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.



Saturday, August 28, 2021

WHOOPEE!’s SPOOKTACULAR 7 by BRIAN WALKER - PART TWO - 1978

Here’s Part Two of my account of the ‘cases’ dealt with by the Spooktacular 7 (formerly known as the crew of Scream Inn). This blogpost covers all WHOPPEE! issues for 1978 till the end of April - leaving the rest for Part Three.

7th January 1978   S7 provide music at the New Year party when the Canal Road Band gate-crash the party (singer does his impression of Johnny Rotten)

14th January 1978  Evil waxworks owner Professor Kreeps tries to turn S7 into exhibits of his chamber of horrors but Cyril the spider saves the day

21th January 1978  Number one stages a practice alarm and the practice session pays off because S7 accidentally bust a burglar:


28th January 1978  S7 are hired by the owner of a winter sports centre in Scotland to deal with a blackmailing winter sports guide writer (a three-pager – the only one in the weekly series!)...


4th February 1978  S7 are hired to return a boy who had run away 40 years  ago to join a circus...


11th February 1978  S7 deal with a mysterious invisible intruder who's been taking things from Grotty Grange

18th February 1978  S7 deal with a gang of Chinese Canaries smugglers:


25th February 1978 S7 deal with a cunning Medium named Madam Kazumpa

4th March 1978     Sergeant tricks S7 into signing into recruits but then the spooks scare him into tearing up their papers

11th March 1978   S7 deal with a gang of bag snatchers in Gassworks Alley:


18th March 1978  S7 are hired to protect a racehorse from being doped before the big race tomorrow

25th March 1978  Werewolf at Lady Svivering's manor house

1st April 1978       Eggs'pert diamond smugglers...


8th April 1978    S7 are summoned to the Palace cinema to redecorate it and experience transport problems getting there...


15th April 1978   Fortune teller tells to stop today's water speed-record attempt

22 April 1978      S7 are hired to watch the eggs laid by a very rare spotted-mug hawk from being stolen by crooked egg collectors...

29 April 1978    S7 are assigned to find a lost explorer Dr. Livingroom who went to Amazon find a lost tribe of the Tintacs...

Final Part will follow shortly…

Characters are © Rebellion Publishing Ltd

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.


 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

WHOOPEE!’s SPOOKTACULAR 7 by BRIAN WALKER in 1977


SCREAM INN was an excellent strip by Brian Walker that started in SHIVER AND SHAKE in 1973 where it ran for 79 weeks, totalling 158 pages (plus two guest-appearance pages in The Wizards Anonymous strip), and continued in WHOOPEE! after the two comics merged in 1974, totalling 153 weekly episodes, or 306 pages. I covered both runs in my two series on this blog (Part One of the SHIVER AND SHAKE series can be found HERE, and Part One of the WHOOPEE! series – HERE; further installments of both series can be found by clicking ‘newer post’ at the bottom of the two links above).

After SCREAM INN concluded in WHOOPEE! for 1st October 1977, the ghostly gang returned a week later in a new strip called SPOOKTACULAR 7, lasting 42 weekly two-page installments, till WHOOPEE! cover-dated 22nd July, 1978. Most of the original SCREAM INN magic (which largely came from the fact that it was a reader-participation feature where fans could suggest candidates who could try spending a night at the haunted establishment and winning a million pound) was gone, but Brian Walker’s brilliant artwork still made the strip shine. In the last part of my old WHOOPEE! series I said I would cover SPOOKTACULAR 7 later on, so here we go.

Fans of SCREAM INN will know that in the last episode Innkeeper won the prize of £ 1,000,000, and the glorious series ended with this teaser:


The new strip was called ‘SPOOKTACULAR 7’, and although the title suggests it was inspired by the popular American film, in fact it is a lot like Reg Parlett’s ‘HIRE A HORROR’ and ‘RENT A GHOST’ in IPC sister publications. In the new series, the old SCREAM INN motto ‘We’re Only Here for the Fear’ was replaced by a sign that read ‘S.O.S. Send Our Spooks Service’ but otherwise things stayed more or less the same. Here’s the front cover of WHOOPEE! with the first episode of SPOOKTACULAR 7, followed by the complete two-pager introducing the S7:


This post is the full account of the ‘mirth filled missions’ of SPOOKTACULAR 7 in 1977. The next post – or maybe two – will cover the antics of the lovable spooks in 1978, till the strip was put to rest. Always remember, that:

8th October, 1977            The Magnificent Seven film inspires Innkeeper to form THE SPOOKTACULAR 7. S7 deal with a school bully (as shown above); SCREAM INN had already dealt with one in WHOOPEE! for 5th July 1975…

15th October 1977           S7 help a store deal with its shoplifting problem; the issue of WHOOPEE! also offered an Innkeeper cut-out mask:

22nd October 1977          S7 help husband get rid of hiccups...

29th October 1977           S7 deal with a mystery thief amongst staff in the fairground ghost train

5th November 1977        S7 are called out to deal with a ferocious foreman at the new building site

12th November 1977      S7 are called out to a beauty competition finals to deal with some local ruffians who turn up to cause trouble:

19th November 1977      S7 deal with a tyrannical traffic warden

26th November 1977     S7 recover a stolen Egyptian Mummy along with dozens of treasures – from a wicked owner of the museum of stolen goodies

3rd December 1977        S7 deal with a pesky park keeper

10th December 1977      S7 act as replacements for injured players in a football match and stand up to tough opposition and foul play...

17th December 1977      S7 help out Witch's nephew Charlie who's gone into show biz to be an escapologist but can't really do the tricks by himself:

24th December 1977      S7 help Lord Hardup get rid of some unwanted guests – a wealthy family who rented a suite in his castle but wouldn't pay or leave

31st December 1977       Xmas episode: S7 teach Fred Cratchit's great-grandson a lesson for trying to take revenge on Ebenezer Scrooge's grandson by forcing him to work on Christmas:

Part Two will follow shortly…

Characters are © Rebellion Publishing Ltd

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.


 

 

Monday, March 22, 2021

THE MYSTERY OF THE OLD WELL – FUDGE THE ELF STORY No. 10 by KEN REID

 

THE MYSTERY OF THE OLD WELL was adventure ten in FUDGE THE ELF series created, written and illustrated by Ken Reid. It first appeared in THE MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS between August 20, 1951 and May 10, 1952, and was reprinted as SPECK AND THE MICROMEN between March 13, 1976 and 27 November 1976. The version that I have photocopies of is the reprint one, and according to FUDGE THE ELF index at the back of FUDGE IN BUBBLEVILLE edition published by Savoy Books in 1981, text captions were re-set and occasionally rewritten, and four panels were omitted. The original story consisted of 672 panels, 224 strips.

I have nine of the 27 Fudge the Elf tales so far, plus the stories reprinted in book form by University of London Press and Savoy Books, and although I doubt they would appeal to the modern reader, I am still convinced Fudge and the Magic Book (story No. 26), covered on my blog in two parts HERE and HERE, would make an excellent feature film in the hands of the right producer/director…

Here’s my long-read detailed illustrated summary of THE MYSTERY OF THE OLD WELL tale for die-hard fans of the one and only Mr. Ken Reid:

It begins on August 13:


Despite Fudge’s refusal to believe in witches, the bell tower on Ivy Hill calls the gathering of the evil sisterhood at the Witch Knell:

Sensing danger, Fudge and Speck try to hide in the Leafy Wood but Grizhilda Fungusfang lures them into a trap and kidnaps the poor elves with the aid of Kirk – her magic broomstick. As it turns out, the witch plans to use them as specimen for demonstration purposes during her lecture on changing the human eyeball into plover’s egg. During the lecture, another witch - Liza Lichenchin – accuses Grizhilda Fungusfang of plagiarising her spell and the two get into a squabble. Amidst the commotion, Woozle the Wizard appears out of nowhere and sets the elves free.


Hiding in the bushes, they hear a strange sound coming from the foliage above:


They dash for the safety of Speck’s woodland home:

In the morning Fudge and Speck decide to investigate. The mysterious creature is still up there, and it turns out to be nothing more than a fat prize pig stuck between the branches. They help the poor thing down and go to the police station to report the strange incident. 


The two fiends speculate that the explanation might lie in a failed magic spell of Woozle the Wizard – known for his muddled magic – who rescued them from the witches gathering last night. It turns out the wizard was indeed cooking up something new: 

Fudge and Speck establish that flying pigs have nothing to do with either Woozle the Wizard or the witches, so the mystery remains unsolved. Moreover, on their way home they see huge inflated cows fly across the sky...

The following morning the Pixieville Post announces that the pigs have been claimed by farmer Barleycorn of Bumpingham. The two pals set out for the village to investigate. N.B. As you may recall, the original name of this tale is THE MYSTERY OF THE OLD WELL, and the first time we get to see the actual well is nearly a quarter-way into the story in panel 143:

It’s a hot day, and an old villager offers Speck some water freshly drawn from the well. This is what happens as the ‘old ‘un’ shares some interesting village folklore with them:


The conclusion is obvious: 


Morning paper confirms Speck’s speculations:

Speck decides to get to the root of it and find out all he can about microbes. He starts by getting himself some laboratory equipment:


 …and consulting some scientific literature:


A few days pass before Fudge pays Speck a visit:


 After a week of fruitless experimenting, Speck tells Fudge that he has made up his mind to go down the well. The plan is to take a bottleful of Woozle the Wizard’s reducing pills and reduce himself to the size of a microbe. Speck also pays a visit to old Grockle, the village clockmaker, who makes Speck an apparatus that is so tiny that it can only be seen though the microscope:


Fudge has no intention of joining his mate on this mad expedition but Speck coaxes him into trying one of the reducing pills to experience what it’s like to be microscopic. The effects are supposed to wear off after an hour, but since the expedition was going to take a lot more than that, Woozle has also made extra-strong pills that last three weeks, and Speck gives Fudge one of those by mistake. Speck realizes that the only way out of this mess is for him to take one of the extra-strong pills too, and find his mate who is lost in the maze of gigantic cotton threads of the tablecloth:



Their plan is nearly derailed by a sudden ‘hurricane’ caused by the wings of a house-fly, but finally they board Tiny Tim and their journey begins: 


It turns out that the faintest breeze is enough to fling the little machine off its course:


They get entangled in the fur of a little dog… 


… and finally land at the bottom of the old well: 

Check out this long sequence of their first steps in the alien and unfamiliar world:









Tiny Tim gets swept away by the blast, and all they can do is continue their search on foot. Suddenly: 


For a second time in this story, Fudge and Speck are captives again: 

After an intense, albeit silent conversation, the creatures fall asleep and the two adventurers set themselves free. They come across two deserted dart-machines and realise they must have been piloted by their captors. Speck squeezes himself into one of them hoping to figure out how to operate it and use it in Tiny Tim’s place but the strange creatures wake up and recapture the fugitives. 

They make Speck and Fudge mount the dart machines and are taking them somewhere, but soon acquire some ferocious-looking and very determined pursuers: 

After the attack, the pilot of Speck’s machine turns into a bulbuos object and drifts aimlessly in the water, his dart-machine heads twirling downward in the water, and Speck goes down with it.

Speck realizes that the tiny attacker must be the evil Inflatraphobia microbe: 

In the meantime, the pilot of Fudge’s dart machine realizes something is amiss, swoops swiftly downwards and skids to the standstill on the ground. Fudge shows some courage and makes a new friend whom he decides to name Willie: 



Fudge and Willie set off again, but before they leave the scene, Fudge sees his friend being taken away: 

Agitated by seeing his friend, Fudge falls off the dart-machine and finds himself on a strange greenish-grey ‘living’ plane that nearly devours him, but Willie comes to his rescue: 

Willie takes Fudge to a futuristic city: 


… where he meets the local Ruler-in-Chief: 

Glug explains things more clearly: the city is called Micromania, and it is inhabited by the Micromen who share the city with a race of intelligent microbes – Flagalites – who carry out less skilled work. Micromen coexist at the bottom of the old well with the Germites – the lowly race who have taken into their silly heads to rule the Earth by breeding millions of Inflatrophobia microbes. Their plan is to release these creatures in untold numbers on the world above, causing every living thing to float from the Earth’s surface, leaving it free to themselves. Glug tells Fudge that his people are about to launch a large-scale attack on Germites in an attempt to destroy the breeding grounds of their microbes. Before saying his good-byes, Glug gives Fudge a pass enabling him to go anywhere in Micromania.

Fudge goes to explore the strange city and meet some of its inhabitants: 


His tour is cut short by the call summoning the fighting men to duty and signaling them to board the great fighting ship that is now ready to leave for its attack on the Germites. Fudge must go with them to save his friend! 


Fudge explores the ship as it sails to the battle but his excursion is cut short again:


A battle ensues: 

Unexpected orders from the Captain stop Fudge’s eagerness to help: 

Amidst the gadzillions of disguise bubbles emitted by the fighting ship (remember ‘windowing’ used by British Air Force during Germany bombings in WWII?), Fudge and the ‘specially trained’ Microman land near the breeding domes: 

… and take out the guards one-by-one:


The two ‘special agents’ then render the germs harmless without exterminating them because the chemical destroys only the sharp fangs with which they inject the  poison which causes Inftaprophobia:

The next – and the hardest – step is “operation rescue Speck”. It involves getting beneath the greenish-grey spongy surface and entering the gloomy underworld of ‘Germania’ where the two bold agents decide to disguise themselves: 

All goes well until they run into a group of young Germites who decide to hold a shooting contest using the disguised Fudge and the Microman as targets. 

As it turns out, Speck has escaped from his captors and is also hiding in one of those stout roots. The time for the effects of the reducing pill to wear off has come:

The growing body of Speck breaks through the ‘living plane’ and faces the danger of being attacked by Micromens’ fighting machine, but now he is too big to be harmed: 

Finally, the full-size Speck emerges from the pleasant meandering stream flowing from a green hill side not far from the village of Bumpingham, where the story comes up to an abrupt happy ending: 



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.