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.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


The second and the last Frankie Stein annual – WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1977, was 128 pages thick and cost 85 p. – an increase of 10 p. since the previous year. The soft-cover volume had colour covers with the same drawing by Robert Nixon used on the front and the back, and was all b/w inside. 70 pages were filled with Frankie Stein material and 58 were non-Frankie Stein content.

The first story that one finds on opening the book is This is Your Life – Story! – a 10-page spoof of This is Your Life TV programme nicely drawn by Robert Nixon. Unexpectedly for himself, Frankie becomes a special guest of a TV show hosted by Raymond Andshake, the sneaky TV interviewer. The show is a mix of documentary footage about Frankie’s life and his surprise ‘live’ studio reunions with people from his past, such as the local electrician who has aged prematurely through having to work day and night trying to repair the damage caused by Frankie, his school football team mates some of whom are still suffering from the injuries they received playing with Frankie and finally his Dad who comes to regret being on the show because he gets bashed by other studio guests for creating Frankie. Mr. Nixon did a great job drawing the strip, and I have included it in full at the bottom of this post for you to enjoy and appreciate.

The covers and This is Your Life – Story! was the only new material that Mr. Nixon contributed to WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1977.  As had become a tradition in those Frankie Stein publications, the editor re-used some of Mr. Nixon’s Frankie Stein artwork from Shiver and Shake weeklies, turning it into spot-the-difference puzzles (two of them in this book) and even putting it on the title page:

It seems that none of the better IPC artists were available to draw the other two new Frankie Stein stories, so the job was given to an illustrator whose name I don’t know and who IMHO wasn’t really up for the task. In Robinson Frankie (a 6-pager) Prof. Cube has an idea to get rid of Frankie by dumping him on a desert island and making him Robinson Crusoe. In Frankie Stein Super-Freak (an 8-pager featured on the front cover) we find out that Frankie is a fan of Superman TV programme and likes to play at being Superman. This gives Prof. Cube an idea to make him a Frankieman suit with a pair of rockets attached to his boots, so that with a bit of luck they would take him to another galaxy. As could be expected, the plan misfires and causes big trouble for Dad. The first panel of the first page shown below is the other illustrator’s poor sketch of the bright front cover artwork by Mr. Nixon.

The 8 pages of Frankie Stein by Ken Reid reprinted in the annual are taken from WHAM! issues 50, 72, 83, 84, 109, 31, 152 and 53 (listed here in the order of their appearance in the book). It was nice of them not to tamper with the artwork or the text, although they had to extend a few rows of panels to fill the pages. They also used a drawing of Prof. Cube’s head by Ken Reid from the episode of Frankie Stein in WHAM! No. 76 and turned it into this puzzle:

Original drawing in WHAM!

The book has 9 pages filled with themed Frankie Stein gags by Jim Crocker: Frankie’s Fun Spots (signed), Frankie at Work, Frankie in Uniform, Frankie Stein Film Star and Frankie Abroad (all unsigned).  

Two pages of Professor Cube – Inventor! gags (also illustrated by Crocker, I believe) shared the title with Professor Cube – Inventor! ‘Relatively Speaking’ - a nice 6-pager drawn for this book by the excellent Frank McDiarmid. The brand new story introduced us to some of Prof. Cube’s relatives from around the World. I showed the strip in full not so long ago, you can view it HERE.

The book also offers a selection of nice Frankie Stein fun features, such as three 2–pagers of Frankie Puzzles by Les Barton that look very much like Ticklish Allsorts in MONSTER FUN COMIC:

… a 4-page Frankie’s calendar by Sid Burgon, here are the first 6 months:

The Frankie Stein Book of Knowledge (a 2-pager) by the artist whose name I don’t know but I believe he also illustrated Mum’s the Word in the early issues of Whoopee!:

… and Frankie Job References:

Frank McDiarmid was responsible for most of new non-Frankie Stein content. He drew two instalments of Monster Movie Makers, 4 pages long each. In the first story Carlo Monte, the head of the now famous film-studios, decides to make ‘The Ghost of Cleopatra’ and uses some real ghosts who volunteer to join his cast. The film turns out so scary that it frightens off all the customers and the ghosts are the only ones enjoying it in the empty theatre during the premiere… In the second story Carlo Monte and his crew go to the Himalayan Mountains in Tibet to make a documentary film of the abominable snowman but after many hours of searching the project ends in fiasco because of Carlo Monte’s idiot assistants.

Frank McDiarmid also contributed a 4-page episode of Weird Wolf in which the howling ghost wolf is so sick and tired of being an outcast from society that he decides to stop himself from howling at the moon. Easier said than done…

Together with 6 pages of Professor Cube – Inventor! ‘Relatively Speaking’ which was mentioned before, the contribution of Mr. McDiarmid to WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1977 amounted to 18 pages.

Draculass (a two-pager) by Terry Bave and Creepy Car (a two-pager) by I’m not sure who but definitely not by Reg Parlett who at the time was the regular artist of the strip in WHOOPEE!, were included in a Frankie Stein publication for the first time and may very well be new material.

The House on Hangman’ s Heath was another new addition to the package. It was a 12-page one-off chilling mystery yarn about an orphaned boy named Roddy Mason who inherited an old deserted mansion from his deceased uncle and went to inspect the property without listening to his lawyer Jabez Kane who advised against going there. While exploring the mansion, the boy and his new friend Nick Damon from the local newspaper experience a series of strange life-threatening events and encounter a hooded ghost figure that is determined to send them to their death. The two think the villain is Jebez Kane, the solicitor, but in the end it turns out to be Roddy Mason’s uncle who hadn’t died but pretended that he had to escape his problems with the law. Why the uncle wanted to kill the boy and the journalist both of whom he had never seen before remains a mystery unsolved, so it’s a case of suspense for the sake of suspense – not a very rare thing in comics. The story looks like new materia. Reader of this blog Briony C says the artist was Tony Coleman (also known as George Anthony). Thanks, Briony!

The House on Hangman’ s Heath was not the only adventure strip in WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1977 – there were also two 6-page episodes of Crabbe’s Crusaders, both reprinted from BUSTER where it ran in 1969. Like in the previous three Frankie Stein publications, there were also some reprints of The Haunts of the Headless Harry and Ghost Ship from SMASH! (3 original one-page episodes of each strip have been converted into two-pagers).  One two-page episode of Harry’s Haunted House by Reg Parlett was included for the first time; the caption at the top of the page said it was ‘a freaky Friend of Frankie from Whizzer and Chips’.

Ghost Ship crew

And now, as promised, here is THIS IS YOUR LIFE – Story! in full. I’ve said it once and I will say it again – wouldn’t it be great if Egmont put together a collected edition of Robert Nixon’s Frankie Stein from the seventies before the artist adopted a simplified drawing style! 

Images 2014 © Egmont UK Ltd.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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: