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 Whoopee! Book of Frankie Stein. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Whoopee! Book of Frankie Stein. Show all posts

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.

Monday, July 14, 2014


The first WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN was chronologically the second Frankie Stein publication and came out for the Christmas of 1975. The advert in MONSTER FUN COMIC dated 27th September, 1975 announced it was due to go on sale on 1st October. The softcover book had 128 pages and cost 75 p. Apart from bright front and back covers it was all b/w, printed on coarse pulp paper prone to heavy browning (hence the weird colour of the majority of images included in this post – the result of my efforts to make them look better…).

WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1976 followed the pattern set in the first FS Summer Special: some content was Frankie Stein-related and some wasn’t. I have counted 61 pages of the former variety – that’s less than a half of the book. This is a Frankie Stein publication so let’s deal with that part of the content first. Less than one third was puzzles, mazes, gags or other features named after Frankie (e.g. Frankie’s Personal Disaster Diary):

Just like in the first FS Summer Special, both spot-the-difference puzzles were in fact pieces of Bob Nixon’s artwork taken from Shiver and Shake weekly comics (Seeing Double was the front cover of Shiver and Shake No. 61 (4th May, 1974) and Double Trouble with Frankie swinging a tank holding it by the gun was a panel from the episode in Shiver and Shake No. 53 (9th March, 1974)).

One thing that I find interesting about those Frankie Stein publications is that artists who’d never had anything to do with the friendly monster were often asked to draw something for the specials or books. We’ll see a lot of this in later publications. In WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1976 it was two pages of Frankie's Funspots by Jim Crocker and this contribution of Cliff Brown:

Enough about puzzles, let’s look at Frankie Stein strips which occupied 39 pages (42 if we count both covers and the “this book belongs to” page). There were four brand new Frankie Stein tales, all drawn by Bob Nixon, and Frankie Stein in Funtastic Voyage (6 pages) is first in line. Contrary to what the title suggests, it was not Frankie but Prof. Cube who went on that voyage. He accidentally swallowed some shrinking pills which he had hoped to use on Frankie, and Frankie ate him up with his bun. That’s how Prof. Cube found himself inside Frankie’s body. Looking at these panels I can’t help thinking about Ken Reid’s The Nervs in SMASH!:

T.V. Frankie Stein was a two-pager in which Frankie went through a lot of trouble to visit the girl of his dreams but got bitterly disappointed in the end. Quite an unusual set, IMHO:

Frankie Stein Time Traveller was the third new tale (an 8-pager) in which Prof. Cube persuaded his troublesome creation to try out a time machine in hope that he’d get lost in time. Frankie’s first stop was in the Wild West where he accepted Sheriff’s position and rid the town of some nasty red Indians and then Black Jake the robber:

His second stop was in the times of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table where he took part in a tournament and jousted against the evil knight Sir Vile before making it home safely.

1976 Winter Olympics were near so a Frankie Stein winter sports story was an appropriate proposition. Frankie Stein in Winter Sports was a 6-pager in which Prof. Cube came up with an idea that entering Frankie in the Olympics might be a good way to get rid of him for good:

Bob Nixon redrew the last panel of the second page shown above for the back cover of this book:

There were three pages of Freaky Frankie – a strip without speech balloons by an unknown artist whose drawing style I don’t find very appealing:

There were also 12 pages of reprints of Frankie Stein episodes by Ken Reid from WHAM!, but I’ll discuss them further down in this post.

Frank McDiarmid contributed one new Frankie Stein tale - Professor Cube – Inventor! (a 6-pager) in which Frankie Stein played a minor part opposite Dad. It was a story about Prof. Cube’s inventing misadventures in his pre-Frankie days:

…which of course were now over and long-forgotten:

Mr. McDiarmid was also the only contributor of new non-Frankie-Stein strip content in this book. Weird Wolf was a tale about a ghost wolf whose most favourite pastime was howling at the Moon, much to the annoyance of the population of the town of Dullton who tried different schemes to get rid of the pest. Two episodes (a three-pager and a two-pager) were included in this book. Here's a taste:

The second new non-Frankie-Stein strip by Mr. McDiarmid was The Movie Makers, two 4-page episodes can be found in this book. It is about daft International Film Studios who had no clue how to make movies. Their first one was so horrible that it became a blockbuster as the ‘World’s Most Horrific Film’ and made them believe they could do more of the kind:

The rest of non-Frankie-Stein comic strip content was reprints. The strips they chose to reprint were already familiar to readers of the first FS Summer Special: Ghost Ship (3 episodes, originally from SMASH!), The Haunts of Headless Harry (3 episodes, originally from SMASH! as well), Crabbe’s Crusaders (adventure tale, one episode spanning 8 pages, originally from BUSTER) and best of all - Mervyn’s Monsters. Drawn by Leo Baxendale, the strip originally appeared in BUSTER in the late 60s and was a tale of the epic struggle between two opposing secret services – M.U.M. (Mervyn’s Undercover Monsters) and C.R.U.S.H (Crafty Rascals’ Union of Saboteurs and Hoodlums, headed by Oscar Mush). The original run consisted of a number of serialised stories, and the 18-pager reprinted in this book was Mervyn’s Monsters Starring in the Incredible Abominable Snowmen Adventure that started in Buster AND GIGGLE dated 16th March, 1968 (note that this is not the first episode of the original series). Check out the opening pages in Buster and WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1976:

Getting back to Frankie Stein but keeping on the subject of reprints, the book contains quite a few  episodes by Ken Reid. Originally they are from WHAM! Nos. 43, 46, 54, 47, 75, 68 (listed here in the order of appearance of reprints in the Book). As always, the original one-pagers were tampered with and converted into two-pagers, therefore the total page count of Ken Reid artwork comes to 12. Check out an example from WHAM! and compare it with the doctored version in the Book. They certainly took liberties with the original…

From WHAM! No. 68, 2nd October, 1965

Reprint in Whoopee! Book of Frankie Stein 1976

WHOOPEE! BOOK OF FRANKIE STEIN 1976 also had a fair amount of ‘monster’ and ‘horror’ non-comic strip features that weren’t related to Frankie Stein, e.g. Man Made Monsters (photos of giant machines and structures with some factual details), Screen Scream (screenshots from horror movies with humorous speech balloons), Spot the Star (mugshots of contemporary stars with Frankenstein forehead, hairdo and neck-bolts attached) and Monsters of the Screen (screenshots of monsters from various films). As you can see, this book was very much in the horror comedy genre so it was a suitable substitute for MONSTER FUN COMIC annual 1976 which IPC didn’t have time to put together in the first year of MFC. It is probably not by coincidence that IPC ran a series of adverts in MFC weeklies, and Frankie mentioned the book on a number of occasions in his letters section.