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 Fudge and Speck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fudge and Speck. Show all posts

Thursday, April 2, 2020

SPECK’S INVENTIONS BY KEN REID – PART TWO



This is part two of my summary of 'Speck’s Inventions' by Ken Reid. You can revisit Part One HERE.

NOTE: All images included below have been scanned from photocopies of newspaper clippings, so quality leaves a lot to be desired, but they can be clicked to enlarge and are perfectly viewable and readable.

...The enemy attack begins. Batmen use paralysis guns which render the target unable to speak or move for 24 hours. Fudge is about to fire Prof. Honk’s new weapon on the invaders but notices something which causes him to freeze with horror:


Fudge dives from the wall to save his companion and the two little adventurers are reunited. Together, they swim back to Happy Island. The islanders capture the elves and put them on trial. The jury pronounces them guilty of treason and the judge issues their sentence:


The Forest of Doom is a dangerous place:


As they settle in for the night, Fudge and Speck light a fire and make a fascinating discovery:


Fudge knows that batmen are terrified of laughter. The elves realise the withered flower contains the same chemical agent as Speck’s giggle-gas, and can be used to defeat the enemy. They set off to search the Forest of Doom for the spot where the Flower of Happiness still flourishes.  They get attacked by a giant insect:


…but soon discover the field full of the flowers, and start gathering them:


They meet a little batman named Dumpy who has injured his wing but seems to be well behaved:


Weeks pass by, and the stack of the precious flowers keeps growing. The elves still have doubts about Dumpy’s loyalty, until he gets a chance to prove himself:


The three companions decide that their first order of business is to rescue King Kipolas from captivity. Once the dangerous and thrilling mission is completed and King Kipolas is safe, Speck applies a light to the bundle of dried flowers, and the smoke thwarts the monsters for now:


… but they quickly recover and start firing explosive marbles at the four companions.


The pals use some more of the dried plants to smoke the batmen out of the castle. Dumpy sneaks inside and steals a few sacks of the new explosives. He carries them out of the fortress, leaving a trail of the ‘bullets’ to the castle’s main ammunition depot. They use the explosive marbles to build a replica of King Kipolas, and this is what happens when the batmen open fire on the dummy:


Happiness reigns again on Happy Island:


The two heroes want to go home to Pixie Village. They take a secret underwater tunnel which leads straight to the ship graveyard at the gates of Happy Island. They pick a fairly sound ship and King Neptune helps them get back to Barnacle Bay. The voyage is a bit rough…


Upon reaching Barnacle Bay, they find out that the Laughing Rock is whole again, indicating that things are back to normal on Happy Island.


The panels below tell us what happened to Dumpy:



Realising that their exciting adventure has ended, Fudge and Speck spend a night at a pleasant little lodging house:


… and take the first train to Pixie Village in the morning:


- THE END -

In my opinion, the story is a bit eclectic, and not as good as The Magic Book that I covered before. I get an impression Ken didn’t have a clear vision of where the story will go when he started it, and I am puzzled about the choice of the name of the tale - 'Speck’s Inventions' - because Speck only made two of those at the beginning. Anyway, it’s a nice piece of fantasy by young Ken Reid, which I very much doubt we will ever see collected together.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading the summary. I have 7 more Fudge stories by Ken Reid (not including the ones reprinted in book form), and will cover them here in due course.

Monday, March 30, 2020

SPECK’S INVENTIONS BY KEN REID – PART ONE



Last year a fan of Ken Reid sent me Xeroxed copies of a few complete Fudge and Speck stories that he collected from The Manchester Evening News. Some time ago I composed a 2-part illustrated summary of Fudge and The Magic Book – story No. 26 of the series (you can view the summary HERE and HERE), and now it’s time for another one.

Speck’s Inventions was the second story of the series. It was 899 panels long and ran between 12th May, 1947 and 1st May, 1948. Reprints appeared in The Manchester Evening News between 26th January, 1974 and 28th June, 1975. 

Here are the opening panels, colourised nicely by John Ridgway:


NOTE: The rest of the scans are from photocopies of newspaper clippings, so quality leaves a lot to be desired, but all the images can be clicked to enlarge and are perfectly viewable and readable. 

Working in secret in a wooden shed by the river, Speck builds a whale-shaped pedal-powered submarine and tests it in the quiet country river, destroying a bridge and frightening an old lady in the process.


Fudge has his suspicions that the mysterious creature might have to do with Speck, and confronts his mate about it. Speck tells Fudge all about his new invention, aptly named Moby Dick, and invites Fudge to go on a holiday cruise together.

At this point, the story flies off on a tangent as Speck cooks up another invention – Giggle-Gas laughing vapour. His idea is to use it to cheer up a gloomy photographer whose custom is in shambles because his doleful countenance always makes people turn out looking miserable in the pictures.


A mix-up occurs as Speck and Fudge add the ingredients:



Speck’s concoction ruins the photo-shoot of an all-cure pill advert, and sends the customer into rage.


Realising that it was all Speck’s fault, the fuming entrepreneur chases the two elves. They rush to the submarine and their voyage begins.


The submarine sails down the river and reaches Barnacle Bay in the sea where Speck and Fudge see the Laughing Rock.


An old sailor tells them the legend of how the rock came to be, and this is how they first hear about the mysterious Happy Island and its inhabitants:



Later that morning they find an earthenware vessel containing an SOS message signed by the people of Happy Island. They also discover that the Laughing Rock has just fallen in a thunder storm, and according to the legend, this means that the happiness on Happy Island was broken…


They sail off in search of the island. During their arduous voyage the two elves survive an encounter with a pirate galleon:


… and then a sea serpent:



… but run out of luck when ‘Moby Dick’ is harpooned and sunk by a whaling ship:


Fudge and Speck build a crude raft which takes them to a ship graveyard. There they meet a bathing mermaid who tells them they are at the gates of Happy Island, and then takes a sudden leave frightened away by a large black creature winging its way overhead. 

The entrance to the gates of Happy Island is guarded by a huge whirlpool which sucks in the elves’ raft, and the two pals are separated:


Fudge emerges from a hole in the side of a towering cliff and lands in a river below. After some reconnaissance, Fudge draws this plan of the island and its fortifications:


Miles of forest stretch to the left of the river. There is a high crag surmounted by a turreted castle in the distance, and it looks like it is inhabited by sinister bat-like creatures: 


Fudge sees a small party of armour-clad soldiers entering the fortifications though a secret face-shaped gate, and sneaks into Happy Island after them…


Speck is stranded too, but he decides to look for help in the turreted castle. Before long he is plucked from the ground by a huge flying creature which takes him straight to the castle:


Meanwhile, Fudge disrupts a ceremonial gathering of the Happy Islanders and is captured by temple guards:


It turns out Happy Island is at war. The king’s adviser believes Fudge is an enemy spy and locks him up in a cold dark cell with another prisoner…


… In the turreted castle amidst the forest, Speck faces Klun – the leader of the evil batmen, who accuses the lad of spying for the other side. The monsters plan to attack Happy Island in a few days’ time, and they have an idea how to use Speck to achieve their evil ends. Klun throws Speck in a prison cell where he meets Kipolas – King of Happy Island, whom the ‘black-hearted’ batmen hold for ransom. Kipolas tells Speck the whole story:



In the meantime on Happy Island, Fudge finds out his cellmate is one of the batmen:


Fudge accidentally discovers that the creatures get petrified with fear when they hear the sound of laughter:


The batman is not very smart and Fudge easily tricks him into helping him to escape. He meets Professor Honk – inventor of a new war weapon to fight the batmen. Professor doesn’t think Fudge is a spy-type, and comes up with a plan to prove his innocence:


Prof. also tells Fudge about the Flower of Happiness whose ornaments Fudge has seen in the temple:


Part two of the summary will follow soon...

Monday, January 28, 2019

FUDGE AND THE MAGIC BOOK BY KEN REID - PART TWO



Part 1 of my account of Fudge and the Magic Book by Ken Reid ended at the point when the two elves completed their mission in Imaginatia and were ready to go back to the World of Reality. This is where Ken’s story turns even more surreal and absurd… 

First, the two elves had to cross the Darkness of Doubt:


… and pass to the threshold of the Barrier of Uncertainty. The gloomy Keeper of the Door to the Barrier of Uncertainty explained the basic rules:


Fudge and Speck stepped through the door and were faced with absolutely nothing, or, as the Keeper of the Door described it – the thought plasma… I like the sequence of panels below: 


The nothingness proved to be not so empty after all: there were all sorts of people traveling there by all kinds of means, but it turned out they all lacked confidence in their reality. The first one was a motorist who met an old skipper on a motor boat. The skipper mocked the motorist out of his conviction that he was driving on paved road, and this is when the true meaning of the warning issued by the Keeper of the Door revealed itself: as soon as the motorist got persuaded he was at sea, he sank together with his car! 


Moments later, the skipper ran into an airplane, and after a short discussion the pilot made him believe he might be ‘sailing’ at an altitude of 15,000 feet, and as a result, the skipper’s flying boat went into a sudden nose-dive. 


Droning on, the plane pilot bumped into a deep-sea diver who persuaded the pilot that he was flying his plane 20 fathoms underwater.


And finally, the deep-sea diver met an Austrian mountain climber who shook the diver’s conviction about being underwater, causing him to plunge down a 15,000 feet drop. 


Fudge and Speck witnessed all the disasters while trudging across the Barrier of Uncertainty and firmly hanging on to their convictions that they were walking on solid ground. It turned out the mountain climber was only half-convinced he was on top of a mountain, and, seeing the elves’ footprints, he took one step forward to test what he believed was thin air:


Fudge and Speck finally made it home to the Leafy Wood. They used the magical properties of the Two-toed Twale’s nail to whisk Hoppity and the old witch out of their Nonsense book and then walked to Hoppity’s house to attend to the final order of business – subdue the Nonsense characters that had taken possession of Hoppity’s residence.


The elves were confronted by two fierce defenders of the house – the Telephant: 


...and the Kobravak:


but Fudge prevailed and the tale reached its happy end.



The Book of Nonsense Rhymes and its weird characters remind me of Ken’s Creepy Creations collection by Rebellion. I deliberately included the names and images of all those weird creatures featured in the story to illustrate my point. It is also fun to see familiar face expressions and figures from Ken’s comics work of the late 50s and the early 60s (Jonah, Ali Ha Ha and the Fourty Thieves, etc.). Some panels even remind me of Queen of the Seas and The Nervs, which of course were still years ahead in the future at the time when Ken created Fudge and The Magic Book. The story itself is very good and I think it would make an excellent feature film!


Patrick has one more Fudge story that he will post to me in the near future. He doesn’t know the title, and I very much hope it is one of the later adventures, similar in style to the one covered in the last two posts here. 

And if you are a fan of Ken Reid, click on the POWER PACK banner in the right-hand column and get your copy of the POWER PACK OF KEN REID - the deluxe two-volume set of Ken’s strips in WHAM!, SMASH! and POW! comics of the ‘60s.