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.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MONSTER FUN ANNUAL 1979, PART ONE



The third Monster Fun Annual was 144 pages thick and cost £1.25. The unusual cover design with just the large portrait of Kid Kong by Bob Nixon is not the only thing that makes it stand out amongst other MF Annuals: unusually for the times, it was printed on quality white paper which doesn’t look like it is prone to browning. Unlike the previous two editions, this one has no adventure stories.

Contents: Draculass (two 2-page stories by Terry Bave, one in b/w and one in colour on front endpapers), Monster Mirth feature (2 pages, including one in full colour), Kid Kong (three 4-pagers: two by Bob Nixon (UPDATE: They were probably by Rob Lee - thanks, Andy, for pointing this out!)), including one in colour, and one by another artist), The Ghost Train (7 pages (2 episodes) of reprints from the early issues of WHOOPEE!, art by Brian Walker), Hot Rod (4 episodes, all reprints from WHIZZER AND CHIPS, art by Alf Saporito), Rex (a 6-pager by Alan Rogers), Ticklish Allsorts feature (2 installments by Les Barton), King Arthur and his Frights of the Round Table (reprints from the early issues of WHOOPEE!, art by Bob Nixon, three 3-pagers), Lunchin’ Vulture (3 episodes reprinted from the early issues of WHOOPEE!, art by Frank McDiarmid), Boggles Super Ace Detective (Badtime Bedtime Story by Mike Brown, 8 pages), The Little Monsters (3 spot-the-difference puzzles, 2 full pages each by Tom Williams, and two 2-pagers by Sid Burgon), Mucky Mick (3 episodes – two 2-pagers and one single page episode by an artist whose name  I don’t know),  Brainy and His Monster Maker (two 2-pagers by Barrie Appleby), Gums (a 4-pager by John Geering), X-Ray Specs (two episodes – a 3-pager featuring Mummy’s Boy and a 4-pager, both by Tom Williams), Martha’s Monster Make-Up (a 2-pager by Ken Reid), Freaky Farm (a 4-pager by Jim Watson), Dough Nut and Rusty (two episodes – a 4-pager and a 3-pager in full colour by Jim Crocker) , Croc (reprint from WHIZZER AND CHIPS, art by Mike Lacey), Frankie Stein (two 2-pagers - reprints from the early issues of WHOOPEE!, art by Bob Nixon), It’s a Scream feature (2 pages of gags by Jim Crocker), Fun Fear (a 2-pager, probably by Mr. Hill), Ghost Town (a 2-pager reprinted from WHIZZER AND CHIPS, artwork by Tom Williams), Art’s Gallery (a 4-pager by an artist whose name I don’t know), Tom Thumbscrew (a 6-pager by Barrie Appleby), Terror TV (a 4-pager by Barrie Appleby), Creature Teacher (a 4-pager by Tom Williams), Major Jump (a 4-pager by Barrie Appleby), Teddy Scare (a 2-pager in colour by Barrie Appleby), Mummy’s Boy (a 2-pager in colour on back endpapers by Trevor Metcalfe, possibly a reprint).

The Annual is a bit on the heavy side of reprints but Hot Rod is the only reprint strip seen in earlier MF books. The list of reprints was expanded with first rate artwork by some of IPC’s top talent from the early issues of WHOOPEE! and includes The Ghost Train by Brian Walker, Lunchin’ Vulture by Frank McDiarmid:


... Frankie Stein by Bob Nixon and the absolutely beautiful King Arthur and his Frights of the Round Table, also by Bob Nixon:


All in all, that's 23 pages of reprints of early WHOOPEE! strips. Looking at them I couldn’t help pulling out the box with my early WHOOPEE! comics and admiring the quality artwork that the paper was chock-full from cover to cover in the mid-seventies. I really must get round to doing that detailed review of WHOOPEE! I’ve been meaning to do for so long…

Mr. Nixon’s early work in the reprints is a lot more detailed in comparison with his new strips. Looking at his two Kid Kong sets in this annual, I even wonder if they are indeed Mr. Nixon’s work (UPDATE: they aren't. In all likelihood both episodes were illustrated by by Rob Lee - thanks, Andy, for pointing this out in your comment below!): 


In the first of the two episodes that I believe are by Robert Nixon, Kid enjoys the white Christmas and in the second one he tries to earn some money to buy Gran a Christmas present. In the 4-pager by another artist Kid and Gran check into a posh hotel and Kid nearly gets them kicked out but the flood caused by Kid’s tears puts out a fire in the kitchen. As a reward, the hotel manger allows them to stay and the chef treats them to the Christmas dinner of Kid’s dreams:


The style looks familiar but I can’t put a name to it:


The episode of Gums was illustrated by John Geering. In it Bluey tricks Gums into taking a bite on his surfboard made of sticky toffee and pulls his false teeth out.  The shark resorts to playing dead in order to get his choppers back.


There are two completely new stories in this book.  Rex is about a gluttonous baby Tyrannosaurus Rex who hatches from the egg found in an ancient box labelled “not to be opened until 1978” buried deep under the ground. First he wins a fancy dress competition, then a short-sighted kid takes him to school:


Mucky Mick is about a boy whose “gimmick” is getting dirty and hating to wash. I don’t know the name of the artist but wasn’t he the one who illustrated Goon Platoon in the early issues of WHOOPEE! ?


Fun Fear was a regular strip in WHOOPEE! (usually drawn by Bob Nixon and occasionally by Brian Walker) and is seen for the first time in a MF publication. I wouldn’t bet mo money on it, but I think the episode in this book may have been drawn by Mr. Hill:


Group Captain Brown (aka Mike Brown) contributed a classic 8-page Badtime Bedtime Story Boggles Super Ace Detective about Airborne Division of Police Air H.Q. and the daft aces Boggles and Wingco. 


The pair are sent on a mission to fight the fiendish Doktor Grotti who bombards London with his giant mushroom missiles and infests the city with toadstools. 


More by accident than by design, the villain and his henchman end up in the soup… 


Like many classic BBBs, this one had side gags, loony advertisements, jokey riddles and interruptions by the reader’s adviser and of course ‘the Amazing Leonard Rottingsocks’.

Santa Claus calls at Freaky Farm to give Farmer his present but quickly comes to regret it:


In Martha’s Monster Make-Up Martha ‘monstrifies’ a snowman and a pile of snowballs to teach the trickster a lesson:


Tom Williams and Barrie Appleby were the two artists who were particularly busy drawing stuff for this book: the former illustrated 19 pages, while the latter – as many as 20, all new material. This is where I’ll take a break and leave the rest for part two.

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

MONSTER FUN ANNUAL 1978 – PART TWO


This is part two of my detailed look at MONSTER FUN ANNUAL 1978. You can read the first part in the previous post HERE.

Ian Knox illustrated and signed the three-page set of Terror TV lampooning Top of the Pops with Tony Blackout (= Tony Blackburn) as host. Here we meet some performers who are now almost forgotten: 


... and some stars who are still big today: 




Both two-pagers of Ticklish Allsorts with Les Barton artwork were in the best tradition of Monster Fun Comic weeklies. Here is one:


The book had another story of Terry and the ‘Dactyl, the second one after 1977 Annual. In it Terry Briggs and his pet – the great flying prehistoric reptile – descend from their home in Inca gold city high on a plateau to recover the gold plate which they accidentally dropped down. Down on the ground, they confront a ruthless gang of bearded desperado raiders and liberate Argentine doctor senorita Isabella Mendez whom they have kidnapped for ransom. The gorgeous good doctor rewards the lad with the gold plate given to her as a gift by the natives, and Terry and the ‘dactyl return to the safety of their home on the great plateau. The best thing about the story is that the illustrator had sneaked in his signature in one of the panels which helped me identify him as Giorgio Giorgetti. This means that I can now confirm the name of the artist who illustrated quite a few adventure strips in IPC comics, including The Ghostly Galleon in SHIVER AND SHAKE and most importantly Rat Trap in COR!!

Panel with the artist's signature

The Annual had one more adventure thriller called The Menace of Formula X. It first appeared in COR!! weeklies and all 20 pages of the original story were reprinted the Annual. I covered it in detail HERE a couple of years ago.

Other reprints included the usual selection of Hot Rod, Stoneage Brit Ancient Nit and The Robot Maker, all re-arranged into two-pagers and some coloured-in. With the two installments of The Robot Maker in this Annual, the number of reprints of the strip in MFC publications summed up to 19 which meant that the stock of original episodes from the COR!! run in 1970 was now exhausted.


The most exciting thing about this Annual is that it has two Badtime Bedtime Books. Both are classic BBBs in everything except that they aren’t pull-outs.

The Story of Traffic Island by Robert Loony Stevedore is presented by none other than Leonard Rottingsocks – ‘office boy, wit, and prehistoric chip buttie collector’, whatever this means. The Traffic Island is actually a plot of lush greenery inside a busy traffic roundabout. Little Jim Ladd is sent there to fetch the Mayor’s hat that was blown off and landed there. He meets two weird inhabitants of the island – the poor Ben Gooni who was accidentally left behind when the road was built, and the evil Long Gone Silver who was ‘deported’ by the Mayor and now wears Mayor’s hat in revenge. Jim is a smart lad: not only does he recover the hat but he also helps Ben Gooni break free from the island. 


The story was interrupted a few times by promotional intermissions featuring the loony Dr. Bonce, 'noted brain surgeon and twit':


I don’t know the name of the artist but he was not nearly as good as Mike Brown who drew the second BBB - the absolutely brilliant Badtime Bedtime Annual Story Starchy and Butch. Here it is in full:






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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

MONSTER FUN ANNUAL 1978 – PART ONE



This was the first one to come out after the weekly had folded. The book had a lovely cover by Robert Nixon, the page-count was 144 and the price was £1.15.

Contents: Freaky Farm (a 4-pager in full colour and a 3-pager in b/w with spot green, both by Jim Watson), Hot Rod (5 reprints from WHIZZER AND CHIPS, including one in colour, artwork by Alf Saporito),  Dough Nut and Rusty’s Twin Teaser (1 page in colour), Meanie McGenie (1 page by Tom Williams), Monster Mirth (2 pages of jokes), Mummy’s Boy (two 2-pagers, one by Norman Mansbridge and one by Paul White), Tom Thumbscrew (a 2-pager by Norman Mansbridge), Draculass (two 2-pagers and a 3-pager by Terry Bave), Brainy and His Monster Maker (two 2-pagers), Major Jump Horror Hunter (three 2-pagers most probably by Barrie Appleby),  Dough Nut and Rusty (a 3-pager by Trevor Metcalfe and a 3 pager by someone else, possibly Artie Jackson imitating Trevor Metcalfe), Kid Kong’s Double Decker (spot-the difference puzzle), Ticklish Allsorts (two 2-pagers by Les Barton), Teddy Scare (a 2-pager, most likely  by Jim Watson), The Robot Maker (2 reprints from COR!!, including one in full colour, artwork by Frank McDiarmid), Stoneage Brit Ancient Nit (4 reprints from COR!!, including one in colour), The Little Monsters (1 page by Sid Burgon), X-Ray Specs (a 3-pager and a 4-pager by Tom Williams and a 3-pager in colour by someone else), Gums (a 4-pager by Robert Nixon), Cave Raves (2 page of jokes), Kid Kong (a 3-pager by Robert Nixon and a 3-pager by someone else, possibly Artie Jackson imitating Robert Nixon), Terry and the ‘Dactyl (adventure story, 8 pages by the artist whose name will be revealed in the second part of the article, signed), Puppet Puzzle (Creature Teacher spot-the-difference puzzle), The Menace of Formula X (adventure thriller, 20 pages in two parts of 10 pages each, reprinted from COR!! weeklies), Terror TV (a 3-pager by Ian Knox), Badtime Bedtime Annual Story Starchy and Butch (8 pages by Mike Brown), Soccer Shocker (Major Jump spot-the-difference puzzle), Badtime Bedtime Story – The Story of Traffic Island (8 pages), Dough Nut’s Dilema (spot-the-difference puzzle).

This is a lovely book with lots of excellent art by IPC’s top artists. In fact, it has so much good stuff that I will make it a two-part article to cover most of it…

Tom Williams contributed the episode of Meanie McGenie in which the grumpy genie is summoned by a butterfly enthusiast:


Mr. Williams also drew two (out of three) episodes of X-Ray Specs. I like the one in which Ray busts his specs and is visited by the inventor – the mysterious optician I.Squint who presented Ray with his first pair of the magic glasses in MFC No. 1.




It’s a shame the Annual does not include a new episode of Tom Williams’ most successful MFC strip Creature Teacher. The teach and Class3X only feature in Puppet Puzzle – a spot-the-difference type of puzzle.

Robert Nixon contributed the bright cover, the episode of Gums in which Bluey uses a dummy of a gorgeous she-shark to get the false fangs off the “fiercest fish in the sea” but the crafty shark recovers them in the end...


… and an episode of Kid Kong in which the mighty brute has cold which then develops into cough; both the sneezing and the coughing translate into destruction for the villagers:


Interestingly, the second episode of Kid Kong was illustrated by another artist who I think was Artie Jackson trying to ghost Mr. Nixon:


The same artist ghosted Trevor Metcalfe on one of the two sets of Dough Nut and Rusty:


Terry Bave drew both episodes of Draculass. The one with the giraffe is a classic example of the technique which Mr. Bave described in his interview for the Summer 1986 edition of GOLDEN FUN. The point was not to show the actual moment of the vampire bite:


In the first episode of Freaky Farm road builders made another failed attempt to construct a road across the spooky farm. The last panel suggests they may have finally realized this wasn’t such a good idea and abandoned it for good:


In the second episode the trespasser is Major Mindup, the famous short-sighted ghost hunter who has volunteered to look around Freaky Farm for a TV show and check whether it really is haunted. I like the ending of this one:


Both Freaky Farm stories were by Jim Watson who also drew the episode of Teddy Scare (at least I think it was him):


The Annual offers a triple helping of Major Jump Horror Hunter. First Major Jump and Cosmo meet the sneaky Monster Arctic Snow Tortoise who steals their hover-sleigh and leaves them stranded in the Arctic:


... then the inhabitants of Major Jump’s menagerie arrange a surprise birthday party for their master:


... and finally we see Major Jump and Cosmo in the jungle where they meet a lone explorer who turns into Moon Monster at night. Another lone explorer saves them but they soon find out that their defender turns into Sun Monster when the sun comes up… 



I think Barrie Appleby was the artist on all three Major Jump sets.

I will save Terror TV by Ian Knox and both Badtime Bedtime Stories for part two in which I will also reveal the name of the artist behind Terry and the ‘Dactyl who illustrated quite a few adventure serials in IPC comics, including Rat Trap in COR!!

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