver and Shake is a much loved title among collectors. I've always found copies to be scarcer than similar comics of the time, probably due to lower sales back in the day, but a few years ago I was lucky enough to come across a near complete stack of them and they were mine without hesitation.

When the first issue came out on 10th March 1973 it was clear that this new comic, subtitled "two comics in one-double the fun", took inspiration from the hugely popular Whizzer and Chips. It claimed that "Shake was inside Shiver", the idea being that you could seperate the comic into two - two comics for the price of one. For me, Shiver and Shake didn't feel as free as Whizzer and Chips did, as its characters seemed forced to fit a formula, but I still enjoy the comic and I know a lot of people actually prefer it to its more successful counterpart. Each to their own I suppose, but perhaps readers of the '70's felt the same way as me, because the final issue, #79, came out only a year and a half later on Monday 5th October 1974. 

Back to the topic of this post, the free gifts. Only three proper gifts were given away with the comic, all of them right at the start to help launch the paper. The first issue was presented with a free practical joke. "Free practical joke inside... which one will you get?" read the strapline, followed by a picture of the four gifts a reader might get. These were a joke chocolate biscuit, a trick stick of liquorice, a fake pencil and a plastic spoon with a hole in it. These, above an advert for next week's gift, were shown on page 15.

Which brings us on nicely to the second free gift - a "super spooky screamer". An annoying gift for parents no doubt, as the idea was for kids to blow into the toy to produce a loud noise. This was by no means unique to Shiver and Shake as a few years later Krazy comic would repeat the idea in the form of the 'Top Pop Hummer', as demonstrated by Cheeky on the front cover. Similar toys were given away with other Fleetway comics around this time too. I've misplaced my copy, so I've borrowed this scan from Peter Gray's site.

The gift had to be assembled by the reader, and instructions were provided inside, above an advert for the free "glow fun stickers" that were to be presented in the following issue. 

There were, I think, four sets of stickers. At least, that is what the advertisement in issue two would have you believe, but I have never seen a single set either photographed or for sale. I did, however, manage to find this very poor quality image from what appears to be an expired eBay auction, but even this only shows one sticker. If anybody does have any, please do send photos my way!

Now, when I say only three "proper" gifts were given away, that is because I don't refer to a pull-out as a "proper gift". None-the-less, I shall cover them in this post for the sake of completeness. To celebrate Shiver and Shake's first birthday the 9th March 1974 issue came with part one of 'Frankie Stein's Mini Monster Comic Book'. The instructions were to remove the centre four pages from the comic and cut and fold them to produce an eight page booklet. This was just the first part, readers had to buy the following three issues in order to complete the booklet. 

Even in the comics dying months, no more gifts were given away to help the failing paper. Shiver and Shake would merge into Whoopee in October, where its name would remain for another year. The holiday specials and annuals would do better, the former lasting until 1980 and the latter through until 1986, well after the weekly was long forgotten.  

Of course, for those of you who want to read more on Shiver and Shake, Irmantas covered absolutely everything to do with the title a few years ago over on his excellent blog Kazoop. Here's the first post:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Film Fun No. 1 (1920)

I have just realised that on this blog I have never covered an issue of Film Fun, so what better way to fix that than to look at the very first issue, from 17th January 1920. Film Fun would go on to be a very successful comic, and in April 1920 was joined by its sister paper The Kinema Comic, created to use up any stars Film Fun had missed so that Amalgamated Press had no competition and dominated the market.

The front page featured a strip entitled 'The Adventures of Winkle, the Pathe Mirth Wizard', illustrated by Tom Radford and probably written by his brother William. The strip continued over on the back cover.

For their 1 1/2D readers got twenty black and white pages, and this first issue came with a free "plate" of Fatty Arbuckle. Fatty Arbuckle appeared on page two as a text strip, and would grace the front cover of Kinema Comic as a comic star later that year. The story was supposedly "Written by 'Fatty' Himself", but I don't think that's true in this instance. Most celebrities were used without permission or knowledge but a few did get on board and help out from time to time. Of course, Fatty didn't last long in either papers due to a huge scandal in 1921 where he was accused of rape after someone died at one of his infamous drunken parties at a San Francisco hotel. 

Issue two's free gift would be a plate of Harold Lloyd. Personally I'd have given away Lloyd's gift with the first issue as he is the cover star, and Arbuckle's in the second. Here's the advert for the gift, a tiny panel that appeared in the middle of page 12.

Moving onto the comic strips, page nine featured Mack Swain, another fat film star of early cinema. Art is by George Wakefield.

Harry Parlett, Reg Parlett's father, was also a contributor of this first issue, drawing a number of strips including this Slim Summerville page.

Film Fun wouldn't end its astonishing run until September 1962, producing 2225 issues. It would merge into Buster, where the name would stick until 29th June 1963. By the time it died Film Fun looked very dated. Sure, it had added red to its covers but by the 1960's any comic without a full-colour cover looked old fashioned and dull, hidden behind far brighter comics such as The Beezer, The Topper and Buster. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Tiger Tim's Tales #25 (1920)

The 25th issue of Tiger Tim's Tales was, although undated, the first issue to be released in 1920, published on Friday 2nd January. For their 1 1/2D readers were presented with 24 pages, half of which were printed with red ink, the other half black and white. The comic is a bit of an odd size, nine inches by seven, and also had just one staple on the spine instead of two. The first issue of Tiger Tim's Tales had started life as a monthly on 1st June 1919, but with issue seven it became a weekly, being published every Friday. Three more issues were produced after this until it became Tiger Tim's Weekly. This new comic would continue in the same style for just short of one hundred issues (94, to be precise), until becoming the more familiar tabloid sized comic with bright full-colour covers that most of you have probably seen. 

This issue doesn't celebrate Christmas or the New Year (I assume the previous issue was the Christmas number), with the exception of one text story - Mrs Bruin's Present. This story mentions both Christmas puddings and New Year's Day, killing two birds with one stone. It's four pages long so I won't show all of it, but here's the first page.

The contents consists of three text stories, four comic strips (five if you count the two panel one on the 'Tiny Tales' page, a collection of very short stories no more than a paragraph each), Tiger Tim's letter page, and a couple of other features. One of those features is a cut out scene, where readers cut out Tiger Tim and his friends and stick him on the background. 

The centre pages had a one off story called The Baby In The Wood. I'm unsure who the artist here is.

And on the back cover is Pinkie and Pastie of Pat-A-Cake Palace. Artwork is by Herbert Foxwell, so I'm not sure why it's signed 'ABD' in the last panel. As with most comic strips of the time, the text underneath has entirely different dialogue to that in the panels.

This is the only issue of Tiger Tim's Tales I've seen for sale so am pleased to have snatched it up. It's a fun little comic but at a time when most comics were tabloid I'm not surprised they changed the size in 1921. Even so, sales couldn't have been too bad as it very quickly went from monthly to weekly in 1919, and 122 issues were produced at this size (if you include the ones after the name change to Tiger Tim's Weekly).

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Drive - The Comics

As an overly enthusiastic fan of Drive, both James Sallis' addictive 2004 novel and Nicholas Winding Refn's dazzling 2011 film adaptation, I was thrilled to learn of the release of a comic book series. Now I don't normally go in for American comic books, they simply aren't my choice or style of literature, but for once I had to make an exception. 

Written by Michael Bendetto, Drive is an excellent story that transitions well into the comic book medium. The accompanying artwork by Antonio Fuso is by no means poor, but I have to credit Jason Lewis, whose outstanding colouring skills really give the comic its unique, almost euphoric, feel. 

I have nothing but praise for the Drive comic series; the team behind it has perfectly encapsulated the grittiness and thrill of the novel, whilst retaining the glowing neo-noir cinematography of the film. 

Each issue of the four part series costs $3.99, and can be purchased now from any nearby comic book store.