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.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


WHOOPEE! FRANKIE STEIN SUMMER SPECIAL 1976 was 64 pages thick and cost 25 p. Unusually for the times, it was printed on fancy glossy paper. Unlike in both previous Frankie Stein publications, the page count of Frankie Stein-related content outweighed other features by a good margin: there were 46 pages of the former and only 18 pages of the latter. What’s also good is that as many as 44 pages of the Summer Special was new material.

Frankie Stein Around the World was the central story of the magazine. Split into 5 parts, it was 24-pages long – the first 14 were by Frank McDiarmid, followed by 1o from the hand of Brian Walker. Mr. McDiarmid had already drawn a few Frankie Stein sets in SHIVER AND SHAKE weeklies whereas for Brian Walker it must have been the first Frankie Stein job (his first one in WHOOPEE! weeklies didn’t come out until the issue cover-dated October 9, 1976).

It’s holiday time so Prof. Cube takes Frankie to the seaside where he risks facing charges for two counts of attempted murder, first by pushing Frankie off the cliffs, then by cutting the line as they do water-skiing.

Two failures make Dad reconsider seaside holiday so he charters a battered plane and takes Frankie abroad. First Prof. Cube tries losing the friendly monster in the desert:

...then the North Pole:

...the jungle:

...the Far East:

...and finally the lost world in South America:

Just as Prof. Cube thought he was free at last, a famous explorer spotted Frankie wandering in the wild and brought him back to England, believing he was the missing link:

It was back to the drawing board for Dad, so he took Frankie to the swimming pool and this was nearly the end for Frankie Stein but angry readers forced Prof. Cube to bring their favourite character back to life. 

8 pages of Frankie Stein by Ken Reid were reprints from WHAM! issues 38, 58, 33, 49, 40, 122, 36, 158 (listed here in the order of their appearance in the Summer Special). This time common sense prevailed and they kept alterations of the originals to the minimum, such as increasing the height of two rows of panels on pages without the masthead – they had to do something to fill the page. Only two episodes were affected whereas on the remaining six the new masthead was the only change, save for the odd word whited-out here and there for no reason at all. The episode from WHAM! No. 158 was coloured-in, check out the result:

They also re-used some of Mr. Reid’s more recent artwork: in Doomerangs spot-the difference puzzle they borrowed something from the World-Wide Werdies pin-up that can be found in the 19th October, 1974 issue of Whoopee! and Shiver and Shake:

The other two spot-the-difference puzzles also re-used drawings from older comics: in Double Trouble it was a panel by Bob Nixon from the weekly episode of Frankie Stein in Shiver and Shake No. 68 (June 22nd, 1974), and in Double Shocker – a panel by Brian Walker from the conger eel episode of Scream Inn in SHIVER AND SHAKE No. 65 (June 1st, 1974). The SUMMER SPECIAL also had two double-pagers of Frankie Stein puzzles, all new material drawn by I don’t know who, possibly Jim Crocker. Here is a sample:

Let’s take a quick look at the rest of Frankie Stein content. Jim Crocker contributed two double-pagers of gags in the form of Frankie’s notes which strongly reminds me of Frankie’s Diary in Monster Fun Comic. One was called All the Fun of the Fair and the second – Back to the Drawing Board. Here are the first pages of both:

In my previous post I mentioned the interesting practice of inviting new artists to draw some Frankie Stein material for those publications. In WHOOPEE! FRANKIE STEIN SUMMER SPECIAL 1976 you can find this two-page piece called Frankie’s Camping Holiday which, I think, was illustrated by the same artist who drew Mum’s the Word in WHOOPEE!:

The centrespread was given to Frankie Hike! board game drawn, I believe, by Artie Jackson:

Just like in the two previous FS publications, there were some reprints of Ghost Ship (2 episodes, originally from SMASH!), The Haunts of Headless Harry (2 episodes, originally from SMASH!) and Crabbe’s Crusaders (adventure tale, one episode on 8 pages split in 2 parts, originally from BUSTER).

The 4-page episode of Monster Movie Makers, first seen in Frankie Stein Book 1976 and illustrated this time by Les Barton, was the only new piece of non-Frankie Stein material in WHOOPEE! FRANKIE STEIN SUMMER SPECIAL 1976. In this episode Carlo Monte, director of International Film Studios, came up with an idea to make another epic called The Curse of the Mummy and ‘borrowed’ a haunted Mummy case from the local museum. 

Robert Nixon’s only contribution was the front cover – a redrawn colour version of one of the panels from the FS Around the World story by Brian Walker. I wonder who copied whom because the drawings are very much alike:

Incidentally, the original cover artwork was offered by Compal Comic Book Auctions some time ago under this description (note that they got the date wrong): Frankie Stein Holiday Special original front cover artwork (early 1980s) drawn and signed by Robert Nixon Frankie's practising his diving but 'Dad' has other ideas … Bright poster colour on board. 17 x 13 ins. The winner paid £284. Here’s what the piece looked like:

Monday, July 14, 2014


The first WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN was chronologically the second Frankie Stein publication and came out for the Christmas of 1975. The advert in MONSTER FUN COMIC dated 27th September, 1975 announced it was due to go on sale on 1st October. The softcover book had 128 pages and cost 75 p. Apart from bright front and back covers it was all b/w, printed on coarse pulp paper prone to heavy browning (hence the weird colour of the majority of images included in this post – the result of my efforts to make them look better…).

WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1976 followed the pattern set in the first FS Summer Special: some content was Frankie Stein-related and some wasn’t. I have counted 61 pages of the former variety – that’s less than a half of the book. This is a Frankie Stein publication so let’s deal with that part of the content first. Less than one third was puzzles, mazes, gags or other features named after Frankie (e.g. Frankie’s Personal Disaster Diary):

Just like in the first FS Summer Special, both spot-the-difference puzzles were in fact pieces of Bob Nixon’s artwork taken from Shiver and Shake weekly comics (Seeing Double was the front cover of Shiver and Shake No. 61 (4th May, 1974) and Double Trouble with Frankie swinging a tank holding it by the gun was a panel from the episode in Shiver and Shake No. 53 (9th March, 1974)).

One thing that I find interesting about those Frankie Stein publications is that artists who’d never had anything to do with the friendly monster were often asked to draw something for the specials or books. We’ll see a lot of this in later publications. In WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1976 it was two pages of Frankie's Funspots by Jim Crocker and this contribution of Cliff Brown:

Enough about puzzles, let’s look at Frankie Stein strips which occupied 39 pages (42 if we count both covers and the “this book belongs to” page). There were four brand new Frankie Stein tales, all drawn by Bob Nixon, and Frankie Stein in Funtastic Voyage (6 pages) is first in line. Contrary to what the title suggests, it was not Frankie but Prof. Cube who went on that voyage. He accidentally swallowed some shrinking pills which he had hoped to use on Frankie, and Frankie ate him up with his bun. That’s how Prof. Cube found himself inside Frankie’s body. Looking at these panels I can’t help thinking about Ken Reid’s The Nervs in SMASH!:

T.V. Frankie Stein was a two-pager in which Frankie went through a lot of trouble to visit the girl of his dreams but got bitterly disappointed in the end. Quite an unusual set, IMHO:

Frankie Stein Time Traveller was the third new tale (an 8-pager) in which Prof. Cube persuaded his troublesome creation to try out a time machine in hope that he’d get lost in time. Frankie’s first stop was in the Wild West where he accepted Sheriff’s position and rid the town of some nasty red Indians and then Black Jake the robber:

His second stop was in the times of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table where he took part in a tournament and jousted against the evil knight Sir Vile before making it home safely.

1976 Winter Olympics were near so a Frankie Stein winter sports story was an appropriate proposition. Frankie Stein in Winter Sports was a 6-pager in which Prof. Cube came up with an idea that entering Frankie in the Olympics might be a good way to get rid of him for good:

Bob Nixon redrew the last panel of the second page shown above for the back cover of this book:

There were three pages of Freaky Frankie – a strip without speech balloons by an unknown artist whose drawing style I don’t find very appealing:

There were also 12 pages of reprints of Frankie Stein episodes by Ken Reid from WHAM!, but I’ll discuss them further down in this post.

Frank McDiarmid contributed one new Frankie Stein tale - Professor Cube – Inventor! (a 6-pager) in which Frankie Stein played a minor part opposite Dad. It was a story about Prof. Cube’s inventing misadventures in his pre-Frankie days:

…which of course were now over and long-forgotten:

Mr. McDiarmid was also the only contributor of new non-Frankie-Stein strip content in this book. Weird Wolf was a tale about a ghost wolf whose most favourite pastime was howling at the Moon, much to the annoyance of the population of the town of Dullton who tried different schemes to get rid of the pest. Two episodes (a three-pager and a two-pager) were included in this book. Here's a taste:

The second new non-Frankie-Stein strip by Mr. McDiarmid was The Movie Makers, two 4-page episodes can be found in this book. It is about daft International Film Studios who had no clue how to make movies. Their first one was so horrible that it became a blockbuster as the ‘World’s Most Horrific Film’ and made them believe they could do more of the kind:

The rest of non-Frankie-Stein comic strip content was reprints. The strips they chose to reprint were already familiar to readers of the first FS Summer Special: Ghost Ship (3 episodes, originally from SMASH!), The Haunts of Headless Harry (3 episodes, originally from SMASH! as well), Crabbe’s Crusaders (adventure tale, one episode spanning 8 pages, originally from BUSTER) and best of all - Mervyn’s Monsters. Drawn by Leo Baxendale, the strip originally appeared in BUSTER in the late 60s and was a tale of the epic struggle between two opposing secret services – M.U.M. (Mervyn’s Undercover Monsters) and C.R.U.S.H (Crafty Rascals’ Union of Saboteurs and Hoodlums, headed by Oscar Mush). The original run consisted of a number of serialised stories, and the 18-pager reprinted in this book was Mervyn’s Monsters Starring in the Incredible Abominable Snowmen Adventure that started in Buster AND GIGGLE dated 16th March, 1968 (note that this is not the first episode of the original series). Check out the opening pages in Buster and WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1976:

Getting back to Frankie Stein but keeping on the subject of reprints, the book contains quite a few  episodes by Ken Reid. Originally they are from WHAM! Nos. 43, 46, 54, 47, 75, 68 (listed here in the order of appearance of reprints in the Book). As always, the original one-pagers were tampered with and converted into two-pagers, therefore the total page count of Ken Reid artwork comes to 12. Check out an example from WHAM! and compare it with the doctored version in the Book. They certainly took liberties with the original…

From WHAM! No. 68, 2nd October, 1965

Reprint in Whoopee! Book of Frankie Stein 1976

WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1976 also had a fair amount of ‘monster’ and ‘horror’ non-comic strip features that weren’t related to Frankie Stein, e.g. Man Made Monsters (photos of giant machines and structures with some factual details), Screen Scream (screenshots from horror movies with humorous speech balloons), Spot the Star (mugshots of contemporary stars with Frankenstein forehead, hairdo and neck-bolts attached) and Monsters of the Screen (screenshots of monsters from various films). As you can see, this book was very much in the horror comedy genre so it was a suitable substitute for MONSTER FUN COMIC annual 1976 which IPC didn’t have time to put together in the first year of MFC. It is probably not by coincidence that IPC ran a series of adverts in MFC weeklies, and Frankie mentioned the book on a number of occasions in his letters section.