Saturday, September 01, 2007
Cracker of a mystery comic!
Brought to my attention thanks to Richard Sheaf on the Down the Tubes Blog, the latest UK batch of goodies up for bidding at Comic Book Postal Auctions has amongst its offerings a very curious item. It's the front cover artwork to the first issue of the 1969 comic Cracker. Very nice artwork, allegedly by Alf Soporito. (Looks more like Gordon Hogg's work to me but I'll take their word for it as the image isn't very sharp. Could be Soporito influenced by Hogg.)
One huge mystery though: as far as I know, there was never a comic in 1969 called Cracker! (There was a DC Thomson title of that name in 1975, but that was a completely different comic.)
Three possible solutions:
1: The 1969 Cracker was a promotional comic (like Wonder Comic, which was only sold at Esso garages) so had limited distribution.
2: This is the cover to a dummy issue of a comic that was never published.
3: It was published in a test area, never caught on, and was quietly dropped.
Of the three, I have a feeling option 2 might be correct. The cover price of 3d seems unrealistic for 1969. However, perhaps Cracker was an early version of Whizzer and Chips and instead of "Two comics for only 6d" (a 32 page title) Cracker was going to be a 16 page comic for 3d? Then the idea was rejected for its low profit margin and replaced by Whizzer and Chips? (Note the cover date of Cracker - 18th October - is very close to the cover date of Whizzer and Chips No.1 - 25th October, so it could have been stage one of the same project.) I'm assuming that "Cracker" is an IPC comic. It looks very "IPC - ish" for the time. (Very "Odhams - ish" too, which would be appropriate as IPC had just supplanted Odhams.)
Anyway, that's my opinion. Does anyone out there know the true story behind this cover? Please leave comments about it if so.
Update: Over at the Comics UK forum, Phil Rushton has noticed that the cover bears no free gift announcement - a very unusual thing for a sixties comic! This would indicate even more, in my opinion, that "Cracker" was only a dummy comic. Which may make the artwork more collectible for some!