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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Here we are at the turn of the year again, and it is time for me to look back and ponder over the results of 2014 in terms of my UK comics hobby.

This is the last X-mas number of
Sparky that I didn't have and acquired
in 2014
I’ve almost stopped buying things on eBay, mostly because my collection of the titles I am interested in is nearly complete, also because I visit eBay less frequently than I used to. Besides, I am not in the UK and I’ve made a decision as a matter of principle not to buy from sellers who don’t offer international shipping, whatever their reasons might be. I am past the stage when I used to contact them asking would they please ship abroad. If they don’t want my money, I’ll take my business elsewhere.

Looking at my current wants lists, I can see that I’m now stuck at the diabolical figure of 6-6-6: I am missing 6 issues for each of the three remaining titles I am trying to collect complete sets of – BUSTER, GIGGLE and SPARKY. A year ago it was 9 issues of BUSTER, 16 of GIGGLE and as many as 35 of SPARKY. At this rate of filling the gaps, there is a good chance I will complete the sets during 2015!

2014 has been a good year in terms of building my collection of the first decade of PLAYHOUR young children’s comic. I try to concentrate on the period 1958 – 1965 which was the time when the magazine featured Gulliver the Guinea-Pig stories with superb artwork by Philip Mendoza and Gordon Hutchings. A few months ago I bumped into the complete year 1961 going cheap online from an American dealer and bought it without hesitation. It would have been interesting to learn how the PLAYHOURs found themselves on that side of the Atlantic, but the seller wasn’t very talkative, unfortunately. A few days before X-mas I was approached by another Gulliver the Guinea-Pig enthusiast whose collection is in the form of scanned images – not exactly my thing, but still OK until I get hold of hard copies. I helped him fill one or two gaps in his list and he sent me a few of the episodes that I didn’t have. Between the two of us, we are now only 50 or so instalments away from the complete run of this magical series which continued for more than 7 years! Here a is a couple of dramatic Gulliver panels from the late 50s:

... and here's one in the holiday mood from 1960:

A year ago I wrote about how I started a library of bound volumes and mentioned my plans to collect complete runs of THE BEANO and THE DANDY from 1970 until the last newsprint issues in the mid-8os, and have them bound in half-year hardcover volumes. It took me surprisingly little time to build the Beano set, but I am still working on the Dandy. Towards the end of “packaging” the Beanos I realized that the book-binders I was using were equipped to make nice colour covers, not just plain black cloth ones. I am still kicking myself for realizing this so late because those last volumes look so much better. It’s a shame the black covers of the earlier volumes can’t be replaced without damaging the books, so I’ll have to settle for the next best thing which is colour dust jackets and which has been the original plan anyway. 

As regards this blog, you may have noticed that new posts are becoming less frequent. Looking back, when I started Kazoop!! in 2012, it took me less than a year to cover the entire run of COR!! – weeklies, annuals and specials, the lot. 2013 was the year of Shiver and Shake on Kazoop!!, and although Sh&Sh had a much shorter run than COR!!, it took me slightly more than a year to cover the title. The whole of 2014 was not enough for me to close the chapter of MONSTER FUN COMIC and it looks like I will spend the first two months of 2015 writing about the MFC Summer Special (there is only one left) and the rest of MF annuals. Kazoop!! is loosing steam (fellow bloggers know that researching and writing a blog takes a lot of time) and I’ll probably take a break from the regular format of doing comprehensive series of articles on a particular title. I am still considering the monumental quest of reviewing the entire eleven year run of WHOOPEE! but it may take some time before I proceed with it, and even if the WHOOPEE! series never materializes, I believe that one day they will still give me a medal for covering three great UK comics titles and putting together a decent reference resource for anyone who might be interested in them :). That said, I have no intention of neglecting this blog so be sure to drop by in 2015 for lots of British comics goodness, including news about two projects that I am currently involved in, which I will unveil as soon as I am in a position to do so. Here is a little something by way of a “teaser”, albeit not a very straightforward one…

In the meantime, I wish you all a very Happy New Year 2015! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014


The 1968 Christmas issue of PLAYHOUR was filled with festive goodness from cover to cover. Check out a few of the pages below.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014


To celebrate the Holiday Season, let’s take a look at two pre-Christmas issues of PLAYHOUR that happens to one of my favorite UK titles. In the end of September 1965 the magazine was given a facelift and got a new front cover design with a large drawing of Sooty and Sweep all over the page. To make it more fun, a couple of issues later it increased in size and became a tabloid-size magazine like the early BUSTER. I am not sure how long it continued like this but here are front and back covers of the pre-X-mas issue from 1965 with Sooty and Sweep singing Christmas carols; artwork by Gordon Hutchings, I believe:

Unusually for December issues of PLAYHOUR that used to celebrate X-mas big time throughout the month, this one only had one or two Christmassy stories inside. The next issue I am going to look at today is very different in that respect. In PLAYHOUR AND TV TOYLAND cover-dated 21st December, 1968, ALL but one strip were in the X-mas mood! Leo the Friendly Lion was the only one that was not and that’s because the scene was set in exotic jungle. This didn’t prevent it from turning Christmassy in the next week’s issue which will feature in the next blogpost. In the meantime, enjoy these pages from the 1968 pre-Xmas issue of this excellent title:

Sunday, December 21, 2014


The publication of MFC weeklies began in the second half of June 1975 and IPC didn’t have time to produce a book for 1976 so Monster Fun Comic Annual 1977 was the title’s first. It came out early in the Autumn of 1976 – the first advertisement can be found in MFC No. 66 (Sept 11th, 1976). At that time the weekly was already counting its last days and was absorbed by Buster a few weeks later. The book was 144 pages thick and cost a pound.

Here is an account of the contents: Little Monsters (in colour on the front endpapers and one page in b/w inside, by Sid Burgon), Brainy and His Monster Maker (three 2-pagers, including one in colour), Dough Nut and Rusty (three episodes by Trevor Metcalfe: 2 three-pagers including one in colour, and a four-pager), Monster Fun Puzzle Page (2 pages), X-Ray Specs (2 two-pagers and 2 three-pagers including one in colour by Mike Lacey), The Robot Maker (5 reprints from COR!! weeklies, artwork by Frank McDiarmid), Frankie Stein Ticklish All-Sport (2 pages of gags by Jim Crocker), Art’s Gallery (2 episodes – a three-pager and a two-pager), Draculass (2 two pagers by Terry Bave), Stoneage Brit Ancient Nit (4 reprints from COR!! weekly comics, artwork by Tony Goffe), The Ice Monster’s Coming! (adventure thriller on 6 pages), Tom Thumbscrew – The Torturer’s Apprentice (2 two-pagers by Norman Mansbridge, including one in colour), Freaky Farm (a 4-pager), Sam’s Spook (4 reprints from SMASH! comic, artwork by Leo Baxendale), Mummy’s Boy (3 two-pagers by Norman Mansbridge, including one in colour on back endpapers), Movie Monsters feature (2 two-pagers), Teddy Scare (a two-pager), Martha’s Monster Make-Up (a two-pager), Gums (a three-pager by Tery Bave), Kid Kong (an eight-pager by Robert Nixon), Terry and the ‘Dactyl (an 8-pages adventure thriller), Creature Teacher (a six-pager by Tom Williams), Monster Mystery (spot the difference puzzle on two pages), Major Jump - Horror Hunter (a two-pager by Ian Knox), Monster Mirth (2 pages of gags by Jim Crocker), Crafty Cat (a two-pager), Film Funny feature (1 page), Ye Badtime Bedtime Worsery Rhymes (6 pages by Terry Bave), Survive All (a two-pager), The Day of the Apples Starring the Earthies (a four-pager by Mike Green).

Advertisement in MFC No. 66 (Sept 11th, 1976)

It is appropriate to start the review from the beginning and here are the hilarious front endpapers with The Little Monsters by Sid Burgon:

Unlike in the first Summer Special, all reprints (Robot Maker, Sam’s Spook and Stoneage Brit) were re-arranged to fill two pages. Also, differently from the Summer Special, the Annual had as many as two adventure thrillers. The first was the six-page story The Ice Monster’s Coming! An ice patrol boat is clearing the shipping lanes by blasting away icebergs with a gun. One shot does more than shatter an iceberg – it also releases a prehistoric monster that was trapped inside. Instead of showing gratitude to his liberators, the creature vents its frustration on the ship and its unfortunate crew. The boat sinks and it looks like it’s the end for the crew but they get rescued by another ice patrol ship. Here are the last two pages of the story:

The other thriller feature was an 8-pager called Terry and the ‘Dactyl. The narrative panel of the first frame creates an impression that this is not the first episode of the story:

Terry senses foul play and escapes into the jungle where he has to hide from hostile natives. Climbing some rocks, he finds a baby pterodactyl and starts looking after it. Terry’s wanderings take him and his new “pet” to an ancient ruined city of gold somewhere in the mountains where he stays for ten months raising and training the reptile until it grows into a giant flying creature. A plane crash near the ruined city and the death of the pilot make Terry return back to civilization and settle scores with the corrupt local police chief Gomez who would stop at nothing to find the lost city of gold. This is quite a violent story with as many as five deaths:  first Gomez’ sidekicks take care of Terry’s companion – the old prospector, then the airplane pilot dies of poison, then both of Gomez’ cronies meet their fate at the hands of their evil master and finally the rogue policeman himself falls from sky high into the river never to be seen again…

Both stories are drawn by the same artist whose name I don’t know but he was the illustrator of the long-running and successful Rat Trap feature in COR!! comic. I think I’ve seen his (her?) artwork in girls’ comics. Does anyone know the name?

Readers were treated to two new comedy strips. Crafty Cat was drawn by either Martin Baxendale or Tom Paterson. I would put my money on Martin Baxendale but I wonder if he wasn’t too young to contribute at that time:

Survive All pretended to be a weekly strip (or perhaps TV show). I am not sure about the name of the artist but I am finding the style similar to that of the illustrator who drew the Forest Legion in SHIVER AND SHAKE annuals and signed one episode Mazza. Here is the strip in full:  

This was a nice book with lots of quality artwork by top IPC talent so let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights. 

In Freaky Farm the farmer and his horrors do what they do best – scarring intruders off the farm. In this case it is a team of road builders. I am not sure if this set was drawn by the regular Freaky Farm artist Jim Watson – it looks like Elphin who drew a couple of early episodes in the weeklies was responsible for it:

In Martha’s Monster Make-Up Martha gets into trouble for wickedly using her cream on some people who did her no harm. The artist tried imitating Ken Reid and he is also the one who occasionally stepped in for Ken on Faceache in BUSTER comic. I don’t know his name, unfortunately:

In Gums the shark finds being toothless very embarrassing and goes to the swordfish for help. The sword-fish makes him a set of teeth from the wooden hull of a sunken ship but the shark still boobs in the end:

In Kid Kong the loveable giant gorilla decides to earn some money and make it up to Gran for having such a big appetite. A gang of crooks take advantage of the innocent mind and Kid helps them rob the high street bank. Kid and Gran find themselves behind bars where Kid realises that the crooks made a monkey out of him. Furious, he breaks out of prison and stops the robbers from escaping the country. His cash reward is quickly converted into ‘nanas.

Kid and Gran fantasizing about how they will spend the cash 
that Kid brought home after the bank robbery

In Major Jump – the first one signed by Ian Knox that I can remember seeing, the horror hunter and his assistant answer an S.O.S. signal and find themselves in an awkward situation when they realise it was them who the tiny people got so terrified with:

Ye Badtime Bedtime Worsery Rhymes by Terry Bave implies a connection with Badtime Bedtime Books which appeared in MFC weeklies, but it doesn’t fit the definition of a classic BBB because it isn’t a strip and is only 6 pages long (as opposed to 8 which was the standard). Here are the first two pages:

In Creature Teacher Class X are invited to put that year’s Christmas play and are thrilled about the opportunity, less so about Creature Teacher being the producer. A series of failed plots to get rid of him later, comes the day of their Cinderella performance, and Class X have saved all their mischief-making for the night:

Needless to say that Creature Teacher intervenes and saves the day:

It is the second time after the MFC Summer Special 1975 that we meet those strange creatures called the Earthies. The full title of the story is The Day of the Apples, featuring the Earthies and the illustrator is Mike Green – thanks, Lew and Raven, for identifying the artist in your comments to my previous post. Here is the story in full:

It is that special time of the year, so I will round up this post with this festive episode of The Little Monsters by Sid Burgon. More MFC-unrelated X-mas goodness to come soon!

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