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.



Sunday, December 21, 2014

MONSTER FUN COMIC ANNUAL 1977



The publication of MFC weeklies began in the second half of June 1975 and IPC didn’t have time to produce a book for 1976 so Monster Fun Comic Annual 1977 was the title’s first. It came out early in the Autumn of 1977 – the first advertisement can be found in MFC No. 66 (Sept 11th, 1976). At that time the weekly was already counting its last days and was absorbed by Buster a few weeks later. The book was 144 pages thick and cost a pound.

Here is an account of the contents: Little Monsters (in colour on the front endpapers and one page in b/w inside, by Sid Burgon), Brainy and His Monster Maker (three 2-pagers, including one in colour), Dough Nut and Rusty (three episodes by Trevor Metcalfe: 2 three-pagers including one in colour, and a four-pager), Monster Fun Puzzle Page (2 pages), X-Ray Specs (2 two-pagers and 2 three-pagers including one in colour by Mike Lacey), The Robot Maker (5 reprints from COR!! weeklies, artwork by Frank McDiarmid), Frankie Stein Ticklish All-Sport (2 pages of gags by Jim Crocker), Art’s Gallery (2 episodes – a three-pager and a two-pager), Draculass (2 two pagers by Terry Bave), Stoneage Brit Ancient Nit (4 reprints from COR!! weekly comics, artwork by Tony Goffe), The Ice Monster’s Coming! (adventure thriller on 6 pages), Tom Thumbscrew – The Torturer’s Apprentice (2 two-pagers by Norman Mansbridge, including one in colour), Freaky Farm (a 4-pager), Sam’s Spook (4 reprints from SMASH! comic, artwork by Leo Baxendale), Mummy’s Boy (3 two-pagers by Norman Mansbridge, including one in colour on back endpapers), Movie Monsters feature (2 two-pagers), Teddy Scare (a two-pager), Martha’s Monster Make-Up (a two-pager), Gums (a three-pager by Tery Bave), Kid Kong (an eight-pager by Robert Nixon), Terry and the ‘Dactyl (an 8-pages adventure thriller), Creature Teacher (a six-pager by Tom Williams), Monster Mystery (spot the difference puzzle on two pages), Major Jump - Horror Hunter (a two-pager by Ian Knox), Monster Mirth (2 pages of gags by Jim Crocker), Crafty Cat (a two-pager), Film Funny feature (1 page), Ye Badtime Bedtime Worsery Rhymes (6 pages by Terry Bave), Survive All (a two-pager), The Day of the Apples Starring the Earthies (a four-pager by Mike Green).

Advertisement in MFC No. 66 (Sept 11th, 1976)

It is appropriate to start the review from the beginning and here are the hilarious front endpapers with The Little Monsters by Sid Burgon:


Unlike in the first Summer Special, all reprints (Robot Maker, Sam’s Spook and Stoneage Brit) were re-arranged to fill two pages. Also, differently from the Summer Special, the Annual had as many as two adventure thrillers. The first was the six-page story The Ice Monster’s Coming! An ice patrol boat is clearing the shipping lanes by blasting away icebergs with a gun. One shot does more than shatter an iceberg – it also releases a prehistoric monster that was trapped inside. Instead of showing gratitude to his liberators, the creature vents its frustration on the ship and its unfortunate crew. The boat sinks and it looks like it’s the end for the crew but they get rescued by another ice patrol ship. Here are the last two pages of the story:



The other thriller feature was an 8-pager called Terry and the ‘Dactyl. The narrative panel of the first frame creates an impression that this is not the first episode of the story:


Terry senses foul play and escapes into the jungle where he has to hide from hostile natives. Climbing some rocks, he finds a baby pterodactyl and starts looking after it. Terry’s wanderings take him and his new “pet” to an ancient ruined city of gold somewhere in the mountains where he stays for ten months raising and training the reptile until it grows into a giant flying creature. A plane crash near the ruined city and the death of the pilot make Terry return back to civilization and settle scores with the corrupt local police chief Gomez who would stop at nothing to find the lost city of gold. This is quite a violent story with as many as five deaths:  first Gomez’ sidekicks take care of Terry’s companion – the old prospector, then the airplane pilot dies of poison, then both of Gomez’ cronies meet their fate at the hands of their evil master and finally the rogue policeman himself falls from sky high into the river never to be seen again…


Both stories are drawn by the same artist whose name I don’t know but he was the illustrator of the long-running and successful Rat Trap feature in COR!! comic. I think I’ve seen his (her?) artwork in girls’ comics. Does anyone know the name?

Readers were treated to two new comedy strips. Crafty Cat was drawn by either Martin Baxendale or Tom Paterson. I would put my money on Martin Baxendale but I wonder if he wasn’t too young to contribute at that time:


Survive All pretended to be a weekly strip (or perhaps TV show). I am not sure about the name of the artist but I am finding the style similar to that of the illustrator who drew the Forest Legion in SHIVER AND SHAKE annuals and signed one episode Mazza. Here is the strip in full:  



This was a nice book with lots of quality artwork by top IPC talent so let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights. 

In Freaky Farm the farmer and his horrors do what they do best – scarring intruders off the farm. In this case it is a team of road builders. I am not sure if this set was drawn by the regular Freaky Farm artist Jim Watson – it looks like Elphin who drew a couple of early episodes in the weeklies was responsible for it:


In Martha’s Monster Make-Up Martha gets into trouble for wickedly using her cream on some people who did her no harm. The artist tried imitating Ken Reid and he is also the one who occasionally stepped in for Ken on Faceache in BUSTER comic. I don’t know his name, unfortunately:


In Gums the shark finds being toothless very embarrassing and goes to the swordfish for help. The sword-fish makes him a set of teeth from the wooden hull of a sunken ship but the shark still boobs in the end:


In Kid Kong the loveable giant gorilla decides to earn some money and make it up to Gran for having such a big appetite. A gang of crooks take advantage of the innocent mind and Kid helps them rob the high street bank. Kid and Gran find themselves behind bars where Kid realises that the crooks made a monkey out of him. Furious, he breaks out of prison and stops the robbers from escaping the country. His cash reward is quickly converted into ‘nanas.

Kid and Gran fantasizing about how they will spend the cash 
that Kid brought home after the bank robbery

In Major Jump – the first one signed by Ian Knox that I can remember seeing, the horror hunter and his assistant answer an S.O.S. signal and find themselves in an awkward situation when they realise it was them who the tiny people got so terrified with:


Ye Badtime Bedtime Worsery Rhymes by Terry Bave implies a connection with Badtime Bedtime Books which appeared in MFC weeklies, but it doesn’t fit the definition of a classic BBB because it isn’t a strip and is only 6 pages long (as opposed to 8 which was the standard). Here are the first two pages:



In Creature Teacher Class X are invited to put that year’s Christmas play and are thrilled about the opportunity, less so about Creature Teacher being the producer. A series of failed plots to get rid of him later, comes the day of their Cinderella performance, and Class X have saved all their mischief-making for the night:


Needless to say that Creature Teacher intervenes and saves the day:


It is the second time after the MFC Summer Special 1975 that we meet those strange creatures called the Earthies. The full title of the story is The Day of the Apples, featuring the Earthies and the illustrator is Mike Green – thanks, Lew and Raven, for identifying the artist in your comments to my previous post. Here is the story in full:



It is that special time of the year, so I will round up this post with this festive episode of The Little Monsters by Sid Burgon. More MFC-unrelated X-mas goodness to come soon!




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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MONSTER FUN COMIC SUMMER SPECIAL 1975



It’s time I got back to the mission of completing my comprehensive review of MONSTER FUN COMIC, so let’s look at the first MONSTER FUN COMIC Summer Special which came out in the summer of 1975 - the time when the early issues of the weekly went on sale, which suggests that the first issues of the weeklies and the Summer Special were put together at more or less the same time. The 80-pages magazine cost 25 p and came with an eye-catching Kid Kong cover by Bob Nixon.

Here is a summary of the contents: Tom Thumbscrew (a two-pager by Andy Christine), Cinders (a two-pager in full colour by Norman Mansbridge), The Robot Maker (5 pages of reprints from COR!! weeklies, artwork by Frank McDiarmid), Sam’s Spook (4 pages of reprints from SMASH!, artwork by Leo Baxendale), Lots O’ Laughs (2 pages of gags illustrated by Mike Lacey), Stoneage Brit Ancient Nit (4 pages of reprints from COR!!, including one episode in colour on back cover, artwork probably by Tony Goffe), Martha’s Monster Make-Up (a two-pager by Frank McDiarmid), X-Ray Specs (two episodes: a three-pager probably by Jim Watson imitating Mike Lacey, and a two-pager that appears to have been penciled by Terry Bave but inked by someone else),  Make A Date: Tarzan and the Little Bo Peep – An Imaginary Meeting of these Famous Characters (a two-pager by Trevor Metcalfe), Kid Kong (an 8-page story by Robert Nixon), Creature Teacher (a four-pager by Tom Williams), Art’s Gallery (a three pager, probably by Jim Watson), The Land That Time Forgot feature (3 pages), Cave Cackles (1 page of gags by Sid Burgon), Monster Maze on the centerspread in full colour, probably by Artie Jackson, Fred’s Fault (a two-pager by Jim Watson), Major Jump Horror Hunter (2 two-pagers by Ian Knox), Dough Nut and Rusty (a 4-pager by Trevor Metcalfe), Mummy’s Boy (a two-pager by Terry Bave, Brainy and His Monster Maker (a two-pager by I don’t know who), Frankie’s Freaky Week (2 pages of gags by Sid Burgon), Monster Mirth (one page gags feature by I don’t know who), Grizzly Bearhug… Giant (a four-pager by Andy Christine), Monster Fun-Time (2 pages of puzzles), The Earthies (a four-pager by an unknown artist), Monster Regis (one-page feature by Sid Burgon), Draculass Daughter of Dracula (a two-pager by Terry Bave in colour).

Andy Christine got 6 pages –2 of Tom Thumbscrew and 4 of Giant Grizzly… Bearhug. That's precisely 6 pages too many, IMHO.


Mike Lacey wasn’t available to draw X-Ray Specs, so Jim Watson illustrated one episode, check out these sample panels:



… and Terry Bave was asked to do the other one but it looks he only had time to submit his penciled work which was then inked by someone else, or maybe he did the set in a rush. Check out this sample page and tell me what you think:


Terry Bave drew two more features in this Summer Special – Draculass was his regular strip in MFC weeklies, while Mummy’s Boy - the second that he did for this magazine, was usually drawn by Norman Mansbridge in the weeklies.

Assuming my observation regarding Jim Watson being the artist responsible for the first set of X-Ray Specs shown above is correct, then Mr. Watson should also be credited with the artwork of Art’s Gallery:


In the case of X-Ray Specs and Art’s Gallery Jim Watson (provided it was indeed him) was under pressure to imitate Mike Lacey, but Fred’s Fault was a completely new strip, so he was free to draw it in his own style:


I like the idea of the Make a Date tale illustrated by Trevor Metcalfe which brought together two very different characters – Tarzan and Little Bo Peep, into one story. I don’t remember seeing this feature elsewhere so it was probably a one-off experiment. It’s a shame IPC editors chose not to continue with the idea because in my opinion it had good potential.


The idea of The Land That Time Forgot feature was rather clever too – it was a three-page collage of action-packed scenes from a new feature film with short bits of text, included to generate interest in the film:


Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of this Summer Special. Kid Kong is the longest story and the front cover feature. In it Granny Smith decides to take Kid Kong to the seaside. The story takes off with Kid causing havoc on the highway as he tries to find Granny’s lost pennies so she can buy their bus fares to Brightsea. They finally make it to the resort and are enjoying themselves at the fair where Kid runs into the fairground owner who used to keep him behind bars and is very keen to recapture the giant gorilla for his freak show. With Granny Smith around, this is easier said than done but the short-sighted old lady wanders off as she goes to get some ice creams. The wicked fairground owner takes the opportunity to seize Kid Kong but Kid spots Granny afloat in the sea on an inflatable mattress and breaks free to rescue her. Mayor awards him with a life saver’s badge and a cash prize for the effort.


In Creature Teacher the Massacre Street School are on their annual outing to the seaside and Creature Teacher is put in charge of the unruly class 3X who forced the locals to move away last year. Creature Teacher quickly brings the trouble-makers to heel. 3X decide to get rid of Creature Teacher first by dumping him out to sea and later by placing him under the blade in the chamber of horrors but Creature Teachers outsmarts his pupils and class 3X return from the outing “well-tanned”:



In the first episode of Major Jump Horror Hunter the brave Major and his assistant Cosmo are after the mysterious Monster Snoozlehorn. They get very disappointed when after going through a lot of trouble they find out that Monster Snoozlehorn is a musical instrument. Had they taken just a few more steps, they would have realised that their effort wasn’t in vain:


In the second episode Major Jump captures a giant worm. Major thinks it is not a very exciting monster, but still better than nothing. He probably finds the second creature whom he encounters in this episode more exciting:


In Martha’s Monster Make-Up Martha uses her magic cream on a mean participant of the Beach Beauty Queen Contest. She becomes so terrifying that another participant’s hair stands on end permanently in a “way-out new hairstyle”, making her the darling of the media, even though the scary one shocks the judges into awarding her the first prize:


My personal favourite in this first Monster Fun Comic Summer Special is this 4-pager by an artist whose name I don’t know. Any suggestions?




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