Friday, January 19, 2007

Power Comics and comics fandom

With Pow! and the other Odhams comics being the UK home for Marvel reprints it was inevitable that comics fandom would show an interest in the weeklies. No doubt this was also helped by the fact that comics fan Steve Moore was on the staff. The Odhams "Power Comics" (Wham!, Smash!, Pow!, Fantastic, and Terrific) had a good rapport with their readers thanks to the News From the Floor of 64 feature which ran in all five titles. (The name referring to the address of Odhams at the time; 64 Long Acre, which I understand today is the location for Field and Trek a shop selling camping supplies. )

The News columns in the comics were basically a UK version of Marvel's Bullpen Bulletins, providing chatty information about the comics and their creators. However, they also revealed the early days of active comics fandom in this country. As the examples here show, Odhams were quite happy to mention comics fanzines and plug the very first UK comics convention. (By the way the Spot the Boob Contest mentioned in one of the News columns scanned here shows how things have changed. In the 1960's a boob was slang for a mistake! Snigger. Fnar fnar.)

Sadly, after the demise of the Odhams comics, IPC were not so keen to connect with their readers in the same fashion and such news pages were dropped. A great shame, as, to my mind anyway, it made comics such as Cor!! and Whoopee! seem more distant than their predecessors had been. (It was pleasing though that when 2000AD arrived it gradually developed a more informal connection with its readers, as Marvel UK also did, and as Panini does today.)

Incidentally, I've also added a scan of another Pow! cover to this entry, as an example of how the standard US comics page was edited and rearranged to fit the larger UK size. (They'd usually redesign two US pages to fit one UK page.) This is a Steve Ditko strip from one of the Marvel anthology titles (Strange Tales or similar).


Anonymous said...

Whoopee and Cor!! did have a bit of input from the readers...Cor!! for example the Cor!! post bag.lots of readers suggested ideas for the new was unusual to see such critical letters with the praise..also the editor seemed to respond personally..the favourite characters from readers were given special treatment in colour or extended to 2 Whoopee in the early years they used Ossie the Whoopee office boy for girls and some boys to write to him personally..a lot of girls gave details of there appearance and hobbies..:)...the personal letter page also was good in Cheeky the writers and cartoonist all seem to chip I do like interactive letter pages...Jack Edward Oliver did well in the later years with Whizzer and chips and Buster.and of course the late Striker...
Peter Gray

Lew Stringer said...

That's interesting Peter, thanks. I didn't follow Cheeky comic (going through my "too old for kids' comics" phase at the time) so I didn't know the artists themselves replied to the letters. Were they allowed to use their own names or were they just referred to as "the artist" for example?

It's true that IPC humour comics provided interactive features (letters, jokes, etc) but as far as I recall I don't think they carried info promoting comics fandom in the way Odhams did (plugging fanzines or conventions for example). I'd be happy to be proven wrong though and would be willing to upload a scan of such pages here.

steve mitchell said...

Power comics were always my favourites and a couple of months ago i e-mailed some scans of Barry Smith's pin-ups from Terrific to Roy Thomas for his Alter Ego fanzine. I also managed to win a copy of the issue of Smash that contained an original UK Hulk story and e-mailed this to Roy as well together with a short article on Power comics. Nobody seems to know who drew that Hulk story or if it was another character (liike the Missing Link) that had been edited to make it a Hulk story. Any ideas?

Steve Mitchell

Lew Stringer said...

I'm glad you sent a copy of that Hulk story to Roy Thomas Steve. I've been meaning to do that for years!

That strip is a mystery. It may have been created as a fill-in in case Marvel were late sending Odhams Hulk material, (as they once ran out of Batman strips one week). However it fits in with the continuity of the previous (reprint) episode so perhaps not.

It seems to have been re-sized (like the US material was) so maybe it was drawn to US proportions for use in a European Marvel comic? After 40 years someone out there must know. If so, drop a comment to this blog. :)


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