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 Les Barton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Les Barton. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


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, July 24, 2014


The second and the last Frankie Stein annual – WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1977, was 128 pages thick and cost 85 p. – an increase of 10 p. since the previous year. The soft-cover volume had colour covers with the same drawing by Robert Nixon used on the front and the back, and was all b/w inside. 70 pages were filled with Frankie Stein material and 58 were non-Frankie Stein content.

The first story that one finds on opening the book is This is Your Life – Story! – a 10-page spoof of This is Your Life TV programme nicely drawn by Robert Nixon. Unexpectedly for himself, Frankie becomes a special guest of a TV show hosted by Raymond Andshake, the sneaky TV interviewer. The show is a mix of documentary footage about Frankie’s life and his surprise ‘live’ studio reunions with people from his past, such as the local electrician who has aged prematurely through having to work day and night trying to repair the damage caused by Frankie, his school football team mates some of whom are still suffering from the injuries they received playing with Frankie and finally his Dad who comes to regret being on the show because he gets bashed by other studio guests for creating Frankie. Mr. Nixon did a great job drawing the strip, and I have included it in full at the bottom of this post for you to enjoy and appreciate.

The covers and This is Your Life – Story! was the only new material that Mr. Nixon contributed to WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1977.  As had become a tradition in those Frankie Stein publications, the editor re-used some of Mr. Nixon’s Frankie Stein artwork from Shiver and Shake weeklies, turning it into spot-the-difference puzzles (two of them in this book) and even putting it on the title page:

It seems that none of the better IPC artists were available to draw the other two new Frankie Stein stories, so the job was given to an illustrator whose name I don’t know and who IMHO wasn’t really up for the task. In Robinson Frankie (a 6-pager) Prof. Cube has an idea to get rid of Frankie by dumping him on a desert island and making him Robinson Crusoe. In Frankie Stein Super-Freak (an 8-pager featured on the front cover) we find out that Frankie is a fan of Superman TV programme and likes to play at being Superman. This gives Prof. Cube an idea to make him a Frankieman suit with a pair of rockets attached to his boots, so that with a bit of luck they would take him to another galaxy. As could be expected, the plan misfires and causes big trouble for Dad. The first panel of the first page shown below is the other illustrator’s poor sketch of the bright front cover artwork by Mr. Nixon.

The 8 pages of Frankie Stein by Ken Reid reprinted in the annual are taken from WHAM! issues 50, 72, 83, 84, 109, 31, 152 and 53 (listed here in the order of their appearance in the book). It was nice of them not to tamper with the artwork or the text, although they had to extend a few rows of panels to fill the pages. They also used a drawing of Prof. Cube’s head by Ken Reid from the episode of Frankie Stein in WHAM! No. 76 and turned it into this puzzle:

Original drawing in WHAM!

The book has 9 pages filled with themed Frankie Stein gags by Jim Crocker: Frankie’s Fun Spots (signed), Frankie at Work, Frankie in Uniform, Frankie Stein Film Star and Frankie Abroad (all unsigned).  

Two pages of Professor Cube – Inventor! gags (also illustrated by Crocker, I believe) shared the title with Professor Cube – Inventor! ‘Relatively Speaking’ - a nice 6-pager drawn for this book by the excellent Frank McDiarmid. The brand new story introduced us to some of Prof. Cube’s relatives from around the World. I showed the strip in full not so long ago, you can view it HERE.

The book also offers a selection of nice Frankie Stein fun features, such as three 2–pagers of Frankie Puzzles by Les Barton that look very much like Ticklish Allsorts in MONSTER FUN COMIC:

… a 4-page Frankie’s calendar by Sid Burgon, here are the first 6 months:

The Frankie Stein Book of Knowledge (a 2-pager) by the artist whose name I don’t know but I believe he also illustrated Mum’s the Word in the early issues of Whoopee!:

… and Frankie Job References:

Frank McDiarmid was responsible for most of new non-Frankie Stein content. He drew two instalments of Monster Movie Makers, 4 pages long each. In the first story Carlo Monte, the head of the now famous film-studios, decides to make ‘The Ghost of Cleopatra’ and uses some real ghosts who volunteer to join his cast. The film turns out so scary that it frightens off all the customers and the ghosts are the only ones enjoying it in the empty theatre during the premiere… In the second story Carlo Monte and his crew go to the Himalayan Mountains in Tibet to make a documentary film of the abominable snowman but after many hours of searching the project ends in fiasco because of Carlo Monte’s idiot assistants.

Frank McDiarmid also contributed a 4-page episode of Weird Wolf in which the howling ghost wolf is so sick and tired of being an outcast from society that he decides to stop himself from howling at the moon. Easier said than done…

Together with 6 pages of Professor Cube – Inventor! ‘Relatively Speaking’ which was mentioned before, the contribution of Mr. McDiarmid to WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1977 amounted to 18 pages.

Draculass (a two-pager) by Terry Bave and Creepy Car (a two-pager) by I’m not sure who but definitely not by Reg Parlett who at the time was the regular artist of the strip in WHOOPEE!, were included in a Frankie Stein publication for the first time and may very well be new material.

The House on Hangman’ s Heath was another new addition to the package. It was a 12-page one-off chilling mystery yarn about an orphaned boy named Roddy Mason who inherited an old deserted mansion from his deceased uncle and went to inspect the property without listening to his lawyer Jabez Kane who advised against going there. While exploring the mansion, the boy and his new friend Nick Damon from the local newspaper experience a series of strange life-threatening events and encounter a hooded ghost figure that is determined to send them to their death. The two think the villain is Jebez Kane, the solicitor, but in the end it turns out to be Roddy Mason’s uncle who hadn’t died but pretended that he had to escape his problems with the law. Why the uncle wanted to kill the boy and the journalist both of whom he had never seen before remains a mystery unsolved, so it’s a case of suspense for the sake of suspense – not a very rare thing in comics. The story looks like new materia. Reader of this blog Briony C says the artist was Tony Coleman (also known as George Anthony). Thanks, Briony!

The House on Hangman’ s Heath was not the only adventure strip in WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1977 – there were also two 6-page episodes of Crabbe’s Crusaders, both reprinted from BUSTER where it ran in 1969. Like in the previous three Frankie Stein publications, there were also some reprints of The Haunts of the Headless Harry and Ghost Ship from SMASH! (3 original one-page episodes of each strip have been converted into two-pagers).  One two-page episode of Harry’s Haunted House by Reg Parlett was included for the first time; the caption at the top of the page said it was ‘a freaky Friend of Frankie from Whizzer and Chips’.

Ghost Ship crew

And now, as promised, here is THIS IS YOUR LIFE – Story! in full. I’ve said it once and I will say it again – wouldn’t it be great if Egmont put together a collected edition of Robert Nixon’s Frankie Stein from the seventies before the artist adopted a simplified drawing style! 

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