Monday, September 26, 2016

This week in 1971: BUSTER AND JET merge

Concluding my look back at a few comics from this week in 1971, it's also 45 years since IPC's short-lived Jet comic merged into Buster. The first combined issue of Buster and Jet went on sale Saturday 25th September 1971 (the exact same day as the first merged issue of Valiant and TV21 shown in an earlier post here). 

Jet brought several strips to its new home; Von Hoffman's Invasion, The Kids of Stalag 41, The Sludgemouth Sloggers, Bonehead, Bertie Bumpkin, and Faceache. Here's a few of them...

Von Hoffman's Invasion was probably the best of Jet's rather weak adventure strips so it's easy to see why it proved popular enough to survive into Buster. Art by Eric Bradbury...




Bonehead was drawn by the ever-reliable Reg Parlett...
Faceache was of course by Ken Reid, and became the most enduring survivor of Jet's strips, lasting for many years in Buster...

A healthy number of Buster's strips also survived the merger, including the wonderful Clever Dick by Leo Baxendale, and Galaxus drawn by the Solano Lopez studio...




As Rebellion now own the rights to these strips it's hoped that some of them will eventually be collected into trade paperbacks. I'd personally like to see compilations of Clever Dick and Faceache but obviously it all depends on whether Rebellion think there's a big enough market for such books. It's a tough call, and while I'm sure a couple hundred people might buy them the company would need to know there's far more interest than that to make the books worthwhile. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Are you ready for the new look BEANO?

UPDATED: Britain's longest running comic, The Beano is having a revamp this Wednesday with a fresh new look and a modern new logo. As well as a boost to the weekly, the Beano website has also had a complete refresh. John Freeman at Down the Tubes has all the details so check out his blog here:
http://downthetubes.net/?p=34092 

As an aside, it's interesting that the prefix "The" has been dropped from the logo after 78 years. It was always a curiously old fashioned legacy of the story papers and the masthead carries more impact without it.

Look out for Beano No.3854, on sale Wednesday 28th September, still priced £2.50.

The Beano website:
https://www.beano.com/



Saturday, September 24, 2016

This week in 1971: VALIANT AND TV21 merge

Cover by Mike Western.
Published on Saturday 25th September, the same day as the issue of Countdown shown in the previous post, this issue of Valiant absorbed the once-great TV21

Only a couple of strips survived from TV21 to join Valiant. The Tuffs of Terror Island was an average yarn with a slight Lord of the Flies influence, but the other strip was Star Trek, based on the TV series. Harold Johns had been drawing it for the last months of TV21 but for the merger it gained the talents of John Stokes... 


The rest of the line up for Valiant and TV21 was much the same as it had been before the merger. The comic led off with Captain Hurricane, and other favourites such as Kelly's Eye, Billy Bunter, The Nutts, and The Wild Wonders were still present. Also continuing from the previous issue of Valiant was The Return of the Claw, the sequel to The Steel Claw, drawn by Jesus Blasco...


The comic also still featured some strips that had been added when Smash! had merged into Valiant earlier that year, such as The Swots and the Blots by Leo Baxendale...



...and Janus Stark, drawn by Solano Lopez...


Back in 1971, it was still deemed ok for comics to advertise sugary foods, and ice lollies were often promoted. Sky Ray offered a chance to "Win comics for one year" if a kid's returned wrapper was one picked out of the postbag. And, yes, there actually was a lolly called Kinky back then...


The long-running comedy strip The Crows was also still thriving, drawn as ever by Reg Parlett...

This was pretty much the beginning of the end of the old-style IPC adventure comics. A few years later, even the mighty Lion would merge into Valiant. Thankfully, a new wave of tougher, more relevant comics was on the horizon with ActionBattle, and 2000AD destined to shake up the industry.

This week in 1971: COUNTDOWN No.33

Here are a few pages from the issue of Countdown that went on sale Saturday 25th September, 45 years ago, in 1971. 

Before 2000AD proved them wrong, publishers felt that science fiction comics were old hat by the 1970s and wouldn't sell. One case in point being Countdown, which lasted just over a year before changing into TV Action and given a more action/adventure theme. 

Despite its short run, Countdown featured top of the league artwork by some of the premiere artists in the industry at the time. Editor Dennis Hooper proudly credited all the artists on the strips; something other British comics shied away from back then. 

With TV21 a poor shadow of its former self by 1971, Countdown had gained the licence to run strips based on Gerry Anderson TV shows. Effectively, it was more like TV21 than TV21 was at the time, and even reprinted some strips from the glory days of that title. In the main though, Countdown featured new material, such as the UFO serial on the front and back covers of this issue, with art by Gerry Haylock.  

Countdown featured a complete 7 page story every week, usually based on a Gerry Anderson show, but sometimes it was entirely original. Dangerous Drive being one example, being a futuristic thriller featuring a James Bond type named Andreas Caspo. Art by Rab Hamilton, who had previously drawn the Secret Agent 21 spy series for TV21.

The serial entitled Countdown was also originated solely for the comic. Although using spacecraft designs from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, there was no other connection to the film. Stunning artwork by John M. Burns...


Doctor Who began a new serial with this issue, nicely illustrated by Frank Langford. Before any purists say anything, we really didn't care that he was often referred to as "Dr.Who" back then. It was an abbreviation used everywhere, on merchandise, comics, TV listings, and even the TV series credited him as such for a while.


Add reprints of Stingray and Fireball XL5, a few science features and the humour strip Dastardly and Muttley and you had a great 24 page comic for 5p. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mighty World of Marvel Reborn

When Panini's line of Marvel reprints were revamped with new first issues a few months ago, The Mighty World of Marvel was left behind to complete its run of existing stories. However, that changes next month as the comic receives a relaunch of its own. 

The Mighty World of Marvel Vol.6 No.1 goes on sale on Thursday 20th October, with a 100 page premiere issue. A new line up is introduced with the start of three serials: Doctor Strange, Black Widow, and Ms.Marvel, reprinting recent material from America.

As with the other relaunches in the Marvel Collectors' edition line, MWOM No.1 will have 100 pages, before settling back to its regular 76 page format with issue 2. Priced at just £3.99, this is a bargain indeed.

The final issue in the current run of Mighty World of Marvel (shown below) goes on sale today, wrapping up the Daredevil and S.H.I.E.L.D. stories, and featuring a classic Dr.Strange short by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
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