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 Eric Bradbury. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eric Bradbury. Show all posts

Friday, February 26, 2016

MAXWELL HAWKE STORIES IN BUSTER ANNUALS



It’s not often that I blog about adventure strips but this time I’ll do exactly that. Maxwell Hawke was a popular ghost hunter series that ran in BUSTER for six years from 29 October, 1960 till 3 September, 1966. As far as I know, Maxwell Hawke was also reprinted in other countries, Spain in particular, and there are quite a few people who still have fond memories of the series.

The Maxwell Hawke saga consisted of 29 serialised tales in the weekly comics, details can be found in the paper version of BUSTER Index 1960 – 1995 compiled by Ray Moore and Steve Holland, as well as on BUSTER comic website HERE.

BUSTER index mentions that Maxwell Hawke also appeared in BUSTER annuals 1962 – 1967 but does not provide any details, so I decided to fill the gap and make the index of the stories complete.

Here goes the list, followed by photos of the first page of each of the 6 original stories. Photos are the best I can show here because the binding of those BUSTER annuals makes them completely unsuitable for scanning without damaging the fragile books…

Buster Book 1962 The Black Monk, 10 pages
Buster Book 1963 The Ghost of Glenghoul Castle, 10 pages
Buster Book 1964 Maxwell Hawke and the Phantom Swordsman, 8 pages
Buster Book 1965 Maxwell Hawke and the Ice Demons, 8 pages
Buster Book 1966 Maxwell Hawke and the Ghosts of Blackstone, 8 pages
Buster Book 1967 Maxwell Hawke in the Haunted School, 9 pages







Saturday, July 13, 2013

A LOOK AT SHIVER & SHAKE STRIPS: MENACE OF THE ALPHA MAN




Menace of the Alpha Man was a suspense mystery tale that stretched out for 18 weeks in issues 53 to 70 (March 9 - August 3, 1974) and was the longest of all adventure serials in SHIVER AND SHAKE. Just as all but one of them, it offered attentive readers a chance to win themselves some cash. The illustrator was Eric Bradbury. This is how it was advertised in SHIVER AND SHAKE issue No. 53 a week before the premiere:


Let’s take a look at the plot. Doctor Frank Carter was a scientist at Greystone Research Laboratories – a top-secret research establishment in the Scottish Highlands, who had just finished developing a secret and dangerous formula. The scientist was on a rock-climbing trip with his daughter Penny when he was abducted and kidnapped by a masked muscular villain who called himself Alpha Man and wore a chequered skin-tight costume decorated with letter symbols. Alpha Man was after the secret invention but as he was taking Doctor Carter away in his Chinook-type helicopter, the scientist managed to pass the reel with the formula to his daughter and told her to save it no matter what. Jamie Robertson, a local 16 year old lad, came to Penny’s rescue and saved her from the menacing Alpha Man. The two formed a team. The girl knew her father had been expecting the ‘international crook’ to come after him and remembered how once he had told her that if anything happened to him, a letter in his desk would explain everything and tell her what to do.  Jamie and Penny found the letter and this is what it said:


The villain sure had a manic fixation on letters! Although this wasn’t in the letter, Penny somehow knew they had to collect eight letters and arrange them into a man’s name consisting of two four-letter words.

As the story developed over the weeks, the two youngsters survived a series of vicious and crafty plots and attacks by Alpha Man and slowly collected the letters that they needed to reveal the name of the villainous crook and confront him in the final show-down. Strange as it may sound, the more letters they collected, the longer their list of suspects became. It  included Major Bret Shaw, head of security at Greystone Laboratories (Penny remembered how he and her father took an instant dislike to each other when they first met and how he was always prying into Dad’s work)...


... Bert Gash, the local poacher and the least suspicious of the lot...


... Herb Sant, toy shop owner in the little fishing village of Tannoch where Jamie’s home was and where most of the action took place; he became a suspect because of his name and also because one of Alpha Man’s attacks came in the form of nasty mechanical toys... 


... and Thab Rees, the caretaker of the sinister Tannoch castle (a very aggressive type who hated kids snooping around the ruins)...


The list of suspects became complete in issue 63 when the young heroes were still two letters away from the set of eight. Here is how their list looked:


Jamie and Penny got their last letter in this thrilling ghost-packed episode in issue 68:


It was high time to announce the WHO IS THE ALPHA MAN? competition:


In the next issue (No. 69) Jamie and Penny found out the name of the villain (but didn’t share it with readers of SHIVER AND SHAKE who were busy sending in their competition entries). They realised they had to catch him red-handed with that infernal costume of his. Jamie decided time had come to use the secret formula so he put Doctor Carter’s reel into a battery-operated cassette player, hoping to use it against Alpha Man. The scene of the final show-down was set at the sinister Tannoch castle. In the last episode (in the issue cover-dated August 3rd, 1974 that came out after a four-weeks’ interruption due to industrial action) the two youngsters demonstrated the effect of the top-secret formula, exposed the true identity of Alpha Man and rescued Penny’s Dad from captivity:


The list of clue words and names of the lucky prize-winners were printed in issue 76:


Five years later the strip was reprinted in CHEEKY WEEKLY comic (issue dates from 3rd March till 30th June, 1979). 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

A LOOK AT SHIVER & SHAKE STRIPS: THE TERRIBLE TRAIL TO TAGGART'S TREASURE



The Terrible Trail to Taggart's Treasure was the second adventure serial and competition in SHIVER AND SHAKE after Who’d Kill Cockney Robin, and a much better one too. The suspense tale is about the terrifying adventures of Clive and Angela Mason and their Uncle Brett on sinister Skar Island. Here is how the story began in SHIVER AND SHAKE issue No. 14 (June 9, 1973): 



The stranded trio decide that the map must have been carved by Black Taggart, the pirate whose ghost is supposed to haunt the island. The map doesn’t have a mark indicating the spot where the treasure might be buried but Angela is still eager to try and find it. Uncle Brett suggests they’d better look for a way to get back to their liner before it puts out to sea again. Walking about the island they soon begin to realise why Skar Island has such an evil reputation – there is no sign of life and the scenery is dotted with huge stone statues that look like glaring guardians daring anyone to come too near. All hell soon breaks loose when a glowing ghostly figure of Black Taggart begins to intimidate the intruders. 

They are attacked by a giant rock that comes to life as a nightmarish beast and chases them into the roaring wilderness of hissing geysers – the Springs of Doom. They escape into an old mine but the tunnel caves-in behind them and water gushes from solid rock threatening to drown the fugitives. They make it out alive through a crack in the roof-rock. Wandering without a sense of direction, the Masons find themselves in a valley and get attacked by giant stone figures that suddenly uproot themselves and come for them, firing boulders from their mouths. 

Running away, they reach the edge of a deep ravine and jump into the roaring current that washes them to a swamp where Angela is attacked by giant cannibal plants. During all these adventures the Masons continue to be harassed by the menacing Black Taggart but although the dangers around them are very real, they get increasingly suspicious of the phantom's nature. The Masons finally find themselves in Ghost Canyon where amidst the chaos of howling and shrieking Uncle Brett demonstrates that the ominous figure is actually a visual manipulation created with the aid of a slide-projector. 

The Masons realise they are not battling against something super-natural and the young Clive Mason finally reveals the secret in issue No. 22 (August 4, 1973):


The Terrible Trail to Taggart's Treasure was illustrated by Eric Bradbury and started in Shiver and Shake issue No. 14 (June 9, 1973) where it occupied three full pages (two pages for the story and one full page for the map of Skar Island). It then continued as a two-pager in issue Nos. 15 – 22 (June 16 - August 4, 1973). Competition was announced in issue 23 (August 11, 1973), offering the readers a chance to strike it rich by plotting the route of the Masons' travels on the map:

  

...and names of the winners were published in Shiver and Shake issue 32 (13th October, 1973), alongside with details of the correct solution:


Five years later in the end of 1978 The Terrible Trail to Taggart’s Treasure was reprinted in CHEEKY WEEKLY comic. The reprint included neither the detailed map of Skar Island nor the challenge for the readers to retrace the route of the Mason’s travels.