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 Ron Turner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ron Turner. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Adventure serials involving man-made mechanical monsters were rather common in UK comics of the 60s and the 70s – The Toys of Doom in BUSTER, Von Hoffman’s Invasion in JET and later BUSTER, Young McDonald and His Farm in COR!! Holiday Specials and Annuals are some of the memorable examples. March of the Mighty Ones was MFC’s offering in this genre, and an excellent one too.

John’s and Jenny’s Dad Richard Byrd is an engineering expert who works for Anvil Film Production Studios as constructor of realistic life-size mechanical monsters for various film projects. He can control all his creations by electronic impulses sent from his central computer. In the first episode the engineer and the whole film crew are off to do some location filming of Abominable Snowman in Tibet, leaving John and Jenny behind to look after the hangar full of monsters. Things go wrong the next night when the central computer is struck by a bolt of lightning, activating the horde of giant prehistoric creatures and sending them on the march. All of them are in aggressive attack-and-destroy mode, the local police station is flattened, all phone lines are down, the monsters spread across the area and the whole country is in grave danger. Local population flees in panic.  Being the only ones with the knowledge of the robots needed to destroy them, the young Byrds stay behind and set off on a mission to track the monsters down and destroy them one by one.

This was the general background for John’s and Jenny’s weekly dramatic encounters with the various mechanical beasts. John had memorized lots of details about each and every monster, so he always knew their exact weak spot or the place where their vital parts were fitted. Young John Byrd had a good memory because the number of beasts he and his sister Jenny tackled during the 73 episodes of the story was quite impressive – I have counted 25 individual monsters and 8 groups between two and a few hundred ‘things’.  

The vast majority were replicas of real dinosaurs and pre-historic animals – such as Tyrannosaurus, Pterodactyl, Archaeotherium, Iguanodon, Glyptodon, etc. etc.; a few were fantastic creatures – such as a giant ground sloth or a cross between a camel and a pre-historic horse capable of firing electric power bolts from its stubby trunk. There were some homo sapiens specimen as well – such as a pair of mechanical prehistoric cave-men and even two professional criminals and bank robbers Jim and Joe; these two were different from the rest because rather than being part of the horde of the monsters running amok, they were crazy marauders looking to plunder the deserted town crawling with monster machines. 

In issues 54 to 56 John and Jenny got caught in cross-fire as they accidentally found themselves in a private safari park full of real feline predators and had to fight a twenty-ton Hydrosaur at the same time:

The young Byrds were quite inventive in their means of destruction: sometimes the two monster-slayers used heavy construction machinery to wreck the fake monsters, sometimes they burned or drowned them, and very often they smashed electronic brain circuits and main control units of the predators or removed fuses from their systems. This usually caused the mechanical beasts to go BA-THOOMPA! in flames. 

In a number of visually striking episodes fire only destroyed the outer fabric covering and exposed the steel skeleton but did not stop the haywire brute so finishing it off called for an extra effort of the Byrds. 

Sometimes the episodes were comical – in issue 10 an old man whom John and Jenny saved from a nasty sabre-toothed tiger got so mad at a terrifying Megalosaurus for trampling his property that he poked it with a pitchfork and short-circuit sent it into flames; in another episode John tricked two aggressive robot cave-men into stuffing themselves silly with canned herring and then ripped their main fuses out. Of course, things weren’t always that easy; the brave monster-busters often faced mortal danger and other drama such as separation, amnesia and even a hostage situation. It’s nice how they managed to keep their mood up celebrating important holidays:

…and simply being normal kids:

In issue 43 the young Byrds met and adopted Lonely – a dog that became a full-fledged member of their monster-hunting team:

The scene of the weekly episodes was set in different eerie settings often seen in horror movies (deserted town, empty amusement park, old quarry, desolate movie theatre, disused colliery shaft, toy factory warehouse, abandoned stately home with a private maze, empty posh school, etc.).  The writer of March of the Mighty Ones also had a soft spot for vintage vehicles and machinery – whenever the kids needed to drive somewhere, they could be trusted to pick a vintage car, and in No. 31 they even borrowed a World War I tank from the local weapons museum and drove it against Cetiosaurus – the biggest dinosaur of them all.

The last cliff-hanger frame of the episode in issue 71 (Oh, no! I – I simply can’t believe it! Surely not… It can’t be! – screams John upon seeing something we can’t see) kept readers in suspense for two weeks because March of the Mighty Ones missed the penultimate issue of MFC (No. 72 – the only issue without the story). The story ended with this whopping 4-page set in the last edition. The young monster hunters look as good as doomed as they face a horde of the last remaining 5o of Dad’s fake monster army led by a huge Tyrannosaurus:

As can be seen from the last episodes, a change of the illustrator had taken place. The main artist was Mike White who drew March of the Mighty Ones from the first issue. Starting from the episode in MFC No. 63, Ron Turner took over and continued drawing the feature till the very end.

The idea of March of the Mighty Ones lent itself perfectly to powerful visualisation and the excellent execution by two top-rate artists made it an attractive and readable series. I find it a bit surprising it was not transferred to Buster and Monster Fun because I think it had potential for a long and successful run.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


1984 SHIVER & SHAKE Annual. The price was still £ 1.95 but the volume got even slimmer and only had 96 pages. Like in the 1983 Annual, two different kinds of paper were used - quality white paper for sections with colour pages and pulp paper for the middle section of the book. 

Contents: Wacky Winter Sports (in full colour by Terry Bave), Webster (2 sets by Terry Bave), Sweeny Toddler (2 sets by Tom Paterson, one in full colour), Blunderpuss (2 sets by Terry Bave, one in full colour), Castle Cackle (3 instalments), The Duke’s Spook (2 sets, one in full colour), Horrornation Street (2 sets by Jim Crocker, one in full colour), Shake (4 sets, two in full colour by Mike Lacey, all are reprints), ‘Orrible Hole (2 sets, one in full colour by Crocker), Lolly Pop (2 new sets: a 4-pager and a 3-pager by Sid Burgon), The Desert Fox (by Terry Bave), Shake’s Jumbo Jests (gags by Crocker), The Forest Legion (a 4-pager), Tough Nutt and Softy Centre (2 sets by Norman Mansbridge, one definitely a reprint), Frankie and the Beanstalk (a 5-page tale by Brian Walker), Sports School (2 sets by Jim Watson), The Hand (by Les Barton), Grimly Feendish (2 sets signed by Swotts), Ghoul Getters Ltd. (2 sets by Trevor Metcalfe from SHIVER AND SHAKE Nos. 73 and 77, one coloured-in), Shiver and Shake’s Diamond Dungeon Game (by J. Edward Oliver), Moana Lisa (2 sets by Peter Davidson, one in full colour), Shiver’s Posts For Ghosts (text story with illustrations by Crocker), Ghouldilocks (2 reprints, art by Stan McMurtry), The Hand Presents Me and My Shadow, Toby’s Timepiece (a 5-pager by Ron Turner), Shake’s Picture Posers (spot-the-difference puzzle, reuses an old ShSh cover), The Ghost’s Revenge (4 pages by I don’t know who), Shiver’s Ghostly Giggles (gags by Crocker), Frankie Stein (4 pages by Brian Walker), Shiver (by Terry Bave).

Upon opening the book we find a busy colourful winter sports scene with lots of SHIVER AND SHAKE characters, all drawn by Terry Bave:

With 10 pages of artwork, Terry Bave was the biggest contributor, followed closely by Brian Walker and Jim Crocker (9 pages each). The latter substituted the regular artist Tom Williams on both Horrornation Street episodes in this Annual:

The Forest Legion got a new artist but I don’t know the name. It is the first ever episode without Boss and Butch who are probably spending their days in jail since their last adventure in the previous Annual… This time Winnie the Witch treats the legionnaires to some magic buns and turns them into her slaves so that they do all the chores for her. Mole is the smart one who doesn’t eat his bun; he uses a spell from the Witch’s spell-book against her and makes the nasty old woman lift her spell from his mates.

There are two Frankie Stein stories in the Annual, both illustrated by Brian Walker. In Frankie and the Beanstalk Prof. Cube tries out his new plant food and grows a giant beanstalk. He causes grand-scale disaster when he chops it down as Frankie climbs to the top hoping to find the goose that lays golden eggs. The beanstalk is so tall that Frankie hits the ground in France and the beanstalk disrupts maritime transport across the English Channel. Frankie crosses the Channel back to England and returns home where an accidental spill of the plant food turns him into a giant…

In the second story Dad has to buy a new set of furniture because Frankie’s broken every piece in Mildew Manor but Frankie smashes it again when he tumbles head over heels down a pile of dirt and into the house after Dad jabs him with a spade.

Frankie sitting on a pile of dirt 
moments before Prof. Cube digs himself 
out of it underneath him.

Both Grimly Feendish tales were illustrated by a new artist who signed them as Swotts. In the first episode Grimly plans to “clean up” the town by drowning it in soap-suds from the local laundry. In the second tale Grimly robs a toy shop but gets into trouble when he tries to pay for some sweets with Monopoly money. Here are sample panels from both sets with the artist’s signature:

There are a couple of new features in the Annual. One is Castle Cackle, drawn and signed by Mitch. Here is one of the three installments from the book:

It is the first time that a text story is included in a SHIVER AND SHAKE publication. In a 2-page tale called Shiver’s Posts for Ghosts the protagonist (Shiver the spook) tells us about his efforts to earn himself some cash by standing in for other ghosts while they go on holiday. Check out the first page of the feature below. Jim Crocker provided illustrations.

I would also like to mention Shiver and Shake’s Diamond Dungeon game drawn and signed by J.Edward Oliver:

As usual, I’ve saved my personal highlight for the end of the blogpost. I am not a fan of Toby’s Timepiece but this time I find the story quite good. Ron Turner’s artwork makes it even better. Here it is in full: