welcome and enjoy!

Hi and welcome to my blog about comics from other people’s childhood! It is dedicated primarily to British humour comics of the 60s and 70s. The reason they are not from my childhood is simply because I didn’t live in the UK back then (nor do I live there now). I knew next to nothing about them until fairly recently but since then I’ve developed a strong liking for the medium and amassed a large collection, including a number of complete or near complete sets. My intention is to use this blog as a channel for sharing my humble knowledge about different titles, favourite characters and creators as I slowly research my collection.

QUICK TIP: this blog is a sequence of posts covering one particular comic at a time. The sequence follows a certain logic, so for maximum results it is recommended that the blog is read from the oldest post up.

Copyright of all images and quotations used here is with their respective owners. Any such copyrighted material is used exclusively for educational purposes and will be removed at first notice. All other text copyright Irmantas P.



Monday, March 30, 2020

SPECK’S INVENTIONS BY KEN REID – PART ONE



Last year a fan of Ken Reid sent me Xeroxed copies of a few complete Fudge and Speck stories that he collected from The Manchester Evening News. Some time ago I composed a 2-part illustrated summary of Fudge and The Magic Book – story No. 26 of the series (you can view the summary HERE and HERE), and now it’s time for another one.

Speck’s Inventions was the second story of the series. It was 899 panels long and ran between 12th May, 1947 and 1st May, 1948. Reprints appeared in The Manchester Evening News between 26th January, 1974 and 28th June, 1975. 

Here are the opening panels, colourised nicely by John Ridgway:


NOTE: The rest of the scans are from photocopies of newspaper clippings, so quality leaves a lot to be desired, but all the images can be clicked to enlarge and are perfectly viewable and readable. 

Working in secret in a wooden shed by the river, Speck builds a whale-shaped pedal-powered submarine and tests it in the quiet country river, destroying a bridge and frightening an old lady in the process.


Fudge has his suspicions that the mysterious creature might have to do with Speck, and confronts his mate about it. Speck tells Fudge all about his new invention, aptly named Moby Dick, and invites Fudge to go on a holiday cruise together.

At this point, the story flies off on a tangent as Speck cooks up another invention – Giggle-Gas laughing vapour. His idea is to use it to cheer up a gloomy photographer whose custom is in shambles because his doleful countenance always makes people turn out looking miserable in the pictures.


A mix-up occurs as Speck and Fudge add the ingredients:



Speck’s concoction ruins the photo-shoot of an all-cure pill advert, and sends the customer into rage.


Realising that it was all Speck’s fault, the fuming entrepreneur chases the two elves. They rush to the submarine and their voyage begins.


The submarine sails down the river and reaches Barnacle Bay in the sea where Speck and Fudge see the Laughing Rock.


An old sailor tells them the legend of how the rock came to be, and this is how they first hear about the mysterious Happy Island and its inhabitants:



Later that morning they find an earthenware vessel containing an SOS message signed by the people of Happy Island. They also discover that the Laughing Rock has just fallen in a thunder storm, and according to the legend, this means that the happiness on Happy Island was broken…


They sail off in search of the island. During their arduous voyage the two elves survive an encounter with a pirate galleon:


… and then a sea serpent:



… but run out of luck when ‘Moby Dick’ is harpooned and sunk by a whaling ship:


Fudge and Speck build a crude raft which takes them to a ship graveyard. There they meet a bathing mermaid who tells them they are at the gates of Happy Island, and then takes a sudden leave frightened away by a large black creature winging its way overhead. 

The entrance to the gates of Happy Island is guarded by a huge whirlpool which sucks in the elves’ raft, and the two pals are separated:


Fudge emerges from a hole in the side of a towering cliff and lands in a river below. After some reconnaissance, Fudge draws this plan of the island and its fortifications:


Miles of forest stretch to the left of the river. There is a high crag surmounted by a turreted castle in the distance, and it looks like it is inhabited by sinister bat-like creatures: 


Fudge sees a small party of armour-clad soldiers entering the fortifications though a secret face-shaped gate, and sneaks into Happy Island after them…


Speck is stranded too, but he decides to look for help in the turreted castle. Before long he is plucked from the ground by a huge flying creature which takes him straight to the castle:


Meanwhile, Fudge disrupts a ceremonial gathering of the Happy Islanders and is captured by temple guards:


It turns out Happy Island is at war. The king’s adviser believes Fudge is an enemy spy and locks him up in a cold dark cell with another prisoner…


… In the turreted castle amidst the forest, Speck faces Klun – the leader of the evil batmen, who accuses the lad of spying for the other side. The monsters plan to attack Happy Island in a few days’ time, and they have an idea how to use Speck to achieve their evil ends. Klun throws Speck in a prison cell where he meets Kipolas – King of Happy Island, whom the ‘black-hearted’ batmen hold for ransom. Kipolas tells Speck the whole story:



In the meantime on Happy Island, Fudge finds out his cellmate is one of the batmen:


Fudge accidentally discovers that the creatures get petrified with fear when they hear the sound of laughter:


The batman is not very smart and Fudge easily tricks him into helping him to escape. He meets Professor Honk – inventor of a new war weapon to fight the batmen. Professor doesn’t think Fudge is a spy-type, and comes up with a plan to prove his innocence:


Prof. also tells Fudge about the Flower of Happiness whose ornaments Fudge has seen in the temple:


Part two of the summary will follow soon...

Friday, March 27, 2020

ANTHROPOMORPHIC STRIPS BY LEO BAXENDALE



Looking through my Beanos, I came across a curious example of Kat and Kanary in issue No. 770 (20 April, 1957). The curious thing about it is that the illustrator was Leo Baxendale, who to the best of my knowledge didn’t draw many anthropomorphic strips. In this case, Leo’s style is easily recognizable, don’t you think?


It is less obvious in the next episode from The Beano No. 771 – the last one by Leo before the strip was assigned to another artist:


I then found out that Leo drew another strip with animal protagonists, and it was The Katts in Knockout (second series). It ran in the first 14 issues of the comic starting from 12th June, 1971, but as it turns out, Leo only drew a few of the episodes. I stand to be corrected, but in my opinion his Katts appeared in 5 issues:






The rest were by Mike Lacey, weren’t they?:






Characters are © Rebellion Publishing Ltd

Sunday, March 15, 2020

BEANO, DANDY and TOPPER THIS WEEK in 1953


How about a gallery of the front covers of a few of the comics on newsstands this week all those years ago in 1953? The Topper was of course nearly twice the size of the other two. They are all brilliant as far as I am concerned :)




Images are © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd.


Thursday, March 5, 2020

WHOOPEE! PULL-OUTS IN 1979 – PART TWO



As I said in my previous post where I covered the first seven months of 1979, WHOPPEE! was particularly generous with its pull-outs in that year. Let us resume the overview starting from the months of August and September, when the comic surprised its readers with a further six posters in the issues of 11th, 18th and 25th August and then 8th, 15th and 29th of September: 













The approach of the Bonfire Night of 1979 was marked with Gunpowder Plot cut-out game in the four issues of 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th October. 


The first three had the board and some cards:






...while the fourth had more cards and the rules how to play the game:



The next issue cover dated 3rd November, 1979 came with Guy Fawkes’ cut-out mask, drawn by Brian Walker, who had already contributed two of those in the Firework issues of 1977 and 1978, with quite a few more still to come in the eighties:



The 1979 poster spree concluded in the issues of 10th November, 24th November and 1st December, bringing the total of WHOOPEE! character posters offered in the course of the year to a whopping eleven:







The next three issues (8th, 15th and 22nd December) ran a series of twenty Xmas labels. 


I showed them in two of my posts at the end of last year, so here are just a few examples to refresh your memory:



Finally, the 1979 Xmas issue of WHOOPEE! came with the Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey pull-out game on the centrespread:




Characters are © Rebellion Publishing Ltd 

And while you’re here, I would like to remind you that my promotion for the POWER PACK OF KEN REID is still on. Get your copies of the books and BONUS FREE PRINTS on eBay or from my online shop HERE!