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.

Showing posts with label Barrie Appleby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barrie Appleby. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


In comparison with the previous Annual, the page count shrunk even further from 128 to 112 and the price came up to £1.95.

CONTENTS: Martha’s Monster Make-Up (two 2-pagers by Ken Reid, including one in colour), Kid Kong (a 4-pager in full colour by Frank McDiarmid), Monster Mirths (2 pages of gag cartoons by Artie Jackson, one in colour), The Ghost Train (8 pages of reprints from WHOOPEE!, artwork by Brian Walker),  Hot Rod (6 pages of reprints from WHIZZER AND CHIPS, artwork by Alf Saporito), Gums (two 2-pagers by John Geering), Tom Thumbscrew (two 2-pagers by Barrie Appleby), Freaky Farm (a 3-pager by Russel Brooke and a 4-pager by Ian Knox), Fiery Fun (1 page of gags by Artie Jackson), Creature Teacher (two 3-pagers by Tom Williams), Major Jump Horror Hunter (2 reprints from MFC comic, artwork by Barrie Appleby), Draculass (two 2-pagers by Terry Bave, including one in colour), Mummy’s Boy (a 2-pager and one reprint from MFC, both by Norman Mansbridge), Frankie Stein (three 2-pagers reprinted from WHOOPEE!, artwork by Robert Nixon), Ghostly Giggles (1 page of gags by Artie Jackson), King Arthur and His Frights of the Round Table (three 3-pagers reprinted from WHOOPEE!, artwork by Robert Nixon), X-Ray Specs (two 2-pagers by Mike Lacey and a 3-pager by Paul Ailey), Doug Nut and Rusty (a 3-pager and a 2-pager in colour on back endpapers, both by Jim Crocker), Brainy and His Monster Maker (two 2-pagers by Tom Williams), George ‘n his Magic Dragon (a 4-pager by Alan Rogers), Frankie’s Monster Mountain Game (reprint from MFC), Art’s Gallery (a 3-pager), Little Monsters (two 2-page sets by Martin Baxendale), Monster Mind (2 pages of puzzles), Terror TV (a 4-pager by Barrie Appleby), Teddy Scare (a 2-pager by Barrie Appleby).

As had become a custom in MF Annuals, a large proportion of the book was filled with reprints - I can confirm 36 pages but there are probably more. The majority is first-class material from the hands of Alf Saporito (on Hot Rod), Brian Walker (on Ghost Train):

… and Bob Nixon on Frankie Stein and King Arthur and His Frights of the Round Table).  They even did a good job processing one episode into a full-colour affair; check out both versions side-by-side. The b/w one is from WHOOPEE! No. 5 (click to enlarge):

Barrie Appleby was once again the champion in terms of page-count, but I am unsure how many were new and how many were reprints. I know for sure that both sets of Major Jump were reprinted from MONSTER FUN COMIC weeklies (Nos. 33 and 37) but Tom Thumbscrew, Teddy Scare and Terror TV may very well be new material. Here is the opening page of Terror TV:

Barrie Appleby mastered a prefect imitation of Reg Parlett’s monsters, don’t you think?:

Ken Reid provided two double-page episodes of Martha’s Monster Make-Up. This is a third year in a row (!!) that one of the stories involves bullies whom Martha teaches a lesson with the help of a monsterized snowman and some snowballs:

In the second story Martha uses her cream on a tramp for a change and helps him prove he’s not useless because he can now take a job as a scarecrow…

Tom Williams, another regular contributor in MF Annuals, provided two sets of Brainy and his Monster Maker and two sets of Creature Teacher. In one Teach takes class 3X to visit the local fire-station:

… while the other one comes with this dramatic logo:

… and shows class 3X get medieval on the poor woodwork teacher:

… and build a coffin for Teach:

John Geering’s input is four pages of Gums. In the first episode Bluey tricks Gums out of his false teeth by making him get rid of the old set and replace it with one made of steel, and then using a super-strong magnet to pull it out of the shark’s jaws. Bluey smashes the old false teeth to bits but two fossil collectors reconstruct the set. Gums ambushes them and is back in business again. Here are the opening pages of both episodes. I like the way Mr. Geering experimented with his layouts in this Annul:

There is quite a lot of X-Ray Specs this time: although Mike Lacey was the regular illustrator of the feature in MFC and later BUSTER weeklies, he rarely did X-Ray Specs for MF Annuals. Here is one of the two sets by Mr. Lacey:

There is also one by another artist who I believe is Paul Ailey:

In George ‘n his Magic Dragon by Alan Rogers George and Cedric the dragon deal with Bully Bloggs:

And before I finish this first part of the overview, here are two out of the 4 pages of gags drawn in this annual by Artie Jackson:

In Part Two I will look at some of the pleasant surprises contained in this Annual, such as Frank McDiarmid’s take on Kid Kong, two episodes of Freaky Farm by illustrators who’d never worked on the feature before and some super-nice artwork by an artist who’d learned from the best....

All Images 2015 © Egmont UK Ltd.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


My previous post ended with a page-count of strips illustrated by Tom Williams and Barrie Appleby whom the editor kept really busy when preparing this 1979 MONSTER FUN Annual. Barrie Appleby was the unchallenged champion because out of the 19 pages by the runner up Tom Williams, two were most probably reprints (Ghost Town from WHIZZER AND CHIPS), and three formed part of 2-page spot-the-difference puzzles. Here is one pair, if you feel like playing the game (click on the image to enlarge):

Mr. Williams also drew both episodes of X-Ray Specs. In the first Ray is in the mood of playing dirty tricks on other kids and his X-ray specs come very handy until Mummy of the Mummy’s Boy strip puts an end to his antics. It is a nice example of characters from different strips crossing-over:

In the second episode Ray takes a boring job at the packing department of a big store during the Christmas rush. He amuses himself by using his X-ray specs to see what’s inside the parcels and exposes a fraudster who steals gifts from the boxes.

It is good to see the return of Creature Teacher after a break in the previous MF Annual.  In this story Class3X give Teach some nasty Christmas presents. He gets his own back on them by treating Class3X to cardboard sandwiches, plaster cakes and wax fruits from the drama cupboard before inviting them for a real Christmas meal in the dining room:

Barrie Appleby’s contribution (which amounted to whopping 20 pages of new material) was two episodes of Brainy and His Monster Maker:

… an episode of Teddy Scare:

… an episode of Major Jump in which Major Jump and Cosmo scheme to catch the Wild Jorkonorkus. What they don’t realise is that the mission hardly calls for human cunning because the monster is all in for mince pies, jellies and telly that they offer at the monster menagerie but his eagerness to fall into the various traps set by Major Jump and his assistant backfire on the pair. The 4-page story is a sequence of four short episodes, the last one ending with the willing captive getting happily captured. Here is one:

Barrie Appleby was also the man behind the episode of Terror TV which proudly presented everybody’s favourite talent-show Horror-Tunity Shocks starring Hughie Goran. In the first part of the show the first two sponsors introduce the Wobbles and the Baskervilles, and here is Part Two:

Last but not least of Mr. Appleby’s contributions in this 1979 MONSTER FUN Annual is this 6-page story of Tom Thumbscrew (or rather two 3-page stories presented in a sequence):

All Images 2014 © Egmont UK Ltd.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Terror TV pull-out poster from MFC No. 60

Terror TV was 'the channel of chills’ run by the gloomy skeleton Magnus Murkysome (named after TV presenter Magnus Magnusson, who presented the BBC's Mastermind – thanks to Raven for this piece of info!) and his team of telly fiends. The channel broadcast from an eerie castle which sat on hilltop in the middle of a normal suburban neighbourhood.

Advertisement in MFC No. 49 the week before the premiere

The arrival of Terror TV was celebrated by putting the strip on the cover for two consecutive weeks and moving Gums inside for a while. Here is the first episode as it appeared in MONSTER FUN COMIC issue No. 50:

It is common knowledge that the rise of television was one of the factors which affected comics industry and the last frame of the first episode got me thinking perhaps scaring readers away from their TVs so that they had more time to read comics was one of the script-writer’s ideas...

The strip about the TV channel with a mission to terrify its viewers offered weekly monstrous parodies of popular TV shows. Initially it ‘monstrified’ generic shows without naming them specifically, e.g. a quiz show, a programme for gardeners, a spooky cooky programme, etc. Terror TV was the darkest strip in MFC and I suspect some of those early episodes might have looked really chilling to the young reader:

Terror TV also lampooned real TV shows. I managed to identify a few but not all of them because I didn’t watch British TV in the seventies. Below is the complete list of Terror TV shows from the MFC run of the strip, some with their real-life equivalents noted in red. UPDATE: Raven and Uncle Jesse have identified quite a few more for me, they are marked in blue:

* Quiz Show
* Programme for Gardeners (probably the BBC's Gardeners World)
* That was Your Life (This Is Your Life)
* Grave News at Ten (ITV's nightly News at Ten)
* Chill-a-Minute Competition “Shock of the Week”
* Celebrity Scares (Celebrity Squares)
* Horrorday ’76 (programme about holidays) (The BBC's Holiday '76
* General Horrorspital (General Hospital)
* Spooky Cooky Programme with the Galloping Ghoulmet (The Galloping Gourmet - ITV weekday afternoon cookery programme)
* Advertisement + Tasting Competition
* Sports Fright with Ghoulman (Sportsnight With Coleman - BBC series with David Coleman)
* Supercronic Pop Show (Supersonic - ITV children's pop show with Mike Mansfield)
* Terror TV Football Competition “Ghoul of the Month” (Goal of the Month - a feature in BBC1's football series Match of the Day)
* Doctor Whooooo (Doctor Who). Here is the complete episode:

* Blow Peter Up (Blue Peter - long-running BBC children's magazine series; started in the late 1950s and still going)
* A Day at the Races
* The Ghoulies (The Goodies). Here is the episode in full:

* Whooooo Do You Booo! – programme of impersonations starring Brute Force (Bruce Forsyth, perhaps?), K.O.Jack, Jerry Wigan (Who Do You Do - ITV's comedy impressionist series)
* Horror-Tunity Shocks! (Opportunity Knocks)
* TV Cops with Throbak the Zombie Cop (Kojak), Scareski and Lurch (Starsky and Hutch), the Headless Marshall MacGhoul (Marshall McCloud from McCloud) and Frank Furter – the fattest freak in TV Detectivedom (Frank Cannon from Cannon)
* Hag-Pie with Susan Shrieks (Magpie with host Susan Stranks)

Can you identify the few remaining shows?

The two-pager ran in MFC issues 50 – 73 and didn’t miss a single week. Initially the illustrator was Ian Knox who signed or initialled the majority of his sets. Barrie Appleby took over starting from issue 67 and continued to the end of the series in MFC. His version of Terror TV was more cartoony and certainly not as depressing and frightening as Ian Knox’s. The strip received a pull-out poster in MFC No. 60 (31st July, 1976). After MONSTER FUN COMIC folded, Terror TV was transferred to the combined BUSTER AND MONSTER FUN where it shrunk to a single page and was drawn by Barrie Appleby. The BUSTER run of Terror TV expired on 18th February 1978.

Terror TV completes the series of reviews of the strips ‘proper’ which appeared in MONSTER FUN COMIC. I am not done with the weeklies yet: there are quite a few interesting things remaining, including the famous Badtime Bedtime Books, before I move on to MONSTER FUN Holiday Specials and Annuals.