Tuesday, November 19, 2019

This week in 1966: SMASH! No.43

Smash! was my favourite comic when I was a child. Sure, TV21 came very close, and I definitely consider that my favourite adventure comic of all time, but Smash! just had the edge for me because of its variety of material.

It has to be said that Smash! wasn't very slick compared to most of its rivals but when you're 7 years old, the odd sloppy layout and cheap printing isn't a deterrent... in fact that "rough and ready" aspect became part of the comic's appeal! There are a couple of things that were significant about this issue of Smash! as I'll reveal as we go along. 

As I said, Smash! had a good variety of content; mixing up humour, home-grown adventure strips, Marvel reprint and DC's Batman all in one comic! (Yes, Odhams were officially licensed to put those strips in there.) The Batman stories were American Sunday newspaper strips, which actually ran only a week or three in Smash! behind their American printing. Batman was a huge hit on TV at the time so it was perfect for Smash's front cover.

As time moves on, no doubt comics like Smash! begin to look increasingly old fashioned to younger eyes, but in its day this was one of the coolest comics out there. Here's a few examples from its 28 packed pages...

One "tradition" in old comics that's thankfully behind us now (pardon the pun) is kids being whacked. Corporal punishment was of its time and was definitely over-used as a lazy ending in humour strips. The creators could be inventive though. Here's Percy (of Percy's Pets) being spanked by a fish. Art by Stan McMurtry...
The Rubberman was one of Odhams' home-grown superheroes, and a popular series in Smash! Art by Alfredo Marculeta...

Charlie's Choice often boasted excellent cartoon art by the late great Brian Lewis. And, oh-oh, another spanking scene. Sheesh.... British comics were weird...

Bad Penny was created by Leo Baxendale but he'd left Odhams by this point so this strip was by other hands. Not in Leo's league but it did the job and kept up the typical lunacy of over the top comedy situations... 
By this issue, the Incredible Hulk reprints had used up the first six issues of his original mag and were now reprinting the material where he guest-starred in other comics. This is a reprint from Fantastic Four (serialised over a couple of weeks) but still presented as a Hulk strip. Art by Jack Kirby but with UK resizing to accommodate more panels on the larger British page size...
The Swots and the Blots were very popular. Even more so when Leo Baxendale took over the strip in March 1969, but at this time, in 1966, the strip was still being drawn by Ron Spencer...
If ever there was a Smash! strip begging to be collected as part of the Treasury of British Comics books it's The Legend Testers. Weird stories, and fantastic art by Jordi Bernet...

Here's one thing that makes this issue significant. It's the announcement of the 'Power Comics' logo that would start appearing on the covers of Smash! and Wham! (and subsequent companion comics) from the following week. (In memory it feels like the 'Power Comics' imprint was around for a long time but in fact it was only in use for slightly under two years. It vanished from the covers when Smash! was the only "Power Comic" left in late 1968.) 

There's also an announcement about Pow! weekly, which would be on the shelves in early 1967. (The advert for the first Smash! Annual is a nice bonus too. A book I had in my Christmas pillowcase that year.) 
Here's the other significant bit about this issue. The final episode of Ken Reid's Queen of the Seas! Great strip, but not the best printing... but you can see the full series sharply printed in greyscale on quality paper in volume 2 of The Power Pack of Ken Reid available from Irmantas Povilaika at this link:
Smash! always brings back a lot of happy childhood memories for me. Rebellion are reviving the title for the Smash! Special next year but it'll be a vehicle for Fleetway characters such as The Spider, The Steel Claw, and Mytek the Mighty. Exciting news in itself, but I hope one day we'll see The Rubberman and The Legend Testers back too. 

(All art in this article Copyright © Rebellion except for Batman ©DC Comics and the Hulk ©Marvel.)


Sunday, November 17, 2019

This week in 1942: CHIPS No.2,693

There's nothing significant about this issue of Illustrated Chips but it's been a while since I posted an old cover (and "old" to me is anything pre-1959) so I thought I'd select this issue which would have been in shops exactly 77 years ago this week. At that time, Chips (and many other comics) were fortnightly due to wartime paper rationing, so although it carries the date of Nov.28th it would have been published two weeks earlier.

The cover strip Weary Willie and Tired Tim was, as ever, by Percy Cocking, who'd draw it until the comic ended in 1953.

I thought I'd show the Casey Court cartoon from the back cover too, as I know some of you like these busy images. Art by Albert Pease.
Comics of this vintage and older are always the least popular on this blog and receive less views than others. I know most fans are only interested in comics of their own nostalgia but from my point of view if you're interested in comic art it shouldn't matter what decade they're from! These comics appeared 17 years before I was born and I think they're great!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Hurry! Here's your chance to support a brand new comic book

Artist/writer Rachael Smith has created several popular graphic novels such as House Party and Stand in your Power, and now her latest project is on Kickstarter. 

Entitled Flimsy's Mewsings it's a 40 page full colour softcover featuring Rachael's first character Flimsy in new strips about "life advice, thoughts, dreams, and wine". An uplifting book for all ages. 

There's only 14 days to go until the Kickstarter ends so if you think it'll appeal to you, give it your support so it can reach its target and be published, - and you get a free enamel pin with every pre-order :
One of my favourite comics creators of modern comics, Rachael Smith's books are always worth reading so I hope it'll hit its target. Here are a few sample pages from Flimsy's Mewsings... 


Cor, Buster! A reminder that 2020 will be a SMASH-ing year for comic revivals!

Here's a reminder from Rebellion that they'll be bringing back a whole bunch of classic comic titles next year. From March to December there'll be several specials published reviving titles such as Smash!, Battle, and Buster! And you don't have to "Battle" to the shops to buy them if you prefer to subscribe to their Specials Bundle and save money! Here's the details...


Friday, November 15, 2019

New comic book launch at MCM ComicCon Birmingham this weekend

From the press release...

London, 13th November 2019: Behaviour change agency, 23red, today announces the redesign of its multi-award-winning film ‘Eighteen’, created in partnership with Network Rail to highlight the dangers of electrified railways. The film has been reworked into a 32-page comic book and will launch at ComicCon Birmingham 2019 to communicate the campaign’s lifesaving message to a younger audience. 

Views of the film - entitled ‘Eighteen’ because events take place around a central character’s 18th birthday - surpassed 5 million on YouTube this month.

To support safety events held by Network Rail in city centres, train stations and schools next year, 23red took inspiration from the comic book world to create something that would grab the attention of passers-by when placed in their hand.

Working with a dynamic creative team assembled by comic creator Steve Tanner of Time Bomb Comics - who is known for his Flintlock adventure series - the comic book version of ‘Eighteen’ follows the same storyline as the film whilst adding a fresh dimension to it by examining some scenes in more detail.

As well as drawing on his own experience with the comics medium, Steve Tanner has worked closely with writer Richmond A Clements, artist Gary Crutchley, colourist Matt Soffe and letterer Bolt-01, to produce a story that not just sits alongside the original movie but can be enjoyed as a comic in itself.

Stuart Humphreys, Senior Communications Manager for Network Rail, said: “Comic books and graphic novels are not only cool, which means people are more likely to accept and read one than a leaflet, but they use visual, spatial and textual cues to formulate one solid understanding of the story. So, as well as being entertaining, these books require more investment from the reader and are therefore more memorable.

We are delighted with the strategic support provided by 23red throughout this ongoing campaign, which enables it to continue reaching new audiences.”

Sean Kinmont, Creative Director and Co-Founder at 23red, added: “As an agency we are wholly supportive of work that drives behaviour change and is a force for good. This campaign does both and, we are very proud to say, has the potential to save lives. It was a pleasure to work with Network Rail and Steve Tanner on this project and we continue to passionately raise awareness on the issue of rail safety.”

The comic ‘Eighteen’ launches at Birmingham Comic-Con on 16th – 17th November. Print copies will be available free of charge at the show and at public safety events taking place from February 2020 along the electrified route of the Midland Main Line. For anyone unable to attend an event, a digital version will also be available early in the New Year.

Steve Tanner will be on site at Birmingham ComicCon to sign copies between 11:00am and 12:00pm on Saturday 16th November.


Title/Project                                                       Eighteen
Agency                                                                 23red
Agency contact                                              Sadie Westwood
Agency contact job title                               Business Account Director
Writer                                                                   Richmond A. Clements
Copywriter                                                         Ali Omar
Art director                                                         Tom Mann          
Artist                                                                     Gary Crutchley
Editor & Creative Consultant                       Steve Tanner
Colourist                                                              Matt Soffe
Letterer                                                               Bolt-01
Producer                                                             Philippa Dunning
Creative Director                                              Tristan Cavanagh
Exposure (media channels)                          Comic

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