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 Alf Saporito. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alf Saporito. Show all posts

Monday, June 16, 2014


JAWS the blockbuster Hollywood movie was released in 1975. Gums the MFC strip was a clever and funny tie-in with the film and started in MFC No. 35 (7th February, 1976). Check out the famous poster of the movie and the advertisement of Gums in MFC issue No. 34 (the week before its premiere) side-by-side:

The scene was set on the sunny coast of Australia. The strip was about a toothless shark with a set of false choppers and the young Bluey who lived in a coastal town which the beast chose to terrorize. The shark was a dangerous and aggressive predator. The only way to render him harmless was by removing his false teeth – the mission which Bluey took upon himself. That’s the basic idea of this highly successful and long-running IPC strip which originated in MONSTER FUN COMIC.

The early stories were serialized and often spanned a period of two weeks; in the first week Gums usually lost his choppers:

…and won them back a week later, thanks to his own cunning and smartness, or through sheer luck or coincidence:

Bluey prevailed in the majority of the episodes but sometimes the shark got the upper hand. Typically, this involved the use of munition from sunken ships:

I really like the feature and I think it very well deserved to appear in full colour on the front cover for most of its run in MFC issues 35 to 73 (except in Nos. 48, 50, 51, 52, 66 and 67 when it was inside in b/w), besides, more than a half of the two-page sets occupied both front and back covers. Gums got its own poster very early on in issue No. 38 (28th February, 1976). After MFC ended, the strip was transferred to BUSTER and appeared there until 12th May 1984.

Initially the illustrator was Bob Nixon who, according to his own words in the interview for GOLDEN FUN, also designed Gums to the idea suggested by the editor. Mr. Nixon continued to draw the strip until issue 59 when Alf Saporito took over from him on a permanent basis (Alf Saporito’s first episode of Gums was in MFC issue No. 52). It is interesting to note that Mr. Saporito signed a few of the early sets:

Alf Saporito remained in charge of the strip in BUSTER for the rest of the seventies and during the early eighties when he was succeeded by John Geering.

The episode of in MFC No. 71 was illustrated and signed by Les Barton:

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Cinders was a tale about the adventures of two strange characters: Cinders, the romantically disposed she-dragon, and a cowardly knight who was the object of her affection. Cinders always tried to look her very best to make sure she was ready to meet the man of her dreams – the dishy and noble handsome knight in shiny armour on a gallant steed. She lived in a boudoir-like cave decorated with flowers and curtains and spoke in heart-shaped red speech balloons. The knight was a cissy coward who nonetheless sought a fiery dragon to fight; he was unaware that the lady dragon had a crush on him whereas Cinders considered his failed weekly attempts to fight her to be signs of his warm feelings towards her.

First episode, art by Norman Mansbridge

Cinders had the shortest run of all MFC strips: it appeared in issues 1 – 12 and missed issue No. 9 in between. The main artist was Norman Mansbridge with Alf Saporito substituting him in issues 7 to 11. All 11 episodes of Cinders were on the rear cover in full colour.

From MFC No. 11. Art by Alf Saporito

Cinders concludes the series of reviews of the strips that appeared in the first issue of MONSTER FUN COMIC. I have omitted one participation feature (Monster Hits) and the Badtime Bedtime Storybook (‘Jack the Nipper’s Schooldays’) but that’s because I am saving them for later.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Charlie Williams belongs to the category of strips that had a famous film or TV comedian for the main character and were so common in old British comics. Buster had a lot of these throughout the sixties. IPC attempted to revive the genre in 1973, first by launching the Goodies in COR!!, and then including Charlie Williams in SHIVER AND SHAKE where the feature was part of the non-horror SHAKE section.

Wikipedia tells us that Charlie Williams was a mixed-race English professional footballer who later became Britain's first well-known black stand-up comedian. He became famous from his appearances on Granada Television's The Comedians and ATV's The Golden Shot, delivering his catchphrase, "me old flower" in his broad Yorkshire accent. Here is what I found of him on YouTube:

I have to admit that the Yorkshire accent is a bit tricky for me and I can’t understand every word the man says; also, his wild burst of laughter signalling the end of a joke is a bit overenthusiastic, but otherwise I find him quite fun to watch. Why they decided to turn him into a character of a children’s comic is a bit of a mystery to me and I am not too surprised it only managed such a short run…

Charlie Williams ran without a break in SHIVER AND SHAKE issues 22 - 47 (from August 4th, 1973 until January 26th, 1974) when the prototype of its main character was at the pinnacle of his comedy career. In the strip Charlie was a regular customer of the employment agency who took a new odd job every week. He tried everything from being a zoo animal keeper to room decorator, from Santa Claus to human cannon ball in a circus act.

By the early 70s racial stereotyping had disappeared from British children’s comics
but since Williams' comedy is said to have often been at his own expense, and particularly his colour, three or four of the episodes in SHIVER AND SHAKE were given that long-forgotten mildly racial twist:

As can be seen from the two examples above, Charlie Williams was illustrated by two different artists. Of the 26 episodes in SHIVER AND SHAKE weeklies, 16 were by Alf Saporito and the rest (mostly towards the end of the run) by Sid Burgon. Throughout its short run the strip was a one-pager but the last instalment in issue 47 was two pages long. In fact it consisted of two separate episodes and Williams’ adventures were given a proper ending in the second one when he was finally invited to join the local theatre as a stand-up comedian:

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Gus Gorilla was COR!! mascot and cover star. He had his own strip named after him that occupied the front page and was in full colour for nearly three years until it was moved to the inside of the paper and turned monochrome. Gus’ weekly antics were followed by a bloke who always showed up out of nowhere in the last panel only to say that you can't make a monkey out of Gus. In the beginning of his career Gus wasn’t a character of many words. In quite a few early episodes he didn’t utter a single word. In fact, there were several covers with hardly any speech balloons at all. Unlike the majority of characters in children’s humour comics Gus rarely interacted with kids. His adventures usually involved grown-ups; a pair of chaps appeared more or less regularly, one was short and on the fat side while the other was tall and lean. They always tried and failed to have fun at Gus’ expense

Gus’ regular artist was Alf Saporito. Some episodes were illustrated by other artists such as Mike Lacey and Sid Burgon.

 Gus Gorilla on front page in colour:  13th June, 1970 – 14th April, 1973 (Nos. 2 – 150, except for the issue dated 6th January, 1973 (No. 136) when the strip was on the back cover because the front page was awarded to The Goodies to celebrate their first week in COR!!).

 Gus Gorilla in b/w inside the paper, usually on the same page with Picture Yourself feature: 21st April, 1973 – 15th June, 1974 (Nos. 151 – 211), full page in issues dated 30th April, 1974 (No. 203), 11th May, 1974 – 15th June, 1974 (Nos. 206-211). 

Gus starred in two other COR!! features: Gus Giggles and Gus Gags. Both ran on the front page concurrently with the Gus Gorilla strip when it was moved to the inside of the comic. Gus Giggles was a three-panel gag cartoon in the same vein as Gus Gorilla only there Gus managed without the moustached bloke and his usual punch line. It ran from 21st April, 1973 until 23rd March, 1974 (Nos. 151 – 199) and was dropped in favour of Gus Gags that appeared during a short period from 30th March, 1974 until 8th June, 1974 (Nos. 200 – 210 (the penultimate issue)). The gags (two of them every week) were drawn from reader’s ideas and contributors received one pound for each cover joke published. Gus Gags feature survived COR!!’s merger with Buster where it continued for as long as the very last issue of 1979.