Friday, June 18, 2010
UK superheroes featured in the latest Classics
Next week's issue of Classics from the Comics (on sale 24th June) features a small selection of vintage UK superhero strips from the D.C. Thomson archive. Unseen for many years, The Amazing Mr.X from 1944 is one of the strips spotlighted, with artwork by Jack Glass. (Private enquiry agent Len Manners dons "a queer costume, black skin-tight trousers and white jersey" and uses amazing strength that he can "summon at will" to fight crime.) It'd be great to see more of this strip in future issues.
Another classic superhero featured includes The Danger Man from a 1959 Beano, who gains momentary super-strength from powder hidden inside a fake tooth! There's also a Billy the Cat story from 1967 and a Jack Flash (The Flying Boy) strip from 1949.
Having more adventure strips in this issue gives a good balance to the comic, rather than the usual 60 pages or so of humour strips. Ron Smith's Space Kids continues, although personally I'm wishing they'd have chosen something a bit more dramatic such as Back to Zero (from The Topper, mid-1960s) or The Crimson Ball (Dandy, 1963/64).
As ever, there's a good selection of humour strips, including a Ken Reid Big Head and Thick Head from 1963 and a Davy Law Corporal Clott from 1965.
I was impressed by the revamped design of the cover last issue but I'm not sure it works so well this time. Running a Korky strip on the cover, as they did last month, looked good, but blowing up a Biffo panel to fit the area this month isn't so effective. (Enlarging artwork for covers never really works in my opinion, as witnessed on all those cheap-looking Vulcan covers of the 1970s.) That said, the enlarged panel is by Dudley Watkins so you can't really go wrong with that. (It would have been good to see the full story inside though.)
Another odd move is that a few of the pages have been resized for some reason. The Jack Flash strip has been "squashed" so that anything circular (such as the Earth in the example above) now looks eliptical, and the Roger the Dodger strip on page 66 has been elongated. I'm probably being over-critical and most readers won't notice it, but I found it a bit distracting and unnecessary.
Nevertheless, Classics from the Comics still remains a bargain at £2 and a fine selection of bygone strips. The added adventure strips should please many readers and make this edition a "must have" item. Distribution is never great on this comic sadly (WH Smith in Birmingham is the only place I've seen it locally recently) but if you have difficulty finding it you can subscribe here: