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.



Monday, February 25, 2013

SHIVER AND SHAKE 1975 ANNUAL



SHIVER AND SHAKE Annual 1975 had 160 pages and cost 80 p. The book came out when the weekly was still up and running: the first ad of the book can be found in the issue cover-dated 31st August, 1974 (No. 74).

For me it is one of the most interesting IPC annuals ever with lots of quality new material and multiple artists offering their takes on popular characters.

Here is the summary of the contents: Creepy Creations Calendar - 1975 (4 pages), Ghouldilocks (3 episodes by Stan McMurtry, one in full colour), Webster (2 episodes by Terry Bave, one in full colour), Dr. Heckle (4 instalments, one in full colour), Scatty Bat (3 episodes), Sweeny Toddler (2 episodes, by Tom Paterson or Martin Baxendale), The Hand (5 episodes, all by different artists), The Shiver Givers (2 episodes, probably by Tom Williams), Grimly Feendish (4 episodes), Frankie Stein (3 episodes), Biddy’s Beastly Bloomers (two episodes by different artists), Horrornation Street (2 episodes by Tom Williams),  Scream Inn, The Duke’s Spook (3 episodes, all by different artists), Shake (2 episodes in full colour by different artists), The Forest Legion (6-page episode in full colour), Nutter (3 episodes, two in full colour), Tough Nutt and Softy Centre (3 episodes, one in full colour), Damsel in Distress (3 episodes, one in full colour), Match of the Year – Winter Sportsmen versus Snowmen (4 pages), Wiz War (3 episodes, including one special episode Wizard Prang and Demon Druid ‘Wiz’ Wizardry Galore), Moana Lisa (2 episodes by Peter Davidson), Lolly Pop (two episodes by different artists), The Fixer, Eagle Eye (8-pager), The Desert Fox (3 episodes by Terry Bave), Mirth Shakers (2 instalments), The Phantom Piper (8-pager), Sports School, Mickey Muggins, Money Maze puzzle, Ed (2 episodes, one in full colour), Soggy the Sea Monster (2 episodes by Robert Nixon, one in full colour).

The features marked in red were one-offs that hadn’t appeared in SHIVER and SHAKE publications before. Dr. Heckle and Mickey Muggins are hardly worth mentioning – I find nothing interesting about them. Quite the opposite applies to the other two. Let’s leave The Phantom Piper for the end of the post. As for Creepy Creations 1975 Calendar, it was another excellent piece from the hand of Ken Reid. 4 pages of the brightly coloured calendar were on the inside covers and the pages opposite them, three months per page. Check out some examples of the Creations from the calendar: 


There was more of Ken Reid’s art in the Annual. The three Frankie Steins included in the book were reprints from WHAM! Nos. 39, 67 and 80, all with a few panels dropped because panels of the original one-page episodes were re-arranged to fill two pages. Here are some sterling images from two different episodes:


Frankie Stein episodes weren’t the only reprints in the Annual – so were the installments of Scatty Bat (reprinted from Whizzer and Chips), Wiz Wars (from POW! and SMASH!) and Grimly Feendish (from SMASH!).

As can be seen from the summary of contents above, all episodes of Ghoudilocks, Webster, Desert Fox, Horrornation Street, Moana Lisa, Soggy the Sea Monster and a few other strips were illustrated by their regular artists.

And now comes the interesting part because different episodes of a few popular strips were illustrated by different first-rate IPC artists. I don’t remember seeing another IPC funnies annual with so many examples of this interesting practice.

Mike Lacey and Terry Bave illustrated one episode of Shake each. Then there were two episodes of Lolly Pop: a 4-pager by Robert Nixon and a 3-pager by Sid Burgon. Both artists worked on the feature in the weeklies. Here are four sample panels, two from each set. In the first pair Pop is mean and miserly, and in the second he is devastated and furious because his fortunes have been ruined by Archie, as always:

 


Next comes Biddy’s Beastly Bloomers, with one set drawn by Sid Burgon:


… and the second by another artist who I think was Tom Paterson:


The further we go, the more exciting it gets. There were three episodes of The Duke’s Spook included in the book; one was by Arthur Martin who I believe was the strip’s regular artist in the weeklies:


… the other one by Les Barton who was often invited to step in for other artists in different IPC Annuals and Holiday Specials:


… and the third by Frank McDiarmid who did numerous one-off ghostings in IPC publications in the mid-70s, particularly in the Annuals and the Star Guest feature in the weeklies. I believe he is also responsible for one episode of Damsel in Distress in this Annual. Here is the complete set of The Duke’s Spook by Mr. McDiarmid:


The trend is championed by The Hand with as many as five sets, all by different artists, four of whom I think I can identify as Arthur Martin:


… Les Barton:

… Frank McDiarmid:

… and Tom Paterson:
 
... plus one whose name I don’t know:

So much for different artists’ takes on the same character. But the goodness doesn’t end here. Here is the opening panel of The Match of the Year by Mike Lacey (snowmen came on top in the end):


The Forest Legion made their second appearance (after 1974 Annual), only this time in full colour. Here are the first two pages of the 6-page tale in which the team of vigilant forest animals bust the crooks Boss and Butch once again:


An episode of Scream Inn by Brian Walker would have improved this excellent book even further. Unfortunately, you can’t have it all and the 3-pager was illustrated by the same ghost artist who was responsible for the instalment in the 1974 Holiday Special; here is a taste of the story in which a Snowman tried to spend a night in the haunted bedroom to win a million pounds:


Adventure ingredient of the package was an 8-page episode of Eagle Eye by Ron Turner, who, to my regret, wasn’t responsible for weekly instalments. Here is the opening page of the story in which ‘Eagle Eye’ Tommy Trotter and two safari park guides nab a gang of professional crooks who attempt to steal an exotic onyx from the park:


Eagle Eye wasn’t Ron Turner’s only contribution to SHIVER AND SHAKE 1975 Annual. The second was this extraordinary one-off Phantom Piper story. Extraordinary because Ron Turner specialised in sci-fi and adventure stories and this is the only example that I am aware of when he tried his hand at the comedy genre. The set below proves what a universal artist Mr. Turner was. I find his humour style very appealing. There is something about the pages below that reminds of Harvey Kurtzman’s work, don’t you think? Here is the tale in its entirety:


Saturday, February 23, 2013

SHIVER AND SHAKE HOLIDAY SPECIAL 1974



The second Shiver and Shake Special was 80 pages thick and cost 20 p. It must have been published in August because the first advertisement in the weekly paper was in the issue cover dated 10th August, 1974.

Here is the summary of the contents: Ghost’s Revenge, Frankie Stein (4 episodes), Ed (3 episodes), Screen Scream (2 pinups), The Hand, The Shiver Givers (2 episodes), Spot the Difference puzzle (featuring characters of Horrornation Street), Webster (2 episodes, one in full colour), Mirth Shakers feature (2 installments), Hire a Horror (2 episodes, one in full colour), Grimly Feendish (3 episodes, one in full colour), Shake, Sports School (2 episodes), The Desert Fox (3 episodes), Tough Nutt and Softy Centre, Scatty Bat (2 installments), Stirling Steel and the Terror Train (adventure story, 6 pages), Blunder Puss, The Fixer,  The Wiz War (2 episodes), Lolly Pop, Moana Lisa, Harry’s Haunted House, Scream Inn, Ghouldilocks, Sweeny Toddler, The Duke’s Spook.

The features marked in red weren’t familiar to readers of the weeklies or of the first Special and the 1974 Annual.

In tune with the horror comedy genre of the magazine, the Screen Scream pinups were screenshots of old horror movies, enhanced with humorous speech balloons. Here is one example:


Harry’s Haunted House was a star guest from WHIZZER AND CHIPS. At that time Star Guest was a regular feature in Shiver and Shake and other weekly IPC sister publications in which popular characters from one comic made guest appearances in other titles.

Terry Bave contributed as many as 12 pages of art, including some features that were usually illustrated by other artists (one story of Hire a Horror and the Shake strip). Blunder Puss was by Les Barton. Brian Walker was substituted by someone else on Scream Inn – that’s one of only two cases I am aware of when the feature was illustrated by a substitute artist. Here are both pages of the story:


As far as I can tell, all other stories were drawn by their regular artists. The episodes of Grimly Feendish were reprints from SMASH! where the strip was illustrated by Leo Baxendale:


As was the case in Shiver and Shake 1973 Christmas Special and 1974 Annual, all 4 episodes of Frankie Stein were reprints of Ken Reid’s work from WHAM! comic of the sixties; original stories had appeared in WHAM! issues 52, 55, 44 and 56. Here is an example, originally from WHAM! No. 56:


Same as in the 1973 SHIVER AND SHAKE Christmas Holiday Special, the Stirling Steel story (Stirling Steel and the Terror Train) was a reprint of Maxwell Hawke’s adventures from BUSTER. The original story (Maxwell Hawke and the Phantom Express) ran in BUSTER between 24th October 1964 and 2nd January 1965. Here are opening panels of both versions:

 
“Adorning” Maxwell Hawke with a beard and redrawing (poorly) his pretty girl assistant Jill Adair as teenage boy Mark Tyne weren’t the only atrocities against the original story: it was also cropped from its original page count in BUSTER to merely six pages in the Holiday Special by dropping more than a half of the BUSTER tale. Whoever constructed the Stirling Steel story, merged the first three and the last three instalments of Maxwell Hawke from BUSTER and discarded more than 5 episodes in between. This was a serious cut-and-paste exercise, as can be seen from the scans below. Here is page 4 of Stirling Steel and the Terror Train from the Holiday Special:


… and here are the pages from three different issues of BUSTER that were used to construct the page shown above:



 
The last thing worth mentioning about the Special is the nice back cover with most of the paper’s characters enjoying themselves at the seaside. I would credit Tom Paterson with the artwork but I’m prepared to stand corrected:


Thursday, February 21, 2013

1974: A LOOK AT THE SECOND (AND FINAL) YEAR OF SHIVER AND SHAKE



36 issues (Nos. 44 - 79) of the comic were published in 1974.

Important issues in 1974:

5th January, 1974 (No. 44) – New Year issue
9th March, 1974 (No. 53) – 1st birthday celebration issue, first Frankie Stein cover, part one of pull-out booklet
16th March (No. 54) – part two of pull-out booklet
23rd March (No. 55) – part three of pull-out booklet
30th March (No. 56) – part four of pull-out booklet
20th April (No. 59) – Easter fun issue
5th October (No. 79) – last issue

IMHO, front cover of 1974 New Year issue
deserves a place in the gallery of the worst
covers in the history of UK comics
Buyers of the 1974 New Year edition of Shiver and Shake should have immediately noted the difference because the number of pages was cut by four (from 36 to 32), formally at the expense of Shiver section. I say formally, because regular features from the comic’s spooky Shiver section (such as Webster, The Hand, Grimly Feendish and Sweeny Toddler) started migrating back and forth between the two sections of the comic. At the same time, Frankie Stein, the paper’s most popular feature from Shiver section, was given three full pages (in fact, the first Frankie Stein three-pager was in the Christmas edition the week before). The changes called for some serious space re-arrangement. Damsel in Distress and Wizards Anonymous were discontinued from the second issue of the year; Cackles and Creations Runners Up features ended up sharing one page:


The next major change took effect starting from 1st Birthday Celebration Issue (No. 53 dated 9th March, 1974) when Frankie Stein was promoted to the front page, permanently ousting the lovable spook and tusker pair. There was no room for The Match of the Week left in the revamped paper – one of the comic’s highlights made its last appearance in issue 52 (2nd March, 1974) the week before. The first four editions of Frankie’s front cover stardom were celebrated with a pull-out booklet entitled Frankie Stein’s Mini Monster Comic Book. In those first front-cover editions Frankie Stein came close to taking the comic over: he had the front cover and as many as three inside pages in issues 53 – 55 (that’s in addition to the front and back pages of the mini book in issue 53) whereas in issue 56 he had the front cover, two inside pages and all eight pages of the minibook devoted to him. Not to mention regular appearances in the Shiver Givers feature. Later on things settled down and Frankie’s weekly adventures were restricted to the front cover and two inside pages. Bob Nixon did an excellent job illustrating the feature. Here are some nice covers from the period: 


Pages of the pull-out booklet tend to be missing in Shiver and Shake issues 53 – 56 (March 9th - March 30th, 1974) but are well-worth seeking out because in addition to Frankie Stein they contain some nice mini-pin-ups of popular characters from the paper (Grimly Feendish, The Innkeeper, freaks of Horrornation Street and The Ed from Shiver Givers)...


... and as many as 4 pages of Ken Reid’s art – two Mini Monsters and two pages of Your Horrorscope:



The usual SHAKE section with the full-colour Shake strip on the cover disappeared in issue 53 to make room for the Frankie Stein pull out booklet but when it resumed in issue 57 it wasn’t as it used to be. The Editors probably decided to stop taking the two-comics-in-one gimmick seriously because the invitation to remove SHAKE section from the comic was gone, as was the date and IPC copyright notice on the cover of the section and Shake’s head with the speech balloon containing the weekly Elephant Joke. Here are both versions of SHAKE section front covers side by side:


They must have forgotten to allocate a new slot for Elephant Jokes because although Shake still trumpeted they were his favourites and encouraged readers to send them in, the jokes didn’t resume until issue No. 63 (May 18th, 1974) when the layout of Shake a Leg page was reshuffled to accommodate all 3 reader participation features (Mirth-Shaking Inventions and answers, Jokes and Trunk Call (letters section); here’s an example:


In July of 1974 Shiver and Shake fell victim to strike action by IPC’s printers and no issues of the paper came  out in the four weeks of the month. No explanation of the reasons that led to the interruption was offered when publication resumed in August. I find this rather strange, especially bearing in mind that earlier the editors saw it necessary to explain the absence of instalments of a weekly feature (Eagle Eye) by publishing these messages:


Back page of the last issue of
Shiver and Shake.
Note No. 79 - the number represents
the actual number of weekly issues
The gap in July is confirmed by two clues: one is the numbering of Creepy Creations on the back page (The Monster Map of England and Wales in the issue dated June 29th, 1974 is No. 69, whereas No. 70, The Rumbling Raspberry from Rustington, appears in the issue with the cover date of August 3rd, 1974, this suggests there were no Creepy Creations on the four dates in between), and two is the successive episodes of Menace of the Alpha Man (in the issue dated June 29th, 1974 the caption under the episode urges not to miss the exciting final instalment of the story next week, and that final episode can be found in the issue of August 3rd, 1974). Hence, although the paper continued for 83 weeks, only 79 weekly issues were published.

 As a possible compensation, the first issue after the interruption announced that two super new stories of the horror comedy variety were to start next week, they were Creepy Car and The Ghoul Getters. Alongside with the paper’s long-running top features Frankie Stein, Scream Inn, Webster and Lolly Pop and one recent addition (Blunder Puss), the two new stories eventually joined the lineup of Whoopee! when the two comics merged.

Front cover of the last issue
Funtastic news was broken in the issue with the cover date of 5th October, 1974 and the first combined edition with the clumsy name of WHOOPEE! and Shiver & Shake appeared a week later. Surprisingly (for me), neither Grimly Feendish nor Sweeny Toddler made it to the “new” magazine. Both entered the Pick-A-Strip competition (alongside with Shiver and Shake’s Desert Fox, 4 strips from Whoopee’s original roster and one new strip) that ran in the first combined issues of WHOOPEE! and Shiver & Shake. Readers voted for Sweeny Toddler. That's how the strip became a regular in WHOOPEE! and eventually turned out to be the longest survivor of Shiver and Shake’s original characters.

Centre pages of the last number of Shiver and Shake announcing 'Funtastic News"
Front page of the last pre-merger issue of Whoopee!
Centre pages of the last pre-merger issue of Whoopee!
with the 'Funtastic News' announcement. Note this is an inverted image of the
drawing from the centre pages of the last Shiver and Shake
Front cover of the first combined issue of
Whoopee! and Shiver & Shake

WHOOPEE! AND SHIVER & SHAKE continued under the title for a little over a year until 18th October, 1975 before the Shiver & Shake part was dropped all together. Shiver and Shake Holiday Specials appeared until 1980 and the last Shiver and Shake annual was published in 1985 (cover dated 1986).