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.


Kid said...

Ah, I didn't know you'd returned to blogging, though I should've guessed when you left a comment on my blog recently. I still have my original two issues of these comics given to me by Bob when they were first published, and I can remember standing just outside his office discussing them as though it were yesterday. 35 years ago, eh? That's a depressing thought. I'll re-add your blog to my blog-list while you continue blogging. It's my custom to remove my comments after a few days if they're not acknowledged, so if it disappears, you'll know why.

George Shiers said...

Ah yes, been putting my quarantine time to good use instead of just sitting around so I thought I'd do some blogging. Really liked that space toy since I'm a big fan of the Space Race, you should check out the upcoming book Soviet Space Graphics by Phaidon - it could be right up your alley. Good issues to own - and from Bob Paynter himself! Quite the thing to own. Also thanks for the add Kid, I appreciate that! I don't know how long I'll be blogging for but the quarantine is due to last at least 3 more weeks and I wouldn't be surprised if it is extended. We do seem to have the virus somewhat under control here at least, which is good news.