Thursday, July 31, 2014

Faceache in Jet - Part 1 of 3

Jet, launched on 1st May 1971 (the cover date for issue one, it was most likely released a week earlier), is a short-lived comic best remembered, when remembered at all, for the introduction of Ricky Rubberneck, or Faceache, as he is best known. Faceache first appeared on page 29 of issue one of the "great new picture-story paper for boys". Illustrated by the great Ken Reid, Faceache would survive Jet's amalgamation into Buster and continue on until 1988, illustrated for the last few years by Frank McDiarmid after Reid passed away in 1987. 

Jet lasted just twenty-two issues and I will be showing all of Faceache's appearances in the comic, broken down into three parts so that each post doesn't become too lengthy. Here are the first seven episodes, and as always click on the images to view them in full size.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This Week In: 1973 - Shiver and Shake

The issue of Shiver and Shake that went on sale this week 41 years ago saw the introduction of not one, not two but "four super fun features". The full-page advertisement from the previous week's issue shows what they were. 

Although it isn't the order in which they appeared inside the comic, I'll look at them as they appeared on the advertisement, starting with Charlie Williams and moving clockwise. Williams was a Shake resident, appearing on page five of the elephant's comic or page fifteen overall. Illustrated by Alf Saporito this strip is rather similar in format to the celebrity strips that appeared in Buster in the early 1960's. Below is Charlie's page with a Charlie Drake page underneath for comparison. Illustrated by Arthur Martin, it can be found in Buster dated 19th May 1962.

Wizards Anonymous is next, and it appears just over the page. This strip is my favourite of all the new features - it has a good, fun story with excellent accompanying artwork by Brian Walker.

The other two new features both appear in the Shiver section. Ghouldilocks is next on the above advertisement, and appears on page eight. The artist is Stan McMurty and this particular episode is a reprint from Jag, although some fresh pages were drawn for her run in Shiver and Shake.

The final of the "new fun features", both on the advert and in the comic, is Grimly Feendish, a character originally created by Leo Baxendale as Eagle Eye's arch nemesis in Wham. Here the artist is Stan McMurty and this episode is a reprint from Smash no. 58. Some new strips were produced for Shiver and Shake by a young Tom Paterson.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Last Autograph Albert

When I recently bought a small bundle of Tiger comics I was pleasantly surprised to see that Norman Mansbridge had a strip in there. It's called Autograph Albert, and follows the adventures of a young boy donned in a traditional school uniform and cap who is trying to fill up his autograph book. I'm not sure when he first appeared but I know he had been running for roughly a year at least by the time his final strip was printed. Here is that final strip, as it appeared on page 18 of Tiger dated 9th February 1985.

The strip was cancelled to make way for new stories that were to begin in the revamped issue the following week. You may have noticed that this revamp was very close to the final issue of Tiger and that is because the revamp was simply to prepare the comic for the merger with Eagle, by making it a bit more similar. I suspect that Eagle's readership had been falling for quite some time by this point however, as it had downgraded its paper quality to standard newsprint in April 1984.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

50 Years Ago This Week: Valiant's Humour Strips

Despite being a primarily adventure strip comic Valiant featured a good number of humour strips as well. We'll head back to the issue that was on sale fifty years ago this week to see what humour strips were on offer in its pages. The first appears on page five under the title The Nutts, about a family that lived up to their name. The artist is Angel Nadal Quirch.

The next character needs no introduction. He first appeared in 1908 and was still popular all in the 60's and even as late as the 90's. For Valiant he was illustrated by Reg Parlett - I speak of course of Billy Bunter.

Next up is a half-page Sporty strip, which is credited to Reg Wootton.

Next up is The Crows, which works out to be roughly a half-page strip but actually goes around the edge of the page, around an advertisement for the Royal Navy. This is another page by Reg Parlett.

The final humour strip is called It's A Dog's Life and it appears in full colour on the back page. This is a reprinted Belgium originally entitled Boule et Bill, illustrated by Roba.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Topper Summer Special 1986

Despite the constant rain and gloomy grey skies currently above Auckland I thought I'd take a look at another summer special of the past, this time the Topper Summer Special from 1986. It's got a nice, bright, lively front cover that leads on to a comic strip over on the back page.

For their 52 pennies readers got 32 pages, with no less than 16 of them in bright full-colour. One of those pages is Jimmy Jinx and What He Thinks, illustrated by Gordon Bell.

Next up is a two-page Beryl the Peril strip by, I believe, John Dallas, in which Beryl makes her own entertainment - much to the annoyance of her dad. 

Here's a very nicely drawn page about nature's weather forecasts. This seems to be more suited for the pages of the 1950's Eagle than it does The Topper but none-the-less it is a very nice set. Unfortunately I don't know who the artist is.

The final strip I'll be showing is this two-page Send For Kelly story, as it features a traditional summer holiday trip to Blackpool.

Overall it's quite a good special, with a nice mixture of humour and adventure strips, jokes and activities it is the perfect bundle for a long car journey. Despite The Topper starting in 1953 this is only the fourth Topper summer special - the first one didn't appear until as late as 1983.