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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 26, 2012

1974: A LOOK AT THE LAST MONTHS OF COR!!


24 issues of the comic were published in 1974 (Nos. 188 – 211)

Important issues in 1974:
5th January 1974 (No. 188) – New Year issue
30th March, 1974 (No. 200) – New look issue 200
20th April, 1974 (No. 203) – Easter issue
15th June, 1974 (No. 211) – last issue before merger with Buster

Line-up of the first issue of 1974 (5th January, 1974 (No. 188)):
The Slimms / Gus Giggles on front page
Chalky
Jack Pott
Cor-Medy Choice – second series (2 pages)
Willy Worry
Wonder Worm
Hire a Horror
Tomboy (in full colour)
Rat-Trap (2 pages)
Star Guest feature (2 pages)
Picture Yourself feature + Gus Gorilla
Night Mare
Ivor Lott and Tony Broke (2 centre pages)
Andy’s Ants
Cor!! News Readers’ Special feature
Fiends and Neighbours (2 pages)
Jasper the Grasper (1 ½ pages)
Teacher’s Pet (in full colour)
Tease Break feature
Val’s Vanishing Cream
Professor Corn’s Daft Dictionary Definitions feature
The Gasworks Gang (2 pages)
Football Madd
Jelly Baby
The Slimms (in full colour on back page)

The New Year issue introduced the second series of Cor-Medy Choice feature. In the Christmas issue of 1973 the Editor explained that the first series produced a strong response and proved to them that readers enjoyed choosing a new character for Cor!! so it was decided to run a new series in 1974. This time the candidate list was shorter and consisted of 6 new ideas. The feature ran for six weeks from the first issue of the year until the issue dated 9th February, 1974 (No. 193). Voting coupon was printed in the issue dated 16th February, 1974 (No. 194) and results were announced 6 weeks later in the issue dated 30th March, 1974 (No. 200). 

Until then it was business as usual; there are two small things worth mentioning: first is that for some reason Ivor Lott and Tony Broke temporarily swapped slots with The Gasworks Gang and the latter was given the centre pages from the issue dated 23rd February, 1974 (No. 195) to the issue dated 23rd March, 1974 (No. 199). 

COR!! News Readers' Special with
Knock! Knock! jokes, issue dated
23rd March, 1974 ( No. 199)
Second is that the issues dated 2nd March, 1974 (No. 196) – 23rd March, 1974 (No. 199) trumpeted about the arrival of yet another companion comic Whoopee!, only this time the number of pages wasn’t increased. Incidentally, at about the same time COR!! NEWS printed the first jokes of the KNOCK! KNOCK! series that later became a regular popular feature in Whoopee! (the first one appeared in Cor!! issue dated 12th January, 1974 (No. 189); a few more were in the issue dated 23rd March, 1974 (No. 199) and then in issues No. 205 and No. 206). 




Issue 200 - new cover l
The issue dated 30th March, 1974 (No. 200) was given a new look. The front page was again redesigned and both changes had to do with Gus. First, his familiar screaming face was re-drawn and moved to the right. Second, Gus Giggles feature was dropped and replaced with Gus Gags. A generous prize of £1 (in addition to the star, front cover billing) was offered to the sender of each cover joke published. The response must have been overwhelming and the quantity of material received was enough for two annual-type soft cover COR!! Books of Gags produced in 1976 and 1977. 200 issues old and still storming along!! – boasted the Editor in his special address on page 2:


Cor-Medy Choice No. 2 results were announced. The Editor chose to print total number of votes registered for each entry, confirming that the interest in the feature was indeed fantastic. This time there was not just one but two winners - The Spectre Inspector and Wally’s Weirdies, both to survive merger with Buster that was a little more than 2 months away. The Gasworks Gang enjoyed an excellent part-full-colour treatment that week – a very nice and unusual episode involving play with colours. 
1974 Easter issue

Easter issue dated 20th April, 1974 (No. 203) was the last in which new characters were introduced. Adding new strips to a comic that was about to go under sounds like a daft idea, but there wasn’t much of a choice because two of the three newcomers were winners of the Cor-Medy Choice series that must have been designed and launched before the decision to end the paper was taken. The third was Baron Von-Bonkers the Birdman – a very-amateur looking experiment IMHO and the motives for its inclusion are impossible to understand.

From retrospect we now know that the paper was living its last months, but looking at the early issues of 1974 one can hardly see signs of decline. Sales, however, must have been dwindling. In the last attempt to keep the comic afloat the editors included a large ordering coupon with the comic’s favourite characters. There were nine coupons all in all, the first one in the issue dated 22nd December, 1973 (No. 189) and the last one in the issue dated 11th May, 1974 (No. 206), by which time the writing was on the wall and the days of the comic were numbered. 

In the last weeks signs of decay were beginning to show more prominently – Hire a Horror resorted to reprints of a couple of early Reg Parlett episodes, editors turned a blind eye on some artists (Trevor Metcalfe and Robert Nixon in particular) signing their artwork and some of the sets started looking a bit rushed or were ghosted.

Last issue: front cover and the page of the great news

The infamous Exciting News for all readers was announced in the issue dated 15th June, 1974 (No. 211). The last edition of the paper came with a beautiful cover and Gus’s screaming head was back on the left-hand side of the page where it always belonged. A number of characters (the bloke from Gus, Dr. Rat, The Gasworks Gang, Jelly Baby, Teacher’s Pet, Micky Madd’s dog) bid farewell to the readers in one way or another. And that was the end of COR!!

That week’s BUSTER also broke the news about the forthcoming merger to its readers. The news was on the front cover and occupied one full page inside:

Buster of 15th June, 1974: front cover and the inside page with the news
about merger with COR!!

Strips that started in 1974:
COR-Medy Choice feature, second series – 5th January, 1974 (No. 188)
Gus Gags – front cover feature – 30th March, 1974 (No. 200)
The Spectre Inspector – 20th April, 1974 (No. 203)
Wally’s Weirdies – 20th April, 1974 (No. 203)
Baron Von-Bonkers the Birdman – 20th April, 1974 (No. 203)

Strips that made it to the combined Buster and Cor!!:
The Spectre Inspector
Wally’s Weirdies
Gus’s Gags feature
Ivor Lott and Tony Broke
Val’s Vanishing Cream
Football Madd
Chalky
Tomboy
Fiends and Neighbours

The Slimms landed in the pages of Whizzer and Chips. Hire A Horror found itself in SHIVER & SHAKE, albeit only for a short span of 10 weeks. Willy Worry ended up in WHOOPEE! where it continued until well into 1978. Jack Pott resurfaced in 1979 in JACKPOT and then migrated to BUSTER after the two comics merged in 1982.

Front page of the first cimbined BUSTER and COR!!

Welcome message to COR!! readers in the first combined BUSTER and COR!!

Announcement of the merger in SHIVER and SHAKE dated 22nd June, 1974.
A similar advert was printed in that week's issue of VALIANT
and possibly other IPC companion comics


1974 COR!! Summer Special
1974 COR!! Summer Special cost 20 p. Page count was down from the usual 96 to just 80. Only one advert appeared in the weekly COR!! on June 15th, 1974 (the last issue). Here is the line-up: Night Mare, Ivor Lott and Tony Broke, Wonder Worm, Whacky, Andy’s Ants (some in colour), Fiends and Neighbours, Gus Gorilla, Tease Break feature, The Gasworks Gang, Jack Pott (some in colour), Give a Dog a Bone, Spot the Sun Spots (puzzles page), Chip, “Young” MacDonald and His Farm (adventure, 8 pages), Aqua Lad, Teacher’s Pet (in colour), The Spectacular Adventures of Willie Bunk, Jasper the Grasper, Chalky, Val’s Vanishing Cream, Swopper Stan, Donovan’s Dad and Tomboy.

This time there were four features that weren’t familiar to regular readers of the weeklies; they included two comedy strips: Give a Dog a Bone and Aqua Lad, both reprints from the early Whizzer and Chips where the former was drawn by Graham Allen and the latter by Terry Bave, and two adventure features: The Spectacular Adventures of Willie Bunk, again from the early Whizzer and Chips where it was illustrated by the universal and prolific Frank McDiarmid, and “Young” MacDonald and His Farm by Ron Turner who contributed numerous adventure serials to WHIZZER AND CHIPS in the 70s. I may be wrong but “Young” MacDonald and His Farm looks like new material drawn especially for COR!!  More stories about Young MacDonald appeared in a few later editions of COR!! specials and annuals.

Give a Dog a Bone in 1974 COR!! Summer Special

Aqua Lad from 1974 COR!! Summer Special

The Spectacular Adventures of Willie Bunk from 1974 COR!! Summer Special

"Young" MacDonald and his Farm in 1974 COR!! Summer Special

1975 COR!! Annual cover
Annuals were usually released in the end of Summer or early in the Autumn, so COR!! 1975 Annual appeared after the weekly had already folded. It cost 80 p. and had 160 pages. Here is the line-up of characters: Chalky (some in colour), Hire a Horror (some in colour), Jelly Baby (some in colour), Gus Gorilla (in colour), Jasper’s Money Maze (maze page), Teacher’s Pet (some in colour), Wonder Worm, Ivor Lott and Tony Broke (some in colour), The Spectacular Adventures of Willie Bunk (4 stories, 4 pages each), Football Madd, Jack Pott, Aqua Lad, Andy’s Ants,  Give a Dog a Bone, Night Mare, Val’s Vanishing Cream,  Willy Worry, Tomboy, The Gasworks Gang, Whacky, Chip, Super Spook (adventure, 6 pages), TEASE BREAK feature, Tricky Dicky, Swopper Stan, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf (some in colour), The Slimms, Rat-Trap (5 pages, Christmas story), Fiends and Neighbours, Gus Giggles, Helpful Hettie and Jasper the Grasper.

Like in the 1974 Summer Special, there were many reprints of Aqua Lad, Give a Dog a Bone and especially The Spectacular Adventures of Willie Bunk from the early WHIZZER AND CHIPS. The only unfamiliar name to readers of the weeklies or the 1974 COR!! Summer Special was Super Spook. The tale was about a mighty muscular miner Jeremiah Smith who was crushed to death in a mine beneath a mountain during the Gold Rush while trying to save other people. His selfless courage and bravery was rewarded by the gift of eternal life and supernatural powers such as flying. He travelled the World wearing a silly skin-tight costume and doing good deeds as Super Spook. I am not sure if it’s a reprint but some panels look cropped so it may very well be one.

Two sample pages of Super Spook from 1975 COR!! Annual

Some of the regular sets from the weeklies illustrated by their usual artists were particularly nice. Robert Nixon did a marvellous job on his Hire A Horror and Ivor Lott and Tony Broke pages in the annual both in colour and monochrome:

A nice set of Hire a Horror by Robert Nixon in 1975 COR!! Annual

Two sample pages of Robert Nixon's
Ivor Lott and Tony Broke in 1975 COR!! Annual

COR!! Holiday Specials and Annuals continued well into the 80s. I intend to cover them on this blog after I finish the overview of individual strips in the comic (which may take quite a while…)

7 comments:

  1. loads to read and enjoy already I've added you to my blog list at my blog..

    what a great start...loved seeing the merger page..

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    Replies
    1. Welcome, Peter, I hope you'll enjoy rading the blog. Now my ambitious intention is to review every single strip in COR!! and then move on to another comic.

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  2. That 'Great News' for every reader thing was always the exact opposite - all those great comics dissolving away from my grasp and the biggest insult of all was that it was 'great news'.

    Never realised that Jack Pott originated in Cor! I'm a little too young to remember Cor, though I did read Buster and know of Ivor Lott & Tony Broke and Chalky, two of that comic's stalwart strips. But I did read quite a lot of Jackpot in the early 80s.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Robert, I also find that "great news" thing quite weird but I guess they tried to look on the bright side of things :)

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  3. Some simply said "BIG News" instead of "Great News"

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  4. I think I'll have to start collecting Cor!! Annuals. I don't have that many in my collection.

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  5. On 25/5/74 (No. 208), The Slimms try to obtain help from Whizzer & Chips’ Loser to lose weight, the rationale being that he could lose anything! The story was reprinted in Whizzer & Chips on 6/2/82 with the Champ substituted for Loser, now a pleasant memory in the comic. Champ always tried to WIN but his attempts often went wrong so he was a good choice! This may well have been the last Slimms reprint in W&C, so I’m tempted to speculate if it were held back till an effective way could be found to lose Loser. The ‘copy and paste’ of Champ over Loser is well done, and the contrast between Colin Whitlock and Terry Bave’s artwork isn’t distracting. Typical of Loser’s luck though!

    ReplyDelete