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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.



Friday, July 6, 2012

A LOOK AT COR!! STRIPS: RAT-TRAP


Rat-Trap was a weird adventure strip and reader participation feature centered around the unappealing figure of a fiendish criminal mastermind – Doctor Rat. Announcements of a new feature came in the form of teasers in COR!! issues dated 15th July, 1972 (No. 111) and 22nd July, 1972 (No. 112) - a single panel in the POSTBAG section in the former and a half-pager in the latter:


Dr. Rat made his first appearance in the issue of 29th July, 1972 (No. 113), announcing it was time to strike and make the forces of law and order tremble at the very sound of his name. The sinister rat-like figure emerges from his hidey-hole and presents the readers with a calling card – a rodent with a stethoscope round its neck. A police officer instantly recognises him as Doctor Rat, about to become known as King of Crime. Without any delay he is off to his first robbery and the Bank of England is the target. Putting on a show of his super-natural powers, Dr. Rat robs the bank and escapes from the police. No one will ever catch the World’s Master Criminal - laughs the villain as he runs along the sewers of London… - and rats to all you, readers of COR!! With a rodent raspberry thrown in for bad luck! RAAAASSSP! 

The first episode in COR!! issue dated 29th July, 1972 (No. 113)

In the following issue we see the Government meet at Downing Street; the ministers decide that as the police have already failed, it is obviously a job for the Army. Task force under the command of Major General Flushem-Out will attack Rat’s hideout in the sewers. But law and order are in for another humiliating defeat, ending with a RAAAASSSP!

The police and the army have failed, so a week later the government calls in the men from BIFFF – British Institute for Foiling Felonies consisting of six secret agents. They decide they need only one thing – a rat trap. The men of BIFFF make their first attempt to trap Dr. Rat while he is robbing an art gallery but Dr. Rat foils the plan and challenges the agents by giving them a present – a list of his future crimes. Law and order realize they are powerless to stop the villain and the Chief of BIFFF makes an appeal to every reader of COR!! throughout the World in the issue dated 15th August, 1972 (No. 115): 


Dr. Rat provokes COR!! readers by ridiculing and scorning at them. The script writer’s intention was probably to irritate the readers and make them want to contribute their best effort toward bringing the King of Crime down. And contribute they did by suggesting all sorts of ingenious traps designed to catch the criminal mastermind wanted for burglary and rudeness. A prize of £1 was offered to the reader whose design was used. Every week BIFFF agents announced the name of the reader whose plan was to be put into action, but their combined efforts produced no result and Dr. Rat remained at large. 

Sample eposide from COR!! issue dated 7th October, 1972 (No. 123)

Dr. Rat must have been popular with the readers because COR!! issue dated 6th October, 1973 (No. 175) came with a free gift RATTY RAASSPER that was of course a tie in with the feature. The gift was a cardboard sleeve with a rubber band and a metal hoop inside that made a rasping sound as it spun around inside the envelope; besides, the design of the sleeve was such that Dr. Rat would also thrust his tongue out to accompany the rasping sound. Here is what it looked like (sadly, the insides are no longer present): 



A week later the free gift was used as part of another failed plan to trap the King of Crime:

Free gift in action - from COR!! issue dated 13th october, 1973 (No. 176)

In the issue dated 8th June, 1974 (No. 210) BIFFF agents announced that the rodent might be caught next week and that’s final! And trapped he got, but not thanks to an idea offered by a reader:

Last eposide from the final issue of COR!! dated 15th June, 1974 (No. 211)

Rat-Trap started in the issue dated 29th July, 1972 (No. 113) and continued until the demise of the paper on 15th June, 1974 (No. 211). It was the only feature in COR!! to enjoy the luxurious three-page treatment until the issue of 15th September, 1973 (No. 172) when the page count was cut down to two. In addition to the drawing of the RATTY RAASSPER free gift on the cover of the issue dated 6th October, 1973 (No. 175), Dr. Rat made two “proper” front page appearances in full colour in the issues dated 19th May, 1973 and 16th March, 1974 (Nos. 155 and 198). Illustrator’s name is Giorgio Giorgetti.

8 comments:

  1. What a inglorious end to the resentful rodent's crime spree. I have been wondering about Rat's fate since I did a post on the strip a few years ago on my own blog.

    http://toonworks.brucelaing.com/comicblog/2010/09/14/rattrap/

    I have linked this to your post. See yoi on the ComicsUJ forum. Bruce

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  2. Actually, Dr Rat did return - the strip was relaunched in the Eagle (c. 1990):
    http://www.comicvine.com/dr-ratty-rat/29-80718/

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  3. That's interesting. I wasn't aware of those. Weren't they reprints of old episodes from COR!! ?

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  4. I think that they were all brand new strips. Certainly some of them were: I went to university with someone who had his name printed in the story. (They didn't actually use his idea, but one issue had Dr Rat stealing the mail that contained all the readers' trap ideas, and they showed several names blowing away in the wind from his rasp.) I never realised that the strip predated Eagle, so thanks for your blog.

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  5. I can't believe I found this page tonight- while trying unsuccessfully to bid on the first RAT TRAP edition of COR!! on Ebay. Dr Rat haunted my dreams as a child, and would come into my bedroom to silently blow a demented and horrific raspberry at me- ever since I have been trying to track down CORs featuring him, and failing dismally. To find he appeared in Eagle too is astonishing. To Ebay! And many thanks- what a fantastic blog! Forty years of pent-up rat-induced angst expelled in one single click. Thankyou!

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  6. Well, what can I say? Delighted to be able to help out :) :) That’s what the blog is there for after all.

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    1. While I've still failed to get any Cor!! issues with the little horror, I have picked up the first three Eagles to feature him- so I will be very interested to see what they are like. And, best of all, after a few months of my kids pestering me about this "comic strip that gave me nightmares", I was finally able to show them thanks to this site! Needless to say, both were unimpressed and declared him "not scary in the least"- haha! However, it did lead to a conversation about old comics and I was able to introduce them to The Spider and House of Dolmann, which they agreed were great. Eldest also disappeared with a batch of non_rat-infested Cor!!s and declared them later to be "better than The Beano because there are more comics in them". I'm going to link to here on my FB page, as I've a notion a few friends will be interested. Again, thanks!

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  7. Thanks, Steev. I'd be interested to see those Eagle episodes too.
    As I am about to finish covering COR!!, I will probably move to the next title in about a month or so. It will probably be Shiver and Shake. Does it bring any memories?

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