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 Ian Knox. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ian Knox. Show all posts

Monday, April 27, 2015

MONSTER FUN ANNUAL 1985



The 9th and the last MONSTER FUN Annual had 96 pages and cost £2.75.

Contents: The Little Monsters (in colour on front endpapers by Martin Baxendale + 3 pages of reprints by Sid Burgon), Draculass (two 2-pagers by Terry Bave, including one in colour), X-Ray Specs (two 3-pagers by Paul Ailey, including one in colour), Frankie’s Diary (two one-page sets by Jim Crocker), Tom Thumbscrew (two 2-pagers by Norman Mansbridge, reprints), Teddy Scare (two 2-pagers by Barrie Appleby), Dough Nut and Rusty (two 2-pagers by Trevor Metcalfe, reprints), Terror TV (two 3-pagers by Barrie Appleby, including one in colour), Horror Alphabet feature (3 pages by Jim Crocker), Eric Intrepid Dinosaur Hunter (4-pager by Mike Green), Creature Teacher (two 2-pagers by Tom Williams, reprints), Freaky Fotos feature (3 pages of b/w photos), Frankie Stein (a 6-pager by Ken Reid), Martha’s Monster Make-Up (two 2-pagers, probably by Keith Robson), Art’s Gallery (a 3-pager by Mike Lacey, reprint),  Gums (a 6-pager by Ian Knox), Brainy and His Monster Maker (two 2-pagers), Major Jump Horror Hunter (a 2-pager (reprint) and a 4-pager (new) by Ian Knox), Holiday Heroes (a 4-pager, probably by Chas Sinclair), Kid Kong (a 6-pager by Ian Knox), Puzzles (2 pages by Cliff Brown), Doctor Ericstein Monster Maker (a 4-pager by Mike Green, in colour).

The book begins with another cheerful panoramic set of the Little Monsters by Martin Baxendale, his only one in this book:


There are a couple of previously unseen fun features, such as Freaky Fotos:


… and Horror Alphabet – a three-page set by Jim Crocker. Here’s a sample page:


Paul Ailey provided two sets of X-Ray Specs. In one, Ray stops a raid on the bank, and in the other one he helps land a plane at New York airport in thick fog:


Mike Green contributed two stories of Eric – the lad who creates things from the junk found in Dad’s scrap-yard. In Eric Intrepid Dinosaur Hunter Eric gets an idea to make some money by selling a fake dinosaur to the city museum:


… and in Doctor Ericstein Monster Maker he tries to become rich and famous by creating his version of the Frankenstein monster:


Ken Reid illustrated a new story of Frankie Stein. Ken’s style had become rather uninspired and monotonous by then but the 6-page set, drawn with meticulous precision, is quite remarkable because it was Ken’s first Frankie Stein in nearly two decades since he stopped drawing it in WHAM! comic in 1967. In this episode Prof. Cube takes Frankie to audition for the leading role in the re-make of Frankenstein film:


The Annual has two helpings of Martha’s Monster Make-Up – the feature that Ken Reid used to draw in Monster Fun Comic weeklies. Both sets were illustrated by someone else who had studied Ken’s style and tried to imitate it to the best of his ability. I will take a guess that the artist was a one-time BUSTER sub Keith Robson who occasionally stepped in for Ken Reid on Faceache and other strips in the seventies. Here is a sample page from the Annual:


Barrie Appleby drew both Terror TV episodes. One is a western story of Alias Smith and Bones, while the second one features TV at Midnight – the show that makes the late night horror movie look like cartoon-time:


It was the second year in a row that Major Jump Horror Hunter was presented in the form of puzzles; here are the first two pages:


I am unsure who illustrated it but I think it may have been Ian Knox who also provided two surprise sets of strips that were usually given to other artists to draw. In Gums, the cunning Captain Mayhem swindles Gums out of his false teeth and sends them off to space tied to a US rocket. Cap’n Mayhem’s fiendish plan is to starve Gums into becoming his pet performer for food.  The US space shot finally shakes off Gum’s false teeth and they zonk straight back into the shark’s mouth. Gums wastes no time switching places with his tormentor:


The other surprise set by Ian Knox is this 6-pager of Kid Kong in which the gorilla is sent on a mission to save the world from the evil Doctor Bananas. Here it is in full:


This post marks the end of my Monster Fun Comic series in which I covered the developments in the life of the comic, provided an account of each strip that appeared during its relatively short run, and reviewed all MFC Holiday Specials and Annuals. MONSTER FUN COMIC is the third comic after COR!! and SHIVER AND SHAKE covered in this fashion on this blog. I have no plans to undertake another project like this in the immediate future but will add the odd blogpost until I have more time and enthusiasm to resume regular blogging.

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MONSTER FUN ANNUAL 1982 PART TWO



The Annual contained a few nice surprises. I will start with the episode of Kid Kong by Frank McDiarmid. I can’t remember ever seeing another one by him before. The story isn’t particularly original: it’s almost Christmas and Kid has no money for Gran’s present so he takes a job with the post office. This is the third MF Annual with Kid Kong facing a cash problem before X-mas, and the second time he takes a postie’s job to solve it, but Mr. McDiarmid’s work really makes it shine:



After all the chaos and destruction, everybody’s happy in the end:


There are two episodes of Freaky Farm in this Annual, neither by the regular artist Jim Watson. In the first one Jousting Society hold a tournament on Farmer’s land. Artwork by Russel Brooke. Here is the first page:


The four-pager by Ian Knox is my favourite one:



And finally, here’s a set of The Little Monsters by Martin Baxendale who clearly took a few lessons from his Dad. There are two installments of the feature in this Annual and the other one is called The Little Monsters Down on the Farm! Make sure you click on the image below to enlarge it and have fun examining all the fine detail!




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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

MONSTER FUN ANNUAL 1978 – PART TWO


This is part two of my detailed look at MONSTER FUN ANNUAL 1978. You can read the first part in the previous post HERE.

Ian Knox illustrated and signed the three-page set of Terror TV lampooning Top of the Pops with Tony Blackout (= Tony Blackburn) as host. Here we meet some performers who are now almost forgotten: 


... and some stars who are still big today: 




Both two-pagers of Ticklish Allsorts with Les Barton artwork were in the best tradition of Monster Fun Comic weeklies. Here is one:


The book had another story of Terry and the ‘Dactyl, the second one after 1977 Annual. In it Terry Briggs and his pet – the great flying prehistoric reptile – descend from their home in Inca gold city high on a plateau to recover the gold plate which they accidentally dropped down. Down on the ground, they confront a ruthless gang of bearded desperado raiders and liberate Argentine doctor senorita Isabella Mendez whom they have kidnapped for ransom. The gorgeous good doctor rewards the lad with the gold plate given to her as a gift by the natives, and Terry and the ‘dactyl return to the safety of their home on the great plateau. The best thing about the story is that the illustrator had sneaked in his signature in one of the panels which helped me identify him as Giorgio Giorgetti. This means that I can now confirm the name of the artist who illustrated quite a few adventure strips in IPC comics, including The Ghostly Galleon in SHIVER AND SHAKE and most importantly Rat Trap in COR!!

Panel with the artist's signature

The Annual had one more adventure thriller called The Menace of Formula X. It first appeared in COR!! weeklies and all 20 pages of the original story were reprinted the Annual. I covered it in detail HERE a couple of years ago.

Other reprints included the usual selection of Hot Rod, Stoneage Brit Ancient Nit and The Robot Maker, all re-arranged into two-pagers and some coloured-in. With the two installments of The Robot Maker in this Annual, the number of reprints of the strip in MFC publications summed up to 19 which meant that the stock of original episodes from the COR!! run in 1970 was now exhausted.


The most exciting thing about this Annual is that it has two Badtime Bedtime Books. Both are classic BBBs in everything except that they aren’t pull-outs.

The Story of Traffic Island by Robert Loony Stevedore is presented by none other than Leonard Rottingsocks – ‘office boy, wit, and prehistoric chip buttie collector’, whatever this means. The Traffic Island is actually a plot of lush greenery inside a busy traffic roundabout. Little Jim Ladd is sent there to fetch the Mayor’s hat that was blown off and landed there. He meets two weird inhabitants of the island – the poor Ben Gooni who was accidentally left behind when the road was built, and the evil Long Gone Silver who was ‘deported’ by the Mayor and now wears Mayor’s hat in revenge. Jim is a smart lad: not only does he recover the hat but he also helps Ben Gooni break free from the island. 


The story was interrupted a few times by promotional intermissions featuring the loony Dr. Bonce, 'noted brain surgeon and twit':


I don’t know the name of the artist but he was not nearly as good as Mike Brown who drew the second BBB - the absolutely brilliant Badtime Bedtime Annual Story Starchy and Butch. Here it is in full:






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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A LOOK AT MONSTER FUN STRIPS: TERROR TV


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.