NOTE: Blimey! is no longer being updated. Please visit http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com for news about my comics.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The End.

There's only one thing certain in life and that's by accident or design nothing lasts forever. This is my final blog post here and Blimey! will no longer be updated after today. I'll still maintain the blog to publish your comments but there won't be any new posts.

My other blog, LewStringerComics, which is exclusively about my own comic strips past and present, will continue, so I hope most of you will join me over there. 
http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com


I was going to title this 'The Last Post', but I'd already used that the last time I stopped blogging in 2012, only to return months later. This time though it'll be permanent.

Why am I bringing Blimey! to a halt? Well, a number of reasons really. Firstly, after 13 years, I feel I've covered all the comics and strips that I wanted to talk about. "I've done my bit" as it were. My initial incentive in doing this blog was because back then there was so little info about old British comics online so I wanted to balance things out a bit and share what little knowledge I had on the subject from Ally Sloper to last week's Beano

I was also keen to promote current comics from the great talent that's out there. Unfortunately in recent years I felt that Blimey! went a little off course and became more about previewing upcoming comics than about focusing on the past. Some people got a bit entitled unfortunately, with people I'd never heard of sending me press releases marked For Immediate Release to promote their comics without even a please or thank you. (They went straight into the bin!) I was more than happy to promote 2000AD, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Treasury of British ComicsCommando, Beano, Panini UK, and all the comics created by friends in the industry such as David Leach, Jessica Martin, Rachael Smith, John A. Short etc but not those by complete strangers taking advantage. Plus there's only so many hours in a day and I'd have to be blogging full time to cover everything!

Down the Tubes already reviews / previews lots of new comics in its own superb way, and more in-depth than I do it, so it was a waste of time and effort to just mirror each other's output. (It's not like we're competing for people's income like newspapers do. Blogs are free to produce and free to to read so the number of hits are irrelevant.)

Producing a blog is time consuming, especially researching old comics, scanning pages, etc. (Yes, I know some bloggers simply nick images from other sites but I don't.) As I mentioned on my other blog this hasn't been a good year and I need to focus completely on my career from now on. An hour or two researching, scanning, and writing a post about an old issue of Lion or Radio Fun is a distraction I can no longer afford. Even this post has taken a couple of hours to compose when I should have been working on something else. 

I've also noticed that where some are concerned my reputation as a blogger is overshadowing my work as a comic artist. Not that there's anything wrong with blogging but I don't want to be solely defined by it. I've never thought of myself as a "comics historian", just a comics creator who knows a bit about some periods of comics (mainly the 1960s), and I've referred to books by true historians such as Denis Gifford, Ray Moore, Steve Holland and others to learn about earlier decades.
At times this year, doing this blog has felt a bit of a chore so it's definitely time to let go. That said, I've no doubt there will be times when I'll miss the urge to share information whenever I find something out about an old comic, but I hope to contribute more articles to Comic Scene magazine next year to scratch that itch. 

I've really enjoyed creating this blog though and I've appreciated your feedback in the comments. Well, apart from a few trolls and trouble-makers, but they'll come to no good end eventually. The vast majority of you have been a pleasure to converse with and I'm pleased that this little blog has either sparked some nostalgic memory, introduced you to comics you never knew about, or helped to promote your work. My thanks to you for following it over the years.

Blimey! won't be deleted. It'll remain as it is, but simply won't have any new posts added to it. You'll still be able to comment on old posts, and I'll respond. 

As I said above, my other blog will continue being updated so I hope many of you will join me over there. 
http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com

You can also find me on my public Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/lewstringercartoonist

...and at my website:
http://www.lewstringer.com

...and on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/lew.stringer/

It's on the lewstringercomics blog where I'll keep you updated about the comics and projects I'm working on such as the brilliant Cor!! Buster Easter Special that's coming next year with a three page Buster and Delbert strip I'm drawing from a script by John Freeman. 
Cover by Neil Googe and Jim Boswell.
There are of course other blogs out there to keep you informed about the UK comics scene. The best by far, in my opinion, is John Freeman's Down the Tubes blog, where you'll find the latest news on 2000ADCommando, and pretty much everything that's going on in British comics. It's also an ideal place to let people know about your new comics if you're self-publishing:
https://downthetubes.net

There's also Steve Holland's Bear Alley blog, for very well researched articles on classic material:
https://bearalley.blogspot.com


Richard Sheaf's Boys Adventure Comics blog:
http://boysadventurecomics.blogspot.com

For the latest news on the Marvel Collectors Editions published by Panini UK the best place is from their official Facebook page:
https://en-gb.facebook.com/MarvelCollectorsEditions/

Likewise, the best place for news about the upcoming Treasury of British Comics collections is here:
https://en-gb.facebook.com/britcomics/

Official site for indie comics publisher Kult Creations:
http://kultcreations.blogspot.com

Official site for indie publisher Time Bomb Comics:
http://timebombcomics.com

Irmantas Povilaika's Kazoop! blog for lots of classics by Ken Reid and others:
http://kazoop.blogspot.com

Phil Boyce's Oink! Blog and Beyond for features on Oink! and other comics of the 1980s and beyond:
http://the-oink-blog.blogspot.com

Peter Gray's Comics and Art blog for classic comics:
http://petergraycartoonsandcomics.blogspot.com

Colin Noble's blog:
https://nothingbutafan.wordpress.com

...and you'll also find links to many other blogs and websites in the right hand sidebar of this blog (if you're reading this on a desktop computer).


For this blog though, this is the end, so I thank you all for your time and interest, wish you a Happy New Year, and hope to see you in 2020 over at
http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com


- Lew Stringer 31st December 2019.

PS: Remember there are 3,365 entries I've written on this blog over the past 13 years so why not have a look through the archives, plunge into the Comics Time Vortex and re-read some posts from the past!


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Monday, December 30, 2019

My first DANDY (1964)

I've mentioned before that the very first comic strips I saw were a few Noddy's Tall Books editions (see here) and one issue of Yogi Bear's Own (see here). However the first "proper" comic I read, and the one that stirred my enthusiasm to read it every week, was The Dandy No.1155, dated January 11th 1964.

This issue would have arrived in the shops on Monday 6th January 1964... which I've since discovered was the day I started school! Coincidence? I doubt it. I think it's highly likely my mum bought me this comic as a reward for my first day at school and also to encourage me to read. It certainly worked. The Dandy and its characters completely mesmerised me and reading it (and having it read to me by my mum) boosted my reading ability to put me top of the class. 

I hasten to add that I didn't keep that status throughout my schooldays but it's undeniable that comics are a massive help in teaching children to read and expand their vocabulary. 

(I should add for historical interest that only posh kids went to nursery back then, not council estate kids like me, so my first day at infant school, age 4, was my first experience of being away from home without any parents/family.)

As this is my penultimate Blimey blog post I thought I'd have a look through that first Dandy I had and I'll try to remember what it was that appealed to me so much. 

Firstly the cover by Charlie Grigg. Not that I knew who'd drawn what back then, as D.C. Thomson kept their artists anonymous in those days. Korky the Cat reminded me of my grandad's cat, so I liked him straight away. The fact that Korky had such a strong, distinctive face helped too, and he was looking directly at the reader! Something I hadn't encountered before (but have used it countless times in my own strips). The punchline stuck in my memory for years, even though I misremembered it slightly as "X marks the spot where Korky's been". 

Page 2... Desperate Dan by Dudley Watkins. I remember finding Danny and Katie a weird looking pair of kids. Why was little Danny dressed like that with that thing around his shoulders? (Bear in mind I had no knowledge of history at this point.) It didn't matter though. I found the strip very funny and Desperate Dan became an immediate favourite. 
Pages 3 and 4... The Crimson Ball! Now this was something else. Weird and a bit scary (in a good way), the artwork by Jack Glass was eerie. The mystery of the Crimson Ball was compelling, and in following weeks we'd discover there was an enemy spy inside it controlling it! Mind boggling when you're four years old!

Page 5... Dirty Dick by Eric Roberts was always good fun. I always liked the way Roberts drew tree trunks and bulls. There were cows in the nearby field to where I lived as a child so this environment was relateable to me...
Page 6... The Smasher by Hugh Morren. It was ok. Never a big favourite of mine, but one I grew to enjoy and I certainly enjoyed drawing the character for the very last issue of The Dandy in 2012.
Page 7... Black Bob, with art by Jack Prout. I know this strip divides readers but I was completely absorbed by it. I liked dogs so that was a plus, and the artwork was sublime. My mum read this to me every week until I was able to read it myself.
Pages 8 and 9 (centre pages)... Corporal Clott by Davy Law. Fast-paced, brilliant, and daft, this won me over straight away. I had no idea it was set in South Africa. I didn't know what South Africa was when I was four.  I always remember baboons turning up in the strip a few weeks later. I'd never heard or seen baboons before then, and to this day I still think of Davy Law's depiction of them whenever I see any on tv. 
Pages 10 and 11... Joe White and the Seven Dwarfs by Bill Holroyd. I thought this strip was great, especially little Goofy in his bowler hat. Holroyd was a master at depicting slapstick...

Page 12... My Home Town by Frank McDiarmid. These little educational snippets were perfect for young readers, although I must confess I didn't always read this page...
Page 13... Sunny Boy by George Martin. The best thing about The Dandy at this time was that all the artists had their own distinctive styles and Martin was another who was great at drawing funny slapstick...
Pages 14 and 15... Winker Watson by Eric Roberts. It didn't matter that I couldn't relate to a public school environment, or that I didn't understand why Mr.Creep wore a long black gown and funny hat (mortar board). The stories were interesting and funny, and Winker's brother had weird spiky hair that fascinated me. (Years later I gave Pete from Pete and his Pimple a similar hairstyle in the early days of the strip.)
Page 16 (back page)... Big Head and Thick Head by Ken Reid. Yes, this was the first Ken Reid strip I ever saw and it make me laugh right away. I remember being puzzled by Big Head's shiny hair though, and wasn't sure if it was a hat. My dad wore Brylcream on his hair but it didn't make it look like a helmet. Anyway, it didn't matter. The strip was funny and I found the exaggerated bumps on their heads hilarious...
So that was the very first Dandy I read. I actually remember ripping this one up and throwing it away when I was about 7. My mum suggested I might want to keep it to read again but I thought I knew better. (A reversal of the usual "my mum threw away my comics". My mum always encouraged me to keep them!) Of course she did know better. She always did. Years later, in the 1980s, I bought a pile of old Dandy comics again including this one. 

This is the comic that grabbed my interest in the art form. I was fascinated by comics from that day on. A few months later I was having The Beano every week too, and TV21 a year later, followed by Wham!, Smash! and a zillion others. I soon started creating my own rough efforts, eventually leading to fanzines and ultimately professional work.... and the privilege of being a contributor to The Dandy comic in its final years and to the annual for the past several years. All thanks to this issue, and of course to my mam, for starting me off on that long road. 

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My last post will appear tomorrow.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Comic Oddities: CANDY (1967)

The last in my occasional series of Comic Oddities brings us to the weirdest one ever. It's hard to believe that the company that gave us the greatest comic of the 1960s in TV Century 21 also gave us the weirdest in Candy in 1967. Like TV21, Candy was a co-production between City Magazines and Gerry Anderson's Century 21 Publishing company. The concept was that as Anderson's puppet series had proved to be so incredibly popular then perhaps a comic featuring life-size mannequin children would also work. Er... maybe not.
Gerry Anderson's puppet series worked because they operated within their own universe, and frankly it was the hi-tech craft, dramatic storylines, and explosions that thrilled all ages, and the puppets had personalities too, thanks to expert modellers and scriptwriters.  With Candy, all that was removed, putting the "puppets" (or in this case life-size dolls) in the real world, in twee stories for the very young. 

If that wasn't creepy enough, Candy (and her brother Andy) were looked after by Mr and Mrs Bearanda... two adult-sized panda dummies.
The results ended up looking very odd, unintentionally disturbing, and more like a comic created by David Lynch than Gerry Anderson. Adding to the weirdness, the comic was printed landscape rather than portrait sized. 

The Candy and Andy photo-strip only took up a few pages in the 20 page comic (thankfully). Other strips were illustrated, and featured popular TV characters of the day such as Tingha and Tucker. art by Eric Kincaid...

...and Topo Gigo...

...and characters from children's literature such as Winnie the Pooh...

...and Bengo, by Tim...
There was even a Thunderbirds comic strip! But... unlike any Thunderbirds strip we were familiar with. Aimed at nursery age children, and with it almost implying that the crafts were alive rather than being piloted. art by Gerry Embleton...
On the back page was Snap, Crackle, and Pop, a strip based on the characters from the boxes of Kellogg's Rice Krispies. This was the only strip in the comic that interested me when I was a child, and I remember being fascinated by the idea of those little characters secretly running around the breakfast table. The art on this is possibly by Eric Kincaid too, according to the ever-reliable Century 21 expert Shaqui Le Vesconte.

There were a few Candy and Andy Annuals. This one is from 1968 for the year 1969. Somehow the lighting and print quality on the annuals made Candy and Andy look more sinister than ever, like plastic versions of Children of the Damned...
Presumably the idea of life-size dolls in photo-strips must have sounded good at some stage but I'm staggered it got past the suggestion phase. There's something very grimy and unpleasant about Candy and Andy's world, from the greasy looking dolls to the grubby looking house they live in. 

I think the publishers must have realised their mistake as later issues of Candy saw it dispense with the dolls and photo-strips and replace them with artwork and friendlier-looking characters. The format became more standard too, getting rid of the landscape shape. Some readers must have liked it though because it ran for 154 issues in total before merging into Jack and Jill in 1969. 

Today, early copies of Candy fetch high prices on eBay, so this weird comic oddity has some interest out there! 

Update: Thanks to Shaqui Le Vesconte for identifying some of the artists.

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On Reflection...

On my other blog, a look back at what 2019 meant to me:
http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/2019/12/reflecting-on-2019.html

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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Preview: New Year BEANO for 2020

Here's the cover to look out for of Beano No.4016 which will be in the shops on Tuesday 31st December. Yes, a day earlier than usual because of the holidays. 

As you can see, it's the New Year issue and it's celebrated inside with a four page Tricky Dicky story written by Nigel Auchterlounie and drawn by Rianne Rowlands...

There are also 20 pranks from Tricky Dicky on following pages for readers to try out. (All harmless fun of course.)

All the regular characters are here too, including Minnie the Minx, Dennis and Gnasher, The Bash Street Kids and more. The mini-strips are back this week too, which means the return of Pup Parade...

Don't miss Beano No.4016. Out Tuesday! £2.75.

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