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.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


The end of the year is a good time to look back and see where my collecting hobby and enthusiasm for UK comics has taken me and what lies ahead... First of all I am very happy and proud I completed a detailed overview of SHIVER AND SHAKE that is easily one of my favourite British comics. I was hoping it will be a kind of an introduction to the epic quest of covering the entire eleven-year run of WHOOPEE! – the comic that is responsible for triggering my interest in British comics in the first place. I have compiled a detailed index of the title and all of its strips but it looks like the WHOOPEE! tribute project will have to wait because I’ve picked another IPC comic for 2014. As opposed to 567 issues of WHOOPEE!, MONSTER FUN COMIC had a modest run of just 73 issues (which is even less than SHIVER AND SHAKE at 79) and I am confident I can comfortably manage it over the next 12 months.

My other quests for 2014 (and beyond, if necessary) include completing the runs of BUSTER (only 9 issues remaining, plus 4 issues that I need to upgrade condition-wise) and SPARKY (41 issues remaining, including 6 issues that I need better copies of). I am also determined to collect a full set of GIGGLE but it’s a tough one and I still need 16 issues (of the total of 38). In keeping with the theme of the Holiday Season, here is the front cover of the only X-mas number of the title:

This year I was lucky to pick up a few large joblots of The Dandy and The Beano from the 70s and the 80s, also a nice long run of early NUTTYs. Buying large joblots appears to be an excellent idea because comics tend to come in uninterrupted runs and often in fine condition, with pink flyers and even free gifts intact. As an extra bonus, the joblots that I bought were outrageously cheap. I took them to the local binders and had them bound in half-year hard-cover volumes. The only difference between my bound sets and those sometimes offered by phil-comics on eBay is the absence of printed text on the spines of my copies (which makes them look like dull office ledgers from the outside) but I intend to compensate with bright dust-jackets. The plan is to collect complete runs of the Dandy and the Beano from 1970 until the change of format in the late 80s and have them packaged nicely in half-year books. I am also doing pretty well collecting the Beano and the Dandy of the 60s but I have no plans to have them bound. They will all remain individually bagged and boarded because that’s how I believe they should be stored.

That's just a small part of my bound volumes...

I often tell myself my collection is nearly as complete as I’ll ever want it to be and I should put my hobby on hold. The problem that I’ve got is that I have to be very careful reading Comics UK Forum and some UK comics blogs because sometimes I unexpectedly bump into unfamiliar titles and artists that fascinate me and I get carried away again... 2013 was the year I discovered young children’s magazines and comics, such as TREASURE, ONCE UPON A TIME and PLAYHOUR, and in them such artists as Woolcock, Quinto, Mendoza and Hutchings, drawing many first-rate features and strips, such as Gulliver Guinea-Pig in PLAYHOUR. This smoothly brings me back to the subject of the Holiday Season and those scrumptious festive numbers. PLAYHOUR took their Christmas very seriously in the early 60s and played the theme throughout December on the covers and in Gulliver Guinea-Pig tales inside. Check out these images from the X-mas edition of 1960 (unfortunately, the only one from December that I’ve got from the year so far). Artists’ signatures tell us the front cover is by Gordon Hutchings and Gulliver Guinea-Pig by Philip Mendoza.

In December of 1962 PLAYHOUR ran a three-week story Gulliver Guinea-Pig and the Christmas Toymakers illustrated by Hutchings, and in 1963 – another three-week tale of Gulliver Guinea-Pig’s Travels in which the Toymakers invited him to trim Father Christmas’ beard. I will save those for some other time but here is the cover of a 1963 Christmas edition (the last one of the three from that year) and a sweet little X-mas tale from the same number. The cover is somewhat unusual in that it has no sign of snow – was the greenhouse effect already at work in 1963?


Saturday, December 21, 2013


Time for Part Three of Frankie Stein’s Christmases that covers the period from the late 70s till the middle 80s.

When interviewed by Alan Clark for GOLDEN FUN No. 12, Mr. Nixon remembered how he really used to put a lot of work into his early sets and enjoyed it. The interview took place in the early 80s and he admitted he didn’t go into that kind of trouble anymore. “Quite honestly, it doesn’t pay” – said Mr. Nixon. He went on to say that the he would work on an early page for twice as long as a ‘normal’ page and therefore did half the amount of work and halved his income – which he just couldn’t afford to do with a family to support.  Fair enough.

As I said in the previous post, this is my least favourite period of the strip but I have no doubt that many people for whom those years were “their time” of reading the comic would argue it was the best version of Frankie ever…




Bob Nixon must have been very busy in the early 80s because he had no time to draw new Christmas sets of Frankie Stein. The episodes included in the Christmas editions of Whoopee! in 1981 and 1982 were reprints of the original sets printed in 1975 and 1976 (you can view them in the previous post HERE).  However, here’s the cover of 1981 edition of Monster Fun Comic Annual with Frankie and Santa, so it qualifies to be included in this series.  I don’t know who drew it:

The cover of GOLDEN FUN Winter 1981 Grand Christmas Number (No. 12) also falls into the category of Frankie Stein's Christmases:

Normal service resumed in 1983 but the episode was just one page long:

1984 X-mas edition of Whoopee! was the last festive number because by the Holiday Season of 1985 the paper was no more. Bob Nixon contributed the cover and a new episode of Frankie Stein:

Brian Walker occasionally stepped in for Bob Nixon as illustrator of Frankie Stein in WHOOPEE! He didn’t draw any Christmas episodes in the weeklies but here’s a nice example from SHIVER & SHAKE Annual 1986:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Frankie Stein had quite a long life period for a comics character; weekly strips began in the 4th issue of WHAM! in the summer of 1964 and ended in the last issue of WHOOPEE! in March 1985. That’s almost 21 years, minus the period when he disappeared from the pages of WHAM! in 1967 and was reintroduced in SHIVER AND SHAKE in 1973. For me, the “lifetime” of the friendly monster clearly falls into three periods, each defined by distinctively different quality of the stories and especially the artwork. X-mas episodes are as good an example as any to illustrate this.

The first period is of course the original run in WHAM!  (1964 – 1967) by the unsurpassed Ken Reid. Go to Part One of Frankie Stein Christmases for all four Christmas episodes of that period.

The second period is different but equally good. In 1973 the illustrator’s duties were given to Robert Nixon who remained the main artist of the strip until the very end in 1985. The period lasted from March 1973 (the first issue of SHIVER AND SHAKE) till approximately the end of 1978 and coincided with the time when Mr. Nixon spent more time on his pages and drew first rate detailed sets (increasingly less so towards the end of the period).

In the late seventies and at the turn of the decade Frankie Stein and Prof. Cube mutated into cuddly Smurf-like figures and continued like that throughout the remaining part of the eighties. This third period is my least favourite of the three.

Let’s take a look at Frankie’s Christmases of the second period that was also the time when Mr. Nixon drew some memorable front covers of X-mas editions featuring Frankie Stein:


By the X-mas of 1974 SHIVER AND SHAKE merged into WHOOPEE! By unfortunate coincidence, very soon the new title suffered from what is sometimes referred to as production difficulties and sometimes - as industrial action, and missed three weeks in the end of December 1974 / the beginning of January 1975. Hence no 1974 X-mas number. I have absolutely no doubt it would have been a really excellent one because WHOOPEE! was a first-rate packege in its early years.


1975 was the year when Frankie also appeared on the cover of the X-mas edition of Monster Fun Comic:

I’ve shown it before, but the gallery of Frankie Stein’s Christmases would be incomplete without this marvellous cover of SHIVER AND SHAKE 1976 Annual. In his interview for GOLDEN FUN (Winter 1981) the artist tells that it took him about a day and a half to draw the cover, which was "a fair amount of time". He used air-brush and it was done from a broad idea sent to him by Bob Paynter.