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.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Scream Inn was clearly one of the highlights in Shiver and Shake. The strip that represented horror comedy at its very best was illustrated by Brian Walker who had joined IPC not long before Scream Inn started. Mr. Walker’s first work for IPC was Three Storey Stan that enjoyed a brief run in Whizzer and Chips starting from the first issue of 1973. The appearance of Scream Inn in the premiere edition of Shiver and Shake on March 10th, 1973 makes the feature his second job for the publisher. Here is the first episode:

In his interview for Golden Fun fanzine (Winter 1979) the artist referred to the strip as his major success at IPC and also the most rewarding one. Mr. Walker praised the Editor Bob Paynter for a good piece of editorial planning: the editor tailored the formula to suit the artist’s strong points, i.e. the ability to create atmosphere, architectural settings, organise a crowd of characters visually, cope with complicated action effects, etc. The illustrator recalled that before he started it he was given a general formula upon which he could build, i.e. there had to be an Innkeeper and a family of ghosts and there had to be an old inn setting. Each week somebody had to try and stay in the haunted bedroom for a prize of a million pounds and each week they got chucked out – and the rest was left to the illustrator. Brian Walker told the interviewer he evolved all the characters and the setting from that outline. He also designed the Scream Inn itself – doing a near architectural drawing of it so he could get the whole setting right all the time. In addition to the entrance hall and the Haunted Bedroom upstairs, there was a torture chamber, a kitchen and Spooks’ Common Room where resident ghosts spent their leisure time doing jigsaw puzzles, playing pool or ping pong (using shrunken skulls for balls). 

In the GOLDEN FUN interview Brian Walker recalled that Roy Davies did the first three scripts and then Cliff Brown took over. Cliff lived quite near him and would come over to Brian’s studio for a day each week and they’d go over the script together. Cliff did the writing but it was nice to have Brian on hand for comment, so it was very much of a mutual effort. 

Following readers’ suggestions, both the artist and the writer of Scream Inn tried spending a night in the Haunted Bedroom; complete episodes with Brian Walker’s self-portrait and Cliff Brown’s portrait can be found in Part Two of Artist Self-Portraits Series that I did earlier on this blog. 

The idea of the story had its roots in old fairy tales in which the protagonist had to survive a night in a haunted castle or chamber to win a prize such as the hand of a princess (or otherwise high-born or rich girl). A cash prize was probably more appropriate for a children’s comic. IPC had experimented with the idea before, as can be seen in this cover story from COR!! dated 20th March, 1971. Perhaps the editors remembered this little Gus Gorilla tale when they started putting ideas together for SHIVER AND SHAKE?

The business side of the venture didn’t make much sense. Guests of Scream Inn were never charged a fee for staying at the property, which would have been a reasonable ask – a kind of a lottery where you pay something in hope to win the jackpot while the organisation earns enough to make a living. Instead, Scream Inn operated as a charitable enterprise driven solely by the challenge not lose the million. How on Earth they managed to cope with their bills remains a mystery unsolved…

Part of the success of the story came from the fact that it was a reader participation feature where readers were encouraged to send their story ideas and receive cash prizes. Here’s the call for story ideas that accompanied the early episodes of Scream Inn:

The response must have been overwhelming. This is how Brian Walker illustrated it in the first panel of the episode in issue No. 15: 

Readers’ reaction prompted the Innkeeper to make an unusual announcement in issue No. 13. The call for story ideas was resumed only after SHIVER AND SHAKE ended and the feature was transferred to the new combined WHOOPEE! AND SHIVER AND SHAKE. 

Now let us take a look at how the feature developed over its relatively short run of 79-weeks in SHIVER AND SHAKE. It is interesting to note how the illustrator experimented with the lineup of monsters inhabiting Scream Inn. The Innkeeper was there from the outset (of course!) and so were three other spooks who later formed the core of the team: the ghost, the skeleton and the devil/demon. All three didn’t have names at first. A headless cavalier with a sword driven through his chest emerged in the third episode. So did a sad-looking fat bloke who had an axe sticking out of his forehead; a few episodes later he mutated into a circus clown before making himself scarce after a couple of weeks. From the tenth week the headless cavalier was “enhanced” with a ball and chain and inherited the axe-split bonce from the mystery fatso clown character who was no more. This was also the time when a blobby banshee joined the roster of Scream Inn resident spooks and made it more or less complete. As weeks went by, their names were revealed to the readers: the ghost came to be known as Bertie Bedsheet, the devil – as Dennis the Demon (later Dennis the Devil), the skeleton – as Boneypart, the phantom headless cavalier – as Suffering Sam and the bubbling blob banshee – as Gilbert Gunge. 

That said, the roster was a loose formation, joined occasionally by other phantoms such as the invisible Percy Poltergeist, a mummy, a phantom bloodstain, Freda the flirtatious fruit bat, Old Agata – Scream Inn’s own Iron Maiden, and Drippy Doris. Not to mention numerous mystery monsters whose eyes stared and fangs shone out from dark passages, corners and doorways of Scream Inn as well as creepy crawlies and rodents swarming the floor.

Those of you who followed Scream Inn later on in WHOOPEE! are now probably wondering about Cooky (Cookie) – Scream Inn’s resident cook. The witch made her first brief appearance in issue No. 17 and was then forgotten for quite a long time before joining the main roster a year or so into the run of the series and gradually ousting Gilbert Gunge the banshee. In addition to being a cook, Cookie had a whole farm of exotic pets that came in handy when other spooks failed to frighten that week’s guest and make him/her/it flee the haunted bedroom. Some of Cookie’s pets included a dragon, Okky the octopus and a pet piranha.

Sid and Cyril, the pair of talking spiders that became a trademark of the strip when Scream Inn was transferred to Whoopee! shared their first gag in SHIVER AND SHAKE issue No. 37, albeit one of them went by a different name initially:

One of the many things that make Scream Inn such great fun to read is Today’s Menu. First seen in issue No. 4, it soon became an inseparable attribute of the opening panel every week. The board with today’s menu was usually placed next to Scream Inn entrance and advertised some truly weird dishes. At first random humorous gross and gory dish names were used, later on Today’s Menu was often spiced-up with dishes themed specifically after that week’s visitor. Very inventive and funny, check out a selection of examples below: 

The b/w 2-page feature had a permanent slot on pages 6 and 7 in Shiver section of the paper. It didn’t miss a single week and was always illustrated by Brian Walker who initialled or signed a number of sets towards the end of the run in Shiver and Shake. Here is the last one:

Popularity of the strip easily secured it room in the combined WHOOPEE AND SHIVER AND SHAKE after Sh&Sh was cancelled. The feature was given a new masthead and a couple of new characters. It was business as usual at Scream Inn until 1st October, 1977 when the Innkeeper won the prize and used the money to set up Spooktacular 7 (inspired by The Magnificent Seven film). Spooktacular 7 continued until 22nd July, 1978 and that was the end of Innkeeper and his team. Thus, the 79 episodes in SHIVER AND SHAKE make up only a fraction (less than a third) of the whole Scream Inn ‘file’. I will not go into details of the Whoopee! run because the focus of this series is on SHIVER AND SHAKE comic but I may very well return to it when, and if, I do a similar series dedicated to WHOOPEE! 

Although Scream Inn enjoyed a long and successful run in WHOOPEE!, the feature never appeared in a WHOOPEE! annual or holiday special but stuck to its original title instead (the only exception was a reprint of the first ever episode of the series in 1978 WHOOPEE! Annual). Here is the list of Scream Inn appearances in Shiver and Shake holiday specials:
  • Christmas Holiday Special 1973 (Ebeneezer Scrooge comes to visit)
  • Holiday Special 1974 (illustrated by a different artist)
  • Holiday Special 1975 (Mrs. Grumble, President of Irate Ladies’ Association pays a visit)
  • H0liday Special 1979 (Innkeeper and his crew enjoying a holiday at the seaside).
And here is the list of Scream Inn appearances in Shiver and Shake annuals:
  • 1974 Annual (Christmas episode with Santa Claus)
  • 1975 Annual (illustrated by a different artist)
  • 1976 Annual (Christmas episode with Gatecrasher) plus 1 puzzle page
  • 1977 Annual (Dear Little Potty Poetess) plus 1 puzzle page
  • 1978 Annual (reprint from Sh&Sh No. 4)
Scream Inn is another British strip that deserves to be collected under one cover. It would make a gorgeous fat coffee table book of some 600 pages that would look something like this. It’s amazing what one can find on eBay these days! 

Scream Inn will receive three more posts here over the coming days. The next two will contain the list of Scream Inn guests in the order of their appearance, illustrated by the odd complete episode. I also happen to have a page of Brian Walker’s original Scream Inn artwork which I intend to save for the last post.


  1. I've been really looking forward to you covering this strip...Brian Walker at his best...hope you do cover Whoopee later on with this strip...:0)

  2. Brian was great at doing different lettering...the amount of time he redrew that poster on the front door and it looks very tricky to draw and write...very impressive and no copy and paste or was it?

    1. He didin't have to bother redrawing that poster, as you will see later on ;) ...

  3. Fantastic post on a fantastic series, great stuff!

    That one with the conger eel's just mad - and I'm infinitely jealous of your Scream Inn coffee-table book. I've got one of those containing the full run of Ken Reid's Queen of the Seas (and The Nervs), but now there's something else I'm after.

    1. I have no idea how this happened but I only found your comment today (nearly 2 months after you posted it). My apologies for the delay in publishing it...
      That coffee-table book is indeed a beauty :)

  4. Wow. A great post. I need to keep a keen watch on ebay for those compilations but sadly those that I have seen for Frankie Stein (and related Ken Ried work) tends to be beyond my price. Scream In was also turned into a board game.

  5. where on earth did you get that coffee table book it looks beautiful was it a fan made home made jobbie or was it ever sold in the shops & are there any more titles in this vein.

    1. I don't believe it was ever available in shops - a few copies showed up on eBay a year or two ago. Description said it was commissioned by a fan who wanted the whole series in a single volume for convenient access and enjoyment. Very professionaly done, I have to say. Other similar books turn up on eBay from time to time, particularly those collectig Ken Reid's atwork for Odham's Power comics of the 60s.

  6. There was a Scream Inn board game which I had around 1976. Awesome too with loose floorboards to hide The Ghosts!