Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Big New Year

I've blogged about The Big One before, quite a long time ago when this blog was just starting up, when I shared some pages from the last issue. A short-lived experimental comic published by Fleetway, The Big One lasted only 19 issues from 17th October 1964 - 20th February 1965 and, as the name suggests, is the biggest comic ever published in Britain (and maybe even the entire world). With the exception of the front cover of the last issue, the entire contents consisted of reprinted material from earlier Amalgamated Press comics. The front cover features Smiler illustrated by Eric Roberts. Smiler has originally appeared under the strip's original name 'Mike' in both Knockout from 1945 - 1957 and then in Sun from 1957 - 1959. 

Besides Shiner only a handful of strips had a new year's theme. Two of those appeared on the back page in full colour. Handy Andy at the top is an ex-Knockout strip illustrated by Hugh McNeill, and at the bottom Georgie the Jolly Geegee is from the pages of Radio Fun, illustrated by John Jukes. The layout of this back cover reminds me very much of the back of early Buster comics. It's bright appealing colours would be gone by the last issue though, replaced with nothing more than black and red ink.

The Big One Birthday Club is the only editorial feature inside and it offered readers the chance to win big prizes. The letter claims that "week after week hundreds of parcels leave the Club store on their way to members of the Big One Club", but I wonder how much of an exaggeration this is seeing as the comic lasted less than five months. The section also says members will receive a special red and gold club badge. I wonder if any still exist.

The idea behind the comic was that it's size would make it more noticeable than anything else on the newsstands, driving up sales. Of course no newsagent in their right mind would stock it as it is, and they were all folded in half then half again, making them the same size if not slightly smaller than other comics at the time. To get an idea of just how big an unfolded copy is, here's a photo of this issue next to a random issue of Buster (the closest comic I had). Now imagine having that open and trying to read it anywhere with even a slight breeze - it's next to impossible! It's big size was ultimately its downfall, it merged into Buster on 27th February 1965.