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.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE CHRISTMASES OF FRANKIE STEIN - PART TWO



Frankie Stein had quite a long life period for a comics character; weekly strips began in the 4th issue of WHAM! in the summer of 1964 and ended in the last issue of WHOOPEE! in March 1985. That’s almost 21 years, minus the period when he disappeared from the pages of WHAM! in 1967 and was reintroduced in SHIVER AND SHAKE in 1973. For me, the “lifetime” of the friendly monster clearly falls into three periods, each defined by distinctively different quality of the stories and especially the artwork. X-mas episodes are as good an example as any to illustrate this.

The first period is of course the original run in WHAM!  (1964 – 1967) by the unsurpassed Ken Reid. Go to Part One of Frankie Stein Christmases for all four Christmas episodes of that period.

The second period is different but equally good. In 1973 the illustrator’s duties were given to Robert Nixon who remained the main artist of the strip until the very end in 1985. The period lasted from March 1973 (the first issue of SHIVER AND SHAKE) till approximately the end of 1978 and coincided with the time when Mr. Nixon spent more time on his pages and drew first rate detailed sets (increasingly less so towards the end of the period).

In the late seventies and at the turn of the decade Frankie Stein and Prof. Cube mutated into cuddly Smurf-like figures and continued like that throughout the remaining part of the eighties. This third period is my least favourite of the three.

Let’s take a look at Frankie’s Christmases of the second period that was also the time when Mr. Nixon drew some memorable front covers of X-mas editions featuring Frankie Stein:

1973 (SHIVER AND SHAKE):


By the X-mas of 1974 SHIVER AND SHAKE merged into WHOOPEE! By unfortunate coincidence, very soon the new title suffered from what is sometimes referred to as production difficulties and sometimes - as industrial action, and missed three weeks in the end of December 1974 / the beginning of January 1975. Hence no 1974 X-mas number. I have absolutely no doubt it would have been a really excellent one because WHOOPEE! was a first-rate packege in its early years.

1975:



1975 was the year when Frankie also appeared on the cover of the X-mas edition of Monster Fun Comic:



I’ve shown it before, but the gallery of Frankie Stein’s Christmases would be incomplete without this marvellous cover of SHIVER AND SHAKE 1976 Annual. In his interview for GOLDEN FUN (Winter 1981) the artist tells that it took him about a day and a half to draw the cover, which was "a fair amount of time". He used air-brush and it was done from a broad idea sent to him by Bob Paynter.


1976:


1977:


5 comments:

  1. They are amazing Christmas covers...

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    1. I think the stories are also excellent, as is the art.

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  2. I sometimes wonder why Ken Reid wasn't offered another crack at the character when it was revived (maybe he was and declined?), but if you can't have Reid then Robert Nixon is probably the next best man for the job. Had another hand been at the tiller then I doubt the second incarnation of Frankie would've been as popular as it was. Great stuff, Irmantas, keep it up.

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    1. I sometimes wonder about that too. Perhaps IPC wanted a cuddlier version of the old character and Mr. Reid didn't want to do it. Or maybe he wanted to concentrate on Faceache, Creepy Creations/World-Wide Weirdies and his football strips in Scorcher at the time? Perhaps answers can be found in Mr. Reid's archive that I hear is very detailed and may one day become available to researchers...

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