Saturday, February 03, 2007
Comic oddities: Wonder - The Esso Comic
A curious item in the history of British comics is the weekly comic Wonder published in 1968/69. I first saw this title whilst visiting the Royal Show in 1968 as it was on sale at a stall there (presumably Esso's). Anticipating buying it from my local newsagent when I returned home, I unfortunately never saw it again! What I didn't know then was that Wonder was only available at Esso garages.
I did eventually find a copy at a comic mart several years ago, albeit only half complete with the centre eight pages (of sixteen) missing. However, what can be ascertained from those pages is that it was a high quality product.
Little seems to be known about the comic. It was published weekly on Fridays, cost 6d (2 and a half pence) carried a number but no date, and was edited by Roberta Leigh, creator of sixties puppet series Space Patrol. In fact another of Leigh's puppet creations, Wonder Boy and Tiger appeared as the cover strip. (Esso had been using imagery of a tiger for many years to denote roaring power, and the phrase "Put a tiger in your tank" was a popular slogan of the sixties.)
As these pages from Wonder (issue 13) show, the approach was very much in the Buster/ TV Comic style, along with rhyming couplets for strap lines of the kind associated with DC Thomson comics. Apparently the comic only ran for a year, although whether that was due to poor sales or the limitations of a 12 month contract is unknown. However, it remains an interesting oddity and a title well worth seeking out.
If anyone has any more info on Wonder (particularly what appeared in the centre pages which I have missing) please add a comment below.