Thursday, April 2, 2020
Buster Comic - 25 Years Young!
Well, before I start this post I thought I'd quickly explain what brought it about. Here in New Zealand our country went into a total lockdown about a week ago as a result of the COVID-19 virus, meaning pretty much everything except supermarkets and pharmacies have shut and we are all confined to our homes unless visiting essential services. As a result of this lockdown, I have returned home to Auckland to be with my family and was reading the very comic this post is about when I thought hey, why not use this time to do some blogging.
This issue of Buster, dated 25th May 1985, is the celebratory quarter century birthday number for the comic, the first issue of which hit the shops in May 1960. This issue also brought about a new artist for Buster replacing Reg Parlett, who had drawn the strip since taking over from Angel Nadal Quirch in 1974, with Tom Paterson. Many, including IPC group editor Bob Paynter, later thought this change was far too sudden and dramatic and I am possibly inclined to agree - as much as I absolutely adore Tom's style he is so far from Reg Parlett that I bet many readers would have found the sudden change quite a shock. Here is Tom's full strip, printed in full-colour on the back page.
Not having the free gift attached to the front does look a little sad when the whole cover is almost devoted to promoting it. "Incredible... Amazing... Unbelievable!" boasts the big yellow arrow, pointing at an empty blue space. Still, a half page instruction from inside shows those of us reading now just what it was we are missing. The previous issue had hyped them us as 'Deadly Death-Rattler Eggs', but they are certainly not what I would have imagined.
Other than the back-page Buster strip, no other stories made mention of the occasion. The only other indication that this issue held any kind of significance was this mildly interesting comparison of kids 'then and now', comparing interests of children in 1960 and 1985. Personally, I feel dedicating the entire centre page spread to this is a waste of space and the pages could have been better used with something such as a history of Buster, a poster, or a celebratory strip, but each to their own I suppose. It almost seems like they forgot the anniversary was coming up and had to prepare the issue at the last minute.
Since so little of this issue actually celebrates the anniversary I thought I'd show a few pages from the previous week as well, which is also the final combined Buster and School Fun. Although School Fun isn't even mentioned on the cover, this issue still has the School Fun section inside, featuring characters from the now defunct title. A wonderful Reg Parlett front cover hints at exciting things to come next week - quite the build up for what was eventually a bit of a let down.
Of course, this being Reg's last time drawing Buster I have to show the full strip - printed in full colour on the back page.
Inside, a full page advert previewed the front cover of next weeks issue, including a picture of the rather exciting looking free gift! The thrilling death-rattler artwork would probably have gotten me to buy it, I'm not going to lie.
This issue also contains the final episode of The Leopard from Lime Street, a popular character that had been in the comic for almost a decade having first appeared on 27th March 1976. A sad loss to see this one go, it was the final adventure strip Buster ever featured, although it would return in the form of reprints in the 1990's. Artwork by the legendary Mike Western, I believe.
I hope this brought about a bit of happiness wherever you are in the world. Please stay safe everyone! I'll try keep blogging while I'm quarantined in Auckland with all my comics, so stay tuned.